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BOOK REVIEWS - Miscellaneous (1)


Storm-Beaten: or Christmas Eve at the “Old Anchor” Inn (1862)

Wayside Posies (1866)

The Life and Adventures of J. J. Audubon (1869)

The Poetical Works of H. W. Longfellow (1869)


Storm-Beaten: or Christmas Eve at the “Old Anchor” Inn (1862)
(Written in collaboration with Charles Gibbon.)


The Derby Mercury (15 January, 1862)


The Cruise of the Blue Jacket, and other Sea Stories. By Lieut. WARNEFORD, R.N. London: WARD and LOCK,  Fleet-street.
The Night Mail, its Passengers, and How they Fared at Christmas. By PERCY FITZGERALD. Ibid.
Storm-Beaten; or, Christmas Eve at the “Old Anchor” Inn. By WILLIAMS BUCHANAN and CHARLES GIBBON.  Ibid.

     The Shilling Volume Library is one of those numerous undertakings which have risen out of Mr. Gladstone’s rash repeal of the paper duty, for which the world will never be one whit the better and may possibly be something the worse. The series appear at present to be confined to the re-issue of some second and third rate tales, in imitation of the French series familiar to early and loose dabblers in the study of the French language. A portion of the Storm-Beaten has been reprinted from All the Year Round, and the other two volumes display some talent in book-making. Any reader, however, who has not too high a standard by which to guage his reading will find plenty for money in the 250 pages which the publishers provide for a shilling. Of course we cannot expect so much of Dickens, Thackeray, or George Eliot tolerably well printed and in a handy form for twelvepence; but even Lieut. Warneford’s Cruise of the Blue Jacket ought to have been printed on better paper than that which lies before us.



The Newcastle Courant (24 January, 1862)


     THE SHILLING VOLUME LIBRARY.—[London: Ward and Lock, Fleet Street.]—These active publishers have sent us three of a series of shilling volumes of light reading which they are now issuing; and which will cause the lovers of such literature to be thankful for the repeal of the paper duty. For how else could any man expect to get an inch-thick volume of close and well-printed reading for a shilling? The volumes before us are—The Cruise of the Blue Jacket, and other Sea Stories, by Lieut. Warneford; Storm-Beaten, or Christmas Eve at the Old Anchor Inn, by Messrs. Williams, Buchanan and Charles Gibbon; and The Night Mail, its Passengers, and how they Fared at Christmas, by Percy Fitzgerald. In the first volume, the reader will get his money’s worth in romance and exciting incident; in the second, he will get stories which have already appeared in Once a Week and All the Year Round, and others which are original; and in the third, he will get a series of picturesque tales, which will by no means disappoint him. All the reading, so far as we have dipped into it, seems innocent and wholesome; and whilst the Shilling Volume Library continues to be thus characterised, it will have out best wishes for its success.



The Era (26 January, 1862)


     This is a curious collection of stories, supposed to be told by the passengers of the “good ship Boomerang,” as they sat round the fire one Christmas Eve, in the hall of the “Old Anchor Inn.” The cause of their being together there was that the ship, after starting for Sydney, was “storm-beaten,” and driven back into the little port of Scuttleton-upon Kegg, where the passengers landed and took refuge in the old inn.
     The Barrister’s story, Recalled to Life, which stands first in the collection, is a strange tale of Mesmerism, the Mesmerist being a young French lady, who, being deeply in love with the barrister himself, attempts to make away with his wife during his absence, by putting her into a mesmeric sleep, and leaving her to die under its influence; but, fortunately, the husband discovers her condition ere it is too late, and makes the Mesmerist, Miss Dupesne, awaken her. And this is no unfair specimen of the style of most of the stories, which partake rather largely of the horribly impossible. The Doctor’s and the Golddigger’s stories, for instance, are of a simple character; the interest of the former depending upon a mysterious murder, and that of the latter upon a lady who, being jealous of one of her fellow-passengers on board a ship homeward bound from the Diggins, revenges herself by setting it on fire. We do not think very highly of the three poetical ones, and hardly agree with the stout, ruddy gentleman in his admiration of the Cabin-Boy’s tale.
     Moreover, we fear that the genteel young gentleman has rather borrowed his story of “My Aunt’s Umbrella” from a tale of the same name, which was published by Messrs. Kent and Co. in 1860, and we think that he has not succeeded nearly so well as the first writer on the subject did. The stout, ruddy gentleman’s narration is much the most lively of the set, as may be inferred from its title, “A Jolly Christmas.” We were particularly amused with the conversation in the conservatory, which the narrator and his friend Bob Dashit overheard. On the whole, “Storm Beaten” will prove an amusing companion to any railroad traveller who likes to spend a shilling upon it.



Glasgow Herald (5 February, 1862)

THE NIGHT MAIL: Its Passengers, and how they fared at Christmas. By Percy Fitzgerald.
THE CRUISE OF THE BLUE JACKET, and other Sea Stories. By Lieut. Warneford, R.N., author of “Tales of the Coast Guard,” &c.
STORM BEATEN: or, Christmas Eve at the Old Anchor Inn. By Williams Buchanan and Charles Gibbon.
London Ward & Lock, Fleet Street.

THESE are three additional volumes of Messrs. Ward & Lock’s Shilling Volume Library, and though last, they are not by any means the least worthy of those that have gone before. Each volume is complete in itself, and presents the reader with the utmost possible value both in quantity and quality. Every volume of this series that has come under our notice, has been carefully revised, so as to render the “Library” in all respects unexceptionable reading for the young as well as for the old. The “Night Mail” is a collection of Christmas stories told by passengers in a “first class” to while away the time on the road to their various destinations along the line. Some of them are capital stories, and will be read on many a railway and in many a comfortable parlour during the long winter evenings. “The Cruise of the Blue Jacket” is also a budget of stories, full of “hair-breadth ’scapes,” adventures, love scenes and awkward predicaments, all of which are highly interesting and amusing. “Storm Beaten” is constructed in the same way as the “Night Mail.” A number of shipwrecked passengers are congregated together on Christmas Eve in the Old Anchor Inn, and there, around a blazing fire, they tell over the story of their lives. Most of the tales in this volume are written by Mr. R. W. Buchanan, a young man of very promising talents, and a native of Glasgow. He has already made himself known in the world of literature; and from the acknowledged merit of his late productions in several leading magazines and periodicals, it is reasonable to expect that a work of more enduring interest will in due time appear with his name on the title page.



The Morning Post (18 December, 1869)

     “Storm Beaten,” by Robert Buchanan and Charles Gibbon, is a shilling Christmas volume of prose and verse, one of the series of “The Parlour Library” now in course of issue by Messrs. War, Lock, and Tyler. The introduction relates how the good ship Boomerang was storm beaten; how she was compelled to put back into the port of Scuttleton-upon- Kegg; how everybody came together on Christmas-eve in the Old Anchor Inn; and how well Messrs. Buchanan and Gibbon entertain the storm-beaten company.

“I stand on the bridge, while the river flows
     Under my feet in a dream;
While the faint yellow leaves of the sunset rose
     Close up with a silver gleam;
While the golden eyes of the summer night
     Are opening wide to see
The twilight, sandal’d with moonbeams white,
     Move mistily over the lea.”

No need to say who wrote this as introduction to “The Sickly Gentleman’s Story.”



The Spectator (25 December, 1869)

     Stormbeaten. By Robert Buchanan and Charles Gibbon. (Ward, Lock, and Tyler.)—This little book contains some very good and effective, and some very poor and melodramatic Christmas stories, and two or three spirited pieces of verse,—we conclude, by Mr. Buchanan,—which, though they will not for a moment compare with his true poems, are very far indeed above the ordinary verse of Christmas annuals. “Reuben Gray, or the sickly gentleman’s story,” is one of the best of these pieces of verse; and the “Gold-digger’s Story” also contains some very spirited descriptive verse. Still, neither of them is at all of the class of poems by which Mr. Buchanan has gained, and we trust will keep, his high character as a poet. The comic prose stories are, we think, the worst. “A Parisian Mystery” is one of the best.



The Spectator (1 January, 1870)



SIR,—I observe in last Saturday’s Spectator a review of a work entitled “Stormbeaten,” published by Messrs. Ward and Lock, and purporting to be a new work by “Messrs. Robert Buchanan and Charles Gibbon.” As the publication of the work at the present moment involves a double deception, permit me to offer some words of explanation.
     Some years ago, when I was a lad of 19, subsisting entirely by my pen, I published, in conjunction with another young lad of my own age, Mr. Gibbon, a little Christmas book of prose and verse, consisting chiefly of reprints from cheap magazines. The book was named as the joint work of “Williams Buchanan and Charles Gibbon,” the former being a kind of nom de plume attached by me in those days to work issued under my direction, but not necessarily the literary production of myself solely. “Stormbeaten,” as the book was called, was issued to the press, reviewed, and sold rather extensively, and then, as the author confidently expected, died the natural death of all trifles produced only for the temporary amusement of the hour. My own portion of the work, indeed, had by that time served a double purpose, for the poems you reviewed as new work last Saturday had previously appeared in Mr. Dickens’s All the Year Round, being written and published when I was about 18 years of age.
     Note now the deception on the public. The work you reviewed last week, and which has been issued everywhere to the press and the public as a new work, is the same “Stormbeaten” published, issued to the press, and reviewed nine years ago. You are not the only critic who has fallen a victim to this deception.
     Note now the second unfairness,—that upon the authors. Secretly, without one word of warning, reckless apparently of all consequences, the publishers have re-issued a work which was, as I maintain, their property for a Christmas season nine years ago, and which ever since has been the sole and undisputed property of the writers. Of course there is now only one court of appeal,—that of the law; and into that court the matter will be carried without delay. Meanwhile let me hope that through your columns this matter may be brought under the notice of the Press generally, and that reviewers may be warned away from the trap into which even so astute a critic as yourself has fallen.—I am, Sir, &c.,

                                                                                                                                     ROBERT BUCHANAN.



