Text: Burton R. Pollin, “Hans Pfaall (Variants),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. I: Imaginary Voyages (1981/1994), pp. 457-503 (This material is protected by copyright)


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[page 457:]

NOTES AND COMMENTS

(Title) A Pfaall]  There are three spellings of the protagonist’s name given by Poe, all of them slightly affecting our interpretations of the tale: “Pfaall” in the manuscript and first two printings (1835 and 1839), “Phaal” in his letter to T. W. White of July 20, 1835, and in his own reviews of July 10, 1835, in the Baltimore Republican and the Baltimore Gazette, and “Pfaall” in the 1850 text. The predominance of the “-all” in the printed versions lends weight to the obvious pun on “fall” for the tale of a balloonist. The double “aa” is clearly used for the Dutch ambience. Many other interpretations have been suggested. For “Pfaall” as derived from Latin “follis” (“bellows” and “windbag”), the root of “fool,” see Edmund Reiss, American Literature, 1957, 29:306-09. Hans is not properly thus characterized save for his being a “bellows-mender.” Tiresomely, even serious students of Poe insist upon “phallic” interpretations of the name, without textual or narrative justification, and the E text spelling sidetracks it entirely. Harold Beaver, The Science Fiction of Edgar Allan Poe (Penguin Books, 1976), p. 339, suggests also an inversion of the sounds of “laugh” (“laf” into “fal”), analogical to “Nis” as becoming “Sin” (Poems, 1:194, headnote). J. O. Bailey, PMLA, June 1942, 57:513-35, specifically offers the pronunciation of “fail,” (534), an ingenious unsuitability for a man who attains the moon. The final wording of the title, including the word “one” without a capital letter, was shaped as early as 1842, the date of the projected Phantasy-Pieces, as given in A. H. Quinn, Poe (New York, 1941), p. 336, where it is listed thus; but it was implicit in 1835 in “unparalleled escapes” (para. 72) and “an attempt . . . so utterly unparalleled” (para. 30). Quinn, it should be noted, erroneously transcribed “Pfaall” from the table of contents as “Pfaal” so that Bailey used this completely invalid form throughout his important article on the tale.

The title of this work appears in the following five forms:

Fair copy manuscript of April or May 1835:

HANS PHAALL

A Tale by Edgar A. Poe

Southern Literary Messenger of June 1835:

HANS PHAALL — A TALE.

BY EDGAR A. POE

Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (dated 1840; issued November 1839):

HANS PHAALL.* (for the paragraph note to the title see variant note u to paragraph 80)

PHANTASY-PIECES (manuscript title page prepared by Poe in 1842 for a second edition of the Tales of the . . . Arabesque with a table of contents containing the title, q.v. in A. H. Quinn, Poe, pp. 338-39, and Tales, 1:474 ff.):

The Unparralleled (sic) Adventure of one Hans Pfaall. [page 458:]

The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. R. W. Griswold (1850):

THE UNPARALLELED ADVENTURE

OF ONE

HANS PFAALL

with the running title ADVENTURE OF ONE HANS PFAALL. (and with “Adventures” in the Table of Contents).

A (Motto) Song]  This appropriate poem is taken from the article “Tom o’ Bedlams” in Isaac Disraeli’s Curiosities of Literature (London, 1818), 3:52, where the source is said to be Wit and Drollery, 1661. In the fair copy manuscript of 1835, it was written under the title and then canceled by heavy overscorings, reappearing only in the 1850 edition, but probably intended for the 1842 Phantasy-Pieces and written in the lost second volume containing the tale. The rest of the stanza in the Curiosities provided part of his inspiration for “Eldorado” (see Poems, p. 462). The harmless, begging madmen called Tom o’ Bedlams, who wandered about England, are best known from Edgar’s disguise as one in King Lear, as Disraeli indicates. Poe joins lines 3 and 4, canceling the comma after “spear,” changes the semicolon after “wander,” and italicizes the phrase, “and a horse of air” (see “Sources,” p. 370).

1A Rotterdam]  H. Allen Greer, Emerson Society Quarterly, Fall 1970, 60:6775, argues for Washington as the prototype of Rotterdam, full of “rotters,” the chief being Andrew Jackson, and elaborates this theme fantastically. Given Poe’s firsthand knowledge of the complacent and conventional “Dutch” villages near West Point, one may infer the setting of Gotham (or New York) as the start of the flight to the moon (see 3A and 3B below).

1B excitement]  Poe is punning on “philosophical” in its use for “scientific” and, paradoxically, “tranquil.” His references to “late accounts” and excitement parallel the more serious attempt at hoax in the ending of “Von Kempelen,” where he speaks of the “late developments” in California and the supposititious effect of the discovery upon European metal prices.

1C ears]  For the sake of parallel phrases Poe has somewhat distorted the idiom here, which is “to set people together by the ears,” meaning “to create ill will among them, to set them quarreling and, metaphorically, pulling each other’s ears as dogs do when fighting” (see Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable). The grammar also, by implication, falters with “are” needed for the last member.

2A date]  The narrator who presents minute details immediately as an on-the-spot spectator is peculiarly and capriciously evasive about the exact date, quite in the ambiguously circumstantial manner of many of Poe’s narrators; see, for example, “the reign of ——— ” (“Bon-Bon”); “I cannot . . . remember how, when . . . ” (“Ligeia”), “I cannot . . . remember when” “The Man . . . Used Up”), “The summer of 18 — ” (“Rue Morgue”), and “The autumn of 18 — ” (“Purloined Letter”). See however para. 73 where this same narrator seems no longer personally present.

2B Rotterdam]  Poe correctly places his crowd of 10,000 (see below) in the Beursplein, or Exchange Square, with additional room behind the Exchange [page 459:] in the marketplace, containing the bronze statue of Erasmus. At this period, in the beginning of ballooning, the total population was a little over 50,000. Exchange Square is a reminder of the monetary woes at the start of the tale and is also a suitable setting for satire upon earthbound, unimaginative, prosperous burghers.

2C firmament]  By implication (showers, warmth, the “fool’s-cap” below and song of “Hey Betty Martin”) and by later assertion (see para. 4), the date is April 1, fitting for a wild moon-tale. Edmund Reiss, overlooking paras. 4 and 9, argues for Innocent’s Day, December 28. “Mellonta Tauta,” also about ballooning, is in the form of a letter of April 1, 2848. The intended “banter” of the whole tale surely justifies the date without thinking it a “private joke” dealing with the British magazines, as do Stuart and Susan Levine, The Short Fiction of Edgar Allan Poe (Indianapolis, 1976), p. 613.

2D furiously]  Poe uses “Niagara” for resounding noise, as in “The Maelstrom” (para. 9) and “Dr. Tarr” (para. 100), but only here does it appear whimsical for a presumably Dutch narrator to use it in description. Poe was never to see the Falls himself. The hyperbole of 10,000 (q.v. in Pym, 3.6A) matches the tone of the whole paragraph with the pompous terms: “besprinkled,” “vault,” “firmament.”

3A Underduk]  Poe often lumped together the Dutch and Germans, in name and in conventional traits and habits, as in Eureka, para. 12: “Kant, a Dutchman,” and in his German characters Von Jung and the historically real Von Kempelen; hence the “von” for “van.” The surname may have come from “Peter Vanderdonck,” the local folklorist in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and the descendant of Adrian Vander Donck, so-called writer in the prefatory “account” of Irving’s (Knickerbocker’s) A History of New York. It might have been suggested also by a recent case about which the New York Transcript of July 21, 1835, wrote: “Onderdonk and Tibbett, distinguished forgers, discharged from prison and sent on a three years’ whaling voyage.” The sobriquet “Mynheer” is sprinkled throughout Knickerbocker’s History (e.g., II, chaps. 3, 8; III, chaps. 1, 8). Poe probably derived “Superbus,” (Latin for “arrogant” or “proud”) from Tarquinius Superbus, the last king of Rome. He may have intended a pun on “underdog” or “underduck” or “underduke” or all three.

3B again]  The first seven paragraphs, of the Introduction of “Hans Pfaall,” also suggest Knickerbocker’s History in the general atmosphere and details humorously mocked by Poe. The compulsive pipe-smoking of the men corresponds to book 4, chap. 8, “Of the Edict of William the Testy against tobacco — of the Pipe Plot, etc.” which states: “The pipe, in fact, was the great organ of reflection and deliberation of the New Netherlander. . . . His pipe was never out of his mouth. . . . (Para). A vast multitude armed with pipes and tobacco-boxes . . . sat themselves down before the governor’s house, and fell to smoking with great violence”; and book 22, chap. 8: “The first settlers did not regulate their time by hours, but pipes.” The smoking and conformity are also satirized in “The Devil in the Belfry” (1839): “He takes a puff and a look, and then a look and a puff” (i.e., each of the boys in the yard). The father “can make a greater smoke.” At the stroke of thirteen on the clock they fill the whole valley with “impenetrable smoke.” T. O. [page 460:] Mabbott aptly compares the excitement over the arrival of “the devil” in “the Dutch borough” in that tale (Tales, 1:375 n. 4).

4A down]  By 1835 the range of materials for different types of balloons had narrowed considerably, but Poe probably derived many ideas from the 1819 Rees’s Cyclopaedia article on “Aerostation” (vol. I, unpaged, but pages hereafter will be assigned), which proposes “silk stuff” as best for hydrogen balloons and “common linen lined within and without with paper” for hot air balloons, but “small rarefied air-balloons may be made of paper” (p. 8). It is therefore the inverse conical shape, not the material of the “lunarian” messenger’s balloon, that is wildly improbable. Moreover, in para 77, we learn that the balloon is not made of papers, merely “stuck over” with them. The casual and incidental satire on the press is quite untenably construed by H. A. Greer as an attack on Jackson’s newspaper propaganda of 1828 and 1832, which is seen as such by none of Poe’s contemporary critics of the tale. In the description that follows, it seems evident that the “end” of the “machine” refers to the rim or edge of the cone to which the car is attached. The point would then provide an aperture for the hydrogen or coal gas with which the balloon had been filled (or the secret gas discussed in para. 11).

