Text: William Doyle Hull II, “Part I, Chapter II,” A Canon of the Critical Works of Edgar Allan Poe (1941), pp. 138-168


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[page 138, continued:]

[[PART I: THE SOUTHERN LITERARY MESSENGER]]
[[CHAPTER II]]
[[AN EXAMINATION OF EVIDENCE FOR THE POE REVIEWS IN THE MESSENGER]]

[[VOLUME II: JULY, 1836 TO NOVEMBER, 1836.]]

JULY, 1836.

110. RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF THE HOUSE OF LORDS FROM THE YEAR 1830 TO 1836 BY GRANT.

All of the July reviews may be assigned to Poe with confidence, despite the fact that there is external evidence for only a few. The method of the “House of Lords” is one Poe often uses; an introductory paragraph — general facts about the author and the background of the book, a comparison with some earlier work; and a chapter by chapter discussion. Two passages will place this review:

. . . . an amusing instance of the mystifying influence of ‘the divine right’ and its accompaniments, upon the noodles of its devotees the idea, too, of the King’s asking what are the words in his own speech, is sufficiently(1) burlesque.

What a world we live in, when such and similar things are related in a volume such as this, by a man of excellent sense, with a gravity becoming an owl! (SLM, II , 504). [page 139:]

* 111. LETTERS TO YOUNG LADIES. BY MRS. L.H. SIGOURNEY.

Mrs. Sigourney wrote Poe, June 11, 1836:

If it would not be too much trouble, might I ask you to enquire of the book-seller, to whom Mr. White consigned my ‘Letters to Young Ladies,’ if he meets with any difficulty in disposing of then? If so, we would be glad to have them returned — as the Edition is expended, and there are demands for them here and in New-York. . . .(1)

This must have reached Poe Just at the time when he was looking for things to review for the July issue. The notice begins:

We have to apologize for not sooner calling the attention of our readers to these excellent letters of Mrs. Sigourney — which only to-day we have had an opportunity of reading with sufficient care to form an opinion of their merits (H, IX, 64; SLM, II, 505).

“For a multiplicity of error an this head (faculty of Memory) Leibnitz and Locke are responsible” (H, IX, 65; SLM, II, 505) : so thought Poe.

That it exists in conjunction with each primitive faculty, and inseparable from it is a fact which might be readily ascertained even without the direct assistance of Phrenology (H, IX, 65-66; SLM, II, 505)

this was only four or five months after the probable awakening of Poe’s interest in this subject. The evidence seems strong enough to allow the notice to be given Poe with an asterisk,

* 112. THE DOCTOR. BY ROBERT SOUTHEY.

In the November, 1841, review of Guy Fawkes in Graham’s,

Poe wrote:

true erudition . . . is certainly discoverable, is positively indicated only in its ultimate and total results. We have observed elsewhere, that the mere [page 140:] grouping together of fine things from the greatest multiplicity of the rarest words, or even the apparently natural inweaving into any composition . of the sentiments and manner of these works, is an attainment within the reach of every moderately informed ingenious, and not indolent man, having access to any ordinary collection of good books (H, X, 216; GM, XIX, 248).

In the July review of The Doctor:

Erudition is only certainly known in its total results. The mere grouping together of mottoes from the greatest multiplicity of the rarest books, or even the apparently natural inweaving into any composition, of the sentiments and manner of these works, are attainments within the reach of any well-informed, ingenious and industrious man having access to the greet libraries of London (H, IX, 68; SLM, I1, 506).

Nothing more need be pointed out, save that the whole is characteristic of Poe.

113. ENGLAND IN 1835. BY FREDERICK VON RAUMER.

The method of “Raumer’s England” is that of “The house of Lords,” a usual one with Poe: a paragraph of general information and introduction, one on the author and his earlier works, one on the translator, and then a general survey of the book in hand. The point of view here manifested reveals Poe. The whole is in the style he adopts in writing of social and political questions. Several passages are indicative:

The broad and solid basis of its superstructure — the scrupulous accuracy of its data — the disdain of mere logic(1) in its deductions — the generalizing, calm, comprehensive — in a word the German character of its philosophy (H, IX, 53; SLM, II, 507). [page 141:]

It will be sadly misconceived if it be regarded as embracing one single sentence with which the most bigoted lover of abstract Democracy can have occasion to find fault . . . that perpetual and unhealthy excitement about the forms and machinery of governmental action which have within the last century so absorbed their attention as to exclude in a strange degree all care of the proper results of good government (H, IX, 54; SLM, II, 507). Yrs, rust n, the translator, however, has taken some liberties in the way of omission. . .some animadversions of her friend Bentham are stricken out without sufficient reason for doing so (H, IX, 56; SLM, II, 508).

We will only add that Professor von Raumer has the honor of being called by the English organ of the High Church and Ultra Tory Party, ‘a vagrant blackguard unfit for the company of a decent servant’s hall (H, IX, 63-64; SLM, II, 511).

114. MEMOIRS OF AN AMERICAN LADY.

In “Memoirs“of an American Lady” one finds again the attitude toward anecdotes and memoirs as important material for history which has been pointed out several times. There is a verbal echo of a sentence in “Peregrination, ” June, 1836. Here: “The book, moreover, is full of good things. . . .” (H, IX, 70; SLM, II, 511) ; there: “This epistle is full of . . . . all good things” (H, IX, 37; SLM, II, 442).

115. CAMPERDOWN: OR NEWS FROM OUR NEIGHBORHOOD.

This notice has the method of the “House of Lords” and “Raumer’s England.” One recognizes here Poe’s penchant for ferreting out sources:

Three Hundred Years Hence is an imitation of Mercier’s ‘L‘an deux milles quatre cents quarants‘, the unaccredited parent of a great many similar things (H, IX, 71; SLM, II, 442).

