The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe, vol. III, 1850, pp.  112-128.
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[Text: Edgar Allan Poe, "The Literati" (Part V) (D), The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe, vol. III, 1850, pp.  112-128.]

[page 112, continued:]



     MR. CHARLES FENNO HOFFMAN has been long known to the public as an author.  He commenced his literary career (as is usually the case in America) by writing for the newspapers — for "The New York American" especially, in the editorial conduct of which he became in some manner associated, at a very early age, with Mr. Charles King.  His first book, I believe, was a collection (entitled "A Winter in the West") of letters published in "The American" during a tour made by their author through the "far West." This work appeared in 1834, went through several editions, was reprinted in London, was very popular, and deserved its popularity. It conveys the natural enthusiasm of a true idealist, in the proper phrenological sense, of one sensitively alive to beauty in every development.  Its scenic descriptions are vivid, because fresh, genuine, unforced.  There is nothing of the cant of the tourist for the sake not of nature but of tourism. The author writes what he feels, and, clearly, because he feels it.  The style, [page 113:] as well as that of all Mr. Hoffman's books, is easy, free from superfluities, and, although abundant in broad phrases, still singularly refined, gentlemanly. This ability to speak boldly without blackguardism, to use the tools of the rabble when necessary without soiling or roughening the hands with their employment, is a rare and unerring test of the natural in contradistinction from the artificial aristocrat.

     Mr. H.'s next work was "Wild Scenes in the Forest and Prairie," very similar to the preceding, but more diversified with anecdote and interspersed with poetry.  "Greyslaer" followed, a romance based on the well known murder of Sharp, the Solicitor-General of Kentucky, by Beauchampe.  W. Gilmore Simms, (who has far more power, more passion, more movement, more skill than Mr. Hoffman) has treated the subject more effectively in his novel "Beauchampe;" but the fact is that both gentlemen have positively failed, as might have been expected.  That both books are interesting is no merit either of Mr. H. or of Mr. S.  The real events were more impressive than are the fictitious ones.  The facts of this remarkable tragedy, as arranged by actual circumstance, would put to shame the skill of the most consummate artist.  Nothing was left to the novelist but the amplification of character, and at this point neither the author of "Greyslaer" nor of "Beauchampe" is especially au fait.  The incidents might be better woven into a tragedy.

     In the way of poetry, Mr. Hoffman has also written a good deal.  "The Vigil of Faith and other Poems" is the title of a volume published several years ago.  The subject of the leading poem is happy — whether originally conceived by Mr. H. or based on an actual superstition, I cannot say.  Two Indian chiefs are rivals in love.  The accepted lover is about to be made happy, when his betrothed is murdered by the discarded suitor.  The revenge taken is the careful preservation of the life of the assassin, under the idea that the meeting the maiden in another world is the point most desired by both the survivors.  The incidents interwoven are picturesque, and there are many quotable passages; the descriptive portions are particularly good; but the author has erred, first, in narrating the story in the first person, and secondly, in putting into the mouth of the narrator language and [page 114:] sentiments above the nature of an Indian. I say that the narration should not have been in the first person, because, although an Indian may and does fully experience a thousand delicate shades of sentiment, (the whole idea of the story is essentially sentimental), still he has, clearly, no capacity for their various expression.  Mr. Hoffman's hero is made to discourse very much after the manner of Rousseau.  Nevertheless, "The Vigil of Faith" is, upon the whole, one of our most meritorious poems.  The shorter pieces in the collection have been more popular; one or two of the songs particularly so — "Sparkling and Bright," for example, which is admirably adapted to song purposes, and is full of lyric feelings.  It cannot be denied, however, that, in general, the whole tone, air and spirit of Mr. Hoffman's fugitive compositions are echoes of Moore.  At times the very words and figures of the "British Anacreon" are unconsciously adopted.  Neither can there be any doubt that this obvious similarity, if not positive imitation, is the source of the commendation bestowed upon our poet by "The Dublin University Magazine," which declares him "the best song writer in America," and does him also the honor to intimate its opinion that "he is a better fellow than the whole Yankee crew" of us taken together — after which there is very little to be said.