4B Betty Martin]  There is no need to limit Poe’s reference here to a proverb, as does H. Beaver (n. 4) or to a song, as does S. Levine (n. 4). In various forms “All my eye and Betty Martin” regularly referred to “humbug, nonsense” (see Tilley, Dictionary of Proverbs in English) probably leaving us the contemporary slang expression “in my eye.” The last para. of “Three Sundays in One Week” begins with the probable variant of “My eyes!” As a song “Hey, Betty Martin” was a popular tune for singing and dancing, played on the fife or fiddle in Poe’s day, of British origin, with numerous textual and musical variations; see the versions in E. A. Dolph, Sound Off!; Frank Luther, Americans and Their Songs; and Carl Sandburg, The American Songbag. It is merry nonsense to state that sheep-bells, playing at random, can produce a set tune. Surely Poe is underscoring the banter implicit in his science-fiction tale.

4C Grettel Pfaall]  Poe jests by designating the name “Grettel” (cf. Hansel and Grettel) by the “vrow”; S. Levine properly regards the names of the couple as reminding us of the “fairy-tale” quality of the story (p. 613). Note, in Irving’s History of New York (book 3, chap. 3): “The young ladies opened their lips only to say ‘Yah Mynheer, or Yah, Yah Vrouw,’ to any question that was asked them.”

4D associates]  The narrator here half-believes the corroboration of Hans’s subsequent “letter” statement about his murder of the creditors, but in para. 78, directly consecutive in narrative time, he half-believes the story of the collusion of the four and of the Rip Van Winkle type of survival. Yet nothing new in the external circumstances in Rotterdam has been reported to warrant the narrator’s change of mind. David Ketterer, Criticism, Fall 1971, 13:377-85, maintains that Hans is intended to die here at the start of a journey as a spirit into the inferno of the moon.

5A balloon]  The contradictions and impossibilities here mount up, but Poe tries to recapture verisimilitude by granting the car to be “tiny” since it did consist of a beaver hat, although enormous. He also grants the reader a rim, presumably built up from the inside part of the crown and attached to the cords from which the care was always suspended, but by the same [page 461:] token these would be close enough to prevent the pitching overboard of a rotund being of diminutive “altitude” (a strange but aeronautical word for “height”).

5B all]  There is no evidence in the text here or at the end for supposing him to be Hans Pfaall’s “alter ego or lunar double,” as H. Beaver claims, p. 345, n. 7, following H. A. Greer (see 1A) and David Ketterer. Moreover, the “gentleman” is undevilishly agitated and fearful (see para. 6). Poe chose to eliminate in text E the “suspicious” devil’s hoof or foot, which introduces too supernatural an element (see “Never Bet the Devil” at n. 19 and “Von Kempelen” at n. 16, in Tales). However, he left the “odd” emergence of the balloon from the clouds (in para. 7) — naturalistically presented in para. 2.

5C head]  Despite the “acute” eyes, belied by his subsequent behavior, the messenger appears here as a whimsical butt (a “figure . . . absurd”), not a powerful demon. The presumably cropped ears would render him suspect as a criminal, although this is denied in para. 72 via the soundlessness of the moon.

5D dimensions]  This variant of “taffeta” was applied at different times to different fabrics and, recently, has been misapplied to various mixtures of silk and wool, and even cotton and jute, thin fine woolen material, etc. according to the OED. A “surtout” is a “man’s great-coat or overcoat.” It would, of course, serve to make the breeches utterly invisible from the ground. The adjective “super-eminent” usually has no hyphen, Poe’s being one of only two citations with it in the OED. The colorful garb, again with a “surtout,” can also be seen in “The Devil in the Belfry” on both fathers and sons in the “Dutch” borough probably up the Hudson Valley, where it signifies quaintness, bad taste, and conformity. There too the town-councillors have saucer eyes, double chins, large buckles, and little round bodies.

6A weight]  The messenger’s conduct is poorly motivated, especially in terms of his special mission and “acute” eyes. His fear is groundless, but there is a circus side-show aspect to the procedure. He seems a skilled aeronaut in his maintaining height through ejecting sand. Unexplained is his bringing a letter requiring an answer when the messenger himself has tied (see para. 72, which shows no effort by Poe to explain this in his revisions).

6B tape]  The implications concerning “official formality, or rigid adherence to rules and regulations, carried to excessive lengths” (Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 9th ed.) are part of the satirical portrait of the recipient, Underduk, not of Hans Pfaall. “Tape,” used thus, dates from 1775 (Farmer, Slang and Its Analogues), but the derision in “red” tape dates from 1831 (Fraser’s Magazine and Carlyle’s usage) as is noted by H. A. Greer (see 1A). The clear view of this detail places the narrator close to the letter, a position put in doubt by “it is said” in the last sentence.

6C Rotterdam]  Several factors make this paragraph a bit of whimsy: Above he threw out sand, whereas here he tosses out the bags of sand — a most unlikely proceeding with people below. Where could they have been stored in the tiny car? Why should a blow upon the back from a sack have “rolled” the burgomaster “over and over,” and how could he, a moon-man, have known him (unless this indicates Poe’s original plan to make him a criminal Dutchman and accomplice of Hans)? [page 462:]

6D willing]  This expression lends a pietistic or folk-loric tone, matched by nothing else in the tale save “by God’s mercy” in para. 72, in the words of Hans, not the observer. Despite all of Hans’s unparalleled “adventures” and escapes, he refrains from prayer or appeals to divinity — a man very different from Pym.

7A circumgyratory]  Poe is credited, in the OED, with creating “circumgyratory” to match the pretentiousness of Rubadub and the absurdity of a “College of Astronomy” or “star-gazing.”

7B Rubadub]  The “Mother Goose” provenance of the name implies clearly the contemptible nature of Professor Rub-a-dub, whose name is even spelled the same way in the 1835 version: “Rub-a-dub-dub / Three men in a tub. / And who do you think they be? / The butcher, the baker / the candlestick-maker; / Turn ‘em out, knaves all three!” It may be that this also suggested the three knavish creditors of Hans (para. 10). Poe surely knew the Salmagundi papers of 1807-1808 (collected and reprinted in 1814 and frequently thereafter), in which there are nine “letters” by William and Washington Irving and J. K. Paulding “From Mustapha Rub-a-Dub Keli Khan, captain of a ketch, to Asem Hacchem, principal slave-driver to his highness the Bashaw of Tripoli” (see the Twayne edition of Irving’s Complete Works, 6:327-33, 335). Since the full name was partly derived from a real “Captain Mustaffa,” one of the Americans’ Tripolitan prisoners in 1805 (6:348), the Salmagundi source must also have been the nursery rhyme.

8A Rotterdam]  Perhaps carelessly, Poe changed the institution’s name in the address from its form in para. 7. It has become the nation’s college (“States” standing for the United Provinces), not that of the city of Rotterdam, and yet it was not the capital; all this is part of the tone of “banter” (discussed in para. 80).

8B disappearance]  See the mockery of “saner-kraut” and of cabbages in “kroutaplenttey” and in the gardens of the little brick houses of the “Dutch” borough in “The Devil in the Belfry” (Tales, 1:366-68). Later Poe would exploit the humor of Germanic place names in “Flatzplatz” and “Dondergat” in “Von Kempelen.”

8C age]  These were two cant phrases of the radicals or of many “a human-perfectibility man,” as Poe says in “Lionizing” (May 1835; Tales, 2:180; see also the headnote to “The Angel of the Odd”). Typical of this anti-Jacobin propaganda is a poem, “The March of Mind” by Flaccus, in the September 3, 1835, issue of the New York American, containing mockery of the day when “Mind marches . . . / When steam will plow, sow, reap, grind, knead and bake“-originating from the famous prophecy of Political Justice by William Godwin, a major source of the school, whose literary works, however, Poe respected (see B. Pollin, Discoveries in Poe, chap. 7). For the second phrase, see Hazlitt’s use as the title of his famous book of character sketches of contemporaries. For Poe’s continuing opposition to the cant of progress see “Monos and Una” (1841, para. 12) “Mummy” (1845, para. 93), and “Mellonta Tauta” (1848, para 8). While no direct connection is made with the “dirty newspapers” of the lunarian’s balloon, Poe here enjoys the metaphor of fanning a fire — or riot — with a newspaper and banishing the ‘good old days” — which are not favorably presented through Underduk and Rubadub, [page 463:] while Hans is certainly a prime innovator and opponent of conventional legalities and customs.

8D me]  Two distinct motives are here provided: suicide and the desire for vengeance. The first is elaborated in para. 22, along with the implied scientific zeal, which speedily monopolizes his intentions throughout the trip, just as such zeal was to supplant the search for adventure in Pym. Poe’s “proverbial” expression for poverty is probably a revised form of “poor as a churchmouse,” who has no larder for his foraging. No book of English “terms and phrases” gives Poe’s “rat,” but the English phrase either parallels or derives from the French “gueux comme un rat d’église,” which, in form if not exact meaning, is suggestive of Poe’s phrase.

9A Encke]  Johann Franz Encke (1791-1865), eminent German astronomer, was director of the Berlin Observatory from 1825 (see 26B and 69 for references to the comet named after him; also Eureka, 1848 New York ed., pp. 131-32). It has been erroneously claimed that Poe may have been alluding to another astronomer of this name (there was only one) or to Karl L. Hencke of Driesen who discovered the planetoid Astraea (it was in 1845, ten years later). Poe was having inventive fun, as with “M. Grimm” (para. 27) or with his distinction here and in para. 10 between “speculative” and “Practical Astronomy.”

9B Nantz]  Nantz is a Germanic spelling of Nantes, a city in Brittany, France, that capriciously matches the French “Encke” above. It probably derives from Poe’s reading in the “Aerostation” article in Rees (p. 5) about the June 1784 high flight of two men at Nantes. “Pneumatics” was the term used for the mechanical properties of air and other gases. Note that in paras. 11 and 22 the cousin, simply “a citizen of Nantz,” is rightful “owner” of the method for making a light gas and for using animal membrane.

9C intuition]  Poe added most of the passage illustrating his tenet about “truth,” dropped from text E, to “Murders in the Rue Morgue” (April 1841), a fact indicating perhaps that the redaction of “Hans Pfaall” for PHANTASY-PIECES occurred as early as 1840. The reference to “the eventful period of five years” clearly preludes a sequel developing his moon adventures (see 31A and 72A). The last sentence seems ambiguous both in meaning and in phrasing, for it might refer to either “the writer” of “wild . . . reasonings” or Hans. The phrase “doubt whether . . . not” appears to mean “suspect that. . . .” With the vague distinction between the “appearance” and “reality” of “instinct” the sentence is scarcely meaningful, but Hans has just stated his “limited” education. By “natural philosophy” Poe means “science” (see para. 96). In the omitted passage is a hint of “supernatural knowledge,” i.e., “some of another kind.”