Illustrated Times (1 January, 1870 - p.11)

Storm Beaten. By ROBERT BUCHANAN and CHARLES GIBBON. London: Ward, Lock, and Tyler.

     This is a collection of stories with a common setting. They are some in prose and some in verse, and appear to have been written many years ago. Mr. Robert Buchanan, by his “Idylls of Inverburn” and some other works, and Mr. Charles Gibbon, by his “Robin Gray,” have since made their marks, each in a sufficiently decisive way; and though, possibly, they may neither of them be pleased with this reprint, there is nothing in it that either need be ashamed of. Some of the writing is, indeed, very effective, and the whole has, in a high degree, that indescribable characteristic, freshness. The reader must be warned that he will find in this collection pieces which neither of the authors would now write; but, for all that, “Storm Beaten” would, in any case, be pronounced a clever group of stories, with plenty of “go” and invention in them.



The Greenock Telegraph (6 January 1870 - pp.2-3)

     A curious question as to copyright will come up presently in the law courts, the pursuer being Mr Robert Buchanan, and the defendants Messrs Ward and Lock, the cheap publishers. When Mr Buchanan was nineteen years of age, he prepared a little Christmas volume for the above firm, in which he was assisted by Mr Gibbon, a lad of the same age. The book was entitled Storm-Beaten, and consisted of short tales and poems, the latter written by Mr Buchanan, and which had previously appeared in Mr Dickens’s All the Year Round. The authors’ names were given on the title-page as “Williams Buchanan and Charles Gibbon,” the former being a nom de plume of the young poet in those days—derived, we believe, from his mother’s family. Now, without so much as saying “by your leave,” the publishers have reprinted the book, putting in the title-page the name of Robert Buchanan. Manifold injustice is thus inflicted on the author. He holds that the book was the property of Ward and Lock only for that Christmas season in which it appeared. We fear the judges at Westminster will not sustain the plea; but they ought assuredly to give the poet a favourable verdict in respect to the use of his real name, which he did not sell to Ward and Lock nine years ago; and also in respect to the reprinting of juvenile matter in such a form as leads people to believe that Mr Buchanan has written it in 1869. Both of these acts involve manifest injustice. Whatever the issue of the threatened trial may be, the case will be regarded as a fresh proof of the disadvantages under which authors carry on their work, and of the fact that it is financially more profitable to sell books than to write them. In this connection we may mention that Mr Buchanan is at present contributing to Mr Dickens’s popular weekly a series of papers on his cruise of 1868 among the Western Isles.

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Wayside Posies: Original Poems of the Country Life (1866)
(Edited by Robert Buchanan.)


The Daily News (26 November, 1866)


     We have had occasion, in previous years, to protest against certain strange heresies in designing and wood engraving which have recently crept up; and we must renew that protest in connexion with the illustrations to Wayside Posies: Original Poems of the Country Life, edited by Robert Buchanan (Routledge and Sons). The “pictures,” as they are rather ostentatiously called in the title-page, are by G. J. Pinwell, J. W. North, and Frederick Walker; and they have been engraved by the Brothers Dalziel, who have done more than any other living wood engravers to encourage this false style of art. Mr. Pinwell, among the designers, is also, by this time, rather and old offender, and we must say that in the present volume he has surpassed himself. Let us not, however, be understood to deny the ability possessed by all the gentlemen concerned in the production of these illustrations. It is not want of cleverness, of observation, or of invention, which makes them err. They are the victims of an absurd hobby, which appears to rest on the ultimate principle that art should be made as ugly as possible, and that rather than not be ugly, nature and fact should be falsified. They have set themselves to imitate the asceticism of the old painters before Raphael, and, not having the aid of colour (which the early Italian artists employed to excess, thus in some degree correcting the rigidity of their forms), they produce a result which is often absolutely repellent. Realism is what they are evidently aiming at; but the “reality” is not real. It is a pretence. They omit all the air and light, all the soft, tender gradations of nature, all the poetry and vital glow of earth, sea, and sky, and reduce the breathing whole to a dry anatomy—a harsh affair of outlines. Even on this ground, many of their sketches are imperfect. The work is slovenly without freedom, and minute without exactness. Everything— we are speaking of the worst specimens, and especially of Mr. Pinwell’s productions—is brought up to the surface; the atmosphere is nowhere; there is no light, because no shadow; and the texture of everything is reduced to a uniform appearance, which is that of very coarse frayed cloth or frieze. Large blotches of white are left for the high lights, and in many of the landscapes the ground seems to be covered with snow, though the leaves on the trees indicate anything but winter. In the sketch called “Spring,” where the trees are bare, we supposed that snow really was intended, until we read the accompanying verses, and found that the far-stretching glare of the fields is meant for

The white of the midday sun,
That softens them into a dream.

Mr. J. W. North is the artist, and we will make bold to tell him that, though his sketch is clever and striking in itself, it is an absurdity for what it pretends to be. The same thing appears in many of the other illustrations, and in the darker subjects nothing can be more oppressive than the prevailing darkness, which is not the duskiness of nature, but a mere morbid fancy of the artist. he determination to be ugly at all costs is shown in many places, but in none more obviously than in Mr. Pinwell’s illustration to “Kitty Morris.” The poem describes Kitty as a radiant young beauty, whom the supposed utterer of the verses does not know how to approach, because he is only a lad. In the sketch Kitty is a very plain, commonplace, middle-aged woman, engaged at some dairy work or other in a wretched, squalid, outhouse, while the “lad,” who seems to be a mature man, and rather an ill-favoured one, as far as we can see him, looks on loutishly. The best things in the volume are the bits of scenery by Mr. North, which, though not devoid of the prevailing affectation, are sometimes striking and truthful. For instance, the glare of light on the sea in the engraving on page 18 is very remarkable; but it is too obviously copied from some recent photographs. Of the poems contained in the volume (which are original and anonymous) we can only say that some are very fair, and others very poor and sentimental.



The Saturday Review (1 December, 1866)


. . .

     Dalziel’s Gift-Book (Routledge). This title suggests that the “brothers Dalziel” get up every year a Christmas annual, of which the successive volumes have something more than a family likeness. But in the present collection (Wayside Posies) we have an attempt to illustrate a principle. Mr. Buchanan, no insufficient judge of poetry, has selected certain anonymous but original pieces, all devoted to the one subject of “country life,” which of course gives a good opportunity to the landscape draftsman. Both poets and artists have used their opportunity well, and Mr. Pinwell, whose familiar pencil meets us in almost every one of our “Gift-Books,” is here more than usually successful. It need scarcely be said that Messrs. Dalziel, working for themselves and for “Dalziel’s own,” do their best.



The Morning Post (4 December, 1866 - p.3)



     The progress of refinement in our literature is manifested to no small extent by the increasing elegance which annually marks the illustrated gift books for Christmas and the New Year. Everything that literary talent or artistic skill of the highest order can accomplish is now pressed into the service to bring them to perfection. The old annuals—whether “Keepsakes,” “Books of Beauty,” or “Forget me nots”—however much admired in their day—are quite eclipsed by the exquisite gems of art to be found among the present publications of a similar nature. Several volumes which fully attest this advancement with the advancing age have made their appearance this year. “Wayside Posies,” an elaborately embellished work, holds a high place among them. It is edited by Robert Buchanan, and consists of original poems relating to country life, with numerous illustrations, engraved by the Brothers Dalziel from the designs of some of our most eminent artists. The editor announces in his few lines of preface that he has selected the poems from a number submitted to him for approval by “men known and unknown,” and (including some little pieces of his own) he has made all alike anonymous that the “unknown men” might meet with unprejudiced judgment. From this introduction it may be inferred that the compositions are of unequal merit; but, at the same time, it is only fair to say that all of them are characterised by a simplicity which accords well with the subjects. Some of the poetry, indeed, is very beautiful, and generally it runs in smooth cadence and is full of pleasant imagery. Only occasionally the rhythm is open to objection in the use of participles emphasized on the last syllable, like charm’ed, stain’ed, and so forth. We know that such accentuation is now frequently adopted; but it carries with it a mingled affectation and incorrectness, to which not even “poetical license” can reconcile the lovers of good, sound metre. “Afloat on the Stream,” “Hope,” “The Swallows,” “A Vesper Hymn,” and “The Journey’s End,” may be cited as containing some very charming writing; but the most beautiful lines altogether are those on “Reaping,” to which allusion is made in the preface. There is a ring about them which touches the heart and elevates the feelings, and they may be described as quite worthy of “Longfellow.” Each verse carries its own charm with it, as will be seen by giving the lines at full length:—


“Up, mortal, and act, while the angel of light
     Melts the shadows before and behind thee!
Shake off the soft dreams that encumber thy might,
     And burst the fool’s fetters that bind thee!
Soars the skylark—soar thou; leaps the stream—do thou leap;
     Learn from Nature the splendour of action:
Plough, harrow, and sow, or thou never shalt reap;
     Faithful deed brings divine benefaction.

The red sun has rolled himself into the blue,
     And lifted the mists from the mountain;
The young hares are feasting on nectar of dew,
     The stag cools his lips in the fountain,
The blackbird is piping within the dim elm,
     The river is sparkling and leaping,
The wild bee is fencing the sweets of his realm,
     And the mighty-limbed reapers are reaping.

To Spring comes the budding; to Summer, the blush;
     To Autumn, the happy fruition;
To Winter, repose, meditation, and hush;
     But to Man, every season’s condition.
He buds, blooms, and ripens, in action and rest,
     As thinker, and actor, and sleeper;
Then withers and wavers, chin drooping on breast,
     And is reaped by the hand of a Reaper.”

