[To “Voices from 19th-Century America”]

Reviews of The Token for 1836

Knickerbocker, September 1835

New England Magazine, October 1835

Boston Pearl, October 3, 1835

Atkinson’s Casket, December 1835



The 1836 volume of The Token may have mollified the reviewer for The Knickerbocker, who had dismissed those for the 1835 volume, but the reviewers for the Boston Pearl and New England Magazine found much to criticize. The Pearl slammed a poorly constructed copy and nursed a sense that it had been plagiarized. (The “two covers” mentioned in the review may refer to an original case—spine, front cover, back cover—for the book which consisted of a cheap cardboard cover printed with a decoration; the cover could be removed by the owner’s local bookbinder and replaced by a decorative—and more expensive—leather binding.) The review in New England Magazine, however, is les about the Token than it is about the man responsible for it: Samuel Goodrich. Editor—and probably the reviewer—Park Benjamin had a complicated relationship with Goodrich which wasn’t simplified by the relationship each had with Nathaniel Hawthorne. Here, Benjamin praises Hawthorne’s stories and shreds one of Goodrich’s poems. (Amusingly, the entire poem is reprinted, just as it would have been had he praised it.) Calling Goodrich “Mr. Parleyvous,” Benjamin also managed a dig at Goodrich’s most famous creation, “Peter Parley.” He would repeat the performance in his review of the next year’s volume. Meanwhile, the reviewer for the Atkinson’s Casket dispatched the engravings, the stories, and the poems with admirable briskness and complimented just about every contributor to the volume with a reference to “several other writers of acknowledged talent and genius”—thus allowing him to praise more writers than possibly intended.



Review of The Token, for 1836 (from The Knickerbocker, September 1835; pp. 265-268)

The Token and Atlantic Souvenir: a Christmas and New Year’s Present. Edited by S. G. Goodrich. Boston: Published by Charles Bowen.

Our readers will remember, that in a notice of this annual for 1835, we took occasion to animadvert upon many of its embellishments, as being copied from foreign pictures, and representing foreign subjects; and we made the inquiry: ‘Have we no original talent, no original subjects, in our great and glorious country, that in our choice repositories of the arts of design and engraving, we must exhibit copies of trans-atlantic skill? Must we depend forever on foreign genius, or talent? It is high time that our annuals should exhibit something like originality in their embellishments.’ We are happy to have it in our power to say, that the ‘Token and Souvenir’ for 1836, is not open to the objections which were justly urged against its predecessor. All the engravings are by native hands, from original paintings or drawings by American artists; and we believe the proprietor will eventually find, that he has not overrated the interest manifested by the community in the productions of our countrymen. The late hour at which we received the work, must constitute our apology for the brevity of a notice which by no means renders full justice to its literary contents, or its pictorial embellishments. Let us first address us to some of the latter.

The Presentation Plate, drawn by Brown, and engraved by Gallaudet, is most happily conceived, and finely executed. The scene is full, but not crowded, and the

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small appurtenances in the foreground are gracefully introduced. The vignette in the Fancy Title-page, engraved by Cheney, from a painting by Alexander, is a perfect gem,—full of softness, simple grace, and beauty. Dante’s Beatrice, painted by Washington Allston, and engraved by Cheney, will command the like praise. It is, indeed, in drawing and execution, ‘express and admirable.’ The Spirit of Poësy, by Neagle, from a painting by Croome, as a landscape merely, possesses much interest. The light is calm and clear, and there is a proper depths and repose of shade; but the Spirit of the scene is—no better than she should be. The Emigrant’s Adventure, by Ellis, from a painting by Fisher, is a fine achievement of art. The noble scenery in the back-ground,—the strong, rich effect of light and shade on the left of the mid-prospect,—the verisimilitude of nature with ideal effort in the centre-group,—all serve to render this a delightful picture. It has one or two defects, however. The panther in the tree has not a tinge of anger, or fierceness,—the gun about to be discharged at him is somewhat too long,—and the head of the second horse,—(the first is spirited and excellent,) has an expression about the eyes quite too human and contemplative for one of the brute creation. ‘I’ll think of That,’ painted by Osgood, and engraved by Gallaudet, is a good picture, and (whether known to the artist, or not,) is likewise a very good likeness of the fair vocalist, Miss Phillips. One of the best landscapes in the Token is ‘The Spy,’ engraved by Smilie, from a painting by Weir. It is a view from the top of the North Beacon, one of the loftiest eminences of the Highlands, nearly opposite Newburgh. The scene is a superb one, and the artist has given it those distinct yet mellow features that characterize all his landscapes. Nevertheless, either the painter or engraver is at fault in the figures. Both man and beast have a very unlocomotive aspect. ‘The Wreck at Sea,’ by Birch, engraved by Neagle, is a very spirited picture, with eminent beauties, and one or two as prominent blemishes. As a whole, it is excellent. Doughty’s ‘Hunters of the Prairie,’ from the burin of Ellis, does credit to both artists. The scene is well chosen, and elaborately depicted. The contrasts of the bold and the placid are well managed,—and if any portion elicits adverse criticism, it will be the figures, which may be said to want distinctness. There are other plates which we lack space either to describe or designate. We proceed to glance briefly at the contents.

