|C. F. Hoffman / painted by H. Inman; engraved by J. Sartain.|
Library of Congress
Charles Fenno Hoffman took over from Duyckinck as editor of The Literary World beginning in May 1847.
Hoffman served as editor of The Literary World from May 1847 to October 1848.
Transcribed below from The Literary World 1.20 (June 19, 1847):
|New York Courier and Enquirer - April 30, 1847|
In the early part of 1847 Mr. Duyckinck undertook the editorship of the Literary World, a weekly journal, designed as a vehicle for the best criticism on books and art, and the independent and impartial treatment of all topics relating to the cultivation of letters. The paper was hardly established before he resigned the editorial control to Mr. Charles Fenno Hoffman; but, about a year later, resumed it in connection with his brother George, then just returned from an extended tour in Europe, and by their united efforts it was carried forward with a single eye to the truest interests of a true literature. In the opening article of October 7, 1848, the number of the journal which marked the resumption of its control by Mr. Duyckinck, he concludes a striking summary of the aims of its conductors...." --Evert Augustus Duyckinck: His Life, Writings and Influence
Excerpts from Melville's Omoo had appeared during Duyckinck's short first reign, but the full and favorable review of Omoo was published in the May 8, 1847 issue of The Literary World when Hoffman was editor.
As editor of The Literary World Charles Fenno Hoffman had just reviewed Omoo. Maybe Hoffman also wrote arrestingly of an "insular ishmaelitish people" in the editorial on "England and America." The main job of the June 19, 1847 editorial (whoever wrote it) was to defend and argue against British criticisms of supposed atrocities committed by American soldiers during the Mexican War.
Transcribed below from The Literary World 1.20 (June 19, 1847):
Miscellany.ENGLAND AND AMERICA.—“It is always more in sorrow than in anger (says a very English writer, in a London weekly of May 15th), that we regard the misdeeds of the Americans. Owning with them a common origin, connected with them by the ties of blood, we are sensible of a participation in their disgraces. Their misconduct is a reproach to the whole Anglo-Saxon family.”
The feeling here indicated upon the part of the British branch of Anglo-Saxonhood towards the Alleghanic type of the same race, is (much to our sympathizing regret) troubling the heart of England exceedingly in this her latter day. Those who deem it hypocritical, or who think that our worthy sister of Albion frets herself unfruitfully about the evil doings of her brother of Alleghan, should remember how often we too have recoiled in horror and disgust when tracing her murderous course in India. We felt that our blood alliance with her race made us as it were co-sharers in the reproach with which mankind must visit her manifold atrocities. Let no friend of universal philanthropy, then, take exception to the tone of stupid arrogance and matchless hypocrisy, that the uncharitable and the blind of heart may insist upon detecting in the following passages from the same article.
"But chiefly on a ground higher than that of mere consanguinity do we view with regret those acts, by which the fair fame of America is tarnished, and her name become a by-word among nations."Now do let the irritated American, who kindles with wrath at this suggestion of his country’s name becoming “a by-word among nations,” let him only reﬂect how at the very moment, “on higher grounds than that of mere consanguinity,” his indignation is roused at every arrival from England, when he reads of the despicable meanness with which the awful consequences of her centuries of ﬂagitious crime in Ireland are met by our Anglo-Saxon brothers of the isles. Let him reﬂect, we say, upon this, and while he scouts at the free British Constitution as a hollow mockery, and mourns for outraged humanity generally, his mind will be in a state of sympathetic condolence with his Anglo-Saxon brother, as he peruses the following plaint in continuation of the above:
“We lament her crimes, principally because they bring discredit on the principles of her constitution; because they are a scandal to the cause of liberty; because they give occasion to its enemies to triumph. We see how readily they are seized upon by the advocates of despotism, and held up as exhibiting the failure of the great experiment of free institutions. The American system of government is a glorious theory, of which, by the opponents of popular progress, these delinquencies are adduced in scornful refutation. To American dishonesty, and American slavery, the absolutist and bigot point in conﬁrmation of their creed. They cite Lynch Law as the consequence of trusting a people with freedom. A like handle has been furnished to them by the selfishness and rapacity which dictated the Mexican invasion; and still further have their hands been strengthened by the mode in which it has been carried on.”A mode we Americans are driven to confess not much better than that pursued by our Anglo Saxon brothers towards the Chinese, a few years since, and almost as painful as that which they now “carry on” towards the Caffres. Alas! our English friend undervalues the tie of “mere consanguinity,” for naught but that bond could make two nations thus sympathetic in their conduct, and their humane views of that conduct, when its consequences become irreparable. But let us follow our clear-breasted, liberal-viewed brother, a little further:
"In general, the atrocities of what is called Civilized warfare have been modified by some sentiment of humanity. Their inherent murderousness has been palliated by a certain show of mercy, a qualified forbearance, under the names of honor and chivalry. There was a mutual agreement that men should conﬁne themselves to the slaughtering of fellow men. It was understood that the work of butchery should not extend to the massacre of unoffending women and children. To spare neither sex nor age was a barbarity of which none were supposed capable but savages. Did we merely know that the cruelties enacted at Vera Cruz had been committed by Americans, we might not be surprised. We should conclude that their perpetrators were the ferocious tribes who scalp and roast their victims alive. The wild Indians, who dance round their victims at the stake, might be judged capable of warring upon Womanhood and infancy. But no! The destroyers of the weak and the defenceless, the besiegers of boudoirs, they who bombarded drawing-rooms and nurseries, were American citizens."
Full as much at least as those, who the other day rained their grape-shot from “that bridge” upon the ﬂying SIKHS, until the river beneath ran blood, were English subjects—were the same men, whose brutal and fiend-like deeds at Badajoz and Ciudad Rodrigo sicken with horror each reader of Napier‘s historic page.*
[Footnote: *Badajoz, Ciudad-Rodrigo, and we may add St. Sebastian, "where," as Alison relates, "while the wretched inhabitants, driven from house to house, as the conﬂagration devoured their dwellings, were soon huddled together in one quarter, where they fell a prey to the unbridled passions of the soldiery. Attempts were at first made by the British ofﬁcers to extinguish the ﬂames, but they proved vain amid the general confusion which prevailed; and soon the soldiers broke into the burning houses, pillaged them of the most valuable articles they contained, and rolling numerous spirit casks into the streets, with frantic shouts emptied them of their contents, till vast numbers sank down like savages motionless. some lifeless, from the excess. Carpets, tapestry, beds, silks and satins, wearing apparel, jewelry, watches, and every thing valuable, were scattered about upon the bloody pavements, while fresh bundles of them were continually thrown down from the windows above, to avoid the ﬂames, and caught with demoniac yells by the drunken crowds beneath. Amid these scenes of disgraceful violence and unutterable Woe, nine tenths of the once happy smiling town of St. Sebastian was reduced to ashes; and what has affixed a yet darker blot on the character of the victors. deeds of cruelty were perpetrated hitherto rare in the British army, and which cause the historian to blush, not merely for his country, but for his species."]
“Let the star-spangled banner henceforth advance to the appropriate battle-cry of a war-whoop. Let the American eagle moult its feathers and assume the plumage of a vulture. We repeat, that it is with deep sorrow that we are thus constrained to speak "We have not the slightest doubt of it. All English writers upon this country are afflicted with the same “deep sorrow;” and from the days of Fearon and Faux, and the old Quarterly Review, in Gifford’s day, we never knew one of them that spoke, unless he were “thus constrained to speak.” The thing is natural enough; Anglo-Saxon brothers are just like any other brothers. It is the duty of the elder always to look after the younger; and though old John may himself
“The primrose path of murderous dalliance tread,”
he is by no means discharged from his natural duty in scoring young Jonathan when following in the same gory trail.
But there seems to us something or other unsound or wrong, something cloudy and obscure somewhere in the whole matter. In short (we don't want to startle the age by the announcement, but we must make it in a quiet way), we believe the essence of Mr. Douglas Jerrold’s furious article is to be found in the greatest humbug of this era of leviathan humbugs; we mean the humbug of ANGLO-SAXON-ISM, and that idea of “kindred nations" which the writers of England are trying to fasten upon this country like a barnacle.
