Text: William Doyle Hull II, “Part III, Chapter II,” A Canon of the Critical Works of Edgar Allan Poe (1941), pp. 338-357


∞∞∞∞∞∞∞


[page 338, continued:]

Chapter II: Commentary on the Critical Writings in Graham’ s Magazine
 
Volume XIX

July, 1841.

In a postscript to a letter to William Landor, dated July 17, 1841, Poe claims all of the reviews for this month but one:

P.S. You have seen, I believe, the July no: of Mag. Among the critical notices is one on Bolingbroke, the only notice not written by myself. There are passages in that critique which I am sure are stolen, although I cannot put my hand upon the original. Your acquaintance with Bolingbroke’s commentators is more extensive than my own. Can you aid me in tracing the theft? I am anxious to do so. Has not Bulwer written something like it?(1)

These nine reviews then are Poe’s.

* 11. ” A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE”. BY HUGH A. PUE. [page 339:]

* 12. POWHATAN. BY SEBA SMITH.

* 13. MISCELLANIES OF LITERATURE”. BY D’ ISRATLI.

* 14. “CARLETON”.

* 15. “LIVES OF THE QUEENS OF ENGLAND”. BY AGNES STRICKLAND.

16. “THE HISTORY OF A FLIRT”.

* 17. “OUTLINES OF GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY”. BY FREDERICK EMERSON.

* THE WORKS OF LORD BOLINGBROKE. CR.

This being the one exception. I am convinced solely by the evidence of style that it is the work of the Casket reviewer.

The euphony of his sentences is like the liquid flow of a river . . . The life is altogether a mongrel affair, being made up of shreds and patches, like an old grandam’s best bad-quilt . . . a more unequal, ragged,, piebald, piece of composition was never perpetrated than this sane memoir, and the author. . . if any one but a pair of scissors there be . . . ought to be condemned to the now obsolete, but not less effective punishment,(1) of the cutty-stool. If ever a man deserved a horse pond, it is the inditer of this biography (GM, XIX, 48).

* 18. “A MEMOIR OF THE VERY REVEREND THEOBALD MATHEW” . BY THE REVEREND JAMES BERMINGHAM.

* 19. “THE LIFE AND LAND OF BURNS”.

AUGUST, 1841.

* 20. “THE QUACKS OF HELICON”. BY L. A. WILMER.

On July 12, 1841, Poe wrote Dr. Snodgrass:

Among the Reviews (for August) (2) I have one which will, at least surprise you. It is a. long notice of a satire by a quondam [page 340:] Baltimorean L.A. Wilmer. You must get this satire and read it — it is really good — good in an old-fashioned Dryden style. It blazes away, too, to the right do left — sparing not. I have made it the text from which to preach a fire-&-fury sermon upon critical independence, and the general humbuggery of the day. I have introduced in this sermon some portion of a Review formerly written by me for the ‘Pittsburg Examiner’ . . .(1)

Two years Tomlin wrote Poe:

I had entertained a good opinion of the ‘Quack of Helicon’ man, and it had been brought about in a great measure by your review of the Book.(2)

The reviewer says: ”. . . although Mr. Wilmer is a personal friend of our own . . .” (GM, XIX, 90; H, X, 183). A footnote elucidates: “Of Mr. Poe’s”; this Harrison fails to print.

* 21. “BIOGRAPHY AND POETICAL REMAINS OF THE LATE MARGARET MILLER DAVIDSON”. BY WASHINGTON IRVING.

Poe began his review of the Remains of Lucretia Maria Davidson in Graham’s for December, with this sentence:

Some few months since, we had occasion to speak of ‘The Biography and Poetical Remains of the late Margaret Miller Davidson* — a work given to the public by Washington Irving . . . In our August number we quoted in full some stanzas . . . (GM, XIX, 302; H, X, 221, 223).

