Copyright by the editor, Hal Morris, Hopatcong, NJ 1998. Permission is granted to copy, but not for sale, nor in multiple copies, except by permission.
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[Editor's note: I'm still catching up; may have a house closing in two days if we're lucky.]
The following is from the Knickerbocker, a New York literary magazine which ran from 1833 until the 1860s. It published some good stories and sketches, some poetry (mostly bad), and criticism that was competent in a way, but driven by a combination of tone-deaf formality, and a desire, as revealed below, to have literature serve a didactic purpose (It seems we had a sort of Christian "social realism" long before the USSR promoted its version).
The selection is from Volume III, p150, or February 1834. According to my understanding, it shortly after this came under the editorship of Lewis Gaylord Clark, who edited it for 25 years, after brief editorships by Charles Fenno Hoffman, Timothy Flint, and Samuel D. Langtree. I would appreciate knowing if anyone knows, or can guess, who wrote the review of Dentalogia.
As a bonus, there is also a short review of Jane Austin's Emma, from Vol. II, p143 (August 1833). According to the reviewer, the trouble with Emma is that it "lacks interest". The way this phrase is used suggests a second look at the theme of JM#30, "'Interesting' Uses of the Word Interesting". My impression is that "interesting" typically meant "of vital (material or spiritual) concern", rather than its usual modern meaning ('intellectually titillating', one might say); closely related, it seems to the usage "to have (or own) an interest in" a piece of property, etc.
Anyway, whatever it was, Emma didn't have it.
DENTOLOGIA :A Poem on the Diseases
of the Teeth, and their proper Remedies,
By Solyman Brown, A.M. With Notes, practical, historical, illustrative, and explanatory, by Eleazar Parmly, Dentist. NewYork. Peabody & Co., 219, Broadway. 1834. 8vo. pp. 176.
[For the Knickerbocker]
The poetical part of this beautiful volume, printed in Sleight & Van Norden's best style, is from the pen of Mr. Brown of this city, extensively known as a writer of both prose and poetry for many of our periodical journals, and who now presents his claim to public favor in a work bearing his name, devoted to a subject entirely novel, yet of unquestionable importance. Forsaking those beaten paths in which the children of song have been prone to expatiate, our author has chosen for himself a solitary way, wild indeed and rocky, opening to anew and unlabored field in the varied landscape of nature. Of this field, hitherto unexplored and uncultivated, the poet discloses the charms with such admirable address, that it presents to the eye of unadulterated taste, "a wilderness of sweets;" not merely here and there a scattered sample of withered fruit and faded flower, but a wide horizon of fresh and fragrant luxuriance, silvered by the departing shower, and gilded by the returning sunbeams.
To drop the figure; Mr. Brown has selected a subject of general and paramount interest, hitherto "unattempted in rhyme," in the English language, and, if we are not utterly seduced from the veracity of criticism, he has arrayed the subject in the chaste, and beautiful, and elegant vesture of genuine poetry. It matters not whether we assert or deny that he has equaled other poets in his own or other countries, either in the elegance of his imaginings or the beauty of his diction: it is sufficient to say, that when we consider the difficulty of inculcating the principles of any art or science in the inverted language of poet embarrassed by the shackles of rhyme, we are compelled to acknowledge that the author of Dentologia has won his laurels in a hard fought field. At any rate, it becomes very few of his compatriot poets, to call in question his legitimate title to their fraternity. It may perhaps be true, that if several of Mr. Brown's occasional poems had been included in this volume, it would have given a more just and adequate impression of the author's general style, and diversified literary merit; but we think this poem alone must secure to, him a reputable station in the consecrated temple of the American muse. A few short, quotations, although incapable of presenting an adequate idea of the merits of the work, may nevertheless be not unacceptable to that portion of our readers who cannot conveniently avail themselves of the volume in question.
In the first Canto, speaking of the beauty of the human countenance, the author says :
" Without its aid, how hard were woman's lot!
To sigh neglected, and to die forgot
Though nature's genial fires unceasing burn,
To live unloved, and love without return !
For well we know that all of human kind,
Read in the face the features of the mind
The soul's bright forms forever fresh and fair,
Wit, worth, and modesty, are pastured there." * *
"You say, perchance, 'Is woman then approved
For outward charms, and but for these beloved ?
Shall form and feature for all faults atone,
And mere external beauty reign alone ?
By reasoning man is mental worth despised,
And but for pageantry is woman prized ?'