11A secrecy]  The manuscript spelling was common in the nineteenth century and still sanctioned early in the twentieth.

11B money]  In view of his well-contrived triple murder for a completely unjustified vengeance upon annoying “ignorant men” the “shame” over nonrepayment of a new debt seems odd, as does his ability to raise a considerable sum through small loans when pursued by duns.

11C caoutchouc]  The relative merits, for sealing the balloon fabric, of oil, bird -lime, or elastic gum (or caoutchouc) were much discussed in texts on [page 464:] ballooning. In the “Aerostation” article of Rees the composition of the third type is declared “a secret” (p. 19) although Blanchard’s method of preparation is given and the Roberts’ balloon is said to be thus “varnished” (p. 3). For the importance of the mixing and application of the “varnish” see the pioneer practical text A System of Aeronautics (Philadelphia, 1850), pp. 14950, 275-76, by John Wise, whose flight and publicity thereof influenced the writing of “Hans Pfaall” (see 13D). Poe used “caoutchouc” for his “Balloon-Hoax” (para. 7), for “Mellonta Tauta” for a pun on “rubber” (para. 4), and for “The Man of the Crowd” for muffling “over-shoes” (para. 17).

11D wicker-work]  “The wicker basket proved wonderfully strong, being both shock resistant and shock absorbent . . . the standard form of balloon car,” says L. T. C. Rolt, The Aeronauts (New York, 1966), p. 114.

11E cords]  In omitting the too-commonplace instruments, of seafaring ambience, in favor of more suggestive space gear, Poe produced a serious omission in a special barometer, which he had to insert into para. 16 in preparation for high-level measurements, as in para. 34. Even in 1835, no one could pretend that the bankrupt Hans could purchase “numerous instruments.”

11F life]  Several sources for the gas-production here have been suggested, rather insubstantially. M. N. Posey, “Notes on ‘Hans Pfaall,’ ” Modern Language Notes, 1930, 45:501-7, traces the mysterious metal to George Tucker’s A Voyage to the Moon (1827), reviewed in detail by Robley Dunglison in the American Quarterly Review of March 1828, 3:61-88, but “lunarium” is there used solely for antigravitational lunar attraction. J. O. Bailey suggests that Symxonia, the novel arguing for Symmes’s hollow-earth at the poles theory, gave Poe, as a source, the “Internals’ ” balloons filled “with an elastic gas” produced by “some fluid” in contact with some “very dense substance” (p. 585). However, the “Aerostation” article of Rees could easily have given Poe the groundwork for these and other details explained in no sources hitherto suggested; for its broad relevance, see the passage concerning the inflation of the Roberts’ balloon in December 1783 in Paris, using sulphuric acid acting upon iron filings. Poe avoids the less mysterious and easily available coal-gas, largely hydrogen, first used in balloons by Charles Green in 1821. It is noteworthy that Poe felt constrained to add “specifics” about the gas (“I can . . .life”) in this paragraph, in order to substantiate the science-fiction vraisemblance. Moreover, the amazing levitation of the balloon demanded an explanation. The lethal quality added makes it entirely unsuitable for Hans’s purposes. The term “semi-metal” is derived from “old Chemistry” in which it means “a non-malleable metal.” The citations (in OED) include antimony; T. B. Jones, 1831, calls it obsolete, and the citation in “Hans Pfaall” is the last given. “Azote” (freely, “unable to sustain life,” although not its literal Greek meaning, q.v. in OED) was the name assigned by Lavoisier to nitrogen, an element, as Poe could not have known. In making it so slight a portion of hydrogen’s density, Poe gives his 40,000 cubic foot balloon (para. 13) a lifting power totally at variance with his cargo weight and renders it totally impossible to prevent a premature takeoff (see paras. 16-17 below). The Lancet of April 13, 1896, published an inquiry from a reader wondering whether Poe was prescient about Professor Ramsay’s new [page 465:] gas, helium, obtained from sulfuric acid acting upon the mineral cleveitean item reported by Mary E. Phillips, Edgar Allan Poe (Philadelphia, 1926), p. 492. For Poe’s equally mysterious use of “some liquid” acting on “antimony and some unknown substance” to produce gold, see “Von Kempelen” (Tales, 2:1366, n. 9) which likewise refers to “azote.” In the stage of chemical knowledge reached in 1835, Poe was safe from a tacit criticism of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1966): “It is certain that there is no ‘missing link’ among the light elements, and that no lighter gas [than hydrogen] will ever be discovered. Even if a weightless gas could ever be found, the difference between its lifting force and that of hydrogen would be so small that such a weightless gas would not have any great advantage from a lifting point of view” (3:43).

11G invention]  Now Hans identifies, in a rhyming fashion, the country containing “Nantz” and ascribes a further secret to the “cousin” or “citizen.” This one was, however, known to readers of the annals of ballooning. Even the first page of “Aerostation” discusses the notion of Dr. Joseph Black of Edinburgh and the experiments of Tiberius Cavallo concerning the floating gas-filled allantois and bladders of animals (see also Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., 1:263). The cousin from Nantz may have had his origin in the pioneer balloonist, John Wise (see 13D and my Intro., pp, 366-67).

12A powder]  Poe’s apparent distinction of size between a canister and keg is irregular. The former is given as “a small case or box, usually of metal, for holding tea, coffee, shot, etc.” and the latter, as “a small barrel or cask, usually of less than ten gallons” (OED). While the keg would probably hold the charge, the canisters would have to be oversized and scarcely suitable for receiving the interconnecting train of powder without being opened up and therefore exposing the contents to groundwater during the period of preparation. The manuscript spelling was then and is now an allowed variant. In para. 49 are “kegs containing five gallons each.”

12B trains]  The OED gives “slow match” or “slow-match” (which spelling Poe uses in para. 18) as “a rope match [or “fuse”] made so as to burn very slowly” (cited for 1802, 1828, and 1871). Moreover, under “match” the OED more amply explains that “when lighted at one end it is not easily extinguished, and continues to burn at a uniform rate; used for firing. . ., firearms, and for igniting a train [line] of gunpowder. . . . [It] burns at the rate of one yard in three hours. The quick-match is a cotton wick.” Clearly, Poe intends the latter for this fuse which, in para. 18, affords Hans a height of only fifty yards before the explosion. Poe, a former soldier, no doubt errs whimsically in his elaborate arrangement of the six holes with a total charge of 400 pounds of cannon powder, since the explosion of the first canister would merely scatter the “train,” not ignite it. The tremendous explosion could come from only one canister, and wasted was the labor expended in singlehandedly transporting and burying the whole superfluous mass. There is no explanation of how the “trains” were covered, since mere earth for the period preceding the takeoff would fail to guarantee eventual functioning of the connection,

13A dépôt]  The dépôt, presumably a shed to house the many and large objects needed, according to paras. 11 and 12, is one of the many “tall story” [page 466:] aspects of this part of the tale, others being the short “interval” (para. 10) during which he placates the creditors and masters “Practical Astronomy,” and the quick filling of the enormous balloon (para. 16).

13B air]  Poe uses the word “condenser” in the sense of the obsolete term “condensing engine” for an “apparatus for condensing air, or compressing it into a smaller space.” An 1807 OED citation is relevant: Hutton speaks of “the condensing engine by which air may be condensed to any degree, instead of rarefied as in the air-pump.” For its operation, so important during the voyage, see D. Lardner, The Cabinet of Natural Philosophy: Hydrostatics and Pneumatics (London, 1831): “The condenser consists of a receiver firmly and conveniently fixed, communicating by a tube with one or two condensing syringes” (p. 309); also Webster’s New International Dictionary (1909): “an instrument for compressing air or gases, as one consisting of a cylinder having a movable piston to force the air into a receiver, and a valve to prevent its escape.” In the narrow confines of the car, with no motive power save his arm, Hans does well to keep its operation a secret from the curious reader and ascribe it to a mysterious, unknown inventor, fittingly given the name of the two brothers Grimm, widely known in English-speaking countries for their fairy tales, which had been published in translation with Cruikshank’s illustrations in 1823. There is no reason to assume Grimm to be George Tucker, the author of A Voyage to the Moon, as does J. O. Bailey, p. 533, n. 92.

13C bargain]  The 175 pounds of weight is the only specific given, although in para. 69 the car is said to be of great weight. A 40,000 cubic-foot balloon with hydrogen gas has a lifting power of 2,200 pounds at sea level (see Rolt, p. 119) and hydrogen has a density 37.4 times greater than the gas of Hans (sic). Obviously, the ballast figure given is implausible, although the aim is, clearly, to send the balloon through the “rarefied atmosphere” of space (para. 29), which, being completely unknown, can not be “calculated” at all, as Hans here claims. In “The Balloon-Hoax” Poe shows more knowledge. His coal-gas balloon of 40,000 cubic feet has a lift of not more than 2,500 pounds.

13D expensive]  Silk, in large pieces sewn together, varnished with gum-elastic, soon came to be universally used for balloons, but early other materials were tried: the first unmanned Montgolfier balloon, of June 5, 1783, was made of linen, but George Graham’s ballooon [[balloon]] made of lawn, August 1823, proved too permeable to float. Poe, placing too much trust in his caoutchouc varnish, failed to realize that his muslin balloon would likewise be too permeable for a prolonged flight. Poe may well have been borrowing from the advance publicity for the ascent scheduled for April 30, 1835, in Philadelphia, of the showman-aeronaut, James Wise; Poe was then gestating or writing “Hans Pfaall” according to his letter of July 20 to T. W. White. Wise is the only aeronaut of whom I know in the annals of ballooning who advocated muslin in place of silk. This fact was singled out, for example, in the New York Commercial Advertiser of May 5, 1835: “Mr. Wise . . . made an ascent . . . in a car attached to a balloon of his own construction, made of coarse muslin, rendered impervious by chemical preparation.” The article in the Philadelphia Gazette (May 2) reads in part: “And its materials instead [page 467:] of being silk, were coarse muslin, prepared for the purpose and rendered impervious.” In his System of Aeronautics Wise tells of using “twill” or “cambric” muslin (pp. 149 and 275) although he finally prefers the stronger and more expensive silk. The greater weight of muslin — four times that of silk — would militate against its use for a moon-probe. Wise also greatly relied upon his “varnishes” as does Hans (pp. 148-64). In para. 11 Hans had said “cambric muslin, very fine,” thereby defeating the aim of cheapness here stressed. While cambric (originally from Cambrai in Flanders) usually signified linen, it also was used for “an imitation made of hard-spun cotton yard” (OED); an 1875 definition (OED) is “cloth . . . from power-spun flax.” To estimate Poe’s poor conception of a balloon of these dimensions, note the broadside of George Graham, August 10, 1823, of 33,500 cubic feet which used 1,000 yards of material, composed of sixty-eight gores, each more than sixty feet in length, the ballooon [[balloon]] bag being forty feet in diameter-given by J. E. Hodgson, The History of Aeronautics in Great Britain (Oxford, 1924), p. 225. Hans’s balloon is larger by 6,500 cubic feet.