Two passages from the August; review are quoted in the December: H, X, 223, 11.9-11, from H, X, 176, 11.9-12, with one phrase omitted; H, X, 223, 11.18-20 and 21-22, from That the author of both reviews is Poe is evident even from a hasty reading. In the August: [page 341:]

Its length, viewed in connection with its keepingp its unityo its adaptation, and completeness, will impress the metaphysician most forcibly . . . The nature of inspiration is indisputable — and we will not pretend to assert that Mr. Irving is in the wrong. His words, however, in their hyperbole, do wrong to his subject, and would be hyperbole still, if applied to the most exalted poets of all time (GM, XI, 94; H, X, 178) ;

and in the December:

This was at a period when we humbled ourselves with a subserviency which would have been disgusting had it not been ludicrous, bef ore the crudest critical dicta of Great Britainl . . .But it costs us no effort to distinguish that which, in our heart, is love of their worth, from that which, in our intellect, is appreciation of their poetic ability. With the former, as critic, we have nothing to do (GM, XIX, 304-5; H, X, 224, 226). (2)

Mr. Killis Campbell says that in the Wrenn Collection at the University of Texas there is “a revised draft, in nearly twelve neatly written pages, of Poe’s article on the poems of Margaret and Lucretia Davidson, first published in Graham’s Magazine in December, 1841(3) . . . ”.(4) Mr. Mabbott suggests that this manuscript in the Wrenn Collection may be part of the 1845 New York lecture.(5) One infers that the manuscript is in Poe’s hand, though Mr. Campbell does not say so; :nor does he give any history of it. In any event the two reviews are clearly Poe’s. [page 342:]

* 22. “INCIDENTS ON TRAVEL IN CENTRAL AMERICA, ETC.” BY JOHN L. STEPHENS.

This is given to Poe by a statement in the review:

In an article(1) on this head, which appeared in the New York Reviews we pointed out an obvious mistranslation in the Hebrew words of the prediction —— (GM, XX, 94: H, X, 180) ;

and by the use in the review of the material he had years ago obtained from Dr. Anthon.(2)

There follow three brief notices of which samples may be indicative.

23. “THE MARRYING MAN”

The ‘Marrying Plan’ is not badly written, and will answer sufficiently well for the ordinary patrons of the circulating library. Better books might have been republished, no doubt; but this, we presume, will sell, and thus serve its purpose (GM, XIX, 94).

24. “THE POEMS AND PROSE WRITINGS OF SUMNER LINCOLN FAIRFIELD”.

His poems have, in many respects, merits in same respects merit of a high order. His themes are often well selected, lofty, and giving evidence of the true spirit. But their execution is always disfigured by a miserable verbiage — wordsmeaning nothing, although sounding like sense, like the nonsense verses of Du Bartas (GM, XX, 94). (3)

25. “THE MONEYED MAN”. BY HORACE SMITH.

He is, perhaps, the most erudite of all the English novelists, and unquestionably one of the best in every respect. His style is peculiarly good (GM, XIX, 94).

Comparing, in the Messenger review of Rienzi, various authors with Bulwer, Poe selects Smith to represent one field: ”. . . and Horace Smith is as learned ” (SLM, II, 197; H, VIII, 223). [page 343:]

Aside from internal evidence these notices may be given Poe, though not with an asterisk, on the principle we have accepted for dealing with such notices: whenever Poe has complete control of the critical department and there exists no contradictory evidence, it is fairly safe to assign him the brief notices, on the basis that it is improbable that a second hand would contribute one or even more such notices. Whether or not they be given to Poe with a question mark will depend on the evidence in the notices themselves.

26. “THE SCIENCE OF GOVERNMENT”. BY CLINTON ROOSEVELT.

Will any one be kind enough to tell us who is Mr. Clinton Roosevelt? We wish to know of course. R. Roosevelt has published a little boors. It consists of a hundred little pages. Ten of these pages mould make one of our oven. But a clever man may do a great thing in a small way, and Mr. Roosevelt is unquestionably a clever man. For this we have his own word, and who should know all about it better than he? Hear him. . . (GM, XIX, 95).

So begins this scathing notice. The trick of comparing the size of the book with the magazine, with the implication that the author is cheating the public Poe had tried before in the Messenger review of Ups and Downs.(1) It is against the preface entirely that the critic directs his guns — one of those ineffably smug, pompous, affected prefaces which seemed always to put Poe into a frenzy; very quietly, very politely with a deadliness, the critic quotes and quotes from the preface with interspersed comments. Mr. Roosevelt concludes with a warning that the book should not be lightly damned: [page 344:]

‘But liberal criticism (ah! that is the thing) will be accepted as a favor (the smallest favors thankfully accepted) and writers who may undertake the task will confer an obligation by directing a copy of their articles to the author, at New York, from England, France, Germany, or any part of our own country where this work may reach.’ Certainly; no critic could do less — no liberal critic. We shall send Mr. Roosevelt a copy of our criticism from Philadelphia, and we would do the same thing if we were living at Timbuctoo (GM, XIX, 95).

