Margaret Fuller, Critic: Writings from the New-York Tribune, 1844-1846

By Judith Mattson Bean; Joel Myerson | Go to book overview

[Review of Richard Hildreth,
The Slave; or, Memoirs of Archy Moore]

—“Leave wringing of your hands; peace: sit you down: And let me wring your heart; for so I shall, If it be made of penetrable stuff; If damned custom hath not brazed it so, That it be proof and bulwark against sense.” Hamlet.1

This narrative is written with a vigor, power of conduct in the plot, and in sketches of character, that would have given the author a high rank throughout this country, as a novelist, had not his theme been one calculated to waken hostility in many readers and fear in more.

History will class it as one of the most remarkable and interesting productions of our time. It will not be forgotten, for the same allowance is to be made for the earnest devotion of the writer to the cause of an injured race, and for the necessity of bringing forward the principal features of abuse in order to develop his plan, with less interval of repose, and less alleviation from good than exists in fact. Still the picture, as a whole, is true to the life, and it not only is, but seems, true, for the writer is, evidently, raised above the need of pleading a cause and his determined convictions are based on knowledge.

The tone is noble; in its calm, but heart-felt, respect for the claims of man reminding us of Godwin.2 With all its feeling, it is still more an intellectual expression. Passion, woe, distortion, and sophistry are seen, but seen from the intellectual point of view, and thus the sketch is made with a strong and steady hand, and shows the educated eye of manhood. Such productions have results upon the world, such as fierce invective and mechanical arrangements for the expression of opinion never can.

____________________
1
Hamlet, act 3, scene 4.
2
William Godwin (1756–1836), English philosopher and miscellaneous writer, brought the spirit of the French Revolution to Britain.

-65-

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