     Whatever may be the merits of Mr. Hoffman as a poet, it may be easily seen that these merits have been put in the worst possible light by the indiscriminate and lavish approbation bestowed on them by Dr. Griswold in his "Poets and Poetry of America." The editor can find no blemish in Mr. H., agrees with everything and copies everything said in his praise — worse than all, gives him more space in the book than any two, or perhaps three, of our poets combined.  All this is as much an insult to Mr. Hoffman as to the public, and has done the former irreparable injury — how or why, it is of course unnecessary to say.  "Heaven save us from our friends !"

     Mr. Hoffman was the original editor of "The Knickerbocker Magazine," and gave it while under his control a tone and character, the weight of which may be best estimated by the consideration that the work thence received, an impetus which has sufficed to bear it on alive, although tottering, month after month, [page 115:] through even that dense region of unmitigated and unmitigable fog — that dreary realm of outer darkness, of utter and inconceivable dunderheadism, over which has so long ruled King Log the Second, in the august person of one Lewis Gaylord Clark.  Mr. Hoffman subsequently owned and edited "The American Monthly Magazine," one of the best journals we have ever had.  He also for one year conducted "The New York Mirror," and has always been a very constant contributor to the periodicals of the day.

     He is the brother of Ogden Hoffman.  Their father, whose family came to New York from Holland before the time of Peter Stuyvesant, was often brought into connexion or rivalry with such men as Pinckney, Hamilton and Burr.

     The character of no man is more universally esteemed and admired than that of the subject of this memoir.  He has a host of friends, and it is quite impossible that he should have an enemy in the world.  He is chivalric to a fault, enthusiastic, frank without discourtesy, an ardent admirer of the beautiful, a gentleman of the best school — a gentleman by birth, by education and by instinct.  His manners are graceful and winning in the extreme — quiet, affable and dignified, yet cordial and dégagés. He converses much, earnestly, accurately and well.  In person he is remarkably handsome.  He is about five feet ten in height, somewhat stoutly made.  His countenance is a noble one — a full index of the character. The features are somewhat massive but regular.  The eyes are blue, or light gray, and full of fire; the mouth finely formed, although the lips have a slight expression of voluptuousness; the forehead, to my surprise, although high [[,]] gives no indication, in the region of the temples, of that ideality (or love of the beautiful) which is the distinguishing trait of his moral nature.  The hair curls, and is of a dark brown, interspersed with gray. He wears full whiskers.  Is about forty years of age.  Unmarried. [page 116:]



    I AM not aware that Mrs. Hewitt has written any prose; but her poems have been many, and occasionally excellent. A collection of them was published, in an exquisitely tasteful form, by Ticknor & Co., of Boston.  The leading piece, entitled "Songs of our Land," although the largest, was by no means the most meritorious.  In general, these compositions evince poetic fervor, classicism, and keen appreciation of both moral and physical beauty.  No one of them, perhaps, can be judiciously commended as a whole; but no one of them is without merit, and there are several which would do credit to any poet in the land. Still, even these latter are particularly rather than generally commendable. They lack unity, totality — ultimate effect, but abound in forcible passages.  For example:

Shall I portray thee in thy glorious seeming, 
Thou that the pharos of my darkness art ? . . . . 

Like the blue lotos on its own clear river 
Lie thy soft eyes, beloved, upon my soul. . . . . 

And there the slave, a slave no more, 
Hung reverent up the chain he wore. . . . . 

Here 'mid your wild and dark defile 
    O'erawed and wonder-whelmed I stand, 
And ask — "Is this the fearful vale 
    That opens on the shadowy land ?" . . . . 

Oh, friends !  we would be treasured still, 
    Though Time's cold hand should cast 
His misty veil, in after years, 
    Over the idol Past, 
Yet send to us some offering thought 
    O'er Memory's ocean wide, 
Pure as the Hindoo's votive lamp 
    On Ganga's sacred tide. 

    Mrs. Hewitt has warm partialities for the sea and all that concerns it.  Many of her best poems turn upon sea adventures or have reference to a maritime life.   Some portions of her "God bless the Mariner" are naïve and picturesque: e.g. —

God bless the happy mariner !
    A homely garb wears he,
And he goeth with a rolling gait,
    Like a ship before the sea. [page 117:]

He hath piped the loud "ay, ay, Sir !"
    O'er the voices of the main
Till his deep tones have the hoarseness
    Of the rising hurricane.