This, I believe, is Poe’s as well as the next,

27. “LIFE AND LITERARY REMAINS OF L. E. L.”. BY LAMAN BLANCHARD.

Several passages from this notice have already been quoted.(1) One more passage typically Poe, should be noted:

But few equalled her — if we may so speak — in the passionate purity of her verse. . . It would be almost invidious to name anyone of her long poems as the finest.(2) In her shorter pieces she is often more successful than in more extended flights . . . (GM, XIX, 95; H, X, 196).

28 “LECTURES ON THE SPHERE AND CHARACTER OF WOMAN, AND OTHER SUBJECTS”. BY GEORGE W. BURNAP.

These lectures are designed as a pendant to a course . . . perhaps this subdivision is injudicious. ..not only well written, but forcibly original . . . embodies a truth of important result. . . traced to a distinct and sufficient cause. . . (GM, XIX, 95).

This is Poe’s diction. I give him the notice without a question mark.

(?) 29. “THE LADY OF REFINEMENT IN MANNERS, MORALS AND RELIGION”. BY MRS. SANFORD.

This notice is completely without distinction; because of its position I consider it probably Poe’s. [page 345:]

SEPTEMBER, 1841.

* 30. “JOSEPH RUSHBROOK”. BY CAPTAIN MARRYATT.

Here Poe treats that, for him, ever fascinating problem, the relation of popularity and mediocrity. He condemns this sort of novel for its “pushing on” solely by incident, its lack of “autorial comment”.

In some previous review we have observed (and our observation is borne out by analysis), that it . . . as the deep sense of the want of this binding and commenting power, in the old Greek drama, which gave rise to the Chorus (GM, XIX, 143; H, X, 201).

In “Night and Morning”, April, 1841, he had written:

No doubt it was a deep but vague sense of this want (i.e. “the want of the combining, arranging, and especially of the commenting power, now in possession of the narrative author”) which brought into the birth the Greek chorus. . . (GM, XVIII, 199; H, X, 123). (1)

31. “LIFE OF PETRARCH”. BY THOMAS CAMPBELL.

For this review there: is only one bit of evidence of an external sort. The review ends:

We cannot say with Crebillon ———

————————————— un dessein si funeste

S‘il n‘est digne d‘Atree, est digne de Thyeste (GM, XIX, 144; H, X, 206).

In the middle of the blank sheet of the duplicate letter, Dupin, in “The Purloined Letter”, copied these two lines. The internal evidence satisfies me completely that it is Poe’s:

We are not among those who regard the genius of Petrarch as a subject for enthusiastic admiration. The characteristics [page 346:] of his poetry are not traits of the highest, or even of a high order; and in accounting for his farm, the discriminating critic will look rather to the circumstances which surround the man, than to the literary merits of the pertinacious sonnetteer — In other respects he’s entitled to high consideration. As a patriot. . .His influence on the revival of letters. . . His ardent zeal in recovering end transcribing antique lore . . . His judgment in these things was strikingly correct . . . Mr. Campbell’s kind offer of permitting any skeptic to satisfy himself by going to the Museum and ‘perusing’ a huge book which he has just declared to be unfit for perusal, puts us much in mind of the candor of tcesiuncnausens and Ferainand Mendez Pintos, who, telling incredible tales of lands at the South hole or mountains in the moon, confound all doubters with a request to proceed and satisfy themselves by personal inspection . . .What particularly surprises us in this volume — a large and handsomely printed octavo — is its slovenliness of style . . . We observe, also, for more serious defects. . . defects of tone. . . Attempts at humor on such subjects are always exceedingly low . . . Nor can the general handling of the theme of the book be said to be well done . . . The book has no doubt filled, in a certain unsatisfactory manner, a blank in our biographical literature-but upon the whole, it is unworthy Thomas Campbell — still less is it worthy Petrarch(1) (GM, XIX, 143-4; H, X, 202-6).

? 32. “THE IDLER IN FRANCE”. BY THE COUNTESS OF BLESSINGTON.