14A notable]  The sentence shows that Poe intends the specialized meaning given in the OED under 4B: “of women: Capable, managing, bustling; clever and industrious in the household management or occupations. In common use from ca. 1750, but now somewhat rare. . . . Sheridan (1789) gives the pronunciation as no t?ble‘, and this is retained by Walker, Smart, Webster, and Worcester, as the correct pronunciation in sense 4b.” This disposes of the notion of H. Greer that it is Poe’s “inversion” for “notorious” and covertly alludes to Rachel Jackson (ESQ, 60:67-73). The sentence, along with the preceding one, contradicts the information in para. 8 about Hans’s fine, well-tended business and his hard work. Similarly, the implied disharmony of the Pfaall family is belied by para. 72, which tells of his longing to return to his family.

15A April]  April Fool’s day is well suited to the capricious atmosphere of the Intro. to the journey and to the takeoff. Since it was the date of their disappearance “about five years before” (para. 4), this also dates para. 2 as the first of April.

15B defended]  For “defend” in the sense of “protect” with a nonpersonal object. the OED gives only “wicket” in the game of cricket. Poe’s use seems unique. He forgets that the varnish is not intended to make it shed water, simply render it impermeable. The danger of dew is mentioned in “The Balloon-Hoax” (para. 11).

15C others]  The process of filling “an inflammable air-balloon” with hydrogen is explained by “Aerostation” of Rees (p. 11) and illustrated in figure 7 of the first volume of plates (under “Aerostation”). Here we find the tubs, tin tubes, and silk tubes that figure in Poe’s vague description; the tubes, three and one-half inches in diameter, might have been used for it, but not the ice for the central cask; for that, Poe needed another work or his personal observation of flights. John Wise, pp. 287-89, explaining his own production of hydrogen through a circle of tubs around the large central one, stresses the need for running the gas “through a head of water . . . supplied with ice.” His illustration shows a double set of five tubs around a central cask. Poe chooses to ignore his usual element of the two masts for suspending the [page 468:] limp balloon-bag above the gas apparatus and the hose for sending the gas into the bag. This detail certainly would not suit Hans’s limited means,

15D incantations]  Poe is using the word in its accepted meaning (especially when plural) of “any act or ceremony performed to produce a magical effect” (OED).

15E be]  The expression “no better than . . . should be” signifies “of doubtful moral character” (see Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs, with citations of 1604, 1712, 1882). A variant of the wording is used by Poe in para. 79: “not a whit better, nor greater, nor wiser than they ought to be.” For this meaning of “suspicious,” see “Rodman,” 4.16.

16A inflated]  Surely Poe must have known, as he said in “The Balloon-Hoax” (para, 9) that “the process of inflation was not only exceedingly expensive, but uncertain,” demanding often “two and even three days,” before Green introduced the use of coal-gas (see Rolt, pp. 50-51). At balloon demonstrations, riots resulting from the long delays were not infrequent among the paying patrons. Even John Wise, in his propagandistic statements about the ease of preparing for flights, gives figures which, matched with Poe’s six casks, five of fifty gallons and one larger, would make the four and one-half hours absurd. Roughly, three times the volume of the retorts produce 5,000 feet of hydrogen in one hour. Hence, for a 40,000 cubic-foot balloon, at least twice this would be needed; in practice, many days (Wise, p. 287). Even in “The Balloon-Hoax” the same sized balloon needs six hours to be expertly filled with commercially available coal-gas (para. 15). Poe’s description is ambiguous, perhaps deliberately, for if the balloon were filled with gas, there would be no room for expansion and an explosion would ground it-all the more important for a stratospheric balloon. In “The Balloon-Hoax” (para. 6) the bag is “fully inflated.”

16B it]  See 11E for the reason for this addition to text E. According to William H. Gravely, Tennessee Studies in Literature, 1972, 17:143-44, the list follows that of Sacharof and Etienne G. Robertson in their 1804 flight in St. Petersburg as given in Thomas I. M. Forster’s Annals of Some Remarkable Aerial and Alpine Voyages (London, 1832), p. 44. Poe’s list is too close to be coincidental, but Forster’s book is so rare at present and was likewise then, to judge from contemporary library catalogs and bibliographies of flight, as to suggest that another source bore the same paragraph — a source seen after 1835 since the list appeared only in text E: “The instruments I carried with me for these experiments were: 1st. Twelve flasks in a box with a lid; 2nd. A barometer and thermometer; 3rd. A thermometer; 4th. Two electrometers, with sealing wax and sulphur; 5th. A compass and magnetic needle; 6th. A watch that beat seconds; 7th. A bell; 8th. A speaking trumpet; 9th. A prism of crystal; 10th. Unslaked lime, and some other things for chemical and philosophical experiments.” Robertson and Sacharof were especially interested in electricity and magnetism aloft, hence the electrometer: “an instrument for detecting or measuring potential differences, electric charges, or, indirectly, electric current by means of mechanical forces exerted between electrically charged bodies” (American Heritage Dictionary). See Rees’s Cyclopaedia article on “Electrometer” for the use of sealing-wax by different types of electrometers and also the “Aerostation” article (p. 14) for electrical experiments.

16C lime]  The “unslacked lime” (the same as “unslaked lime”) was probably [page 469:] to be used “for warming coffee” without fire, as we learn from “The Balloon-Hoax” (para. 9 and n. 10), which was taken from Monck Mason’s 1837 Account (p. 11); hence, possibly, its being added in text D, although never again used. 16D bulk] Surely pemmican, of North American Indian origin, is a strange food to be found in Rotterdam. For its composition and Poe’s change of mind about its value see “Rodman” (2.13).

16E cat]  Soon Hans will show intense scientific fervor to determine the effects upon life of the upper air inside and outside his sealed car. The annals of early ballooning, including Rees’s “Aerostation” article, frequently record the animals experimentally carried. Vincent Lunardi on his celebrated September 15, 1784, London ascent bore a pigeon, a cat, and a dog. Earlier, animals were the first aerial travelers — in the Montgolfier balloon of September 19, 1783, for example. Poe need not have derived this feature from Forster’s Annals (see 16B), as W. H. Gravely asserts.

17A earth]  The impossibility of this tethering is obvious; eight men were needed to hold down the Montgolfier balloon of 22,000 cubic feet on June 5, 1783, and Pfaall’s is twice that size. Moreover, provision for the scaffold or “masts” to suspend a balloon before and during inflation is overlooked by Poe (see Rolt, Aeronauts, pp. 32, 38, and Wise, p. 289).

17B more]  Lead ballast, in five pound units, when dropped, might easily kill someone below; Poe shows his awareness of the universal use of bags of sand, to be emptied (para. 6), but is whimsical here and in paras. 33 and 34.

18A asunder]  Despite the careful, sometimes realistic details of previous paragraphs, Poe now presents a series of whimsical impossibilities embracing physics and physiology, and he deliberately seems to be confusing time sequences. When fifty yards up, Hans falls to the floor expecting a shock or concussion which, at that distance, would accompany his observation immediately. Presumably the explosion shoots the balloon upward, but he mentions only the contradictory collapse, expansion, and whirling, which “finally” send him over the “rim” to dangle at a “terrific height.” He has presumably fainted, but has enough time first for the symptoms of shock and the physical feeling of the “starting” of his eyes. None of this fits together. Two important passages of Pym are preluded here: the concussion of the falling cliff (20.13) and the “wild chaos of wood, metal, and human limbs” (22.11), the latter having the same order of details and wording.

18B velocity]  Poe’s balloon here scarcely behaves in an accountable way, “collapsing” and “expanding” and “whirling.” Poe apparently assumed that any rush of flames and gases upward would produce a “spiral exhalation,” as he says in “MS. Found in a Bottle” (para. 5) and in Pym (22.11). It is possibly a correlate of his destructive whirlpools in the first (ending) and in “The Maelström.” A hint for this balloon action may be found in Rees’s “Aerostation” article, which refers to the 1785 forced descent of Sir Edward Vernon (p. 6) “They observed that the balloon revolved perpetually round its vertical axis with such rapidity as to perform each revolution in four or five seconds.”

18C entangled]  Poe may have used for this mishap the often told account of the early attempt to cross from Ireland to England, when Richard McGuire, having forcibly supplanted the aeronaut Richard Crosbie, found himself suspended over the waves with his “ankle entangled in a rope” (see Rolt, p. 99). [page 470:] He would also know of the fatal mishap, in September 1824, to Windham Sadler, thrown out of his balloon when it struck a chimney and suspended by the legs before plunging to the ground (see Rolt, pp. 101-2). C. D. Laverty, “Science and Pseudo-Science in the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe” (Ph.D. diss., Duke University, 1951), was the first of many to make this second suggestion. 18D swoon] For further bulging-eye trouble see para. 34, and see, earlier, Psyche Zenobia’s strange death in “A Predicament” (third para. from the end).

19A situation]  For an ironic association, by the mad narrator, of madness with a calm manner, the disease said to sharpen the senses, see “The Tell-Tale Heart” of 1843 (para. l). In “Hans Pfaall” (para. 20) he calls his madness a kind of “delirium,” that is, a purely temporary condition. In para. 22, however, he ironically applies “madman” to his normal condition, because he is bold and scientifically curious and exploratory.

