Text: Burton R. Pollin, “Pym (Headnote),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. I: Imaginary Voyages (1981/1994), pp. 215-281 (This material is protected by copyright)


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[page 215:]

NOTES AND COMMENTS

title A: rise]  Poe follows “narrative” by a genitive of agency, to establish the reader’s credence in the persona of Pym. Commonly “narrative” in the titles of travel books means simply the account of episodes, however recorded. The fourteen pages of Harper and Brothers advertisements in Pym (1838), for example, include (with all titles abridged here) Benjamin Morrell’s A Narrative of Four Voyages, his wife’s Narrative of a Voyage, Francis L. Hawks’ A Narrative of Events, Schoolcraft’s Narrative of an Expedition, Reed and Matheson’s A Narrative of the Visit, Owen’s Narrative of Voyages, Leslie and Jameson’s Narrative of Discoveries and Adventure, et al. Yet, Poe is clearly following the style and details of Morrell’s title for the particularity of date, the setting in the South and Antarctic Seas, the stress on “massacre,” etc. The exciting duo of “adventures and discoveries” at the end of Poe’s title is to be found in numerous travel titles of the period. “Survivers,” often corrected in modern reprints, was an allowed form in 1838, the OED citing an 1825 instance from Neal’s novel Brother Jonathan. See the same spelling in Poe’s footnote to 13.22. discussed in 13.22B, at the end.

Poe’s title is somewhat misleading; of the nine months of the voyage, over six are passed on the Jane Guy, scarcely a “brief cruise.” The ship was not captured until after the massacre of twenty-three of the crew of thirty-two through the landslide into the gorge, nor was it either the brief capture of the ship or the massacre that directly “gave rise” to the final adventures in the canoe, while the most incredible discoveries — the purple water and the ubiquitous blackness of Tsalal are made prior to the massacre, save for the white figure at the end. In his lengthy title Poe or Wesley Harper gave reviewers a useful epitome for brief notices of Pym (q. v. in Poe Studies, December 1975, 8:32-35).

Note the implicit confrontation of American and British commercial and exploratory rivalries in the title. For the strange date of 1827, ten years before that of the copyright registration paper, see note 1A on the Preface, below. Notice Poe’s attempt to stress the unimaginable penetration southward of the adventurous Pym through the use of larger type and wide spacing of lines (see fig. 1). The 1838 pirated British edition strove to eliminate some of this sensationalism in inaccurately rewording Poe’s title (see fig. 2). Obviously based on the British title, that of the pirated 1841 London “Novel Newspaper” reprint, published by John Cunningham, aims at a more simple-minded, perhaps childish reader by reducing and simplifying the wording (see fig. 3).

Preface.1A ago]  Given the sailing date of June 1827 of the title and of 2.3, and the March 1828 date of the conclusion (24.14), this requires a ten-year interval between the escape of Pym and his companion from the polar “chasm” and the present printing of the account, devoid of the last “two or three” chapters. Yet these were devoted only to “matter relative to the Pole itself” and nearby “regions” (final “Note,” para. 3), not to the “South Seas” or Pacific mentioned only here. To mystify us further, Poe alludes, in para. 3 below, to the one-fifth of Pym published in the January and February 1837 SLM, one year before this [page 216:] dated preface. Moreover, as will be seen, Pym makes several references to his experiences during the intervening years. No contemporary reviewer mentioned this gross discrepancy of narrative time.

Preface.1B journal]  Pym contradictorily alludes to his keeping a regular journal after mid-January 1828 (18.1) and again in February (23.7), in the latter instance mentioning “a long series of subsequent adventure.” But 13.1 begins the journal type of narration with a date of July 24, a month after leaving Nantucket, with the verisimilar details “minute and connected” (Preface) that belie “mere memory.” Marryat’s popular sea novel Peter Simple, which Poe used for Pym’s escape (23 bis.2), stresses the midshipman’s keeping a sea journal, which provides the material of the novel.

Preface.1C truth]  See Poe’s admiration of Defoe’s “potent magic of verisimilitude,” expressed in his January 1836 SLM review of Robinson Crusoe, which helped to inspire Pym (see 1.1 below). This was specifically asserted by eight of the American and British reviews of Pym (see the texts in my two papers on the contemporary reviews, SAF, Spring 1974, 2:37-56, and PS, December 1975, 8:32-35). For the promised realistic details and causally sequential, plausible narrative Poe will utilize esteemed travel accounts by Morrell, Reynolds, and others. Similarly, it was the “method and air of method” which, as Poe was to tell Philip P. Cooke in 1846, made the detection tales “ingenious” and convincing (John W. Ostrom, Letters of Edgar Allan Poe [Cambridge, 1964] [[New York: Gordian, 1966]], 2:328, and B. Pollin, Studies in the American Renaissance, 1978, 1:235-59).

Preface.1D Indian]  Pym’s deprecation of Dirk Peters here accords with his weird appearance when first introduced in 4.4 and his desire for voluptuous license in 5.6 and 6.9, but not with his sober companionship of Pym after the landslide and his sage opinions about the hieroglyphics of the end-note. By the end of 21.7 Peters had become one of the two “only living white men upon the island.”

Preface.1E fiction]  Here Poe cleverly links two purportedly pejorative adjectives of markedly different value. One American and two British reviewers, however, took up the gauntlet in “impudent” for their major theme: Burton of the Philadelphia Gentleman’s Magazine and the writers in the Metropolitan Magazine and The Atlas of London.

Preface.2A Richmond]  The word “lately” (rather than “formerly”) is inaccurately applied to Poe, who had left the editorship (never officially given him by White) as of January 3, 1837, a full eighteen months before the date of the Preface. The seemingly parenthetical reference to his “Antarctic Ocean” travels, which began with chap. 14, might have been inserted in the Preface just before publication, since Mr. Poe’s “interest in . . . that portion” did not lead Poe to mention Pym’s ultimate destination in the quarter of the book that he “drew up” for the magazine.

Preface.2B truth]  Poe’s opinion of the American public’s acumen at the time is, perhaps, indicated in his “Drake-Halleck” review in the April 1836 SLM, wherein he objects to our “liking a stupid book . . . because . . . its stupidity is American.”

Preface.3A magazine]  White published Poe’s first version of the novel in the SLM as follows: January 1837, 3:13-16. “Arthur Gordon Pym. / No I” (chaps. l and 2, through para. 3); February 1837, 3:109-16. “Arthur Gordon Pym. / No II” (through 4.3). While he omitted the author’s name in the text, he [page 217:] thwarted Poe’s intention of anonymity by listing Poe’s name as author on the inside of the front paper cover as well as in an editorial note of January 1837, 3:96, specifying Poe’s contributions for the number. Lacking faith in material which he called “stuff” (Mary E. Phillips, Edgar Allan Poe [Philadelphia [[Chicago: John C. Winston Co.]] 1926], 1:547), White may have contravened Poe’s instructions in order to gain the advantage of Poe’s reputation. Pym’s use of the passive voice suggests this.

Preface.4A fable]  Poe’s innovation of publishing comments by exchange papers on the contents of the 1836 numbers of the SLM was discontinued in 1837 by White; hence, we have no easy way to survey responses to the two Pym installments. Only the New-Yorker alluded to it on March 18, 1837, under “SLM”: “The last number of this work is an excellent one. Its principal papers are . . . Arthur Gordon Pym, etc.”

Preface.5A perceived]  Pym, with his “distrust in my own abilities as a writer” (para. 1), presents good reasons for continuing to use the ghostwriting talent of Poe and also excuses for his weaknesses of style; in the final “Note” the editor has to adduce Poe’s growing skepticism, about which nothing is said here, another hint of much earlier writing of the Preface. The reference to the change of style is pleasantly ironic since there is no change at all. No reviewer mentioned this point. The “air of fable” which is “ingeniously” inserted into the SLM portion cleverly expresses the mere fact that Poe, a known writer of fiction (para. 3), was not Pym, the autobiographer of chap. 1, and the phrase ignores the “appearance of truth” of para. 1, although para. 5 proudly declaims the authenticity of Mr. Poe-Pym’s “facts.” The idea and wording are similar in the 1835 ending of “Hans Pfaall”: “. . . it carries upon its very face the evidence of its own authenticity” (79t).

Preface.5B Pym]  No consideration of space required this unique form of Pym’s signature; the running title is “Narrative of A. Gordon Pym” and the hero is called Gordon by his grandfather (2.4) and Arthur by his friend Augustus (3.10).

1.1A Pym]  In rhythm and syllable count, Arthur Gordon Pym parallels Edgar Allan Poe; both have an English, then a Scottish name, with a monosyllable beginning with “p.” For the letters of Pym’s name many readers have commented on the anagram “YMP,” which is to be sounded as “IMP,” a word used by Poe in “The Imp of the Perverse” of 1845. Gordon was the family name of Lord Byron, as William Bittner notes in Poe (Boston, 1962), p. 124, but the name was not uncommon in Richmond, and Poe had an interesting Negro friend named Armistead Gordon (see T. O. Mabbott, Selected Poetry and Prose of . . . Poe [New York, 1951], p. xiv). Poe must have known about John Pym, seventeenth-century English parliamentary statesman, as well as later prominent bearers of the name. For a series of ingeniously fantastic significations in the names of Pym and other characters, which underscore Pym’s “centrality” see Joseph Moldenhauer, TSLL, 1971, 13:267-80, esp. 267-69.

1.1B death]  Grandfather Peterson (named in 2.4) is commonly considered to be suggested by the guardian of Poe, John Allan, whose fortune Poe had long expected to inherit. Poe gives no indication that the town was not on Nantucket, but on nearby Martha’s Vineyard, although he could scarcely be unaware of this fact. Poe lists with similar ambiguity “New-Bedford, Edgartown, Nantucket” in his January 1837 review of Reynolds’ Address, which passage is taken straight from the source. In this paragraph is Poe deliberate in twice omitting the “w” from [page 218:] “Edgartown“? The long-established prosperity of New England trade and banking underscores Pym’s affluent background, with his extended schooling and private sailboat (see end of 1.1); this ambience may suggest a motive for the romantic yearning for unknown hardships (in 2.1).

Poe’s style and marshalling of details here have justifiably been compared to the opening of The Life . .. of Robinson Crusoe; see A. E. Ransome, Poe (London, 1910), pp. 91-93, and D. Maxwell, American Fiction (New York, 1963), pp. 72-76: “I was born in the year 1632, in the city of York, of a good family, tho’ not of that country, my father being a foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull. He got a good estate by merchandise, and leaving off his trade lived afterward at York, from whence he had married my mother, whose relations were named Robinson, a very good family in that country. . . . My father, a wise and grave man. . . . asked me what reasons more than a meer wandring inclination I had for leaving my father’s house and my native country, where I . . . had a prospect of raising my fortune by application and industry, with a life of ease and pleasure.”

1.1C hill]  At six, Poe went to the school of William Ewing in Richmond. Mary Phillips cites J. H. Whitty’s finding a contemporary one-armed Ricketts in Richmond (Poe, p. 118), and she equates Ronald’s academy with Joseph H. Clarke’s school, entered in 1820, when Poe was eleven. Only Miss Phillips speaks of William Burke as taking over Clarke’s school (pp. 200-207); others note Poe’s enrollment in 1823, continuing until 1826, the time of his entrance into the University of Virginia, at seventeen. These dates correspond to Pym’s ages in the 1838 text. J. M. DeFalco, in Topic: 30, Fall 1976, pp. 59-60, regards the name of Ricketts as betokening a reason for Pym’s “deficiencies” and his disability as prelude to later “dismasting.” See Hervey Allen, Israfel (New York: 1926; 1934 reprint used), p. 86, for Rocketts, the suggestive name of the “swimming-hole” in the James River frequented by Poe’s group.

1.1D Augustus]  The original of Augustus was probably Ebenezer Burling, a somewhat dissipated young friend, although not a schoolmate, who taught Poe to swim and, possibly, to drink intemperately. They often went boating on the James River and, in March 1827, left Richmond on a sailing vessel, Burling to return from Norfolk while Poe stopped at Baltimore before proceeding to Boston. See Mary Phillips, Poe, pp. 214-15, 225, and 292-95; J. H. Whitty, Complete Poems, (Boston, 1911), pp. xxiv-xxv and xxx; H. Allen, Israfel, p. 79; and Thomas Ollive Mabbott, ed., Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 1, Poems (Cambridge, Mass., 1969, and, for vols. 2 and 3, or Tales and Sketches, 1978), p. 538. Throughout my text, references to “Poems” indicate this edition; likewise, references to “Tales” or, parenthetically, for vols. 1 and 2, to volume and page number alone. Poe favored Augustus as a name, probably with no implication of its Latin meaning of “venerable,” in “Augustus Scratchaway” of the Folio Club Tales, C. Auguste Dupin, and Augustus Bedloe in “A Tale of the Ragged Mountains.” Harold Beaver, in his Penguin Books edition of Pym (1975), wishes to read “an imperial control” into Pym’s friend, the arranger of affairs, and into the master-detective via the name (pp. 26 and 249).

1.1E Ocean]  See R. L. Rhea, TSLL, 1930, 10:135-50, for the observation that “Barnard” and also the earliest version of the plot may have come from J. Reynolds’ 1836 Address, which summarizes the 1831 capture of Captain Edward [page 219:] C. Barnard’s whaler Mentor in the Pelews, pp. 54-60. Benjamin Morrell, A Narrative of Four Voyages (New York, 1832), Poe’s major source for chaps. 14-17, summarizes the Barnard story (pp. 55-56). Poe may also have read the popular and graphic Narrative of the Sufferings of Captain Charles H. Barnard in a Voyage Round the World, during the years 1812-1816. . . (New York, 1829; reissued 1836 and in a modern imprint of Salem, 1925), wherein a dog named Tiger assists the captain (p. 81), q.v. in the Ridgely-Haverstick study, TSLL, 7:67, n. 10. No “John Donaldson” is listed among the New England whalers through the date of Poe’s writing the novel; perhaps it represents an invention of his own suggested by the rhyming word “Ronald” earlier in the paragraph.

Augustus’ locale for adventures is vague, for the South Pacific might include Australia and New Zealand north into the Melanesian and Polynesian islands. There is a suggestion of Polynesia in Augustus’ subsequent discussions in the South Pacific islands (5.6 and 6.9).

1.1F Tinian]  This coralline limestone island in the Marianas Islands, which include Guam, has two rows of ancient massive stone columns of funerary purpose, which, if known to Poe, were perhaps prophetic of artifacts on Tsalal at the end of Pym. According to J. Reynolds’ Address (p. 55), Captain Barnard had intended to steer to Tinian.

1.1G Ariel]  Shelley’s ill-fated boat was called the Ariel, as was Milton’s rebel angel (Paradise Lost, vi, 371). Poe also knew Cooper’s The Pilot, with its Ariel. The importance of the tempest to this episode (see 1.9) suggests that Shakespeare’s Tempest with its flighty spirit Ariel may have given Poe a hint for the name.

1.1H sloop-fashion]  A Nantucketer would say, “She was sloop rigged” or, more likely, “I owned a sloop called the Ariel.” The compound word is not in the OED.

1.1I crowding]  A sloop with a cuddy, able to hold ten people in her cockpit without crowding, would be about twenty-five or thirty feet long “on deck.”

1.1J freaks]  The narrator of “The Gold-Bug” labels Legrand’s mysterious expedition a “freak.”

1.2A narrative]  While apparently a microcosmic representation of the whole narrative, the Ariel episode was printed probably before Poe had elaborated his full plot. Note the insertion of this sentence only in the later text of 1838.

1.2B home]  See H. Allen, Israfel, pp. 78-79, for Poe’s frequently sleeping at Ebenezer Burling’s house. The intimacy of the youths here prefigures their “interchange of character” in 2.1.

1.2C southwest]  Compare “X-ing a Paragrab” (para. 8): “He . . . would make no alteration in his style, to suit the caprices of any Mr. Smith in Christendom.”

1.2D liquors]  Poe’s word is probably a variant of “liqueurs” given as obsolete by the OED with a 1797 last instance. The boys’ interest in sugary beverages is manifested in the supply of “cordials and liqueurs” left by Augustus for Pym (2.8; see also 3.7A).

1.3A Pankey]  “Pankey may derive from “hankey-pankey” or a “juggling or underhand dealing“-a foreshadowing of events. The decayed wharf has a touch of the decrepit Gothic pile of Usher or of Dupin’s “time-eaten . . . mansion,” which is “tottering” like the buildings of London along the route of “The Man of the Crowd.” For this element in Poe’s tales see Richard Wilbur, “The House [page 220:] of Poe,” Anniversary Lecture 1959 (Washington, 1959); reprinted in Eric W. Carlson, ed., The Recognition of Poe (Ann Arbor, 1966), pp. 255-77.

1.3B sea]  Using a bucket, rather than a pump, Augustus would require at least a half hour. A Nantucketer would not mention “kept full” and would be inclined to say, “Started for Brant Point and the Sound,” since Nantucket Sound is between the harbor and the sea.

1.4A moon]  Given the situational and rhythmic correspondences, this is perhaps derived from Byron’s well-known lines: “Yet we‘ll go no more a-roving / B) the light of the moon.” Poe uses the phrase again in 12.14.

1.4B friend]  This ill accords with Pym’s ownership of the sloop and habit of going on freaks, although it is useful for his increase of terror.

1.4C land]  This common phrase appears in one of Poe’s unquestioned sources (see below, 2.13D). Michael Scott’s Tom Cringle’s Log (London, 1833; reprinted in Philadelphia, 1833), chap. 2: “So soon as we got from under the lee of the land, the breeze struck us. . . .”

1.4D stand]  In three episodes of extreme fear (see 12.7 and 23 bis.3), the knees of Poe’s characters strike or shake “violently,” in a tradition as old as the affecting description of Nineveh in Nahum 2: “She is empty, and void, and waste: and the heart melteth, and the knees smite together. . . .” Harry Levin, The Power of Blackness (New York, 1970), p. 112, pertinently suggests here traces of Poe’s attempts to handle his drunken brother Henry in Baltimore (q.v. in A. H. Quinn, Edgar Allan Poe [New York, 1941], pp. 187-88). Whatever the clinical objectivity of the stages of intoxication that Poe imputed to Pym’s friend, they seem to correspond well to authoritative contemporary medical opinion; for example, Robert Macnish, Anatomy of Drunkenness (1st American from the 2d London edition, Philadelphia, 1828), chap. 3, pp. 29-41, speaks first of serenity, confidence, gaiety, loquacity, enthusiasm; then nonsensical discourse and foolish actions; next wittiness, and thicker speech and glazed eyes; next unsteadiness and tottering gait; finally, total insensibility. Inconsistently, in his review of Hazlitt’s Characters of Shakspeare (sic) in the August 16, 1845, Broadway Journal Poe ascribes to “certain more intense classes of intoxication .. . an . . . impulse to counterfeit . . . excitement.”

1.5A destruction]  William Peden is one of the few to point out this absurdity — an utterly inept, boat-owning Nantucketer — in Papers on Poe (Springfield, Ohio, 1972), pp. 84-91.

1.5B daybreak]  In terms of time, distance, and rates of speed, more realistically interpreted than Poe perhaps intended, a boat of this size, running off the wind in this weather, at a probable five knots, in about three hours would hit Monomy Point at the southeast corner of Cape Cod, where he would still see the land.

1.5C exertion]  This may derive from one of Poe’s favorite Hamlet passages, “And thus the native hue of resolution / Is sicklied o‘er with the pale cast of thought” (III, i).

1.5D foam]  “Dead” rather than “full” would be used, but more likely “running before the wind.” Jibs, on small craft of this size, are too small to have reef points, and she would be “putting,” not “running her bows, etc.”

1.5E myself]  “Broach to” — to veer broadside to the wind and waves. With no one at the tiller to steer and counteract the push of the mainsail on one side of the boat, any small craft will indeed broach. [page 221:]

1.5F counter]  More authentically this might read: “The seas (or combers) broke over our counter.”

1.5G only]  “Let go by the run“-to throw the halyards clear off the cleat (or belaying pin) and let the sail and gaff come down fast by weight alone. For a boat of this size, the weight would be insufficient to overcome the resistance of the peak and the throat halyards overhauling themselves through the blocks. In running before the wind, there would be a preventive pressure pushing the sail and gaff against the shrouds, and these, being in the way, would render it impossible for the sail to “fly over the bows.” In proper nautical speech the mast would “carry away” (break) at the deck and “go by the board” (over the side). A sloop has only one mast with the mainsail on its after side and a jib set on the stay from the masthead to the stem. With the mast gone, there would be nothing to hold up the jib. This was pointed out in Burton’s hostile review in the Gentleman’s Magazine, September 1838, 3:210-11. In a letter of 1843, Robert Carter, coeditor of the Pioneer, mentioned to Poe this flaw in “the minute accuracy of . . . details” (James A. Harrison, ed., The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe [New York, 1902], 17:148).

1.5H cuddy]  Consonant with the fantasy nature of the whole episode is the insensible Augustus’ not drowning during the ten or more minutes that his head lies in a foot of water-surely a deliberate detail on Poe’s part.

1.6A boat]  Compare “The Black Cat” (Tales, 2:859): “one long, loud, and continuous scream . . . from the throats . . . of the demons”; “Maelström” (1:588) “a kind of shrill shriek . . . of many thousand steam-vessels”; and “Pit and Pendulum” (1:697): “Harsh grating as of a thousand thunders.” Such violent sounds are discussed as the token of the narrator’s physical survival by Julia W. Mazow, Studies in American Fiction, Autumn 1975, 3:220. Here the passage may owe something to Joseph C. Hart’s Miriam Coffin (New York, 1834): “wild scream of despair” from two hundred “doomed Frenchmen” on the rammed vessel (p. 42).

1.6B companion]  Compare the parallel situation and language in “MS. Found in a Bottle” (1:139-40): “Casting my eyes upwards, I beheld a spectacle which froze the current of my blood.” In the earlier text, however, the hero intrepidly faces the danger fully conscious. See “The Pit and the Pendulum” (1:684) for “a fearful idea” which “drove the blood. . . upon my heart” with resultant “insensibility.”

1.7A Penguin]  Many readers are struck by the early introduction of the name Penguin, destroyer and rescuer together here, with obvious contrasts of black and white coloration in the bird, so important in the Tsalal episodes. (See Joel Porte, The Romance in America [Middletown, 1969], p. 92, who also finds an analogy in the gold-color of the King Penguin.) Poe may have taken the name from the Penguin which accompanied Jeremiah Reynolds’ ship Annawan, in October 1829, on a private “Southern Polar Expedition,” widely reported in the contemporary press (see the New-York Mirror of September 26 and October 24, 1829), or from the accounts of the battle of the Hornet against the British Penguin in 1815 (see 83A).

1.7B Progress]  “Close-hauled” is said of the trim of the sails when one is steering as near as possible in the direction from which the wind blows, or “by the wind,” as termed in merchant vessels (Encyclopedia of Nautical Knowledge, p. 90). [page 222:] This accords with “beating up to Nantucket.” In Irving’s Sketch Book, “The Voyage” may have provided an idea for the running down of a boat and also William Leggett’s well-known tale, “The Encounter,” in the Knickerbocker of February 1834, which tells how the Active, a naval sloop, rams and sinks a strange vessel in a storm, with its quartermaster being impaled on the bowsprit (see Pym’s plight below). But the best model was Poe’s own “MS. Found in a Bottle” of October 1833 (see its sources in 1:132-34). His ship too is “copper-fastened” (see 1.8E).

1.7C matter]  The captain’s name, suitable for a contrary, obdurate character, was probably suggested by the Penguin’s leaving Block Island (see note above). The initials “E.” and “T.” were used by Poe for his own pseudonym in the 1840s in “E. T. S. Grey,” q.v. in B. Pollin, Ball State University Forum, Summer 1973, 14:44-46.

1.7D egg-shells]  This is perhaps to be traced to Poe’s favorite play, Hamlet, IV, iv: “Exposing what is mortal and unsure / To all that fortune, death, and danger dare / Even for an egg-shell.”

1.7E helm]  Since neither master nor mate does the steering of a vessel, one could not push the other way and take the wheel.

1.7F Hard-a-lee!]  This is the term of execution used only in small craft; the order should be “Down helm,” with the preparatory order: “Stand by to tack ship” or “to go about.”

1.7G Providence]  The pious conclusions of this and the preceding paragraph obviously derive from the frequent thanksgivings of Robinson Crusoe, as well as the crude narratives of many of the chronicles of mariners to be used by Poe (see below); there is a mocking implication in this formulary response to danger and to the rescues which are often, in the book, short-lived. For other instances of conventional piety see 1.5, 2.13, 6.1, 9.2, 9.12, 10.4, 11.4, 12.1, 12.18, 13.1, and 13.23. Save for an insignificant instance in 21.1, the second half of Pym presents none, even where it might be expected.

1.8A stays]  “In stays” is ’said of a ship when her head is being turned to windward for the purpose of tacking” (OED) or coming to a stop. At this time, in square rig, the head yards and head sheets are being readied for the next maneuver, making it difficult for anybody to leave in a small boat, especially with the mate in charge forward.

1.8B helm]  A jolly boat is a small, general utility sort of boat, usually carried on the stern davits of a merchant vessel, but not on a whaler, and certainly not under the stem, as Poe implies, this being the only “lee” at this time, nor would a whale boat be fitted with “air-boxes” as Poe says at the end of the next paragraph, q.v. Poe uses the spelling “jollyboat” in 6.4, 8.10, and 14.19-a fused form not found in the OED for this word of eighteenth-century first instance. Poe’s form, “jolly,” in the next paragraph is first cited for an 1829 Marryat novel and next for 1887.

1.8C reach]  Main chains or main chain plates are iron or bronze strips bolted to the sides of a ship to distribute the strain of the mainmast shrouds, fastened to them. See also 9.12 and 12.12.

1.8D keel]  Unless the ship is being knocked-down or is ready to capsize, it is doubtful that her keel would be exposed, even on a roll. Burton, in his review [page 223:] of the book in the Gentleman’s Magazine, mocks the “heavy roll to windward” and the survival of Pym after “immersion” and “transfixion.”

