Text: Various, “Marginalia,” Poe Newsletter­, October 1968, vol. I, no. 2, 1:30-31


[page 29, column 1:]


Because of the number of items we have in hand but cannot readily accommodate, we have instituted a column devoted to very brief notes, comments, queries. We wish to provide here an outlet for such items as source notes which do not require the extended argument and proof that customarily attends them, and for items of very special or peculiar interest which otherwise might not appear in a journal of such brief compass. Contributions submitted to this column should be one paragraph in form, not to exceed in length a page and a half of typescript, with all bibliographical citations enclosed in brackets.

Another Unknown Early Appearance of “The Raven”

In the last number of Studies in Bibliography [XXI (1968), 54], I invited attention to the existence of an unknown printing of “The Raven” in the New York Morning News for 3 February 1845. This text is the same as the New York Weekly News version of 8 February 1845, discovered and collated by G. T. Tanselle [Studies in Bibliography, XVI (1963), 220-223]; in fact, the same plates seem to have been used for the two printings, including the opening paragraph from the New York Evening Mirror. The question raised by the discovery is the place we can attribute to this new text in the chronology of the numerous printings of the poem: the problem involves the highly controversial date of the appearance of the second number of the American Review. By now, almost everyone agrees that the American Review did not appear until the first days of February, and Floyd Stovall does not hesitate to give the New York Evening Mirror version as the first printing of the poem [The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (Charlottesville, 1965), p. 260]. It seems apparent that the second number of the American Review must have appeared very shortly before 12 February 1845, the date on which the editor of the Morning News (O’sullivan of “manifest destiny” memory) included the following statement in a notice of the now famous second number of the American Review: “The poem of ‘The Raven ’ [the News editor commented] we have already laid before our readers.” Since it was the practice of the Morning News to comment on the issues of the major reviews immediately after their publication, this notice strongly indicates that the second number of the American Review had appeared during the preceding week, that is, after 3 February. If such be the case, the version of “The Raven” in the Morning News for 3 February 1845 would be the second printing of the poem, and Tanselle’s list ought to be corrected thus:

  1. New York Evening Mirror: 29 January 1845
  2. New York Morning News: 3 February 1845
  3. ­American Review: February 1845
  4. New York Tribune: 4 February 1845
  5. ­Broadway Journal: 8 February 1845    [etc.]

Claude Richard, Université de Montpellier


A Whitman Parody of “The Raven”?

The fascination that Poe’s “The Raven” held for Whitman, as explored by Ned J. Davison in the last Poe Newsletter [I, 5-6], may have another side. A parody of “The Raven” appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on 11 January 1848, shortly before Whitman was fired from the editorship of that paper. It is tempting to think that Whitman wrote the parody. He had one year earlier (11 January 1847) made the following remarks above an unsigned poem titled “The Dove”: “Although not possessing the artistic beauty of Mr. Poe’s celebrated ‘Raven, ’ the following production, which we find in an exchange, commends itself to every reader by its graceful spirit of Christianity. Mr. Poe’s piece was wild and mysterious; this is perhaps less poetic, but its influence . . . . will be more apt to soften and ameliorate the heart.” The poem, an imitation of Poe, with several echoes of Tennyson, begins: “ ’Twas midnight, solemn, dark and deep/ And vainly I had courted sleep.” The disconsolate poet hears a dove; and the poem eventually concludes with an appeal from the poet for the bird’s continued presence: for “I know I feel that — ‘God is love! ’” The 1848 parody begins: “A JIG IN PROSE. — Once upon a evening [page 31:] [sic ] dreary, while I pondered lone and weary . . . . .” The parody describes a newspaper editor, poring over old files, who is startled by the mysterious grating sounds (of rats) underneath his office floor. It cannot, of course, be proved that Whitman wrote the piece, and it may have come from one of the exchange papers Whitman read every day. But Whitman almost invariably credited the sources of those things not his own in the Eagle, either by direct statement or by quotation marks. Neither form of credit appears for the piece. The parody also alludes to Banquo’s ghost, as Whitman did more than once in the Eagle. But there were many newspaper editors in the 1840s who recognized “The Raven” as a perfect target for parody and alluded smartly to Shakespeare. Nevertheless, Whitman’s printing of the piece, whether he composed it or not, suggests another, lighter side to his interest in Poe’s “Raven.”

Thomas L. Brasher, Southwest Texas State College  


Poe’s Usher and Ussher’s Chronology

Poe’s readers may have overlooked further evidence of his subtlety in using the exact word to achieve effect in his selection of the name “Usher” for his protagonist in “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Poe’s own wide reading and his knowledge of and interest in religion would most certainly have given him access to information about the Irish divine, Bishop James Ussher (1581-1656), who published in 1650-54 his Annales Veteris et Novi Testamenti, commonly known as “Ussher’s Chronology,” which attempted to set the date of creation and thus to give a date for the various events recorded in the Old Testament. It contains a genealogical account of the various “houses” in the Old Testament. Since the narrator in Poe’s tale refers to the fact that the Usher “family lay in the direct line of descent,” Poe’s selection of the word “usher” for his protagonist seems quite appropriate. Roderick Usher’s concern for the demise of his family (his “house”), and the genealogical end of the line are captured neatly, then, both in the connotation of “usher” as keeper of the door and in the allusion to the Bishop Ussher.