This French work is discussed briefly in “Marginalia.”(1) There [page 142:] is here, also, another instance of his distinctive use of the adverb “sufficiently:” “These latter, are, for the most part, well conceived — some are sufficiently outré” (H, IX, 72; SLM, II, 513).

116. ERATO. BY WILLIAM D. GALLAGHER.

On May 25, 1835, White wrote Tucker:

Along with other books, I send . . . I would like to be favored with a notice of both . . . . . Gallagher’s Poems. . . . . you can dispose of as you choose.(1)

It is not likely that these “Poems” are the Erato reviewed in July, 1836; it is less likely that Tucker would submit fifteen months late a notice which he was not asked to do. The notice is inevitably Poe’s. One need only read these sentences:

Mr. Gallagher is fully a poet in the abstract sence [[sense]] of the word, and will be so hereafter in the popular meaning of the term (H, IX, 73; SLM, II, 513). Much of the beauty of the lines we mention, springs it must be admitted from imitation of Shelley . . . the allusion . . . . . destroys the keeping, of all the latter portion of the poem (H, IX, 75; SLM, II, 514).

117. LIFE ON THE LAKES.

The twenty-eight line notice of Life on the Lakes contains a criticism of a sort that will be observed Inter in the review of Skimmings, October, 1836:

The name of this book is in shockingly bad taste. After being inundated with the burlesque in the shape of Life in London. . . (H, IX, 77; SLM, II, 514).

One other sentence, in particular, should be noted: [page 143:]

In the manner of the narrative, too, there is a rawness, a certain air of foppery and ill-sustained pretension — a species of abrupt, frisky, and self-complacent Paul Ulricism . . . (H, IX, 77; SLM, II, 514).

118. RUSSIA AND THE RUSSIANS. BY LEIGH RITCHIE.

In the notice of Russia and the Russians twenty-two of the thirty-two lines are devoted to a comparison of it and Raumer’s England, reviewed by Pop in this number. It is evident that both reviews are from the same pen.

* 119 . SUPPLEMENT.

This supplement consists of notices of the Messenger gathered from Magazines all over the country. One column concerns us here. Poe quotes a criticism from the Newbern Spectator, a criticism of his critical attitude in general and of his captiousness about Lieutenant Slidell’s grammar, in the May review of Spain Revisited, in particular. Half of Poe’s reply is devoted to a defence of his attack on a certain sentence in the review which the Spectator has singled out. The other half is an adducing of evidence that his criticisms have been well received by the authors of the books reviewed. Specifically he mentions Halleck, Drake, Slidell, Anthon, Paulding, Mrs. Sigourney, and Walsh. For each of the reviews of these authors there is sufficient proof outside this column that they are definitely Poe’s — excepting only “Walsh’s Didactics.” This seems, then, conclusive enough to warrant the inclusion of that also in the canon with an asterisk. [page 144:]

* 120. LETTER TO B ——.

These detached passages form part of the preface to a small volume printed some years ago for private circulation. They have vigor and much originality — but of course we shall not be called upon to endorse all the writer’s opinions. — Ed. (SLM, II, 501).

The small volume was the Poems of 1831; the passages are revised and corrected slightly. [page 145:]

AUGUST, 1836.

* 121. PINAKIDIA.

This long collection Of literary curiosities, much in the manner of the later “Marginalia,” “Literary Small Talk,” and “Suggestions, ” is not signed: there can be no doubt, however, that Poe is the author. One finds here odd bits of knowledge which Poe used over and over again in his later works.(1)

122. THE OLD WORLD AND THE NEW. BY THE REVEREND ORVILLE DEWEY.

Again, in August all the reviews may safely be given to Poe. The notice of Dewey’s The Old World and the New begins by taking issue with the author’s statement “that his volumes are not offered to the public as an itinerary.” They are, says the reviewer, strictly an itinerary of the most “scrupulous accuracy;”

Not that we have much objection to this methodical procedure, but that we cannot understand Mr. Dewey in declaring his book not to be what it most certainly is, if it is anything at all (H, IX, 81; SLM, II, 582).

The whole review is typical of Poe.

123. A NEW DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. BY CHARLES RICHARDSON.

Poe wrote that Richardson’s Dictionary was worked out “upon the principles of Horne Tooke, the greatest of philosophical grammarians” (H, IX, 105; SLM, II, 583). Three other references [page 146:] to Tooke were noted in the discussion of the notice of the Edinburgh Review, for December, 1835. the last paragraph but one of the August notice cites and effectively, insidiously, tears down a criticism of the work in the North American Review, The last paragraph is characteristic of Poe, when he is reviewing certain kinds of things:

We conclude in heartily recommending the work of Mr. Richardson to the attention of our readers. It embraces we think, every desideratum(1) in an English Dictionary, and has, moreover, a thousand negative virtues. Messrs. Mayo and Davis are the agents in Richmond (H, IX, 106; SLM, II, 584).

* 124. THE BOOK OF GEMS. THE POETS AND ARTISTS OF GREAT BRITAIN. EDITED BY S. C. HALL.