The subject of this “Posie” of rare poetical flowers is illustrated by one of North’s pictures, representing harvest, where the slight discrepancy is observable of the labourers carrying scythes instead of “hooks,” or “sickles,” which, though somewhat fallen into disuse, are still the only implements to indicate “reaping.” “On the Shore,” “Hope,” and the illustration to the first stanzas of “The Swallows,” are also charmingly delineated by the same artist. The second picture to the latter poem, by Pinwell, is not so effective. The original of the “Bit o’ Garden,” by F. Walker (if we mistake not), formed one of the gems at a late exhibition of “Water Colours” by the society. The engraving in this volume is very striking in its contrast of light and shade, but it loses much through the absence of the vivid tints on the beds of flowers bordering a pathway, which were so lovely in the water-colour drawing. Too much praise cannot be accorded to the manipulation of the various pictures by the Brothers Dalziel. They have extended their share of the work with all their accustomed delicacy of touch and appreciation of the original designs. The exterior of the volume displays much taste on the part of the publishers, and in every respect “Wayside Posies” will be accepted as corresponding with its designation, “Dalziel’s Fine Art Gift Book.”

     * Wayside Posies: Original Poems of the Country Life. Edited by Robert Buchanan. Pictures by G. J. Pinwell, J. W. North, and Frederick Walker. Engraved by the Brothers Dalziel. London: George Routledge and Sons.



The Examiner (8 December, 1866)


     The volume of ‘Wayside Posies,’ edited by Mr Robert Buchanan, with pictures by Messrs G. J. Pinwell, J. W. North, and Frederick Walker, is very unequal in merit, both as to the verse and as to the pictures. Mr F. Walker’s sketches of life are very simple and true, and many of Mr J. W. North’s rural sketches are faithful, artistic, and unaffected, but for the clever affectations of Mr G. J. Pinwell we have very little relish. There is usually no air or distance in them, and even when the artist means to represent a beauty, as in the picture of Kitty Morris, who is “witching sweet,” Mr Pinwell can suggest nothing brighter than a heavy, ill-favoured girl, with the aspect of one who has a bad cold in her nose. He illustrates with a picture of three ugly girls looking at a statuette of Cupid, a poem entitled ‘Which Would You Kiss?’ which does not seem to have been written with a view to any such caricature. Yet Mr Pinwell is very clever. He may possibly be, in fact, the cleverest man of the three by whom this book is illustrated. Only his cleverness is marred by affectation, as Mr Robert Buchanan’s cleverness is marred by his conceit. On the whole, this handsome gift-book is entitled to a special rank for its originality, the verse being all new, and, barring a certain proportion of rubbish (like the poem called ‘The Goose’), sufficiently agreeable. The greater part of it is understood to be by Mr Robert Buchanan, who contrives in a few prefatory lines to display several of those defects of taste which are likely to impede his progress in the world. He succeeds less in short pieces of occasional verse than in pathetic narrative, but there is much here that is delicately conceived and gracefully expressed.



The Standard (13 December, 1866 - p.3)



A book under the title Wayside Poesies comes to us from the same firm, in a cover of blue, white, and gold. It is “Dalziel’s Fine Art Gift Book for 1867,” and is more especially interesting from the fact that it contains, we believe, the first editorial work done by Mr. Robert Buchanan, who has evidently not regarded the volume as a “pot boiler,” since he has bestowed a very great deal of pains on the selection of the original poems which it contains, and which are altogether anonymous. Some of them are his own, and many are by new men; but in all there is more or less freshness and vigour, while we can say as much for the illustrations, which are large, well-drawn, and carefully engraved after Messrs. Pinwell, North and F. Walker. This is a really first-rate book in every respect, and, moreover, considering the labour and cost expended on it, a cheap book.



Notes and Queries (Vol. 10 3rd S. (259) 15 December, 1866 - p.486)

Wayside Posies: Original Poems of the Country Life. Edited by Robert Buchanan. Pictures by G. J. Pinwell, J. W. North, and Frederick Walker. Engraved by the Brothers Dalziel. (Routledge.)

     This is a Christmas Book edited by a true poet, who rejoicing in the belief, that—

“There are flowers along the peasant’s path
     That kings might stoop to pull,”—

has culled a goodly nosegay of graceful little poems which have for their theme the pleasures of home life, and the riches which are garnered in the domestic affections. The poems are illustrated by nearly fifty engravings by the Brothers Dalziel from the designs of Messrs. Pinwell, North, and Walker; and the volume forms a very handsome and appropriate Gift Book for those who, eschewing the sensational spirit which marks and mars so much of the literature of the present day, prefer a book calculated to stimulate home duties and elevate home affections.



The Athenæum (22 December, 1866)



     UNDER this head we class a large number of volumes, all of which are more or less splendid, and some beautiful.
     Wayside Posies (Routledge & Sons) comprises, with wood engravings, a set of poems selected, with care and taste, by Mr. R. Buchanan. Let us first write of the poems, next of the pictures that illustrate them. ‘The Bit o’ Garden,’ a homely poem of domestic shame and grief, has a very subtle and tender point in the line—

’Tis weary now with over-love, and all for Lizzie’s sake,

and is itself a capital poem. There is a brilliant point, of small size, in ‘Shadow and Substance,’ to which Mr. G. J. Pinwell has not added much of wit or bulk by means of his “odd” sketch of a damsel and her image as reflected in smooth water. We fear the forms of the shadow and substance in this drawing would not bear scientific testing. There is great sweetness as well as a happy knack of versifying in ;Afloat on the Stream.’ ‘School’ is a broadly-treated, well-finished, pleasant and thoughtful composition, with some choice fancies in it, and a sort of “tag” that is not over new. Mr. J. W. North’s drawing to ‘On the Shore’ is a poor thing; the poem itself is as pleasant a piece of Art as the melancholy theme allows. Mr. Pinwell’s illustration to ‘The Swallows’ lacks solidity; the figures are but ghostly, a common defect in works that are stopped at the stage of sketching, and achieve little that is worth the name of study: see ‘The Journey’s End,’ by this artist. Of sketches, poetical as well as pictorial, there are, as might be expected, many in this book. It is, withal, wonderfully cheap. Mr. J. W. North’s drawing to ‘Spring’ is very good, and brilliant with tender sunlight. It is somewhat ungainly in its arrangement of forms. ‘King Pippin’ is capital. Has not the writer of ‘By the Dove-cot’ taken a leetle liberty with the word “enchanted” in rhyming it with “haunted”? A pretty, pleasant verse, ‘The Visions of a City Tree,’ has one of the quaintest as well as most original themes among its class, here or elsewhere; the rural tastes and memories of a house-environed tree are related with much spirit and picturesque power in versifying. Among which the following, after describing the daily woes of the tree, is noteworthy:—

But in the night-time I am blessed
     With many a lovelier vision
Than ever soothed a maiden’s rest
     With dreams of lands Elysian.
Lo, pale Capella and red Mars
Crown me with diadem of stars!

I watch the sunset’s latest dart
     Pale in the clear, cool even,
Till the white moon becomes the heart
     Of the violet of heaven;
And then I watch this glorious flower
Grow lovelier through each silent hour.

Mr. North’s landscape illustration to this poem, although thin, is full of nature of the simplest kind. The best and most carefully-wrought interior view in this book is that which illustrates ‘Norlan Farm,’ by Mr. Pinwell. This is richer in tone than any other; the figures, as is common here, are not very well drawn. ‘Summer Storm,’ both verses and picture, the latter by Mr. Pinwell, is one of the best of this series. ‘The Heath’ shows an excellent landscape by Mr. North, which is not the less good for being of very simple character.



The Illustrated London News (29 December, 1866 - p.10-11)

     The poems collected together by Mr. Buchanan, under the name of “Wayside Posies,” are all new and original, but he has thought it better to withhold the names of the authors, in order to let those who have not yet achieved a literary reputation stand a fair chance of approval on the merits of their contributions in this instance. The illustration we have borrowed is one designed by Mr. F. Walker, and engraved, as all the others are, by the Messrs. Dalziel. It refers to a poem of tender melancholy on the death of a child, “Our Little One” is the title, and here is a verse of it:—

All day long the house was glad,
     With the patter of little happy feet;
Never was stranger’s face so sad,
     But it brightened to see a thing so sweet;
Hither and thither all the day,
     Here did our little one laugh and leap,
Till his eyes grew dim as the world grew grey,
And in his little bed he lay,
     Tired, tired, and fast asleep.

We will not quote the other two verses, which are sad; but the poem is true to the nature of the human heart and to the conditions of human life. There is no truer praise for a poem of this simple kind.

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The Life and Adventures of J. J. Audubon (1869)


The Pall Mall Gazette (14 September, 1867 - p.4)

Mr. Robert Buchanan has undertaken the editorship of a “Life of John James Audubon,” from materials supplied by his widow.



The Bury and Norwich Post, and Suffolk Herald (24 November, 1868 - p.4)



. . .

     A curious association of names is seen in a work published to-day by Messrs. Moxon, viz., The Letters and Journals of Charles Lamb, by Mr. G. A. Sala. Of all living literary people I should have said Mr. Sala was the least able to sympathise with and describe the idiosyncracies of Lamb. Both have humour, it is true; but so it might be said that Mr. Gladstone and Feargus O’Connor were both eloquent. However, it does not seem necessary now to esteem an author very highly to write his life or edit his books. Mr. Robt. Buchanan, who has just edited the journals of Anderton, the naturalist, expresses himself so unfavourably of certain alleged characteristics of that remarkable man, that the widow protests and declares he is moved by prejudice. Mr. Buchanan states this in his preface, and replies to the lady, maintaining his criticisms. The circumstance has hardly an edifying look. A biographer ought, of course, to be as near impartiality as he can, but if he sees many defects in the subject of the memoir, it would be as well if he allowed somebody else to write it. Mr. Buchanan has also just edited a new edition of Longfellow’s works, the first volume of which was published to-day.



