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chicanery is concealed from the public eye.

The Literati

Doctor Anthon is, perhaps, forty-eight years of age ;
about five feet eight inches in height; rather stout;
fair complexion ; hair light and inclined to curl ; fore
head remarkably broad and high ; eye gray, clear, and
penetrating; mouth well-formed, with excellent teeth,
the lips having great flexibility, and consequent power
of expression; the smile particularly pleasing. His
address in general is bold, frank, cordial, full of bons
homie, His whole air is distingue in the best under
standing of the term ; that is to say, he would impress
any one at first sight with the idea of his being no or
dinary man. He has qualities, indeed, which would
have assured him eminent success in almost any pur
suit; and there are times in which his friends are
half disposed to regret his exclusive devotion to classical
literature. He was one of the originators of the late
New York Review, his associates in the conduct and
proprietorship being Doctor F. L. Hawks and Pro
fessor R. C. Henry. By far the most valuable papers,
however, were those of Doctor A.


The Reverend Ralph Hoyt is known chiefly, at least
to the world of letters, by The Chaunt of Life and Other
Poems, with Sketches and Essays, The publication
of this work, however, was never completed, only a
portion of the poems having appeared, and none of the


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essays or sketches. It is hoped that we shall yet have
these latter.

Of the poems issued, one, entitled Old, had so many
peculiar excellences that I copied the whole of it, al
though quite long, in The Broadway Journal. It will
remind every reader of Durand's fine picture, An
Old Man's Recollections, although between poem and
painting there is no more than a very admissible

I quote a stanza from Old (the opening one) by way
of bringing the piece to the remembrance of any who
may have forgotten it :

By the wayside, on a mossy stone,
Sat a hoary pilgrim sadly musing ;

Oft I marked him sitting there alone,
All the landscape like a page perusing;
Poor unknown,

By the wayside, on a mossy stone.

The quaintness aimed at here is, so far as a single
stanza is concerned, to be defended as a legitimate
effect, conferring high pleasure on a numerous and
cultivated class of minds. Mr. Hoyt, however, in his
continuous and uniform repetition of the first line in
the last of each stanza of twenty-five, has by much
exceeded the proper limits of the quaint and impinged
upon the ludicrous. The poem, nevertheless, abounds
in lofty merit, and has, in especial, some passages of
rich imagination and exquisite pathos. For example :
voL.vm.-23. 353

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Seemed it pitiful he should sit there,

No one sympathizing, no one heeding,
None to love him for his thin gray hair.

One sweet spirit broke the silent spell
Ah, to me her name was always Heaven!

She besought him all his grief to tell
(I was then thirteen and she eleven)

One sweet spirit broke the silent spell.

" Angel," said he, sadly, " I am old;

Earthly hope no longer hath a morrow;
Why I sit here thou shalt soon be told "

Then his eye betrayed a pearl of sorrow,

Down it rolled
" Angel," said he, sadly, " I am old!

It must be confessed that some portions of Old
(which is by far the best of the collection) remind us
forcibly of the Old Man of Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Proemus is the concluding poem of the volume,
and itself concludes with an exceedingly vigorous
stanza, putting me not a little in mind of Campbell
in his best days :

O'er all the silent sky

A dark and scowling frown-
But darker scowled each eye
When all resolved to die
When (night of dread renown!)
A thousand stars went down.

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Mr. Hoyt is about forty years of age, of the
medium height, pale complexion, dark hair and eyes.
His countenance expresses sensibility and benevolence.
He converses slowly and with perfect deliberation.
He is married.


Mr. Verplanck has acquired reputation, at least his
literary reputation, less from what he has done than
from what he has given indication of ability to do.
His best, if not his principal works, have been ad
dresses, orations, and contributions to the reviews. His
scholarship is more than respectable, and his taste
and acumen are not to be disputed.

His legal acquirements, it is admitted, are very con
siderable. When in Congress he was noted as the
most industrious man in that assembly, and acted as
a walking register or volume of reference, ever at the
service of that class of legislators who are too lofty-
minded to burden their memories with mere business
particulars or matters of fact. Of late years the
energy of his character appears to have abated, and
many of his friends go so far as to accuse him of

His family is quite influential, one of the few old
Dutch ones retaining their social position.