On May 17, 1845, in the Broadway Journal, there appeared a review, “Old English Poetry — The Book of Gems. Edited by S. C. Hall,” which examination shows to have been rewritten from the August, 1836, review of the Book of Gems. The first column and a half of the earlier review are omitted in the later, XII, 139, 11.5-25, from IX, 94, 11.1-20. XII, 139, 1.25 to 140, 1.6, from IX, 95, 1.33 to 96, 1.8. XII, 140, 11.7-9, from IX, 94, 11.28-30. XII, 140, 1.9 to 141, 1.6 from IX, 94, 1.50 to 95, 1.31. XII, 141, 1.7 to 146, 1.7, from IX, 96, 11.13-21, and 96, 1.24 to and 101, 1.1 to 103, 1.19.(2) The majority of these lines are unchanged. Again, in the August, 1836, review Poe writes: [page 147:]

And this quaintness and grotesqueness are, as we have elsewhere endeavored to show, very powerful . . . adjusts to Ideality (H, IX, 94; SLM, II, 585).

Compare the review of Drake, in April, 1836 (H, VIII , 292-303).

* 125. REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON NAVAL AFFAIRS.

In the Messenger for last August we stoke briefly on this head. What we said then was embraced, in the form of a Critical Notice on the ‘Report (March 21, 1836) of the Committee on Naval . . . (H, IX, 306; SLM, III, 68).

This statement, found in the January, 1837, notice of Reynold’s Address,(1) establishes the August review, “The South Sea Expedition,” as Poe’s. Were there any doubt, for which I think there is no basis, as to the references of the “we,” a comparison of the two reviews would be convincing.

In this number are two tomahawking review — reviews only less caustic than those of Norman Leslie and Paul Ulric — reviews of the sort that went for to establish Poe’s reputation. There is no need here to put on parade internal evidence, though it itself it is overwhelmingly convincing; there exists satisfactory evidence of an external sort. “Lafitte” begins:

The ‘author of the South-West’ is Professor Ingrahm. We had occasion to speak favorably of that work in our Messenger for January last (H, IX, 106; SLM, II, 593).

* 126. ELKSWATAWA. BY FRENCH.

In “Autography,” Graham’s Magazine, November, 1841, Poe expressed succinctly the opinion of Mr. Ingrahm as a novelist [page 148:] which he develops here.(1) In the next installment of “Autography,” one month later, he wrote:

Mr. French is the author of a ‘Life of David Crockett’ and also a novel called ‘Elkswatawa,’ a denunciatory review of which, in the ’Southern Messenger,’ some years ago, deterred him from further literary attempts (H, XV, 219-220; GM, XIX, 277).

In the Lafitte review Poe writes:

‘Lafitte,’ like the ‘Elkswatawa’ of Mr. French is most successful, we think, in its historical details (H, IX, 112). . . The chronological mannerism noticed in ‘Elkswatawa’ is also observable in ‘Lafitte’ (H, II, 112; SLM, II, 595).

127. LETTERS DESCRIPTIVE OF THE VIRGINIA SPRINGS. BY PEREGRINE PROLIX.

This notice has been discussed under another head.(2)

* 128. A YEAR IN SPAIN.

After the discussions of the February and May reviews of Slidell, it is necessary to quote only the first sentence of “A year in Spain:”

We have more than once recorded in the Messenger the high pleasure afforded us by the pages of Lieutenant Slidell (H, IX, 83; SLM, II, 593).

129. ADVENTURES IN SEARCH OF A HORSE. BY CAVEAT EMPTOR.

This notice rollicks along in Poe’s best manner. Two sentences will be sufficiently suggestive:

This book . . . is remarkable as being an anomaly in the literary way (H, IX, 82). Only imagine the stare of Old Coke, and of the other big-wigged tribe in white calf and red-letter binding, as our friend in the green habit shall take his station by their side upon the bookshelf (H, IX, 83; SLM, II, 573). [page 149:]

* 130. LAFITTE: THE PIRATE OF THE GULF. BY INGRAHM.

This review has already been given to Poe.(1)

131. INTRODUCTORY LECTURE TO A COURSE OF CHEMISTRY AND NATURAL PHILOSOPHY. BY JOHN W. DRAPER.

When one observes that Draper’s Lecture was printed by White, one knows what to expect of the notice. Consisting of only ten lines, it begins equivocally:

Mr. Draper’s peculiar reputation is well known — and deservedly acquired (SLM, II, 296). . . .

What follows is calculated to warm the hearts of both White and Draper. This sort of thing Poe did on occasion.

* 132. MEMORIAL OF FRANCIS LIEBER.

In the “Autography” appearing in Graham’s, November, 1841, Poe wrote, speaking of Lieber’s works:

. . . . ‘Journal of a Residence in Greece,’ written at the instigation of the historian Niebuhr; ‘The Stranger in America,’ a piquant book, abounding in information relative to the United States . . . (H, XV, 202; SLM, XIX, 232).

The notice of Lieber’s Memorial has:

. . . . Journal of a residence in Greece, ‘written at the instigation or the historian Niebuhr,. ..‘The Stranger in a piquantly written work, abounding in various information relative to the States (H, XV, 202; SLM, II, 590) .

This evidence is conclusive. [page 150:]

133. THE HISTORY OF TEXAS. BY DAVID B. EDWARD.

Aside from the first two sentences in the notice of The History of Texas, there is little to afford ground for speculation; these are, however, suggestive:

This should be classed among useful oddities. Its style is somewhat over-abundant — but we believe the ‘” book a valuable addition to our very small a-mount of accurate knowledge in regard to Texas (H, IX, 78; SLM, II, 597).

And there is no reason for suspecting that it is not Poe’s.

* 134. INKLINGS OF ADVENTURE BY N.P. WILLIS.

In the “Autography” article in the August, 1836, Messenger, Poe wrote in the person of Joseph A. B. C. D. &c. Miller:

Mr. Willis writes a very good hand . . . It has the same grace, with more of the picturesque, however, and consequently, more force. This qualifies will be found in his writings — which are greatly underrated. Mem. Mr. Messenger should do him justice. (Mem. by Mr. Messenger. I have). (H, XV, 166; SLM, II, 601).