The New York Times (6 December, 1868)


THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF JOHN JAMES AUDUBON, the Naturalist. Edited from materials supplied by his widow, by ROBERT BUCHANAN. London: SAMPSON LOW, SON & MARSTON.

     If the truth that science is cosmopolitan and knows no country, clime or language, needed any demonstration, it might be found in the career of the illustrious AUDUBON. A native of Louisiana, he traveled over nearly every part of this country, spending months and indeed years in England and France to promote the great object to which he devoted his life; and now his biography, edited by a Scotchman, ROBERT BUCHANAN, the poet, has just been published in London, and it cannot be long before it shall be reproduced here, not only as the last mark of respect to one of the greatest geniuses to which our country can lay claim, but to show to all who may be called on to struggle with adverse fortune that there are no obstacles which energy and perseverance, guided by an indomitable will, may not overcome.
     AUDUBON came legitimately by that restless, wandering disposition which aided him so greatly in the production of his life-long studies. His father was a son, the twentieth child of a fisherman, poor in all save his progeny, of Nantes, in France. Beginning life as a boy before the mast, he was rated as an able-bodied seaman at the age of seventeen; at twenty-one commanded a vessel himself, and at twenty-five was the owner and captain of a little craft which was the first of a small fleet with which he voyaged to the West Indies, thus laying the foundation of a future which was subsequently augmented materially by his marriage in Louisiana, with a lady of Spanish extraction. JOHN JAMES AUDUBON was born in Louisiana, and was the youngest of three sons. His mother perished miserably in the negro insurrection in San Domingo, and his father, who had become a Commodore in the French Navy, found a second wife in whose care the boy was left, while the elder AUDUBON returned to this country in the employment of the French Government, where he finally became attached to the army under LAFAYETTE. During his father’s absence the boy had every indulgence from his  step-mother. Dancing, fencing, music and drawing were among the accomplishments in which he became more or less proficient, and strange as it may seem, each one of them proved of service to him, even in the wilds of this country, in the pursuit of after life. Condemning such trivialities, his father, on returning from sea, took his son with him to Rochefort where, under his personal supervision, he had him spend a year in the close study of mathematics, with the view of fitting him for military life; but the Commodore soon became convinced that he must abandon this project. The young man had found time, during this brief interval, to indulge his growing desire to know more of natural history, and in this twelvemonth amused himself by drawing sketches of French birds, actually completing two hundred specimens. Making the best of his disappointment, the elder AUDUBON sent his son to this country to look after an estate which he had, with most singular foresight, purchased during his sojourn here some years before. Hardly had the young man landed in this City when he was attacked with yellow fever, which, as he states, he caught “by walking to the bank in Greenwich-street to cash his letter of credit.” Fortunately he fell into good hands. Capt. JOHN SMITH—to which branch of this numerous family the Captain belonged Mr. BUCHANAN omits to inform us—took the young emigrant to Morristown, N. J., where he was carefully nursed by two Quaker ladies, who, doubtless, preserved his life. Subsequently his father’s agent, Mr. FISHER, removed him to his own residence near Philadelphia, and soon afterward handed over to him his father’s property of Mill Grove on Perkiominy Creek. His life here was marked by several important events—the forming the acquaintance of Miss BAKEWELL, whom he afterward married; a narrow escape from drowning by falling into an air- hole while skating on Perkiominy Creek, and the conception of his great work upon American ornithology. That his life here was most agreeable is plain enough from the entries in his diary. He had ample means for all his wants, was gay, extravagant and fond of dress. He writes, “I had no vices; but was thoughtless, pensive, loving, fond of shooting, fishing and riding, and had a passion for raising all sorts of fowls....It was one of my fancies to be ridiculously fond of dress; to hunt in black satin breeches, wear pumps when shooting, and dress in the finest ruffled shirts I could obtain from France.” But this very agreeable existence was rudely broken in upon by the advent of one whom he describes as a “partner, tutor and monitor,” DA COSTA, who not only undertook to put the young man under various wholesome restraints, but even objected to his approaching marriage to Miss BAKEWELL. Revolting against this tyranny, AUDUBON succeeded, after overcoming numerous obstacles, in making his way back to France, where he had no difficulty in persuading his father to revoke the commission under which he had sent DA COSTA to this country. He spent a year in the paternal home, completing during that time, two hundred drawings of European birds, and finally yielding to the wishes of his father so far as to make one short cruise as a midshipman in the French marine. Upon his return, he formed an engagement with FERDINAND ROSIER for a term of nine years. and the two left France for this country just as the Government was making preparations for the gigantic conflict with Russia then believed to be impending. Returning to Mill Grove, he at once dismissed DA COSTA from his situation, and resumed full possession of the estate. Mr. BAKEWELL, afterward his brother-in-law, writes of him at this time, “He had great skill in stuffing and preserving animals of all sorts. He had also a trick of training dogs with great perfection, of which art his famous dog, Zephyr, was a wonderful example. He was an admirable marksman, an expert swimmer, a clever rider, possessed great activity, prodigious strength and was notable for the elegance of his figure and the beauty of his features, and he aided nature by a careful attendance to his dress. Besides other accomplishments, he was musical, a good fencer, danced well, had some acquaintance of legerdemain tricks, worked in hair, and could plait willow baskets”—a catalogue of varied accomplishments, which the chronicler winds up by stating that AUDUBON once swan across the Schuylkill River with him on his back; “certainly,” as Mr. BUCHANAN remarks, “no contemptible feat for a young athlete.”
     After his long sojourn in France, AUDUBON was naturally anxious to close his engagement with Miss BAKEWELL by marrying her, but the father of his intended insisted that he should first get some knowledge of commercial pursuits, and accordingly secured his future son-in-law a place in the counting-house of Mr. BENJAMIN BLAKEWELL, then a prominent merchant in this city. The loss of several hundred pounds in an indigo speculation; the mailing a letter unsealed containing $8,000, and several kindred exploits, speedily decided his unfitness for such pursuits, and receiving unlimited leave of absence he returned to Mill grove. Determined to put an end to his courtship, as a preliminary step he visited Kentucky with ROSIER, his partner, and deciding to settle in Louisville, sold his plantation at Mill Grove, invested his capital in goods, and having completed all his preparations for removal, married Miss BAKEWELL on April 8, 1808, and embarking on a flatboat at Pittsburg with his merchandise and household goods, made his wedding trip to Louisville in this primitive manner.
     ROSIER proved a thorough and capable business man, and AUDUBON took advantage of his partner’s close application to his duties to yield again to the old fascination of bird-hunting and drawing. Louisville finally proved an unremunerative field, and, taking his wife and young son back to his father-in-law’s, a removal to Hendersonville, and subsequently to Genevieve, was successfully made, after encountering numerous hardships. The detentions while voyaging on the Ohio and Mississippi in his flatboat gave AUDUBON numerous opportunities for indulging his tastes, which were eagerly improved, and of some of his adventures, hunting with the Indians, we have pictures from his pen as graphic as any he ever drew with his pencil.
     After describing one day’s sport, he writes:

     “When I awoke in the morning and made my rounds through the camp, I found a squaw had been delivered of beautiful twins during the night, and I saw the same squaw at work tanning deer-skins. She had cut two vines at the roots of opposite trees, and made a cradle of bark, in which the new-born ones were wafted to and fro with a push of her hand, while, from time to time she gave them the breast, and was apparently as unconcerned as if the event had not taken place. * * * *
     I was invited by three hunters to a bear hunt. A tall, robust, well-shaped fellow, assured me that we should have some sport that day, for he had discovered the haunt of one of large size, and he wanted to meet him face to face; and we four started to see how he would fulfil his boast. About half a mile from the camp he said he perceived his tracks, though I could see nothing; and we rambled on through the cane-brake until we came to an immense decayed log, in which he swore the bear was. I saw his eye sparkle with joy, his rusty blanket was thrown off his shoulders, his brawny arm swelled with blood as he drew his scalping-knife from his belt with a flourish which showed that fighting was his delight. He told me to mount a small sapling, because a bear cannot climb one, while it can go up a large tree with the nimbleness of a squirrel. The two other Indians seated themselves at the entrance and the hero went in boldly. All was silent for a few moments, when he came out and said the bear was dead, and I might come down. The Indians cut a long vine, went into the hollow tree, fastened it to the animal, and with their united force dragged it out. I really thought this was an  exploit.”

     After a short time spent in Genevieve, AUDUBON became thoroughly wearied of business, and impatient to get back to his young wife who had come as far west as Hendersonville. ROSIER had married, and AUDUBON having sold out his interest to him determined to make his way across the country to Hendersonville. During this journey he met with the most thrilling adventure and the most narrow escape of his life. The story has, we believe, been told in substance before, and has probably been the basis of numerous dime novels and magazine narratives, but it is worth repeating, since the chief part shall be given in AUDUBON’S words. One night as he was making his way across a prairie near the Upper Mississippi, he sought shelter in a log hut, the only inmates of which were a muscular and repulsive-looking woman and a young Indian who had sought assistance there after having, by accident, nearly put out one of his eyes. AUDUBON chanced to let the woman get a glimpse of his watch, which was of rare workmanship, and the sight of it at once aroused her cupidity. Letting her take it to examine, he only managed to get possession of it quietly by a ruse, and not until the Indian had endeavored by pantomime to draw his attention to certain suspicious actions on the part of their hostess. Going out of the hut AUDUBON slipped a ball into each barrel of his rifle, picked the locks, and returning, called his faithful dog to his side, threw himself down upon a few bear skins, and feigned sleep. The rest of the story shall be told in his own words. He writes:

