The Song of Hiawatha, by H. W. Longfellow

Henry J. Macdonald

General Description

Date: 1856
Genre: Review


◦ Burne-Jones, Georgiana. Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones. London: Macmillan & Co. 1906.

◦ Gordon, Walter K. A Critical Selected Edition of William Morris’s ‘Oxford and Cambridge Magazine (1856).’ Two Volumes. Unpublished Dissertation: University of Pennsylvania, 1960.

◦ Houghton, Walter, ed. “The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine”, 1856. The Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals, 1824-1900. Vol. 2.Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press,1966. pp. 723-731.

Scholarly Commentary

Guest Editor: PC Fleming


This review of Longfellow’s poem is by Henry Macdonald. Although he was one of the original members of the brotherhood, this review was his only contribution to The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine. Burne-Jones wrote in 1855 that Macdonald was “only a complement. When we have filled our staff to completion he will retire, and two giants come in his place.” (Memorials 123). These “giants” were Charles Faulkner and Vernon Lushington, but Burne-Jones does not say why it was necessary to replace Macdonald. Lushington wrote “Two Pictures” and the five-part essay on Carlyle, but Faulker’s only contribution to the magazine was “Unhealthy Employments”, which he co-wrote with Cormell Price. By June Fulford was struggling to find enough submissions to fill the Magazine, but he apparently did not turn to Henry Macdonald.

Macdonald’s review is primarily a summary, rather than an exegesis, and his stated goal is to “induce our readers to take up the book itself” (46). Walter Gordon’s accusation that Macdonald’s analysis never rises above “impressionistic approval” (501) is for the most part accurate, though MacDonald’s brief discussion of meter in the last paragraph shows some insight.

As Gordon notes, Longfellow is the only American writer formally reviewed in The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine (501), though Fulford does briefly discuss Poe in his essay on Tennyson.

Printing History

First printed in The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine, January, 1856.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1