Aside from the two line announcement in August, 1835, of the republication in the Liverpool Journal of Pencillings, there is no other review of Willis in the Messenger, of this period, except the August, 1836, “Inklings of Adventure.” In this seven column review, Poe does “do him justice.” Pointing out his faults — affectations, invariable disregard for “totality of effect,” little feeling for incident; he likewise points out his merits — a style of delicacy, force, grace, and beauty, unsurpassable in its ray; a gift for sentiment and badinage; sufficient scholarship; great command of language and an inimitable turn for figurative expression. [page 151:]

His intellect, if not of the loftiest order, Very clcsel approaches it — and he has stenned upon the threshold of nearly every species of literary excellence (SLM, II, 600).

Here is a typical sentence:

We cannot sufficiently express our disgust at that unscrupulous indelicacy which is in the habit of deciding upon the literary merits of this gentleman by a reference to his private character and manners . . . (SLM, II, 597).

* 135. AUTOGRAPHY.

Again this article is not signed. There is no lack of evidence, however; evidence which there is no need here to present.(1)

There has been some confusion arising from a statement in a letter Poe wrote on September 2, 1836, in reply to certain, charges made by the Richmond Courier and Daily Compiler: “Since the commencement of my editorship in December last ninety-four books have been reviewed” (H, VIII, xiii). He then proceeds to point out that in only five cases has censure been “greatly predominant,” and only three are “harshly condemnatory;” while in seventy-nine “commendation has . . . . largely predominated,” and in seven, “praise slightly prevails” (H, VIII, xiii-xiv) . All of the seventeen which Poe mentions specifically are indubitably his; but Harrison interpreted this statement to mean that Poe admitted the writing of ninety-four reviews from December, 1835, [page 152:] through August, 1836.

As Campbell pointed out: “. . . Poe’s statement . . . does not fully warrant the inference made.”(1) Following his interpretation, however, Harrison made of it a finding method. There are in the Messenger for this period ninety-four reviews;(2) but Harrison does not solve his problem as simply as accepting them en masse. He has worked out a table of distribution, which, according to my canon at least, is full of errors. For December he lists twenty-three, which is the number I have given to Poe, excluding two, the notice of the Orations on Marshall and “Robinson’s Practice,” both of which he includes. Omitting all of the periodical reviews except that of the Edinburgh Review, he makes up his twenty-three by listing the “Heroine” twice, including here “Latrobe’s Rambler,” which did not appear until January, 1836, and by counting as two the notice of Story’s and Binney’s orations on Marshall. For January instead often he gets nine, through misdating “Latrobe’s Rambler,” for the purposes of this tabulation, the trilogy review of Mrs. Sigourney, Miss Gould, and Mrs. Ellet must be counted separately;(2) this makes for January twelve reviews. For February Harrison counts all eleven of the reviews, although he expresses doubt about the [page 153:] “Marshall” and does rot include the “Autobiography” in his not both of these I have omitted, giving me for this month, nine. Including all the reviews, his numbers for March (five), July (nine), and August (thirteen), tally with mine. Failing to count the Drake-Halleck review as two,(1) but including the Tucker review of Paulding’s Slavery, he has three for April. In May he includes the review, signed “Q” of Mellen’s Poems to make seven; here I have six. In June he has eight, whereas dropping the review of Maury’s Navigation gives me seven. Adding these figures, Harrison gets eighty-eight reviews, to which he adds three, apparently gotten from the Sigourney-Gould-Ellet and the Drake-Halleck reviews, to which he adds three editorials, finally getting the desired ninety-four.(2) The number of reviews in my canon for this period is, counting the January and April reviews as Poe did, eighty-seven; or, counting those five as two, eight-four. Of those I have omitted, the two reviews of the Orations on Marshall, “Paulding’s Slavery,” “Mellen’s Poems” are definitely not Poe’s; and though there is no decisive external evidence in retards to “Carey’s “Autobiography,” the internal is satisfactory. Poe’s statement, then, is a natural generality; it is impossible to manipulate figure skillfully enough to get ninety-four Poe reviews from December, 1835 [page 154:] through August, 1836. It should be noted again, however, that all of the reviews which he mentions specifically are his.

SEPTEMBER, 1836.

* 136. PHILOTHEA: A ROMANCE. BY MRS. CHILD.

As Harrison and Campbell point out,(1) “Philothea,” the first review in the September number, Poe used again, almost without change, in the Broadway Journal, May 31, 1845, in “Literati,” in Godey’s Lady’s Book, September, 1846, Poe gave briefly the opinion of the book which he had expanded in the review:

‘Philathea,’ in especial, is written with great vigor, and, as a classical romance, is not far inferior to the ‘Anacharsis’ of Barthelemi; — its style is a model for purity, chastity, and ease (H, XV, 105; GLB, XXXIII, 129).

In the review he writes:

Philothea is of that class of works of which the Telemachus of Fenelon and the Anacharsis of Barthelemi, are the molt favorable specimens (H, IX, 146; SLM, II, 659).(2)

* 137. SHEPPARD LEE. BY R. M. BIRD.

Like Philothea, this novel is an original in American Belles Lettres at least; and these deviations, However indecisive, from the more beaten paths of imitation look well for our future literary prospects (H, IX, 126; SLM, II, 662).