There are forty-seven articles, of various but general excellence, in prose and verse. Many of these are of a higher order of merit than usually characterizes our annuals. Among other contributions from popular pens, there are well written tales, of interest, by Miss Sedgwick, William L. Stone, Esq., J. K. Paulding, Miss Leslie; and verse from the hands of J. G. Percival, Mrs. Sigourney, Miss H. F. Gould, Grenville Mellen, Mrs. Sarah J. Hale, and I. McLellan, Jr. New Year’s Day,—The Fair Pilgrim,—The Magic Spinning Wheel,—A Pilgrimage to the White Mountains,—and ‘Wealth and Fashion,’ are superior specimens of annual literature; and the same may be said of the poems by the writers we have mentioned, and of the efforts of several others which we have neither time nor room to indicate.

The subjoined descriptive sketch, taken from Miss Sedgwick’s ‘New Year’s Day,’ will convey an impression of the ease and nature which pervade it, without trespassing upon the incidents which to to make up the story:

“Mr. Percival’s family being one of the oldest in the city, one of the most extended in its connections, and one of the few who have been residents here for several genera-

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tions, their visiters were innumerable, and a continual stream poured in and poured out, emitting in its passage the stereotype sayings of the season, such as

“ ‘Many returns of this happy season to you Miss Percival—may you live a thousand years, and as much longer as you desire!’

“ ‘A fine old custom this, Miss Percival, transmitted by our Dutch ancestors!’

“This staple remark was made and often reiterated by some profane interloper who had not a drop of the good old Dutch blood running in his veins: alas for the fallen dynasty!

“ ‘A custom peculiar to New York and Albany: they have tried to introduce it in our other cities, but it is impossible to transplant old usages, and make them thrive in a new soil.’

“ ‘Charming custom!’ exclaims an elderly friend, kissing Lizzy’s offered cheek, and heartily smacking the children all round, ‘it gives us old fellows privileges.’

“ ‘Uncommonly fine day,’ Miss Percival,—‘much pleasanter than last New-Year’s, but not quite so pleasant as the year before.’

“ ‘What a happy anniversary for the children!—a lovely group here, Miss Percival, and the prettiest table, (looking at that on which the toys were spread,) that I have yet seen.’

“ ‘I guess why,’ replied little Sue, casting a side-long glance at the speaker, through her dark eye-lashes—nobody but us has a sister Lizzy.’

“ ‘Do you keep a list of your visiters, Miss Elizabeth.’

“ ‘In my memory, Sir.’

“ ‘Ah, you should not trust to that; you should have the documents to show. Mrs. M., last year, had two hundred on her list, and Mrs. H. one hundred and eighty, exclusive of married men!’ Lizzy was quite too young to make any sage reflections of the proteus shapes of vanity. She laughed, and said she cared only for the names she could remember.

“ ‘What a splendid set-out has Mrs. T.’ exclaimed an enthusiastic lover of the fine arts that minister to eating and drinking, ‘oysters, sandwiches, chocolate, coffee, wines, and whiskey-punch.’

“ ‘Whiskey-punch! I thought’ Lizzy ventured modestly to say, ‘was banished from all refined society.’

“ ‘Shockingly vulgar to be sure—mais, chacun á son goût.’