But oh, a spirit looketh
    From out his clear blue eye,
With a truthful childlike earnestness,
    Like an angel from the sky.

A venturous life the sailor leads
    Between the sky and sea,
But, when the hour of dread is past,
    A merrier who than he ?

    The tone of some quatrains entitled "Alone," differs materially from that usual with Mrs. Hewitt.  The idea is happy and well managed.

    Mrs. Hewitt's sonnets are upon the whole, her most praiseworthy compositions.   One entitled "Hercules and Omphale" is noticeable for the vigor of its rhythm.

Reclined, enervate, on the couch of ease,
    No more he pants for deeds of high emprize;
    For Pleasure holds in soft voluptuous ties
Enthralled, great Jove-descended Hercules.
The hand that bound the Erymanthean boar,
    Hesperia's dragon slew with bold intent,
    That from his quivering side in triumph rent
The skin the Cleonœan lion wore,
Holds forth the goblet — while the Lydian queen,
    Robed like a nymph, her brow enwreathed with vine,
    Lifts high the amphora brimmed with rosy wine,
And pours the draught the crownéd cup within.
And thus the soul, abased to sensual sway,
Its worth forsakes — its might foregoes for aye.

    The unusual force of the line italicized, will be observed.  This force arises first, from the directness, or colloquialism without vulgarity, of its expression: — (the relative pronoun "which" is very happily omitted between "skin" and "the") — and, secondly, to the musical repetition of the vowel in "Cleonœan," together with the alliterative terminations in "Cleonœan" and "lion." The effect, also, is much aided by the sonorous conclusion "wore."

    Another and better instance of fine versification occurs in "Forgotten Heroes."

And the peasant mother at her door, 
    To the babe that climbed her knee, 
Sang aloud the land's heroic songs — 
    Sang of Thermopylæ — 
Sang of Mycale — of Marathon —  [page 118:]
    Of proud Platæa's day — 
Till the wakened hills from peak to peak 
    Echoed the glorious lay. 
Oh, god like name ! — oh, god like deed ! 
    Song-borne afar on every breeze, 
Ye are sounds to thrill like a battle shout, 
    Leonidas !  Miltiades !

    The general intention here is a line of four iambuses alternating with a line of three; but, less through rhythmical skill than a musical ear, the poetess has been led into some exceedingly happy variations of the theme.  For example; -- in place of the ordinary iambus as the first foot of the first, of the second, and of the third line, a bastard iambus has been employed.  These lines are thus scanned:

An4d  th4e  peas  |  a2nt  moth  |  e2r  at  |  he2r  door  | 
    To th4e  babe | tha2t  climbed  |  he2r  knee  | 
Sa4ng  al4oud | the2  land's  |  he2ro  |  i2c  songs  | 

    The fourth line,

Sang  o2f   |  The2rmo  |  py2læ,

is well varied by a trochee, instead of an iambus, in the first foot; and the variation expresses forcibly the enthusiasm excited by the topic of the supposed songs, "Thermophylæ".  The fifth line is scanned as the three first.  The sixth is the general intention, and consists simply of iambuses.   The seventh is like the three first and the fifth.  The eighth is like the fourth; and here again the opening trochee is admirably adapted to the movement of the topic.  The ninth is the general intention, and is formed of four iambuses.   The tenth is an alternating line and yet has four iambuses, instead of the usual three; as has also the final line — and alternating one, too. A fuller volume is in this manner given to the close of the subject; and this volume is fully in keeping with the rising enthusiasm.  The last line but one has two bastard iambuses, thus:

Ye4  ar4e  sounds  |  to2 thrill  |  lik4e  a4  bat  |  tl2e  shout |  .

    Upon the whole, it may be said that the most skilful versifer could not have written lines better suited to the purposes of the [page 119:] poet.  The errors of "Alone," however, and of Mrs. Hewitt's poems generally, show that we must regard the beauties pointed out above, merely in the light to which I have already alluded — that is to say, as occasional happiness to which the poetess is led by a musical ear.

    I should be doing this lady injustice were I not to mention that, at times, she rises into a higher and purer region of poetry than might be supposed, or inferred, from any of the passages which I have hitherto quoted.  The conclusion of her "Ocean Tide to the Rivulet" puts me in mind of the rich spirit of Horne's noble epic, "Orion."