1.8E copper-fastened]  This refers to all spikes, rivets, and pins as being of copper-a construction usually limited to small craft not over sixty feet. “Coppered” means “sheathed with copper,” common for a ship like the Penguin. Hart’s Miriam Coffin, 2:45, could have given “coppered and copper-fastened” to Poe.

1.8F own]  Walter E. Bezanson, in “The Troubled Sleep of Pym,” in Essays in Literary History (New Brunswick, 1960), p. 155, properly speaks of a “seamanship” that is “a child’s improvisation” but of the whole scene as being “wild, impossible” and “precisely detailed,” with the miraculously enduring Pym “spreadeagled against the hull” as “an apocalyptic vision of the self” before his restoration at breakfast. Note that the impact with the Ariel must have been at the how of the Penguin, but the body would have to slide along the hull to be impaled nearer the center, there to be disengaged from the “main-chains.”

1.8G timber-bolts]  Presumably this refers to the spikes which hold the planking to the frames. Clenched on the inside, they could scarcely be assumed to work their way through the copper sheathing.

1.8H extinct]  Anatomically this transfixion through the neck by a bolt over one-half inch thick is well-nigh impossible, and surely the reader anticipates death, especially from prolonged immersion.

1.9A tempest]  Since the Penguin crew saw only one man at the helm and never refer to more than one, the continued search must be based only on the strangely unvoiced assumption that there were several on board the sloop. The word “tempest” is favored for “storm” by Poe (8.8, 9.1 and 21.7). It is frequently found in Poe’s poetry, as in Tamerlane (1827), Poems, p. 31; Al Aaraaf, p. 103; “The Raven,” 11. 86 and 98; and “Fairy-Land,” p. 141.

1.9B Wales]  In reality Poe had no reason to attribute such boats to the “whaling service” or “the coast of Wales,” but it is true that from 1785 to Poe’s day the British coastal service was slowly developing lifeboats with cork gunwales and air-chambers, through the invention of Lionel Lukin, in turn adapted by Henry Greathead and William Wouldhave, and used and publicized by Sir William Hillary. See Lukin, The Invention . . . of Unimmergible Boats (London, 1806); Richard Lewis, History of the Life-Boat (London, 1874); R. M. Ballantyne, The Lifeboat (London, 1884); N. T. Methley, The Life-Boat and Its Story (London, 1912); and A. L. Hoydon, The Book of the Lifeboat (London, n.d.).

1.10A death]  It is doubtful that the craftsmen of the day would so construct a boat. The impact of the Penguin and the wracking of the seas would break up the Ariel, but not the mere sinking of the remains. A “cuddy” is a semi-enclosed space in the forward end with head-room for sitting, at best. In “The Maelstrom” Poe would again use a “ring-bolt” for his fisherman as an instrument of security (Tales, 1:589).

1.11A water]  Augustus here joins the company of “The Psyche Zenobia,” when she is told by Mr. Blackwood: “Should you ever be drowned or hung, be sure and make a note of your sensations . . .” (1838, 1:337), although, unlike Pym’s, Augustus’ sensations are not given in the book.

1.11B lost]  At sea a rope is wound in “turns,” not folds. If not choked, Augustus should have succumbed to drowning, especially when first rising with his head [page 224:] under the cuddy for a shocking blow. The cuddy top, being awash, would not drift “rapidly,” though being of less displacement than his body, through wave action it would keep ahead of Augustus. In such rough water, his nose and mouth would certainly not stay out of the water. Presumably the providential wave gave him a grip on the edge molding of the cuddy top.

1.11C effects]  The efficacy of hot oiled flannels for rubbing a body which had been insensible for over three hours is to be doubted. The sage advice, ironically, comes only from Augustus whose reason, at least an hour or two before, “had failed him” — all part of Poe’s narrative of precise unreality.

1.12A night]  Bezanson, pp. 153-54, calculates the boys’ “absurdly careful timetable,” which inducts the reader into acceptance of the unbelievable: the end of the party at 1 A.M., casting off at 2 A.M., the insensibility of Augustus at 3, the rescue at about 4, the revival by 7:30, and the docking of the Penguin at 9, for a 9:30 breakfast.

1.12B shudder]  Since Augustus dies a month and a half after the start of the voyage (see chap. 13), this sentence is clearly a relic of a greatly altered first plan, embodied in the Messenger installments.

1.12C influence]  The homiletic note in the Dun on “sinking” will occur repeatedly in episodes above and below decks on the Grampus. This passage is in the January 1837 SLM segment of Pym, right after Poe’s severance, in part for his continued drinking (see also 1.41)). For the best and most balanced account of Poe’s intemperance with its thematic traces in his works, see Edward Wagenknecht, Edgar Allan Poe (New York, 1963), pp. 30-41.

2.1A deliverance]  Here Poe uses the word “navigator” with the unusual meaning of “sailor,” “seaman,” or “mariner,” probably deriving it from a passage in Reynolds’ Report, cited in 2.11), below. No contemporary citation for Poe’s meaning is given by the OED, which cites Marryat (1829) for a distinction between an “expert navigator” and a “good practical seaman.” Earlier, in “MS. Found in a Bottle,” Poe had used it for a crew member (Tales, 1:140-41 and 143). For Poe’s later use in Pym to mean “captain” and “explorer,” both derived from Morrell’s text, see 14.1313.

2.1B accident]  Poe here speaks like a connoisseur of paintings, such as those of Géricault or Delacroix, and he uses the word “paintings” below. G. Vapereau, in L‘Année litteraire et dramatique, 1858, 1:119, finds Poe uniting the talents of painter and storyteller in Pym.

2.1C fabrications]  Even Augustus is deceptive, although this is strange in a soul mate often taken by critics as Pym’s “alter ego.” “Now” (instead of “later”) is probably a relic of Poe’s original plan, to keep Augustus alive throughout the cruise, rather than kill him off in 1827, eleven years earlier, since nothing related in Pym serves to prove Augustus a fabricator.

2.1D unknown]  Two of the polemics on behalf of an exploring expedition by Jeremiah N. Reynolds seem to have entered into Poe’s “visions” here; Poe reviewed both, the first being the Report of the Committee on Naval Agairs (Senate Document, no. 262, 24th Cong., 1st sess.; vol. 3, 88 pages) in the August 1836 SLM. Reynolds’ report of February 10, 1828, is here cited: “Many ships have gone into those seas, and no soul has survived to tell their fate. . . . Many of our fearless navigators are now, probably, wasting a wretched existence on some desolate island, in these immense seas, waiting, in prayerful hope. . .” (p. 16). [page 225:] Poe alludes to this in his review: “It awakens our admiration at the energy and industry which have sustained a body of daring men . . . amid the perils and casualties of an intricate navigation, in seas imperfectly known” (para. 1). In Reynolds’ Address, reviewed by Poe in the January 1837 SLM (see 16.1A), he finds more material: “The crews, or at least some portion of the crews, of many of our vessels known to be wrecked in this vicinity, may be rescued from a life of slavery and despair.” To this there is a footnote (p. 60) concerning the French navy’s attempt to rescue M. de la Pérouse in 1791: “Some . . . might have escaped from the wreck, and might be confined in a desert island, or thrown upon some coast inhabited by savages . . . dragging out life in a distant clime, with their longing eyes fixed upon the sea. . . .” Closest is this excerpt from the final page (287) : “[These charts] mislead the sailor, who suddenly finds himself shipwrecked in an unknown sea, far from the haunts of civilized man, and destined to become a prey to the cruel and remorseless savages who inhabit the islands; or to endure all the horrors of starvation upon some steril rock which lifts its head above the surface of a boundless sea.” It is an epitome of Robinson Crusoe, one of his sources, which he had been rereading for his SLM January 1836 review, lauding Defoe’s “potent magic of verisimilitude.” Pym here describes the temperament and imagination of a “Poet” (“The Poetic Principle,” penultimate paragraph) who is inspired by “the suggestive odour . . . from far-distant, undiscovered islands, over dim oceans, illimitable and unexplored.”

2.1E fulfil]  Robert Jacobs, among many others, points out the melancholia afflicting Poe frequently during his Richmond editorship, Poe: Journalist and Critic (Baton Rouge, 1969), pp. 86-90, equating Pym — Poe as a fated, melancholic hero with Politian (V, 78; Poems, p. 207), the “ill-fated . . . man” of “The Assignation” (1:150), Usher, Julius Rodman (who set out because of “an hereditary hypochondria,” 1.1) and innumerable Poe narrators of later tales. D. E. S. Maxwell (in American Fiction, pp. 84-87, finds improbable parallels, if not sources, in the doomed solitary man of “sick fancies” wandering in wild settings in Shelley’s “Alastor.” Richard Wilbur, Pym (Middletown, 1973), p. xix, compares Pym with Robinson Crusoe, also “fated to pursue misfortune.”

2.1F character]  The theme of the “double” or intermerging personality can be found in “Morello,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” and, especially, “William Wilson,” and in Poe’s long tale of exploration “Rodman”; Andrew Thornton, Julius Rodman affirms, “fully entered into my own notions,” like a brother (2.17). In view of clear-cut differentiations of behavior, note its being only a “partial interchange.”

2.2A Grampus]  The name, perhaps symbolically used by Poe for the fatal brig, is given to the voracious, killer whale (Orcinus orca), colored black with white markings, and found in all Northern Hemisphere seas (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1973, 13:348-49). Poe might have taken this ship’s name from annals of Captain Cook, who obtained his master’s warrant in 1759 for the sloop Grampus, or from the U.S. naval schooner, mentioned in the Military and Naval Magazine, October 27, 1836, 3:272, for arrival in New Orleans, but probably from Seth Macy’s whaling ship, the Grampus, in Joseph C. Hart’s Miriam Coffin, 1:45, in which the naming of the ship by Jethro Coffin is given some attention. Hart’s source may have been the sloop Grampus of Nantucket, of the mid-eighteenth century, about which Poe might have read in annals of the industry; for Peleg [page 226:] Folger’s ten-year logbook of the Grampus see Edouard A. Stackpole, The Sea Hunters (Philadelphia, 1953), p. 35.

2.2B voyage]  Lloyd was surely suggested by the famous company, Lloyd’s of London, so prominent in marine matters. Vredenburgh, apparently of Dutch or German origin, has no known provenance; the Dutch association seems likely from Poe’s forgetfully naming one of the crew on the Grampus “Peter Vredenburgh, a native of New York” in 17.6. Enderby Brothers of London was prominent in encouraging Antarctic exploration from 1800-1810 (see Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., 21:963). Poe is more accurate about the city in his reference in 16.9 (q.v.) which is borrowed verbatim from Reynolds’ Address. Alexander Cowie, The Rise of the American Novel (New York, 1951), p. 801, n. 105, observes Melville’s later use of the firm. The reviewer of Pym, in Alexander’s Weekly Messenger of August 22, 1838, good-naturedly exclaims against the nonexistent “mercantile house” as one of the many impossibilities of the book.

Poe’s later conception of the two friends as full-fledged, enduring sailors, in chap. 9 and, for the survivor Pym, chap. 14 et seq., made him alter the interval, in the SLM from four to eighteen months, but he disregarded-as he expected readers to do-the newly created problem in chronology. In 1.1 the friends were originally fourteen and sixteen while attending the “academy.” Time for the ripening of their relationship before the Ariel episode had also elapsed-up to a half year. In the revised version the two are over eighteen and twenty, although no ending of school attendance is indicated. More characteristically, Poe at seventeen matriculated at the University of Virginia.

2.2C him]  Poe’s preference for decayed old settings as in the “decayed wharf” above (1.3) has often been remarked. See the pest-stricken, rotting purlieus of London in “King Pest,” the “vast and desolate upper apartment” of the palace of Metzengerstein, and later, the “abbey, with its verdant decay” in “Ligeia,” the mansion with “tattered” decorations in “The Oval Portrait,” and the “château, much dilapidated” in “The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether.” For a good commentary see Roger Forclaz, Le Monde d‘Edgar Poe (Bern, 1975), p. 112. Poe’s intention here is probably premonitory, but Captain Barnard’s neglect of his son’s safety in his choice is neither responsible nor credible, and may be interpreted as an early sign of the whimsicality of the characters. Consider this fact about real whalers, probably not unknown to Poe: “They were the most strongly built ships afloat, rigged to withstand unusual strains which wrench their hulls beyond the ability of merchant ships to withstand” (Albert Cook Church, Whale Ships and Whaling [New York, 1938], p. 23).

2.2B again]  Pym’s grandfather here resembles John Allan and also uncle Rumgudgeon (from “curmudgeon”) in “Three Sundays,” who frequently threatens “to cut” his grandnephew “off with a shilling.”

2.2E hypocrisy]  Pym’s conventional morality here accords with his detestation of the treacherous “hypocritical” natives at the end (20.9 and 23 bis.10). For stress upon the theme of “deception” along with recurrent revolt (here against parents) see Patrick Quinn, Hudson Review, Winter 1952, 4:562-87.

2.3A 1827]  There are autobiographical overtones here of the flight of Poe to Boston from the Allan home in March 1827, first sojourning in Baltimore, then in Boston in April (the month of the SLM version) before deceptively enlisting [page 227:] in the Army on May 26, 1827, as “Edgar A. Perry,” to sail to Charleston in November.

2.3B Emmet]  Poe well knew the sad life of Robert Emmet, hanged in 1803 as leader of the United Irishmen and cherished by Thomas Moore whose poem “Breathe not his name” is cited by Poe as epigraph for “A Decided Loss,” later “Loss of Breath.” (For a fuller treatment, see “Light on Shadow and Other Pieces by Poe,” in ESQ, 1972, 18:166-73.) Surely his splitting the Irish martyr into two persons is merely humorous, as in his use of the name “Baldassare Castiglione” for two characters in Politian, noted by T. O. Mabbott in his edition of the play (Menasha, Wisconsin, 1923), p. 60. Poe used the name “Ross” in the 1835 version of “Lionizing” (Alexander Ross), and in the December 1835 SLM he summarizes the article in the Edinburgh Review of July 1835, on Sir John Ross’s and Captain James Clark Ross’s reports of their polar exploration and stay, this, in turn, perhaps leading Poe to mention “Ross and Co.” in his January 1836 SLM review of Robinson Crusoe and in 1840, in the “Journal of Julius Rodman” (2.12, n.).

2.3C delivered]  Poe is ambiguous about the initiation of this plan, their joint undertaking in the preceding paragraph, but apparently not formulated for “nearly a month” until shortly before their sailing. Later the essential element will prove to be Augustus’ secreting the first draft of the letter in his pocket for communication with the incarcerated Pym (5.4). This is a slight proof of Poe’s planning the novel at least slightly beyond the SLM portion.

2.3D parents]  The first installment in the SLM of January 1837 ends at this word.

2.4A Peterson]  This name, without any Nantucket association, is repeated by Poe in 20.8, for a sailor on the Jane Guy, one of the “natives of London.” In a fanciful sense, Pym, as grandson of Peterson, is also son of Peters, implying a protectiveness by his later companion often alleged in criticism; for “the double” implication see Daniel Hoffman, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe (Garden City, 1972), p. 271.

2.4B rebuke]  The assumed dialect of this episode matches the slapstick of the action. Perhaps Poe implied in “darty” a Gaelic accent, which he was to use throughout “Why the Little Frenchman Wears His Hand in a Sling” (1839). Compare also his humorous use of Hudson Valley Dutch dialect in “The Devil in the Belfry” early in 1839. Poe may have intended a dialect such as he ascribed to a New England character in the 1849 “X-ing a Paragrab,” which shows parallels in “beant” (and “bee‘nt”) and “paragrab” (the substitution of “b” for ‘P’ and for “v” in “obercoat”). The characteristic dropping of “r” in New England phonemes (“bpd” for “board”), as in “Goddin,” also suggests this as Poe’s persiflage.

2.4C Long Tom]  Poe knew Cooper’s sailor Long Tom, prominent in The Pilot (1823), but in manuals of seamanship and dictionaries throughout the century the phrase applies only to a “swivel-mounted naval deck gun” (American Speech, Summer 1972, 47:72), as in J. C. Hart’s Miriam Coffin (1834), one of Poe’s sources: “The Frenchman [on the privateer] brought their long-tom charged with small shot, to bear upon the yard” (1:38). Long Tom was a derisive name given to Thomas Jefferson (see George Morgan, Life of James [page 228:] Monroe [Boston, 1921], p. 25) but this is probably not relevant. The burlesque treatment of the old man and the rationalization via his spectacles preludes the actions and plot of “The Spectacles” (1844). Poe also foreshadows here Pym’s impersonation of H. Rogers in 8.8. Harry Levin, The Power of Blackness, p. 111, observes that Pym must become the “orphan ego” through thus cruelly disowning his most strongly “attached” relative (1.1).

2.5A combings]  This is an occasional modern spelling of “coamings” or the raised borders about the edge of the hatches and scuttles of a ship, which prevent water on deck from running below (OED). Poe revises the incorrect “steerage” of the SLM text to “forecastle” but fails to do so later (see 3.113). Inconsistent also is “Vredenburg” in the next sentence, lacking the “h” of 1.1, 2.2 (and 17.6), but left uncorrected editorially.

2.5B there]  The visual impressions of Pym are too casual in view of his urgent need to determine the number of possible interceptors. His initial statement about “one or two” is more vague than “these were busy” and “men at work,” and his finding “no person there” in the cabin is really a confirmation of the “two.” The implied and necessary close look at the entire deck misses the looming features of a whaler required by the reader for the simplest understanding. “Whaleships differed materially from any other type of merchant ship. . . . [They] carried a large amount of special gear and equipment . . . such as heavy brick tryworks,. . . whalecraft and gear for capturing, cutting-in and trying out whale blubber, spare whaleboats, etc. . . .” (A. G. Church, Whale Ships, p. 21). Non-Nantucket readers ought to be shown the try works “of the most solid masonry imaginable . . . situated between the foremast and mainmast . . . some ten feet by eight feet square and five feet in height . . . secured to the surface by means of great ship knees of iron which braced it firmly on all sides and were screwed down to the timbers cased with wood on the sides, or flanks, and the top . . . completely covered by a large, sloping, battened hatchway” (Frances D. Robotti, Whaling and Old Salem [New York, 1962], p. 111). ‘Around the base was a low wooden framework, perhaps a foot in height, called the ‘goosepen,’ kept filled with sea water” (Church, p. 22). Never, throughout the episodes occurring on board the Grampus, do we glimpse this structure nor any special whaling equipment or implements — proof that Poe envisioned a merchant ship for his setting and saw no reason for differentiating particulars.

2.5C anticipated]  Everything here is unusual: Less than two feet is the standard width of a berth and five feet six inches the maximum under the deck beams for the height; only a real landlubber could call the overhead the “ceiling” and the cabin deck the “floor”; the covering of a carpet might be found only in the saloon or master’s room and is most doubtful anywhere in a whaler with the men’s oily and greasy shoes. Poe’s purpose is not realistic detail but simply concealment for the trap door. In his August 1836 review in the SLM of Lafitte Poe noted the pirate’s “handsomely furnished stateroom,” surpassing that in The Red Rover (q.v. in T. Philbrick, James Fenimore Cooper [Cambridge, Mass., 1961], p. 296, n. 44).

2.5D travels]  Poe is entirely unclear about what he means here by “bulkheads” or upright partitions dividing a ship into compartments. “Stateroom” was just coming into use for passenger accommodations, but here refers to “a captain’s or superior officer’s room on board ship” (OED). Poe’s usage is that of Michael [page 229:] Scott in The Cruise of the Midge (chap. 17): “The cabin had two state-rooms, as they are called in merchantmen, opening off it.” Francis A. Olmstead, Incidents of a Whaling Voyage (New York, 1941), p. 51, also speaks of the six “staterooms” of the cabin, plus a storeroom and a pantry, each stateroom being six by four feet only, in contrast to the size of Augustus‘.

A nautical “closet” is properly a locker, small in size; Poe apparently is using the word for entire “state-room.”

We observe similar reading tastes in the friends (see 2.10).

2.5E department]  The refrigerator is sheer fantasy: Who would supply the ice and where would the meltings run off? Not even the captain or galley had one. Is this a continuation of Augustus’ penchant for drink to be exploited later in 11.6? There is irony in this nice gustatory detail for the start of a trip ending in starvation and torment.

Reynolds, in the Address that Poe reviewed in the January 1837 SLM, asserts: “I imbibed a relish. . . for books of voyages and travels” (p. 5).

2.6A beneath]  Notice the reading of the SLM text: “. . . this portion rose up, where it joined the shifting-boards, sufficiently to allow. . . .” Poe first made the same error as in the “MS. Found in a Bottle” in a “retreat” formed by the boards (2.141). Other details connect the two works, such as the collision of a large and small vessel, the demolition of the ship by wind and wave, the lashing of survivors to deck stumps, and the relentless current through warm seas to the pole, clear evidence of the effects of the theory of John C. Symmes (q.v. in Introduction). For Poe’s use of shifting-boards again see 6.4.

2.6B after hold]  Unless her hold space were bulkheaded into sections (of which there is no later evidence), the ship would not have an “after hold,” merely an “after end of the hold.”

2.6C lantern]  The dark lantern (used also in “The Gold-Bug,” 2:817) has a shutter or slide arrangement by which the light can be shut off at will (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 16:186).

2.6D follow]  For “phosphorus match” see 3.1 below.

2.6E nail]  Poe’s dextrous manipulation of a nail and carpentry for concealment is conspicuous in the fastening of the windows in “Murders in the Rue Morgue” of 1841.

2.7A narrow]  Typical of observations on Pym. as a redemptive novel is Walter E. Bezanson’s comment in Essays in Literary History, p. 158, that this is an “undeniable coffin,” with a pun on “earthenware.” The box is somewhat too high, for it has to serve as a confined but adequate living accommodation, as the next paragraph asserts.

2.7B brig]  Poe recharacterizes the “medley” as a “promiscuous huddling together” of casks and furniture in 6.5, after five paragraphs on “proper stowage,” thereby underscoring the utter impossibility of this sort of placement of cargo. Certainly the heavy casks required could not be hoisted and moved by two men, nor would Captain Barnard suicidally delegate responsibility without inspection. The readers must not consider the fact that “almost every commodity in an outward bound whaleship’s cargo — provision, slops, sails, coal, water, etc. — was headed up in casks. As used or consumed, the casks were filled with oil. . . . Many of the casks went aboard ships broken down. The staves were in shooks, which were iron-hopped bales, and the boards and hoops were stowed in casks.. .. In the lower hold the casks were stowed on their sides, fore and [page 230:] aft in two tiers. The second tier were staggered to fit into the interstices of the ground-tier casks. They were secured, stowed, and wedged into place with dunnage or cordwood. Between decks, where provisions and stores were kept, the casks were upended” (Clifford Ashley, The Yankee Whaler [Boston, 1938], pp. 97-98).

2.8A liqueurs]  The items might have been suggested by those in the ship’s boat of escape in “Loss of His Majesty’s Ship Centaur,” in Mariner’s Chronicles (New Haven, 1834), p. 162 (if Poe had read it this early in the writing of Pym): “a bag of bread, a small ham, a single piece of pork, two quart bottles of water, and a few of French cordials.” While the phrase “cordials and liqueurs” seems redundant, a differentiation is sometimes made, although not authoritatively. Peter Jonas, A Key to the Distillery (London, 1813), pp. 48 ff., considers “cordials” among the “compounds” needing no distillation and prepared with herbs; “usquebaugh” or whiskey is “a very celebrated cordial.” Surely a restrictive sojourn in a ship’s hold needed “a pleasant cordial to strengthen the animal functions” and “exhilarate the spirits,” as Jonas specifies. More recently, William E. Massee, Wines and Spirits (New York, 1961), p. 332, considers “cordials” as sweetened spirits flavored with fruits. James R. Sheen, Wines and Other Fermented Liquors (London, circa 1918), p. 281, declares that syrupy spirits imported from abroad are “liqueurs.” Poe must have made a differentiation (see 3.7 below for “revolting” peach liqueur).

2.8B necessary]  The dark whipcord, a strong twisted or braided cord and an unlikely article of ship’s equipment, would more easily escape detection by any intruder into the hold than an ordinary rope or cord. Poe’s source has often been assumed to be the thread given Theseus by Ariadne as a guide through the Cretan labyrinth. (See “dismal and disgusting labyrinths” in 2.16.) Legrand, in “The Gold-Bug,” twirls a whip-cord for dropping the gold-pointing scarab “with the air of a conjuror” (2:817). Those who regard this as the start of a nine-month journey into-birth or rebirth at the South Pole, June 17 to March 22, may see a hint of the umbilicus in the cord through “the womb-like blackness of the ship’s hold” (see Charles O‘Donnell, “From Earth to Ether,” PMLA, March 1962, 77:85-91, and see 2.10 below). For “windings” in the path of Poe’s characters see those in the “quaint old” school in “William Wilson” (1839) with its “wilderness of narrow passages” (1.426 and 434), and the winding paths and rivers in “Island of the Fay,” “Eleonora,” “The Elk,” “Ragged Mountains,” “Arnheim,” and “Landor’s Cottage.”

2.8C June]  In 2.4 we are told that the day is Monday. Poe had not bothered to check his calendars, for in the SLM installment April 17 falls on Tuesday, while June 17 for 1827 falls on Sunday. In the next paragraph the voyage “commences” on the twentieth, close enough to the summer solstice day of June 22, perhaps, to arouse speculation about the deceptively auspicious date for the start of the nine-month voyage. In view of the storms soon to be undergone, the earlier date of April was meteorologically sounder but would not enable Pym to duplicate Morrell’s route in chaps. 14-18.

2.9A opening]  Unclear but specific is the detail of “two crates just opposite the opening” which can be no more than two feet wide. Does Poe mean that the winding path begins with this interstice?

Pym’s “guess” at the three days is entirely gratuitous, since Augustus tells [page 231:] him exactly within the paragraph, so to speak. For some readers the repetition of three days of “burial” in his subsequent sleep (2.10, verified in 4.1) justifies H. Beaver’s “hint of resurrection,” in citing Luke 9:22: “The Son of man must . . . be raised the third day” (Pym, p. 253).