19B chagrined]  There is much whimsy in the physiological symptoms of Hans in this episode, the blackness of the fingernails, for example, and the alternating “delirium” (para. 20) and tranquillity. Hans seems convinced that an absence of alert rationality is equivalent to madness in his bumptious pride. His resourcefulness here also characterizes the less complacent heroes of “The . . . Maelström” and “The . . . Pendulum.” He is here becoming the “muscle-man” who will be able to cope with the demands of outer space (cf. also para. 29 for his “ironconstitution”). In the plural especially “tablets” applies to a notebook.

19C pantaloons]  Poe may have used in A through D “inexpressibles,” the colloquial synonym (originally a euphemism) for “pantaloons,” as contributing to the whimsical tone of this entire paragraph. The OED gives it a humorous first date of 1790, used by “Peter Pindar” (Wolcott) and, after 1809, only one semiserious use in 1875. Poe showed no such nicety in referring to clothing or parts of the body in Pym (see 9.5, for example).

19D wicker-work]  For the “crevice” (see para. 18) and the entangled buckle of his rescue, Poe relies on uncovered wicker-work, although the Rees article on “Aerostation” advocates that the wicker-work be “covered with leather well painted or varnished over.” Very indefinite for the questioning reader is the feat of his “drawing” his body “upwards” and securing the buckle: How long were the entangling rope and the cravat to enable him to cast the buckle for the length of most of his body, even if drawn “upwards” and along at least half the diameter of the car, and how could he cast toward the rim if his face was “turned outwardly“?

20A posterity]  Unless Hans is an enormously stout man, with no evidence for this given, the tipping of the heavy car, loaded with all the supplies and 175 pounds of leaden ballast (para. 17) is whimsy, which matches the deliberate details of his dangling by one foot with his face in a specific direction, as though he will not be turning freely about. In fact, his own weight must counterbalance many times itself, for in para. 28 he speaks of “ballast and other weight to the amount of nearly 300 pounds,” apart from indispensable equipment, such as food, water, a complicated condenser, the hoop, clothing, and the bag for the basket — all weighing hundreds of pounds. His postulate about the cord’s hanging over the upper edge is faulty, for then his task would be easier; he might then have climbed up the rope. Later, after learning about the guide-rope used by Charles Green (see “The Balloon-Hoax,” para. 11), Poe presented another [page 471:] balloonist dangling more credibly in “The Angel of the Odd” of October 1844. During Hans’s rescue, he fails to mention how he managed to free his ankle from so “vice-like” a loop while ascending, unless he merely dragged it up with himself. Here, in a word new to the E text, is the first specific promise of interesting scientific “disclosures” made during the journey (as in Pym and “Rodman”), to be restated in para. 72.

20B channels]  This sentence retains two faults in all versions: the lack of parallelism in “accumulating . . . and which” and “their” referring to “blood” — not the only instances in the tale, despite the opportunities for revision. The anguish of the experience cannot be urged in extenuation, to judge from the other instances. Medically there is no reason for his inverted position’s producing delirium at first.

21A miles]  Hans started before daybreak (about 5:00 A.M.) and has now been climbing an hour, to reach this height, although his average speed for the journey must be 500 miles per hour (see 23B). In para. 17, he says that he “shot” up (only for fifty yards), but in para. 28 he grants the moderate velocity of balloons at first and attempts to explain away this problem in his lunar probe.

21B close-hauled]  See Pym (1.7B) where it is spelled with no hyphen.

22A suicide]  The only other tales in which suicide is presented as a direct aim (see para. 8) are the satirically romantic tale “The Assignation” of January 1834 and, very briefly, the humorous “The Angel of the Odd.” In a few tales, it may be argued, there is a perverse and unconscious impulse toward self-destruction, as in “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

23A miles]  The data and most of the wording of sentences 2, 3, and 4 are taken from Sir John Herschel’s Treatise on Astronomy (London, 1833; Philadelphia, 1834), paragraphs 340-44. In his October 1846 “Literati” sketch of Richard Locke, Poe alludes to this major source for scientific data in “Hans Pfaall”: “About six months before this occurrence the Harpers had issued an American edition of Sir John Herschell’s [sic] ‘Treatise on Astronomy,’ and I had been much interested in what is there said respecting the possibility of future lunary investigation” (para. 4 of the sketch; for “what is there said” see 71C below). Poe erred in the spelling of Herschel and in the publisher, for Carey, Lea and Blanchard or their continuers published all the reprints in America. Harold Beaver (n. 17) notes Poe’s following Sir John’s error in “expressing the eccentricity of an ellipse as a fraction of ‘the major semi-axis.’ ” Poe has, however, improved upon Herschel, who wrote, concerning the moon, “the form of the apparent orbit, like that of the sun, is elliptic, but considerably more eccentric, the eccentricity amounting to 0.05484 of the mean distance, or the major semi-axis of the ellipse” (para. 342). The modern value of the eccentricity is .05490, which is satisfactory for the value labeled “eccentricity” by Herschel. The mean distance is that of the major semiaxis. To refer to eccentricity in terms of a product is confusing in today’s terminology, but by leaving out “the mean distance,” Poe avoided Herschel’s confusion. (The substance of this note was supplied by Dr. Kenneth Franklin.)

23B hereafter]  Poe does not mention the particulars of speed and concomitant details, and manages the whole flight in nineteen days. Hence, he must travel approximately 12,000 miles daily or 500 miles per hour, which speed greatly exceeds the sixty miles of which he talks. In para. 16 he has discreetly failed to [page 472:] specify the “large quantity of provision,” including water, possibly required for the 322 day trip at thirty m.p.h. postulated originally (and then changed to 161 days at sixty m.p.h.). Of course, the forty days’ provisions in the A, B, C, and D versions offer a counterbalance and presuppose the higher speed of at least 250 m.p.h. or a “velocity prodigiously accelerating.”

24A itself]  This is all almost a précis of Herschel’s Treatise, para. 33: “When we ascend to any very considerable elevation above the surface of the earth, either in a balloon, or on mountains, we are made aware . . . of an insufficient supply of air. . . . From its [the barometer’s] indications we learn, that when we have ascended to the height of 1000 feet, we have left below us about one thirtieth of the whole mass of the atmosphere: — that at 10,600 feet of perpendicular elevation . . . we have ascended through about one third; and at 18,000 feet (which is nearly that of Cotopaxi) through one half the material or, at least, the ponderable, body of air incumbent on the earth’s surface. . . . An easy calculation . . . is sufficient to show that, at an altitude above the surface of the earth not exceeding the hundredth part of its diameter, the tenuity, or rarefaction, of the air must be so excessive, that not only animal life could not subsist, or combustion be maintained in it, but that the most delicate means we possess of ascertaining the existence of any air at all would fail to afford the slightest perceptible indications of its presence.” Poe helpfully inserts “eighty miles” for his readers. Poe again cites the volcano Cotopaxi in Ecuador, then the highest mountain known, in “The Balloon-Hoax” (1844) in a similar context, q.v. in Tales, 2:1080 and 1087, n. 24.

24B analogical]  The deprecation here of analogical reasoning does not match the respect shown for it in para. 81 and elsewhere (see 81A). In flatly contradicting Herschel’s conclusion, Poe is anticipating his “discovery” in para. 46.

24C Biot]  This is taken from the beginning of para. 32 in the Treatise, the rest of which would become Poe’s para. 32, below: “Lastly, the greatest extent of the earth’s surface which has ever been seen at once by man, was that exposed to the view of MM. Biot and Gay-Lussac, in their celebrated aeronautic expedition to the enormous height of 25,000 feet, or rather less than five miles.” Poe and Herschel err in that Biot did not join Gay-Lussac in the second recordbreaking ascent.

24D speculation]  The satisfaction of philosophical or scientific inquiry is the assumed motive behind all of Hans Pfaall’s preparation and efforts, although his stated motive (para. 22) is to escape from “distressing circumstances” on “the world” and to pass “to the moon” — an obvious discrepancy.

25A rarefaction]  The first sentence is taken, almost verbatim, from the Treatise, para. 33, used in para. 24 above: “Although by rising still higher we should continually get above more and more of the air, and so relieve ourselves more and more from the pressure with which it weighs upon us, yet the amount of this additional relief, or the ponderable quantity of air surmounted, would be by no means in proportion to the additional height ascended, but in a constantly decreasing ratio.” Poe eventually converts this infinitely rarefied atmosphere into a medium for breathing by human beings through condensation.

26A investigation]  The word “worthy” with a noun as object, omitting the preposition “of” is given by the OED as archaic and rare. Modern citations of 1833 and 1852 from Tennyson and Newman are given, but since Poe writes [page 473:] “worthy of attention” later in the same paragraph, the dropping of the preposition here is probably a typesetter’s error.

26B question]  These five sentences (from “On comparing”) are an almost verbatim transcription of a passage in the Treatise (para. 483) : “On comparing the intervals between the successive perihelion passages of this comet, after allowing in the most careful and exact manner for all the disturbances due to the actions of the planets, a very singular fact has come to light, viz. that the periods are continually diminishing, or, in other words, the mean distance from the sun, or the major axis of the ellipse, dwindling by slow but regular degrees. This is evidently the effect which would be produced by a resistance experienced by the comet from a very rare ethereal medium pervading the regions in which it moves; for such resistance, by diminishing its actual velocity, would diminish also its centrifugal force, and thus give the sun more power over it to draw it nearer. Accordingly (no other mode of accounting for the phaenomenon in question appearing), this is the solution proposed by Encke, and generally received.”

Poe’s insertion of the word “centripetal” can be explained by reference to Eureka (pp. 78-79) : “The bodies whirled off . . . would exchange . . . the superficial rotation of the orbs whence they originated, for a revolution of equal velocity about these orbs as distant centers; and the revolution thus engendered must proceed, so long as the centripetal force, or that with which the discarded body gravitates toward its parent, is neither greater nor less than that by which it was discarded .. . the centrifugal, or. . . . tangential velocity. . . . Referring . . . the centripetal force to the omniprevalent law of Gravity. . . .” His concept of a “rare ethereal medium” became a basic element for physical unification in Poe’s cosmos, as S. Levine comments (n. 13), and can be found in “The Power of Words” (para. 24): “The ether — which, since it pervades, and alone pervades all space, is thus the great medium of creation.”

