"American Novels,"


HE following extracts from an article on published in the first number of "Scott's Monthly Magazine,' (Atlanta, 1865,) by Mrs. Martin, under the pseudonym of "Sibyl," is an error as regards " American writers" at large, but very true of "Southern writers":

"Tupper says: "To think rightly is of knowledge; to speak fluently is of nature; to read with profit is of care; but to write aptly is of practice.' And this is the great drawback to American progress in literature - want of practice."


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Everybody writes, but nobody makes a business of writing. That is wherein the error lies; not for want of capacity to ennoble, elevate, purify, and refine our style of novel literature. Most of our best authors write merely for pastime or recreation often amid the press of other businessbecause urged to do so nearly always in the true American style of doing everything hurriedly; and hence the brilliant coruscations of wit and talent that flash out and sparkle amid their effusions are more the offspring of native genius than of cultivation.

All other professions are studied, practised, and perfected. But who sits down patiently, untiringly, and perseveringly, to make a lifetime business of writing books, especially of that fascinating order which are always readily devoured?”

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Again she says, very truly:

Many of our female authors write a great deal and write well; yet, they do not do so so much from a desire to excel in writing as with the desire and hope to win fame. Hence they crowd their productions one after another upon the public, until they surfeit it and exhaust themselves, and sink by the way, from a waste of energies, which, if rightly husbanded, controlled, and directed, might, in time, have procured for them the highly coveted boon. Fame, to be real, must be lasting; must stand the test of time, going down from one generation to another; must be strong enough and lively enough to bear comparison with the master-spirits of each.

“Another essential requisite is ability and willingness to bear criticism.

Those who shrink from the critic's pen as they would from the probe or knife, may not hope or expect to attain any superior degree of material excellence."

Many writers of our

Southland" are very averse to criticism, and seem to act on the principle, that, because their work is Southern, it should be praised indiscriminately; and this is why "Southern books" are called "feeble, trashy," by Northern critics, before they open the


What can be worse than undeserved praise?

Sallie M. Martin is a native of South Carolina, the first and only child of Elnathan L. and Jane Wallace Davis. Her father died when she was an infant, leaving her to the care of his early bereaved and youthful widow. To the careful and loving training of her mother is due whatever she may accomplish in the future, whether of literary fame, or the successful practising of domestic virtues.

After the death of Mr. Davis, his widow and daughter resided with her grandfather, Rev. William Holmes, a gentleman of means and influence, not only in Fairfield District, his home, but throughout many portions of the State.

"Sallie" was instructed nearly entirely by her mother at home, for it was only at intervals and for short periods at a time that she was sent to school. When she was ten years of age, her grandfather became unfortunate in business, so as to cause an almost entire loss of property, and removed to Georgia, accompanied by Mrs. Davis and her daughter. Having resided in Georgia the larger part of her life, she is as much devoted to her adopted as to her native State.

In 1860, she was affianced to Mr. George W. Martin, a gentleman of talent, connected with the press of Atlanta, and then, for the first time, turned her attention to literature; at his solicitation, publishing short articles in 1861. In 1863, she was married a youthful bride for she is very young, and has, we hope, a long and brilliant future before her.

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She contributed to various journals of the "Confederacy," over the signature of "Sibyl." Her most ambitious effort was a novelette, entitled, "Lalla De Vere," written in 1864.

When exiled from Atlanta by General Sherman, the effects of Mrs. Martin were scattered, and they literally lost everything in the shape of property; for not only did they find on their return to Atlanta all they had left there demolished, but were so unfortunate as to be

relieved of everything they carried with them to Montgomery and Selma Mr. Martin being at the latter place, and Mrs. Martin at the former, when they fell into the possession of Federal troops. Mr. Martin, having been in the Confederate service for three years, was in Selma with the "Chattanooga Rebel,”* designing to bring out the novelette of “Lalla De Vere" in book-form. His paper, binding, etc., and his person, were captured, and for many weeks his wife was ignorant of his fate. Lalla De Vere " was published in the "Ladies, Home Gazette," a journal published in Atlanta, (1867.)

As a writer, Mrs. Martin's style is chaste and elegant, never flippant. Her essays are superior to her narratives; but as she is yet very young, we anticipate something brilliant, true, and of lasting merit, from her pen.

