Text: William Doyle Hull II, “Part IV, Chapter II,” A Canon of the Critical Works of Edgar Allan Poe (1941), pp. 484-487


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[page 484:]

Chapter II: Commentary on the Critical Writings in the Weekly Mirror

There are in the Weekly Mirror a few notices not reprinted from the Evening Mirror. The first of these is

NOVEMBER 2, 1844.

GRAHAM’S MAGAZINE. W (?)

Graham’s capital ‘Magazine’ lies before us, and we are sorry to say we are too busy a man to enjoy the luxury of reading it. With a gaping paragraph unfinished on our table, however, we have made time to slide over the story IV ‘Fanny Forrester”; charming things as any written by female hand this side of the water . . . (63).

Willis is probably the author of this brief notice.

NOVEMBER 17, 1844.

HOW THESE ENGLISH LIVE. W (?)

This, a notice of Miss Bunbury’s Rides in the Pyreness likewise, solely on the grounds of style, I take to be probably by Willis.

Thus, roughing it, she had the opportunity of seeing more of the Pyrenees than falls to the lot of travellers in general; and as her pen possesses the mirror-like faculty of setting her impressions upon paper, and she is as intelligent as she is lively, it may be imagined that her account of her wandering is both novel and engaging. (84).

DECEMBER 7, 1844.

PERSONAL NOTICES OF ELIZABETH BARRETT. W.

Even more clearly is this chatty and informal sketch of Miss Barrett from Willis’ pen. A few sentences from the column and a half article will serve for illustration:

She is the daughter of an India merchant, a princely father he needs must be to idiom a dedication, such as here could be ascribed! . . . the recent publication of her later poetical writings . . . secures for her a place at the fireside and under the tree. . .Tell! what further ‘know we of the personal relations or belongings of this admirable writer? To tell the truth, very little! [page 485:] We can make sure of a dog of hers, Flush by name . . . Then we think we may venture to assert that she has (in her day) been a drinker of Cyprian wine, by reason of animated stanzas . . . (135).

DECEMBER 14, 1844.

REVUE FRANCAISE. W (?)

Of this periodical Willis, for in all probability it is her, says:

The very thing for such of our young friends as are schooling their rosy lips to the language of la belle France, as which of them is not? (145)

DECEMBER 21, 1844.

WHITE’S GOODNESS, AN ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF TRUE GREATNESS. W.

That goodness is much better thing than greatness, in this world of ours, is undeniable; and this fact furnishes one of the strong proofs of an overruling Providence. (164).

Never have I found Poe guilty of such stupidity as this. The reviewer quotes at length from the Baccalaureate address, and finally concludes:

These are truly ‘apples of gold in pictures of silver’, and there are many such, which we should be glad to impart to our readers. We hope that the- discourse itself will be widely read, confident as we are that the greatness of goodness will be all the better appreciated. (164).

1. COBB’S NORTH AMERICAN READER.

In the January 21 issue of the Evening Mirror appeared a notice of this book, differing fundamentally in opinion and approach from the one under consideration. That notice, it was decided, was not Poe’s. This in all probability is his. It has the Poe tone.

The preface to this book meets the very obvious objection that books of a similar character have been sufficiently multiplied, by asserting that . . . Not to criticise(1) the [page 486:] sty1e of this sentence, we demur decidedly as certainly evidence of the incapacity of teams; and so far are we from believing that a near book is necessarily an improvement upon the old, that we could think this very specimen a decidedly worse book then half a dozen we could easily mention . . . For the taste which marks this ‘New North American Reader’, we may refer to page 142, where me find the following ‘exquisite’ lines, credited to ‘ROCHESTER GEM’, an ‘American Author’ with whose works we am unacquainted . . . And we might multiply examples of the same sort, so chat the conclusion is obvious, that whatever may be the ‘demand for new schoolbooks’, this, at least, is superfluous (164).

ZSCHOKKE’S HOURS OF IMITATION. W (?)

A few lines of the sickening cant of this notice will demonstrate that it is not Poe’s:

This is a little book of devotion and morals. The author is a religious man, not a fanatic; one who, tried and tempted as other men are, through a long life, proved all things, and held fast the good . . . In their highly practical design, they must be profitable to minds that seek for aid in self-dicipline — that look for guidance in the experience and sound wisdom of gray hairs, and an unspotted life. The purity, beneficence, and energy of the good Zschokke’s character enter into his counsels, and they who take heed to them will be likely to secure to themselves the promises made to the righteous man.

JANUARY 18, 1845.

HUNT’S MERCHANT’S MAGAZINE FOR JANUARY. W (?)

is as usual rich in matters of commercial. interest. We copy the following . . . (219).

This is, of course, little to proceed upon; yet, since all the notices of this periodical in the Mirror seem to be Willis’, and since this sentence of criticism is merely a preface to filler, it seems probable that this is Willis’ work.

JANUARY 25, 1845. [page 487:]

2. BROOKS‘ ADDRESS ON THE INTRODUCTION OF NATURAL HISTORY AS A REGULAR CLASSIC IN OUR SEMINARIES. H?

It seems somewhat strange that a study of such obvious utility, and one which so long ago attained its due place in the seminaries of Europe, should need recommending in this country at this late day . . . the study of ‘Natural History’, would be invaluable as obliging the student to acquire the habit of mental classification . . .The lack of exactness in all American learning has been often commented upon by foreigners . . . (256).

It seems quite probable that this notice is Poe’s.

FEBRUARY 15, 1845.

THE TRIUMPH OF THURSDAY. W (?)

One finds here the same image Graham used in the same connection in the February 13 Evening Mirror notice, “Graham for March”:

The Tribune comes to us promptly, a phoenix from its ashes, looking in all respects heartier; happier, and more beautiful than before — evincing, beyond all doubt, the groat energy and elasticity of spirit which have so long distinguished its worthy proprietors (304).

Willis is probably the author of this notice as of the “Graham for March.”

 


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 485:]

1.  Willis spells this word with a “z“. [[And so would we spell it today — JAS]]


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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 IV, Chapter II)