Johann Franz Encke is famous for his discussion of the periodicity of the comet discovered by Pons in 1818, now known as Encke’s Comet. Poe’s lasting interest in the phenomenon of comets is shown in his use of one to destroy the solar system in “Conversation of Eiros and Charmion” (December 1839), hinted at also in “Colloquy of Monos and Una” (1841), and referred to in “Mellonta Tauta” (1848). Herschel speaks of a possible passage of earth through the comet as a “singular rencontre, perhaps not unattended with danger” (Treatise, para. 484).

26C sun]  These two sentences are a close paraphrase of the following passage in Herschel’s Treatise (para. 488) : “The real diameter of the visible nebulosity undergoes a rapid contraction as it approaches, and an equally rapid dilatation as it recedes from the sun. M. Valz, who, among others, had noticed this fact, has accounted for it by supposing a real compression or condensation of volume, owing to the pressure of an ethereal medium growing more dense in the sun’s neighbourhood.” Poe cleverly incorporates Jean E. B. Valz (1787-1867) as a contemporary spokesman for his own point of view about the “medium,” causing S. Levine to say: “Poe probably refers to his ‘Essai sur la détermination des densites de l’éther’ [1831]” (n. 13). The “aphelion” is the point furthest from the sun in the orbit of a planet or other body and represents Poe’s learned addition to Herschel’s text. [page 474:]

26D Pliny lib. 2, p. 26]  Poe derived this footnote, added in text C (see also para. 38 of “Manuscript Notes”), from the “Zodiacal Light” article of Rees (vol. 39, sentences 2 and 3). This can be verified by the absence from Pliny’s text of “et,” the gender of “quas,” and the strange Latin form “docos” for the Greek. However, Poe must also have seen or learned of the Pliny original, to judge from “et” and the “p. 26” for “paragraph xxvi” which are not in the Rees article. Gaius Plinius Secundus (23-79) in his Natural History is discussing meteors, which are either “torches” (“lampades”) or “missiles” (“bolides”). Other similar meteoric lights, he says, are “beams,” in Greek “[[Greek text]]” (“dokou’s”). In the original the sentence reads thus: “Emicant et trabes simili modo, quas [[Greek text]] vocant.. . .” In reprinting the Griswold text, Harrison made several silent corrections from Pliny, thereby confusing several commentators on the passage; he inserted the “et” but erroneously joined it to “emicant” and corrected the false gender of “quos” but gave the misleading Latin accusative plural “docos” for Pliny’s Greek [[Greek text]] Bailey (p. 527, n. 75), because of the “p, 26,” concludes that Poe may have found the passage in another untraced article in the Cyclopaedia, but this is unlikely. Poe appears to have copied it from “Zodiacal Light,” with minor changes (but no correction of “quos”) and adapted the translation given: “Some have supposed, that this phenomenon is the same with that which the ancients called trabes, a term by which they denoted a meteor; or impression in the air like a beam. Thus Pliny (lib. ii) says, ‘emicant trabes, quos docos vocant.‘” The quotation means: “And there rush forth rays which they call beams.”

26E orbs]  The phenomenon that is the light itself is actually shaped differently — like a cone or pyramid, although it stems from the imputed “atmosphere” of the sun which is said, by Herschel, to be “lenticularly-formed.” Loosely, it is true, Herschel calls the light “a cone” or “lenticular-shaped,” that is, lentil in shape. All of these four sentences (save for the “purely geological” notion) are derived from Herschel’s discussion of “some slight degree of nebulosity about the sun itself” (Treatise, para. 626). Herschel’s compound term is derived from earlier discussions of the phenomenon, as in the article “Zodiacal Light” of Rees (vol. 39) : “The figure of this solar atmosphere must be lenticular, or that of a flatted spheroid.” (In Poe, Creator of Words, I wrongly ascribed it to Poe.) Remembering this passage in Herschel, in Eureka (p. 98) Poe decribed [[described]] the Galaxy as “a lenticular star-island, or collection of stars” as mentioned by H. Beaver, in n. 20. Poe’s disavowal of “meteoric lustre” flies against the modern view: “Zodiacal light probably is the reflection of sunlight from a swarm of meteoric particles concentrated in the plane of the ecliptic . . . beyond the earth’s orbit. A small part . . . is thought to be due to an electron cloud . . . near the earth” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1966, 23:961). Poe’s word “matters” here is a strange plural, probably implying “elements.” This virtually acknowledges that the “atmosphere,” if any, outside the earth may not be fit for human respiration, e.g., at the moon, being different in composition, although the next paragraph denies this possibility.

27A travel]  Curtly, now, Hans dismisses the problem of the nature of the atmosphere above earth in space; it is the same. He now resumes the topic of speed, left incomplete at the end of para. 23, and confidently ignores the whole subject of variations in temperature, even then known to be extreme and [page 475:] lethal to life, as he does in the whole tale save for a casual reference in para. 52. Coping with the tenuous air of space is solved simply through the spending of “money and great labor” on the condensing apparatus.

28A accelerated]  Poe’s odd use of strata here and in paras. 46 and 71 for air continually and gradually less dense probably derives from Herschel’s Treatise (para. 37) : “It may therefore be considered as consisting of successively superposed strata or layers, each of the form of a spherical shell, concentric with the general surface of the sea and land, and each of which is rarer, or specifically lighter, than that immediately beneath it; and denser, or specifically heavier, than that immediately above it.” Herschel’s language reflects the astronomers’ use of “scale height.”

28B oxygen]  The entire paragraph states the basis for restricting an ascent to only a few miles and then accepts as more plausible for Hans the opposite premise — of lively and steady acceleration, despite the admitted need to let much of the incredibly light gas escape. Using Poe’s innovation of sealed, pressurized balloon-cars and oxygen tanks, the invention of Auguste Picard, without credit to Poe, recent aeronauts have proved the slowing and cessation of upward movement: in 1933, Picard, at 53,153 feet; D. G. Simons in 1957, at 101,500 feet; an unmanned balloon in 1957, at 137,750 feet; M. D. Ross and V. Prother in 1961, at 113,500 feet. The top figure was that of the Skylock plastic balloon, still less durable, apparently, than Hans’s muslin (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1966, 3:45 and 49).

28C pounds]  The addition to E of this passage, anticipating the event in paras. 66 and 67, indicates Poe’s being troubled by this obvious obstacle to his journey, which his italics fail to solve, especially when he grants the vacuum of space in para. 41. Even with all his ballast and equipment jettisoned the “immense” balloon bag will weigh too much. Nor does Poe, either here or at the time of descent, suggest using a parachute for his machine such as Blanchard provided in his March 1784 flight (see “Aerostation,” p. 4). The first sentence of the addition shows rather hasty writing; the verb should be inverted to “would I reach” after the introductory negative phrase.

28D moon]  The number “forty” (see the variant) has often a mystic significance from its frequency in the Bible and also in legal custom (q.v., in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: “Forty”). Poe, perhaps unwilling to imply this in his fiction, may have accordingly removed it, or, as he says, he would be encumbered by the food and water required.

29A kind]  These vague symptoms of pain and uneasiness could be generally derived from brief accounts of aeronauts as in Rees’s “Aerostation” article; see the flights of Messrs. Charles de Morneau and Bertrand and Mr. Crosbie (pp. 4 and 6). Dionysius Lardner, Cabinet of Natural Philosophy, p. 344, speaks of a more rapid pulse, a swelled head, a parched throat, and sleepiness. Medically the only reason for nose bleeding, as here, is the excessive dryness of the air (see paras. 32 and 34).

29B urged]  This footnote, added to the D text, is compounded of fact and fiction. The English exhibitionist-balloonist, Charles Green, first used coal-gas (see 11F and 16A) and also the trail- or drag-rope, adapted from T. Baldwin’s idea in Airopaidia of 1786. His 1836 Account of his famous Great Nassau flight from Dover to Weilburg, his only publication, says nothing to this effect, [page 476:] nor does Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), celebrated for his work in geography and meteorology, which was embodied chiefly in the thirty volumes of Voyages aux régions éguinoctiales du nouveau continent (1799-1804). Eureka in 1848 would be dedicated to him, chiefly for his ideas in Kosmos, which began to come out in 1845. Poe here, at first, seems to be referring to the condition called the “bends” when a diver, for example, suddenly ascends without gradual decompression, so that the nitrogen becomes free in the blood stream and clogs the small vessels. Of course, he chooses to ignore the real cause of “these symptoms” — lack of oxygen. His “purely muscular” is wrong, for breathing is primarily nervous in that the nerves must autonomically send signals to the muscles to contract or relax in order to expand and contract the chest cavity. Breathing involves building up a negative intrapleural pressure so that air passes into the lungs. Inspiration would be easier, but expiration impossible, even for “strong-man” Hans. The same reasoning, incidentally, would guarantee the bursting of the balloon.

30A mankind]  It is likely that the wording of the second sentence (and also of the first of para. 72) suggested that of the final title of the tale, which was also that in the PHANTASY-PIECES (1841-1842); it may well be that most of the revisions in Griswold’s 1850 text were made in an annotated copy of the 1839 Tales [[Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque]], prepared during 1840 or 1841. Only paras. 90 and 91 definitely date from 1845 or later (for reasons given in relevant notes).

31A moon]  The conclusion of the sentence, from “the obvious reason” in the E text, replaces the earlier words of A through D: “reasons which will be explained in the sequel”; these words are unlikely to indicate the present conclusion of “Hans Pfaall,” abrupt as it is, rather than a subsequent installment of his moon-adventures. This implied intention accords with Poe’s statement in his 1846 sketch of Richard Locke: “The second part will most probably never appear.” J. O. Bailey discussed the point (57:533-34). The reference to gravitation seems to imply that there will not be enough downward pull to enable him to land, but the reference to “atmospheric density” (see also para. 71) merits the term “rigmarole” that he applied to Locke’s hoax (para. 89); likewise, his smug satisfaction about still retaining his ballast for the moon which is almost 237,000 miles distant.

31B car]  The air of convivial domesticity or edenic peacefulness lent by the ensconced cat and pecking pigeons almost four miles aloft is at least whimsical if not humorous, especially on Hans’s suicidal flight from his naive and now murdered creditors. Edward Wagenknecht in Edgar Allan Poe, (Oxford, 1963), p. 64, notes the amiable light in which cats are seen here and in “The Black Cat” and “The Business Man.” This sympathy will reappear until they are lost in para. 46.