Sadly the flowers their faded petals close 
Where on thy banks they languidly repose, 
    Waiting in vain to hear thee onward press; 
And pale Narcissus by thy margin side 
Hath lingered for thy coming, drooped and died, 
    Pining for thee amid the loneliness. 

Hasten, beloved ! — here, 'neath the o'erhanging rock ! 
Hark !  from the deep, my anxious hope to mock, 
    They call me back unto my parent main. 
Brighter than Thetis thou — and, ah, more fleet ! 
I hear the rushing of thy fair white feet! 
    Joy! joy !  — my breast receives its own again ! 

     The personifications here are well managed.  The "Here ! — 'neath the o'erhanging rock !" has the high merit of being truthfully, by which I mean naturally, expressed, and imparts exceeding vigor to the whole stanza.  The idea of the ebb-tide, conveyed in the second line italicized, is one of the happiest imaginable; and too much praise can scarcely be bestowed on the "rushing" of the "fair white feet."  The passage altogether is full of fancy, earnestness, and the truest poetic strength.   Mrs. Hewitt has given many such indications of a fire which, with more earnest endeavor, might be readily fanned into flame.

     In character, she is sincere, fervent, benevolent — sensitive to praise and to blame; in temperament melancholy; in manner subdued; converses earnestly yet quietly.  In person she is tall and slender, with black hair and large gray eyes; complexion dark; general expression of the countenance singularly interesting and agreeable. [page 120:]



     ABOUT twelve years ago, I think, "The New York Sun," a daily paper, price one penny, was established in the city of New York by Mr. Moses Y. Beach, who engaged MR. RICHARD ADAMS LOCKE as its editor.  In a well-written prospectus, the object of the journal professed to be that of "supplying the public with the news of the day at so cheap a rate as to lie within the means of all." The consequences of the scheme, in their influence on the whole newspaper business of the country, and through this business on the interests of the country at large, are probably beyond all calculation.

     Previous to "The Sun," there had been an unsuccessful attempt at publishing a penny paper in New York, and "The Sun" itself was originally projected and for a short time issued by Messrs.  Day & Wisner; its establishment, however, is altogether due to Mr. Beach, who purchased it of its disheartened originators.  The first decided movement of the journal, nevertheless, is to be attributed to Mr. Locke; and in so saying, I by no means intend any depreciation of Mr. Beach, since in the engagement of Mr. L. he had but given one of the earliest instances of that unusual sagacity for which I am inclined to yield him credit.

     At all events, "The Sun" was revolving in a comparatively narrow orbit when, one fine day, there appeared in its editorial columns a prefatory article announcing very remarkable astronomical discoveries made at the Cape of Good Hope by Sir John Herschell.  The information was said to have been received by "The Sun" from an early copy of "The Edinburgh Journal of Science," in which appeared a communication from Sir John himself. This preparatory announcement took very well, (there had been no hoaxes in those days,) and was followed by full details of the reputed discoveries, which were now found to have been made chiefly in respect to the moon, and by means of a telescope to which the one lately constructed by the Earl of Rosse is a plaything.  As these discoveries were gradually spread before the public, the astonishment of that public grew out of all bounds; [page 121:] but those who questioned the veracity of "The Sun" — the authenticity of the communication to "The Edinburgh Journal of Science" — were really very few indeed; and this I am forced to look upon as a far more wonderful thing than any "man-bat" of them all.

     About six months before this occurrence, the Harpers had issued an American edition of Sir John Herschell's "Treatise on Astronomy," and I had been much interested in what is there said respecting the possibility of future lunar investigations.  The theme excited my fancy, and I longed to give free rein to it in depicting my day-dreams about the scenery of the moon — in short, I longed to write a story embodying these dreams. The obvious difficulty, of course, was that of accounting for the narrator's acquaintance with the satellite; and the equally obvious mode of surmounting the difficulty was the supposition of an extraordinary telescope.  I saw at once that the chief interest of such a narrative must depend upon the reader's yielding his credence in some measure as to details of actual fact.  At this stage of my deliberations, I spoke of the design to one or two friends — to Mr. John P. Kennedy, the author of "Swallow Barn," among others — and the result of my conversations with them was that the optical difficulties of constructing such a telescope as I conceived were so rigid and so commonly understood, that it would be in vain to attempt giving due verisimilitude to any fiction having the telescope as a basis. Reluctantly, therefore, and only half convinced, (believing the public, in fact, more readily gullible than did my friends,) I gave up the idea of imparting very close verisimilitude to what I should write — that is to say, so close as really to deceive.  I fell back upon a style half plausible, half bantering, and resolved to give what interest I could to an actual passage from the earth to the moon, describing the lunar scenery as if surveyed and personally examined by the narrator.  In this view I wrote a story which I called "Hans Phaall," publishing it about six months afterwards in "The Southern Literary Messenger," of which I was then editor.