     “A short time had elapsed when some voices were heard, and from the corner of my eyes I saw two athletic youths making their entrance, bearing a dead stag on a pole. They disposed of their burden, and asking for whisky helped themselves freely to it. Observing me and the wounded Indian, they asked who I was, and why the d—l that rascal (meaning the Indian, who, they knew, understood not a word of English,) was in the house? The mother, for so she proved to be, bade them speak less loudly, made mention of my watch, and took them to a corner, where a conversation took place, the purport of which it required little shrewdness in me to guess. I tapped my dog gently, he moved his tail, and with indescribable pleasure I saw his fine eyes alternately fixed on me and raised towards the trio in the corner. I felt that he perceived danger in my situation. The Indian exchanged the last glance with me.
     The lads had eaten and drunk themselves into such condition that I already looked upon them as hors de combat; and the frequent visits of the whisky bottle to the ugly mouth of their dam I hoped would soon reduce her to a like state. Judge of my astonishment when I saw this incarnate fiend take a large carving-knife, and go to the grindstone to whet its edge; I saw her pour the water on the turning machine, and watched her working away with the dangerous instrument, until the cold sweat covered every part of my body, in despite of my determination to defend myself to the last. Her task finished, she walked to her reeling sons, and said: ‘There, that’ll soon settle him! Boys, kill yon—, and then for the   watch!’
     I turned, cocked my gun-locks silently, touching my faithful companion, and lay ready to start up and shoot the first who might attempt my life. The moment was fast approaching, and that night might have been my last in this world, had not Providence made provision for my rescue. All was ready. The infernal hag was advancing slowly, probably contemplating the best way of dispatching me while her sons should be engaged with the Indian. I was several times on the eve of rising and shooting her on the spot, but she was not to be punished thus. The door was suddenly opened, and there entered two stout travelers, each with a long rifle on his shoulder. I bounced up on my feet, and making them most heartily welcome, told them how well it was for me that they should have arrived at that moment. The tale was told in a minute. The drunken sons were secured, and the woman, in spite of her defence and vociferations, shared the same fate. The Indian fairly danced with joy, and gave us to understand that, as he could not sleep for pain, he would watch over us. You may suppose we slept much less than we talked. The two strangers gave me an account of their once having been themselves in a similar situation. Day came fair and rosy, and with it the punishment of our captives.
     They were quite sobered. Their feet were unbound, but their arms were still securely tied. We marched them into the woods off the road, and having used them as regulators were wont to use such delinquents, we set fire to the cabin, gave all the skins and implements to the young Indian warrior, and proceeded, well pleased, towards the settlements.”

     Western Kentucky was then, possibly because the country was not “well settled,” troubled, as California is now, with earthquakes. The effect produced by the phenomenon is thus graphically described:

     “In the month of November the naturalist was riding along on horseback, when he heard what he imagined to be the distant rumbling of a violent tornado. ‘On which,’ says he, ‘I spurred my steed, with a wish to gallop as fast as possible to the place of shelter. But it would not do; the animal knew better than I what was forthcoming, and instead of going faster, so nearly stopped, that I remarked he placed one foot after another on the ground with as much precaution as if walking on a smooth sheet of ice. I thought he had suddenly foundered, and, speaking to him, was on the point of dismounting and leading him, when he, all of a sudden, fell a groaning piteously, hung his head, spread out his four legs, as if to save himself from falling, and stood stock still, continuing to groan. I thought my horse was about to die, and would have sprung from his back had a minute more elapsed; but at that instant all the shrubs and trees began to move from their very roots, the ground rose and fell in successive furrows, like the ruffled waters of a lake, and I became bewildered in my ideas, as I too plainly discovered that all this commotion in nature was the result of an earthquake. I had never witnessed anything of the kind before, although, like every other person, I knew of earthquakes by description. But what is description compared with reality? Who can tell of the sensations which I experienced when I found myself rocking, as it were, upon my horse, and with him moved to and fro like a child in a cradle, with the most imminent danger around   me? The fearful convulsion, however, lasted only a few minutes, and the heavens again brightened as quickly as they had become obscured; my horse brought his feet to the natural position, raised his head and galloped off as if loose and frolicking without a rider.
     I was not, however, without great apprehension respecting my family, from which I was many miles distant, fearful that where they were the shock might have caused greater havoc than I had witnessed. I gave the bridle to my steed, and was glad to see him appear as anxious to get home as myself. The pace at which he galloped accomplished this sooner than I had expected, and I found with much pleasure, that no greater harm had taken place than the apprehension excited for my own safety. Shock succeeded shock almost every day or night for several weeks, diminishing, however, so gradually as to dwindle away into mere vibrations of the earth. Strange to say, I for one became so accustomed to the feeling as rather to enjoy the fears manifested by others. I never can forget the effects of one of the slighter shocks, which took place when I was at a friend’s house, where I had gone to enjoy the merriment that in our Western country attends a wedding. The ceremony being performed, supper over, and the fiddles tuned, dancing became the order of the moment. This was merrily followed up to a late hour, when the party retired to rest. We were in what was called, with great propriety, a log-house—one of large dimensions and solidly constructed. The owner was a physician, and in one corner were not only his lancets, tournequets, amputating-knives and other sanguinary apparatus, but all the drugs which he employed for the relief of his patients, arranged in jars and phials of different sizes. These had, some days before, made a narrow escape from destruction, but had been fortunately preserved by closing the doors of the cases in which they were contained.
     As I have said, we had all retired to rest. Morning was fast approaching, when the rumbling noise that precedes the earthquake began so loudly as to awaken the whole party and drive them out of bed in the greatest consternation. The scene which ensued was humorous in the extreme. Fear knows no restraint. Every person, old and young, filled with alarm at the creaking of the log-house, and apprehending instant destruction, rushed wildly out to the grass inclosure fronting the building. The full moon was slowly descending from her throne, covered at times by clouds that rolled heavily along, as if to conceal from her view the scenes of terror which prevailed on earth below.
     On the grass plat we all met, in such condition as rendered it next to impossible to discriminate any of the party, all huddled together in a state of almost perfect nudity. The earth waved like a field of corn before the breeze; the birds left their perches and flew about not knowing whither; and the doctor, recollecting the danger of his gallipots, ran to his office to prevent their dancing off the shelves to the floor. Never for a moment did he think of closing the door, but spreading his arms, jumped about the front of the cases, pushing back here and there the falling jars, but with so little success, that before the shock was over he had lost nearly all he possessed. The shock at length ceased, and the frightened females, now sensible of their dishabille, fled to their several apartments.”

     While residing at Hendersonville one misfortune after another overtook AUDUBON. His father died, and as he did not learn of the sad event for nearly a year, he lost, through the failure of a merchant in Richmond, Va., the sum of $17,000, which had been deposited with him by the elder AUDUBON for the benefit of his son. One unfortunate business venture followed another until hardly anything was left him but his sick wife, his gun, his dog and his skill in drawing with his knowledge of dancing, fencing, &c. Still his courage did not for a moment desert him. Foiled in one place he left it for another. From Kentucky he went to Cincinnati, where he was for a time curator of the Museum, and thence down the Mississippi to Natchez and New-Orleans. His diary during this time gives us most graphic sketches of every phase of Western life, with accounts more or less detailed of notabilities with whom he was now and then thrown in contact. Of RAFINESQUE, the eccentric naturalist, he tells this odd incident:

     “After a day’s pursuit of natural history studies, the stranger was accommodated with a bed in an attic-room. We had all retired to rest; every person, I imagined, was in deep slumber save myself, when of a sudden I heard a great uproar in the naturalist’s room. I got up, reached the place in a few minutes, and opened the door, when, to my astonishment, I saw my guest running about naked, holding the handle of my favorite violin, the body of which he had battered to pieces against the walls in attempting to kill the bats which had entered by the open window, probably attracted by the insects flying around his candle. I stood amazed, but he continued jumping and running round and round until he was fairly exhausted, when he begged me to procure one of the animals for him, as he felt convinced they belonged to a ‘new species.’ Although I was convinced of the contrary, I took up the bow of my demolished cremona, and administering a smart tap to each of the bats as it came up, soon got specimens enough. The war ended, I again bade him good night, but could not help observing the state of the room. It was strewed with plants, which had been previously arranged with care. He saw my regret for the havoc that had been created, but added that he would soon put his plants to rights—after he had secured his specimens of bats.”

     Of another eccentricity, a painter, whose name is not given, but whose oddities fascinated AUDUBON, we have this amusing sketch.

     “His head was crowned with a straw hat, the brim of which might cope with those worn by the fair sex in 1830; his neck was exposed to the weather; the broad frill of a shirt, then fashionable, flopped about his breast, while an extraordinary collar, carefully arranged, fell on the top of his coat. The latter was of a light green color, harmonising well with a pair of flowing yellow nankeen trousers and a pink waistcoat, from the bosom of which, amid a large bunch of the splendid flowers of the magnolia, protruded part of a young alligator, which seemed more anxious to glide through the muddy waters of a swamp than to spend its life swinging to and fro among folds of the purest lawn. The gentleman held in one hand a cage full of richly plumed nonpareils, while in the other he sported a silk umbrella, on which I could plainly read ‘Stolen from I.,’ these words being painted in large white characters. He walked as if conscious of his own importance; that is with a good deal of pomposity, singing, ‘My love is but a lassie yet;’ and that, with such thorough imitation of the Scotch emphasis, that had not his physiognomy suggested another parentage, I should have believed him to be a genuine Scot. A narrower acquaintance proved him to be a Yankee; and anxious to make his acquaintance, I desired to see his birds. He retorts, ‘What the devil did I know about birds?’ I explained to him that I was a naturalist, whereupon he requested me to examine his birds. I did so with some interest, and was preparing to leave, when he bade me come to his lodging and see the remainder of his collection. This I willingly did, and was struck with amazement at the appearance of his studio. Several cages were hung about the walls, containing specimens of birds, all of which I examined at my leisure. On a large easel before me stood an unfinished portrait, other pictures hung about, and in the room were two young pupils; and at a glance I discovered that the eccentric stranger was, like myself, a naturalist and an artist. The artist, as modest as he was odd, showed me how he laid on the paint on his pictures, asked after my own pursuits, and showed a friendly spirit which enchanted me. With a ramrod for a rest, he prosecuted his work vigorously, and afterward asked me to examine a percussion lock on his gun, a novelty to me at the time. He snapped some caps, and on my remarking that he would frighten his birds, he exclaimed, ‘Devil take the birds, there are more of them in the market.’ He then loaded his gun, and wishing to show me that he was a marksman, fired at one of the pins on his easel. This he smashed to pieces, and afterward put a rifle bullet exactly through the hole into which the pin fitted.”