2.9B aboveboard]  Regarding “under weigh” the SLM text was correct; a vessel will “weigh” her anchor and then be “under way.” Presumably Poe made the change in the copy that he gave to the Harpers for the book. The word “aboveboard” is another clear error since it means “without artifice or trick” and comes “from gamesters, who, when they put their hands under the table, are changing their cards” (OED). It has no nautical meaning of “on the main deck” as Poe assumes.

2.9C twentieth]  The word “buried” is expressive of Pym’s situation, emphasized by specific references to “premature interment” in 2.18 and “jaws of the tomb” (3.10), finally flowering in the cave interment of chap. 21. Numberless commentators have regarded this element as basic to the redemptive or apocalyptic interpretation of the work, although it is difficult to avoid “buried” as a variation for “lying in readiness,” or “lurking” or “hiding.” Poe’s fullest treatment of a favorite theme is “The Premature Burial” (1844), for which see the headnote. Augustus fixes the start as June 20, thereby contradicting Pym’s statement of time, in 8.8. He also seems to indicate that Pym’s estimate of “three days and nights” is excessive by one night.

2.10A watch]  Poe perhaps intends a premonitory irony in Augustus’s saying “keep” rather than “tell” time above and in Pym’s eagerness to make his mind “easy” through possession of the watch, as though thirst, starvation, and suffocation will not more vitally indicate the passage of time after the watch has run down during his sleep and become useless. There seems to be no lexicological sanction for using “keep” to mean simply “perceive” or “discern” (the passing hours).

2.10B position]  The contrast of “windings innumerable” and “a long distance” with a separation of “a foot or two” shows the absurdity of the whole stowage, in which a slight sliding of cargo could eradicate the whole “labyrinth.”

2.10C Columbia]  Poe’s knowledge of the Jefferson-inspired Western expedition of the Virginians William Clark and Meriwether Lewis probably preceded his preparation, for the January 1837 SLM, of the reviews of Irving’s Astoria, which extensively uses their journal, and of Reynolds’ Address (see pp. 75-83 for the expedition). In his 1843 review of Cooper’s Wyandotté, Poe was to speak of “the intrinsic and universal interest” of the Western theme or “life in the Wilderness,” like that of “life upon the ocean.” Edwin Fussell, American Literature and the American West (Princeton, 1965), pp. 149-57, has provocatively developed Poe’s orientation toward the frontier of the South, the West, and the ocean. Following his lead is Leslie Fiedler, Return of the Vanishing American (New York, 1968), pp. 127-35. For a bona fide book on the subject, Pym might have been reading Patrick Gass, a sergeant in the party, Journal of the Voyages and Travels of . . . Captain Lewis and Captain Clark (Pittsburg, 1807), or Paul Allen, ed., History of the Expedition under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark (2 vols., Philadelphia, 1814, a condensation of the journals), or any one of numerous reprints (see below for the role of the Lewis and Clark journals in regard to phosphorus matches, 3.1). [page 232:]

2.11A crates]  The sleep has lasted, we later discover (4.1), three whole days and three whole nights. It is one of the impossibilities to which William Burton took exception in his scathing review of the book, Gentleman’s Magazine, September 1838, 3:211.

2.11B results]  We assume that Poe means thorough or complete decay. Whether three days would produce this condition in meat is arguable, although certainly the beginning of putridity would be perceptible. See “Loss of Breath,” 1835 version, for a parallel in a very long sleep during which the damp atmosphere rots the wood around the screws of his coffin, enabling him to lift the lid (1:364). Early, Baudelaire indirectly stressed putrescence in the work in saying that Poe’s characters act “sur les fonds violatres et verdatres, ou se revelent la phosphorescence de la pourriture et la senteur de Forage” (Oeuvres [Paris, 1869], 7:52; reported by Théophile Gautier). Richard Wilbur more recently adds this reference to those of Augustus’ putrefied leg, 13.11, and the match episode, 3.1, to infer Pym’s impulse toward death (Introduction to Pym, p. xx). Of later tales utilizing bodily putrefaction we need cite only the utterly horrifying “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” (December 1845).

2.12A mutton]  The time and quantity of water here do not quite correspond, since Pym has imbibed from the “large jug full of water” for only the three days of the wait in harbor plus this day after his long sleep. Surely Augustus, so calculating in his sleeping box preparations, could not have included a supply for only four waking days!

2.12B quarter]  A hint of the supernatural in the humming sound is assumed by Wilbur (Pym, Introduction, p. 24), but the idea that the sound of the wind is transmitted through the wood of the hull is plausible. As for the “roll” — a vessel under sail in a gale will not roll noticeably, even in “the main ocean.” This is acknowledged below in the words “continual inclination.” Moreover, “frequently” is inaccurate since little more than an hour of tacking across the Sound would bring her beyond Great Point and out to sea.

2.12C hours]  Since Pym has correctly concluded that the ship is not near Nantucket, his waiting any longer is clearly Poe’s device to enable Tiger to forage in his supplies and enter his dream. Joseph J. Moldenhauer views the episode as the typical “close circumscription of space” that Poe recommended for keeping “concentrated the attention” (“The Philosophy of Composition”), a Poe notion which he (and others) have applied to his coffins, caves, pits, dark houses, vortices, and sequestered valleys (TSLL, Summer 1971, 13:267-80).

2.12D eyes]  Perhaps there is a slight premonition here of the “formidable” though harmless serpents on the “damned” island of Tsalal, 19.3 and 23 bis.5. The stifling atmosphere of the hold and the box are cause enough for the content of his stupor or dream, as is true of Tiger’s advent into both dream and reality.

2.12E Zahara]  See Mabbott, Poems, pp. 342-43, for a parallel between this swamp and desert description and a passage from the dream of “Hans Pfaall” (1835) and aspects of “Dream-Land” (1844). Very close also is the setting of “Silence” of 1838, with the “morass,” and “tall primeval trees,” and the roaring animals and demon. Even the original Arabic name Zahara (given as a variant of Sahara, in Rees’s Cyclopaedia of 1819, into which Poe often delved for recherche information), sounds like “Zaire” or “the dreary river” Congo. See Chesley Mathew, University of Texas Studies in English, 1938, 18:123-36, for [page 233:] an ascription of the serpents, the trees, and the desert, to various passages in the Inferno of Dante, all rather remote in my opinion. For the phrase “naked and alone,” probably in the same sense of “defenseless,” see Poe’s favorite play Hamlet for Hamlet’s letter to Claudius about his helpless condition (IV, vii).

2.12F gloom]  Pym’s dog Tiger’s quiet approach can be compared with “the stealthy pace of the tiger” in the “Pit and the Pendulum” (1: 692). For the contrasting “roar .. . firmament” see “Hans Pfaall,” para. 62: “a voice of a thousand thunders,” which likewise has a biblical provenance, such as Psalms 77:18: “The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven.”

2.13A sick]  Poe seems to be describing here the intense overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system that can, very rarely, lead to “myocardial infarction” as in coronary thrombosis (American Heart Journal, June 1966, 71:840-41 and British Medical Journal, November 6, 1965, 2:1124). Poe’s symptomology, in the swimming “brain” and, below, the returning “rush of blood,” is not faulty, although the extremity of his response to fear in a hale young man may be questioned. This is perhaps a deliberate prelude to the mate’s death in 8.8.

2.13B dim]  Note also that the dog’s eyeballs are “flashing fiercely through the gloom” when he is supposed to be mad (3.8). This rather superstitious observation, that the eyes glow with an internal light, will also occur in “The GoldBug”: “His deep-set eyes glared with unnatural lustre”; and in “A Tale of the Ragged Mountains”: the “luminous rays, not of a reflected, but of an intrinsic lustre” of his eyes “in moments of excitement.” In view of the total darkness of the hold we must infer that the dog’s fangs could also gleam preternaturally (2.12; see also 3.813).

2.13C joy]  We know, from the rest of the paragraph, that Pym is lying on the mattress and therefore in his box, obviously with his head near the opening to allow for air and to permit the limited action of the dog in this scene; nevertheless, how could a Newfoundland throw himself “at full length” upon Pym’s body and lick his “face and hands,” especially since the two could not at once fit inside the box, despite the struggle in 3.8?

2.13D knew]  This is the first of several Newfoundland dogs in Poe’s works, which may have originally been suggested by large dogs in two novels of Michael Scott, both of which probably contributed to Pym (see 10.3A). In “Julius Rodman,” Thornton has a Newfoundland dog, who had learned a clever trick (3.3; see Tiger’s sagacity in 3.4). In “The Gold-Bug” the Newfoundland “leaped upon” the “shoulders” of the man, showing Poe’s clear awareness of his size. For Poe’s use of animals, especially dogs, see Roger Forclaz in Revue des Longues Vivantes, 1973, 39:483-96.

2.13E reanimation]  See 2.13A and notes on 23 bis.4 for Pym’s association of giddiness in falling with “reanimation” or rebirth; the frozen metaphors of language, however, can cause us to infer too much simply from words signifying shock or recovery from shock. Violent change or stress unnerves the whole body and makes the head dizzy; that is his idea, and his terms are more physical than “psychal” here.

2.13F tears]  Tears of joy and of frustration are not uncommon in the romance with its roots in the sentimental novel. See Augustus’ behavior, for example, in 3.4. The “oppression of my bosom” is both an emotional and a physical [page 234:] sensation, as are the suffocation and fright of the early part of the episode, which need relief (see 21.2 and 3). Note Poe’s invariable resorting to alliteration in “faithful follower and friend,” especially in a passage of “intensity.”

2.14A robber]  For the extravagant compliments, in this tale of man’s treachery, to the noble qualities of the dog, see also para. 2 of “The Black Cat” of 1843. Tiger, whose “sagacity” (3.4) will save Pym three times, has his descendant in the two Neptunes first of “Julius Rodman” and second “The Light-House” as well as in Ponto in “Landor’s Cottage.” Here he perhaps owes part of his origin to a “Newfoundland dog, valuable for his fidelity and sagacity” in the “Piracy” article of MC (New Haven, 1834), p. 492, or to “a Newfoundland dog. . . [of] sagacity” who “once saved his master from a watery grave” in R. Thomas’ Remarkable Events and Remarkable Shipwrecks (New York, 1836), 1:292.

2.15A water]  The sleep is functional in the narrative also for the sake of Tiger’s depredations on the provisions. In view of the “pitching” of the ship, it must be assumed that the jug would have to be well corked, adding a further challenge to the thirsty dog’s sagacity. Pym’s sleep this time may well have been the consequence of alcoholic indulgence, although not stated, since he has been awake four days, and in 3.7 we learn that there is left only a gill of the sixth bottle of his original stock, an average consumption of one bottle and one-half a day: “I had made free use of the cordials. . . .” Perhaps this too would account for the “ague” which here afflicts Pym. In view of the darkness of the hold and the urgency of his labyrinthine trip through the cargo, dislodged as he might easily surmise, his abandonment here of the search for the lighting apparatus is a mere narrative convenience, especially since he remembered “the spot” which must be in the box.

Poe appears to be describing a flat calm with a very confused sea, such as might follow two consecutive storms from different directions.

2.16A stunned]  It is worth noting that here and elsewhere Poe carefully differentiates between wakefulness, semiconsciousness, unconsciousness, and sleep.

2.16B crate]  The absurd stowage of the cargo in the hold is demonstrated by the crate which a storm, at the outset of the voyage, throws across his path, thereby creating an opening for further shifting in the adjacent cargo. (See Poe’s admission of this in 6.2.) In the next paragraph he even fears that “the least blunder” will bring the cargo toppling!

2.17A way]  A crate is open or slatted, and Poe seems to imply that the flimsy construction occasioned the iron strapping, which seems to be applied around the ends, leaving the bottom unprotected, since he would have to cut the board away from the strapping in the other direction. Are we to assume that he uses his knife as a pry to separate a large board from its perpendicular supports? What would be the use of a topless crate? If the shift had dislodged the top, what had happened to the contents? Moreover, what master or mate would have accepted so flimsy a container? His inability to climb over the crate does not gibe with the facts given, for if the box had been “thrown” across his “path,” it must have fallen down from a standing position on its short side. Let us assume a length of six or even seven feet for something as flimsy as a crate which can be pried open (and the ceiling or deck above could certainly accommodate nothing taller, for see Pym’s pushing against the trapdoor, standing [page 235:] presumably on the deck). The short side would then be four feet at the most, and this does not present any insurmountable wall even to a weakened man, especially since the slats of a crate might well offer toeholds for clambering.

As for the knife — William M. Cheney, A Treatise on Pocket Knives (Los Angeles, 1964), pp. 10-13 and 31, asserts that folding knives with one blade, often called “pen knives,” were then being produced in large quantities in the U.S. by Sheffield craftsmen and, being two to three inches long, could conveniently be carried in a side pocket.

2.18A encountered]  Perhaps Macbeth through “Present fears / Are less than horrible imaginings” offered Poe a parallel situation here, with four causes of death, along with the word “imaginings,” all four to be repeatedly exploited throughout the novel. Note also the invariable endeavor by Pym to master his fear or horror through rational thought and recourse to a practical plan, in this case insertion of his “pen-blade” through the cracks of the trapdoor. The form, incidentally, as a variant for “pen-knife blade,” is not in the OED, and since a pen-knife was originally an instrument for cutting pens, “pen-blade of my knife” is meaningless. It is scarcely conceivable that such a small knife (see 2.17A) could reach through the five or six inch planking of a deck to touch the chain-cable, nor would any light penetrate the “remarkably thick” carpet covering the trap door, over which Augustus discovered a mass of “chaincable” to have been deposited by the mutineers. If they had ripped it away they would have discovered the trapdoor; hence, it must be left there, an impenetrable barrier to the probing pen-knife, forgotten by Poe, who might otherwise have concocted an explanation about cutting through it. Significantly, Pym now busies himself in returning and setting on “some plan.”

2.19A paper]  Poe implies that the paper is finer, smoother perhaps, than paper used for ledgers or rough memoranda or wrapping. Poe’s comments in the thirty-eight letters of the “Autography” in the 1836 SLM are full of references to the fine, glossy, or coarse paper (see those for Mrs. Sigourney, Cooper, Miss Sedgwick, Dr. Bird, Justice Marshall, Carey, Mr. Sparks, Simms, Stone, and Slidell.) Clearly editor Poe studied the many letters of correspondents for their indications of affluence and good taste, and, in his concern with the practicalities of publishing, he learned about paper quality-an expertise implausible in Pym.

2.19B animal]  The unlikely tying of the threads attached to the note around Tiger’s body rather than simply his neck must be to annoy the dog into his odd behavior. (“Singular” is to be the adjective most frequently applied to the wonders of Tsalal.) Augustus in 5.5 communicates no reason for this excessive use of cord, probably ill-contrived from part of his own garments. It is hard to visualize such an encirclement which would not work itself loose from the dog’s body, nor can we see how the note could appear “immediately beneath the left shoulder” and stay there throughout the dog’s passage to Pym. Yet the particularity of the reference convinces anyone who fails to pause over the objects of the whole scene. There is a slight hint of Androcles and the lion in the “wound” on the paw of the beast who will later rescue Pym.

3.1A ballast]  The gravel or stones used for the ballast would be loaded aboard first and under the rest of the cargo. Poe’s conception of “ballast” here is not clear, nor can we visualize its placement, since we had previously learned (in 2.9) about two crates just opposite the opening. Apparently the ballast is considered [page 236:] to be heaped together in one spot, off a turn or passageway near his “box,” which is clearly toward the stern or back of the ship (see 3.1B and 4.6D).

3.1B steerage]  The term “steerage” is used improperly here, for on a whaler and other commercial ships, it referred to the quarters of the blacksmith, cooper, carpenter, cabin boy, et al., just forward of the officers’ cabin and reached by the “booby-hatch” on deck (see C. W. Ashley, The Yankee Whaler, p. 52, F. A. Olmstead, Incidents of a Whaling Voyage, p. 57, and R. H. Dana, Two Years Before the Mast [New York, 1840], chap. 2). But Pym’s direction “forward” is unmistakable, and later it is used interchangeably with the “forecastle” (in 4.6 and 5.7). Poe here is providing a long winding pathway through which Pym can sight and can also lose the glimmer of the phosphorus. In 2.5 he altered the erroneous “steerage” of the SLM to “forecastle” but failed to make the change for 4.6 and 5.7, perhaps a clear indication that these chapters at least had been completed when he gave the material for publication to White, who ended the second installment with 4.4. The failure to revise the rest of the existent text might betoken oversight or carelessness, of which there are many signs. The use of “steerage” for cheaper accommodations on a lower deck, sold to travelers, was just beginning, but this meaning is clearly not in Poe’s mind in Pym.

3.1C side]  Pym sights the glimmer at the end of what appears to be a forked passageway, with one narrow winding, let us say to the left, through which the “faint glimmering” forward “appeared to be but a few feet from my position.” (An undefined glow can scarcely appear to be in any definite position.) Something implausibly blocks the glimmer, perhaps a projection in the side, so that he feels it necessary to go in “an opposite direction,” meaning by this a “different” direction, that is, along the fork on the right. Since the windings are “innumerable” and “narrow” it seems that the glimmering fragments must be far down the ship, in which case their beckoning Pym at first from the other fork, which is also close to the box, is impossible. Here Poe appears to have hit upon Einstein’s theory of the bending rays of light, since the two paths through which the glimmer passes must diverge and then converge at the box. Should not the many narrow windings of a labyrinth have cut off a faint glimmer, down on the deck (in a barrel)? One cannot see how “moving” the head “to and fro” can locate more effectively a glow at the end of a passage, but Poe implies that proper sighting can somehow avoid intervening obstacles.

3.1D taper-wax]  This word, appearing in no standard dictionary, must be a Poe coinage. A suggestion of the idea of eating candle wax may have come to Poe from MC (London, 1804), 1:34-47, “Famine on Le Jacques,” or from the reprint in ML (Boston, 1834), pp. 105-10 (if either was read by him this early). In “The Angel of the Odd” (1844) Poe was to have a rat running into a hole with a lighted wax candle with disastrous consequences.

3.1E remained]  Poe’s notions about matches incorporate errors about dates, ingredients, and capacities. The date of the tale, 1827, does indeed mark the first manufacture of friction matches, by John Walker in England, but these “Congreves” were coated with sulphur and chlorate of potassium and gum arabic, not with phosphorus. Although on the Continent phosphorus had been experimentally used to ignite sulphur-tipped wooden splints in 1786 and commercially in very small measure in 1816 (by François Derosne), it was not until the 1830s [page 237:] that Europe saw the widespread use of white or yellow phosphorus matches, while the first American manufacture was in 1835. All the friction matches, such as the “loco-locos” or the “lucifers,” used gum arabic for adherence. Hence, there could have been no “specks” of phosphorus for Pym’s illumination (see 3.2 where he speaks of a match and free phosphorus as identical; see also Augustus’ convenient striking of one in 5.7). Poe could not have seen one of the new friction matches but was rather utilizing a reference in the Encyclopaedia Americana, a work with which he was familiar; published in 1832 (Philadelphia, based on the 7th ed. of the German Konversations-lexikon), it spoke of the use of phosphorus in “fire-matches” (10:110). He may also have derived the idea from Lewis and Clark who carried with them phosphorus in a “small tinbox” for some unspecified purpose (see Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1804-1806 [reprinted New York, 1959] 5:101, or Paul Allen, ed., History of the Expedition [New York: New Amsterdam Book Co., 1902; reprint of 1814 ed.], 3:132). Herbert H. Manchester, The Diamond Match Company (New York, 1935), pp. 11-13, suggests that Lewis derived the idea of the possible fire-making usefulness of phosphorus from a French emigré in St. Louis.

3.2A mind]  The advantage of looking at an object askance is often mentioned in Poe’s works; see “Murders in the Rue Morgue” for instances in his fiction, poems, and criticisms (see Tales, 1:572-73). Of course, there could be no light at all in the ship’s hold to illuminate the white paper save, perhaps, the internal and preternatural glow of Tiger’s eyes (see above 2.1313). Note Poe’s use of the emotive word “gloom” for blackness. Thus, in proximity, we find “gloomy feelings” (2.11), “fangs . . . gleaming . . . through the gloom” (2.12), “deep gloom of my prison” (3.5), and “eyeballs flashing through the gloom” (3.8).

3.2B purpose]  This early reference to opium-eating (for others, see early versions of “Berenice,” 1:211, and “A Decided Loss,” 1:78) attests to Poe’s probable acquaintance with drugs at this time. For the role of drugs in his works in general see Alethea Hayter, Opium and the Romantic Imagination (Berkeley, 1968), pp. 132-50, and for a clinical discussion see R. Dupouy, “L‘Opiumisme d‘Edgar Poe,” Annalés Medico-Psychologiques (Paris), 1911, 13:5-18. The sentence says more about the author than about the character Pym, a lad most implausibly making the reference.

3.2C other]  This blending or indefinite alternation of clear ideas and vague fancies will be explained, perhaps, in the March 1847 Graham’s Magazine, “Marginalia,” No. 150, concerning Poe’s self-imputed power to express in language his frequently experienced psychal conditions.

3.2D went]  This and the succeeding sequence of events are compounded of elements wildly impossible, yet so minutely detailed as to forestall critical inquiry by the reader. First of all, there is no reason for the phosphorus, initially in a box (see 2.15), to be carried by Tiger, along with the candles, to the remote end of the winding passage. Second, if he had eaten the ultimately poisonous phosphorus, after prying open the box as he had decorked the jug, there would be no reason for “specks” to fall from the small lumps onto the floor of the barrel. Third, mere specks could not produce so powerful a glow as to attract his gaze many feet back from the barrel-floor. Fourth, Augustus had discarded his trial letter (2.3) as having an unconvincing handwriting, using it for the note [page 238:] to Pym later (5.4). The side here illuminated, therefore, should not have been “blank.” Fifth, had this method of illumination worked (as it will below), no writing would show up, because the glow would emanate from the entire surface, including the writing itself; only a light away from the paper itself, as from a lantern, could enable writing to be visible. Following Poe’s instructions, Dr. John E. Ricci, Professor Emeritus of New York University, was kind enough to reenact the episode. He found it possible to rub a stick of phosphorus upon paper to produce many streaks, which did glow for at least one-half hour, but letters written on the surface could not be read. Moreover, the substance is too brittle to be rubbed onto the surface like soap or soft cheese. It is also questionable that small specks, the glow of which represents combustion, would last for many hours on the bottom of the barrel, i.e., until Pym’s second awakening.

3.3A water]  In “The Fall of the House of Usher” of 1839, Poe refers also to the “pestilent . . . vapour,” and the deleterious “atmosphere” which produce Usher’s madness, according to contemporary belief, as is reasonably argued by Ian Walker in the Modern Language Review, October 1966, 6:585-92 (see also 3.8 for the “confined atmosphere” which drives Tiger mad and 4.111, for the “stench” of “old fish-oil”). Poe interestingly presents “sanity” and mental “energy” as being equivalent, much in the style of eighteenth-century analysis of morbidity and alienation (cf. 5.7: “circumstances . . . calculated to prostrate every energy of mind”).

3.3D ill]  His “fever,” equated also with “despondency,” aggravated by more of the cordials and the fetid air of the hold, is akin to delirium (see 3.7) such as afflicted the survivors in 11.6. Its nondisease origin is indicated by Pym’s rapid recovery after being rescued.

3.3C where]  Both in this passage (“childishly”) and in his “spoiled child” fit “of perverseness” in 3.8, Poe clearly indicates that self-defeating or self-destroying acts of impetuosity are neither mature nor normal responses to either the hostility or indifference of society or the natural world. (For the final and very different instance, involving the plunge from the cliff, see 23 bis.3, below.)

3.4A pieces]  The sagacious Tiger, in his miraculously quick learning, should be compared with the somewhat slower Neptune of “Julius Rodman” (3.3), Jupiter of the night-long watch in “The Gold-Bug,” and the ingenious doorclosing cat of “Instinct vs Reason.” Once Tiger had caught the scent and the intent, he had an easy task, since no passageway could offer enough space for the three fragments, when dropped, to drift very far in the airless hold. Pym’s acumen should have led him to continue the search for the two larger fragments, both nearby, for surely in his perverse ripping up of them, he had not carried them separately along the passage. One wonders why Tiger needed “minutes” each time to bring back to Pym first one and, especially, the second. The OED gives a specialized application at this period for “rummage“-to a searching movement of rats and mice.

3.4B proceeded]  The reading of the SLM, “followed it,” is better than that with “it” omitted, but since the 1838 text is not devoid of sense and avoids the awkward repetition of “it” I leave it uncorrected.

3.4C momentary]  The difficulty of rubbing the fragments over three separate slips of paper at one time is compounded by Pym’s having only “one or two” remaining. Discrepant also is the continuing glow of these specks previously and [page 239:] the merely momentary glimmer now; Poe perhaps is thinking of the continuing oxidation of a thicker particle of phosphorus. John Ingram, Edgar Allan Poe (London, 1880), 1:151, is almost alone in mentioning the ingenuity of this whole episode. Pym as a well-educated and probably rapid reader, certainly fails to subscribe to his own dictum about reading three brief sentences (see 5.4) within a few seconds (see 3.2) as well as to his creator’s in “Marginalia,” no. 27: “But, in reading to ourselves at the ordinary rate of what is called ‘light reading,’ we scarcely touch one word in ten. . . .”

3.4D close]  Augustus’ paraphrased content of the whole note, in 5.4, implies four sentences, this, the last, beginning, “I have scrawled this with” and concluding as here. Poe is ingenious in singling out these words, and uses the first “blood” very functionally in the next paragraph; however, logic might suggest that of an alleged three sentences, perused even under excitement, at least part of the first would also be caught by the roving eye. There are several elements here which must have suggested to Poe basic elements in the deciphering of Kidd’s message in “The Gold-Bug”: the obscured message which is coaxed into visible red letters on a scrap of paper originally thrust carelessly into a pocket, the important presence of a large Newfoundland dog, and the general connection with piratical figures, inflicting mass murder.