“ ‘Mrs. L. has a most refined entertainment,—champaigne and cakes, upon my word, nothing but champaigne and cakes!’

“ ‘Ah, but you should have seen the refreshment at the Miss C.’s; quite foreign and elegant; (this opinion judicially delivered by a youth who had been once over the ocean, on a six week’s agency to Birmingham,) soup, patées de fois gras, mareschinos, etc.’

“ ‘Is my cousin well to-day?’ asked Lizzy, ‘I hear she does not receive her friends.’

‘Tie up the knocker, John, she said

Say to my friends, I’m sick, I’m dead.’

but, between ourselves, my dear Lizzy, the draperies to the drawing-room curtains are not completed—that’s all.’

“While some practiced and ultra fashionable visiters were merely bowing in, and bowing out, some other young gentlemen more ambitious, or more gifted, or more at leisure than the rest, made flights into the region of original remark. One admired Miss Percival’s boquet, commented on the triumphs of man’s (especially that rare individual Florist Thorburn’s) art over the elements, and noted some very pretty analogies between the flowers and the children. Another lauded the weather, and said that nature had, last of all the publishers, come out with her annual, and the gentlemen had found it ‘a book of beauty.’

“The morning wore on. Mr. Percival returned to his home, having made a few visits to old friends, and claiming as to the rest his age’s right of exemption. He sat down and pleased himself with observing his daughter’s graceful reception of her guests. Her cordiality to humble friends, her modest and quiet demeanor to the class technically y’cleped beaux, and her respectful and even deferential manner, (a grace, we are sorry to say, not universal among our young ladies,) to her elders.”

From a poem by Percival, entitled Spring, we extract the following stanzas, which are worthy of his exalted reputation:

Low breathed the western wind at close of day;

The bloomy shrubs were bent with heavy flowers,—

The clouds had hardly rolled their wreaths away;

They darkly hung, where high the mountain towers:

Through flowery vale, the dashing stream

Leaped sparklingly in many a fall;

And evening’s rosy beam

Tinted the forest tall.

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The loving birds were emulous in song;

The cattle lowed; on slope of sunny hill

Sported the lambs, and wildly raced along

The turf, that bore its beaded, treasure still;

And as they swept, a shower of light,

Flew round, like gems that deck the snow,

When morning glances bright

On hill and valley flow.

And gleaming o’er a wood-embosomed lake,

Floated, mid dreamy haze, the golden ray:

The ripling wave, in many a yelow flake,

Curled round the dewy rock and slid away:

In rustic boat, his dipping oars

Attuned to song, the peasant boy,

Gliding by happy shores,

He felt the season’s joy.

We cannot refrain from adding to our selections the annexed tender picture from the pen of the American Hemans:

THE BRIDE.

I came, but she was gone.

There lay her lute,

Just as she touch’d it last, at the soft hour

Of summer twilight, when the woodbine cups

Filling with deeper fragrance, fondly press’d

Thro’ the rais’d casement, uttering tender thanks

To her who train’d them. On her favorite seat

Still lay her work-box open, and the book

That last she read, and careless near its page

A note, whose cover her slight pen had trac’d

With lines unconscious, while her lover spake

That dialect, which brings forgetfulness

Of all beside. It was the pleasant home

Where from her childhood she had been the star

Of hope and joy.

I came, and she was gone.

But this I knew, for I remember’d well

Her parting look, when from the altar led,

With silvery veil, but slightly swept aside,

How the young rose leaf deepen’d on her cheek,

And on her brow a solemn beauty sat,

Like one who gives a priceless gift away.

And there was silence. Mid that stranger throng,

Even strangers, and the hard of heart, did draw

Their breath supprest, to see the mother’s lip

Turn ghastly pale, and the tall stately sire

Bow with a secret sorrow, as he gave

His darling to an untried guardianship,

And to a far-off clime. Perchance his thought

Travers’d the moss-grown prairies, and the shores

Of the cold lakes,—or those o’erhanging cliffs

And mighty mountain tops, that rose to bar

Her log-rear’d mansion from the anxious eye

Of kindred and of friend.

Even triflers felt

How strong and beautiful is woman’s love,

That taking in its hand the joys of home,

The tenderest melodies of tuneful years,

Yea, and its own life also, lays them all

Meek and unblenching on a mortal’s breast,

Reserving nought, save that unspoken hope

Which hath its root in God.