Again external evidence is lacking. There are touches here and there which suggest the Casket reviewer; but there is nothing definite enough, I think, to base a decision on. The notice may be Poe’s:

The Countess of Blessington has never risen in any of her literary attempts above the merit of an amusing gossiper; and ‘The Idler in France’ is an excellent gossiping book, and no more. Still, this is saying a good deal for it as tikes go . . . ‘Patch Work’ is a title which would have exactly suited the volumes, and it is a [page 347:] pity that Captain Hall has anticipated it. . . the whole interwoven in the most random manner conceivable. . . .. Throughout, there is much vivacity and no little amusement. Some of the scandal, if not nice is exceedingly piquant . . . The French phrases with whim the book is interspersed aeve not been read in proof, with sufficient care, aid many awkward blunders. . . . (GM, XIX, 144).

33. “THE WORLD IN A POCKET-BOOK”. BY W. H. CRUMP.

. . . is sufficiently well known. . . is all that it arofesses to be . . . an exceedingly convenient manual . . . The title well explains the character of the bjok. ;4e have never seen so much really useful information compressed into ‘wipe same limits (GM, XIX, 144).

The whole of this brief notice is completely characteristic of Poe; it is his, I believe.

(?) 34. “LIVES OF EMINENT LITERARY AND SCIENTIFIC MEN OF ITALY”. BY MRS. SHELLEY.

There is nothing to connect this with the Casket reviewers notice of Mrs. Shelley’s French Lives.

. . .the biographies are, without exception, well written — although at times their brevity is annoying. As a whole the work is not only interesting, but of value (GM, XIX, 144).

This is probably Poe’s.

OCTOBER, 1841.

“Owing to the temporary absence of Mr. Poe, the reviews in this number are from another hand”.(1)

Professor Campbell “overlooking” the footnote, assigned ‘The Deerslayer’ and ‘The Ancient Regime’ to Poe in 1909.(2) In The Mind of Poe he pointed out his error.(3) I have suggested earlier that “The [page 348:] Deerslayer” and “The Ancient Regime” are from the Casket reviewer; it seems fairly certain to me that all of the October reviews are from his hand.

NOVEMBER, 1841.

* 35. “A CHAPTER OF AUTOGRAPHY”. BY EDGAR A. POE.

* 36. “GUY FAWKES”. BY WILLIAM HARRISON AINSWORTH.

Poe writes were:

The chief defect of the work is a radical one, the nature and effect of which we were at some pains to point out in a late notice of Captain Marryatt’s ‘Poacher’ (Joseph Rushbrook). The story being, no doubt, written to order, for Magazine purposes, and is a violent hurry, has been scrambled through by means of incident solely. It is totally lacking in the autorial comment (GM, XIX, 249; H, IX, 218).

In this review occurs a passage on “true erudition” which Poe had used twice before, in the Messenger review of Southey’s The Doctor and in the Burton’s review of The Canons of Good Breeding.(1) There is also a passage on a Burton notice of Ainsworth which has been discussed.(2)

* 37. “THE GIFT”.

In discussing the tales in the volume Poe writes:

We ourselves have one which is not ended so well as it might be — a good subject spoiled by hurry in the handling (GM, XIX, 249).

The tale is “Eleonora”. [page 349:]

38. “AMENITIES OF LITERATURE”. BY J. (sic) D‘ISRAELI.

Poe’s interest in this collector of oddities was of long standing his books were a storehouse for the obscure bits of learning with which Poe was delighted to dazzle his readers in articles like “Pinakidia” and, in less formidable array, throughout his writings. In July, 1841, he wrote of him:

. . . these miscellanies embody a vast amount of out-of-the-gray intelligence interesting to the general, but absolutely necessary to the literary reader. No man but D‘Israeli would ever have had. the patience to ccmpile such a work. . . a vast body of undigested facts . . . Industry, however, is the only merit of these volumes: in arranging this vast mass of truths, D‘Israeli has shown anything but a comprehensive mind (GM, XIX, 47).

The November notice reveals a slightly different point of view:

The reputation of the elder D‘Israeli as scholar and philosopher is at least as well founded a s that of any man of his age. He has given to the world a series of peculiar books — books in which the richest variety of recherche detail and anecdote about literary affairs, is made subservient to the most comprehensive survey and analysis of letters themselves, considered in respect to their important spiritual uses. He is the only savant upon record who has buried himself, without pedantry, among the minutiae of classical lore. His works will last as long as the language in which they are written (GM, XIX, 250).