3.5A soul]  The monosyllable “blood” does not have “vague syllables,” a fact that Charles Baudelaire also saw in changing it to “that vague syllable.” In Delta, November 1975, 1:122, n. 14, Claude Richard offers the explanation that “blood” is charged for writer and reader with a “plurality of meaning.” By “Vague” Poe could not be referring to color or signification, and must therefore mean tones, that is, absence of high-pitched sounds such as “s” or “k.” It matches the monosyllabic and voiceless nature of “gloom,” q.v. in 2.12.

Poe coined the word “chillily.”

3.6A surmises]  The use of the “myriad” adjective is a characteristic that Poe borrowed from the melodramatic and sentimental fiction of the day for his earlier works; thus, in Pym we find “a thousand demons” (1.6), “lives” (2.13), “different conjectures” (2.14), “worlds” and “agonies” (3.9), “superstitions” (8.7), and “absurd projects” (12.7); in “Ligeia” “a thousand memories” (1:323); and in “The Maelström” “conflicting channels” and “steam vessels” (1:580 and 588).

3.6B deck]  W. H. Smyth, Sailor’ Word-Book (London, 1867), defines this as “the lowest deck, consisting of a platform laid over the beams in the hold, whereon the cables [are] . . . usually coiled.” The OED offers: “Originally, the single floor or deck with which the hold of a ship was covered in, which, by successive addition of one, two, or three complete decks above, became the lowest deck of a ship of the line; sometimes applied to the lowest deck of a steamer or ship with three or more decks.” Clearly, the term is inappropriate for a whaler and a small ship such as a brig, to boot; moreover, Poe seems to conceive it as one of the between-decks (see 5.4). He erroneously imagines it possible to cut through the planking with a pen-knife.

3.6C recollection]  Poe associates deliberate reflection (in the next sentence) or directed thought with memory. He sharply distinguishes this mental state from semiconsciousness or stupor, which again is different from outright sleep (see 2.16A). [page 240:]

3.7A Tiger]  At this point both cordials and liqueurs are considered to be the same by Pym, and to be equally nauseating, although at the end of the next paragraph he is careful to drain the bottle before “perversely” casting it to the deck. Although Pym talks about its giving him a fever, the increase of his headache and delirium (see the next sentence) may imply acute alcoholism rather than any ordinary malady. Poe himself was “exceedingly fond of peach and honey” according to Thomas G. Tucker, one of his university friends, cited in The Virginia University Magazine, April 1880, 19:428, although another friend of the period thought that he drank the liqueur for the effect and not the taste, according to A. H. Quinn, Poe, p. 108. The word “biscuit” is also plural.

3.8A me]  In the days before Pasteur, Poe could ascribe hydrophobia to lack of fresh air and water and its development to a few days only (see his rapid etiology of bubonic plague in “Masque of the Red Death”). We may infer the widespread fear of Tiger’s “disease” from an “epidemic” killing 100,000 people in Mary Griffith’s Camperdown (Philadelphia, 1836; reprinted Princeton, 1950), p. 58, a novel that Poe reviewed in the July 1836 SLM. Tiger’s proves not to be a case of true hydrophobia, although Pym’s fear of being attacked and his reference to “the want of water” and “driven him mad” would initially make him seem rabid. In reality, a mad dog rarely acts as shown save for the dilated pupils and the generally aggressive behavior (although seldom against the master). Since Pym, in his error, almost killed his pet, he and his friend would scarcely risk a rescue of such a beast, even though temporarily tranquil but presumed ready to kill both in one of the most painful deaths known to man. The first symptom, belatedly given here, of the nuzzling by the dog’s nose, would have unsteadied the hand manipulating a few “specks” over three separate slips of paper; hence, Poe adds this information after the account of the process in 3.4.

As for Tiger’s “grinding his teeth” — a dog’s teeth are not made for grinding but rather for biting and tearing, although Pym could have heard him “champing” his teeth.

The word “under tone” divided thus is given by the OED for only one citation, of 1806, whereas the solid form of the SLM probably represents Poe’s preference. The 1856 edition hyphenates the word.

3.8B floor]  Several details in the episode do not stand up under scrutiny. Since the box is only four feet high, Pym must be crouching or stooping as he moves toward the door or opening (called “mouth” perhaps for feral association; see also “jaws” in 3.10). The dog passes over him, landing at his back. How could Tiger manage to turn around in such narrow confines and pass sufficiently forward, presumably over the body of Pym, who strangely fails to exit immediately? How could Pym have “buried” his head in blankets, unless he tossed them over his own head, thus increasing his disadvantage in the struggle that he foresees? Why should a rabid dog persist in aiming at the throat instead of biting any of the rest of the body exposed to his attack (see 8.8F)? Finally, how could he rise up, “bodily” as the first printing has it, high enough within the box to shake loose the dog? Moreover, had he been able to rid himself of the animal, could he have failed to shake him loose in the area outside, making it impossible to box Tiger up? We also discover that the blankets must now be [page 241:] “dragged from the mattress,” although this would have to be preliminarily necessary to provide a “burial place” for his own head at the beginning of the episode. Likewise, we now discover how loose or precarious must be his hold on the salvaged provisions; how had he “secured” them? Surely, he had to have two hands entirely free to counter the dog’s attack. More detail was needed for this aspect of the scene.

As for the final “fit[s] of perverseness,” he is rational enough first to drink his only remaining liquid. As for the glow in the gloom or dark — in 2.13, he has introduced eyes with internal luminosity — used here ingeniously to indicate the position of the attacking Tiger — but are we to assume a like quality in the “white fangs“? In 3.2 Pym shows how faintly the paper appears to his “surveying” eyes, and a dog’s fangs must be less purely white. Perhaps Poe would not have rejected a comparison of Tiger and Cerberus, “the dog of Hades,” with “a voice like bronze” (see Oxford Classical Dictionary — a view shared by Bezanson, p. 159). Poe’s “fore legs,” given in a form which is unjoined and unhyphenated, is cited for 1749 (Tom Jones) and 1875 by the OED. Understandably in Griswold’s 1856 edition a hyphen is inserted.

3.9A it]  This sentence almost duplicates the first one of 2.1. Poe surely knew Vergil’s line, used twice in the Aeneid (II, 774, and III, 48), “Obstipui, steteruntque comae, et vox faucibus haesit” (“I was horror-stricken and my hair stood on end, and my voice stuck in my throat”), from which he could derive the idea that such strong emotions (including joy, as in 10.1) can banish vocal capacity. In common parlance we speak of being made “speechless.” D. E. S. Maxwell calls his speechlessness a kind of perverseness, but Pym does not will this condition (American Fiction, p. 93).

For the language and ideas of the rest of the paragraph compare Politian, VII, 95-96: “And let me hear thy voice — one word — one word, / To say thou are not gone.”

3.10A ears]  Compare “The Pit and the Pendulum”: “like a rich musical note the thought of . . . sweet rest . . . in the grave.” Observe that “All was silent for some moments” and that his name is repeated “in a low tone” which he hears; previously he had been able to follow Augustus’ retreating passage by the fading noises of his “slight movements among the lumber.” Yet in 5.8, Augustus has “watched for a lull” before calling out his name a second time. This matches 5.7 concerning the noises of the brig which “was rolling violently” but not the continuity of quiet needed in this episode, where so many small sounds play a role.

3.10B hesitation]  The name “Arthur” called out by his best friend is probably ample warrant for designating the character in criticism as “Arthur, ” and not “Gordon,” the name used by his grandfather in 2.4. Whatever the eccentricity of address there, probably Poe was more intent upon facilitating the lad’s humorous mispronunciation (“Goddin”). Henry James, in charging his character Prince Amerigo, in The Golden Bowl (chap. I), with commenting on “Gordon Pym” by “Allan Poe” (which would be an excruciating error to Poe) may have aided greatly in this unwarranted contemporary practice; Patrick F. Quinn continues it throughout his long and highly influential chapter, “Poe’s Imaginary Voyage,” in The French Face of Edgar Poe, pp. 169-215. It is to [page 242:] be observed that the half-title before chap. 1 is: Narrative of A. Gordon Pym, which becomes the running head across the two pages of the entire volume. Poe was probably not responsible.

3.10C tomb]  The origin may lie in Hamlet, I, v, 48-50: “. . . the sepulchre hath op‘d his ponderous and marble jaws / to cast thee up again”; or Twelfth Night, III, iv, 396: “Out of the jaws of death.” Compare “King Pest”: “jaws of death”; “Usher”: “ponderous and ebony jaws” of the door-panels (revealing the death-working Madeline); “Descent into the Maelstrom”: “the jaws of the gulf”; and “The Pit and the Pendulum”: “the circular pit from whose jaws I had escaped.” R. Wilbur regards the word “redeemed” as a symptom of Poe’s concern for a kind of moral salvation throughout the book (Introduction, p. xx). Augustus has no special charisma entitling him to fulfill this service for Pym. Here “redeem” seems to have the ordinary sense of “liberate,” especially when linked with the solace of mere water.

4.1A supply]  Both the logic and friendly solicitude of Augustus are faulty here, for in 5.1 he acknowledges that the supply of water would have been inadequate for even a mere four days. How then could he calmly visit Pym on the seventh day without bringing water to succor him from a possible stupor? The length of time allegedly needed for threading the maze would also lend support to his carrying the water bottle with him, to leave with a sleeping “prisoner” if this was his condition.

4.1B above]  A lack of fresh air will be soporific and prolong a stuporous condition, much like a deep slumber, whether or not it lasts for three days. Sailors who have shipped on fishing vessels have informed me that the stench can be well-nigh overpowering, although fish oil is not quite the same as whale oil, and the ship had recently been overhauled. Sir William Scoresby, in his widely consulted An Account of the Arctic Regions (Edinburgh, 1820), 2:408-15, “Description of Whale-Oil, and Remarks on the Cause of its Offensive Smell,” speaks of the disagreeable effluvia in the oil arising from putrescent “blood and animal fiibre.” Since the preface, dated July 1838, speaks of Pym’s return to the United States a few months ago, despite his having published two portions of the book in the January and February 1837 SLM, we must assume that “latterly” meant Pym’s fishing experiences between 1828 (the end of the novel which is shrouded in mystery) and 1836.

4.2A me]  The two reasons presented for the delay are faulty. First, the provision of the whipcord should have guaranteed a short time for passing from the trapdoor to Pym’s box, no matter how labyrinthine the path (see 2.811). As for his being needed “every minute” by his father, his services could not be required so constantly, and he had an obvious need for a period for sleeping each night, granting enough time for a quick journey to Pym, presumably in desperate need of water.

4.2B incarceratipn]  Stertorous breathing in sleep is not now accepted as proof of “tranquil” slumber, nor is Poe consistent. See 11.6, where the drunken survivors, guilty of stealing the wine and apprehensive about their lives, fall into a “heavy slumber . . . with loud stertorous breathing” that must be visited by frightful dreams. This accords with contemporary belief, for in Rees’s Cyclopaedia (vol. 33, unpaged) “stertor” characterizes the “profound coma” following overindulgence in drugs or spirits. Rees’s also makes an unspecified distinction [page 243:] for the rattling or noisy respiration of approaching death, a sound mentioned in Valdemar’s prolonged dying.

4.2C handspike]  “Flashed,” as used here, must be assumed to mean “suddenly and briefly appeared” rather than “blazed in an abortive explosion” as “flashed in the pan,” since the mutineers could hardly have been more murderous against the son than against his father. “Handspike” is “a wooden bar, used as a lever or crow . . . rounded at one end . . . and square at the other, and usually shod with iron,” as used for the windlass, for example. In 7.3 the mutineers clear the handspikes away, lest they be used by the opposition against them. The sounds “from the cabin” offer a problem, for Augustus has closed both the trapdoor and the door of his “stateroom.” How then could he have heard “an unusual bustle” in the cabin?

4.3A dying]  The steep slope of the ordinary companionway ladder would make it difficult for the captain to lie “along the steps” or for the blood to flow “down” as implied, for he would be at the bottom in a position that would make his recovery from a “deep wound” (4.5) rather unlikely. Poe is designing a visually enthralling stage set.

The 1838 text shows an apparent period after “cabin floor” along with a small “w” in the succeeding word “with” following a single space. The size of the dot, slightly larger than that of the normal period, clearly establishes it as a comma with the tail gone. The SLM version uses a comma here. Griswold likewise preserves the comma, although he changes the dash to a semicolon. Harrison adheres here to the 1838 text in pointing, while Woodberry follows Griswold.

4.3B chronometer]  The rough manners of men and officers aboard whalers were well-known, perhaps chiefly because of the danger and hardships of whaling, “fitted to attract the most reckless seamen . . . and to foster . . . the utmost license,” said Melville in Omoo (Preface). According to Samuel E. Morison, the crews were drawn largely from “immigrants, mill-hands, fugitives from justice . . . raw rustics” and “human derelicts” and were brutally treated by their officers (Maritime History of Massachusetts [Boston, 1941], pp. 322-24).

While the motive suggested here is pillage, other motives emerge (see below). A “chronometer” is defined by W. Clark Russell, Sailor’s Language (London, 1883), as “a timepiece to indicate Greenwich mean time for the purpose of finding the longitude,” but its special construction of balance wheel, escapement, and gear train would make it larger than a pocket watch, as here.

4.3C ammunition]  A few details here suggest Poe’s source as being, in part, R. Thomas, An Authentic Account of the Most Remarkable Events . . . (New York, 1836; 1837 edition used), the article on the 1831 murder and piracy of “Charles Gibbs, otherwise James D. Jeffers, and Thomas I. Wansley” (pp. 28492). Wansley was the Negro cook. Both men took the lead in striking down the captain and mate after five days at sea for the theft of $50,000 in specie on board. One is struck “with the pump brake” (or handle; see Pym’s weapon in 8.8), the other as he “came up the companion ladder,” as below in 4.3. Such details occur in many of the mutiny stories, and Negro cooks were not uncommon (see Astoria, chap. 58), but the Gibbs-Wansley hanging of 1831 publicized the details; Poe’s undoubted use of the companion volume, Remarkable Shipwrecks, renders this a likely source (see notes to 4.5 and also Keith G. [page 244:] Huntress, ed., Narratives of Shipwrecks and Disasters [Ames, Iowa, 1974], pp. xxvi-xxx).

4.3D grumbling]  Clearly Poe conceives of the forecastleway as being like a cargo hatch, with no trunk built up as a protective entrance, three feet square with two leaves folding down (see 12.13). The only instance of “tumble up” for “come up” in the OED is from Marryat’s sea-tale of 1832, Newton Forster, but Poe could see “the men tumbling up from below as fast as they could” in the Philadelphia, 1833, pirated edition of Michael Scott’s serialized novel of 1829-1830, Tom Cringle’s Log, directly following the episode which Poe extensively used (see 10.3A). The phrase also appears in Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast (1840), chap. 10, and J. R. Browne’s Etchings of a Whaling Cruise (1846), p. 26.

4.3E out]  This episode is the first “atrocious butchery” promised by the title, rendered even more atrocious by the “cuddling” of the cook as he “tossed him” who had just been “weeping piteously” and entreating for his life.

The colon used after “appeared” seems anomalous, but is not uncharacteristic of Poe’s usage in other Pym passages. It is altered to a simple semicolon in the 1838 English edition and that of Woodberry, to a semicolon plus a dash in Griswold’s, and it is given simply an added dash in Harrison’s.

4.3F villany]  Poe’s statement does not negate the fact that the men below would have very great difficulty in hearing through the now “battened down” hatch the hypocritical “fair words.”

The spelling “villany” was common well into the nineteenth century and is used in OED citations from James (1841), Macaulay (1849 and 1855), and Freeman (1867).

4.3G twenty-seven]  These words conclude the second and last part of the SLM version, of February 1837. Poe has made not the slightest effort to present a “difference in point of style” that will “be readily perceived” (see his Preface).

The convincing use of precise details requiring no specialized knowledge, such as figures, is continued: “twenty-two perished,” “four . . . prisoners were respited,” and “four paces off lay the survivors.” This is a fantastic number for the crew of a small vessel: nine men in the cabin and seven men in the staterooms, or sixteen mutineers, plus the twenty-seven loyalists-a total of fortythree for a whaler that would usually have a crew in the mid-twenties. Surely this exaggeration is to heighten the bloodshed.

4.4A gangway]  Commentators have converted this “butchery” (see the title) into a beheading, not justified by a place for the neck or any special apparatus; the infernal cook purposes solely to knock unconscious prior to drowning each of the victims by gashing the head (see the treatment of the Englishman).

4.4B line-manager]  The term “line-manager” is given by no dictionary or book of seamanship or whaling consulted save only one which Poe may have known The Mariner’s Chronicle (Boston, 1834), 2:30-48, “An Account of the Whale Fishery, etc.”: “The crew of a whale-ship are separated in divisions, equal in number to the number of boats. Each division, consisting of a harpooner, a boatsteerer, and a line-manager, together with three or four rowers, constitutes a ‘boats crew’ [sic]” (p. 31). This corresponds to the “tub-oar” or “tub-oarsman” in more authoritative accounts, e.g., Clifford W. Ashley, The Yankee Whaler, p. 144: “The one next the after oar. He sits on the starboard side, and his [page 245:] rowlock is on the port gunwale”; and Elmo P. Hohman, The American Whalesman (New York, 1928), p. 157: “A boat’s crew consisted of six men. . . the tub oarsman was responsible for the line in the tub as well as for his share of rowing . . . the wooden tubs containing about 300 fathoms of whale-line, carefully coiled away and ready to be taken out at great speed when the harpoon [was thrown].” Since any kinking or failure in the rope or other difficulty might maim or carry off one of the men, Poe may be imputing a sense of responsibility and quick thinking to Peters, but his keeping Augustus as his “clerk” in 4.5 must be either a pure joke or an indication of his new sense of leadership in the mutiny. Translating the term “line-manager” Baudelaire called him the “maitre-cordier” (also giving it without a hyphen). Although “less blood-thirsty” he seems to have participated in the slaughter and later displays great ferocity when convenient to the plot.

4.4C Missouri]  Poe is here relying heavily upon material in Astoria, lengthily reviewed in the January 1837 SLM (see G. Woodberry, Poe [Boston, 1885], p. 106, for the first reference to Poe’s debt to this book). Chapter 15 presents Pierre Dorion, son of the French interpreter for Lewis and Clark and one of the Canadians who “cohabit with the savages” — i.e., his wife was a Sioux squaw (Poe’s word too, changed by Griswold in the 1856 edition to “woman”). Dorion was almost scalped by one of his sons. In chap. 22 Poe would find a description of the Black Hills, cited in his review, and of the wild, marauding tribes, like the “debris” of former races — a hint for his Tsalalians at the end of Pym, and also he would find references to the Absarokas or Crow Indians (now termed Absaroka, from the Indian for Hawk) who were noted as cunning horsestealers of dark complexion (see Encyclopaedia Britannica, 7:514); in “Julius Rodman” (6.2) he also links the Missouri, Black Hills, and “savages.” Pierre Dorion (mentioned by Poe in the review as a Sioux interpreter) is the prototypal name and personality of Dirk Peters, cleverly converted, says H. Levin, The Power of Blackness, p. 113, and made into “a sturdy combination of knife and rock,” both “frontier gifts of Leatherstocking” at the disposal of “anyone to whom his loyalty has attached itself.” Generally he has been found to supply a father image for Pym, but this is a debatable theory; likewise doubtful is the phallic significance of his last name, attributed by R. Wilbur, Pym, p. xxi, and D. Halliburton, Edgar Allan Poe (Princeton, 1973), p. 266, since “peter” in 1838 had no slang meaning of that sort (see the Mississippi Quarterly on “the phallic fallacy,” Fall 1978, 31:521-27). The “dark, fiendish” appearance of Peters (here given a Negroid “crown”) is mentioned only once (23 bis.4), but singularly “bowed” legs are common to many of Poe’s Negro characters, as is also small stature: Toby in “Julius Rodman” and Pompey in “A Predicament” (1838). As a hybrid Indian, Peters resembles the Sioux in “Julius Rodman” (4.4), who are said to be ugly, having “limbs too small for the trunk” and shaved heads, if they are men. Could Poe have had any inkling of the fact that only seven years before Pym’s sailing, in 1820, one-eighth of Nantucket whalemen were pure Indians and up to three-eighths were Negroes and Indian half-breeds, according to Elmo P. Hohman, The American Whalemen, p. 51?

4.4D river]  Lewis river is a fork of the Snake River, in Wyoming, originating in Shoshone Lake.

4.4E dog]  The reference to a Spanish dog, adding variety of associations ethnological [page 246:] and zoological for Peters, is to a spaniel, called water spaniel and found in Poe’s tales as “water dog,” as in “Bon-Bon” (1835). While Leatherstocking’s cap may have been the source, the bear skin wig of this “ferocious-looking” grotesque is reminiscent of Spenser’s lines (Faerie Queene, III, xii) : “With him went Daunger, cloth‘d in ragged weed / Made of Beares skin, that him more dread full made; / Yet his owne face was dreadfull ne did need / Straunge horrour to deforme his griesly shade” (for Poe’s prior references to Spenser see his reviews of The Linwoods, December 1835; Walsh’s Didactics, May 1836; and Book of Gems, August 1836). The paws of an ape are also implied in Poe’s description of his hands (cf. those of the orang-outang, in “Murders in the Rue Morgue”). In short, Peters is a hybrid in all senses, and despite his appearance turns out to have little of the fiend in his kind nature, certainly uncharacteristic of the Indian savages of “Julius Rodman.” The reference to the American grizzly bear, so appropriate for an American aborigine, may also foreshadow the rescue of the sailor who is seized by an Antarctic polar bear (17.9). The baldness, not “from old age,” may be a hint of syphilis, confirmed by the “voluptuous . . . pictures” of 5.6. Poe may have derived his conception of Peters from Quasimodo, in The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, the 1834 Philadelphia-published translation of Notre Dame (by F. Shoberl); like Peters he is a grotesque, bandy-legged and enormously powerful, with protruding teeth, a perpetual grimace on his ugly face (see below), and “monstrous hands” that enable him to climb agilely (see book 1, chap. 5); for Poe’s familiarity, see Pollin, “Victor Hugo and Poe,” in Discoveries in Poe. The compound adjective “ferocious-looking” is not a coinage by Poe, but rather by Irving in chap. 11, para. 11 of Astoria, suitably applied there to the “war chief” of an Arikara Indian village.

4.4F demon]  The “long and protruding” teeth perhaps symbolize again the menace of leering death, as do the dog’s fangs, 2.11 and 3.8, and the teeth of the corpses on the ship of death, 10.6 (see also, the “spectral horse” with “sepulchral and disgusting teeth” in “Metzengerstein”; the “fang-like teeth” of the Devil in “Bon-Bon”; and the “enticing teeth” of “Berenice” and the fangs of the rats in “The Pit and the Pendulum”). This point is lightly touched upon, for Pym, by Charles O‘Donnell, PMLA, March 1962, 77:88.

4.4G statements]  While Poe will utilize Peters’ “prodigious strength” in the stress of battle against great odds, in 7.11, 8.8, and 23 bis.6, his insanity or capriciousness underlies only his shift of allegiance to Pym. The last part of this paragraph is clearly a late interpolation in Poe’s manuscript, as noted by L. M. Cecil, TSLL, 1963, 5:237, and J. V. Ridgely and I. S. Haverstick, TSLL, Spring 1966, 7:71, promising an acceptably scientific glimpse of the polar regions.

4.5A whaleboats]  The whaleboats, carried on a whaler, were of a standard size, twenty-eight feet long and pointed at both ends, and none could be “smallest.” The term “set adrift” is less nautical than “cut” (as below in the text) or “cast” or “turned” adrift, depending upon whether the painter were severed or unwound. The first is obviously more suitable here.

4.5B adrift]  Several of the details of this episode make clear Poe’s borrowing from “The Mutiny of the Bounty,” or “Narrative of the Loss of the Bounty,” [page 247:] familiar through the various editions of the first collection of Archibald Duncan’s MC (London, 1804-1806), 4:21-36, or Philadelphia, 1806, 3:322-55, or in shorter collections drawn from the first, such as ML (Boston, 1834), pp. 223-34, or MC (in one volume) (Boston, 1834), 1:155-69. Poe could have used any of these, but for the Bligh narrative, derived from his journal, which was published by him as A Voyage to the South Sea (London, 1792), he probably used Sir John Barrow, A Description of Pitcairn’s Island and Its Inhabitants. With an Authentic Account of the Mutiny of the Ship Bounty, and of the Subsequent Fortune of the Mutineers in its pirated reprint (New York: Harper’s, 1832), pp. 114-15, to judge from the preliminary material (pp. 14-15) about Tahiti, not in the other accounts (see also 18.3A). It provided the captain’s remonstrance and the mutineers’ absolute refusal to listen or state their motives, the ringleader and mate (Fletcher Christian), the heartless casting adrift with inadequate supplies (although far more brutal than in the Bligh account), and also the coincidentally close language: “endeavoured to persuade them to return to their duty” and the “boat was veered astern and soon after cast adrift, amidst the ridicule and scoffs of these deluded and unthinking men, whose general shout was, ‘huzza for Otaheite.’ ” Captain Barnard does not, of course, inherit the historical mariner’s grudge over his stern discipline and avarice, nor does Augustus receive any of the special onus initially directed against the captain. Perhaps the first to suggest Poe’s use of Barrow’s Description was Hervey Allen, Israfel, p. 337, but he called it The Mutiny of the Bounty; the point is made more accurately by L. M. Cecil, TSLL, Summer 1963, 5:235. 4.5C coast] The position given by Poe is about 230 miles northeast of Bermudasmall real comfort to Augustus, whose feelings for his father have no trace of deception or egotism.

4.6A Islands]  This is one of three instances of this erroneous (but common) name for the Portuguese Cape Verde Islands off the West African promontory of Cape Verde: 5.6 and 14.3, the last occurring in a passage drawn verbatim from Morrell’s Narrative of Four Voyages, possibly the source of Poe’s error. He also uses the erroneous “Cape Verds” in 6.7, 6.8, and 6.14, all referring to the same home port of a vessel, possibly in an unfound source.