32A globe]  This is entirely a close paraphrase of para. 32 of Herschel’s Treatise, in which he explains how much of earth’s surface Gay-Lussac saw at five miles of ascent: “To estimate the production of the area visible from this elevation to the whole earth’s surface, we must have recourse to the geometry of the sphere, which informs us that the convex surface of a spherical segment is to the whole surface of the sphere to which it belongs as the versed sine, or thickness of the segment, is to the diameter of the sphere; and further, that this thickness, in the case we are considering, is almost exactly equal to the perpendicular elevation of the [page 477:] point of sight above the surface. The proportion, therefore, of the visible area in this case, to the whole earth’s surface, is that of five miles to 8000, or 1 to 1600.”

32B eastward]  For other quiet but surging seas in Poe’s works see Pym (24.13) and “The Balloon-Hoax” (para. 15). The second sentence refers to the British ship of para. 21, which has thereby provided a slight element of narrative continuity. For the redundant “to the eastward” (as in paras. 36, 43, 47, 51, 53-4, 58, 61-2) see Pym, 15.1A, and “Julius Rodman” (3.5A, end of note).

33A elevation]  The source for these sentences is probably the account of Mr. Crosbie’s July 19, 1785, ascent off the coast of Ireland, described in Rees’s “Aerostation” article (p. 6) : “He then entered a dense cloud, and experienced strong blasts of winds, with thunder and lightning. . . . Water soon entered his car.” There is no warrant for Poe’s using “cloud” in the singular after “series,” although he is obviously regarding it as being like “fog.”

33B head]  Hans expresses the danger rather indirectly, for the danger did not concern his being wet but rather the condition of the surface of the balloon, which thereby acquired additional weight; this necessitated the release of the ten pounds of ballast, again not as scattered sand apparently but as solid and therefore lethal objects. Hans’s vivid imagination follows through the charcoal simile into the fantasy of “chasms of . . . fire,” but Poe seems to refer to the inflammability of his gas (see para. 11). However, his surprise about clouds well below nine and one-half miles ignores Herschel’s ceiling limit of ten miles (see the Treatise, para. 34). Poe overlooks the fact that the rubberized covering of the balloon would not be a preferred path for a lightning stroke.

34A alarm]  The blood oozing from the eardrums is untenable, even though Biot and Gay-Lussac in 1804 reported “buzzing in ears and even hemorrhage,” according to F. Marion, Wonderful Balloon Ascents (New York, 1870), p. 201. In any event, blood from the ears should not run down the cheeks. Below, Poe fantasizes about bleeding at the eyes. Biot did report, apparently from hearsay, that Robertson said of an ascent of July 1803 in Hamburg that “their eyes bled.” In view of his “copiously bleeding,” why does Hans have to take a “basin-full” of blood soon afterward? This is medically and physiologically wrong, but the age had a reverence for “bleeding” out of all proportion to any value it had in rare instances. For another impossible bloody agony in Poe’s works see the drowning bison, bleeding at the nostrils, in “Rodman,” 5.14.

34B idea]  Previously the reader was told of a “plan of suicide and of vengeance” (para. 8), the first of which is contradicted by para. 18. Now scientific inquiry becomes the primary motive, but utterly whimsical is the notion of breathing ordinary air as being a mere flexible habit.

35A chest]  The “spasm” and “gasping manner” of para. 34 were the prelude to this condition. In reality, the natural effort to inhale more of the rarefied atmosphere would provoke a deliberate deep inhalation. Several flights above 20,000 feet before 1835 had publicized the overwhelming effect of rarefied atmosphere, often rendering the balloonists insensible (see 32D). Poe’s figure here of seventeen miles is caprice, not ignorance, but above five miles Hans was taking off into a sphere of sheer fantasy.

35B use]  Poe forgets that in para. 33 a cloud damaged the well-stowed apparatus (see para. 21), which must have been “unpacked,” nor has he arranged for its being repaired before this moment of great need. [page 478:]

36A blue]  The rest of the sentence was dropped in E: “and began already to assume a slight appearance of convexity.” This seemed to contradict what he had to say about the apparent concavity of the earth in para. 37.

36B Africa]  It is likely that Poe derived details and ideas for the last two sentences (in E) from Tucker’s Voyage to the Moon, cited in the American Quarterly Review (p. 92): “The British islands had diminished to a speck, and France was little larger; yet, a few years ago it seemed, at least to us in the United States, as if there were no other nations on the earth. The Brahmin . . . reminded me that Athens and Sparta had once obtained almost equal celebrity, although they were so small as not now to be visible. . . . I pictured to myself the fat, plodding Hollander — the patient, contemplative German. .. .” This perspective at seventeen miles of altitude is impossible: in addition to a vast area of ocean, Hans sees the British Isles (roughly 60° N. latitude down to Africa at 35° N.) and a spread from the coasts of France and Spain over to those of Ireland of 5° E. to 10° W. longitude. Yet, five miles high, he saw a mere one sixteen hundredth of the earth’s surface (para. 32). Hans would have to be about 500 miles high to see the surface indicated. Clearly Poe expects the particular names of places to carry conviction. The tone and wording of the last sentence may owe something to Amos 5:8: “who summoned the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth.” The sentence also reflects Poe’s interest in proud but decaying or decayed cities; see “The City in the Sea” and “The Coliseum” in Poems, pp. 196-98, and 226-31; also Pym, 23 bis.5.

36C earth]  A long sentence about the rock of Gibraltar is here omitted, probably because Poe knew that such particularity of vision was indeed impossible and the tone is too poetic. Frugally, he uses most of it in paras. 51 and 53. For the cataract metaphor see Pym (24.13).

37A disappears]  All of para. 37 was added to text E as well as being used in “The Balloon-Hoax” (1844), sentences 1 and 2 at the end of para. 17, modified, and the rest, almost verbatim, as a footnote to that paragraph; the aeronauts there are cruising along at 25,000 feet. Poe’s reasonings seem plausible, but he makes assumptions about the naivete of the experienced eye which are not true in actual experience. No balloonist or astronaut has reported this “seeming concavity” and in the confirmation reported by H. Beaver (n. 25) in Mark Twain’s Roughing It of 1872, which mentions Poe, the situation is quite different, being affected by the locale — that of a volcanic crater. Poe’s source for the idea and passage is unknown. The spelling “hypothenuse” is an allowed variant of “hypotenuse.”

38A satisfaction]  The earliest annals of ballooning, beginning with the first public ascent of the Montgolfiers, tell about the animals carried aloft for scientific purposes. Poe might have derived his animal passengers from several, including Vincent Lunardi’s flight in England, which was interrupted to land a half-frozen cat and continued with a dog and pigeons. The “Aerostation” article of Rees tells of this and, more pointedly, of Blanchard who “ascended so high as to experience a great difficulty of breathing; a pigeon also, which flew away from the boat, laboured for some time with its wings, in order to sustain itself in the rarefied air, and after wandering for a good while returned and rested on one side of the boat” (p. 6).

38B uneasiness]  Since the cat’s distress in para. 34 is evidently caused by the [page 479:] altitude, the recovery now is mystifying, especially since there should have been different responses for the mother and kittens, to confirm the theory of Hans, expressed in that paragraph. The whole ignores the need of a cat for the same level or proportion of oxygen as a mortal.

39A respiration]  Poe had plied the pages of Rees’s Cyclopaedia often enough, even referring to the article on “Atmosphere,” in all probability first of the trio of “Article[s]” listed at the end of his manuscript notes of “Hans Pfaall” (no. 42), so that he would know the following: “The atmosphere, however indefinitely it may be expanded, becomes at a comparatively small distance, so rare and light, as to be utterly imperceptible in its effects as a resisting medium.” At the altitude of forty to fifty miles “the air above 10,000 times rarer than at the surface of the earth” and at 500 miles “a cubic inch of the air we breathe . . . would fill a sphere equal in diameter to the orbit of Saturn” (see 48A).

39B hoop]  Poe uses the passive voice (and inadvertently a dangling participle) to avoid declaring how the suffering man inside the car could draw a large bag with a diameter of at least six or eight feet, “over the whole bottom,” as though he is working from the outside, and can manage to attach it at two or more points simultaneously to avoid its dropping off or dangling from one side. Consider the weight of the fabric increased by four panes of thick glass (para. 40). Moreover, he has to manage to match the bottom pane with the aperture in the floor of the car. It is an ingenious fantasy.

39C loops]  Poe is confused about the “hoop,” partly because two hoops could be used, as the “Aerostation” article (p. 9) shows. To the optional upper rim or hoop the network receiving the full thrust of the gigantic balloon would be attached, but tightly and permanently. The lower, smaller “concentrating hoop” would receive heavy cords from the upper hoop or the network and from it cords would be attached to and around the “car,” as was explained and illustrated in Wise, A System of Aeronautics, pp. 281-89. Poe clearly meant the lower hoop although his terminology may reflect his speaking of “a hoop” (para. 11) and of “the circular rim of the wicker-work” (para. 18) — which is not a hoop at all. He also overlooks the very great tension of each supporting cord of this upward-thrusting balloon — a tension which would utterly prevent attachment to the buttons. This idea he may have derived from the early prints of the Montgolfiers’ “Globe Aerostatique” of July 5, 1783, of 23,000 cubic feet, the sections of which are seen to be fastened by buttons, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica (Macropaidia ed., 1973), 7:382.

39D tourniquet]  The OED defines, for tourniquet, only the “surgical instrument” for staunching the flow of blood and an instrument for strangulation, but not a “stationary tourniquet.” Clearly Poe means a fixed bar or clamp that will not work its way loose from the twisted fabric.

40A it]  The passive construction of the first sentence prevents our knowing who made the “air-tight” insertion of the four windows, but his only helper for such a feat seemed to be his wife (para. 11; see also the technical feat involving the “brass rim” in para. 41 ). Poe’s source for these four circular windows was probably Tucker’s book, A Voyage to the Moon, known to him, I suspect, only in the very full review of Dunglison in the American Quarterly Review, which cites the description of the six circular windows in the air-tight “flying” or levitational cube which bears the Hindu and Atterley to the moon; likewise the “special” [page 480:] screws which passed “through the top of the machine” and the two projecting telescopes (pp. 71-72). Poe’s projecting and screwed-in condenser, in para. 41, seems derived from this. Tucker also arranges to have his two voyagers use condensed air during their three-day trip — the product of a machine as mysterious and ingenious as is Poe’s apparatus. W. H. Gravely, Tennessee Studies in Literature, 17:147, suggests Herschel’s Treatise as the idea-source for the condenser. We might note that Auguste Piccard’s pressurized balloon cabin of 1933, the first ever constructed, had four-inch glass windows for looking out, up, and down (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1966, 3:46).