Mr. Verplanck is short in stature, not more than five

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feet five inches in height, and compactly or stoutly
built. The head is square, massive, and covered with
thick, bushy, and grizzly hair; the cheeks are ruddy;
lips red and full, indicating a relish for good cheer;
nose short and straight ; eyebrows much arched ; eyes
dark blue, with what seems, to a casual glance, a
sleepy expression, but they gather light and fire as we
examine them.

He must be sixty, but a vigorous constitution gives
promise of a ripe and healthful old age. He is active ;
walks firmly, with a short, quick step. His manner is
affable, or (more accurately) sociable. He converses
well, although with no great fluency, and has his
hobbies of talk; is especially fond of old English
literature. Altogether, his person, intellect, tastes,
and general peculiarities bear a very striking resem
blance to those of the late Nicholas Biddle.


Mr. Hunt is editor and proprietor of the well-known
Merchants' Magazine, one of the most useful of our
monthly journals, and decidedly the best " property " of
any work of its class. In its establishment he evinced
many remarkable traits of character. He was entirely
without means, and even much in debt, and otherwise
embarrassed, when by one of those intuitive perceptions
which belong only to genius, but which are usually at-


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tributed to " good luck," the " happy " idea entered his
head of getting up a magazine devoted to the interests
of the influential class of merchants. The chief hap
piness of this idea, however (which no doubt had been
entertained and discarded by a hundred projectors be
fore Mr. H.), consisted in the method by which he
proposed to carry it into operation. Neglecting the
hackneyed modes of advertising largely, circulating
flashy prospectuses and sending out numerous "agents,"
who, in general, merely serve the purpose of boring
people into a very temporary support of the work in
whose behalf they are employed, he took the whole
matter resolutely into his own hands; called person
ally, in the first place, upon his immediate mercantile
friends ; explained to them frankly and succinctly his
object; put the value and necessity of the contem
plated publication in the best light, as he well knew
how to do, and in this manner obtained to head his
subscription list a good many of the most eminent
business men in New York. Armed with their names
and with recommendatory letters from many of them,
he now pushed on to the other chief cities of the
Union, and thus, in less time than is taken by ordinary
men to make a preparatory flourish of trumpets, suc
ceeded in building up for himself a permanent fortune,
and for the public a journal of immense interest and
value. In the whole proceeding he evinced a tact, a
knowledge of mankind, and a self-dependence which


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are the staple of even greater achievements than
the establishment of a five-dollar magazine. In the
subsequent conduct of the work he gave evidence of
equal ability. Having without aid put the magazine
upon a satisfactory footing as regards its circulation,
he also without aid undertook its editorial and business
conduct, from the first germ of the conception to the
present moment having kept the whole undertaking
within his own hands. His subscribers and regular
contributors are now among the most intelligent and
influential in America ; the journal is regarded as ab
solute authority in mercantile matters, circulates ex
tensively not only in this country, but in Europe, and
even in regions more remote, affording its worthy and
enterprising projector a large income, which no one
knows better than himself how to put to good use.

The strong points, the marked peculiarities of Mr.
Hunt could not have failed in arresting the attention
of all observers of character ; and Mr. Willis in especial
has made him the subject of repeated comment. I
copy what follows from the New York Miff on

" Hunt has been glorified in the Hong'Kong Gazette,
is regularly complimented by the English mercantile
authorities, has every bank in the world for an eager
subscriber, every consul, every ship owner and navi
gator ; is filed away as authority in every library, and
thought of in half the countries of the world as early as


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No. 3 in their enumeration of distinguished Ameri
cans ; yet who seeks to do him honor in the city he
does honor to ? The Merchants' Magazine, though a
prodigy of perseverance and industry, is not an acci
dental development of Hunt's energies. He has always
been singularly sagacious and original in devising new
works and good ones. He was the founder of the first
Ladies' Magazine, 1 of the first children's periodical ; he
started the American Magazine of Useful and Enter*
taining Knowledge, compiled the best-known collec
tion of American anecdotes, and is an indefatigable
writer, the author, among other things, of Letters
About the Hudson,

" Hunt was a playfellow of ours in round- jacket
days, and we have always looked at him with a remin
iscent interest. His luminous, eager eyes, as he goes
along the street, keenly bent on his errand, would
impress any observer with an idea of his genius and
determination, and we think it quite time his earnest
head was in the engraver's hand, and his daily passing
by a mark for the digito monstrarL Few more worthy
or more valuable citizens are among us."

