A New York publication on the contributions of Southern writers (1860)

Posted on November 3, 2014 by


One of those occasional morsels worth noting (and sharing), encountered in the course of my research…

From the New York Journal of Commerce (via my source… the Fayetteville Weekly Observer (Fayetteville, North Carolina), January 9, 1860:


A few days since we called the attention of our readers to the fact that a large number of books issued by our Northern publishers, were from Southern writers. We again return to this subject, because one of the strings which a certain class of writers and speakers delight to strike, is that which gives back the sound that “the South has no literature.” In the list of works published by the Harpers, we have been surprised at the goodly number from the pens of Southern gentlemen and ladies. Among them we find the names of Judge Longstreet, of Georgia, whose admirable “Georgia Scenes,” though published a quarter of a century ago, is still a “live book,” – fresh editions being required every year. Hon. Mr. Stiles, of the same State, has written the best and most profound History of Austria that exists in the English language. Mr. Monette, author of the History of the Mississippi Valley, was a resident of Mississippi. Lieutenant Maury, whose “Physical Geography of the Sea” has excited more attention in Europe than any recent work of popular science, is a native of Virginia. We well remember the interest which this book created at Geneva, Switzerland. Several of the first men of that city – as well known in the annals of science as of religion – not knowing that other countries of Europe would so readily gives its treasures to their people, immediately proposed a subscription in order that it might be republished. One of Lt. Maury’s works has been translated into the Portuguese language, and to-day is read at Lisbon and Rio de Janeiro. Commander Page, whose “La Plata and the Argentine Confederation” ranks among the most thorough and satisfactory books of travel, is also, if we mistake not, a Virginian. The speeches and addresses of Hon. H.W. Hilliard of Alabama, evince that, had he devoted himself to literature, he would have acquired a reputation as an author not inferior to that which he gained as a statesman. The anonymous author of Dere, a series of most brilliant European sketches, is a Southron. Professor Harrison of the University of Virginia is the author of a Latin Grammar which is characterized by great erudition. It may be well to mention in this connection two of the writers on the list of the Harpers, who, though no longer in their native States, are Southern-born. We refer to Dr. Hawks, formerly of North Carolina, and to General Winfield Scott of Virginia. The latter is better known as our Commander-in-chief, and the “Great Pacificator,” but at the same time he is the author of the best book extant on Infantry Tactics.

Among writers of fiction we recognize in the catalogue Miss Hunter, of Virginia; Mrs. King, of South Carolina; Miss Evans, of Alabama; Miss Dupuy, of Louisiana. William Gilmore Simms is the Southern Cooper, and probably has written more American novels than any other man of the Western world except Cooper. John Esten Cooke – whose recent “Henry St. John, gentleman,” abounds in passages worthy of Irving and Thackeray – is a Virginian; James Hungerford, who wrote the graphic and sketching “Old Plantation,” is a Marylander.

Of the new issues by the Harpers, some of the most touching, as well as some of the spiciest works, are by Southerners. “Harry Lee,” which, in interest, is not a whit behind the Ministering Children of the English Mrs. Charleworth, is from the pen of a lady who dwells on the Potomac. “The Diary of a Samaritan,” is by a merchant of New Orleans, who was one of the founders of the Howard Association of that city. “Fisher’s River Sketches,” by a Southern clergyman, is a most racy and humorous book. There has recently appeared in Harper’s catalogue the “Life of General Samuel Dale,” the famous partisan of the late war, by J.H. Claiborne; and we see that the same gentleman has nearly ready for the press a biography of the late General Quitman.

While we are on this subject we may as well mention that the South has also contributed its full share to our current periodical literature. Many gentlemen who consider that they have enough relaxation and entertainment without looking into a magazine, have made an exception of the “Editor’s Table” in Harper’s New Monthly, where, for a series of years, have appeared articles worthy of the best days of the Edinburg and Quarterly. These essays, on various subjects, have been written by some of our first men, North and South. But it is due to truth to say that a very large proportion of these excellent contributions have come from the pen of Rev. Lipscomb, of Alabama. Dr. L. has also contributed to the same periodical numberous other thoughtful papers on Aesthetics. T.B. Thorpe, of Alabama, has furnished a long series on the natural history and the agricultural staples of the county. The ‘dear old’ inimitable “Porte Crayon” (D.H. Strother, of Virginia) has furnished Harper’s Magazine more than a score of the most charming papers descriptive of Southern life, and dso graphically illustrated that when the magazine was minus the “Porte,” it seemed like a dinner deficient of dessert.

We might fill a large space with the mere names of Southern contributors to magazines, but we stop here. American literature, like our common country, has been slowly but surely built up, and neither one nor the other can be cried down or destroyed by either Northern or Southern denouncers.