Mock not with mirth

A scene like this,—ye laughter-loving ones,—

Hence with the hackney’d jest! The dancer’s heel—

What doth it here?

Joy,

serious and sublime,

Such as doth nerve the energies of prayer,

Should swell the bosom, when a maiden’s hand

Fresh from its young flower-gathering, girdeth on

That harness, which the minister of death

Alone unlooseth,—and whose power doth aid

Or mar the journey of the soul to Heaven.

As a whole, we cheerfully commend the ‘Token and Souvenir’ to our readers, as a work well deserving the fostering encouragement of the American public.


Review of The Token, for 1836 [probably by Park Benjamin] (from New England Magazine, October 1835; pp. 294-298)

The Token and Atlantic Souvenir; a Christmas and New-Year’s Present. Edited by S. G. Goodrich. Boston: published by Charles Bowen. 1836.

It is a pity that some efficient method could not be adopted to do away with the present system of indiscriminate puffery. Little or no reliance can be placed on newspaper opinions about a new book; and we are sorry to add that contemporary periodicals, of a weightier character, which pretend to some slight critical discrimination, cannot be consulted with a better chance of finding out the truth. The editors of journals seem to conspire with the authors, editors and publishers of books, to practice the grossest deceptions upon the reading community. Let a stupid volume hang heavily on the publisher’s hands, and—to use a slang phrase of the trade—he ‘gets it off’ by procuring a certain number of puffs to append to his advertisements.

Let ‘an elegant annual’ make its appearance, and it is foisted into the favor of young masters and misses, protesting lovers and too-confiding damosels, by the recommendation of ‘The New-York Mirror,’ and some dozen other frail porringers of sentimental pap. Bachelors of ‘a certain age,’ and subdued husbands, who may be connected with the daily press—the former to keep alive the embers of decayed hopes, the latter to buy some respite from ‘the continual dropping’ which patters them at home—are glad to be favored with copies, ‘very splendidly embossed,’ of the new-year’s wonder, to lay at the shrine of the particular goddesses whose smiles they may desire to invoke—and so they puff. When ‘puffs’ are not voluntary, the editor becomes a sort of literary recruiting-serjeant, and forces them into service.

‘Have you any facility for writing in the newspapers?’ says Mr. Parleyvous, to a young friend; ‘any intimacy with the conductors of the press? If you have, I will present you with a copy of my very elegant work—if you will write a notice of it!’

The person addressed, with the rare and lovely blush of modesty upon his countenance—a blush not for himself, but for the shameless individual who thus tempts his virtue of opinion—disavows any influence with the press, and declines receiving a present of—ay! let us suppose it—The Token; for this precious volume has led us into this train of remark.

This ‘Christmas and New-Year’s Present’ has been puffed and plastered, during the present season, as liberally as usual. If one could believe all that is said about it, it would be thought more splendid than were the illuminated tomes of the Alexandrian library. Not a spot can be discovered on its radiant surface. Is not the publisher aware that such outrageous puffery fails of its intended effect?—that it is like

‘Vaulting Ambition, which o’erleaps itself

And falls on the other?’

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Though the volume has not been sent to this Magazine—probably from a shrewd suspicion that nothing but justice would be awarded—we are disposed to be charitable, and bestow a little gratuitous criticism and advice,—seeing that we have the loan of a copy (we beg to be spared the imputation of having bought it) from a generous bookseller. Few people, including those who foolishly spend their money for them, read the annuals. It was thought good taste, many years ago, to have them displayed upon centre-table. It is now thought very bad taste. But as the happy custom still prevails of making presents at Christmas and new-year, these books are yet purchased and presented, though seldom read, even by the presentee. Their chief if not only value, then, consists in their appearance and the beauty of their embellishments; and by these, they must be judged.

The stories and poetry are, in general, poor stuff. The editor makes his selection, guided rather by the celebrity of the writer than the merit of the papers. In the present instance, this rule has been somewhat disregarded; for in printing his own pieces, Mr. Goodrich must have been aware that they could lay claim to neither advantage. He (or somebody in his name!) is a tasteful prose-writer; but he is a most wretched versifier, as we shall presently show. But, without regard to the desert of its editor, (whom we look upon as occupying the same rank in literature, as a quack vender of universal nostrums in medicine) let us proceed, gentle reader, to glance rapidly over the leaves of ‘The Token, for 1836.’