Much of Mr. Hunt's character is included in what I
have already said and quoted. He is " earnest,"
" eager," combining in a very singular manner general
coolness and occasional excitability. He is a true

1 At this point Mr. Willis is, perhaps, in error.

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friend, and the enemy of no man. His heart is full
of the warmest sympathies and charities. No one in
New York is more universally popular.

He is about five feet eight inches in height, well
proportioned; complexion dark-florid; forehead ca
pacious ; chin massive and projecting, indicative (ac
cording to Lavater and general experience) of that
energy which is, in fact, the chief point of his charac
ter; hair light brown, very fine, of a web-like texture,
worn long and floating about the face ; eyes of wonder
ful brilliancy and intensity of expression; the whole
countenance beaming with sensibility and intelligence.
He is married and about thirty-eight years of age.


During his twelve years' imprisonment, Maroncelli
composed a number of poetical works, some of which
were committed to paper, others lost for the want of it.
In this country he has published a volume entitled
Additions to the Memoirs of Silvio Pellico, containing
numerous anecdotes of the captivity not recorded in
Pellico's work, and an Essay on the Classic and Ros
mantle Schools, the author proposing to divide them
anew and designate them by novel distinctions. There
is at least some scholarship and some originality in
this essay. It is also brief. Maroncelli regards it as
the best of his compositions. It is strongly tinctured
with transcendentalism. The volume contains, like-


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wise, some poems, of which the Psalm of Life and
the Psalm of the Dawn have never been translated
into English. Winds of the Wakened Spring, one of
the pieces included, has been happily rendered by Mr.
Halleck, and is the most favorable specimen that could
have been selected. These Additions accompanied a
Boston version of My Prisons, by Silvio Pellico.

Maroncelli is now about fifty years old, and bears
on his person the marks of long suffering; he has
lost a leg; his hair and beard became gray many
years ago; just now he is suffering from severe ill
ness, and from this it can scarcely be expected that
he will recover.

In figure he is short and slight. His forehead is
rather low, but broad. His eyes are light blue and
weak. The nose and mouth are large. His features
in general have all the Italian mobility; their expres
sion is animated and full of intelligence. He speaks
hurriedly and gesticulates to excess. He is irritable,
frank, generous, chivalrous, warmly attached to his
friends, and expecting from them equal devotion. His
love of country is unbounded, and he is quite enthusi
astic in his endeavors to circulate in America the
literature of Italy.


Personally, Mr. Osborn is little known as an author,
either to the public or in literary society, but he has


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made a great many " sensations " anonymously, or
with a nom de plume. I am not sure that he has
published anything with his own name.

One of his earliest works, if not his earliest, was
The Adventures of Jeremy Levis t by Himself f in one
volume, a kind of medley of fact, fiction, satire, criti
cism, and novel philosophy. It is a dashing, reckless
brochure t brimful of talent and audacity. Of course
it was covertly admired by the few, and loudly con
demned by all of the many who can fairly be said to
have seen it at all. It had no great circulation. There
was something wrong, I fancy, in the mode of its issue.

Jeremy Levis was followed by The Dream of Alia *
Ad'Deen t from the romance of tf Anastasia" by Charles
Erskine White, D,D. This is a thin pamphlet of
thirty-two pages, each page containing about one
hundred and forty words. Alla-Ad-Deen is the son
of Aladdin of " wonderful lamp " memory, and the
story is in the Vision of Mirza or Rasselas way.
The design is to reconcile us to death and evil, on the
somewhat unphilosophical ground that, comparatively,
we are of little importance in the scale of creation.
The author himself supposes this scale to be infinite,
and thus his argument proves too much; for if evil
should be regarded by man as of no consequence be
cause, " comparatively," he is of none, it must be re
garded as of no consequence by the angels for a similar
reason, and so on in a never-ending ascent. In other