     During the vicissitudes through which he passed at this period, he was nobly sustained by his self-sacrificing wife, who secured a position as governess in one or another of the families of wealthy Southern planters able to remunerate her well for her valuable services. AUDUBON had all the while been prosecuting the subscription which was to enable him to bring out his great work on ornithology, and, after securing three hundred names in this country, determined to go to England and take further subscriptions and get the plates under way, and he accordingly sailed from New-Orleans for Liverpool, in April, 1826.
     It would be interesting to follow AUDUBON through his stay in England, and to quote the racy sketches which he gives of men and things; to trace the vicissitudes through which he passed, to note the unfailing energy with which he conquered all obstacles, and then to follow him to France, where the same experiences awaited him, but we must content ourselves with simply alluding to the three years thus spent, which to him perhaps seemed the most eventful of his life. In May, 1829, AUDUBON returned to this country, and, after spending some weeks on the New-Jersey coast, and in “the great pine swamp” in Northumberland County, Penn., he went South to see his wife, from whom he had been so long separated. He spent three months with her at Bayou Sara, and on Jan. 1, 1830, they started for New-Orleans, whence they went North to Washington, and thence to New-York to sail again for Liverpool. During the year following important work was done in getting the Ornithology brought to public notice, and in pushing forward the work upon it, and in spite of what obstacles and with what success, the following paragraph from his journal, written under date of April 15, 1831, will tell:

     “I have balanced my accounts with the Birds of America, and the whole business is really wonderful; $40,000 have passed through my hands for the completion of the first volume. Who would believe that a lonely individual, who landed in England without a friend in the whole country, and with only sufficient pecuniary means to travel through it as a visitor, would have accomplished such a task as this publication! Who would believe that once in London, AUDUBON had only one sovereign in his pocket, and did not know of a single individual to whom to apply to borrow another, when he was on the verge of failure, in the very beginning of his undertaking; and above all, who would believe that he extricated himself from all his difficulties, not by borrowing money, but by rising at 4 o’clock in the morning, working hard all day, and disposing of his works at a price which a common laborer would have thought little more than sufficient remuneration for his work? ‘To give you an idea of my actual difficulties during the publication of my first volume, it will be sufficient to say, that in the four years required to bring that volume before the world, no less than fifty of my subscribers, representing the sum of $56,000, abandoned me! And whenever a few withdrew I was forced to leave London and go to the provinces to obtain others to supply their places, in order to enable me to raise the money to meet the expenses of engraving, coloring, paper, printing, &c.; and that with all my constant exertions, fatigues and vexations, I find myself now having but 130 standing names on my list.”

     On Sept. 3, 1831, AUDUBON again landed in New-York, and soon after went to Florida, where he had determined to spend the Winter. The “Live Oakers,” “Deer Hunting,” “The Wreckers,” “The Touters,” &c., furnish the material for graphic and thrilling sketches to which we can only allude. In August of the following year, with his wife and two sons, he made a journey into the State of Maine, thence through New Brunswick to Labrador, where he spent a summer. A visit to Florida was proposed, but abandoned, for the winter of 1833-34, and in April of 1834 he returned to London with his wife and sons. Soon afterward he called on Baron ROTHSCHILD with proper letters of introduction, hoping to secure his subscription to the Ornithology. He writes:

     “Soon a corpulent man appeared, hitching up his trousers, and a face red with the exertion of walking, and, without noticing any one present, dropped his fat, comfortable body into a chair, as if caring for no one else in this wide world but himself. While the Baron sat, we stood, with our hats held respectfully in our hands. I stepped forward and with a bow tendered him my credentials. The banker opened the letter, read it with the manner of one who was looking only at the temporal side of things, and after reading it said; ‘This is only a letter of introduction, and I expect from its contents that you are the publisher of some book or other and need my subscription.’ Had a man the size of a mountain spoken to me in that arrogant style in America, I should have indignantly resented it; but where I then was it seemed best to swallow and digest it as well as I could; so in reply to the offensive arrogance of this banker I said I should be honored by his subscription to the Birds of America. ‘Sir,’ he said, ‘I never sign my name to any subscription list; but you may send me your work and I will pay for a copy of it. Gentlemen, I am busy, I wish you good morning.’ We were busy men, too, and so bowing respectfully, we retired, pretty well satisfied with the small slice of his opulence which our labor was likely to obtain.”

     The point of this interview was in its result. Several numbers of the Birds of America were sent to the Baron by AUDUBON and after eight or ten months a bill for £100 was presented. “The Baron” writes AUDUBON, “looked at it with amazement and cried out, ‘What, a £100 for birds! Why, Sir, I will give you £5, and not a farthing more,’” and since the naturalist did not regard that amount of the Baron’s money as worth a £100 from any one else he was compelled to take back the numbers delivered.
     Returning to this country again in August 1836, AUDUBON visited Boston and Washington, at both of which places he was cordially received, dining at the Capital with President JACKSON, and thence he made another visit to Florida and afterward to Texas. In 1838 he again went to England, but came back to America in the following year and settled in this City where he fully expected to spend the remainder of his days. As he had commenced work on his drawings of the quadrupeds of North America, he found that it would be necessary for him to visit the great Western prairies, and accordingly in March 1843, he left New-York on an expedition up the Yellowstone River which occupied him for eight months. When he returned from this expedition he had nearly reached his seventieth year, yet he began to work again with his usual energy and diligence. “The interval of about three years,” Mr. BUCHANAN writes, “which passed between the time of AUDUBON’S return from the West and the period when his mind began to fail, was a short and swift twilight to his adventurous life. After 1846, his mind entirely failed him, and for the last few years of his life his eye lost its brightness, and he had to be led to his daily walks by the hand of a servant. This continued until the Monday before his death. On Monday morning he declined to eat his breakfast, and was unable to take his morning walk. Mrs. AUDUBON had him put to bed, and he lay without any apparent suffering, but refusing to receive any nourishment, until 5 o’clock on Thursday morning, Jan. 27, 1851, ‘when,’ says the widow, ‘a deep pallor overspread his countenance.’ The other members of his family were immediately sent for to his bedside. Then, though he did not speak, his eyes, which had been so long nearly quenched, rekindled into their former lustre and beauty; his spirit seemed to be conscious that it was approaching the spirit land. One of the sons said ‘MINNIE, father’s eyes have now their natural expression;’ and the departing man reached out his arms, took his wife’s and children’s hands between his own, and passed peacefully away.”
     The octavo volume from which we have gleaned these facts in the history of the most distinguished of American naturalists, has been condensed, as Mr. BUCHANAN tells us in the preface, from a manuscript which, if published entire, would have made a book five times as large. That the editor performed his task with judgment is evident, from the fact that this extended review gives but a glimpse at the graphic descriptions and thrilling narratives of adventure, as well as at the piquant and often amusing personalities in which the book abounds. Mr. BUCHANAN also displays his good sense in not yielding more largely to the temptation, which must have been in his case a serious one, to substitute his own narrative for that of AUDUBON himself. The large extracts from the journals of the naturalist bring before us the man more vividly than would have been possible in any other way.
     There is, however, a single blot upon Mr. BUCHANAN’S work, and this is the more unpardonable because it was wilfully placed there, and still more wilfully allowed to remain. At the close of the sixth chapter Mr. BUCHANAN remarks: “If AUDUBON had one marked fault, it was vanity; he was a queer compound of ACTAEON and NARCISSUS—holding a gun in one hand and flourishing a looking glass in the other.” The facts which Mr. BUCHANAN might quote from his biography of AUDUBON to sustain this harsh and sweeping judgment are so few and so easily construed more generously, that good taste, at least, would have dictated the withholding of such a verdict. When the passage we have quoted, and one or two others, but little less severe, came under Mrs. AUDUBON’S eye, she naturally wrote to Mr. BUCHANAN, protesting against their insertion, but so far from withdrawing them, he ungallantly retorts upon Mrs. AUDUBON in the preface, and not only reiterates his judgment with an emphasis which must prove painfully offensive to the personal friends of the great naturalist, but attempted to atone for his faults by complimenting Mrs. AUDUBON’S self- sacrificing spirit. In a matter of so little interest to the public, and which concerned AUDUBON’S family so closely, the slight concession called for might easily have been made, and if the volume shall be reproduced in this country, it is to be hoped that every trace of this unseemly breach of courtesy on the part of the editor may be eliminated from it.