This discrepancy may be explicable in terms of what follows in the November notice. All of his works

are, however, but incidental labors arising from a more extensive design — a ‘History of English Literature‘ — of which he thus speaks. ‘It was my intention not to furnish an arid narrative‘of books and of authors, but, following the steps of the human mind through the guide tracks of time, to ‘trace from their beginnings the progress and decline of public opinions, and to illustrate, as the objects presented themselves, the great incidents in our [page 350:] national annals‘. In this magnificent project the philosopher was arrested by blindness (GM, XIX, 250).

It seems probable that Poe — for I am convinced that Poe is the author of the later as well a s of the earlier notice, despite the contradiction and the lack of direct evidence — that Poe was unaware of the guiding plan or the enveloping scheme of D‘Israeli’s works until he read the preface to the Amenities. This is in the Poe style — more typically so then the July notice, which Poe claimed in the latter to Landor.(1) The last two sentences of both are much alike. July: “The work is got up in fine style, as what work is not, when issued by the Langleys?” (GM, XIX, 47) ; November. “The two volumes before us are issued in the customary careful and tasteful style of the Langleys” (GM, XIX, 250).

* 39. “THE CRITICAL AND MISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS OF SIR EDWARD LYTTON BULWER”.

Mr. Bulwer is never lucid, and seldom profound. His intellect seems to be rather well balanced than lofty — rather comprehensive than penetrative (GM, XIX, 250).

In “Night and Morning” Poe wrote:

With an intellect rather well balanced than lofty, he has not full claim to the title of a man of genius. . . Whatever may be the true merits of his intelligence, the merit of luminour and precise though is evidently not one of them . . . a peculiar bias in the mind of the author, leading him perforce, into involution, whether here in style, or elsewhere in plot (GM, XVIII, 202; 201; H, X, 132; 127).

The November review has:

His style in its involution had obscurity, partakes of [page 351:] the involution of his thoughts (GM, XIX, 250).

In “Marginalia” one finds:

The style is so involute,(1) that one cannot help fancying it must be falsely contracted (DR, XV, 585; H, XVI, 40) ;(2) In general hs’ [[???]] atrociously involute . . . this is his main defect (GLB, XXXI, 58; H, XVI, 66). (3)

This is clearly Poe’s, as is the next review.

* 40. “THE PIC NIC PAPERS BY VARIOUS HANDS. EDITED BY CHARLES DICKENS.

With his usual impatience Poe denounces the fraudulent title-page as a forgery. The two volume collection numbers among its contributors the most celebrated literati of England; yet the general merit of the tales “is below that of the make-weight of our commonest newspapers and magazines” (GM, XIX, 251; H, X, 209), for “The refuse labor of a clan of genius is usually inferior, and greatly so, to that of the man of common-place talent. . .” (GM, XIX, 251; H, X, 207-8). One passage should be sufficient evidence, and an interesting passage it is too:

To write well, the iron of genius must write in obedience to his impulses. When forced to disobey them — when constrained, by the fetters of a methodical duty, to compose at all hours — it is but a portion of his nature — it is but a condition of his intellect — that he should occasionally grovel in platitudes [page 352:] of the most pitiable description. And this fact will go farther than any one hitherto adduced, to explain in character of a fatality which has so constantly attended genius as to have become a sure index of its existence: — we mean the fatality of alternate high eulogium and virulous invective. Few men are conversant with the whole works of an author. Now, in the case of two critics of equal ability, it may happen (end we know it does frequently so happen) that the opinion of ony [[???]] may be based solely upon the author’s best efforts, while that of the other is deducted from some mere task-work labored out in hours of the most utter inappetency and exhaustion. The dissent of the latter (a dissent just if we regard only the means of judgment) will, of course be extravagant in denunciation, precisely in the ratio(1) of his astonishment and idignation at what he supposes the corrupt panegyric of the former (GM, XIX, 251; H, X, 208).

This is one of those rare instances when it is safe to give Poe a review definitely on the basis of internal evidence alone.

