Published Works


About this Item

Title: Books Lately Issued

Creator: Walt Whitman [unsigned in original]

Date: July 22, 1847

Whitman Archive ID: per.00618

Source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle 22 July 1847: [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, Hannah Fink, and Kevin McMullen

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'Modern Painters; by a graduate of Oxford:1 first American, from the third London edition; revised by the author'; Wiley & Putnam, 161 Broadway, New York. The first dip one takes in this book, will, in all probability, make him pleased with the dashy, manly, clear–hearted style of its author. He tells us in the preface that he began his writing from a feeling of indignation at the shallow and false criticism of the periodicals of the day, on the works of a certain artist.2 That his writing is entirely devoid of selfish or partial motives we feel confident; no other than a sincere man could make such eloquence as fills these pages. The widest expanse of the ideal, and the most rigid application of mechanical rules, in art, appear to have been mastered by the author of 'Modern Painters.' As for artists, we should suppose such a work would be invaluable; and to the general reader it will present many fresh ideas, and afford a fund of intellectual pleasure. Indeed it is worthy of the reading of every lover of what we must call intellectual chivalry, enthusiasm, and a high-toned sincerity, disdainful of the flippant tricks and petty arts of small writers.

'Seventeen hundred and seventy-six, or the war of independence, a history of the Anglo-Americans, from the period of the union of the colonies against the French, to the inauguration of Washington; illustrated by numerous engravings': by Benson J. Lossing;3 published by Edward Walker, 114 Fulton street, New York. This elegantly printed volume, among other merits, is the most appropriate gift of which we know, for presentation to an American youth. And it is one which should be studied well and often by every American youth. It contains the story of the earlier adventures on the territory now forming the United States; and a clearly told account, well prepared, of the revolutionary war. It also has transcripts of all the important documents, connected with the great events of that time, such as the celebrated stamp act, Washington's circulars, and so on. . . . . . Although it is a common complaint that the spirit of patriotism is far more sluggish now than in the iron times of '76, we think the reason for the difference will be found in the different circumstances of the two periods. Such provocatives of patriotism as then existed cannot now come in play again. But if others should arise, calling as loudly on the better feelings of the citizens of the United States, we do not doubt but that the call would be responded to, and nobly! And the greatest reliance, then, would be the example of '76! for what nation on earth—with such a story engrafted on its very birth as the book we are reviewing shows our national story to be–what nation on earth could ever turn recreant to the call of patriotism?

'Life of Madame de la Mothe Guyon: with some account of Fenelon, archbishop of Cambray; by Thomas C. Upham, of Bowdoin college.' Two handsome volumes these, from the Harpers, giving the life and religious experience of a female well known in the devotional world. Interesting as they are, and full of appropriate incidents, we must confess that we have little sympathy with the life of a devotee, or pleasure in reading such a life. The world, in its busy and troublous scenes, in domestic affairs and in the thousand calls it makes, and avenues it opens, for human duty, affords a far better mode of the useful developement of the religious principle, than any other mode.

'Shakspeare and his friends, part 2': Burgess, Stringer, & co., 222 Broadway, N. Y. We expressed our favorable opinion of this work, on the appearance of the first part. The second part but clenches our good will. Even the style alone is refreshing, apart from the interest attaching to every adventure or thought of the world–famed characters who form its subjects. The style is rich, somewhat quaint, of the fashion of old court–times—and puts one in mind of the high–bred manners of the day of the later Tudors. Our American reprint is brought out in good style. We shall welcome the concluding part, and endeavor, then, to give the whole work a more elaborate attention.

'Memoirs of Madame de Stael, and of Madam Roland; by Lydia Maria Child': published by C. S. Francis & co., 252 Broadway, New York. Somebody, in noticing this work, has observed that, of all porsens, Mrs. Child is the most fitting one to write the biography of the two celebrated Frenchwomen here treated of. The remark is no more than just. The authoress gives us a clear history, and a most graceful story withal.

'The Arabian nights, illustrated by twenty large engravings and numerous wood cuts':4 C. S. Francis & co., 252 Broadway. This edition, (in parts at 37 1/2 cents each,) of a work which seems destined to hold a long time yet upon the popular taste, is one of the prettiest and best printed—if not the best—that has yet been issued. We must confess to a fondness for such reading as the 'Nights;' and we recommend every parent or guardian with a dull or matter of fact child, to get a copy of these Oriental legends, and put in the said child's hands. They will have a good effect.

'The Alphabetical drawing book, and pictorial natural history of quadrupeds': Wiley & Putnam, N. York, is a little work having the object of affording lessons in drawing, and teaching youth the natural history of many animals. It seems calculated to interest the young.5

'Summer tours, by Theodore Dwight'; Harpers. The reputation of this author is better established, (like others of his well–known family and name,) in a different style of writing. But even in this, and a pleasing style it is, he proves attractive.

'Wood Leighton, or a year in the country, by Mary Howitt'; Burgess, Stringer & co. Whoever once gets a taste of the charming quality of this authoress, will need no inducement to continue reading her books.

Littell's Living Age continues to be issued from the establishment of Berferd & co., at the Astor house, its New York agency. This periodical is one of the choicest, and affords the noblest reading, of any of its class in our language.

The monthlies for August—some of them—have been sent us by their respective publishers. Godey's contains a couple of neat pictures, one 'the day's work ended,' and one 'death of the red deer."6 The Columbian has an indifferent picture on a scripture subject,7 and a capital contribution from F. E. F.—The Ladies' National furnishes its usual quota.


1. The author was the noted British writer, artist, collector and art critic, John Ruskin (1819–1900). In this influential early work, Ruskin wrote passionately about the need to construct modern landscape paintings directly through the senses and the imagination rather than through the pictorial conventions of the past. Through his persuasive rhetoric and insightful observations, Ruskin helped redefine the field of art criticism. [back]

2. That artist was the British landscape painter J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851), whom Ruskin championed. [back]

3. Benson J. Lossing (1813–1891) was a popular American historian and illustrator. [back]

4. The illustrator was the French artist Louis-Pierre-René de Moraine (1816–1864). [back]

5. The book's drawings included images by established European artists, principally from the collections of the British Museum, lithographed by George G. Gratacap (1824–before 1870?). Whitman's commitment to educating young minds prompted reviews of additional drawing manuals for juveniles. See "[The new Juvenile Drawing Book"], September 29, 1847 and "New Publications," November 8, 1847, Brooklyn Daily Eagle. [back]

6. The popular woman's magazine, Godey's Magazine and Lady's Book, was published in Philadelphia from 1830–1878. The Day's Work Ended, a weary man bent over and holding a single fish returning home along an unpaved road, accompanied the poem "Man" by H. Hastings Weld. Death of the Red Deer, which accompanied a story of the same title by Frank Forester, represented a group of hunters, a bagpiper and townsfolk celebrating the conclusion of a Scottish hunt. [back]

7. The image Whitman references shows a youthful Christ preaching in the Temple, based on a passage from the Gospel of Luke incorrectly cited as 11.46; it should be 2:46. [back]


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