4.6B sail]  This was no mean achievement, since two-thirds of the crew had been killed and most of the remainder were “intoxicated.”

4.6C trap]  Chain cable would never be stowed, and apparently loosely, in the cabin space, whether under the companion ladder or elsewhere. Similarly, a chest would not be stowed under the ladder, even were it to fit, as is unlikely, since a bulwark behind the sharply pitched ladder may be assumed. These matters are insufficiently explained here and with startling ingenuity Poe suggests an impossibility.

The spelling “deposite” is allowed through the nineteenth century, with the last instance dated 1836 in the OED. The word “ship-furniture” (also used in 2.7 and 2.16), spelled “ship furniture” in 6.5, is cited by the OED only as “ship’s furniture” with a date of 1841.

4.6D steerage]  See 3.1B for this inappropriate word.

4.6E phrase]  For other instances of Poe’s inventing apothegms see “MS. Found in a Bottle,” with its “curious saying” of an old Dutch “navigator” about a sea [page 248:] where a ship grows in “bulk”; and “The Devil in the Belfry,” where the “wisest inhabitants” say that “no good can come from over the hills” (see 9.2A below).

5.2A pressure]  Poe ingeniously suggests a special kind of manacle that can aid Augustus in performing this Houdini type of escape. Perhaps the trick was performed by the stage magician Signor Blitz, mentioned by Poe twice (in his November 1839 review of Simms’ Damsel of Darien and in the March 15, 1845, installment of the “Outis” papers) or by other stage magicians whom Poe may have seen in New York in 1837-1838, such as Adrien, Cuthbert, or “Master Young” (q.v. in G. C. D. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage [New York, 1928-1945]; 4.176-77, 256, 267-68). Augustus, at twenty, does not have malleable young person’s bones, but the magicians pretended to be able to compress their bones, in reality using acts of legerdemain with secreted keys or false locks.

5.2B day]  The specific details of the rest of this paragraph are designed to test a reader’s gullibility, beginning with Tiger’s lying down next to Augustus in a berth less than two feet wide. Where could a Newfoundland be housed or concealed by the ever-busy Augustus? As for Tiger’s failure to turn around — so intelligent a beast could certainly have backed out the way he entered, as do all dogs. Moreover, the “hole” is difficult to envisage, since spare boats were carried bottom up, stowed on the skids or gallows frame, so that the “hole” would be ten to fourteen feet long and from six to fourteen inches high, depending on the sheer of the gunwale. Peters, who “let him out,” seems to be without any fear of the brutal cook whom he has twice antagonized by saving Augustus. More astonishing is Poe’s failure to account for any lack of curiosity in Peters about the total disappearance of the enormous dog from Augustus’ berth and room, after Tiger is released in the hold, to join Pym (5.3 and 4). In reporting Augustus’ account of the saving of Tiger, in this paragraph, Pym’s words, “malignant villains,” are almost the same as those used for Tiger’s earlier victimizer (2.14).

5.3A me]  It is convenient, although scarcely credible, that the mutineers failed to search Augustus for his pen-knife and the box of phosphorus matches, later utilized. Pym’s friend seems to minimize the difficulty of cutting twice through an inch thick pine board at least fourteen inches wide-twenty-eight inches of lumber in one night. Although the division bulkhead is said to be one inch thick, two inch planking would be normal, plus a crossing layer; in reality, a small knife could scarcely cut through it so quickly. The width may be assumed since the second cut is only twelve inches above the first, and a full sized youth and large dog must each be able to squeeze through. There is difficulty in the placement of the berth. Since the crew’s quarters were in the hull, the bunks would be against the hull side, running fore-and-aft, generally two tiers high. The head or foot of the aftermost bunk would be the only place that Augustus could cut through to the cargo space.

5.3B deck]  If there were an orlop deck on a brig, it would be the only one and not the “main orlop deck,” but surely the deck next to the forecastle would be the between deck (see 5.4), underneath which any orlop would be laid. Cutting through the bulkhead would not place Pym there, nor could he be hidden there as in 6.5. Manuals of seamanship of Poe’s day and later match [page 249:] the OED description of orlop: “the lowest deck of a ship of the line; sometimes applied to the lowest deck of a steamer or ship with three or more decks.”

5.3C hatch]  He is referring to the hatchway on the between deck going down to the hold, somewhat loosely here called “lower.” The hatchway opening is closed by hatch covers, that is, plank sections about two feet by four, and three inches thick, laid across the inserted hatch beams, probably with cargo standing on them. Opening the hatch, presumably moving aside some cargo, would entail considerable dexterity in the dark. The description of the dog’s responses presupposes visualization.

5.4A discovered]  At the end of the sentence Poe almost mocks his own recourse to unlikely coincidence, such as he had reprehended in his review of French’s Elkswatawa in the August 1836 SLM (“the glaring improbability of this encontre”). Later, in “The Gold-Bug” of 1834, Poe would “thrust” Captain Kidd’s parchment into Legrand’s “waistcoat pocket,” where it awaited his urgent need for a scrap of drawing paper. Both papers were also to bear red writing which, in one sense or another, was hidden from a main character and had to be revealed or exposed.

5.4B close]  Augustus confidently and ingeniously devises a fact about the superior flow of blood, as described, quite matching some of Pym’s pseudoscientific explanations. His message is perhaps longer than the direful circumstances demand or warrant, and the last sentence far less laconic. Why mention the obvious, that this is in blood, and why not merely say, “To survive lie still,” or merely “Make no stir“?

5.6A instigation]  The ship to be intercepted on her way to Puerto Rico was first mentioned in 4.6, with no further details. For so small a number of pirates, an attack could be made only through a divisive ruse, such as flying a distress signal for assistance, but the whole plan is highly implausible. Somewhat belatedly Poe introduces another motive, a “private pique,” which would match exactly Fletcher Christian’s against Bligh, captain of the Bounty, given in all the accounts of the mutiny (see 5.6B).

5.6B effect]  Poe alludes only once to the fantastic notion of the mutineers’ taking whale and, presumably, marketing the products. Slyly Poe adds a third and more credible motive to the other two, lechery, i.e., “ardent imaginations,” or Edenic escape, such as drew Christian and his crew with their contingent of Tahitian women to Pitcairn’s Island, q.v. in Poe’s source, J. Barrow, A Description of Pitcairn’s Island, p. 15. This plus the implication of the sexual permissiveness among the Tsalalian women (19.4) is one of the very few mentions of sexual intercourse in all of Poe’s works. This, the first display of Peters’ leadership qualities, marks his transformation in the book into a being far from grotesque. Perhaps there is a slight vestige of the “pictures” of Peters in Pym’s “hypnagogic images” of “dancing girls” in 9.4.

5.7A snoring]  Poe strives perhaps to minimize Augustus’ three strokes of good luck in finding the bottle and the lantern and having matches with him by making the first verb passive (“was found”). Although the jacket could easily be hung up through the opening, we are not told how he could easily replace or “readjust” the “door” from either side in the event of a visit. Conceivably it might stay in place through lateral pressure alone if the planks were originally closely spaced and slightly swelled from the damp confines of the ship. In [page 250:] addition, while entering the hold, did Augustus conceal it under the mattress or bedclothes in the berth? Nor are we told how the youth could find enough space between the casks and the upper deck to move along except by crawling, scarcely practicable on casks, especially when the ship is “rolling violently.” But assuming it to be possible, though difficult, we wonder why he adds to his difficulty by waiting to light the lantern taper in the pitch dark until he reaches the main hatchway, unless it be to conserve it. Augustus’ alarm over the close, fetid air of the hold is new, for in 4.2, only four days earlier, nothing in the situation of the slumbering Pym disturbed him; yet Pym thought the stench rank and overpowering at that time. Here Augustus seems to contradict the notion that Pym could hear “a subdued voice” and “slight . . . sounds” in 3.9. 5.7B child] Augustus’ good sense concerning the far-reaching radiance of light fails to lift up the spirits of the unseeing Pym. In fact, the sudden reference in 3.11 makes it seem almost as though Poe originally envisioned the scene in the dark, solely with sound effects, and failed to reconcile the two chapters. The weeping, one of many instances in Pym (see 6.4, 10.1, 11.6, 11.11, 11.13, 13.12), is a vestige of the sentimental and gothic novel. The obstacle in his path must be the same crate encountered by Pym in 2.17, but why does Augustus fail to notice the missing plank in the exposed bottom?

5.7C anger]  We are nonplussed by the “many years elapsed,” since Augustus will be dead within a few weeks-this being, undoubtedly, a relic of the first rough plan which was not canceled in the final writing or rewriting. Poe’s use of the word “steerage” here is equivocal; he must mean by it the forecastle (see 3.1B and 4.6).

5.8A stowage]  Poe appears to mean “cargo” or “stowage goods” here (and in 2.7) rather than the process of stowing, into which he elaborately enters, in 6.2-5, where the word has no substantive sense.

5.8B lull]  Poe has been cavalier about reconciling the two accounts. Augustus is reported twice as having used a “loud” tone, whereas in 3.9 he uses “an eager but subdued voice” and in 3.10, “a low tone, and one full of hesitation.” Here “some small boxes were thrown down,” but in 3.10 Pym hears him “moving among the lumber” as though it is only his footsteps or body jostling against the cargo. The third item, the knife, which falls and rattles, is presented identically, but unfortunately, the noisy storm would blanket out a relatively faint rattle, especially since he is said to be far away from Pym’s position. This too is implausible, since the main hatch could not be placed so far forward as to require considerable distance from Pym’s box as the “crow” (as well as sound) “flies.” Finally, Augustus is able to struggle through the obstacles that previously stopped him even while the candle in the lantern is guttering to extinction. Neither the spent candle nor the “utter exhaustion” of both Augustus and Pym will prevent the rescue of Tiger in the next chapter. The discrepancies in the two “chapters suggest either that Poe did not bother to reread his earlier chapter, with the second (chap. 5) written after a lapse of time, or that he was deliberately hoodwinking the gullible reader, for reasons discussed in my introduction.

6.1A afterward]  It is hard to visualize the grateful youths bearing an enormous Newfoundland dog through the lumber-clogged passages, presumably through the aperture in the crate (unless another route has been magically opened), [page 251:] and finally thrusting him through the fourteen by sixteen inch “door,” all to the light of that ever-expiring candle. Today’s standard Newfoundland dog is thirty inches at the shoulder and weighs one hundred twenty-five pounds. In Poe’s day C. F. Partington, The British Cyclopaedia of Natural History (London, 1836), 2:314, specifies the dog’s dimensions as over six feet from nose to tail and his nature as docile, affectionate, and easily taught, especially, to fetch — qualities useful in the story.

6.1B pure]  As D. M. McKeithan notes, the prayer of thanks to Providence probably derives from Duncan, MC, “Loss of the Nottingham Galley,” in its Philadelphia, 1806 edition (2:54), or the London printing of 1804-1806 (2:57-74), or the reprint in Thomas, RS (Hartford, 1835), pp. 206-19: “By ten o‘clock we all met together, when, with grateful hearts, we returned humble thanks to Providence for our deliverance from such imminent danger.” McKeithan also cites other thanksgiving passages in “Two Sources of Poe’s ‘Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym,’ ” TSLL, 1933, 13:118. Is Poe imitating here a feature prominent in Robinson Crusoe and other escape narratives or is he mocking it?

6.2A stowage]  George Woodberry, ed., The Works of Edgar Allan Poe (New York, 1895; reprint 1914), 5.438, stated that “the account of stowage” is from a “manual of ’Seamanship.’ ” J. V. Ridgely, “The Continuing Puzzle of . . . Pym,” PS, June 1970, 3:5, is not the only one unable to locate the source of 6.2, 3, 4 and 5, after considerable search. Privately, Mr. Ridgely has judged these paragraphs a probable hoax. Those who had seen a proper stowage would be the most skeptical of Poe’s explanation.

6.2B particular]  In 1.1 Captain Barnard is presented as a “well known” sea captain, employed by a highly respectable firm of wide experience. In 2.2 (see 2.213) this firm is given even more reliability by its connection with Enderby Brothers (“Messieurs Enderby” in Poe’s terminology), the most eminent of the British whaling firms. Barnard’s alleged neglect of the stowage has no logical connection with the so-called “hazardous” nature of his present service, and would endanger any ship; the contribution of the “stowage” to disaster, in 8.12, has nought to do with whaling. W. H. Smyth, Sailor’s Word-Book, p. 660, notes that owners and masters are legally liable for losses through bad stowage.

6.2C hogsheads]  As a view of maritime reality, this entire paragraph must be humorously offered by Poe. The screwing or tight packing with braces of cargo is used only for bale goods, and only when a whole section is being made up. Barrel, box, crate, and other noncompressable containers are never screwed; obviously Poe’s specified conditions would entirely break them. As a Virginian, familiar with the way John Allan sent tobacco to foreign ports, Poe knowingly requires an abandonment of common sense about “its usual course of fermentation,” since shippers did everything possible to avoid fermentation. R. E. Thomas, in Stowage: The Properties and Stowage of Cargoes (Glasgow, 1937), p. 248, declares: “North American raw or leaf tobacco is usually packed in hogsheads. . . . Leaf tobacco is liable to heat, sweat and become mouldy. Tobacco . . . is readily damaged by moisture or strong odours so that it is necessary to stow same well clear of wet or moist grounds, oils, etc. Good ventilation also is essential to avoid mildew forming.” Likewise, there is no reason for dry cotton [page 252:] to expand. Pym’s speaking about two Southern products is particularly inappropriate for the narrated personal experiences of a Nantucketer save for the strained assumption of his inserting here data gleaned through reading and traveling during the years after the conclusion of the book. Readily available to Poe were the articles on stowage in every standard encyclopaedia, such as one that he often consulted, the Encyclopaedia Americana (Philadelphia, 1832), 11:374.

6.3A ballast]  For the procedure of “lying to” see 7.4-7 and notes. As for the matter of the “beam ends” — the shape of a vessel’s bows has nothing to do with being hove down when lying to. It is an exceptional vessel that can incline more than 50° and return upright; once a vessel is on her beam ends, she is finished. The phrase concerning equilibrium is incorrect, for the vessel would still have an aspect of equilibrium, but now her stable position would consist in her lying on her side instead of being upright. As for her almost immediately going down — as long as the cargo and other hatches were tight, there would be little likelihood of the water’s flooding her. Even if the hatches were stove, it would take several minutes, probably at least a quarter of an hour, for her to fill sufficiently to sink. Poe is advancing the onrush of murderous time, just as he would do with the felling power of plague in “The Masque of the Red Death.”

6.4A happen]  For Poe’s misconception about “shifting-boards” see “MS. Found in a Bottle” (1.141), where the narrator contrives “a hiding-place in the hold” by removing a small portion of the “shifting-boards,” which Young’s 1846 Nautical Dictionary defines as “one or more wooden partitions put up fore-and-aft in a vessel’s hold . . . for the purpose of preventing the shifting of cargo” (given in OED). When loose grain is loaded, partitions or “shifting-boards” of two and one-half to three inch planking, well-braced, are erected on the center line of the hold (sometimes two for large vessels). Then the bulk grain is poured in. With bagged grain, boards are not needed since the bags are stowed in a cross-cross, alternating pattern that locks them together. The swelling of the grain at the beginning of the voyage is another Poe fantasy, although it may “fluff” out somewhat upon being discharged from the ship after settling, through the natural working and movement of the ship; Poe’s invention of “wedges” to settle the grain is apparently unknown to maritime workers.

6.4B management]  Some of the language here suggests a close copying from some as yet unfound original source, although Poe has interspersed absurdities here too, such as “went down like a shot.” It is true that some masters left the cargo work to the mate, but only if the latter had proved reliable.

6.5A furniture]  The planned absurdity of the whole paragraph is underscored by the footnote concerning iron oil-tanks. On whalers the oil was boiled out in cast-iron cauldrons of 250 gallons, then ladled into copper cooling tanks alongside the try-works, and from there piped by canvas or leather hose into wooden hogsheads of about thirty gallons each situated in the hold. Again, Poe is mistaken about the orlop deck, by which he apparently means the between-deck (see 8.15A). For another spelling of “ship furniture” and two earlier uses of the compound, see 2.7 and 4.6 (also 4.6G).

6.6A breath]  The cook sits in the lower berth of a double-decker (see 4.6) which also contains a man reclining and an equally large dog in its twenty-three inch width. The “door” cut out of the bulwark is clearly too bulky to fit under the [page 253:] mattress unnoticed. And how could the pea jacket be fastened across the base of the “aperture” without arousing the cook’s suspicions? Finally, we have Tiger appearing half-dead, without arousing any suspicions in the cook. Most incredible of all — Pym sees the dog open his eyes, through the aperture which has been covered over entirely by the jacket.

6.7A pudding]  Five “sail” is Poe’s correct nautical terminology for ships. However, “junk beef” appears not exactly the right nautical term for “salt beef” compared to pieces of “junk” or “old rope,” since usually “junk” bears an epithet such as “old, salt, or tough” but lacks the word “meat” (see OED, substantive 2, no. 3).

6.7B Nantucket]  There is no reason to regard this episode and that of 1.1 or his sinking into Peters’ arms in 23 bis.3 as indications of overt or latent homosexuality, as Leslie Fiedler will have it in The Return of the Vanishing American, p. 131. In 3.8 Pym designates the suspicious condition of Tiger as “madness,” whereas here he uses the term “hydrophobia” because it was believed to be characterized in the animal by an “aversion to liquids” (see Rees’s Cyclopaedia, vol. 18, article on the disease). While this is not entirely accurate, the dog’s ability to drink easily would betoken his freedom from the disease. Yet as “Usher” demonstrated, according to Ian Walker’s likely analysis, Modern Language Review, October 1966, 61:585-92, bad air can produce madness in men; why not in animals? Poe is mistaken about the day; for in 4.1 he says that they left on June 20, although his thirteen days is precise and correct.

6.8A coat-pocket]  Poe’s singling out the mate here and in 8.6 as a drunkard who makes Augustus drink apparently against his will may be a subtle preparation for his falling dead out of a combination of guilt and delirium tremens when Rogers’ corpse seems to revive. The implied enticement of Augustus, however, ignores Augustus’ drunken state in 1.2 and 4 and his provision of a half dozen bottles for Pym’s confinement. Later too Augustus connives in the theft of the wine (11.6).

6.9A foretopsail]  These two sentences and the first of 6.11 may owe something to “Loss of the Ship Albion,” in Thomas’ RS, pp. 299-306 (also reprinted in MC of Boston, 1834, 1:155-69): “The gale increasing, shortened sail occasionally. At four o‘clock, then under double reefed topsails, foresail, and mainsail, carried away the foreyard and split the foretopsail.. . . Gale increasing . . . took in the mainsail and mizzen-topsail, and set the main-trysail” (p. 299).

6.9B life]  Peters’ blandishments concerning a “pleasure voyage” are addressed to Augustus who has had experiences among the natives of Tinian (1.1) ; see 20.9 for the same theme, continued.

6.10A partisan]  Jim Bonner’s surname was that of a nonjuring sixteenth-century bishop who died in prison. Poe’s term “gang” used here is more accurate than “party.”

6.11A myself]  Most of these names probably have significance in Poe’s life or reading. The name of Simms may come from William Gilmore Simms, the most prolific of Southern novelists, whose Partisan Poe attacked in a long review in the January 1836 SLM. “Greely” probably refers to Horace Greeley, the founder and editor of the New-Yorker, a weekly which favorably reported on the SLM under Poe’s editorship (see October 1, 1836, 2:29; December 2, 1836, 2:173; April 29, 1837, 3:81). Later Poe gave the surname of “Greely” [page 254:] to five likable brothers from Kentucky in “Julius Rodman” (chap. 2). William Allen’s last name is that of John Allan, save in spelling; both this friend of the cook and a Wilson Allen in Pym, 20.B below, will suffer violent death. “Wilson” might have been derived from John Wilson, “Christopher North” of Blackwood’s, of whose powerful influence Poe was not fond. George Wilson was a mail robber of 1830, mentioned by Poe in “Loss of Breath” (see 1.61, n. 18). Absalom Hicks bears the surname of Captain Hicks of the ship on which Poe may have begun his flight from Richmond in 1827 (see Quinn, Poe, p. 118). His biblical first name has the flavor of Nantucket. There is also a Samuel Hicks in Morrell’s Narrative of Four Voyages, “Introduction,” p. xix, which Poe mined for Pym (17.10). The surname of John Hunt may have come from Morrell’s Narrative, pp. 377 and 399, for which see 14.14 below. See also Irving’s Astoria, reviewed by Poe in the January 1837 SLM; in chap. 3, Astor appoints Wilson Price Hunt as his Northwest Territory agent, and he often appears thereafter. Poe speaks of him in this function in “Julius Rodman” (1.20). Richard Parker was the leader of the mutiny at the Note and was hanged in 1797. Later Walt Whitman wrote about him for the Aristidean of 1845, as did Melville in the character of Billy Budd. The “namelessness” of the mate is one of Poe’s whims, since no one could have been more often addressed or discussed than this fearful and malevolent leader of the mutineers.

Note Pym’s moral observation of the indifference of the “gang” to the plight of their drowning comrade.

Poe’s count here is doubly wrong, for the sixteen mutineers of 4.3, reduced by Bonner’s death (6.10) and now that of Simms, should total fourteen. Moreover, the names listed here add up to twelve; perhaps he carelessly counted “Seymour, the black cook” as two.

6.12A wind]  A few phrases in the paragraph may come from the “Loss of the Ship Albion” of 1822, given in Thomas’ RS (pp. 299-306, specifically, p. 299) “The gale increasing . . . night coming on. . . . At half past eight, gale still increasing, with a high sea. Shipped a heavy sea, which . . . swept the decks clear of every thing, including . . . bulwarks. . ..”

6.13A sea-sickness]  “Being light” implies that the brig was nearly empty, despite the considerable “stowage” that Poe described and the need for up to three years’ supplies.

6.13B leak]  To “thrum” a piece of canvas is to set short rope yarns through it as with a pile on a carpet. Regular pieces called “collision mats” so made were usually carried since such work was too slow for emergency purposes. Putting the sail under the bows or any place around the hull to check the leak was called “fothering.” A thrum mat would cover a hole but not the length of a seam. There would be a slight possibility that the vessel would become tight in good weather, such as Poe mentions at the beginning of 6.14, although the marked improvement seems doubtful. Poe was borrowing from the “Loss of . . . Centaur,” which appears in almost every one of the compilations of chronicles: “Everybody had been employed thrumming a sail, which was passed under the ship’s bottom, and I thought it had some effect” and “Another sail had been thrumming all night, and I was giving directions to place it over the bows. . .” (MC [New Haven, 1834], pp. 157, 159). [page 255:]

6.14A hour]  Surely the reader needs more details about this operation, such as the length of time for each interval. From 6.13, we assume the main pump, but the language here presupposes a bilge pump for one or two men. Probably Poe envisioned only a small-boat apparatus.

6.14B day]  “Spoke two small schooners” is the correct nautical term for “communicate with a passing vessel.”

7.1A eastward]  This weather condition would more correctly be “light, baffling airs.”

7.1B grog]  Poison-dispensing and drunken pirates would become a staple later in the century, as in Treasure Island: “Drink and the devil had done for the rest.” For Stevenson’s acknowledged debt to Pym see the preface to the book in Works (London, 1922), 5:xxix-xxx. Roger Asselineau in his edition of Pym (Paris, 1973), p. 24, n. 20, also notes the condemnation of alcohol.

7.1C deck]  We are not told how the cook “went over formally” to the mate’s party, as though it were a parliamentary division with physical placement indicating party sentiment. Again, is Poe being playful about Peters’ plan and also about the totals, since in 6.11 there are thirteen, reduced to twelve on July 10, divided between Jones, Seymour, and our trio opposed to all the others?

7.2A done]  One source for this passage may be “Loss of the Ship Albion” in Thomas’ RS, p. 299: “. . . gale still increasing, with a high sea. Shipped a heavy sea, which threw the ship on her beam-ends. . . .” More likely, it is “Loss of His Majesty’s Ship Centaur” (p. 105) : “. . . a gust of wind. . . laid the ship upon her beam ends. . . . The ship upon this immediately righted” (after they cut away the masts).

7.2B westward]  “Gale of wind” refers to any strong wind, not necessarily being limited to gale force. While Poe uses “gale” twice in the sense of strong wind storm in 6.12, he repeats this paragraph’s more nautical usage in 7.4 (twice), 6, and 7. Morrell, Narrative of Four Voyages, p. 61, uses the phrase (q.v. below, 14.19C).

7.2C foresail]  Smyth defines the condition of being “close-reefed” thus: “When all the reefs of the top-sails are taken in,” that is, when a sail is reduced to its smallest possible area.

7.3A caution]  There are a few contradictions and other difficulties raised within this paragraph. Their confidence about “the present” moment as being favorable for an attempt not “anticipated” is undermined by the disappearance of instruments from their “customary places” — an idea that Poe probably borrowed from Telemachus’ putting all weapons out of reach of the suitors in the Odyssey (xix). Clearly, the mate and his gang (now comprising nine men) did suspect them, that is, Peters and Augustus alone. Second, to maneuver a large vessel with only three men is insuperably difficult even in good weather. Third, to “liberate” one or two of the nine adversaries makes good sense, save that in 8.8, with all the enemy felled, Peters kills Absalom Hicks by a stranglehold when he might easily have preserved his life. Fourth, the blood-thirsty mate or cook, if “suspicious” of a man, would immediately destroy him.

7.4A entrapped]  There is humorous fantasy in the plan of Peters (four feet eight) to throw into the sea Allen (six feet six, in 8.8) “without trouble and . . . disturbance.” Humorous also is the idea that after we are told above about the [page 256:] disappearance of all weapon-like tools, they are to find “some kind of weapons“and, subsequently, do just that! Surely Pym knows that a man must stand to the wheel at all times that a vessel is under way (see 7.7A).

