Mrs. Therese Adolphine Louise Robinson

Mrs. Therese Adolphine Louise Robinson, the wife of the distinguished Professor and traveller, is best known in the literary world under the name of Talvi, and is indisputably one of the most prominent of the few profoundly learned and intellectual women of the age. She is the daughter of the German savan, L. H. Jacob, who was long a Professor at Halle, where she was born on the 26th of January, 1797. In 1806, her father was called to a professorship at the Russian University of Charkow. Here the family remained for five years, and the daughter, though deprived of the advantages of a regular education, laid the foundation of that acquaintance with the Slavonic languages and literature, which she has since so profitably and honorably cultivated. During this time she wrote her first poems, songs full of the girl's longing for her German home, which the strange half Asiatic environment of Southern Russia rendered by contrast only dearer and more attractive. In 1811 her father was transferred to St. Petersburg, and there her studies were necessarily confined to the modern languages. But her own industry was intense and incessant; she devoted a great deal of time to historical reading, and privately cultivated her poetic talent. Her mind pursued the same direction, when, in 1816, her father returned to Halle, where she first made herself mistress of the Latin. Though her friends beset her to give some of her productions to the public, she long resisted. Meanwhile she wrote several tales, which were published at Halle in 1825, under the title of Psyche, with Talvi as the name of the author. This pseudonym is composed of the initials of Mrs. Robinson's maiden name. In 1822, she translated Walter Scott's Covenanters and Black Dwarf, under the name of Ernst Berthold. About this time there fell into her hands a review, by Jacob Grimm, of the collection of Servian popular songs, published by Mark Stephanowich. This increased her interest in that literature to such a degree, that she determined to learn the Servian language. Hence arose the translation of Popular Songs of the Servians, which, with the aid of some Servian friends, she brought out at Halle, in 1825-6, in two volumes. In 1828, she became the wife of Professor Robinson, and after a long journey with him in different parts of the old world, came to America. Here she was for some time engaged in the study of the aboriginal languages, and prepared a translation into German of Pickering's Work on the Indian tongues of North America, which was published at Leipzic, in 1834. At the same time, she wrote in English a work entitled Historical View of the Slavic Languages, which was published in this country, in 1834, and translated into German, by Karl von Olberg, in 1837. This work gives evidence of most remarkable literary attainments. In 1837 she again visited Europe with her husband and children, and remained in Germany till 1840. During this time she wrote and published at Leipzic, in German, an Attempt at a Historical Characterization of the Popular Songs of the Germanic Nations, with a Review of the Songs of the extra-European Races. This is a work of a most comprehensive character, and fills up a deficiency which was constantly becoming more apparent, in the direction opened by Herder. It evinces an unprejudiced and catholic mind, a just, poetic, sensible, clear and secure understanding, as well as the most extensive and thorough acquirements. Before her return to America she also published, in German, a small work on The Falseness of the Songs of Ossian. An article from her pen, entitled From the History of the First Settlements in the United States, published in 1845 in Rumei's Historiches Taschenbuch, is also worthy of notice. In 1847 she brought out at Leipzic, a historical work on the Colonization of New England, which has received the deserved applause of all the German critics, and which abundantly merits a translation into English. An elaborate reviewal of it appeared lately in the "Bibliotheca Sacra," in which justice was rendered to its character for research and judicious handling. In 1849 she published in New-York, with a preface by Dr. Robinson, a Historical Review of the Languages and Literature of the Slavic Nations; with a Sketch of their Popular Poetry. It is in one volume, from the press of Mr. Putnam, and it has been generally admitted that there is not in any language so complete and attractive an epitome of the literature and various idioms of the great Sclavonic Nations, north and south. Last year Mrs. Robinson gave to the world (through the Appletons) a novel, entitled Heloise, in which there are admirable pictures of social life in one of the minor capitals of Germany, and a very able one of the administration of the Russian government in the Caucasian provinces, and of the nature of Caucasian warfare. The last work (just published by the same house), is Life's Discipline, a Tale of the Civil Wars of Hungary. As a tale it is to us more interesting than Heloise, and it has no less freshness of incident, scenery and character. Though Mrs. Robinson's distinction is for scholarship and judgment, rather than for invention, these works entitle her to a very high rank among the female novel writers.