Academic journal article Nathaniel Hawthorne Review

John Neal on Hawthorne and Poe in the New England Galaxy of 1835

Academic journal article Nathaniel Hawthorne Review

John Neal on Hawthorne and Poe in the New England Galaxy of 1835

Article excerpt

John Neal (1793-1876) had praised Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel Fanshawe in 1828, stating that its author had "a fair prospect of future success" (Wineapple 84). Neal had also praised Edgar Allan Poe's book of poems Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems in 1829 and 1830 and Poe's Poems in 1831, stating that the author was "a fine genius" (Walker 66-69, 76). Given Neal's early appreciation of both Hawthorne and Poe, his consideration of these writers not too long afterward would be of great interest. Neal's year-long editorship of the weekly newspaper the New England Galaxy in 1833 offers a glimpse of his developing opinion of the two authors and of their developing reputations. His comments, as well as those of his junior editor, H. Hastings Weld (1811-1888), were largely, though not exclusively, positive, and, to the best of my knowledge, have not been reprinted--except for those about the August 1835 Southern Literary Messenger that Poe reprinted himself.

Neal was a pioneering novelist and critic from Portland, Maine, who had served as an editor for The Portico (1818), The Federal Republican (1819), and The Yankee and Boston Literary Gazette (1828-1829) (Richards, "John Neal: A Bibliography" 298). He was bold, direct, and devoted to the growth of American literature. (1) At the New England Galaxy, he joined H. Hastings Weld, who would later become editor of several New York newspapers, including the Evening Tattler and Brother Jonathan, and a target of Poe's in "The Mystery of Marie Roget" (Kopley, Edgar Allan Poe and the Dupin Mysteries 54-63, 106-9). Weld announced his new fellow editor--"the Senior Editor"--in a Galaxy editorial of December 27, 1834, stating "Each [editor] will be individually responsible for his own articles, as the author will be designated by his initials, or otherwise" ("Editorials"). (Usually, the two men distinguished their work with an "N" or a "W.") And Neal, in his introductory piece, on January 3, 1835, offers "To Virtue, Genius and tried or untried Worth, wherever it may be found, and in whatever it may consist, a reasonable share of encouragement--as the world goes" ("To All Whom It May Concern").

A brief notice of the January 1835 issue of the New England Magazine does not offer any comments on specific works by Hawthorne ("New England Magazine for January"). However, Neal and Weld offer implicit encouragement to the still-anonymous author by reprinting in the January 10, 1835, issue of the Galaxy, his story from that January issue, "The Gray Champion," which presents General William Goffe as the spirit of New England. Weld announces in a slightly longer notice of the January issue of the New England Magazine, "Upon our first page we have placed an article from the last number" ("The New England Magazine [January 1835]"). The story was taken from Hawthorne's book manuscript "The Story Teller," which had originally been received by Samuel G. Goodrich of The Token (9:495, Newman 138, and Wineapple 81; see also Weber and George). A week later, Neal mentions the editors of the New England Magazine, Samuel G. Howe and J. O. Sargent, and provides a general comment on the contents of the January 1835 issue (which included an article of his own): "The matter [is] generally good enough to get along of itself without a regular puff' ("New England Magazine: Jan. '35"). Throughout 1835, Neal and/or Weld offered their comments on Hawthorne in the context of reviews of issues of the New England Magazine that featured Hawthorne's work. (2)

Weld praises the February issue of the New England Magazine. "The second of the new volume in numerical order--the first in merit. It contains indeed a better variety of interesting matter than any preceding number for months." He writes, more specifically, "The first article, 'Old News,' transports one back to the knee buckles and 'solemn wigs' of 1700, and gathers traits of the times from the newspapers of that day." He does not mention Hawthorne's name, but he seems to have followed the writings of the unnamed author: "'My Visit to Niagara,' is by the author of the 'Gentle Boy,'--and the 'Gray Champion. …

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