     It was three weeks after the issue of "The Messenger" containing "Hans Phaall," that the first of the "Moon-hoax" editorials made its appearance in "The Sun," and no sooner had I [page 122:] seen the paper than I understood the jest, which not for a moment could I doubt had been suggested by my own jeu d'esprit. Some of the New York journals ("The Transcript" among others) saw the matter in the same light, and published the "Moon story" side by side with "Hans Phaall," thinking that the author of the one had been detected in the author of the other.  Although the details are, with some exception, very dissimilar, still I maintain that the general features of the two compositions are nearly identical.  Both are hoaxes, (although one is in a tone of mere banter, the other of downright earnest;) both hoaxes are on one subject, astronomy; both on the same point of that subject, the moon; both professed to have derived exclusive information from a foreign country, and both attempt to give plausibility by minuteness of scientific detail.  Add to all this, that nothing of a similar nature had ever been attempted before these two hoaxes, the one of which followed immediately upon the heels of the other.

     Having stated the case, however, in this form, I am bound to do Mr. Locke the justice to say that he denies having seen my article prior to the publication of his own; I am bound to add, also, that I believe him.

     Immediately on the completion of the "Moon story," (it was three or four days in getting finished,) I wrote an examination of its claims to credit, showing distinctly its fictitious character, but was astonished at finding that I could obtain few listeners, so really eager were all to be deceived, so magical were the charms of a style that served as the vehicle of an exceedingly clumsy invention.

     It may afford even now some amusement to see pointed out those particulars of the hoax which should have sufficed to establish its real character.  Indeed, however rich the imagination displayed in this fiction, it wanted much of the force which might have been given it by a more scrupulous attention to general analogy and to fact.  That the public were misled, even for an instant, merely proves the gross ignorance which (ten or twelve years ago) was so prevalent on astronomical topics.

     The moon's distance from the earth is, in round numbers, 240,000 miles.  If we wish to ascertain how near, apparently, a lens would bring the satellite, (or any distant object,) we, of course, have but to divide the distance by the magnifying, or, more [page 123:] strictly, by the space-penetrating power of the glass.  Mr. Locke gives his lens a power of 42,000 times.  By this divide 240,000, (the moon's real distance,) and we have five miles and five-sevenths as the apparent distance.  No animal could be seen so far, much less the minute points particularized in the story.  Mr. L. speaks about Sir John Herschell's perceiving flowers, (the papaver Rheas, etc.,) and even detecting the color and the shape of the eyes of small birds. Shortly before, too, the author himself observes that the lens would not render perceptible objects less than eighteen inches in diameter; but even this, as I have said, is giving the glass far too great a power.

     On page 18, (of the pamphlet edition,) speaking of "a hairy veil" over the eyes of a species of bison, Mr. L. says — "It immediately occurred to the acute mind of Doctor Herschell that this was a providential contrivance to protect the eyes of the animal from the great extremes of light and darkness to which all the inhabitants of our side of the moon are periodically subjected." But this should not be thought a very "acute" observation of the Doctor's.  The inhabitants of our side of the moon have, evidently, no darkness at all; in the absence of the sun they have a light from the earth equal to that of thirteen full moons, so that there can be nothing of the extremes mentioned.

     The topography throughout, even when professing to accord with Blunt's Lunar Chart, is at variance with that and all other lunar charts, and even at variance with itself.  The points of the compass, too, are in sad confusion; the writer seeming to be unaware that, on a lunar map, these are not in accordance with terrestrial points — the east being to the left, and so forth.