41. HISTORY OF THE WAR IN THE PENINSULA, ETC. BY W. F. NAPIER.

This review is rather typical of Poe. Here, again, we are forced to deteinine on the basis of internal evidence alone; there is, however, little difficulty. A few quotations will give the tone of the whole:

Colonel Napier’s ‘History of the Peninsula War’ is a work whose general features are sufficiently well understood. In tae thoroughness of its survey and in the minute and exact particularity, of its details, if not in the more important and comprehensive regards, it is equalled certainly by no other book on the suoject discussed, and perhaps by fear histories of any kind . . . The agitating incidents quorum pars magna fuit have so forcibly impressed [page 353:] his imagaination [[imagination]] as to mislead his understanding in respect to the relative importance of these events (GM, XIX, 252).

Pointing out that the book has been obtainable at libraries, that only military men will buy it, and that the printing must have cost the publishers considerable money, he concludes:

The gentlemen in question are, of course, the best judges of their own affairs, but it does seem to us that they have erred in permitting the foreign value and reputation of the work to influence them in making an American reprint (GM, XIX, 252).

I am convinced of Poe’s authorship.

42. “TEN THOUSAND A YEAR”. [[by Samuel Warren]]

The Casket reviewer noticed this book in November, 1840, in the Casket: the plot is interesting; the contrasts are powerfully drawn; the heroine is “far, far above the usual heroine”;

Many of the characters are chef d‘ouvres (sic).  . . The work abounds with pathos. . . in solemn banter it is unequalled. On the whole, though long and too diffuse, this is an excellent novel. We recommend it particularly (Cas., XVIII, November, 1840).

Poe, for he is here unmistakable, agrees with his colleague on one point: “Tutu-tairds of the whole novel might ‘rave been omitted with advantage” (GM, XIX, 252; H, X, 212). His chief objections are:

Its mere English is disgraceful . . . the grossest misusages of language — the most offensive vulgarities of speech and violations of grammar. The whole tone is in the last degree mawkish and inflated . . . There is no attempt at plot but some of the incidents are woefully ill adapted and improbable . . . The character of Aubrey is a ridiculous piece of overdone sentimentality . . . and in character generally the author fails . . . stupid and beastly indecencies . . . (GM, XIX, 252; H, X, 212). [page 354:]

Clearly this is not the work of the Casket reviewer. The distinction between plot and incident and the language and attitude in general give it to Poe.

DECEMBER, 1841.

* 43. “A CHAPTER [[ON]] AUTOGRAPHY” BY EDGAR A. POE.

* 44. “POETICAL REMAINS OF THE LATE LUCRETIA MARIA DAVIDSON”.(1)

45. THE SEAMAN’S FRIEND. BY R. H. DANA, JR.

This notice must be judged wholly on internal evidence. The reviewer comments:

His ‘Two Years Before the Mast’ was very deservedly, one of the most popular books ever published, and proved immensely profitable — at least to his booksellers. It gave, in a rich strain of philosophical observation, all the racy spirit, as the present volume conveys all the exact letter of the sea (GM, XIX, 306).

The work on hand he commends for its practicality; it is a manual supplying a definite need. He would, however, make one suggestion — that an appendix be added

embracing first, in as popular, that is to say, in as untechnical form as possible, the philosophy of latitude and longitude — the general principles of which may be rendered intelligible to almost any understanding — and, secondly, to formulae employed in the application of these principles to navigation, with concise notes for the use of sextant and chronometer, and for solar, lunar, and stellar observations (GM, XIX, 306).

I have no hesitation in assigning this to Poe. [page 355:]

46. “THE MISER. BY WILLIAM CARLETON.

. . . has all the Irish merit for which its author is so famous (GM, XIX, 306). This very brief notice, as well as the one following, may be given Poe under the authority of the principle we have adopted for dealing with such notices, since they suggest Poe, even in their brevity, and since there are apparently no longer notices from another hand in this issue.

47. “FRAGMENTS FROM GERMAN PROSE WRITERS. TRANSLATED BY SARAH AUSTIN.

This is a book about little can be said, except in the way of general and pointed commendation. Its title fully explains its character(1) . . . These scraps embody specimens of every variety of the prose literature of Germany — convey, in petto, its whole soul (GM, XIX, 306).

* 48. “CONFESSION.” BY WILLIAM GILMORE SIMMS.