The Morning Post (29 December, 1868 - p.3)


     Philosophers are generally supposed to lead very tranquil lives. Ruminating in the quietude of their libraries, they are thought to be sifting out of the more active researches of others materials on which to reflect and to reason. We learn, however, from these memoirs of John James Audubon, and in other instances, that the naturalist, who is intently watching the properties and habits of animal existence, especially among the wild tribes of the jungle and the desert, endures severer hardships and braves more terrific dangers than usually fall to the lot of man. Such adventures are the principal subject-matter of this volume, amusing in its variety and attraction by the interest which it keeps awake. The editor gives us to understand that the information on which it is founded was communicated to him by Audubon’s widow, in a narrative consisting chiefly of her husband’s own autobiography, but so prolix and diffuse, that, while preparing it for the press, the manuscript has been, in the exercise of a sound discretion, cut down to one-fifth of its original amplitude. Nor can he vouch for its perfect authenticity and entire freedom from the partial bias of domestic affection. Highly admiring the great naturalist, thinking him a grand and large-hearted man, and desiring to see him understood by the public, he is, nevertheless, not blind to his failings as here revealed in the confessions of his diary. “Call Audubon vain,” he says, “call him in some things selfish, call him flighty and inconsequential in his worldly conduct—all these qualities are palpable in every page. He was handsome, and he knew it; he was elegant, and he prided himself upon it; he was generous in most things, but did not love his rivals; he prattled about himself like an infant, gloried in his long hair, admired the fine curve of his nose, thought ‘blood’ a great thing, and reverenced the great.” Yet these were the faults of “a man of genius, with the courage of a lion and the simplicity of a child. One scarcely knows which to admire most—the mighty determination which enabled him to carry out his great work in the face of difficulties so huge, or the gentle and guileless sweetness with which he throughout shared his thoughts and aspirations with his wife and children, who were never failing for a moment in their faith that he was destined to be one of the great workers of the earth.” His family was of French origin; John Audubon, his grandfather, was a poor fisherman in the small village of Sable d’Olorne, in La Vendée. With the earnings of this humble pursuit he brought up a large family, 21 of whom attained to maturity. His neighbours till a late date remembered having seen the patriarch with his wife and the long train of their offspring regularly attending their church devotions. The father of the naturalist was the 20th of this filial group. At the age of 12 years he was sent forth to seek for his fortune, provided with a shirt, a dress of warm clothing, a cane, and the paternal blessing. Arrived at Nantes, he found immediate employment as a sailor-boy on board a vessel bound on a fishing voyage to the coast of America. Always wandering from one clime to another, he thriftily acquired the means of speculative enterprise, alternately making and losing money; but the balance of luck must have been greatly in his favour, for we find him at different times in possession of landed property both in France and in the colonies. Among the last he had an estate in Louisiana, where he married a lady of Spanish extraction, beautiful and wealthy, and there their third son, John James, afterwards the eminent naturalist, was born in 1775. Little information is given us respecting the boy’s early years, and scanty particulars of his education, with much want of accuracy in dates. Madame Audubon, having accompanied her husband to one of his plantations at Auxes Cayes, in the Island of St. Domingo, perished miserably there during a negro insurrection. Having converted into money and plate all that he could save of his property, he returned with his family to France, where he married a second time. He obtained a commission in what is here, by a strange anachronism, called “the Imperial navy,” and leaving his children under the care of their step-mother, sailed to co-operate with the auxiliary force of Lafayette in the revolted British colonies. During a visit to Pennsylvania he purchased the farm of Millgrove, on the Parkiominy Creek, near the Schuylkill Falls. Again domiciled in his native land with a post in the marine, he retired to a beautiful domain on the Loire, nine miles from Nantes, where he died in 1818, at the advanced age of 95 years. This brief outline of the father’s career explains much in the son’s early training. The boy’s first recollections were of Louisiana, “lying among the flowers of that fertile land, sheltered by the orange trees, watching the movements of the mocking-bird,” and receiving vivid impressions of all nature. Removed to France, his education was to begin there; but the military fever of the time diverted attention from all instruction not preparatory for that line of service, in which direction the opening mind of the youth took its bent. Left under the superintendence of his step-mother, who, having no children of her own, treated him with the fondest indulgence, she weaned him from this predilection by affording him the means of wandering in the country and reviving his love of nature. Supplied with a haversack of provisions, he made frequent and long excursions, always bring home treasures of curious specimens which he had picked up and arranged in his cabinet with self-taught systematism. Music, fencing, and geography were less earnestly cultivated; dancing was a favourite accomplishment; but the lessons in drawing which he received from the eminent artist, David, were improved with avidity to copy objects of natural history, especially its ornithological varieties. Returning from the sea, his father was astonished at the taste and ingenuity of his son; but, dissatisfied with his neglect of more solid attainments, he insisted upon a course of close application to mathematics. He wished the young man to enter either the army or the navy; but finding the indications of the naturalist insuperably predominant, he sent him to look after his farm in the United States. At Millgrove, John James Audubon devoted himself to the course of life for which he had been prepared by his previous tendencies and occupations. Hunting, fishing, and drawing were the employments of his time, and imparted to him that practical knowledge which suggested and fitted him for his great task. Birds selected their nesting-places on the quiet banks of the milldam which was part of his estate, and afforded him constant opportunities for watching their habits. The peaceful Quakers around him were friendly, and did not interfere with his pursuits. On the adjoining property of Fatland Ford resided a family of the name of Bakewell, who had recently emigrated from England, purchased and settled upon the territory. Imbued by early prejudice with an intense hatred of everything English, Audubon repelled the advances of his neighbours and declined to reciprocate their civilities. Accidentally meeting the father on a creek expedition in search of grouse, he found in him a spirit congenial to his own, a keen lover of the chase, and an expert marksman. They became acquainted; intercourse with the other inmates of the home duly ensued; the incredulous Frenchman was convinced that even “perfidious Albion” can produce estimable persons; he gave the eldest daughter drawing lessons, and she in return instructed him in her native tongue, till at last his admiration culminated in his marrying Lucy Bakewell. Their union was delayed by necessary measures for increasing his income by engaging in some regular avocation. The working of a lead mine then in progress on his land was frustrated by the frauds of an assistant whom his father had sent to promote the undertaking. To arrange this matter and obtain the consent of his parents to his matrimonial project he once more repaired to France, when we are again puzzled by an extraordinary complication of dates. He is said to have rejoined his family at the period when “the tremendous convulsions of the French empire had culminated in colossal preparations for a conflict with Russia.” This refers evidently to the year 1812; yet we learn that, to evade the conscription, he was enrolled as a midshipman in the navy; that he remained a year at home, then obtained leave of absence and returned to America with a friend who was to be his partner in bird-hunting, and in some proposed commercial enterprise; that to initiate himself in habits of industry he passed some time in a counting-room at New York; that he sold the property at Millgrove, and with the proceeds established a mercantile concern in Louisville, Kentucky; and then, after all this, that on the 8th of April, 1808, he married Lucy Bakewell at Fatland Ford! This confusion can be cleared up only by supposing that he arrived in France on the eve of Napoleon’s first war with Austria in 1805. One of his brothers-in-law has described him at that period as “An admirable marksman, an expert swimmer, a clever rider, possessed great activity, prodigious strength, and was notable for the elegance of his figure and the beauty of his features, and he aided nature by a careful attendance to his dress. Besides other accomplishments he was musical, a good dancer, had some acquaintance of legerdemain tricks, worked in hair, and could plait willow baskets.” All these were unprofitable amusements; and that which he preferred above the whole of them—the collection of materials for his work on the “History of Birds”—he had still to look forward for years before it could remunerate his labours. Success in trade was not to be the reward of so unsteady and eccentric a practitioner; the first lesson which he received was a heavy loss by a speculation in indigo. It is impossible to follow, even in its curtailed proportions, the track of this erratic genius, never remaining long in any fixed residence, or persevering in any employment except his studies of nature, maintaining himself sometimes by the produce of his gun or his fishing-rod, sometimes by portrait-painting, by stuffing or pictorially copying birds and animals, and by public exhibitions of his museum. Adventures in the prairies and swamps, on lakes and rivers, escapes from dangers among treacherous Indians and wild tenants of the forest—these and other incidents recur in a succession too rapid for special notice. Pecuniary losses and continual peregrinations compelled him to find a home for his wife and young son beneath her father’s roof. Years of wanderings and mishaps ended in his establishing her at the head of a school in Bayou Saru, on the Mississippi, where her industry and talents were rewarded by an income of $3,000 a year/ To this he earned a considerable addition by lessons in dancing and fencing; but the awkwardness of his pupils provoked his irritable temper so much that he broke his bow, and nearly his violin, in his excitement and impatience. This prosperity was too tame to suit his restless disposition. Disappointed in his efforts to bring out at home his great ornithological work, he turned his thoughts to England, where he expected to reap the fame so tardily awarded to heroes in their own country. Leaving his wife and family at Bayou Saru, April 26, 1826, he set sail from New Orleans, and arrived at Liverpool on the 20th July. Furnished with letters of recommendation, he was soon introduced to Mr. Rathbone, Mr. Roscoe, and the other literary celebrities of the place. They admired his drawings and preserved specimens, encouraged him to make them more widely known by public exhibition, and suggested a visit to Edinburgh as the proper sphere for his exertions. Welcomed by the best society in that seat of learning, he found zealous patrons of his undertaking, who are duly recorded in his diary. “My success in Edinburgh borders on the miraculous. My book is to be published in numbers, containing four birds in each the size of life, in a style surpassing anything now existing, at two guineas a number. The engravings are truly beautiful; some of them have been coloured, and are now on exhibition.” A few days later he wrote, “The exhibition of my birds more crowded than ever. This day I summed up the receipts, and they amounted to $300.” On the 17th of March, 1827,  stands the entry, “Issued my prospectus this morning for the publication of my great  work.” He made many provincial tours, canvassing everywhere for subscribers, till he at last made his way to London, whither he transferred from Mr. Lizars, of Edinburgh, to a metropolitan publisher the office of ushering his work into the world. His habit of sedulously courting the great conciliated the favour of the aristocracy, many of whom added their names to his list. As soon as the first number was ready he presented a copy to George IV., who expressed his admiration, allowed it to be dedicated to him, and placed himself at the head of its patrons. Here Audubon had attained the only object for which he had perseveringly laboured. In a strange country, with little ready money at command, he had launched a publication the completion of which would cost $100,000, and with which his fame is associated. Beyond this point the interest of his memoir flags. During a visit to Paris, in 1828, he obtained the friendship of Cavier, came back to London, and, on the 1st of April, 1829, returned to America. The desultory tenor of his subsequent life supplies a fund of entertaining anecdotes, but the want of a definite purpose detracts from their value. In 1846 his mind entirely failed  him, and his remaining years are an uncheered blank till he breathed his last on the 1st of January, 1851. The intimate knowledge of the man which may be culled from these pages certainly tends to lower the respect which the reputation of the author had inspired. So much infirmity of purpose and instability of decision are not relieved by the single trait of consistent pursuit, the merits of which consist rather in manual dexterity and expert copyism than in original and philosophical studies of natural facts.

