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Text: Edgar Allan Poe, "Lewis Gaylord Clark," from Literary America, 1848, manuscript







[first page:]



[[Here begins MS fragment 1:]]

Lewis Gaylord Clarke [[Clark]].

     Mr Clarke [[Mr. Clark]] is known principally as the twin brother of the late Willis Gaylord Clarke [[Clark]], the poet -- with whom he has been often confounded from similarity both of person and of name.  He is known, also, within a more limited circle, as one of the editors of the "Knickerbocker," a monthly magazine; and it is in this latter capacity that I must be considered as placing him among literary people.  He writes little himself --  the scraps which appear at the end of the "Knickerbocker" being the joint work of a great variety of gentlemen -- many of them shrewd and clever -- connected with diverse Sunday papers about the city of New-York.  With a little more pains taken in elevating the tone of Mr C's "Editors' Table" I should have no hesitation in ranking it with even the spiciest editorial matter of the late "Polyanthos".

     I must not be understood as saying that Mr Clarke [[Mr. Clark]] does not occasionally contribute to the magazine; for he once did me the honor of reviewing my poems and I -- forgave him. His compostions, however,]][[Here ends MS fragment 1, and begins MS fragment 2:]] are far from numerous, and may be distinguished by their style, which is more -- "more easily to be imagined than described." Their merit is peculiar; but I do not wish to commit myself in maintaining that either "force" or "impressiveness" is the precise term by which that merit should be designated.

     "The Knickerbocker" has been long established, and has in it some elements of success.  Its title is as good as any one so rigidly local can be; and, in the matter of periodicals, few persons are aware of the vital [[several words are lost at the cut edge]] and inanity of the words "Sou [[Here ends MS fragment 1, fragment 2 is missing.]][[Here begins MS fragment 3, on a new page:] praiseworthy; the mechanical execution excellent; and assuredly there has been no lack of exertion in the way of what is termed "putting the work before the eye of the public." Still, an incubus seems to sit obstinately upon it, and for many years past it has ceased to hold any position among intelligent readers. On account of the manner in which it is necessarily edited, the journal is deficient in that absolutely indispensable element, individuality.  It is full of contradictory opinions -- objects. As the nominal editor has no precise character, his magazine can have none, as a matter of course.  Mr Clarke [[Mr. Clark]], as a literary, -- I have no personal acquaintance with him -- has no determinateness, distinctiveness -- saliency. A pumpkin, in fact, has more angles -- and is altogether a cleverer thing. The "editor of the Knickerbocker" is noticeable for nothing in the world but for the peculiarity of being noticeable for nothing.

    Perhaps I am too hasty, however, in asserting this; his scholastic aptitude for conducting a magazine of polite literature, is a point which must have elicited attention. In three lines, for example, referring to the "Broadway Journal" and printed, in the "Knickerbocker" for July 1845, among the customary editorial paragraphs of a type so small as to be nearly invisible and put to so stupid a use as to make every body wish it were quite so -- in the compass of these three lines he quotes, as I now write it, the French proverb chaçun à son gout; taking pains to compliment the hard c in "chacun" with a cedilla -- to omit the circumflex accent on "goût" -- and to place a grave one on the verb "a", supposing it to be the preposition -- if indeed he has any idea what "verb" and "preposition" mean, or can tell the difference between the one and the other. Moreover, it is an awful although a scarecly conceivable fact that, within the compass of these same three lines, he as contrived, by some amazing effort of ingenuity, to crowd another similar blunder about "a nil admirari critic" -- some malicious vagabond, I presume, among his schoolboy acquaintances, having quizzed him with the information that "to admire nothing" is the meaning of "nil admirari". [back of page:]

     What is the precise circulation of the "Knickerbocker" at present I am unable to say; it has been variously stated at from seven hundred to fifteen hundred copies; the latter estimate is unquestionably too high; and the former, I presume, is too low. It is impossible, however, that the magazine can long exist unless a radical alteration be made in its editorial conduct.

    Mr Clarke [[Mr. Clark]] is, perhaps, forty-five or six years of age and still a good-looking man. The forehead is, phrenologically, bad — round and what is termed "bullety." The mouth, however, is much better -- although the smile is too continual and inane -- inexpresive -- occasionally degenerating into a simper. Hair and whiskers dark -- somewhat interspersed with grey -- the latter meeting voluminously beneath the chin. In height five feet ten or eleven. In the street might be considered a  "personable" man. In society I have never had the pleasure of meeting him.














Notes:

[This version of the text differs greatly from that used in Godey's. Poe apparently revised the text for Literary America in 1847 or 1848. After abandoning his hopes for that book, he published the notice of Mrs. Osgood in the Southern Literary Messenger for August 1849. It is possible that Poe removed this portion of the manuscript, including the first page about Clark, and sent it to Thompson. The most substantial portion of this manuscript was displayed in 1949. In the catalogue of the exhibit, John D. Gordon incorrectly describes it as "an early draft" for the 1846 series of "The Literati of New York City." This notion may be dismissed since the manuscript appears on the reverse of the article of Mrs. Osgood, known to have been written after 1846. Also, in "The Literati," Clark's age is given as "perhaps forty-two or three," here updated to "forty-five or six."]

[This manuscript survives only in fragments. For readablity, the connecting text as printed by Griswold has been included here, bracketed. To give visual ease in differentiating the texts, the text missing from the manuscript has also been given in blue. The manuscript exists in three fragments, one of which is not available for recording:

Fragment 1: top half of one sheet. The front contains a portion of the article about Mrs. Osgood, and the back the beginning of the entry for Lewis Gaylord Clark. The text about Clark has had six lines drawn through it, presumably to ensure that the printer at the Southen Literary Messenger did not include it with the text about Mrs. Osgood. The manuscript is in a private collection, from which it is given here, with permission.]

Fragment 2: about one quarter of one sheet. The front contains a portion of the article about Mrs. Osgood. This manuscript is unlocated.

Fragment 3: about one quarter of one sheet. The front contains a portion of the article about Mrs. Osgood. This manuscript is currently in the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library.

Fragment 4: a full sheet, with one and a half-pages of text. Formerly in the collection of Thomas J. Wise, this manuscript is currently in the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library.

The missing fragment 2 of the manuscript may yet survive, but it is unrecorded and unlocated.]

[The "Polyanthos" mentioned in the first fragment may be the magazine edited by Joseph T. Buckingham in Boston (December 1807 - September 1814). What Poe may have known of this journal, or if he intended some other periodical of the same name, is unknown. This appears to be the only time Poe ever mentioned the journal.]

[The comments about the size of the type used in The Knickerbocker, and of Clarke's use of a French Proverb are repeated from a brief notice by Poe in The Broadway Journal, II, July 12, 1845, p. 11, col. 1.]









 
S:0 - LTAM, 1848 - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Misc - Lewis Gaylord Clark