7.4B effected]  To “scud” is to run before the wind with a minute bit of sail set on the foremast, generally a goose-winged topsail. “Put before the wind” means to turn the vessel so that she sails with the wind, not across it or beating into it. The “false modelling of the frame” is a strange concept; he may mean an unfairness in the cut of a frame or two, giving a high, “hard” spot or hollow in the even surface of her planking. But this would be virtually impossible since the ribands would show any imperfections before the hull was planked.

As with the material on “stowage,” Woodberry, Works, 5:438, suggests that the paragraphs on “lying-to” (4-6) are “compiled” from “a manual of ’Seamanship,’ ” which he does not name and which has not been found. The tone, style, and details strongly confirm this assumption.

7.5A foresail]  Poe probably means “shape” in the word “construction,” but even this is so similar for vessels of each particular type that there was an almost standard practice for heaving to. As for employing the “jib” — the question is which one is meant, since there are three of them. More correct would be the “fore staysail” but not in conjunction with the foresail, reefed or not. In a three-masted ship, the close-reefed main topsail was the most often used, while in a brig, it would be the foretopsail.

7.6A sea]  The vessel’s needing no “further attention” is preposterous but necessary to ensure the pirates’ being all below save for the watch. Only in a small craft would the helm “be lashed.” The rudder does help to maintain the ship’s position and if left loose is likely to wrack the pintle pins or gudgeon straps away. It is true that some vessels will “lie to” under no sail.

7.7A gale]  The mate’s “custom” of not having “any watch” or helmsman was an invitation to total disaster, and was contrary to normal procedures. Francis A. Olmstead, Incidents of a Whaling Voyage, p. 47, asserts that the men “are divided into two watches, the larboard and starboard, who keep watch upon deck alternately for four hours at a time.”

7.8A nature]  The idea is fantastic, since it would bring them into the very part of the ship occupied by the mate’s party.

7.9A accordingly]  Poe uses the idea of “working upon . . .the guilty conscience” of a murderer effectively in the 1844 “Thou Art the Man” (see 8.513).

7.10A brig]  The swelling of the stomach was to be featured in Poe’s discussion of drowned bodies in “Mystery of Marie Rogêt.” It is hard to picture an eruption which covers up an eye (not eyelid) with a band “like red velvet.” Erysipelas is a “streptococcal inflammatory process of the skin and subcutaneous tissues of the face,” appearing as a small “red to purple discoloration of the skin” which becomes “shiny” and with “long, red streaks in the skin overlying the lymphatic vessels” (Tice’s Practice of Medicine [New York, 1974 ed.], 3:7). While generally suggestive of Poe’s “red splotches” it would deceive no doctor, especially in the velvety appearance and the band over the eye. The one-hour development of this condition matches that of the red death in “Masque.” Poe handles time most capriciously in this paragraph, for Pym speaks of seeing the corpse “a few minutes after death” although it could only be hours later, during the gale, that he could view it, after it was brought up from the cabin. [page 257:] The use of the hammock to cover the body overlooks the fact that merchant and whaling ship crews slept in bunks, as we have seen in 5.2; hammocks were predominantly naval gear. An old piece of sail would have done equally well, for the “sea-burial,” which compound-word is apparently a Poe coinage.

We note here the use of “gale” for “storm” rather than for “breeze,” as above. A “scupper” is a small opening at deck level in the bulwarks for drainage of water on deck, while the whole area along the waterways is referred to as “the scuppers,” that is, the “gutters.”

7.11A came up]  While perhaps preventing a cry at the outset, Peters could not shut off the expected tremendous bellow to summon his cohorts in the cabin, unless we assume a broken neck or crushed windpipe in the grip of the formidable Peters with his enormous hands. Is Peters a precursor of the throttling ape of “Murders in the Rue Morgue“?

7.11B fast]  In 7.2 “all was made as snug as possible,” and in 7.5 Pym tells how “the Grampus was generally laid to,” while in 7.7 the “customary” omission of a watch when “lying to in a gale of wind” is mentioned. In view of this, why should Pym expect “the mate to be up . . . every minute“? The mate’s coming seems a bit of suspense technique and also indirectly furnishes a source of weaponry.

7.11C watch]  The pump-handles would normally be stowed, very conspicuously, in cleats against the bulwarks, but perhaps Poe thought that they would be left in the pumps, overlooked.

7.12A bedclothes]  The garment of Rogers is indeed “singular” in being called “a kind of smock,” by which Poe appears to mean a “smock-frock,” although this would be a loose-fitting garment of coarse material for labor. Other details suggest the earlier meaning, of a woman’s undergarment, shirt, or chemise, archaic or dialectal in Poe’s day; the material of “stockinett” (or “stockinet”) is defined as “a knitted textile fabric of considerable elasticity used chiefly for the making of undergarments” (OED) and used for the “shirts and drawers” of the victims in “Hop-Frog.” The elasticity enabled Pym to stuff out the stomach area, while the blue and white stripes served to identify the corpse at a glance. Poe may have derived something from Michael Scott’s popular The Cruise of the Midge, chap. 1, in which the British are attacking Spanish slavers, many of whom “wore shirts . . . of a woollen striped stuff, common among the Biscayan boatmen.” Poe may have used, for other details (see 21.713), this book, first serialized in Blackwood’s Magazine and pirated in Philadelphia in 1833 and 1835 and New York in 1835. However, stripes in the seaman’s garb were not uncommon (q.v. in Steven Banks, The Handicrafts of the Sailor [New York, 1974], pp. 41, 47-48). Elmo Paul Hohman, The American Whaleman, p. 331, cites a New Bedford pamphlet of the mid-nineteenth century, detailing “slop-chest supplies” on a whaler, and these include “striped cotton shirts” and “mittens” (see 7.1213). Yet the Reverend Lewis Holmes, The Arctic Whaleman (Boston, 1857), pp. 285-86, omits any mention of mittens from the full outfitting of a whaleman for a two to four year voyage.

7.12B appearance]  There is oddity in this burlesque representation of the corpse with a swollen stomach, the second use for the blood from a cut finger, the finding of the extraordinarily useful white mittens and white chalk in the forecastle, and the velvet red streak across the eye of Rogers which no amount of chalk [page 258:] and blood could manage in a living countenance. The details “work” well, if not questioned.

8.1A deck]  Poe’s “battle-lantern” (still not to be found in the OED as a compound term) belongs only in naval vessels, not in merchant ships, where a “dip” or “spill” was the common forecastle light and would certainly provide the “dim light” that his dismal scene requires. See Poe’s use of “battle-lantern” twice in “MS. Found in a Bottle” (1:140 and 145) where he may indeed refer to the equipment of a Spanish galleon, that of Columbus, I believe, but anachronistically, q.v. in my article in Romance Notes, Summer 1971, 12:1-8. In Morrell, Narrative, p. 405 (published 1832), “battle-lanterns” are listed among defense equipment on the commercial schooner Antarctic. Compare the response of the savages to their own mirror-images, in 18.7, when they appear likely “to expire” in their great fear.

8.2A hand]  Since such doors swing out to open, the stops are on the inside of the door jamb; it is difficult to see how billets of wood could long interfere with the shutting, since they would be subject to dislodgment in the gale. Moreover, a door would be blown closed in a gale for lack of a firmer partial-opening mechanism — a hook, for example, on the “trunk” of the companionway. Does “upper” imply that Poe, erroneously, thought of a two-step outside approach to the companionway? Pym’s “full view” through the cracks is like the full view that the sailor is later to have in “Murders in the Rue Morgue” into a long room from a perch over five feet from the viewing window. Obviously, here they could not possibly see all that is described through the cracks and down the companionway, any more than they could hear “distinctly” all the menaces and plans reported in 8.2, 3, and 4, above the roar of the tempest. Clearly Poe must assemble them together, through carousing, for the coming slaughter.

The detail about the muskets is meaningless, since the only “nearby berth” would be in one of the officer’s rooms which could not be glimpsed from their spying position on deck.

8.3A us]  If the Hornet is a vessel from the “Cape Verds” (4.6, 6.6, 6.8) to be implausibly intercepted, Poe forgets their dropping the idea (6.14). Or is it another farfetched plan? Did the union of the crews mean their leaving the Hornet for the Grampus? If so, it should read “or, if possible.” The possibilities are unclear.

Poe may have derived the name of the ship from “The Loss of the Sloop of War Hornet” in 1830, described in MC (New Haven, 1834), pp. 81-86. Poe cited William D. Gallagher’s well-known poem, “The Wreck of the Hornet” (in Erato) in his July 1836 SLM review.

8.4A better]  The word “forward,” obviously meaning “intimate,” seems to be original with Poe in this usage, for no dictionary of nautical or ordinary language gives it.

8.4B trepidation]  Poe uses the final word for “perturbation” or “tremulous agitation” in 23 bis.4; see also his nonce-word “trepidancy” in “Usher” (1839) and in Alexander’s Weekly Messenger (1840) (Poe, Creator of Words, p. 38). R. Wilbur’s ascription of regenerative association for the word (Pym, pp. xx-xxi) finds no OED sanction.

8.5A confusion]  In his January 1836 SLM review of Simms’s Partisan he had objected to too many oaths, such as “damn.” In the rest of Pym the language [page 259:] is remarkably pure and the oaths infrequent. The temporary confusion is another coincidental happening to enable “our” gang to arrange a delayed counterplan.

8.5B right]  How could three men maintain their precarious position (“neither” implies Poe’s thinking of only two), peeking through the cracks of the oddly single door when this great lurch creates so much shock below? Why does the fiendish cook fail to address directly Allen, the man who was to execute a vital order at the other end of the ship? Poe may have taken a hint for the art of deceptive speech from Signor Antonio Blitz; see his Fifty Years in the Magic Circle (Hartford, 1871) and also playbills of his 1855 performances (preserved in the New York Public Library drama collection), reading: “Magician and Ventriloquist [A change of voice from old to young] Conversations with a number of Imaginary Persons.” Three of Poe’s critiques mention Blitz, including the review of The Damsel of Darien in the November 1839 Gentleman’s Magazine. Later Poe used ventriloquism for the exposure-line of “Thou Art the Man” (1844).

8.6A required]  As in 6.8, Poe implies a corruption of the far from ascetic Augustus by the evil mate. Here Poe may be mindful of the detested John Allan’s plying him with “sweetened wine” at dinner parties (see Mabbott, Poems, p. 534).

The two pump-handles are further evidence of Pym’s foresight and resourcefulness, but only one “secured” handle is ever used as a weapon by Pym, in 8.8. 8.7A party] By “party” Poe merely means “group” or is suggesting the former roistering spirit now converted to terror.

8.8A image]  In his original translation of the phrase, “its spiritual image,” Baudelaire avoided the slight ambiguity in a very palpable ghost’s being “spiritual” by using “incorporelle” or “disembodied,” which he unhappily changed in his papers to “corporelle” or “bodily” for the posthumous 1870 edition (see Crepet’s ed., pp. 88 and 285). Poe meant “ghostly” by “spiritual.” W. H. Forrest, Biblical Allusions in Poe (New York, 1928), p. 157, wishes to trace “the world of shadows” to Job 10:21: “the land of darkness and the shadow of death.”

8.8B whatever]  Since the Grampus left port on June 20 (see 2.9) and it is now the evening of July 10 (see 7.1), only twenty days have passed; perhaps he wishes to add the three days in port and is misled by his own June 17, ending 2.8, or is merely interested in the particularity of the figure.

8.8C anticipated]  The first half of this paragraph displays profusely the “autorial comment” (see PS, June 1977, 10:15-18) which Poe often declared a prerequisite in a good novel, conspicuously missing in Marryat and Ainsworth. In his review of the latter’s Guy Fawkes in the November 1841 Graham’s Magazine he granted the possibility of its “superabundance” as here.

8.8D encountered]  The “masked ghost” episode may come from several sources: In 1900 Colonel T. H. Ellis, son of Allan’s partner, recorded an episode involving Edgar, at about fifteen, as a sheeted ghost, trying to terrorize his father’s guests of the Gentlemen’s Whist Club, including General Winfield Scott and Dr. Philip Thornton, whose surname may be the source for a character in “Julius Rodman” (see the full episode in James Harrison, The Complete Works, vol. 1, Biography, pp. 26-27). In The Mariner’s Library is the article “An Escape through the Cabin-Windows” (pp. 140-44) in which a mate, thrown overboard by two sailors, is rescued, hidden by the captain, and introduced at [page 260:] his normal station in port to the horror of the sailors who are suitably punished. The celebrated Amasa Delano, Melville’s source for Benito Cereno in Narrative of Voyages and Travels. . . (Boston, 1871), pp. 30-32, relates that while he commanded the reputedly haunted lane of Boston (a possible source for the vessel in chap. 14 et seq.), he and his mate showed a mop-constructed ghost through a cabin window to sailors talking about ghosts, who “were struck dumb, fixed immovable with terror . . . gazing petrifications.” Their voices failed them and “their sufferings were extreme.” Poe provided the same lethal fate for the murderer trapped by the whale-boned corpse with the ventriloquized voice of accusation in “Thou Art the Man,” after his confession. Whether a burly villain, like the mate, could die of a heart attack induced by the shock of fear working on a guilty conscience might be medically debatable. See 2.13A.

8.8E Hicks]  Poe’s initial reference to the four who sat “for some time” rooted is slightly misleading, for as soon as the three more bellicose pirates are “felled” and shot, they become active opponents. The last sentence of the paragraph expresses the rapidity of the action. Pym’s murderous intention is clear, while his friend Augustus shoots Wilson unhesitatingly. There seems no moral scruple on Pym’s part against murder at this point in the fight to the death. Peters’ immense strength will be a vital plot element in the future. Presumably his two pistols are brought into play in this struggle.

The source may have been, in Thomas’ Narratives (New York, 1836), p. 286, the account of the Gibbs-Wansley mutiny, in which “The black struck [the captain] . . . on the back of the neck with the pump brake.. . .” Pym would find concealment difficult, for having donned the close-fitting stockinet smock, he could not fail to expose the two- or three-foot pump brake (perhaps two by three inches across), thereby warning the villains below of his hostile disposition. 8.8F brig] There seems a slight contradiction in the fact that Peters could not “immediately get rid” of his “antagonist” although he is “more than a match” for the two remaining men, namely, Greely and Hicks. In fact, Greely is tackling Pym before Hicks and Peters come “in contact” so that we wonder what kind of fighting linked Hicks and Peters before the advent of Tiger. We note again the enormous size of Tiger, who could pin down a full grown man. A Newfoundland would certainly not be trained by Pym to rush at the throat of an enemy human being unerringly, as in Pym’s box. In fact, only special dogs, such as Doberman pinschers, will seek out the jugular vein, the rest, like their ancestors the wolves, biting the legs of their enemies.

Poe may have drawn hints from the fight with the “devil dogs” in Scott’s The Cruise of the Midge, chaps. 1 and 2. The lurches here might better be termed “rolls” as below or “pitches.” For the fray Poe has correctly numbered the “enemy” as eight, after Allen’s death: the mate, Hunt, Parker, Wilson, Jones, Greely, Hicks, and Seymour.

8.9A animal]  Poe implies that the juglar vein of the throat has been punctured by Tiger, although in reality such a wound would be a tearing one and could be fairly close to the surface of the neck. This is the last that we hear of Tiger, who disappears mysteriously from the brig, having served his ultimate purpose in the fight. No explanation of any sort is offered by Poe, probably through oversight (but see a mention in 9.4).

8.10A counter]  Presumably Poe means that a great deal of water washed into [page 261:] the cabin during the fight, through the ambiguous reference to “a sea, several of which came. . . . . . For the damage to the ship, beside the text of the “Albion” (see notes to 6.12 above), “The Loss of the Peggy” in Thomas’ RS furnished hints to Poe: “The sea had now risen . . . and frequently struck the vessel. . . . Part of the starboard bulwark was carried away . . . and swept away the caboose. . .” (p. 190). Poe was to use the events of this episode reminiscently in his “Oblong Box” (1844) in a parallel sequence of lost mast, water in the hold, and useless pumping; see “We lost three men overboard with the caboose, and nearly the whole of the larboard bulwarks” (2:930). The caboose was the galley or kitchen. A whaler would not carry a jollyboat.

8.10B water]  The word “sprung” is correct and means “strained, cracked, checked or otherwise weakened” by being “bent,” but the adverb “nearly” could not be added; it would be either “sprung” or not. The last two sentences of the paragraph begin a passage of almost verbatim borrowing from “The Loss of The Peggy”: “The well was plumbed, and there was . . . a sudden and alarming increase of water. . . . The carpenter . . . reported the mizzen-mast to be in great danger. (Paragraph) The heel of the mizzen-mast being stepped between decks, (a very unusual case, but probably it was placed there in order to make more room for stowage in the after-hold) was likely to work from its step, and thereby might do considerable damage to the ship” (RS, pp. 189-90). However this “Dutch-built Peggy,” of “800 tons burden” was constructed, much of the imaginary went into Poe’s source as well; the pull of the rigging and the weight of the mast and all the top hamper would put too much pressure on any seating for the mast heel other than a step on the keelson. A builder would scarcely dare step or secure a mast in this way. In “The Loss of His Majesty’s Ship Centaur” Poe read: “I was informed there was seven feet water upon the kelson” (p. 107). Since this means seven feet of water in the hold as well, the ship is pretty far down in the sea. A more likely term would be “sounded the well,” but Poe is taking it from his source, with a somewhat old-fashioned spelling for the verb and the same dropped preposition. In “The Loss of . . . La Tribune” (RS, pp. 169-74), during a series of events much like those of the Grampus in this storm sequence, the crew found “seven feet of water in her hold.”

8.11A labour]  Unlike the bloodthirsty pirates, Pym’s party is solicitous in danger even about the corpses of their assailants, here and in the next paragraph.

8.12A pumps]  Someone should have been sent up the fore rigging to cut adrift the several upper stays of the mainmast. In reality Poe is copying, almost verbatim, sentences from “The Loss of the Peggy” (RS, p. 190): “The necessary preparations having been made, the carpenter began hewing at the mast. . . . Some of the crew were stationed ready to cut away the stays and lanyards, whilst the remaining part were anxiously watching the momentous crash which was to ensue; the word being given to cut away the weather-lanyards, as the ship gave a lee-lurch, the whole of the wreck of the mast plunged, without further injury, into the ocean.” The word “lee-lurch” which is given in the OED for an 1848 first date is used in this source of 1834 and precedes Poe’s first use in “King Pest” (1:242). It may indicate Poe’s familiarity with RS years before he wrote this portion of Pym. Poe certainly understood the reason for the action: When a mast “goes by the board,” that is, falls over the side on a lee-lurch (a sudden [page 262:] roll and pitch to leeward), it, along with the whole tangle of yards, sails, and rigging, is thrown more or less clear to leeward and, drifting away, will have less chance of puncturing the hull.

8.12B manner]  Poe had many models in tales of sea storms for his sentence about the vessel’s being “hurled . . . upon her beam-ends,” such as “Loss of . . . Centaur”: “A gust of wind.. . laid the ship upon her beam ends,” (RS, p. 105) or Astoria (chap. 58) : “She . . . was struck by a heavy sea, that hove her on her beam-ends.” From “The Loss of the Peggy” (pp. 190-91) Poe derives the idea of the shifting of the ballast and the disfunctioning of the pumps, those of the Peggy being clogged by the sand: “The water . . . washed a great quantity of the ballast . . . into the hull, by which the suckers of the pumps were much damaged . . . the ballast washing from side to side of the ship at each roll, and scarcely a prospect of freeing her. Later, [the ship] making a very heavy lurch, the ballast shifted, which gave her a great lift to the starboard, and rendered it very difficult to keep a firm footing on deck” (p. 192). (In the 1839 version of the “MS. Found in a Bottle,” Poe said: “We found . . . that we had made no great shifting of our ballast.”) Poe here adapts another “chronicle” for the malfunctioning of the pumps; from “The Loss of the Phoenix” (RS, p. 165), filling with water, “the ship lying almost on her beam-ends, and not attempting to right again,” comes Poe’s sentence almost verbatim: “They could not stand to the pumps, she lay so much along.” From “The.. . Peggy” Poe could have derived the idea of “raw hands,” for the men leaving the ship in the longboat have little chance; says the narrator: “The palms of the crew’s hands were already so flayed it could not be expected that they could do any execution with the oars” (p. 193).

8.13A hulk]  In borrowing from the much-used “Loss of . . . Centaur” (RS, p. 105), Poe slightly misinterpreted the facts about the bowsprit. The narrator, Captain Inglefield, says: “I gave immediate directions to cut away the main and mizzen masts. . . . The mizzen-mast went first . . . without the smallest effect on the ship; the main-mast followed . . . and I had the disappointment to see the foremast and bowsprit follow.” Each one had, of course, to be cut away, but a hasty reading might lead to Poe’s assumption about the bowsprit. In other than a small craft the bowsprit is stepped into the hull and is too “stout” to be carried away in this fashion. The word “wreck” means “wreckage” here.

8.14A conditions]  Sources of details here may be (1) “Loss of the Ship Albion” (RS, pp. 299-300) : “The sea making a complete breach over her,” and “Shipped a heavy sea, which . . . carried away the mainmast by the deck . . . and swept the decks clear of every thing, including boats, caboose house, bulwarks, and compasses. . .”; and (2) “The . . .Peggy” as in 8.10A (pp. 190 and 192): “Part of the starboard bulwark was carried away by . . . a heavy sea [which] . . . swept away the caboose” and “The long-boat should be hoisted out. . . .” Of course, numerous “chronicles” use similar phrases for wrecks. Unfortunately, perhaps, Poe was adapting stories of ships with marked differences of equipment from a whaler. The longboat would be found on a merchant vessel, but not on a whaler. As for the foresail-this would help to steady the ship against excessive rolling, but would have nothing to do with preventing the seas from coming aboard.

8.15A morning]  For the first sentence see “The Loss of the Peggy” (RS, p. 191) [page 263:] “Not the least appearance of the gale abating-on the contrary, it seemed to come with redoubled vigor.”

8.16A deck]  If Poe persisted in his wrong placement of the orlop deck as in 6.5 (q.v.), this would be about six feet short of the main deck, as the rest of the paragraph indicates. The Encyclopaedia Americana (Philadelphia, 1832), vol. 9, under “Orlop,” defines it as “a platform of planks laid over the beams in the hold of a ship of war, whereon the cables are usually coiled. . . . In three-decked ships the second and lowest decks” are thus sometimes designated. The first sentence of the paragraph derives perhaps from the “Loss of . . . Centaur” (RS, p. 107): “There was so much [water] that it washed against the orlop-deck.” The inaccurate narrator of this chronicle, five days later, p. 112, writes: “Every time that I visited the hatchway I observed the water increased, and at noon washed even with the orlop-deck. The carpenter assured me the ship could not swim long. . . .” He ignores its function in a ship of the navy, as here, to carry the cable in the hold, as a short supplementary deck: “the orlop-deck having falled [sic] in on the larboard side, I ordered the sheet cable to be roused overboard” (p. 110). In reality, if the Grampus had an orlop, it would be covered with seven feet in the well, although Poe clearly intends the water at this point to be much higher in the ship.

8.16B ashore]  This idea may have come from “The Centaur which had lost her rudder, as well as her masts” (p. 106), but other accounts may have given him the wording, e.g., “The Loss of the Hercules” (MC [New Haven, 1834], p. 57) “The shift of wind . . . threw the ship into the trough of the sea, and tore away the rudder. . . .”

8.16C wood]  This is strictly a small-boat arrangement, not only unsatisfactory but practically impossible on a large vessel. First, the “hooks” would be eyebolts. Second, how would the rod be passed up or down through the holes?

8.17A water] The source of the sentence must be “The Loss of the Phoenix” (MC [New Haven, 1834], p. 427; a different version is given in RS): “A very violent sea broke right on board of us, carried every thing upon deck away, filled the ship with water. . ..” Since the “companionway” is both the opening for personnel to pass through the deck and the small trunk built around it, the latter can be washed away by the seas.

9.1A possible]  Poe may owe the wording of part of this sentence to the 1834 “Loss of the . . . Albion” (RS, p. 300): “We were obliged to lash ourselves to the pumps,” but he had used the rather commonplace idea in the 1833 “MS. Found in a Bottle”: “We . . . securing ourselves . . . to the stump of the mizzen-mast, looked out bitterly into the world of ocean.” In 1.5, a rope around Augustus’ waist had been lashed to the deck of the Ariel (1.5), creating a parallel in resourcefulness and in rescues. It is doubtful that a windlass, necessarily one of the most strongly built items of a vessel’s gear, could be so badly wrecked. Poe probably refers to the carrack bitts or the pawl post which serves as frame or foundation on which the old windlasses were hung. A hint also might have come from “The Loss of the Pembroke” in the original London and Philadelphia MC only: “I got myself lashed to the bitts” and “All our men were washed away, excepting those . . . lashed to the cathead” (Philadelphia, 3:96-97 and London, 3:109-17).

9.1B souls]  A much-exploited passage from “Loss of H.M.S. Phoenix” (RS, p. [page 264:] 165) provided Poe with Augustus’ words, the “weight of water” and “foundering” (9.1 below) : “A very violent sea broke right on board of us. . . . As soon as we could shake our heads above water, Sir Hyde exclaimed, ‘We are gone, at last, Archer! foundered at sea! Yes, sir, farewell, and the Lord have mercy upon us!‘”

9.1C foundering]  Poe has previously indicated a cargo largely of empty oil-casks, quite disregarding the fact that oil-casks are stowed as shocks and flats, to be assembled by the cooper as needed (see 2.7B). They would have no more buoyancy than so much wood. Provisions and supplies for years in the outgoing whaler would certainly be weighty. Poe might have derived his buoyancy idea from an account in the original four-volume set of chronicles, not reprinted in those of 1834 or later dates, “Loss of the Guardian Sloop,” 4:45 (London ed., 4:36-48) : “The preservation of the Guardian was attributed chiefly to the casks in the hold. . . .”

9.1B instant]  It would be possible for a wreck to be level with the sea, depending upon the nature of her cargo and other elements of the wreck, but the “heel” of the brig (see 8.12) is too marked for it to be “level,” as Pym soon admits. Poe was to use similar wording, although for a truer “encirclement,” in “The Descent into the Maelström” (1841): “The belt of surf is . . . lower than the . . . ocean, and this latter now towered above us, a high, black, mountainous ridge. . . . You can form no idea of the . . . wind and spray together.” See also 14.6 and note for a similar description in Pym and in “MS. Found in a Bottle.”