On November, 10, 1841, Thomas wrote Poe: “No I have not read Simms’ last work. . .I like your criticism of late much — They are just, keen, dignified and discriminating”.(2) The reviews for the December number would have gone to press, at the latest by November 1. This letter suggests that Poe had read the Simms novel. It suggests even more: after answering Poe’s query, Thomas comments on his criticism; perhaps Thomas’ mind turned to criticism at that particular point because Poe had written that he had done for the December number a review of Confession. Finding his space already taken, the reviewer promises a full review of the novel next month. His remarks here on Simms substantiate [page 356:] the suggestion of the letter:

In general, Mr. Slams should be considered as one giving indication, rather than proof of high genius. . .(1) so far, with slight exceptions, he has buried this fine talent in his themes. He should never have written ‘The Partisan”, nor “The Yemassee‘. . .His genius does not lie it the outward so much as in the inner world. ‘Martin Faber’ did him honor . . .We welcome him home to his own proper field of exertion — the field of Godwin and Brown — the field of his own rich intellect and glowing heart (GM, XIX, 306).

This is in line, of course, with Poe’s general opinion of Simms, expressed many tines in the course of his reviewing. Strengthened by internal evidence, it seems to me that the suggestion of the Thomas letter is of sufficient force to place this notice in the canon with an asterisk.

49. “CECIL”

This very brief notice may enter the canon in the train of its longer companion pieces, though even here the Poe touch is recognizable; for example — and I quote nearly the whole of “Cecil”:

It abounds, even more than either of these works (Pelham and Vivian Grey), in point, pungency and vivacity, but falls below them in true wit, and in other higher qualities. . . The theme is a good one well managed (GM, XIX, 306).

 


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 338:]

1.  Poe-Wm Landor, Philadelphia, July 17, 1841. Phot. in UVL.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 339:]

1.  Note the pointing.

2.  Poe-Snodgrass, Philadelphia, July 12, 1841. In Ostrom, J. W., op. cit., p. 32.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 340:]

1.  Poe-Snodgrass, Philadelphia, July 12, 1841. In Ostrom, J. W., op. cit., p. 32 .

2.  Tomlin-Poe, Jackson, Tenn. February 23, 1844. Gr. MSS. Phot. in UVL.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 341:]

1.  Cf. in the January, 1842, “Exordium”: [[”]]For many years we enacted a perfect farce of subserviency to the dicta of Great Britain” (GM, XX, 68).

2.  Harrison f ails to print the last column and a half of the December review.

3.  This, of course, is an error. The two articles were printed separately, one in the August and one in the December, 1841, Magazine.

4.  Campbell, K., “Unique Poe Items”, The Literary Review, March 5, 1921, p. 14.

5.  Mabbott, T. [[O.]], “Note on Poe”, The Literary Review, May 27, 1922.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 342:]

1.  “Stephens’ Arabia Petraea”, NYR, October, 1837.

2.  See Thesis, p. ???.

3.  This reference, peculiar to Poe, is strong evidence. No one has yet been able to find the source for this opinion, which Poe often expressed. cf. H, IV, 112; H, IX, 67; H, XI, 159, 259; et passim.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 343:]

1.  See H, IX, 24-5.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 344:]

1.  See p. 315 of this section.

2.  This is an attitude characteristic of Poe.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 345:]

1.  For an earlier discussion of the Greek chorus, based on Schlegel, see the Messenger review of the Classical Family Library: Euripides (SLM, I, 779-80; H, VIII, 45-6).

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 346:]

1.  Note the construction.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 347:]

1.  GM, XIX, 188, ftn.

2.  Campbell, K., “Biographical Notes on Poe: I”, Nation, LXXXIX, 623.

3.  Campbell, K., The Mind of Poe, 222. There are two errors which should be corrected: instead of page “189” he means “188”; instead of “the June number”, he means the October.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 348:]

1.  See pp. 140 and 231

2.  See pp. 231-232

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 349:]

1.  See p. 338 of this section.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 351:]

1.  Of Night and Morning.

2.  DR, December, 1844.

3.  GLB, August, 1845.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 352:]

1.  This is a favorite rhetorical device with Poe.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 354:]

1.  See p. 340 of this section

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 355:]

1.  This sort of statement is characteristic of Poe.

2.  Thomas-Poe, November 10, 1841, Washington. Gr. MSS. Phot. in UVL.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 356:]

1.  The phrase “indications of genius” occurs as often in Poe as any but the most common sort of phrases.


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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 III, Chapter II)