We have here a very pretty cover; let us look at the engravings!

The Presentation Plate: a lovely design—tolerably engraved. Young Brown has a pleasant fancy, and it is a pity that he should not always give it full play; for ‘The Panther Scene,’ taken from Mr. Cooper’s ‘Pioneers,’ is not well done. The conception is indifferent, and the engraving bad enough—for Natty Bumpo’s long rifle seems pointed in any direction except towards the panther. The face on the title-page is exquisite, worth everything else, without doubt. The Fair Pilgrim: misty and dark—an unpleasing picture. Beatrice: engraved from Allston’s fine painting. The Wreck at Sea: has the appearance of a wood-cut—stiff, but distinct. The Spirit of Poesy: a miserable engraving, from a miserable design. The moon is a white theatre-moon; and Mrs. Poesy, who sits on the rocks, looks like a dowdy house-maid, with goggle eyes, vast neck and shoulders, and ‘awful paws.’ The Emigrant’s Adventure: the landscape beautifully done; the figure bad, as most of Fisher’s pictures; not very well engraved. I’ll think of that: rather a bad engraving, from a homely painting. We are happy to see that the lady is about ‘to think of that,’ for she certainly does not look as if she had ever thought of anything else. The Pilot’s Boy: exceedingly fine, and most exquisitely engraved. We have seldom seen it surpassed. How touching! See the poor child, lying dead—observe the expressive attitudes of the mourners! How perfectly is utter wo depicted on the father’s countenance! The heavy clouds droops and roll along the air! Far away fades the dim landscape on the left. On the right, view the sky-kissing foam of the sea, and the dimly-defined ship, and the wheeling storm-birds! Mr. S. W. Cheney, you have redeemed the Token and immortalized yourself! After this, we will not bestow either praise or censure on the other two engravings—The Hunters of the Prairie, and The Spy—for they seem to deserve neither; but lay the volume aside after two or three words concerning its literary pretensions—which, for honesty’s sake, we have been compelled to examine.

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Heigho! what a laborious life is an editor’s! How much stupidity he is compelled to encounter! What nonsense! Here are verses to the face in the title-page! Who wrote them? The editor? Infatuated man, forbear!

‘It is not for thine ample curls,

Where glowing sunset ever lingers—

It is not for the simple pearls

Thou’st placed there with thy rosy fingers!

(What a line!—read it again.)

It is not for thy banded hair

Or snowy brow I ask thine aid—

These, these are gifts that thou may’st share

With many a fair and favored maid.’

No! Impossible! What lots of ‘ample curls’ and ‘simple pearls’ and ‘rosy fingers’ and ‘banded hair’ and ‘snowy brow’ the young woman must have had, to be able to share them with all her acquaintance.

‘No, Necromancer, not for these

I seek to claim thy sense of duty.’

Now why is the dear creature called such a wicked name as ‘necromancer?’ (‘The sound, Master Quince, the sound!’) And what has the female necromancer’s ‘sense of duty’ to do with the matter? Of this we are not informed in the remainder of the verses, for here the poet’s Pegasus bolts—and capers on the ‘bordering features of a level lake.’

‘And all aside from beauty, powers

Like these to such as thou are given.’

These lines are introduced here with as much connection as in the piece itself. We confess them beyond our comprehension, as well as the following:

‘For there is truth upon thy brow,

That mirrors forth a world of love

Within a form of earth—so thou

Hast caught enchantment from above.’

Here is truth mirroring a world of love within a form of earth upon a brow! The ‘necromancer’ is next requested to attend with a ‘wand,’

—— and befriend

These pages ever with thy look.” [sic]

Why?

’ ’Twill turn aside the critic’s curses

And change his gathered gall to honey,’

(And so it might but for the verses.)

Convert to gold our leaden verses,

And turn our rhymes to ready money.’

Ah! here we have it; but it would take a subtler alchemy than even beauty can boast, to convert such lead into gold; the rhymes jingle, however, like ‘ready money.’ We should have thought Mr. S. G. Goodrich would have been the last

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person in the world to make such a request, considering his reputation for driving a bargain. He is said not only to be gifted with a touch like Midas, but to resemble that worthy in richly meriting a similar punishment.