'Tis well inquired; but mark the just reply
As glittering stars adorn the cloudless sky,
And smiling rainbows, when the storm is done,
Announce the bursting splendors of the sun;
So beams of lambent light that sportive play
In woman's face, proclaim interior day;
And modest sweetness, with that light combined,
Bespeaks her nature gentle and refined." * *
"To woman, love's first melodies were sung,
In nature's prime, when earth and time were young,
And every bard, in each succeeding year,
Has framed his lays for woman's listening ear:-
Nor let the groveling soul that cleaves to earth
Dare to pretend to comprehend her worth ;
When pure - she's purer than the virgin snow,
On Andes' top, when summer smile's below ;
And more delight o'er life her sweetness breathes,
Than all besides that heaven to man bequeaths.
" Since beauty thus bestows the kind caress,
And oft audacity secures success,
Be mine the task to join the tuneful throng,
And blend instruction with the charms of song."
We can afford room but for a few extracts, nor do we wish to forestall the pleasure to be derived from a perusal of the entire poem. The following lines from the second Canto may serve as an example of the philosophical energy of the author's style.
"The human frame, offspring of heaven's high will,
Displays throughout inimitable skill;
No part defective : none that perfect love
Could prompt unbounded wisdom to improve.
The eye, the ear, how wondrously designed
To serve as useful allies to the mind.
The heaving lungs, that drink th' aerial flood,
Imparting vigor to the vital blood ;
The heart, that like a virtuous monarch, reigns,
And spreads delight through all its wide domains
How wondrous these !- yet see the hand divine
By equal skill displayed in every line,
In every feature of the perfect whole,
That acts in concert with the moving soul."
The third Canto opens with an Apostrophe to Luxury, the fervid eloquence of which will be a sufficient apology for the following extract.
"Oh luxury! the eldest born of wealth,
Thou foe to virtue, and thou bane of health;
Insidious nursling in the lap of ease,
Whose breath is pestilence, and whose smile disease;
May suffering man yet see thee as thou art,
A greedy vampyre, feasting on his heart;
"Of all the ills that antedate the doom
Of erring mortals, and erect the tomb
So near the cradle, shortening to a span
The fleeting life of transitory man.
The worst is luxury: Infrequent flies
The lightning's fatal bolt; the lowering skies
Are seldom darkened by the whirlwind's wrath,
Or loud tornado's devastating path.
Beneath the ocean wave though some expire,
And others by the fierce volcano's fire;
Though savage war can boast his thousands slain,
On tented field, or bosom of the main;
Yet few the victims of these fates malign,
Compared, intemperate luxury! with thine.
"Whatever wealth and false refinement reign,
The pampered appetites compose their train
Remotest climes supply the varied feast,
But wisdom never comes it welcome guest
The gormandfolly bids the poison pass,
And drains destruction from the circling glass.
The harmless flock, to cruel slaughter led,
Crowns high the board ; for this the herd has bled,
For this, the gay musicians of the grove,
Suspend forever all their songs of love
Earth air, and ocean, each its part supplies
Of sentient life, to swell the sacrifice ;
As though some fiend had sketched the darkest plan
Of bloody banquet for the monsterman !
" Though teeming, earth bestows on honest toil,
In every climate and in every soil,
Their proper fruits, by nature's law designed,
The safe and luscious diet of mankind,
Yet, see the race from flowery Eden stray,
To roam the mightiest of the beasts of prey!
See sensual man still smiling with delight,
While bleeding life is quivering in his sight!
"But nature, sure to vindicate her cause,
Avenges each transgression of her laws
Beware, rash man !- for every nice offence,
Shall meet, in time a dreadful recompense;
Nor flight can save nor necromantic art,
Nor dex'trous strategems elude the smart
For, lo, in fearful shapes, a haggard band
Of fell diseases, wait at her command.
"'Tis thus derangement pain, and swift decay,
Obtain in man their desolating sway,
Corrupt his blood, infect his vital breath,
And urge him headlong to the shades of death.
No more his checks with flushing crimson glow;
No more he feels the sanguine current flow;
But quenched and dim his sightless eyeballs roll,
Nor meet one star that gilds the glowing pole !!"
The fate of Urilla, one of the fictitious characters introduced for the purpose of illustrating the fatal consequences of neglecting the teeth, is thus presented:
"And she herself is fair in form and face ;
Her glance is modesty, her motion grace,
Her smile, a moonbeam on the garden bower,
Her blush, a rainbow on the summer shower,
And she is gentler than the fearful fawn
That drinks the glittering dewdrops of the lawn.
" When first I saw her eyes, celestial blue,
Her cheeks' vermilion, and the carmine hue,
That melted on her lips :- her auburn hair
That floated playful on the yielding air ;
And then that neck within those graceful curls,
Molten from Cleopatra's liquid pearls;
I whispered to my heart :- we'll fondly seek
The means, the hour, to hear the angel speak;
For sure such language from those lips must flow,
As none but pure and seraph natures know.