The text here is precisely that of 1838 (likewise in the editions of Griswold, Woodberry, and Harrison), but the altered pointing in the 1838 London edition is an improvement: “the horrible shrieking, din, and confusion,” since Poe was unlikely to use “shrieking” as an adjective for “din.”

9.1E question]  The somewhat literary word “tempestuously” accords with other instances in Pym, as in “the roaring of the tempest” (1.9), “awe-inspiring nature of the tempest” (8.8), and “tempest of that overwhelming destruction” (referring to the avalanche, in 21.7), and gives a slight effect of the supernatural, as in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

9.1F morning]  Perhaps the only parts of the windlass left would be the iron shaft to which the barrels, sprockets, and gypsyheads or spools were fastened. It is difficult to conceive how one “spot” can be more exposed than another on this bare, sea-swept deck.

9.1G fastenings]  For “lying so much along” see 8.12. The “back-water seas” would be like the last wash of breakers running up a sloping beach.

9.2A sun]  T. L. Philbrick, James Fenimore Cooper, p. 172, correctly says of this section that Poe “can imitate perfectly the diction and pious tone of Robinson Crusoe,” having given instances above (see 1.7G). He will end the voyage of the Grampus (13.23) by repeating “By the mercy of God,” derived perhaps from Romans 12:1. The brig’s being “a mere log” fulfills the cook’s warning of 4.6: “until the brig was no longer a brig.”

9.2B perished]  No seaman would ever make such a tight lashing and certainly ,not “across the stomach.” He would most likely use a bowline, and pass it under the arms and across the chest. It seems strange that Peters, the half-breed Indian and skilled “line-manager,” is the first to lose his stoical endurance.

9.3A answer]  The first sentence appears to be a modification of one from “The Loss of the Peggy,” previously used (see 8.15). Very clearly here Poe intends [page 265:] Pym to be the hardiest and most dominant of all the four characters, the hero, in short.

9.4A succession]  As with his previous dream sequence, in which Tiger was converted into a wild beast, these images of the “sleep-walker,” (q.v. in 2:1030, “Mesmeric Revelation”) concern his most recent experiences with the stormy winds and waves, abstracted as “motion.” Peters’ Polynesian nymphs may have become “dancing girls,” although we find obscure the source of “troops of cavalry” as “pleasing images” in the mind of a Nantucket lad (but Poe had been a soldier). Similarly, the “balloons” image is chiefly relevant to the author, who had written “Hans Pfaall” and was to write other tales of aeronautics.

9.5A rope]  Concerning the pressure of the ropes — vegetable fiber ropes and cloth will shrink when wet. The water washing over the decks had soaked the ropes, making them tighter, but the details of the lashings do not gibe. We have been told that the lashings were across the stomach (in 9.2) and now “the loins”; the hip bones would prevent the rope’s slipping lower on the body, so that we must assume that loins did not mean “the region of the thigh and groin” to Poe, but merely the lower part of the stomach. The ropes that they used at the beginning of the storm were wet to begin with; even if dry, short lengths of rope could not shrink enough to produce such torment.

9.5B me]  The word “splinter” here appears to betoken the rough, sharp nature of the broken fragments rather than their smallness. For him to be bent “across” the wood, we must assume it to be a portion of the carrack bitt. We note Pym as encouraging the others, again the dominant figure, and evolving his plan — to cut them loose with his pen-knife, which we have seen him use in 2.17 (there called, a pocket-knife). The rescue effort is noble and necessarily ineffectual, for a small knife could scarcely cut manila rope, probably of one-half or three-quarters inch diameter, well soaked with salt water and under strain from the tautness described. It is difficult to understand why Pym’s legs should be “failing him altogether” since he was bound around the waist, not the “loins” as was Peters.

9.5C blood]  A heavy rope could scarcely cut a “deep gash” through three pieces of heavy cloth into the “groin” of Peters.

The OED notes that “pantaloons” in the United States was applied to trousers in general, but usually meant “a tight-fitting kind of trousers fastened with ribbons or buttons below the calf, or later by straps passing under the boots, . . . introduced late in the eighteenth century, . . . to supersede knee-breeches. . . .” They are termed “inexpressibles” in “Hans Pfaall” (para. 19), “Cordage” refers to the ropes of a ship collectively, not to the individual ropes binding a man; “cords” or “bonds” would be preferable (see 12.21 for a similar misuse). The bleeding provides the sort of medical relief that enabled Poe spectacularly to finish off Mr. Bedloe in “A Tale of the Ragged Mountains” (1844).

9.6A were]  There could scarcely be so much “broken wood” as to need to “get him clear,” for obviously most of the “lumber” would have been immediately swept overboard. Excessive is the length of time that it has taken to “get clear” of the lashings in 9.5-a whole day. The idea and wording for the wringing of water from their wet clothes probably derives from the accounts of the mutiny of the Bounty, where it is a remedy for cold rain water, as in Barrow’s A Description of Pitcairn’s Island (pp. 118-19) or MC (p. 230): [page 266:] “Their clothes never being dry, they derived no refreshment from the little rest they sometimes got; and many were . . . benumbed and cramped by the cold. . . . Mr. Bligh recommended it to everyone to strip and wring their clothes in the salt-water, which had a good effect, and produced a warmth, that while wet with rain they could not have. . . .” This comfort may result from the air temperature’s being below that of the water or from the factor of evaporation after the water content of the clothes is reduced.

9.7A sea]  Possibly the first clause owes something to the episode of the wreck of the Lark in Astoria, chap. 58: “Still their sufferings from hunger and thirst were great.”

9.8A below]  The shift in the position of the brig is certainly mysterious, since the change in the breeze and the lapse of time could not, apparently, produce it. Poe is implying a shift of cargo or ballast, without indicating any means by which it could take place.

9.8B anticipated]  It is hard to follow this entire action without further details, which Poe’s most likely source did not furnish either: In “The Loss of the Wager Man of War” we read: “We were usually obliged to purchase such things as were within reach, by large hooks fastened to poles . . .” (Philadelphia ed. of MC, 2:191); and in “The Brig Polly,” used for so many other passages, we note that the five survivors on the ship are able to construct a “still” to distill water from materials derived from “fishing with the grain they made by fixing nails into a piece of a stave” (RS, p. 348), a grain being a fish spear or harpoon with two or more prongs. It does not appear that Poe means the nails to be weights rather than “hooks” to catch objects, although his “tying” the two pieces of wood “across each other” may indicate such an intention.

9.9A breath]  Surely, in such straits, a swimmer must strip off his “pantaloons,” despite Victorian squeamishness. The halter rope would not be prevented from slipping unless the lower fastening is explained. Finally, Augustus has a “stateroom” on the “starboard side . . . next to the bulk-head” (2.5). Hence, the turn to the right must be beyond the two rooms in that side and through the saloon space of the cabin, occupied by the mutineers (8.2), all of this adding appreciably to the twelve feet (doubled) for Peters’ trip to the storeroom, holding the officers’ provisions.

9.10A descend]  Apparently the rope is made into a sort of halter so that it will not pull loose when he is yanked by those on deck, even if unconscious or somehow incapacitated. Could Peters really “plunge” downward when the water is up to his chin? It would rather be deliberate and directed underwater swimming. Poe, excellent swimmer that he was, reminds the reader about awkward buoyancy in the 1835 printing of “Loss of Breath”: “that tantalizing difficulty of keeping down, which is felt by the swimmer in deep water” (1:80).

9.11A down]  Several misconceptions are introduced almost humorously. A “balustrade” is technically a series of balusters (fancy, turned spindles) supporting a railing, although often used for the railing itself. It would be found only on a passenger ship. Here, if a bulkhead was at one side, a handrail would be fastened to it; if the ladder was clear, then hand-ropes would be rigged from the head of the companionway to the foot of each ladder stringer. It is difficult to see how four men, crowding onto adjacent steps of the ladder, could do much pulling from a sideways position, but the very notion of such a railing at the side [page 267:] of a steep ship’s ladder is fantastic. Poe apparently intends the rope to be entangled at the upright corner of this imaginary balustrade. Moreover, the nature of the entaglement needs more detail. Surely, if the rope failed to convey the signals from Peters’ position at the end, it would be equally impossible for the men at the top to draw it up from the other end. Logically, Peters would have to perish in the water.

9.12A room]  By forechains, Poe perhaps meant the chainplates of the foremast rigging. Most vessels of this period had iron supports for the shrouds and backstays, commonly called “the chains” but originally called “chain plates.” There is no reason for the storm to loosen them (see 12.12 for the term “windward chains,” plus the source in one of the MC’s). To “wrench” a chainplate off a ship not breaking up would be well-nigh impossible, and the weight for each of thirty to forty pounds would immobilize the diminutive Peters, who could be held down by less than a five-pound weight as Poe, a good swimmer, should have known (see also 11.2). A further unreality is the room of the “steward,” by which he seems to mean “the storeroom” of 9.10, rather unbelievably attained through the lounge or saloon of the officers’ cabin. The spelling “ancles” is a then acceptable variant for the word that Poe spells in the singular “ankle” in 11.3.

9.12B minute]  This period is on the low side of average, and a good and hardy swimmer, such as Peters is said to be (see 13.16), could stay down over two minutes. Given the time limitation, however, for this underwater “walk” of twenty-four feet plus the negotiation of the ladder (plus the distance within the cabin), this becomes an impossible achievement.

9.12C deliverance]  The effusively expressed emotions, with marked alternations of mood and pleas to God, are entirely in the tradition of sea tales and novels; it is a moot question whether Poe was satirizing or merely exploiting this element. For the weeping of both lads see 10.1C.

10.1A character]  A break in time of composition is suggested by changes in sources, style, and plot. The first sentence also promises events extraordinarily varied during “nine long years.” Since the action of the book will be completed in a time span of eight more months, this is obviously a relic of a first plan or an implication of the preparation of a sequel for the eight years between 1828 and 1836, the date of Pym’s “return” home (Preface). Poe is counting upon the average reader’s not recalling or turning back to chap. 10, upon completing the final “Note.” In the two adjectives for “character” is a hint also of the nature of Tsalal and its inhabitants at the end of Pym, reason for considering the phrase a late insertion, according to the Ridgely-Haverstick study, TSLL, 7:77, n. 29.

The word “unconceivable” is given by the OED as common in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Poe uses “inconceivable” in 10.4 and 14.5.

10.1B myself]  The word “fronting” in the neutral sense of “facing” is extremely rare; it usually has an implication of defiance or hostility when used of persons. Equally unusual perhaps is the “myself” for “me” (cf. “himself” at the end of 1.2). The word “singular” is to become a cachet of Pym’s experiences, to be applied to all phases of the island of Tsalal and innumerable experiences (see, fer example, the “singular character” of the water in Tsalal, 18.9).

10.1C child]  Their loss of speech at the sight of a ship may come from “Famine [page 268:] in the Peggy” (ML, p. 183): “A sail had been discovered, and the sight. . . overcame them. . . . They were unable to speak.” For the reactions of both Peters and Parker, Poe may have derived hints from “The Loss of the Lady Hobart Packet”: “Many burst into tears, some looked at each other with a stupid stare . . . several remained in . . . a lethargic state . . . ” (MC [Philadelphia, 1806], 1:150). Closer to Poe’s text is “The Loss of the Grosvenor Indiaman”: “The joy that instantly filled every bosom produced effects as various as extraordinary; one man laughed, another wept, and the third danced with transport” (Philadelphia, 1:176; also included in K. Huntress, Narratives, p. 99). Poe uses “rhodomontades” for “rantings” with no trace of the customary “boasting” — an allowable but unusual meaning. Note that Peters, the presumed roughest of the four, emits “howls and imprecations.” For Parker’s weeping, a likely source is the much-used “Centaur” (RS, p. 111) : “The people [i.e., sailors] . . . now seeing their efforts useless . . . burst into tears and wept like children.”

10.2A direction]  This ship is defined as “a two-roasted vessel having a square-rigged foremast and a schooner-rigged mainmast” (American Heritage Dictionary) and is sometimes called a “brigantine” or a half-brig. Her being “Dutchbuilt” and “large” reminds us of the much used “Peggy” which was a “large unwieldy Dutch-built ship, about eight hundred tons burden” (RS, p. 187). Again we are told this fact: “The ship made way, with a lofty and majestic air; and at every plunge of her bows, which were truly Dutch-built, rose a foam. . .” (p. 189). Poe’s phrase evokes the theme of the Flying Dutchman, as does his mention again of her construction and the Dutch dress of the crew, in 10.3 and 10.7. Only the next year in an 1839 review of Marryat’s The Phantom Ship, he was to commend the stimulus of the Flying Dutchman legend, which is apparent in his “MS. Found in a Bottle” (see 1:132, especially for Walter Scott’s summary, highlighting the plague among the crew). There is also “a Dutch merchant ship” going down in the vortex of “The Maelstrom” although presumably not the voyager of the myth. Yet the legend may be as irrelevant to Pym as the material on Dutch ghost ships in Irving’s “Storm-Ship” chapter of Bracebridge Hall, which Poe of course knew — an attribution made by J. V. Ridgely in PS, June 1970, 3:5. Michael Scott’s book is a definite source for most of the significant details — discussed for the rest of the chapter, below.

A wandering ship with a dead crew brings Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” to mind; there is a slight touch of the poem’s lines: “It plunged and tacked and veered” and “And cried, A sail! a sail!” (11.156 and 161) in “She yawed . . . and . . . was about to tack and make off in another direction. . . . We screamed and shouted. . . .”

Concerning the “flying jib” — With her foretopmast and therefore the topgallant and royal mast above it gone, she could not set a flying jib; there was no head sail above the fore staysail.

10.3A us]  This paragraph and the next four comprise one of the most justly celebrated sections of the novel. John M. Daniel, in his March 1850 SLM review of Poe’s Works, cited them as an exception to his dictum: “The execution of the work is exceedingly plain and careless.” Paras. 3 through 6 derive much from a graphic chapter of Tom Cringle’s Log by Michael Scott, begun in Blackwood’s Magazine in September 1829 and published, slightly altered, as [page 269:] a complete book in 1833. Soon after its first printing in June 1830, chap. 3, called “Heat and Thirst. A Scene in Jamaica” in Blackwood’s, was reprinted in Littell’s Magazine of Boston August 1830, 17:167-68, and then in the Philadelphia Casket, November 1830, 5:401-2. J. W. Robertson, A Bibliography of the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe (San Francisco, 1934), assumed the Casket to be Poe’s source, although I favor the whole volume version, pirated in Philadelphia in 1833 (1:19-24) and New York in 1835 (hints derived from other portions of the novel are discussed elsewhere). Poe’s unquestionable adaptation of many details requires presentation of the full text (“Heat and Thirst,” an excerpt from chap. 3 of Tom Cringle’s Log [Philadelphia, 1833], vol. I, pp. 211-24) :

The crew were listlessly spinning oakum, and mending sails, under the shade of the awning; the only exceptions to the general languor were John Crow the black, and Jackoo the monkey. The former (who was an improvisatore of a rough stamp) sat out on the bowsprit . . . singing at the top of his pipe. . . . The monkey was hanging by the tail. . . .

“. . . Now I shall sing to you how dot Corromantee rascal, my fader, was sell me on de Gold Coast.

“Two red nightcap, one long knife

All him get for Quackoo.

For gun next day him sell him wife —

You think dat good song, Jackoo?”

[Here the monkey falls from the bowsprit and is devoured by a shark.]

Whilst this small tragedy was acting . . . I was looking out towards the breeze, when a rushing noise passed over my head.

I looked up and saw a gallinaso, the large carrion-crow of the tropics, sailing. . . seaward over the brig. I followed it with my eye, until it vanished in the distance, when my attention was attracted by a dark speck far out in the offing with a little tiny white sail. With my glass I made it out to be a ship’s boat, but I saw no one on board, and the sail was idly flapping about the mast.

On making my report I desired to pull towards it in the gig; and as we approached, one of the crew said he thought he saw some one peering over the bow. We drew nearer, and I saw him distinctly. “Why don‘t you haul the sheet aft, and come down to us, sir?”

He neither moved nor answered, but, as the boat rose and fell on the short sea raised by the first of the breeze, the face kept mopping and mowing at us over the gunwale.

“I will teach you manners, my fine fellow! give way, men” — and I fired my musket, when the crow that I had seen, rose from the boat into the air, but immediately alighted again, to our astonishment, vulture-like and outstretched wings, upon the head.

Under the shadow of this horrible plume, the face seemed on the instant to alter like the hideous changes in a dream. It appeared to become of a deathlike paleness, and anon streaked with blood. Another stroke, of the oar — the chin had fallen down, and the tongue was hanging out. Another pull — the eyes were gone, and from their sockets, brains and blood were fermenting and flowing down the cheeks. It was the face of a putrefying corpse. In this floating coffin we found the body of another sailor, doubled across one of the thwarts, with a long Spanish knife sticking [page 270:] between his ribs, as if he had died in some mortal struggle, or, what was equally probable, had put an end to himself in his frenzy; whilst along the bottom of the boat, arranged with some show of care, and covered by a piece of canvass stretched across an oar above it, lay the remains of a beautiful boy, about fourteen years of age, apparently a few hours (lead. . . . The pipkin was dry, and the small water-cask in the bow was staved, and empty.

We had no sooner cast our grappling over the bow, and begun to tow the boat to the ship, than the abominable bird that we had scared settled down into it again, notwithstanding our proximity, and began to peck at the face of the dead boy. At this moment we heard a gibbering noise, and saw something like a bundle of old rags roll out from beneath the stern-sheet and apparently make a fruitless attempt to drive the gallinaso from its prey. Heaven and earth, what an object met our eyes? It was a full-grown man, but so wasted, that one of the boys lifted him by his belt with one hand. His knees were drawn up to his chin, his hands were like the talons of a bird, while the falling in of his chocolate-colored and withered features gave an unearthly relief to his forehead, over which the horny and transparent skin was braced so tightly that it seemed ready to crack. But in the midst of this desolation, his deep-set coal-black eyes sparkled like two diamonds in their flashing brightness, contrasted with the deathlike aspect on the face and the rigidity of the frame. When sensible of our presence, he tried to speak but could only utter a low moaning sound. . . .

We got on board and the surgeon gave the poor fellow some weak tepid grog. It acted like magic. . . . He was told to compose himself, and this boy would be taken care of. . . . He got his head over the port-sill, and looked down into the boat. He there beheld the pale face of his dead son; it was the last object he ever saw“ah de mi!” he groaned heavily, and dropped his face against the ship’s side. He was dead.

10.4A marble] Poe’s stress upon the odor of putrefying bodies is entirely his own idea, not Michael Scott’s, and is a regular characteristic of his narratives: e.g., the first version of “Berenice”: “deleterious odor . . . from the body”; “King Pest”: “pestilential atmosphere” and “fetid and poisonous smells everywhere”; Politian, lines 115-22; and “The Oval Box”: “a peculiarly disgusting odor.” Poe may have derived hints for the “deadly” vapours of plague corpses from Charles Brockden Brown’s Arthur Mervyn, pt. 1, chaps. 13, 15.

10.4B decks]  Since the Grampus was half sunk, the other brig could not of course physically go “under” her counter, but Poe’s meaning seems clear, since the next sentence gives us “passed under our stern,” in which phrase it means “close to,” as when a large vessel will hail a small boat with the order, “Come under my lee.”

10.4C spectacle]  “Triple horror” is a favorite phrase in Poe’s early works: “that apartment of triple horror” in the first version of “Berenice” (1:217); “[There] arrived in triple horror the paraphernalia of the grave” in the first version of “Loss of Breath” (1:80). Perhaps he adapted it from Milton’s sonnet, “On the Late Massacre in Piedmont,” “. . . where still cloth sway / The triple tyrant,” or from his “triple steel” in Paradise Lost, 11, I. 568. There are other possible sources, including Horace’s “aes triplex.” For the “fated vessel” with its “dead,” compare the Ancient Mariner: “I looked upon the rotting deck, / And there the dead men lay” (11. 242-43); see also 10.7B on “The Fatal Repast.” For “the last and most loathsome state” see the end of “Valdemar,” and also Pym (13.11). [page 271:]

10.4D disappointment]  Perhaps the ironic contradictions of the penultimate sentence receive even more point from citing a possible source, The Ancient Mariner, vii, 20: “To walk together to the kirk, / With a goodly company.” The OED (2b) notes that “goodly” is frequently used ironically. Notice also Poe’s ironic contrast of the mad ravings of despair here with the mad “rhodomontades” of joy in 10.1.

10.5A cathead]  Poe has ingeniously converted the carrion-crow of Scott’s work into a gull, whose voice has the required quality (the old name is “sea-mew”) and which does eat carrion. As for the swaying figure-part of its support, the cathead, is a beam projecting outward from the bow of the ship, used as a support to lift the anchor. While the older, crooked or bent type might lift an attached rope high enough for the corpse, the bowsprit offers difficulty. It would be most unusual in a vessel of this size for the bowsprit to be stepped on deck with the heel housed between the knight-heads or mortised into the pawl post.

10.5B beak]  Poe elaborates the hint in M. Scott’s work of the “abominable crow” which is pecking “at the face of the dead boy” into an epitome of horror, of the sort that he reproved Simms for perpetrating in The Partisan in his January 1836 SLM review. A. H. Quinn, Poe, p. 264, regards this episode and the succeeding cannibal feast as turning our interest to disgust. Scott’s reference to the Spaniard’s hands “like the talons of a bird” has led to the gull’s “talons,” although whether such a bird thrusts its head within the flesh, along with its claws needed for purchase, is questionable. The exaggeration is needed to stain the white plumage crimson.

The word “stupified” is always thus spelled by Poe and also in an 1849 citation of Macaulay’s in the OED.

The “liver-like” substance was intended, probably, for the kidneys, not for the lungs. Jacques Crépet, ed., Oeuvres Completes de Charles Baudelaire: Aventures d‘Arthur Gordon Pym (Paris, 1965), p. 293, suggests that Poe was borrowing from Lucan, Pharsalia, VII, 838-840: “Saepe super vultus victoris, et impia signa / Ant cruor, out alto defluxit ab aethere tabes, / Membraque dejecit jam lassis unguibus ales,” i.e., “Rotting flesh or drops of blood often fell from the sky upon the face and accursed standards of the conqueror, when the birds grew weary and dropt the dead limbs from their talons” (Loeb Classical Library translation). Poe used Lucan elsewhere (see my Poe Dictionary) but I suspect his knowledge to be secondhand.

10.5C sea]  D. Halliburton, Poe, p. 265, is one of many to point out that the bird identifies the victim and brings cannibalism to mind. “Sullen” is a word peculiarly frequent in Poe, used for effects of color and emotional tone as well as sound; a very incomplete list of examples would include: “sullen hopelessness of heart” in Tamerlane, Poems, p. 138, 1. 369; “Sullen murmurs of the sea” in the 1835 “Loss of Breath”; “dull and sullen glow” in “MS. Found in a Bottle”; and in Pym, 24.11, “a sullen darkness.” The word “splash” connotes water, although here used for a sound on the deck of the ship.

10.6A forbear]  Poe converts the motions caused in Tom Cringle’s Log, by the waves swaying the body into the “exertions” of the gull. Scarcely could the weight of a gull, normally fifteen inches long, cause the body to fall “partially over,” so that the face could be seen from the Grampus. Tom rows toward the longboat for a gradual clarification of details. Poe uses his very words: “The [page 272:] eyes were gone.” In “the teeth utterly naked” is a reminiscence of the beast of his dream in 2.12, who “laid bare his horrible teeth.”

10.7A nature]  The phrase, “since that period,” again conveys the impression of a long period of activity in Pym’s life, after the events ending this volume. Pym gives us minute and exact particulars; yet he does not see anything so striking as “the name upon her stern,” which they had been scrutinizing.

10.7B mystery]  In Marryat’s Peter Simple, chap. 29, a novel with which Poe showed much familiarity prior to his September 1841 Graham’s Magazine review of Joseph Rushbrook, Poe could have read about the virulence of yellow fever in the West Indies (for his general interest in plagues, see my Discoveries in Poe, chap. 5). Poe implies an element almost of supernaturalism in the apparent immediacy of the lethal action of the plague; yet he relies upon an unlikely naturalistic explanation, the poison of fish or marine birds. (For a brief discussion of marine fish that remain lethal even when cooked, see O. P. Breland, Animal Facts and Fallacies [New York, 1948], p. 151). For both of these a possible source was “The Fatal Repast,” in ML (Boston, 1834), pp. 145-53. The story reads thus: After a passenger kills two of Mother Carey’s chickens (good-luck birds), a large catch of dolphins and “another kind of fish” is made and served to the passengers and crew. Many of both groups are poisoned and lie about the deck for a time in their agony and death throes, but enough recover to make port.

11.1A hull]  The wording of the first clause of the paragraph seems to reflect that of the “Lady Hobart” excerpt, cited in 10AC. Can the “pangs of” acute “hunger and thirst” be banished for hours by a grievous disappointment?

11.2A before]  Poe gives us two virtual impossibilities here: the wrenching off of another forechain (given only with a hyphen in the OED), and Peters’ walking under water with sixty to eighty pounds of weights attached to his ankles. Moreover, there is no indication, in 9.12, that one of the objects is inadequate for holding him down as is claimed in 11.4, below. Surely the greater weight would require more of the precious seconds. A justification is, however, casually added in 11.3, to batter down the door of the storeroom with it. In fact, a weight of perhaps ten percent of the total body weight is more than enough to hold a swimmer down, and Peters is diminutive. Moreover, even a suitably light weight, intended to stabilize an underwater “walker,” must be attached to the waist, not to the ankles, as properly equipped skindivers demonstrate. With these clogs Peters could not lift his feet at all.

11.3A deliverance]  Surely Poe means either the panels or the “framework” of the “door” rather than of the “room.” The idea of impelling the “chain” with destructive force through the water against a door or wall is fanciful.