Thus, in the first sentence, “Sheppard Lee” is linked with “Philothea.” After a brief introduction, and a lengthy, but [page 155:] witty resumé, the critic enters into a long; discussion of the philosophy of this sort of novel, and of the success and failure of Dr. Bird. The first part: of the review are strongly suggestive; as to the last, there can, I think, be no doubt that Poe is the critic. One passage will serve for illustration:

It consists in a variety of points — principally in avoiding, as may easily be done, that directness of expression which vie have noticed in Sheppard Lee, and thus leaving much to the imagination — in writing as if the author were impressed with the truth, yet astonished at the immensity, of the wonders he relates, and for which, professedly, he neither claims nor anticipates credence — in minuteness of detail, especially upon points which have no immediate bearing upon the general story — this minuteness not being at variance with indirectness of expression — in short, by making use of the infinity of arts which give verisimilitude to a narration — and by leaving the result as a wonder not to be accounted for (H, IX, 133-139; SLM, II,667).

Here is the secret of “Hans Phaal,” of Arthur Gordon Pym, and of all Poe’s wonder stories.

137. LITERARY REMAINS OF THE LATE WILLIAM HAZLITT: WITH A NOTICE OF HIS LIFE BY HIS SON, AND THOUGHTS ON HIS GENIUS AND WRITING. BY E. L. BULWER, M. P. AND MR. SERGEANT TALFORD, M. P.

Two like expressions of Chorley’s musical abilities have already been quoted.(1) In the review of Hazlitt’s Remains Poe writes: [page 156:]

Mr. Hazlitt discourses of Painting, as Chorley of Music. Neither have been equalled in their way, (H, IX,145; SLM, II, 608).

This parallelism cannot be in itself conclusive, but there is support in the review:

There is a piquancy in the personal character and literary reputation of Hazlitt — The volume is embellished with a fine head of the Essayist, engraved by Marr, from a drawing by Bewiek (H, IX, 140). . . a truth but little understood, and very rarely admitted — that the reasoning powers never exist in perfection unless when allied with a very high degree of the imaginative faculty. In this latter respect, Hazlitt (who knew and acknowledged the fact) is greatly deficient. His argumentative pieces, therefore, rarely satisfy any mind beyond that of the mere logician. As a critic —— he is perhaps unequalled (H, IX,145; SLM, II, 667-8).

OCTOBER, 1836.

139. THE SWISS HEIRESS; OR THE BRIDE OF DESTINY.

The review begins:

The Swiss Heiress should be read by all who have nothing better to do. We are patient, and having gone through the whole book with the most dogged determination, are now enabled to pronounce it one of the most solemn of farces (H, IX, 185; SLM, II, 715).

Then follows a resume o’ the plot in the “Leslie” and “Ulric” style. The last sentence:

HUmph! and this is the ’Swiss Heiress,’ to say nothing of the ‘Bride of Destiny.’ However — it is a valuable ‘work‘ — and how, in the name of ‘fate, foreknowledge and freewill‘(2) we solemnly consign it to the fire. (H, IX, 191; SLM, II, 716). [page 157:]

The whole thing is done in Poe’s most mordant, most amusing manner.

* 140. ADDRESS DELIVERED TO THE ANNUAL COMMENCEMENT OF DICKINSON COLLEGE. BY S. A. HOSZEL.

Poe says here;

We see, or we fancy we see, in the wording of this address, mother instance of that tendency to Johnsonism(1) which is the Scylla on the one hand, while a jejune style is the Charybdis on the other of the philological scholar (H, IX, 159; SLM, II, 717).(2)

The reviewer then explains that he is referring to the “too frequent use of primitive meanings, and the origination of words at will, to suit the purposes of the moment” (H, IX, 159; SLM, II, 717).

But to these sins (for the world will have them such) a fellow-feeling has taught us to be lenient — and indeed, while some few of Mr. Roszel’s inventions are certainly not English, there are still but very few of them ‘qui ne le doivent pas etre’ (H, IX, 159; SLM, II, 717).

This is Poe in tone and attitude and practice.

141. POSTHUMOUS MEMOIRS UP HIS OWN TIME. BY SIR N. W. WRAXALL.

Three memoirs are reviewed this month, obviously by Poe, The method of the five column and a half review of Wraxall’s Memoirs is characteristic; first, the conditions back of the [page 158:] delayed publication; then, general comments, a listing of the chief characters, and a retelling of certain anecdotes and scandals, of Wraxall he writes:

The Baronet is sadly given to scandal, and is peculiarly piquant in the indulgence of his propensity . . . . He has a happy manner, when warmed with an important idea, of presenting only its characteristic features to the view — leaving in a proper shadow points of minor effect (H, IX,177; SLM, II, 718).

* 142. THE AMERICAN ALMANAC, AND REPOSITORY OF USEFUL KNOWLEDGE FOR 1837.

This notice has been shown to be Poe’s in the discussion of the December, 1835, notice of the Almanac for 1836.

143. SKETCHES OF SWITZERLAND. BY J. FENIMORE COOPER. PART II.

This notice has been shown to be, in my opinion, Poe’s in the discussion of the May, 1836, notice of an earlier number of the same work.

* 144. AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BEFORE THE STUDENTS OF WILLIAM AND MARY. BY THOMAS R. DEW.

On October 17, 1836, T. R. Dew, president of William and Mary, wrote Poe:

If you will read over my address you will be enabled to draw up a few editorial remarks of the character you desire . . . An editorial of the kind you mention would be highly gratifying . . .(1) [page 159:]

He then gives some information which Foe had evidently requested as material for a notice of the address. Such a notice appears in the October, issue. It will be worthwhile to compare carefully certain parts of the review and the facts sent Poe by letter. Aside from its value as evidence, this comparison may be suggestive of the way in which Poe got all sorts of information which he springs on this readers in the reviews. Dew made six points, which Poe rearranged thus: 6, 2, 5, 4, 3, 1. The order here is that of the letter.