     Deceived, perhaps, by the vague titles Mare Nubium, Mare Tranquilitatis, Mare Fæcunditatis, etc., given by astronomers of former times to the dark patches on the moon's surface, Mr. L. has long details respecting oceans and other large bodies of water in the moon; whereas there is no astronomical point more positively ascertained than that no such bodies exist there.  In examining the boundary between light and darkness in a crescent or gibbous moon, where this boundary crosses any of the dark places, the line of division is found to be jagged; but were these dark places liquid, they would evidently be even. [page 124:]

     The description of the wings of the man-bat (on page 21) is but a literal copy of Peter Wilkins' account of the wings of his flying islanders.  This simple fact should at least have induced suspicion.

     On page 23 we read thus — "What a prodigious influence must our thirteen times larger globe have exercised upon this satellite when an embryo in the womb of time, the passive subject of chemical affinity!" Now, this is very fine; but it should be observed that no astronomer could have made such a remark, especially to any "Journal of Science," for the earth in the sense intended (that of bulk) is not only thirteen but forty-nine times larger than the moon.  A similar objection applies to the five or six concluding pages of the pamphlet, where, by way of introduction to some discoveries in Saturn, the philosophical correspondent is made to give a minute school-boy account of that planet — an account quite supererogatory, it might be presumed, in the case of "The Edinburgh Journal of Science."

     But there is one point, in especial, which should have instantly betrayed the fiction.  Let us imagine the power really possessed of seeing animals on the moon's surface — what in such case would first arrest the attention of an observer from the earth?  Certainly neither the shape, size, nor any other peculiarity in these animals so soon as their remarkable position — they would seem to be walking heels up and head down, after the fashion of flies on a ceiling.  The real observer (however prepared by previous knowledge) would have commented on this odd phenomenon before proceeding to other details; the fictitious observer has not even alluded to the subject, but in the case of the man-bats speaks of seeing their entire bodies, when it is demonstrable that he could have seen little more than the apparently flat hemisphere of the head.

     I may as well observe, in conclusion, that the size, and especially the powers of the man-bats, (for example, their ability to fly in so rare an atmosphere — if, indeed, the moon has any,) with most of the other fancies in regard to animal and vegetable existence, are at variance generally with all analogical reasoning on these themes, and that analogy here will often amount to the most positive demonstration.  The temperature of the moon, [page 125:] for instance, is rather above that of boiling water, and Mr. Locke, consequently, has committed a serious oversight in not representing his man-bats, his bisons, his game of all kinds — to say nothing of his vegetables — as each and all done to a turn.

     It is, perhaps, scarcely necessary to add, that all the suggestions attributed to Brewster and Herschell in the beginning of the hoax, about the "transfusion of artificial light through the focal object of vision," etc., etc., belong to that species of figurative writing which comes most properly under the head of rigmarole.  There is a real and very definite limit to optical discovery among the stars, a limit whose nature need only be stated to be understood.  If, indeed, the casting of large lenses were all that is required, the ingenuity of man would ultimately prove equal to the task, and we might have them of any size demanded;* but, unhappily, in proportion to the increase of size in the lens, and consequently of space-penetrating power, is the diminution of light from the object by diffusion of the rays.  And for this evil there is no remedy within human reach; for an object is seen by means of that light alone, whether direct or reflected, which proceeds from the object itself.  Thus the only artificial light which could avail Mr. Locke, would be such as he should be able to throw, not upon "the focal object of vision," but upon the moon.  It has been easily calculated that when the light proceeding from a heavenly body becomes so diffused as to be as weak as the natural light given out by the stars collectively in a clear, moonless night, then the heavenly body for any practical purpose is no longer visible.

    * Neither of the Herschells dreamed of the possibility of a speculum six feet in diameter, and now the marvel has been triumphantly accomplished by Lord Rosse.  There is, in fact, no physical impossibility in our casting lenses of even fifty feet diameter or more.  A sufficiency of means and skill is all that is demanded. [[This footnote appears at the bottom of page 125.]]

