BY EDGAR A. POE.
that, while among all nations the omni-color, white, has been received
as an emblem of the Pure, the no-color, black, has by no means been
admitted as sufficiently typical of Impurity. There are blue
as well as black; and when we think very in of a woman, and
to blacken her character, we merely call her " a
and advise her to read, in Rabelais' "Gargantua," the chapter "de
ce qui est signife par les couleurs blanc et bleu."There is far
difference between these "couleurs," in fact, than that which
between simple black and white. Your "blue," when we come to
of stockings, is black in issimo — "nigrum nigrius nigro " — like
the matter from which Raymond Lully first manufactured his alcohol.
Mr. ——- , I perceive, has been
to the new ———— Athenaeum. To him, the appointment is advantageous in
respects. Especially: — "Mon cousin, voici une belle occasion pour
As far as I can understand the
"loving our enemies,"
it implies the hating our friends.
In commencing our dinners with gravy
soup, no doubt
we have taken a hint from Horace —
———— Da, he says, si grave non est,
Quae prima iratum ventrem placaverit isca.
Of much of our cottage architecture
we may safely
say, I think, (admitting the good intention,) that it would have
been Gothic if it had not felt it its duty to be Dutch.
James's multitudinous novels seem to
be written upon
the plan of "the songs of the Bard of Schiraz," in which, we are
by Fadladeen, "the same beautiful thought occurs again and again in
possible variety of phrase."
Some of our foreign lions resemble
the human brain
in one very striking particular. They are without any sense themselves,
and yet are the centres of sensation.
Mirabeau, I fancy, acquired his
wonderful tact at
foreseeing and meeting contingencies, during his residence in
stronghold of If.
Cottle's "Reminiscences of Coleridge"
is just such
a book as damns its perpetrator forever in the opinion of every
who reads it. More and more every day do we moderns pavoneggiarsi about
our Christianity; yet, so far as the spirit of Christianity is
we are immeasurably behind the ancients. Mottoes and proverbs are the
of national character; and the Anglo-Saxons are disgraced in having no
proverbial equivalent to the "De mortuis nil nisi bonum." Moreover
— where, in all statutory Christendom, shall we find a law so Christian
as the "Defuncti injuria ne afficiantur " of the Twelve Tables?
The simple negative injunction of the Latin law and proverb —
injunction not to do ill to the dead — seems at a first
scarcely susceptible of improvement in the delicate respect of its
I cannot help thinking, however, that the sentiment, if not the idea
is more forcibly conveyed in an apothegm by one of the old English
James Puckle. By an ingenious figure of speech he contrives to imbue
negation of the Roman command with a spirit of active and positive
"When speaking of the dead," he says, in his "Grey Cap for a Green
"so fold up your discourse that their virtues may be outwardly
while their vices are wrapped up in silence. "
I have no doubt that the Fourierites
"a nasty poet fit for nothing" to be the true translation of "poeta
nascitur, non fit."
There surely cannot be "more
things in Heaven
and Earth than are dreamt of" (oh, Andrew Jackson Davis !) "in your
"It is only as the Bird of Paradise
quits us in taking
wing," observes, or should observe, some poet, "that we obtain a full
of the beauty of its plumage;" and it is only as the politician is
being "turned out "that — like the snake of the Irish Chronicle when
by St. Patrick — he "awakens to a sense of his situation."
Newspaper editors seem to have
similar to those of the Deities in "Walhalla," who cut each other to
every day, and yet get up perfectly sound and fresh every morning.
As far as I can comprehend the modern
cant in favor
of " unadulterated Saxon," it is fast leading us to the language of
region where, as Addison has it, " they sell the best fish and speak
The frightfully long money-pouches —
" like the Cucumber
called the Gigantic " — which have come in vogue among our belles — are
not of Parisian origin, as many suppose, but are strictly indigenous
The fact is, such a fashion would be quite out of place in Paris, where
it is money only that women keep in a purse. The purse of an
lady, however, must be large enough to carry both her money and the
of its owner.
I can see no objection to gentlemen
Congress " — provided they stand on one side — nor to their "running
Congress" — if they are in a very great hurry to get there — but it
be a blessing if some of them could be persuaded into sitting still,
Congress, after they arrive.
If Envy, as Cyprian has it,
be "the moth of
the soul," whether shall we regard Content as its Scotch snuff
its camphor ?
M — — — , having been "used up" in
goes about town lauding his critic — as an epicure lauds the best
mustard — with tears in his eyes.
"Con tal que las costumbres de un
autor sean puras
y castas," says the Catholic Don Tomas de las Torres, in the
to his "Amatory Poems," "importa muy poco que no sean igualmente
sus obras:" meaning, in plain English, that, provided the personal
morals of an author are pure, it matters little what those of his books
For so unprincipled an idea, Don Tomas, no doubt, is still having a
hard time of it in Purgatory; and, by way of most pointedly manifesting
their disgust at his philosophy on the topic in question, many modern
and divines are now busily squaring their conduct by his proposition
Children are never too tender to be
whipped: — like
tough beefsteaks, the more you beat them the more tender they become.