The invocation ends—

‘I trust to thee, and those who choose

May go to Helicon for aid.’

We trust no ill-natured individual will read the last line with only one syllable in the proper name.

The rest of the poetry in the volume is very little superior to the elegant specimen we have exhibited. It is mostly made up of ‘gold’ and ‘silver’ and ‘sunbeams’ and ‘cerulean’ and ‘brown’ and ‘love’ and ‘hearts’ and ‘rose-leaves’ and ‘melody’ and ‘moonbeams’ and ‘bliss’ and ‘kiss’—with the few other necessary ingredients which give flavor to the cream and syllabub of a favorite annual. The only lines that have more than ordinary merit, are entitled, ‘Youth Recalled, by J. G. Percival,’ and a sonnet—which last is disgraced, however, by a paltry attempt at wit. These are the concluding stanzas of Percival’s piece, and they smack of the rich spirit of his earlier poems.

‘Ye greet me fair, ye years of hope and joy,

Ye days of trembling fears and ardent loves,

The reeling madness of the impassioned boy;

Through wizard wilds again my spirit roves,

And beauty, veiled in fancy’s heavenly hue,

Smiles and recedes before my longing view.

‘The light has fled; the tones that won my heart

Back to its earliest heaven, again are still:

A deeper darkness broods; with sudden start

Repelled, my life relapses from its thrill:

Heavier the shades descend, and on my ear

Only the bubbling fountain murmurs near.’

The worst attempt—and it must be very bad where all are so indifferent—the very worst—if anything can be worse than the ‘words, words, words,’ and the hop skip and jump movement of the editor’s own ricketty rhymes—by far the worst in this book, or any other that we ever saw, is, ‘I WILL FORGET THEE,’ by B. B. Thacher; and we declare this truth more in sorrow than in anger. Yet we are vexed that a man of such excellent sense should have committed such an unmeaning absurdity. It is, first, incomprehensible; second, silly; third, vulgar; fourth, far-fetched; and ‘finally, to conclude,’ altogether pitiable. As we esteem the author very highly, nothing but the strictest sense of justice would have induced this sentence. There are other instances of vulgarity in this ‘gift for ladies,’ which would forbid its presentation to a female by any gentleman of refinement. To prove this, we cite two verses from a wretched piece of doggerel—‘The Muse and the Album, by J. L. Gray.’ Speaking of his muse on Parnassus, (in a style rather) whom he ‘softly waked’ to write in ‘L. H.’s album, he says—

‘The vixen, vexed because I woke her,

Was stiff as if she’d eat a poker’!!

So much for the articles in which the lines commence with capital letters. The stories are by Miss Sedgwick, by W. L. Stone, by the authors of ‘The Affianced One,’

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‘Sights from a Steeple,’ and ‘The Gentle Boy,’—by Miss Leslie, Grenville Mellen, and John Neal; besides those who have the grace to be anonymous. The author of ‘The Gentle Boy,’ whom we regard as the most pleasing writer of fanciful prose, except Irving, in the country, and ‘John Neal,’ have displayed their usual freshness and originality. ‘The Young Phrenologist,’ by the latter, is very pretty, but slightly inuendoish (to adopt the author’s own fashion of coining words) and Ancreon Mooreish. ‘Dante’s Beatrice’ commences with a significant truism, which the author—a lady, we doubt not—would do well to remember. ‘A title to immortal fame is usually acquired by women at a dangerous expense.’

‘The Token’ has one advantage—and we presume the only one—over the rest of the annuals. It has appeared first, and earlier this year than usual. Why a Christmas and New-year’s present should be published in the middle of September, we cannot guess. When the proper season shall arrive, will appear ‘The Magnolia,’ (a splendid title) edited by H. W. Herbert, Esq., author of ‘The Brothers,’ one of the editors of the American Monthly Magazine. The illustrations are, we are told, very beautiful; and if a name can be an assurance of merit, its literary character, under the surveillance of Mr. Herbert, will be very high.

We advise those readers who do not particularly wish to make Christmas and New-year’s presents three months before the occasion, to wait for the appearance of Mr. Herbert’s volume; and, after comparing it with Mr. S. G. Goodrich’s, choose the best.