     * The Life and Adventures of John James Audubon, the Naturalist. Edited, from Materials supplied by his Widow, by Robert Buchanan. London: Sampson Low, Son, and Marston.



The Academy (19 March, 1898 - p.332)


NOT a productive week. The issue of a bulky two-volume biography of Audubon, the naturalist, may seem superfluous at this date; but the author of Audubon and his Journals must be allowed the privileges of a grand-daughter. Moreover, Miss Audubon writes her biography because she thinks it is needed to counteract the existing one edited by Mr. Robert Buchanan. She writes in her Preface:

     “The Life of Audubon, the Naturalist, edited by Mr. Robert Buchanan from material supplied by his widow, covers, or is supposed to cover, the same ground I have gone over; that the same journals were used is obvious; and, besides these, others, destroyed by fire in Shelbyville, Ky., were at my grandmother’s command, and more than all, her own recollections and voluminous diaries. Her MS., which I never saw, was sent to the English publishers, and was not returned to the author by them or by Mr. Buchanan. How much of it was valuable, it is impossible to say; but the fact remains that Mr. Buchanan’s book is so mixed up, so interspersed with anecdotes and episodes, and so interlarded with derogatory remarks of his own, as to be practically useless to the world, and very unpleasant to the Audubon family. Moreover, with few exceptions, everything about birds has been left out. Many errors in dates and names are apparent, especially the date of the Missouri River journey, which is ten years later than he states. However, if Mr. Buchanan had done his work better, there would have been no need for mine; so I forgive him, even though he dwells at unnecessary length on Audubon’s vanity and selfishness, of which I find no traces.”

The biography which Miss Audubon has put forth may claim to have received the imprimatur of the Audubon family; but doubtless Mr. Buchanan will have something to say in defence of his own work.



[For more information about Buchanan’s ‘Life of Audubon’ click below.]

The ‘Audubon Controversy’

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The Poetical Works of H. W. Longfellow
(edited and prefaced by R. Buchanan) (1869)


Illustrated Times (30 November, 1867 - p.343)

     MR. ROBERT BUCHANAN is preparing a bijou edition of Longfellow’s poems for Messrs. Moxon, which is to contain a complete collection of that author’s poetical works, and to appear in two volumes, uniform with the popular edition of Hood’s serious and comic poems. Each volume will be prefaced by a critical essay by the editor.



The Daily News (24 November, 1868 - p.3)


The Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Edited and prefaced by ROBERT BUCHANAN. Vol. 1.Edward Moxon and Co. 1868.
. . .

     The first volume is published of a new edition of the works of Longfellow, edited and prefaced by Mr. Buchanan— himself a poet, who has proved his claim to the title by work, some of which at least promises to be enduring. Oddly enough—and yet perhaps naturally, when one comes to think of it—Mr. Longfellow’s wonderful popularity has been often cited against him. His poems are read, and loved, and learnt all the world over (for is not the English tongue spoken now-a-days all over the world?); and so critics have come to ask whether what pleases everybody is worthy also of the “fit audience” whose praise is dearest to the poet? Mr. Longfellow, we reply, has done much—witness “Hiawatha” and many of his lyrics—which will satisfy the severest critics; but he has also done a little—very little, indeed, when compared with the bulk of his writings—which, although it has achieved popularity, is unworthy of enduring fame. We are glad to see that Mr. Buchanan does full justice to what we may call the many-sidedness of Longfellow, and to his vast literary culture. He says, too, and with truth, that “of all contemporary poets, with, perhaps, the exception of Mr. Morris, Longfellow is the best teller of stories.” We cannot, however, agree with the editor of this charming edition, that “Evangeline” is finer than Goethe’s exquisite idyl, the “Hermann and Dorothea.”



The Standard (26 December, 1868)

     The Poetical Works of Longfellow. Edited and Prefaced by Robert Buchanan. Vol. I. Narrative Poems and  Ballads. London: E. Moxon and Co.
—The poet who has here taken upon himself the editing and arranging of the published works of another gifted singer, has met with the success which should ever await labour conscientiously bestowed upon a congenial task. Mr. Robert Buchanan has in this volume presented the reader with all of Longfellow’s poems which are for the most part impersonal and narrative. In the second volume he promises us those poems, personal and lyrical, “phrased in the beautiful rhetoric of which Longfellow is so consummate a master.” The arrangement of this work is upon a novel plan, and we concur with the editor in thinking that this classification of the complete works of the poet into two great portions is more artistic than the chronological order, or that in which the pleasant music of the American bard has hitherto been arranged. Also do we coincide with the poet-editor in the belief that, in despite “of small critics who lose nothing,” the admiration which the English public has evinced for Longfellow’s writings has been fairly due to the literary culture, the accurate, and varied scholarship, no less than the profound poetic insight displayed in works of art which are destined to endure in our literature.
     Just as the prefaces of Dryden gave an increased, an almost unique, charm to his poems, so does the prefatory notice of Mr. Robert Buchanan render this the most to be desired of the hitherto published editions of the American poet. In half a dozen brilliant pages the editor examines the poet’s claims as an artist, his relation to his brothers in genius, and in what respects his poetic faculty differs from Goethe, Crabbe, Sir Walter Scott, from Browning, Keats, Byron, Milton, Catullus, and others.
     Whilst speaking of the collection of narrative poems to be found in this volume Mr. Buchanan observes:—“What sweetness of theme and grace of evolution greet us on the very threshold in the exquisite Acadian pastoral so well known to every English student. In spite of many doubtful passages which hover strangely between prose emphasis and poetic melody, ‘Evangeline’ is a true poem—so simple and delicious in its theme, so wholesome in its gentle meaning, so pleasant in its occasional notes of music, that it would be difficult to esteem it too highly. It is a complete little work of art, perfect in its way as the ‘Vicar of Wakefield,’ and infinitely finer than the ‘Hermann and Dorothea,’ with this proviso, that the latter was its predecessor. very exquisite, too, in their way, are many of the shorter ballads, such as ‘Sir Humphrey Gilbert’ and the ‘Phantom Ship.’ ‘Miles Standish’ is a pleasant, pretty idyll, told in sonorous hexameters as few other writers could have told it. But in ‘Hiawatha’ we meet with more; for here we have not only an exquisite story and a beautiful rhythm, but are surprised by flashes of strange power and sweetness, and gleams of glamour not usual in so rhetorical a composer. ‘Hiawatha’ is certainly a wonderful poem—the writer’s masterpiece, and surpassed by no contemporary effort.”
     Besides the works alluded to in the preceding quotation, the book contains “Tales of a Wayside Inn,” “The Blind Girl of Castil-Cuilli,” and some thirty-two narrative ballads. Altogether this edition of the popular American poet’s writings may be characterised as one of the most elegantly-printed of the minor and unillustrated editions of his works—one that is worthy of being placed upon the same shelf with Mr. Moxon’s smaller editions of Byron, Browning, Tennyson, and Hood.



The Atlas (8 January, 1869 - p.11)

Longfellow’s Poetical Works. Vol. I. Moxon & Co.

     A very pretty miniature edition of the popular poet, with a brief preface from the pen of Robert Buchanan, to which we could have accorded unmixed approbation had it not been disfigured by sundry affectations in epithet, such as “selective,” “sub-Faustian,” &c. The feeling of appreciation for his subject which animates the writer is admirable, but his power of expression hardly equal to his intention.



The Pall Mall Gazette, reprinted in Littell’s Living Age (20 March, 1869 - No. 1294, p.745)

     THE first volume of Messrs. Moxon and Co.’s edition of Mr. Longfellow’s Poetical Works is well printed, though in very small type. It contains all the poet’s narrative pieces. Mr. Robert Buchanan is the editor, and with great condescension introduces this obscure writer to the English public. From his preface, which is short but trenchant, we learn that Mr. Longfellow’s “faculty of story-telling is unique; his spiritual insight singularly calm and pure; his purpose admirable; his cadence rhythmical; and his whole art full of self-reverence and conscience.” In spite of this he is, Mr. Buchanan intimates, not a poet in the highest sense, but. like Byron (to a great extent), Browning (in a higher degree), Goethe (still more nearly), and Crabbe and Scott altogether, a rhetorical versifier, or a writer who “employs verse for the sake of its elegant effects.” “Only a few selective spirits,” it is added, “sing always because they find all other utterance inadequate.” Is Mr. Buchanan aware that “selective” cannot possibly mean selected? Further on we hear that Mr. Longfellow “is now and then prolix, but not so prolix as Goethe in the sub-Faustian and non-lyrical pieces.” We should like to bring Mr. Buchanan to chapter and verse about these “pieces.” This editor seems to be unwilling to praise one man without depreciating another. He tells us that “Evangeline” is “infinitely finer than the ‘Hermann and Dorothea.’” Finally, Mr. Buchanan sends forth the volume with a good word for its contents, and a bad one for a much-abused class of his fellow creatures. “In a word, they are all beautiful, all are full of clear ringing tones, and a pleasant music. The public is right to love them in defiance of small critics, who love nothing.” In six short pages this amiable editor has contrived to disparage a good many persons, including his author, and to leave a most unpleasant impression of dogmatism and pretension on the mental palate prepared to enjoy the Attic fare spread by a gentleman and a scholar. Such a banquet should have another marshal than Mr. Buchanan.

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Book Reviews - Miscellaneous 2








The Fleshly School Controversy
Buchanan and the Press
Buchanan and the Law


The Critical Response
Harriett Jay


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