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words, the only thing proved is the rather bull-ish
proposition that evil is no evil at all. I do not find that
the Dream elicited any attention. It would have been
more appropriately published in one of our magazines.
Next in order came, I believe, The Confessions of a
Poet, by Himself. This was in two volumes, of the
ordinary novel form, but printed very openly. It made
much noise in the literary world, and no little curiosity
was excited in regard to its author, who was generally
supposed to be John Neal. There were some grounds
for this supposition, the tone and matter of the narra
tive bearing much resemblance to those of Errata and
Seventy "Six, especially in the points of boldness and
vigor. The Confessions, however, far surpassed any
production of Mr. NeaPs in a certain air of cultiva
tion (if not exactly of scholarship) which pervaded it,
as well as in the management of its construction, a
particular in which the author of The Battle of Niagara
invariably fails ; there is no precision, no finish, about
anything he does always an excessive force, but little
of refined art. Mr. N. seems to be deficient in a sense
of completeness. He begins well, vigorously, start-
lingly, and proceeds by fits, quite at random, now
prosing, now exciting vivid interest, but his conclu
sions are sure to be hurried and indistinct, so that the
reader perceives a falling off, and closes the book with
dissatisfaction. He has done nothing which, as a
whole, is even respectable, and the Confessions are


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quite remarkable for their artistic unity and perfection.
But in higher regards they are to be commended. I
do not think, indeed, that a better book of its kind
has been written in America. To be sure, it is not
precisely the work to place in the hands of a lady,
but its scenes of passion are intensely wrought, its
incidents are striking and original, its sentiments au
dacious and suggestive at least, if not at all times
tenable. In a word, it is that rare thing, a fiction of
power without rudeness. Its spirit, in general, resem
bles that of Mlserrlmus and Martin Faber.

Partly on account of what most persons would term
their licentiousness, partly, also, on account of the
prevalent idea that Mr. Neal (who was never very
popular with the press) had written them, the Con*
Sessions, by the newspapers, were most unscrupulously
misrepresented and abused. The Commercial Adver*
tlser of New York, was, it appears, foremost in con
demnation, and Mr. Osborn thought proper to avenge
his wrongs by the publication of a bulky satirical
poem levelled at the critics in general, but more espe
cially at Colonel Stone, the editor of the Commercial
This satire (which was published in exquisite style as
regards print and paper) was entitled The Vision of
Rubeta, Owing to the high price necessarily set upon
the book, no great many copies were sold, but the few
that got into circulation made quite a hubbub, and
with reason, for the satire was not only bitter but


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personal in the last degree. It was, moreover, very
censurably indecent; filthy is, perhaps, the more ap
propriate word. The press, without exception, or
nearly so, condemned it in loud terms, without taking
the trouble to investigate its pretensions as a literary
work. But as The Confessions of a Poet was one of
the best novels of its kind ever written in this country,
so The Vision of JRvbeta was decidedly the best satire.
For its vulgarity and gross personality there is no de
fence, but its mordacity cannot be gainsaid. In call
ing it, however, the best American satire, I do not
intend any excessive commendation ; for it is, in fact,
the only satire composed by an American. Trum-
bulPs clumsy work is nothing at all, and then we
have Halleck's Croakers, which is very feeble, but
what is there besides ? The Vision is our best satire,
and still a sadly deficient one. It was bold enough
and bitter enough, and well constructed and decently
versified, but it failed in sarcasm because its malignity
was permitted to render itself evident. The author is
never very severe, because he is never sufficiently
cool. We laugh not so much at the objects of his sa
tire as we do at himself for getting into so great a pas
sion. But, perhaps, under no circumstances is wit the
forte of Mr. Osborn. He has few equals at downright

The Vision was succeeded by Arthur Carryl and
Other Poems, including an additional canto of the


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satire, and several happy although not in all cases
accurate or comprehensive imitations in English of
the Greek and Roman metres. Arthur Carryl is a
fragment, in the manner of Don Juan, I do not
think it especially meritorious. It has, however, a
truth-telling and discriminative preface, and its notes
are well worthy perusal. Some opinions embraced in
these latter on the topic of versification I have ex
amined hi one of the series of articles called Mar*

I am not aware that since Arthur Carryl Mr. Osborn
has written anything more than a Treatise on Oil
Painting f issued not long ago by Messrs. Wiley &
Putnam. This work is highly spoken of by those
well qualified to judge, but is, I believe, principally a
compilation or compendium.