At the end of the paragraph, Pym as the sole “deliverer” stands out as dominant and heroic, and scarcely a passive figure.

11.4A surface]  Poe seems to be improvising in 2-5 without bothering to revise for the sake of consistency. In addition to presenting the reason for the action in 11.2 only in 11.4, he explains why Parker’s efforts were “ineffectual” only when Pym succeeds him. Likewise, he explains the inadequate weighting of Parker (and Pym) only in 11.4 where Peters is said to have left the chain “in the passage.” This is too vague: Did Peters carry it back in his hands to furnish needed weight as he walked, or did he slip it back on his ankle at the [page 273:] door and then detach it again (rather time-consuming; see 11.2A)? Pym’s personal account is inconsistent, as well: If not “firmly down,” how could he “grope along the floor,” especially in the stipulated minute. Moreover, having grasped “a hard substance” which he brings up with him, how could he not perceive it at once to be a bottle, even under water in the dark?

11.4B broken]  Perhaps Poe meant to pun on the word “spirits,” since he uses it in the unnecessary plural form (although he does repeat this form in 13.1). The source of this passage may be Astoria, chap. 58, previously used by Poe, in which an expert swimmer from the Sandwich Islands on the wrecked Lark “found his way into the cabin, and occasionally brought up a few bottles of wine and porter, and at length got into the run, and secured a quarter cask of wine” (p. 359). Randel Helms, in the January 1970 AL, 41.572-75, sees a source for this and other passages in Jane Porter’s novel of 1831, Sir Edward Seaward’s Narrative of His Shipwreck, but this is doubted by J. V. Ridgely in ATQ, Fall 1974, 24:9. There is no good reason for “swinging” the bottle rather than fastening it firmly, wrapped in the handkerchief, to the windlass, save that it leads more naturally into the crash in 11.6 and denies effectively the truth of the final subordinate clause.

11.6A Nantucket]  Poe’s diction is somewhat exceptionable in the first sentence since they are not inclining toward self-destruction but merely becoming reconciled to extinction.

The second sentence may owe something to “The Shipwreck of the Medusa” in ML (p. 353), in which the wretched survivors on a raft found that “the stimulating liquid [wine] soon turned their delirium into frenzy” so that they fought each other.

11.6B breathing]  The snoring at the end of the account is characteristic of the condition; see Ernest H. Starling, The History of Alcohol in Man (London, 1923), p. 141: “In the drunken sleep the noisy, laboured breathing often shows the beginning of interference with the innervation of the respiratory muscles. .. .”

11.7A another]  In this psychological solitude, Pym has distressing reflections which can be compared with his “visions . . . of shipwreck and famine” in 2.1; are we to assume an apparent maturation in Pym?

11.8A out]  Accounts of starving men’s eating leather are frequent in the chronicles; see “Famine on Board the Le Jacques” in ML, p. 108: “After devouring all the leather on board, even the coverings of the boxes, we imagined that our last moments were at hand”; and also “The Loss of the Apollo Frigate” (MC [Philadelphia, 1806], 2:265): “Some unfortunate wretches . . . chewed leather. . . from which we conceived we found considerable relief. . . .”

11.8B potu]  Poe may well have derived the method of recovery by immersion (suggested by 11.6) from texts on alcoholism. Ironically, many of the newspapers attributed Poe’s death to a final episode of “mania a potu” or “a melancholy attack,” as the New York Herald called it (q.v. in my study of “Poe and the Temperance Movement,” Costerus, 1973, 1:119-43). In Poe’s day and during the whole century alcoholism was credited not only with producing attacks such as “delirium tremens” but also basic psychotic effects on the personality. See Poe’s famous letter of January 4, 1848, to Eveleth (Letters, p. 356) : “My enemies referred the insanity to the drink rather than the drink to the insanity.” The highly reputed Robert Macnish in Anatomy of Drunkenness (1828) devotes [page 274:] chap. 9 to the “Pathology of Drunkenness” and chap. 17 to “Madness.” Later, Norman Kerr, Inebriety (London, 1888), pp. 18-19, treats of “Inebriety allied to Insanity” — “the drunken paroxysm” or “exhilaration stage,” the “mental confusion” or the “mad drunk,” “uncontrolled ebullitions of passion” and the “coma of drunken unconsciousness,” all of them called “mental alienation.” Poe’s view that alcohol has a greater effect on the starving man is borne out by A. S. Curry, ed., Methods of Forensic Science (London, 1965), 4:31-32.

11.9A vain]  There is irony in Pym’s bringing up case-knives to cut nonexistent meat and a jug for unavailable water, but not useless in the sequel (see 12.9-10) It seems almost an afterthought that the falling of night was no impediment to “diving” below decks.

11.11A asleep]  There are several seemingly deliberate contradictions in the characterization of Parker and Pym. Although Parker is too emaciated to hold up his head, he was scouring the cabin with weights attached to his ankles only a few hours earlier. He seeks to “inspire” the others, and yet is soon hysterical and childlike in his disappointment. Pym, however, grows firmer in mind, despite a new and important factor: his “bad health” and “delicate constitution,” unless the latter was signified by his “melancholy” in 2.1. Is Pym’s surpassing rationalism now to be viewed as the development of maturity as well as the foundation for future escapes from looming disaster? The three others, in their “second childhood,” are “idiotic” and “simpering” like the savage Nu-Nu in 24.10. 11.12A ourselves] For distress from sea water, Poe may have used “Loss of the Lady Hobart Packet” (Philadelphia, 1806, 1:146): “I . . . cautioned the crew not to taste the salt water, but some . . . took large draughts of it, and became delirious, while others were seized with violent cramps . . .”; “Loss of the Sloop Betsy” (RS, p. 125): “The two seamen, notwithstanding all my remonstrances, drank sea-water, which purged them so excessively that they fell into a kind of delirium . . .”; and “The Loss of the Brig Tyrrel” (RS, p. 135) : “The people had drank so much salt water . . . that the carpenter was delirious, his malady increasing every hour.”

11.13A distant]  The expression “athwart” is rather strange here, for it means crossing close ahead of the observer. At fifteen miles, without a good telescope, he could not know much about the vessel or how she was heading, if he could see her at all.

11.13B her]  A hint for this episode may have come from “Famine in the American Ship Peggy” (RS, p. 176): “A ship was observed, bearing towards them, in full sail: no time was lost in making signals of distress, and . . . they were answered. . . . The time mentioned by the captain had nearly expired, when, to their extreme mortification, the latter . . . crowded all his sails and bore away. No language is adequate to describe the despair and consternation which then overwhelmed the crew.” Here the ship’s course has deliberately been reversed. (See also “The Medusa” in MC [New Haven, 1834], p. 395, when hope makes the crew mistake a ship’s direction.) In Pym it is not clear whether their initial observation was faulty or whether the ship has done a complete about face. At the distance mentioned, the ship might easily fail to see the hull of the Grampus and the men.

11.14A sea]  Again Pym is the rational member of the quartet and the dominant figure over Augustus. With regard to the floating seaweed — Poe has chosen to [page 275:] forget that since the hulk of the ship can drift only with the water, being too low for any windage, no seaweed can float past the wreck.

11.15A others]  Poe had many precedents for this “last resort.” In Astoria (chap. 47), a Canadian member of Stuart’s starving band of men makes this proposal reported by Irving: ” ‘It was better . . . that one should die to save the rest. He proposed, therefore, that they should cast lots“’ (p. 304). Almost the same words are used for a like proposal in “The Peggy” (MC [New Haven, 1834], p. 207)

“It was necessary to sacrifice one in order to save the rest . . . they intended to cast lots for the victim.” Similarly, in “Shipwrecked Mariners Saved through a Dream” in ML (p. 172), we find, “On the tenth day, they agreed to cast lots, that two of the company should die, in order to preserve the rest a little longer.” Noteworthy is the formulary terminology used in these and other accounts — sacrifice or simply death for the preservation of the group, which may even help to determine Poe’s data of plot action in 12.9 (q.v.). Disregarding Poe’s obvious sources, Walter E. Bezanson insists upon the ritual of Christian communion as here implied in Essays in Literary History (p. 166), and he is followed by Evelyn J. Hinz and John J. Teunissen, “Poe and Primitivism,” Studies in Short Fiction, Winter 1977, 14:13-20, who also cite John 18:14, “It was expedient that one man should die for the people” (p. 17).

12.1A two]  Pym’s opposition to Parker’s proposal may spring from the opposition in “Famine in the Shio Peggy” (MC [New Haven, 1834], p. 207), of the captain, “a tender and humane man,” to the action: “He represented to them that they were men, and ought to regard each other as brethren; . . . they would . . . consign themselves to universal execration; and [he] commanded them . . . to relinquish the idea of committing such an atrocious crime . . . but he had spoken to deaf men. . . . They left him, and went upon deck, where the lots were drawn.” Poe omits the arguments, but he suggests the melodramatic manner by using varied terms of entreaty: “pray,” “dissuade,” “expostulate,” “supplicate,” “beg,” “urge,” all in one sentence, which may be a parody.

12.2A period]  For a crise de conscience over bloodshed and a like firmness of morality in the hero, see “Julius Rodman,” 4.19.

12.3A least]  Parker’s statement in 12.2 about his prior determination does not accord with the picture presented in 11.10, which shows Parker as feeble but almost saintly in his solicitude for the others and very far from “rough.” Poe has either forgotten this portrayal or wishes to underscore the sharp alternations in the behavior of desperate men.

12.4A him]  A. H. Quinn’s notion that Pym as the moral hero is preserved from bloodshed by Poe in the great cabin fight, for example (Poe, p. 264), and later, is negated by Pym’s clear intention here to murder the debilitated Parker, even though only to avoid cannibalism.

12.6A lots]  The idea of delay may have been derived from “Famine in the Ship Peggy” (MC [New Haven, 1834], p. 208), in which a sailor, chosen through lots for sacrifice, requests an hour’s delay, which is protracted through the captain’s remonstrances until the next day, “when a sail was descried. . . .” In the abridged “Destruction of the Essex by a Whale” (MC [New Haven, 1834], p. 400), the starving survivors in a whaleboat “cast lots, and the fatal one fell on my poor cabin boy.”

12.7A holder]  The expression “to draw straws” is an old one, dated 1691 by [page 276:] the OED, but there is no indication in any dictionary of the language, including Americanisms, that anything but straws of unequal length could be used, certainly not “splinters of wood,” which Poe metonymically calls “straws.” Poe’s familiarity with games of chance probably guarantees the correctness of his broader application. Pym turns out again to be chosen as the trustworthy leader.

12.7B own]  The whole scene is conceived in terms of stage melodrama, as Poe’s words show us: “tragedy” and “enacted” (12.5), “appalling scene” (beginning of 12.7), “fearful drama,” “knees knocking,” “convulsive shudder and closed eyes,” and “fell senseless to the deck” (12.8), and “consummation of the tragedy” (12.9). Dimly and remotely, perhaps, Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale contributes to his “feathers before the wind” in “I am a feather for each wind that blows” (II, iii, 154). Pym’s knees will again be “knocking” at a life-and-death decision 23 bis.3; see also 1.40).

12.8A eyes]  Poe says that Pym “.sunk down with a bursting heart” (cf. “heartrending”) in 23 bis.3, the celebrated passage of “the fall,” again for the ultimate in human tension and excitement. He uses irony, surely, in the idea that those are “free” who escape being the victim in the lottery, despite their forlorn situation on the wreck.

Is “the fierceness of the tiger” an echo of the madness of Pym’s dog, that now dominates the death-threatened rational man? Joel Porte, The Romance in America, pp. 89-90, aptly mentions Pyrn’s forgetting this episode in his condemnation later of the “fiendish” savages.

12.8B deck]  In 11.15 Parker had made “him” shudder with his expressive countenance. Concerning the phrase “doomed to suffer” W. E. Bezanson, Essays in Literary History, p. 165, reminds us that it was Parker at whose feet the gull had dropped the organ. Pym’s “delicacy” of constitution may prompt the swoon here, as it did in the Ariel episode, 1.6.

12.9A ensued]  Pym implies poetic justice in the “instrumentality” of Parker in the Greek sense of tragic doom. Stabbing in the back is scarcely the most certain of instantaneous deaths, the heart being more available in front, but the victim is thus less aware of the fatal movement. Poe may have derived his apt “fearful repast” from “The Fatal Repast” (q.v. in 10.713), or from a similar “horrid repast” in “Famine in the Ship Peggy” (MC [New Haven, 1834], p. 207). The choice of Peters as the stabman is significant of his reputed brutal nature.

12.9B month]  Knives and a jug have usefully been discovered in 11.9. Many of the chronicles of cannibalism include references to quenching “raging thirst” by drinking the victim’s blood; see, for example, “Suffering of Part of the Crew of the Ship Thomas,” MC (Philadelphia, 1806), 1:108-9, and “Loss of the Frances Mary,” RS, pp. 297-98. Similarly, the evisceration and delimbing procedure is common to many of the cannibalism episodes. Perhaps Poe owes most to the “Loss of the Nottingham Galley” (MC [New Haven, 1834], p. 185): “I first ordered his skin, head, hands, feet, and bowels to be buried in the sea. . . .” Poe’s “entrails” is less coarse but his verb “throw” more callous. Poe may have derived something of the mood of the last sentence of this paragraph also from the version of “The Loss of the Peggy,” called “Forty-Five Days’ Suffering” in the ML (Boston, 1834), p. 182, in which the crew murder a sailor for food: “His pickled body was husbanded with rigid economy, and [page 277:] lasted the crew . . . from the thirteenth to the twenty-sixth of January.” For the convenience of expeditious burying, the murderous narrator of “The Tell-Tale Heart” first “cut off the head and the arms and the legs,” a relic of Pym. Poe’s date in this paragraph seems to be at fault, for the “repast” begins on July 16, according to 11.10.

12.10A hope]  The jug found in 11.9 and the “bedclothes” found in 9.8 are both now to be used, but rather vaguely, since we are not told about the impregnation of salt from the water in which they were floating or whether the water is wrung out or drained off (a point made clearer in 13.2). This probably derives

from the “Loss of . . . Centaur” in RS, p. 115: “We must have perished ere this, had we not caught six quarts of rain water . . . in . . . a pair of sheets, which . . . had been put” in the boat.

12.11A N. to W.]  This and the preceding paragraph indicate the conversion of the narrative into a journal, characteristic of several of the chronicles that Poe was following, such as “The Loss of the Peggy” as well as fuller accounts, such as those of Lewis and Clark and, especially, a section of Robinson Crusoe. He is here combining the sequence of dates and topics and will use the log type of narrative in chap. 13, as he had done in Hans Pfaall’s narrative (1835).

12.12A provisions]  The reference to Peters “in the windward chains” is probably a bit of verisimilitude that Poe picked up from “Loss of H.M.S. Phoenix” (RS, p. 165) — a passage previously cited by him. In order to cut the “main-mast away,” says the narrator, “I accordingly went into the weather chains with a pole ax, to cut away the lanyards.” Poe’s conversion of “weather” into “windward” — more often a noun — is not quite right nautically (e.g., a vessel will work to windward so she can weather a point of land which is on the weather side of the island). In 9.12, where he is not trying to conceal his source, he uses the word “weather-forechains.” Peters could cut the lanyards on the deck.

The word “readily” is over-optimistic for cutting through deck planking of two to three inches with a single axe.

12.13A preservation]  He refers to 8.17 and 9.8 for the destruction of the “companion-hatch” or “companionway” but is mistaken about the essential difference between those for the cabin and for the forecastle; the former might be more ornate in its wood, but the latter would certainly not be “just a simple hatch” or opening in the deck, like a small cargo hatch with a cover. There would be no difficulty in his descending.

12.14A twenty-third]  Perhaps the idea of cutting “an opening” came from the much-used “Centaur” in MC (New Haven, 1834), p. 158: “I gave orders that scuttles should be cut through the decks to introduce more buckets in the hold.” Again Poe uses Byron’s phrase about moonlight (see 1.4A).

12.15A severe]  Paradoxically the presumably stoic Indian Peters and the sickly Augustus overindulge in the ham, while Pym tempers his eating.

Poe may have used “the Brig Polly,” RS, p. 347, in which the mariners are “under the impression that there was meat enough under the deck . . . fish up . . . pieces of bone, entirely barren of meat and in a putrid state.   . .” Details also may have come from the “Lady Hobart Packet” (MC [Philadelphia, 1806], 1:143): “In the jolly boat . . . they had found part of a cold ham . . . ; a morsel, about [page 278:] the size of a nutmeg, was immediately distributed to each person, and the remainder was thrown overboard, as I was fearful lest it might increase our thirst. . . .”

12.16A Pacific]  Poe’s use of “carboy” is a trifle odd; it is defined by the OED as “a large globular bottle, of green or blue glass, covered with basketwork for protection, used chiefly for holding acids and other corrosive liquids” and derived from the Persian (see also “King Pest,” 1:253). The four citations preceding Poe’s use (given also by the OED) refer either to rose-water or Persian wine, and the one following to “nitro-glycerine.” Rodman uses twenty five-gallon “carboys” for whiskey (2.16). The container would be difficult for the diver to bring up through the small opening chopped in the deck. To the Madeira of 12.15 Poe now adds a “Cape” which exists neither in geography nor records of viniculture. For the “Gallipago” tortoise, see notes to the next paragraph.

The Mary Pitts, whose name I have not found in any list of ships of Poe’s period, was a sealing vessel like Morrell’s Wasp, in the Narrative, “Voyage I,” and like the rescuing ship Jane Guy in 13.22.

12.17A terapin]  Paragraph 17 incorporates errors from the source and adds several of Poe’s invention concerning the land turtle. The effect is a curious combination of precise and incredible details. Almost the whole substance is drawn from Benjamin Morrell’s account of the Galapagos (Islands) tortoise, in Narrative of Four Voyages, pp. 125-26. Since this major source does not fully enter into Pym until chap. 14, it is possible that chap. 12, having been completed much earlier, was slightly revamped to accommodate this digression. Despite the first sentence the subsequent mentions of the tortoise are all brief and scattered: 18.8, 19.3, 19.7, 23 bis.8, and 24.3. It may well be that at this stage Poe still intended to send Pym on a polar adventure that would use the three Galapagos tortoises in the canoe more integrally than he has done. He consistently misspells the name which Morrell derives from galdpagos, the Spanish for land tortoise or “terrapin,” although he calls the Ecuadorean islands Gallapagos Islands, by a spelling eventually to be termed French (in Lippincott’s Complete Pronouncing Gazetteer [Philadelphia, 1880], 1:826). Poe should have surmised that it meant simply the terrapin of those islands, and therefore needs the plural form. Could Poe have found his word “Gallipago” in any contemporary authority? I think not: The Naval Gazetteer (London, 1795), 1:390, is the only source that I have traced giving Gallipago Islands, but not, of course, for the tortoise; Alex Forbes, A General Gazetteer (London, 1815), p. 254, gives Gallipagos, as does Amasa Delano, A Narrative of Voyages and Travels (Boston, 1817), pp. 369-86. J. and R. C. Morse, A New Universal Gazetteer (New Haven, 1823), p. 276, give Gallapagos, or Gallipagos, islands and finally, Melville, in the Putnam’s Monthly Magazine printings of “The Encantadas” of March 1854, 3:3B and 317, uses Gallipagos. On the other hand Rees’s Cyclopaedia (1819), vol. 15, gives Galapagos or Tortoise Isles, as does R, Brookes, A New Universal Gazetteer (reedited by J. Marshall, Philadelphia, 1839), pp. 318-19. The source-text is Benjamin Morrell, Narrative of Four Voyages, pp. 125-26:

The name of this archipelago is derived from the Spanish word “galapago,” a [page 279:] fresh-water tortoise, and it was given to these islands because they abound with the largest class of those animals, a species of terrapin, to which Commodore Porter gave the name of “elephant tortoise,” as their legs, feet, and motions strongly resemble those of an elephant. “Many of them,” says he, “are of a size to weigh upwards of three hundred weight; and nothing, perhaps, can be more disagreeable or clumsy than they are in their external appearance. Their steps are slow, regular, and heavy; they carry their bodies about a foot from the ground; their neck is from eighteen inches to two feet in length, and very slender; their head is proportioned to it, and strongly resembles that of a serpent. But what seems the most extraordinary in this animal, is the length of time that it can exist without food; for I have been well assured,” continues the commodore, “that they have been piled away among casks, in the hold of a ship, where they have been kept eighteen months, and when killed at the expiration of that time, were found to have suffered no diminution in fatness or excellence. They carry with them a constant supply of water, in a bag at the root of the neck, which contains about two gallons; and on tasting that found in those we killed on board, it proved perfectly fresh and sweet . . . (See Porter’s Journal, p. 47).

There is no doubt that these islands are . . . barren, with the exception of a kind of stunted brushwood that grew upon them. . . . The sides of hills near the shore are covered with prickly-pear-trees, upon which the land-tortoises feed and thrive in a most wonderful manner. These animals grow to even a greater size than that mentioned by Commodore Porter, as I have seen some that would weigh from six to eight hundred pounds. They are excellent food, and have no doubt saved the lives of thousands of seamen employed in the whale-fishery in those seas, both Americans and Englishmen. . . . I have had these animals on board my own vessels from five to six months, without their once taking food or water; and on killing them I have found more than a quart of sweet fresh water in the receptacle which nature has furnished them for that purpose, while their flesh was in as good condition as when I first took them on board. They have been known to live on board of some of our whale-ships for fourteen months, under similar circumstances, without any apparent diminution of health or weight.

Comparing the many details used we can see how Poe has outtopped his source. Note that J. N. Reynolds also borrowed from Porter’s tortoise passage for his Voyage of the United States Frigate Potomac. . . (New York, 1835), p. 465, this being a book which Poe used in Pym (14.6). Omitted phrases, such as the serpent-like head of the tortoise, preserved by Morrell, show Poe’s reliance entirely upon Morrell. Evelyn Hinz, in Genre, December 1970, 4:392, correctly points out the seeming contradiction in Poe’s requiring a “fresh-water terrapin” to live for two weeks -in the salt water of the hold. We know that it can float and needs no nourishment for long periods, but since the deck was awash, there was no air-space needed for survival. See John Van Denburgh, Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, 4th ser., September 30, 1914, 10:244367 (esp. p. 349) for an eighteen-hour floating of Galapagos tortoises, and Samuel Garman, The Galapagos Tortoises (Cambridge, 1917), pp. 264-97 (esp. p. 264), on their ability to swim. Denburgh denies this ability (p. 367), as does A. R. Wallace in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., 11:393.

Poe’s spelling (“terapin”) is an allowable nineteenth-century variant for this name, of Algonquian origin (see OED).

12.17B discovered]  Van Denburgh’s expedition established that the Cereus and [page 280:] Opuntia cacti were staples for the tortoises (pp. 301, 326) and that grass and lichen were substitute foods (pp. 333 and 361). Poe has far-reaching purposes in varying their food, since the island of Tsalal will have to feed Pym and Peters as well as the Galapagos tortoises, to be used for Pym’s final journey. Poe follows Morrell’s error in placing the cacti and the tortoises only near the shore, giving them a sea orientation, since on the lower Galapagos Islands, with a low terrain, both the cacti and the tortoises would be found inland.

12.18A relief]  This paragraph is out of order, for clearly the three men would have to be sure of the retrieval of the tortoise before falling on their knees. It belongs after 12.19. The sole reason for this apparent caprice or carelessness by the author is to assure us of its small size, since he has been speaking of such prodigious sizes that one cannot imagine lifting such monsters through a small hole without a derrick or winch.

12.19A out]  All the accounts of this tortoise and also Poe’s knowledge of terrapins in Virginia would inform him that they “draw their necks, heads, and legs into their shells” (Delano) when alarmed. Augustus’ catching this one by the throat is pure fantasy or humor on Poe’s part. Even more amusing is the idea of two men and a large animal fitting into the small hole in the deck after subduing a struggling animal in deep water with absolutely no headroom and air-space to give Peters or Pym a “breather” in the course of the battle. Wisely Poe has refrained from giving details for this impossible action.

12.20A out]  Poe seems to have based his concept of the tortoise’s “bag” here and in 24.3 on Morrell’s error, derived from Porter’s original error. Delano, a careful observer, says nothing about a “bag” of water. Van Denburgh (see 12.17A), indicates a storage of water in the stomach (p. 311) as does Garman (p. 279). This would mean the death of the animal abused by Pym. Even assuming some sort of “dewlap” bag, external to the body — a ridiculous notion considering the self-protective actions of tortoises — Poe gives no idea of how they “drew” the water out and directed it into the jug. Could it have been through a slit in the skin pierced by the knife? At any rate, we now know another reason for his finding the jug. The article for “bottle” should be “the,” not “a,” since only one bottle was mentioned in 12.15 and the bottle of Port wine from 11.4 had been broken in 11.6. Poe derived the idea for the glass from “Loss of . . . Centaur” (RS, p. 115): “The neck of a bottle broken off, with the cork in, served for a glass. . . .” The quantity of half a gill (a gill being a quarter of a pint) may have come from “Loss of the Frances Mary” (RS, p. 297): “We were at this time on a half gill of water a day. . . .” There are sixteen “measures” of water for the three men, or a supply which is calculated to last for five days, or through July 27, the first draught being had on July 23. (See 13.3 and 13.12 for related notes.)

12.21A fastened]  The bedding previously gathered for this somewhat domestically presented scene appears to be “a few bedclothes” raked up by the “drag” in 9.8, which must consist of one sheet (used in 12.10) and at least one blanket, plus one blanket brought up by Pym in 11.9. Why could not blankets be used as sacks for the bottles, as in 11:4, rather than ropes or “cordage,” the word again unsuitably used for cords or ropes (see 9.5 above) ? Moreover, what does Poe mean by “otherwise” in the last sentence, except, possibly, that he is fastened in such way that he cannot turn himself over, by ropes drawn taut across the plastron and [page 281:] affixed to several objects on the deck? At any rate, we know now that a tortoise can lose his water and survive.

 


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - BRPIMV, 1981/1994] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe (B. R. Pollin) (Pym)