"'Twas said 'twas donethe fit occasion came,
As if to quench betimes the kindling flame
Of love and admiration :- for she spoke,
And lo, the heavenly spell forever broke,
The fancied angel vanished into air,
And left unfortunate Urilla there :
For when her parted lips disclosed to view,
Those ruined arches, veiled in ebon hue,
Where love had thought to feast the ravished sight
On orient gems reflecting snowy light,
Hope, disappointed, silently retired,
Disgust triumphant came, and love expired!
"And yet, Urilla's single fault was small;
If by so harsh a name 'tis just to call
Her slight neglect : but 'tis with beauty's chain,
As 'tis with nature's : sunder it in twain
At any link, and you dissolve the whole,
As death disparts the body from the soul."
One more extract with which the poem closes, must conclude our quotations. It embraces one of the happy illustrations employed by the poet, to show the effects of the loss of teeth in various circumstances of human life.
"Yet, in that choir that sung the morning song,
One vacant seat afflicts the listening throng;
One well known voice, admired so oft before,
For sweetest melody, is heard no more.
Is Seraphina dead, whose melting strains
Had won the hearts of all the neighboring swains?
Or does she now forsake the house of prayer,
And spurn her venerable pastor's care?
Unjust suspicion ! tarnish not her fame,
Nor let reproach attaint her spotless name
For while her mellow voice obeyed her will,
She fondly lingered, our musician still;
And though by cruel fate compelled to part,
She leaves us all the homage of her heart,
To lonely solitude she gives her hours,
In shady copse, or shadier gardenbowers
In silent grief, and unconsoled she pines,
And scarce to heaven's high will her soul resigns.
For, lo, the heavenly music of her lip
So sweet, the laboring bees might stop to sip,
Has passed away discordant notes succeed,
And Seraphina's bosom lives to bleed.
"Ye ask the cause : by premature decay,
Two of her dental pearls have passed away;
The two essential to those perfect strains,
That charm the soul when heavenly music reigns.
But fly, ye swains, to Seraphina fly,
And bid her fastly flowing tears be dry
Haste to her cottage, where in vain she seeks
To wipe the burning deluge from her checks;
And when ye find her, sooth her frantic mind,
And bid her cast her sorrows to the wind;
In secret whisper this kind truth impart;
There is a remedy : the dental art
Can every varying tone with case restore,
And give thee music sweeter than before!
"Thus, to desponding man, in life's dark way,
The angel, mercy points the opening day;
And through the tear that trembles in his eye,
Reveals the glories of her kindred sky."
It remains only to express our views of the Notes annexed by way of appendix to this pleasing volume, by Mr. E. Parmly, a gentleman well known as standing at the head of his profession in this city. Those who are personally acquainted with Mr. Parmly, will not need to be assured, that any remarks coming from his pen, and prompted by his experience and good sense, must be thankfully received by that very numerous and respectable class of our fellowcitizens who are suffering the ravages of tartar and gangrene, and other diseases of the teeth.
These notes are designed to illustrate and enforce the doctrines of the poem, and to serve as a guide to individuals in the management of their teeth : and when we consider the importance of these organs to the healthy condition of the System, we cannot hesitate to express the opinion that every member of civilized society who respects the ordinary decencies of life, and pays the slightest regard to personal appearance, health and happiness, should be deeply and constantly impressed with the sentiments inculcated by Mr. Parmly in these amusing and instructive notes. We cannot conclude more appropriately than by recommending to the ladies in particular (for with them the charms of society are deposited as a sacred treasure) the propriety of p1acing this chaste and beautiful volume on their toilets, without a moment of unnecessary delay. They will have the satisfaction of reflecting, after a careful perusal of the work, that their time has been usefully employed, and that not a sentiment or allusion has engaged their attention, at which virtue should recoil or modesty blush.
Emma, a Novel, in 2 vols. By Miss Austen, Author of "Pride and Prejudice,", "Mansfield Park," "Persuasion," &c. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Blanchard.
Emma is a novel of some years standing. Miss Austen's aim in writing it seems to have been to describe, in the character of Emma, the effect which uncontrolled authority from infancy, and high notions of privileged rank, would have in forming the disposition of a female of great personal beauty and accomplishments, with a naturally strong mind. Accordingly, we have her, with the best motives imaginable, continually acting the patroness to her friends, and affecting to regulate their destinies, by her own preconceived notions of the distinctions in society; imagining herself in love, when she has found an object she believes appropriate; and seeming astonished, as at a contingency out of the range of possibility, when she finds the gentleman she believes her admirer, had neglected her for a lovely and accomplished girl of obscurer birth.
There may be in all this a great degree of merit, as a fine and delicate conception, but it has been embodied at the sacrifice of what we prefer -- that of interest. Of this essential quality in a novel, Emma is so seriously deficient, that all the talents of its author have proved incompetent to make a story which the most determined patience can peruse.You can support this site at no cost if you make an Amazon purchase using this link to get to Amazon: Thanks