In personal character, Mr. O. is one of the most re
markable men I ever yet had the pleasure of meeting.
He is undoubtedly one of " Nature's own noble
men," full of generosity, courage, honor; chivalrous
in every respect, but, unhappily, carrying his ideas of
chivalry, or rather of independence, to the point of
Quixotism, if not of absolute insanity. He has no
doubt been misapprehended, and therefore wronged,
by the world; but he should not fail to remember
that the source of the wrong lay in his own idiosyn
crasy, one altogether unintelligible and unappreciable
by the mass of mankind.


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He is a member of one of the oldest and most influ
ential, formerly one of the wealthiest, families in New
York. His acquirements and accomplishments are
many and unusual. As poet, painter, and musician
he has succeeded nearly equally well, and abso
lutely succeeded as each. His scholarship is extensive.
In the French and Italian languages he is quite at
home, and in everything he is thorough and accurate.
His critical abilities are to be highly respected, although
he is apt to swear somewhat too roundly by Johnson
and Pope. Imagination is not Mr. Osborn's forte,

He is about thirty-two or three, certainly not more
than thirty-five years of age. In person he is well
made, probably five feet ten or eleven, muscular, and
active. Hair, eyes, and complexion, rather light ; fine
teeth ; the whole expression of the countenance manly,
frank, and prepossessing in the highest degree.


The name of Halleck is at least as well established
in the poetical world as that of any American. Our
principal poets are, perhaps, most frequently named
in this order : Bryant, Halleck, Dana, Sprague, Long
fellow, Willis, and so on, Halleck coming second in
the series, but holding, in fact, a rank in the public
opinion quite equal to that of Bryant. The accuracy
of the arrangement as above made may, indeed, be


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questioned. For my own part, I should have it thus :
Longfellow, Bryant, Halleck, Willis, Sprague, Dana;
and, recognizing rather the poetic capacity than the
poems actually accomplished, there are three or four
comparatively unknown writers whom I would place
in the series between Bryant and Halleck, while there
are about a dozen whom I should assign a position
between Willis and Sprague. Two dozen at least
might find room between Sprague and Dana; this
latter, I fear, owing a very large portion of his rep
utation to his quondam editorial connection with the
North American Review. One or two poets, now in
my mind's eye, I should have no hesitation in posting
above even Mr. Longfellow, still not intending this as
very extravagant praise.

It is noticeable, however, that, in the arrangement
which I attribute to the popular understanding, the
order observed is nearly, if not exactly, that of the ages,
the poetic ages, of the individual poets. Those
rank first who were first known. The priority has
established the strength of impression. Nor is this
result to be accounted for by mere reference to the old
saw, that first impressions are the strongest. Grati
tude, surprise, and a species of hyper-patriotic triumph
have been blended, and finally confounded with ad
miration or appreciation in regard to the pioneers of
American literature, among whom there is not one
whose productions have not been grossly overrated by


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questioned. For my own part, I should have it thus :
Longfellow, Bryant, Halleck, Willis, Sprague, Dana;
and, recognizing rather the poetic capacity than the
poems actually accompushed, there are three or four
comparatively unknown writers whom I would place
in the scries between Bryant and Haileck, while there
aft about a dozen whom I should assign a position
tlPtan Witti oai %rague. Two dozen at least
might iwl room between Sprague and Dana; this
Matter, I fear, owing * very large portion of his rep
utation to his quondsm editorial connection with the
Wcrrh American Review. One or two poets, now in

r mind's eyeffiitiM^lJJtU^kation in posting
above even Mr. Longfellow, still not intending this as
very extravagant praise.

It is noticeable, however, that, in the arrangement
which I attribute to the popular understanding, the
order observed is nearly, if not exactly, that of the ages,
the poetic ages, of the Individual poets. Those
rank first who were in* JMWU. The priority has

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Online LibraryEdgar Allan PoeThe complete works of Edgar Allan Poe (Volume 8) → online text (page 21 of 23)