Review of The Token, for 1836 (from the Boston Pearl, October 3, 1835; p. 23)

The Token, and Atlantic Souvenir, for 1836. Edited by S. G. Goodrich. Boston: Charles Bowen.—An annual, at best, is no great affair, but is worth noticing, perhaps, because the intention of its proprietors is generally at least commendable, and the expense attendant on issuing a work of the kind is so great as to render but slight remuneration. With these views, we cannot even risk the imputation of appearing to be very uncharitable, and therefore shall spare the work before us, by not noticing many deficiencies, which are as palpable as sunlight on a sunny day, and which, mayhap, need no exposition, as every person will detect them at a first peep. The very first thing we put our eyes around was the name and date on the two covers, engraved backward. What carelessness! The next thing we did not perceive was the gold which was on the edges when we opened the book, but gone when we had perused it—so solid was that embellishment! Then the preface—that was fair; the apologies were gracefully worded; the man had tried to do well, evidently. The book was American!—That pleased us; and we turned to the contents—abominated the method of addressing the head of a beautiful girl of sixteen years with sweet words, and of talking in the same breath about ‘gathered gall’ and ‘critic’s curses.’ But the literary contents are now before us. We spent a whole day or more on them, and we met a disappointment—a disappointment which condemned the work, totally, utterly! did Mr. Goodrich try to get good matter or bad matter—good verse or bad ones? We suppose his struggles were for the latter; for such an insipid sorting of trash we never saw before, and hope not to see again. Take out two or three pieces—say a half-dozen—and, in our humble opinion, the work is not worth the ink we are spilling about it. Miss Sedgwick’s name is over an article, but it cannot be her production; and there are other names over other articles which we wonder ever came in such locality. The Black Veil story is spoiled just where it should have been beautifully finished; and Mr. Neal has either had his piece mutilated, or he fell asleep while writing—which he is not accustomed to do. We should add, before dismissing the literary contents, that ‘Life—its Seasons,’ by C. W. Everest, may be found in the third volume of our work; p. 121. It is there written in prose—but it is poetry, every sentence of it. We happen to have proof that the contributor to the Token used to see our paper, and so there is no excuse for him.—Some of the plates are excellent, and we dare say they are from pretty fair paintings. The master-piece, and grand sustainer of the whole work, is the inimitably fine engraving, by Cheney, of the fine painting by Allston—Beatrice. No man should be proud of any thing poorer than this.


Review of The Token, for 1836 (from Atkinson’s Casket, December 1835; p. 716)

The Token for 1836—Boston: Charles Bowen.—This popular annual has just made its appearance, with unusually strong claims upon the public attention, both as to exterior dress and literary excellence. The size of the page is larger than the annual of last year, the paper is of better quality, and the embossed binding is much more splendid. The whole work is decidedly American in its character, all its contributors being American, and all its embellishments from the gravers of native artists.

There are twelve engravings in the work, all of which are meritorious, and several exhibit a high degree of perfection in the art. The presentation plate, drawn by Brown, and engraved by Gallaudet, is exceedingly neat and pretty, and very appropriate. The frontispiece, the panther scene from Cooper’s novel of the Pioneers, by Andrews, is rendered very effective by the skill of the artist. On the title page there is a female head, by Cheney, which for beauty of conception and workmanship, will compete fairly, with any thing we have seen from Europe. Next to these comes the Fair Pilgrim, by Balch, Dante’s Beatrice, by Cheney, the Wreck at Sea, and the Spirit of Poetry, by Neagle, and the Pilot’s Boy, by Cheney—all of which deserve commendation.

The literary contributors are Miss Sedgwick, Col. Stone, Percival, Mrs. Sigourney, Thatcher, Goodrich, Paulding, Miss Gould, John Neal, G. McLellan, G. Mellen, Mrs. Hale, Miss Leslie, J. H. Mifflin, and several other writers of acknowledged talent and genius. With the articles that we have read, we have been greatly pleased, and we shall endeavour to copy, in a week or two, a well-written domestic sketch from the pen of Miss Leslie, with which we have been particularly gratified. Altogether the Token reflects credit on the taste and enterprise of the publisher, and he who would ask for a more beautiful present for his lady-love, deserves to be punished by disappointment.

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