Now, as it happens, the Celtic races are so largely represented among us, that when we add to our population derived from this stock the vast accessions we have formerly received, and still continue to receive, from Continental Europe, a shrewd prophet might urge, that the Celt is here again to grow into ascendency and become the instrument, in the hands of Providence, to avenge the wrongs of the world upon the Anglo-Saxon.
It is perhaps safe to say that scarcely more than one half our people are of Anglo-Saxon descent. Of these, not one third are of un-mixed English origin, and this English origin derived about equally from the Puritans of Cromwell’s wars, and the Cavaliers of Charles II.’s day, make us about as much akin in moral and intellectual character and physical appearance, to the Englishman of the present Anno Domini, as the John Bull of to-day is to the Englishman of the days of King John. Our forefathers were plucked from amid that strange insular ishmaelitish people by the hand of Providence itself, and placed upon this broad continent, as a nucleus around which the representatives of all the races of Europe might rally, to form a new and peculiar branch of the human family. And when the vicissitudes of an ever-changing climate had done its most in bringing out new developments of temperament; and when countless physical and moral circumstances, acting with stringent and consentaneous effect upon scattered communities, had measurably banded us into a homogeneous people, the same Providence, at the expiration,—not of forty years wandering, but of more than a century and a half of trial in the wilderness—called us to take our place among the nations of the earth; called us as a People to be responsible at His bar with other nations and to meet his judgments here and hereafter as he has proclaimed them to the nations, long ere the cosmopolite’s infidel doctrine of mixing up mankind in one general responsibility, was preached by humanitarian bigotry. England need not fear being called upon to hear our “reproach” at that bar, and may heaven in its mercy forbid that our so called kindred blood should make us the joint heirs of hers! The concentrated wickedness of our seventy years of nationhood would not ﬁll one year’s record of her crimes against the human family within the same period of time. Why, put the horrors of this unhappy and regretted Mexican war at the worst, there is not a tale of slaughter, or even an invented story of misery, that comes from beyond the Rio Bravo, to compare in horror with the details of wretchedness which each packet brings across the Atlantic from the fated island, which England has governed for centuries. No Mexican village, where American arms have once attained sway, no province, where American rule has been dominant, has suffered as has each county of Ireland, from Cromwell's day till this. Were every rood of land in Mexico subjected to our rule to-morrow, as Ireland has been to that of England for centuries, neither we, nor any other people upon God’s earth, but that purely selfish Anglo-Saxon race, would fold our arms, while the conquered land withered in famine and pestilence. And it is this race of heartless egotists which in its unholy might has stalked through groaning India, like some fabled monster, breathing fire and desolation, till these became the very atmosphere of its countless victims. It is these Anglo-Saxon scourges of the earth, that dare to hold up America to the reprobation of the nations! But we are getting in earnest and we really did not intend it, for the monstrous humbug of the thing is too gross to provoke resentment,—too ﬂagrantly and farcically impudent to call forth serious indignation.