Lucian, in describing the statue "
with its surface
of Parian marble and its interior filled with rags," must have been
with a prophetic eye at some of our great "moneyed institutions."
That poets (using the word
comprehensively, as including
artists in general) are a genus irritabile, is well
but the ruby, seems not to be commonly seen. An artist is an artist
by dint of his exquisite sense of Beauty — a sense affording him
enjoyment, but at the same time implying, or involving, an equally
sense of Deformity or disproportion. Thus a wrong — an injustice — done
a poet who is really a poet, excites him to a degree which, to ordinary
apprehension, appears disproportionate with the wrong. Poets see injustice
— never where it does not exist — but very often where the
see no injustice whatever. Thus the poetical irritability has no
to " temper " in the vulgar sense, but merely to a more than usual
in respect to Wrong: — this clear-sightedness being nothing more than a
corollary from the vivid perception of Right — of justice — of
— in a word, of xxxxxx [Greek text]. But one thing is clear — that the
man who is not " irritable," (to the ordinary apprehension, )
is no poet.
Let a man succeed ever so evidently —
ever so demonstrably
— in many different displays of genius, the envy of criticism
agree with the popular voice in denying him more than talent in
any. Thus a poet who has achieved a great (by which I mean an
poem, should be cautious not to distinguish himself in any other walk
Letters. In especial — let him make no effort in Science — unless
or with the view of waiting patiently the judgment of posterity.
universal or even versatile geniuses have rarely or never been known, therefore,
thinks the world, none such can ever be. A " therefore
" of this kind
is, with the world, conclusive. But what is the fact, as taught us by
of mental power ? Simply, that highest genius — that the
which all men instantaneously acknowledge as such — which acts upon
as well as upon the mass, by a species of magnetism incomprehensible
irresistible and never resisted — that this genius which
itself in the simplest gesture — or even by the absence of all — this
which speaks without a voice and flashes from the unopened eye — is but
the result of generally large mental power existing in a state of absolute
proportion — so that no one faculty has undue predominance. That
factitious "genius" — that "genius" in the popular
sense — which is
but the manifestation of the abnormal predominance of some one faculty
over all the others — and, of course, at the expense and to the
of all the others — is a result of mental disease or rather, of organic
malformation of mind: — it is this and nothing more. Not only will such
"genius" fail, if turned aside from the path indicated by its
faculty; but, even when pursuing this path — when producing those works
in which, certainly, it is best calculated to succeed — will
unmistakeable indications of unsoundness, in respect to
intellect. Hence, indeed, arises the just idea that
"Great wit to madness nearly is allied."
I say " just idea; " for by " great wit," in
this case, the poet
intends precisely the pseudo-genius to which I refer. The true genius,
on the other hand, is necessarily, if not universal in its
at least capable of universality; and if, attempting all things, it
in one rather better than in another, this is merely on account of a
bias by which Haste leads it with more earnestness in the one
than in the other. With equal zeal, it would succeed equally in all.
To sum up our results in respect to
this very simple,
but much vexata quaestio: —
What the world calls "genius " is the
state of mental
disease arising from the undue predominance of some one of the
The works of such genius are never sound in themselves and, in
always betray the general mental insanity.
The proportion of the mental faculties, in a case where the
general mental power is not inordinate, gives that result
we distinguish as talent: — and the talent is greater or less,
as the general mental, power is greater or less; and, secondly, as the
proportion of the faculties is more or less absolute.
The proportion of the faculties, in a
the mental power is inordinately great, gives that result which is the
true genius (but which, on account of the proportion and
simplicity of its works, is to be so ;) and the genius is as
general mental power is more or less inordinately great; and, secondly,
as the proportion of the faculties is more or less absolute
An objection will be made: — that the greatest excess of mental power,
however proportionate, does not seem to satisfy our idea of genius,
we have, In addition, sensibility, passion, energy. The reply is, that
the "absolute proportion spoken of, when applied to inordinate mental
gives, as a result, the appreciation of Beauty and a horror of
which we call sensibility, together with that intense vitality, which
implied when we speak of " Energy " or "Passion."
"And Beauty draws us by a single
hair." — Capillary
attraction, of course.
It is by no means clear, as regards
the present revolutionary
spirit of Europe, that it is a spirit which "moveth altogether if it
at all." In Great Britain it may be kept quiet for half a century yet,
by placing at the head of affairs an experienced medical man. He should
keep his forefinger constantly on the pulse of the patient, and exhibit
panem in gentle doses, with as much circenses as
can be made to retain.