Dew:

Our College is the oldest in the union save one and older than that, if we might date back to the establishment of an Academy in this city of some note prior to the erection of the College (Gr. MSS. Phot. in UVL).

Poe:

She is the oldest college in the union save one, and even older than that, if we may date back to the establishment of an academy (one of some note) prior to the erection of the present buildings. (SLM, II, 721).

Dew:

The numbers at Wm & Mary have rarely been great, & yet she has turned out more useful men, more great statesmen than any college in the world in proportion to her alumni (Gr. MSS. Phot. in UVL).

Poe:

The number has at no time been very great it is true; and yet, in proportion to her alumni, this institution has given to the world more useful men than any other — more truly great statesmen (SLM, II, 721).

Dew:

The high political character of old Va. is due to this college (Gr. MSS. Phot. in UVL). [page 160:]

Poe:

To William and Mary, is especially due the high political character of Virginia (H, IX, 193; SLM, II, 721).

Dew:

Some colleges may have equalled ours in Physics & Mathematics, but few have in Morals & Politics, it is these last subverts that give the highest finish to the mind, & raise it to its greatest elevation (Gr. MSS. Phot. in UVL),

Poe:

Some colleges way have equalled her in Physics and ’ Mathematics — indeed we are aware of one institution, at least, which far surpasses her in these studies - - but few can claim a rivalship with her in Moral and Political Science; and it should not be denied that these are the subjects which give the greatest finish to the mind, and exalt it to the loftiest elevation. (H, IX, 192; SLM, II, 721).

Dew:

The scenery here, the hospitable population, the political atmosphere all conspire to give a utilitarian character to the mind of the student, hence the. alumni of this college have always been characterized by business minds & great efficiency of character (Gr. MSS. Phot. in UVL).

Poe:

Perhaps the scenery and recollection of the place, the hospitable population, and political atmosphere, have all conspired to imbue the mind of the student at Williamsburg with a tinge of utilitarianism. Her graduates have always been distinguished by minds well adapted to business, and for the greatest efficiency of character (H, IX, 192; SLM, II, 721).

Dew:

In conclusion, I will say, that we never had more [page 161:] brilliant prospects than now, a I have no doubt that our numbers this year will be as great as have ever been known in this college (Gr. MSS. Phot. UVL).

Poe:

Indeed she had never more brilliant prospects than lust now, and there can be little doubt that at least as many students as have borer entered, will enter this year (H, IX,192; SLM, II, 721).

145. MEMORIALS OF MRS. HEMANS. BY HENRY F. CHORLEY.

Parallels to the reference in “Memorials of Mrs. Hemans” to Chorley as a musician hale already been noted. Because of the method which the reviewer gives warning of having adopted, it would be useless to present evidence quotations:

We cannot refrain from turning over one by one the pages as we write, and presenting our readers with some mere outlines of the many reminiscences which our author has so beautifully filled up. We shall intersperse them with some of Mr. C’s observations, and occasionally with our own (H, IX, 196; SLM, II, 723).

The whole is peculiarly in a Poe-tone: he is writing of a lady poet. There is only one more piece of tangible evidence.

Burger’s Lenore (concerning which and Sir Walter Scott see an anecdote in our notice, this month, of Schloss Hainfeld) she was never tired of hearing . . . (H, IX, 202; SLM, II, 724.).

(?) 146. A DISSERTATION ON THE IMPORTANCE OF PHYSICAL SIGNS IN THE VARIOUS DISEASES OF THE ABDOMEN AND THORAX. BY ROBERT W. HAXALL.

In this number there are three notices of more of less technical works. Harrison printed that of Dr. Haxall’s Dissertation with this footnote: “Doubtfully; Poe’s” (H, IX, 164). There is, I think, no contrary evidence of sufficient strength [page 162:] to exclude it from the canon, the nature of the notice leads one to wonder if it could be attributed to the reviewer of The Cavaliers of Virginia in the March, 1835, issue, who designated himself as a “medical man” (SLM, I, 386) ; however, there is nothing in style to support this suggestion, and the mere fact that the review is of a medical treatise and that it is worded in language somewhat technical is no indication that Poe did not write it. He tried to pose as a man of extensive learning in every field; and usually he succeeded in impressing his audience. Not only is there nothing here that roe could not have written (on the whole the notice is not distinctive), but there are two sentences which may point to him:

He has evinced too more than ordinary powers of analysis, and his essay will command (oh, rare occurrence in the generality of similar essays;) the entire respect of every well-educated man, as a literary composition in its own peculiar character nearly faultless (H, IX, 164; SLM, II, 725).

The second, though by no means of a sort peculiar to Poe alone, is rather typical of his ever-present interest in typographical details: “This Essay is embraced in a pamphlet, beautifully printed, of 108 pa:;esn (H, IX, 166; SLM, II, 725). The giving of the background of the medal won by this dissertation and the criticism that the treatise does not, “in the fullest extent” answer the question asked, is also like Poe. In the absence of any definitely negative evidence, this notice may be given [page 163:] to Poe — but with a question mark, for Mr. Harrison’s footnote has not been satisfactorily answered.

147. SKIMMINGS: OR A WINTER AT SCHLOSS HAINFELD. BY CAPTAIN BASIL HALL.

The review begins:

’Skimmings,’ we apprehend, is hardly better, as a title than ‘Pencillings’ or ‘Inklings‘ — yet Captain hall has prefixed this little piece of affectation to some pages of interest (H, IX, 170; SLM, II, 725).

In the preceding August, speaking of Willis’ affectations, Poe had written:

It is, however, a positive folly, no doubt, which induces so clever a writer so frequently to . . . make use of such pretty little expressions on his title-pages as Pencillings by the Way, and Inklings of Adventure (SLM, II, 600) .

