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

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

[Review of Waddy Thompson, Recollections of Mexico]

This book, as containing recent information as to the state of affairs in Mexico, and personal observations upon her leading men, cannot fail, at this moment, to be read with avidity. The author says that, not expecting to write an account of what he saw and thought, he did not keep notes for the purpose, and that the book is necessarily desultory. However, it seems to give a fair account of his experience. He is not a man capable of penetrating below the surface to detect the hidden springs of action, nor must valuable prescience or intimations be expected from him. As we smile at some wholesale remarks on the state of things in our own nation, we learn how to allow for the same absence of penetration and ready credence as to the seemings of things abroad. Still, in fairness and candor, in desire to be free from prejudice and passion, in unsophisticated good feeling, and what is called common sense, he is above the average of men, and his account, if not received as gospel, but merely taken for examination, is worth a good deal.

The very absence of any great leading views in his own mind often leads to his giving us contradictory statements without perceiving it, and affords opportunity to find the truth that lies between.—There is something very sweet and generous in his love for heroic traits of character, and the gleams of light thus shed over a history of dark, weary and inconclusive struggle are truly refreshing. Among these we reckon as prominent all that is told of Victoria, and the anecdote of Santa Ana's answer to the manly indignation of Mr. Hargoos, p.80.1

It is always very pleasant to see the bright side of a man's character whom the popular imagination has delighted to portray as a monster. For there are few monsters in the history of the human race, only the vices, cruelties and inconsistencies of the Bonapartes and Santa Anas are better seen than those

____________________
1
Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana (or Anna) (1795–1876), four-time president of Mexico, was the victor at the Battle of the Alamo (1836) during the Mexican War.

-431-

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