A series of articles, entitled, "The Women of France," composed of sketches of "Madame Roland and the Empress Josephine," "Joan d'Arc and Charlotte Corday," "Héloise and Marie Antoinette," that appeared in "Scott's Magazine," are, we think, the best articles that have appeared from the pen of "Sibyl."

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In Charlotte Corday we find none of the religious enthusiasm which supported Joan d'Arc. If she believed in God at all, it was a sentiment wholly separated in her mind from any connection with her earthly mission. She did not feel herself called by any superior power to lay down her life for her country. The mighty power to do so lay in her own individual strength. Think what stern resolve must have gathered day by day in her mind, as she sat with her father in the assembly of the exiled deputies, where, without one thought that her striking beauty was calling forth admiration, she was slowly but surely nerving her heart and hand to strike the blow which should rid France of a tyrannical monster!

So little did she value her life in comparison to the welfare of her country that, after she had sheathed her blade in the cruel and wicked heart of the hideous Marat, rather than lose the opportunity of witnessing with her own eyes the effect this deed would have upon the people for whose good it was executed, she made no attempt whatever to escape, though she might readily have done so. It was a grand, a noble sight, to see a beautiful woman of twenty-five selling her own life that she might take that of an old and loath

* A daily journal of considerable reputation and ability.

some wretch whose race was wellnigh run. There was no fire, no impulse in the cool, deliberate act for which she had calmly made every preparation, as well as for the consequences. There was no battle-cry of "On to victory and glory,” to lead her on; but only the "still small voice” within her own heart, of "Liberty to France!" Ah! little did she dream that her apt reply to the president of the tribunal before which she was tried, would be handed down from one generation to another! He asked how it was that her first blow reached the heart of Marat-if she had been practising beforehand. “Indignation," she calmly said, "had roused my heart, and it showed me the way to his." It was so quietly, so simply expressed, yet spoke such volumes. So absorbed was she in her own patriotic devotion to the cause of liberty, that she was not even aware of the deep and glowing passion which her beauty and valor awakened in the breast of the unfortunate Adam Lux, who deemed no life so sweet as the death which his beloved had suffered, and so prayed that he might but perish as she did, which happiness to him was granted.

The scaffold, the cord, the block, had no terror for the heroic Charlotte. Only her womanly delicacy suffered at the exposure of her person to the vulgar gaze of the crowd. Even when her beautiful head, with its wealth of matchless hair, was severed from the body, the still soul-lit eyes opened and cast a look of indignation upon the ruthless executioner who dared to buffet her now lifeless cheek. Well did she win the name of heroine. Justly is she entitled to rank among the illustrious women of her country.


THIS young lady is favorably known in a limited circle as a

"charming writer of tales." She is an Alabamian by birth, although the early years of her childhood were passed in Mississippi. Several months after her ninth birthday, her parents moved to the "Empire State," (Georgia,) and in one of the many pleasant little towns of the noble old State has she ever since resided.

Entering school at the age of eleven, she remained a close student until she graduated, a few days before her eighteenth birthday. During her scholastic life, every spare moment was devoted to her pen, and oftentimes her vacations were passed in scribbling.

Her first story was entitled, "Popie Weston." Very few of her writings have ever found their way into print. When she was fifteen years of age, Dabney Jones, the great temperance lecturer, begged a short story, which appeared in "The Temperance Crusader," then edited by Mrs. Mary E. Bryan.

In 1865, she wrote a series of "Reveries" for the "Southern Literary Companion," under the signature of "Harry Holt;" also replies, "Old Maid Reveries," by."Polly Holt." Since that time she has contributed to "Scott's Magazine," "Miss Barber's Weekly," "Child's Delight,” and “Burke's Weekly for Boys and Girls." Some of her friends affirm that she possesses the faculty of pleasing children to a greater extent than almost any one of the present day.

Miss Le Clerc has been, as assistant teacher, sheltered beneath the wing of her alma mater since her graduation, which alma mater is "College Temple," at Newnan, Georgia.


"They come! those memories of the buried Past,
And in my solitude they seem to cast

A shadow o'er me."

I do but lift the curtain that shrouds the Then from the Now, and they come thronging about me, peering into my face with their wistful eyes of

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