Earl J. Wilcox, Arkansas State University  


Faulkner and “Helen” — A Further Note

James Stronks ’ speculation [Poe Newsletter, I, 11] that Faulkner’s image of Emily Grierson posed statue-like before her window owes something to Poe’s “To Helen” is strengthened by a similar image in The Hamlet. In Books Two and Four, Eula is directly associated with the Greek Helen and in the final part of the novel is posed (as Homer’s Helen is not) before a window, where her garment assumes a “marblelike fall” [Random House, 1940; pp. 140, 169, 349-350]. Poe’s image of Helen as an idol in her window would seem to have had greater symbolic significance for Faulkner than might at first seem likely.

Aretta J. Stevens [Sister Mary Dominic Stevens, O. P.], Washington State University


Poe and the West — A Comment

Poe is remembered generally as having no national geographic horizons beyond the literary centers of nineteenth-century America: the Atlantic seaboard from Boston, his birthplace, to Richmond, where he spent most of his life. Although he considered himself a Southerner, he recognized the promise in Western letters. In Boston and the Bostonians, he stated that “our friends in the Southern and Western country” have grown tired of “being ridden to death by New England” [Harrison, XIII, 5]. But, all in all, Poe’s culture was mainly Eastern; and his interest in and connections with anything west of the seaboard Atlantic states, or indeed of the Hudson River itself, remain little known. Although “Eldorado” exhibits the dark cloudiness characteristic of his poems, and although a tale like “Julius Rodman” is fictional journalism rather than the Western genre of the times, the suspicion yet remains that some knowledge of the culture and import of the West lay behind some of his literary generalization [cases in point: “Von Kempelen” and “Hans Phaall”]. A forgotten Philadelphia reminiscence of Poe may be of interest in this respect. Nearly fifty years ago Theodore Pease Stearns (great-nephew of Peter Pindar Pease) printed from his uncle’s papers a memoir of an [column 2:] 1841 conversation with Poe under the title of “A Prohibitionist Shakes Dice with Poe” [The Outlook, CXXVI (September-December, 1920), 25-26]. The lurid title and its contribution to the Poeana corpus of dissoluteness evidently overshadowed the section subtitled “Poe’s Plan to Go West,” which relates how E. M. Murdock of Ohio met Poe in Philadelphia in 1841. Upon meeting the Ohioan, Poe showed exceptional interest in talking with someone from the “Western” areas, and observed that he was considering moving to the Western Reserve in order to make his fortune. Later, Poe was to look westward for help in his literary battles with the Eastern literati. [See Sidney P. Moss’s article in this number of Poe Newsletter. ] The tall-tale humor and violence of some of his works and his penchant for the hoax not only has affinities with the Western genre of fiction but also may have influenced it. The Poe cult in the nineteenth century extended at least as far West as Texas, and, obviously, a considerable interest in Poe is present in the Northwest. The insularity attributed to Poe, who aspired to be a world-author, is overemphasized; and the investigation of Poe’s Western affinities, as well as his reputation and influence in the West, is an area of historical literary scholarship that the regionalists might well add to their lists.

Haldeen Braddy, The University of Texas at El Paso  


A Western Obituary of Poe

Haldeen Braddy notes in this number of Poe Newsletter the interest in Poe in the West and calls for study of Poe’s reputation and influence in the West. In answer to the question of how far westward Poe’s fame reached during his lifetime, a notice of the death of Poe in the Oregon Spectator of 7 February 1850 may be of interest. It appeared on page one, indicative of its newsworthiness. The editor was Wilson Blain, who assumed his duties in October 1849. The text of the notice follows, with errors, that of Griswold’s notice in the New York Tribune of 9 October 1849.

O R E G O N    S P E C T A T O R

Vol. 4.    “Westward the Star of Empire takes its way,”    No 10

Wilson Blain, Editor]   [Geo. B. Goudy, Printer

Oregon City, (O.T.,) Thursday, February 7, 1850


Death of Edgar Allen [sic ] Poe

“Quoth the Raven, “Never More?”

Edgar Allen [sic] Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore on Sunday, September 7. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it. . . . .

Note the “O.T.” — Oregon Territory. A question mark, not an exclamation point, occurs after “Never More”; the quotation marks, the “Allen,” and the date of Poe’s death are as given. In the same issue is a note to the effect that a man recently traveled from Boston to Oregon City the fastest the editor had heard of — a passage of two months and twelve days. Boat, I presume, portaging across the isthmus: Chagres River, and so on. And the mail, with the Poe note, seems to have been four months en route. Possibly less though — maybe the editor could not get across the Willamette River to his office because the water was so high. I have come across a note to that effect in one of the issues.

Herbert E. Arntson, Washington State University


The Diabetic Mr. Poe?

Some months ago I had dinner with a research M. D. who is a member of the department of Internal Medicine at Duke University Medical School. The upshot of a long discussion about American literature was my question of what he, as a medical researcher, could conclude about the death of Poe. I supplied the standard facts: Poe could not physically tolerate alcohol — even one ounce made him ill (not drunk); he once took an overdose of laudanum (in 1848); on his fatal trip to Baltimore in 1849 he was found unconscious on October 3rd and died on the 7th without regaining consciousness. He was seen by Thomas Dunn English, a physician, who attested Poe was neither drunk nor suffering from drugs. My friend later told me that he thought it more than likely that Poe suffered from diabetes mellitus. It was probably a mild case at first, one which grew worse with age. His pancreas progressively failed to secrete insulin until the diabetes became chronic. Poe may also have suffered from a liver ailment. But the known facts about Poe’s body chemistry and the deterioration of his health do indicate that diabetes was highly probable and that, more than likely, he met his end in a diabetic coma.

John S. Hill, Illinois State University


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[S:1 - PSDR, 1968]