This parallel to the reference in this review to D1 Vernon has been noticed in the discussion of “Hawks, etc.” This review is quite similar in manner to that of Memorials; the cross-reference linking the two has support. Both, I are convinced, are Poe’s.

* 148. PETER SNOOK, A TALE OF THE CITY. J. DALTON.

As Harrison has noted(1) the October, 1836, review of J. Dalton’s Peter Snook was incorporated in “Magazine Writing — Peter Snook.” in the Broadway Journal, June 7, 1845. After two and a half pages (in the Harrison edition) of introductory [page 164:] matter, plus a rewriting of the first paragraph of the earlier review to suit present needs, the whole Of the earlier is used with no change but occasional verbal alterations for better effect, and some new paragraph indentures. The last paragraph, however, is shortened. The first six lines are kept intact; six lines omitted. The next nine are altered slightly; the last seven omitted.

149. LIVES OF THEE CARDINAL RICHELIEU, COUNT OXENSTIERN, COUNT OLIVAREZ AND CARDINAL MAZARIN. BY G. P. R. JAMES.

This one column notice cannot be denied to Poe. Even scattered quotations will make his authorship clear:

As a novelist, Mr. James has never, certainly been popular — nor has he, we think, deserved popularity. Neither do we mean too imply that with ‘the few’ he has been held in very lofty estimation, he has fallen, apparently, upon that unlucky mediocrity permitted neither by Gods nor columns. His historical novels have been of a questionable character — neither veritable history, nor endurable romance — neither ‘fish, flesh, nor gude red herring‘(1) . . . No man speaks of James, as he speaks (and cannot help speaking) of Scott, of Bulwer, of D‘Israeli . . . (H, IX, 168). Had Sir Walter Scott never existed, and Waverly never been written, we would not, of course, award Mr. J. the merit of being the first to blend, even successfully, history with fiction. But as an indifferent imitator of the Scotch novelist in this respect, it is unnecessary to speak: of the author of ‘Richelieu’ any farther. To genius of any kind, it seers to us, he has little pretension (H, IX, 109; SLM, II, 730-731). [page 165:]

150. A NEW AND COMPENDIOUS LATIN GRAMMAR. BY BAYARD R. HALL.

. . . . . well adapted to its purposes . . . . The arrangement is lucid and succinct — yet the work embodies a vast deal of matter which could have been obtained only through reference to many of the elaborate treatises of Europe. In its analysis of idiom, it excels any similar book now in common use . . . The definitions are remarkably concise — yet sufficiently full for any practical purpose (SLM, II, 731).

I have no doubt that Poe is the author.

151. REPORTS OF CASES DECIDED IN THE HIGH COURT OF CHANCERY OF MARYLAND. BY THEODORICK BLAND. VOL. I.

There are no grounds for suspecting the legitimacy of the Bland’s Chancery Reports notice, except the fact that it is a legal review — and among Poe’s Virginia acquaintances were many lawyers from whom he could have secured any information he lacked, Sounded in the first line; “We cannot perceive any sufficient reason for the publication of this book” (SLM, II, 731), the theme suggests Poe. He continues:

Now, the enormous multiplication of books in every branch of knowledge is one of the greatest evils of this age . . . (H, II, 731).

The impression is strengthened when one reads:

. . . professed legislative; law-factories, all possessed with the notion of being; Solons and Lycurguses., These surely can give both lawyers and people rules of conduct enough to :peep their wits on the stretch without any supplies from inauthoritative sources. The law books we get from England would of themselves now suffice to employ those lucubrations of twenty years which used to be deemed few enough for a mastery of legal profession (SLM, II, 731). [page 166:]

The point of view of the whole seems scarcely that of one of the profession. An example of the “Scylla” should be noted: “. . . . the getting up of the book is uncommonly good” (SLM, II, 732), and again Poe ends: “The paper, typography, and binding are all of the first order” (SLM, II, 732).

151. MEMOIRS OF LUCIEN BONAPARTE. PART I.

This is only a notice, introduced by a quotation setting forth the Prince’s purpose, and concluded by a paragraph of general criticism, the last point of which is branded “Poe:”

The book now before us possesses, in prose, many of the peculiarities of manner, which in so great a measure distinguished, and we must say disfigured, the author’s poem of the Cirreide here are the same affectations, the same Tacitus-ism,(1) and the same indiscriminate elevation of tone (H, IX, 156; SLM, II, 732).

153. MADRID IN 1835.

A few lines from this notice will make clear enough the identity of its author:

The sketches . . . are done with sufficient(2) freedom, and a startling degree of breadth; yet the details, for the most part, have an air off‘ profound truth . . . Such passages . . . are perhaps somewhat overcolored . . . Notwithstanding the greater variety and racy(3) picturesqueness of volume one . . . (H, IX, 157; SLM, II, 732).

NOVEMBER, 1836.

154. THE BRITISH AND FOREIGN MEDICAL REVIEW.

Mr. Campbell includes in his canon none of the three November reviews, all of which must be given to Poe, That of [page 167:] the Medical Review again gives expression to an attitude strong in Poe:

. . . by showing us haw insignificant we are in the civilized world, they severely and justly rebuke our national vanity. pampered so long by our Fourth of July orators and newspaper paragraphists, into the belief that we are the ‘greatest and most enlightened people on earth’ (SLM, II, 785).

Another example: “. . . except those captious and querulous praisers of time past, who abound in every age . . .” (SLM, II, 786). A single reading is convincing enough that the review is Poe’s. It and the October notice of Dr, Haxall’s Dissertation offer reciprocal evidence: both contain internal indications of Poe, and both are facilely written in the medical lingo.