     The singular blunders to which I have referred being properly understood, we shall have all the better reason for wonder at the prodigious success of the hoax.  Not one person in ten discredited it, and (strangest point of all!) the doubters were chiefly those who doubted without being able to say why — the ignorant, those uninformed in astronomy, people who would not believe because the thing was so novel, so entirely "out of the usual way." A [page 126:] grave professor of mathematics in a Virginian college told me seriously that he had no doubt of the truth of the whole affair!  The great effect wrought upon the public mind is referable, first, to the novelty of the idea; secondly, to the fancy-exciting and reason-repressing character of the alleged discoveries; thirdly, to the consummate tact with which the deception was brought forth; fourthly, to the exquisite vraisemblance of the narration.  The hoax was circulated to an immense extent, was translated into various languages — was even made the subject of (quizzical) discussion in astronomical societies; drew down upon itself the grave denunciation of Dick, and was, upon the whole, decidedly the greatest hit in the way of sensation — of merely popular sensation — ever made by any similar fiction either in America or in Europe.

     Having read the Moon story to an end, and found it anticipative of all the main points of my "Hans Phaall," I suffered the latter to remain unfinished.  The chief design in carrying my hero to the moon was to afford him an opportunity of describing the lunar scenery, but I found that he could add very little to the minute and authentic account of Sir John Herschell.  The first part of "Hans Phaall," occupying about eighteen pages of "The Messenger," embraced merely a journal of the passage between the two orbs, and a few words of general observation on the most obvious features of the satellite; the second part will most probably never appear.  I did not think it advisable even to bring my voyager back to his parent earth.  He remains where I left him, and is still, I believe, "the man in the moon."

     From the epoch of the hoax "The Sun" shone with unmitigated splendor.  The start thus given the paper insured it a triumph; it has now a daily circulation of not far from fifty thousand copies, and is, therefore, probably, the most really influential journal of its kind in the world. Its success firmly established "the penny system" throughout the country, and (through "The Sun") consequently, we are indebted to the genius of Mr. Locke for one of the most important steps ever yet taken in the pathway of human progress.

     On dissolving, about a year afterwards, his connexion with Mr. Beach, Mr. Locke established a political daily paper, "The New [page 127:] Era," conducting it with distinguished ability.  In this journal he made, very unwisely, an attempt at a second hoax, giving the finale of the adventures of Mungo Park in Africa — the writer pretending to have come into possession, by some accident, of the lost MSS.  of the traveler. No one, however, seemed to be deceived, (Mr. Locke's columns were a suspected district,) and the adventures were never brought to an end.  They were richly imaginative.

     The next point made by their author was the getting up a book on magnetism as the primum mobile of the universe, in connexion with Doctor Sherwood, the practitioner of magnetic remedies. The more immediate purpose of the treatise was the setting forth a new magnetic method of obtaining the longitude.  The matter was brought before Congress and received with favorable attention.  What definite action was had I know not.  A review of the work appeared in "The Army and Navy Chronicle," and made sad havoc of the whole project.  It was enabled to do this, however, by attacking in detail the accuracy of some calculations of no very radical importance.  These and others Mr. Locke is now engaged in carefully revising; and my own opinion is that his theory (which he has reached more by dint of imagination than of anything else) will finally be established, although, perhaps, never thoroughly by him.

     His prose style is noticeable for its concision, luminousness, completeness — each quality in its proper place.  He has that method so generally characteristic of genius proper.  Everything he writes is a model in its peculiar way, serving just the purposes intended and nothing to spare.  He has written some poetry, which, through certain radical misapprehensions, is not very good.

     Like most men of true imagination, Mr. Locke is a seemingly paradoxical compound of coolness and excitability.

     He is about five feet seven inches in height, symmetrically formed; there is an air of distinction about his whole person — the air noble of genius.  His face is strongly pitted by the small-pox, and, perhaps from the same cause, there is a marked obliquity in the eyes; a certain calm, clear luminousness, however, about these latter, amply compensates for the defect, and the forehead [page 128:] is truly beautiful in its intellectuality.  I am acquainted with no person possessing so fine a forehead as Mr. Locke.  He is married, and about forty-five years of age, although no one would suppose him to be more than thirty-eight.  He is a lineal descendant from the immortal author of the "Essay on the Human Understanding."

[In the entry for Charles F. Hoffman, in the last full paragraph of page 114, there are two changes which suggest the hand of Griswold. The first is the use of the abbreviation of "Dr. Griswold" in place of the original "Doctor Griswold."  The second is the substitution of the word "editor" for "compiler" to describe Griswold's role in the creation of "The Poets and Poetry of America."]

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[S:1 - Works, 1850]