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About this Item

Title: Literary Notices

Creator: Walt Whitman [unsigned in original]

Date: August 15, 1846

Whitman Archive ID: per.00610

Source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle 15 August 1846: [2]. Our transcription is based on a digital image of a microfilm copy of the original issue. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the journalism, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: This piece is unsigned. However, Whitman was the editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle when this editorial was written, and it was first attributed to Whitman by Cleveland Rodgers and John Black in Walt Whitman, The Gathering of the Forces: Editorials, Essays, Literary and Dramatic Reviews and Other Material Written by Walt Whitman as Editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1846 and 1847 (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1920). The piece was also included by Herbert Bergman in Walt Whitman, The Journalism. Volume I: 1834–1846 (New York: Peter Lang, 1998). The Whitman Archive editors agree that the style and content of the piece are consistent with other known Whitman writings of this period.

Contributors to digital file: Ruth L. Bohan, Taylor Sloan, and Kevin McMullen

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Literary Notices.

ANNUAL REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF PATENTS, for the year 1845. Ritchie & Heiss, Washington.

This is a ponderous book—too ponderous even to be opened by editorial hands. So full of the pith of facts—facts that have an important bearing on almost every question in science, physics, and philosophy—we regret that we have not the leisure to gratify ourself with a careful perusal of its pages.—It is only through publications of this kind that the severe economy of our form of government allows any fostering care to be extended to science; but by publications of this kind the very best aid is given to useful science.

THE EXPEDITION TO BORNEO of H. M. ship Dido, for the suppression of Piracy; with extracts from the journal of James Brooke, Esq., of Sarawack, (now agent for the British government in Borneo.) by Captain the Hon. Henry Keppel, R. N. Harper & Brothers.

Books of this sort are particularly the sort for "late summer and fall wear"—being of interest, novelty, and moreover of truth. The visit of the Dido to Borneo, and her services against the pirates, may reasonably be supposed to form a prolific theme for a readable book,—and Mr. Brooke appears to have jotted down things as they occurred at the time; which is a commendable merit in such things. The work forms No 18 of Harpers' New Miscellany.

GREENWOOD ILLUSTRATED; in a series of Picturesque and Monumental Views, in highly finished Line Engravings. R. Martin, 26 John st. N. Y.

The ordinary cant phrases used in the criticism (!) of new works, such as "a beautiful publication," &c. fail in their application when a really elegant thing appears—like this superb Greenwood Illustrated. The best recommendation of it, is itself.1 . . . . . . The first No. is embellished with an engraving of the Entrance to the Cemetery, another of the Keeper's Lodge, another of Poet's Mound, and a fourth of Ocean Hill2 —all of surpassing truth and fineness.—The peculiarities of that Beautiful Place of Graves are preserved in each of them; the sombre shade of the trees even, and the heavy pall, draping, as it were, the atmosphere there. We love to see the multiplying of such places as Greenwood. We love to see the publication of a work, imbued with a kindred spirit. . . . . . The drawings in Greenwood Illustrated were taken on the spot by James Smillie;3 and the literary department is by N. Cleaveland.4


1. Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, N.Y., was one of the country's first rural cemeteries. These richly landscaped parklike settings represented a sharp contrast to the increasingly crowded churchyard burials of previous years. Their landscaped designs followed the gentle contours of the land, creating serene environments intended as much for the contemplation of nature as for the display of large, sculptural monuments. Organized in 1838, with its first burial in 1840, Greenwood, like other rural cemeteries, attracted important civic backers, including Whitman's friend, the poet and newspaperman, William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878). Whitman was particularly attracted by Greenwood's garden–like setting, which he described in detail in three earlier articles: "Greenwood Cemetery," November 16, 1839, Universalist Union, in Walt Whitman, The Journalism, ed. Herbert Bergman, Douglas A. Noverr, and Edward J. Recchia (New York: Peter Lang, 1998): 1: 9–10; "A Visit to Greenwood Cemetery," May 5, 1844, Sunday Times & Noah's Weekly Messenger (New York), The Journalism, 1: 190–91; and "City Intelligence, An Afternoon at Greenwood," June 13, 1846, Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Kings County Democrat, The Journalism, 1: 421–23. [back]

2. As with other rural cemeteries, locations within Greenwood were often identified with names to emphasize their picturesque qualities. Poet's Mound was the grave of the poet McDonald Clarke (1798–1842); Ocean Hill was one of the highest spots in the cemetery and owing to its picturesque qualities one of the first to attract burials. Whitman stopped at Clarke's grave and expressed sympathy for the poet in both "A Visit to Greenwood Cemetery" and "City Intelligence, An Afternoon at Greenwood." For more on Whitman's connections to Clarke, see: David R. Reynolds, Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography (New York: Alfred A. Kopf, 1995), 88–90. [back]

3. James Smillie (1807–1885), a native of Scotland, was a noted line engraver who specialized in landscapes. Later in life he devoted himself to engraving bank–notes. [back]

4. Nehemiah Cleaveland (1796–1877) chronicled the history of Greenwood Cemetery in several guide books beginning in the 1840s. [back]


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