155. ADDRESS DELIVERED BEFORE THE BALTIMORE LYCEUM. BY Z. COLLINS LEE.

The twelve and a half lines of the notice of Lee’s Address are utterly non-committal; they could have been written by anyone, However, they are quite consistent with the usual tone of Poe’s perfunctory, eulogistic notices of local addresses. It may be given to Poe.

* 156. THE POSTHUMOUS PAPERS OF THE PICKWICK CLUB. EDITED BY BOZ,

In the commentary on Tucker in “Autography,”(1) Poe wrote:

The review [Tucker’s on Pickwick Papers] appeared in March, we think, and we and retire from the Messenger in the January preceding. About eighteen months previously, and when Mr. Dickens was scarcely known to [page 168:] the public at all, except as the author of some brief tales and essays, the writer of this article took occasion to predict in the Messenger, and in the most emphatic manner, that high and just distinction which the author in question has obtained (H, XV, 195-196; SLM, XIX, 230).

Tucker had a review in May, 1837, of Tulrumble and Oliver Twist;(2) and in September, 1837, one of the Pickwick Papers.(3) Poe is obviously referring to the latter. It is difficult to ascertain, however, which of his own reviews he is speaking of, the “Pickwick” in November, 1836, or the “Tottle” in June, 1836; the “previously” could refer quite as easily to arch as to January. There is only one gray of counting which will make either review anything like “eighteen months previously:” if one counts from September, 1837, the actual date of Tucker’s Pickwick review, the June, 1836 review appeared fifteen months earlier. However that may be, both the June and the November reviews are indubitably from the same pen — and that pen is Poe’s. The Pickwick notice begins: “In our June ‘Messenger’ we spoke at some length of the ‘Watkins Tottle and other Papers’ by Boz’ (H, IX, 265; SLM, II, 787). [page 169:] Only twenty-three line’s long, the November is a sort of summation of the opinions advanced in the June. This later review is also linked with that of Peter Snook, October, 1836: “In his delineation of Cockney life, he is rivalled only by the author of ‘Peter Snook’ . . .” (H, IX, 265; SLM, II, 787), In “Peter Snook” Poe wrote: “With the exception of Boz . . . and, perhaps a couple of writers in Blackwood, he has no rivals in his particular line” (SLM, II, 727).

 


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 138:]

1.  This usage is typical of Poe.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 139:]

1.  Sigourney-Poe, Hartford, June 11, 1836. H, XVII, 38.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 140:]

1.  Cf. Eureka for this attitude.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 141:]

1.  DR, December, 1844. H, XVI, 36; DR, XV, 583.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 142:]

1.  White-Tucker, Richmond, May 25, 1835. Copy in UVL.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 145:]

1.  See for instance p. 232.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 146:]

1.  A word found often in Poe.

2.  As before these figures refer to the Harrison Printings.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 147:]

1.  For proof that the January notice is Poe’s, see SLM, III, 72 and 96.

2.  For proof that the January review is Poe’s, see White-Minor, Richmond, December 25, 1835. PSLM, 107.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 148:]

1.  See H, XV, 188; GM, XIX, 228.

2.  See pages 131-2.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 149:]

1.  See pages 147-8.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 151:]

1.  The copy of the Messenger in the Alderman Library has only the first 2 pages of this article.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 152:]

1.  Campbell, “The Poe Canon,” PSLM, XXVII, 345.

2.  That Poe counted the Sigourney-Gould-Ellet (January, 1836) and the Drake-Halleck (April, 1836) as five rather than two is made clear on page xiv, H, VIII.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 153:]

1.  That Poe counted the Sigourney-Gould-Ellet (January, 1836) and the Drake-Halleck (April, 1836) as five rather than two is made clear on page xiv, H, VIII.

2.  See H, VIII, xvi.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 154:]

1.  H, IX,146, n.; CHAL, II, 456-457.

2.  Harrison has changed the Messenger text, which reads “Fenelon” and “Barthelemi” (SLM, II, 659).

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 155:]

1.  See page 113.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 156:]

1.  The second title or the novel.

2.  A phrase which, according; to Poe, is the leitmotif of the novel.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 157:]

1.  For other uses of this word see “Marginalia,” DR, Apri1,1836.

2.  See the discussion of the Graham’s, April, 1842, review at Jacob’s Greek Grammar, for quotation of several parallels to this sentence sulking enough to give him this notice with an asterisk.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 158:]

1.  Dew-Poe, Williamsburg, October 17, 1836. Gr. MSS. Phot. in UVL.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 160:]

1.  This reference is perhaps to the University of Virginia.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 163:]

1.  H, XIV, 73.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 164:]

1.  “Mercedes,” GM, January, 1841: “neither fish, flesh, fowl, nor good red-herring” (H, X, 98). This was, of course, a not uncommon phrase.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 166:]

1.  Cf. “Marginalia,” DR, November, 1844 (H, XVI, 2), for use of this coinage.

2.  Note the typical usage; of this word.

3.  A favorite word with Poe.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 167:]

1.  GM, November, 1841.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 168:]

1.  Mr. Campbell first called attention to this passage as proof for the Tucker Pickwick review in “Poe and the Southern Literary Messenger in 1837,” Nation, LXXXIX, 9-10; he did not however, note the misdating of the review.

2.  See White-Tucker, Richmond, May 23, June 33 and 20, 1837. Copies in UVL.

3.  See White-Tucker, Richmond, June 20, 1837. Copy in UVL.


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[S:0 - CCWEAP, 1941] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - A Canon of the Critical Works of EAP (W. D. Hull) (Part I, Chapter II)