We must not take leave of the subject, however, without calling attention to the consistency of this ingenuous English writer, who we believe belongs to that amiable class of men, who ﬁgure in “world’s conventions,” and peace societies, and strive in their mission to "keep up the consanguinity of nations," by writing such articles as these we have commented upon, and illustrate them with letters written by the officers of one service, reﬂecting as follows upon the ofﬁcers of another service:
“With mingled pain, humiliation, and disgust, we quote from the Liverpool Albion the following passage; the statement of an eye-witness of the transaction to which it relates :—“ ‘ HOW VERA CRUZ WAS TAKEN.—On board H. M. S. Darling, Sacriﬁcios, 26th of March,
1847.—Last night the town of Vera Cruz and the Castle of St. Juan de Ulloa capitulated to the Americans. The terms I cannot ascertain with certainty, but of this I am satisfied, that the latter have gained no honor in the business. It has been a dastardly aﬂhir on the part of the Yankees. Since the 9th inst. they have had Vera Cruz surrounded by 14,000 to 15,000 men, and, though it was only defended by 4,000, one-half of whom were militia, they dared not attack it like men,* but from a distance threw shells into it until one-fourth the town was in ashes, and a great number of women and children destroyed. The Mexicans have shown uncommon pluck. The Americans gave it out that their batteries on shore were to play only on the castle, whilst their ﬂeet attacked it on the other side. They have not, however, had the courage to try their strength on the castle (notwithstanding their heavy ﬂeet), but have contented themselves with ingloriously shelling helpless Vera Cruz.’ ”
[Footnote: *The writer of this precious missive would evidently have had Gen. Scott imitate Wellington‘s choice in carrying a town by storm, as a more humane process than bombarding it. Hear the Manifesto of the Spanish Junta, upon the conduct of the British troops in the city which Wellington, according to Alison, was too merciful to “shell.”
Oh wretched day! O cruel night! Pillage, assassination and rape were pushed to an incredible pitch, and the ﬁre which broke out early in the night, after the enemy had retired to the castle, put the ﬁnishing stroke to the scene of woe. On all sides were heard cries of distress from women, who were violated without regard either to tender youth, respected family, or advanced years. Women were outraged in presence of their husbands. daughters dishonored in presence of their parents—one girl was the victim of brutality on the corpse of her mother! Other crimes more horrible still, which our pen refuses to record, were committed on that awful night. and the disorders were continued some days after, without any efficient steps being taken to arrest them. Of above six hundred houses, of which St. Sebastian consisted on the morning of the assault, there remained at the end of three days only thirty-six."]
The English “liberal,” “peace man,” “philanthropist,” “world‘s conventionist,” “cosmopolite,” &c., winds up his comments upon this letter, by declaring emphatically—
“Certainly in the capture of Vera Cruz a stroke has been inﬂicted upon Mexico; but as certainly that stroke has been A COWARD'S BLOW."When one of the cleverest and most popular writers in England can, in one of its most widely circulated periodicals, speak thus indecently of a whole people, an American may make up his own mind whether or not our cousin of England does not hate us with a degree of envenomed cordiality, which, when his emissaries preach about the pursuit of arms being a folly and a madness in this age of enlightened progress, should make us remember the wolf’s Jesuitical advice to the shepherd in the fable, and keep our dogs well fed, instead of hanging them, as that silly shepherd did. For ourselves, we do not believe in the delenda est Carthago policy, and we should be very sorry to see a war with England, for we are growing a little too rapidly at present; besides, unless more gradually trained to the use of power, we might misuse it as sadly as she does, and at the same time hypocritically croak the while about the doings of some new stripling State, that is growing up to Anglo-Saxon Thug-hood in the Australian seas.
The article upon which we have commented appeared in a. literary journal, and, therefore, came legitimately within the sphere of our comments in this paper. But the London Times, of May 10th, has a column in a similar strain, and the London Spectator, of May 14th, is equally dire in its denunciations. We repeat, that if each nation is to be held up to the scorn of the world for its political outrages, we are perfectly willing that our seventy years of national existence should be contrasted side by side with that of England for the last seventy years. There is not one count in the indictment which England can prefer against us, for which we cannot furnish ten to convict her at the bar of Humanity. Nor could there be a greater proof of her dotage than her raising such a question as this, when our towns are crammed with foreign paupers, made wretched by her wars and her oppressions—the paupers—her paupers, daily fed by the people whom she so monstrously calumniates. Odious as is the Mexican war to vast numbers of the American people, the well informed among them know, that the mode in which it has been carried on is humanity itself, compared with the brutality of England’s wars; and however we may recoil at the Anglo-Saxon principles upon which that war was instituted, were they ten times as depraved, we could not be justly humiliated, in our own opinion, by the light in which humane and virtuous England pretends with such unblushing effrontery to rebuke us before the nations.
--The Literary World Vol. 1 No. 20 - June 19, 1847