41A respiration]  The encylopedias of the day described the condenser as a siphon mechanism with a piston and handle; Rees’s Cyclopaedia called it “a syringe, by means of which a considerable quantity of air may be forced into a vessel,” and the Americana (Philadelphia, 1829) similarly calls it “a syringe fitted with valves into which an uncommon quantity of air may be crowded . . . sometimes ten atmospheres, or ten times as much air as there is at the same time in the same space” (3:413). Poe’s “several times” is altogether absurd for his infinitely rarefied atmosphere (see 39A), which he tacitly grants in the total vacuum ensuing upon opening the “small valve” at the bottom of the car. Poe knew that in a split second the air, from the car would be drawn or sucked uncontrollably into space.

41B gum-elastic]  In order to provide for feeding the animals by hand through the valve, Poe suspends the cats’ basket at an unreachable central point, for given the diameter of the circular car (at least five feet), the height of the wall or side (over four feet according to para. 49) and the length of the pole (about six feet), he could not feed them from the rim, before closing the encompassing bag. But the joke is, of course, that he could have used the “small aperture” in the floor from the beginning.

42A complain]  Poe correctly alludes to the taxing effects of all exertion in high altitudes, but the lingering feeling of “distention” has no physiological justification. It took Hans exactly thirty-five minutes to set up the condenser and the impermeable bag with the many loops and buttons needing individual attention.

43A superficies]  De Luc’s “siphon barometer” for measuring heights is described in the Encyclopaedia Americana (1829; 1:583) and in the article on “Barometer” of Rees (vol. 13); the latter also describes various adaptations and special types by other scientists and inventors. By “extended” Poe might mean a tapering for increased sensitivity at the lower end of the barometer. Poe aptly sets a limit at this point to the instrument, which cannot function in the sealed bag. For the expansion of the one sixteen hundredth to one three hundred twentieth of the earth’s surface, see para. 32.

43B fro]  This sentence was changed in E from “convexity” to be consistent with the added para. 37, q.v. Here Poe first acknowledges the well-known fact that eighty percent of the earth’s surface would be veiled from an aeronaut’s view by clouds at various levels. In reality, “if the oxygen partial pressure has fallen to a value corresponding to an altitude of 60,000 feet” unconsciousness ensues in about fifteen seconds” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1964, 21:103F).

44A elevation]  It is strange that for the first four hours (from 5:30 to 9:30) Hans rises only twenty-five to thirty miles, when he spoke so glibly of greatly and easily exceeding sixty miles an hour to reach the moon (para. 22). The very [page 481:] moderate rates in m.p.h. thus far given are these: from 6:20 to 7:00, six and one-half m.p.h.; 7:00 to 8:00, nine and one-half m.p.h.; 8:00 to 8:40, twelve m.p.h. Where then is “so prodigious an acceleration“? Poe perhaps tries to compensate in para. 45 in his “speed increasing momently,” which will bring him to the moon in nineteen days, at an average rate of 500 m.p.h., but since he is now in a vacuum (para. 41), his increased acceleration is impossible.

45A bottom]  Compare Poe’s “Dreamland” of 1844: “Bottomless vales and boundless floods / And chasms, and cave, and Titan woods . . . / Mountains toppling evermore.” This whole paragraph, especially before the omission (see 45c and variant notes) reveals an uncharacteristically poetic Hans.

In “various apparatus” (of sentence 2) Poe is considering the noun as plural, as did Bentham in 1818: “Which of the two apparatus would your Graces. . . recommend?” (cited by the OED which calls it a “rare” plural, although it is given as a common alternate for “apparatuses” by the modern American Heritage and Random House dictionaries). See para. 52 for “My apparatus all” below.

45B ever]  Compare the 1836 version of “The Valley Nis”: “Nothing there is motionless: / Nothing save the airs that brood / O‘er the enchanted solitude,” etc. and “Some lilies wave / All banner-like . . . ” (Poems, p. 193); also, “Ah, by no winds are stirred those trees / . . . . / Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven . . . / Over the lilies there that wave” in “The Valley of Unrest” (pp. 195-96); see also “Silence”: “For many miles. . . heads” (para. 2).

45C clouds]  For Poe’s favorite word “wilderness” see Pym (14.6A). This passage, dropped from the E text and used in “The Island of the Fay” (para. 9), for which it is indeed the generative motif, proves my contention that this plate article was not an illustration of Sartain’s adaptation of a John Martin sketch but, vice versa, for the sketch was an illustration, despite Poe’s disclaimer in the June 1841 Graham’s Magazine (see Pollin, “A Hoax Detected,” The Mystery and Detection Annual, 1972, 1:33-45). Its reappearance then also suggests Poe’s reworking “Hans Pfaall” for the PHANTASY-PIECES no later than the spring of 1841. See also Tales, 1:598, for this “dream fantasy.”

45D possibility]  This presages para. 72: “the dark and hideous mysteries” of the moon. See Poe’s “Manuscript Notes,” para. 6, concerning “hell” as being the “other side of the moon.”

46A valve]  The early treatises on ballooning spoke often of the need for inserting a valve to let out the gas in ascending, to prevent bursting, and Poe may have derived his idea from this source (e.g., Rees’s “Aerostation,” p. 9), but Poe seems to have forgotten that these valves, “opening inward,” were in the balloon bag. He has spoken about “one aperture” in the car, for the “fourth window,” while clearly here he requires a second that would correspond to another fixed position in the encompassing bag.

46B fortune]  Again we have the notion of rarefied air as satisfying all the vital functions simply through habit and early ambience. H. Beaver suitably comments on this episode as one of “the troubled dreams of a fond cat-lover” (n. 27). Hans here is more humane about “old puss” than about the three murdered creditors, as is the slayer of his wife in “The Black Cat.” See also Poe’s “Instinct vs [sic] Reason” (1:477-79) for his ailurophilia, which leads him into supposing a “talking” feline in the last sentence, in fairy-tale style. [page 482:]

48A ensue]  An average breath uses one-half cubic liter; and at six liters per minute, 360 liters per hour would be needed, if all the air were used up, as does not occur. We are never told the exact dimensions of the car or of the bag, but assuming seven by seven by seven feet, we can estimate 333 liters — a total not far off Poe’s implied figure. Less theoretical, however, is the experience of A. Piccard in his 1933 pressurized balloon gondola, a seven-foot cabin, with two occupants, the oxygen content, twenty-one percent by volume at the start, being reduced one percent each hour. After four or five hours fresh oxygen had to be added. The carbon dioxide, increasing at one percent per hour, required corresponding absorption, but this factor of course could not be foreseen by Poe. (This is given by the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1966, 1:46).

48B doing]  A period of under five minutes for the “fullest” purification is not entirely compatible with the “gradual manner” of para. 41, in which there is some ambiguity about repeating the “one or two strokes” successively. Up to April 11 (beyond the halfway point for the nineteen-day journey) the airpurification procedure takes no more than the five-minute interval and suddenly (para. 60) requires “long and excessive labor”; yet Hans has long been in outer space where the variations of “atmosphere” from day to day could be but minor.

The italicized “at all” has a strangely unidiomatic flavor for modern prose. Meaning “in every way, in any way” or “altogether, wholly,” it is used only in negative or interrogative sentences, or conditional clauses, whereas formerly it could be used affirmatively, according to the OED, which gives citations from 1350 to 1876. Our tendency to read an “if” into an affirmative construction, as here, suggests Poe’s miscopying the phrase for his fair copy. There is otherwise slight reason for stressing through italics a contrast with “essentially.”

48C itself]  The last words seem to be suggested by Thomas Dick, The Christian Philosopher (Glasgow, 1823, and numerous subsequent editions, many pirated in America), for in chap. 3, “The Relation Which the Inventions of Human Art Bear to the Objects of Religion,” Dick lists, in order, “Art of Printing, Art of Navigation, Telescope, Microscope, Steam Navigation, Air Balloons, Acoustic Tunnels, Electric Telegraphs, Railways.” Both the wording (“Art of Printing”) and parallel items (with “engine” substituted for “navigation”) suggest a borrowing.

49A minutes]  Poe may well have been “reminded” of his tale of the invention of the student through Herschel’s Treatise (para. 122): “The hour-glass is a coarse and rude contrivance for measuring . . . fixed portions of time. . . . The clepsydra, which measured time by the gradual emptying of a large vessel of water through a determinate orifice, is susceptible of considerable exactness.” The OED gives five citations, from 1646 through 1876, for this ancient contrivance.

49B world]  Hans sets up his clepsydra, based on gravity, on April 2, and discontinues using it only on April 17 (para. 67), two days away from the moon. He reports no lack of gravity to power the falling water of wakefulness, as S. Levine comments (n. 18), although he mentions the diminishing gravity of the earth (para. 67). Similarly, the dense foul air could not continue to sink “into the thinner atmosphere below“-another cause of unmentioned suffocation.

51A April 3d]  Poe’s narrative method for the body of the story, after the introductory [page 483:] material (paras. t-15), has been the writing of an irregular journal, recording events at frequent intervals for two days. Now he writes a daily log until the journey is ended. This frame will be useful for all his travel narratives: “Rodman,” Pym, “The Balloon-Hoax,” and even “Mellonta Tauta.”

51B ascent]  Note the sudden change from “concavity” (para. 37) to the “convexity” which was “apparent” in texts prior to E and “increasing.” Poe’s handling of light here is unclear, for he sees the “black specks” of islands in a sea which was deep blue (para. 36) under a “jetty black” star-filled sky while he perceives the “brilliant line” of the horizon in the next sentence. (April 8-9 will show “yellow” for land areas.) Perhaps part of the confusion arises from the inadequately assimilated transfer of the “jetty black” detail from a longer poetic passage in D (para. 36). It is only tardily in para. 53 that he lightens the color of the sea.

52A overcoat]  Here and later Poe soft-pedals the killing cold of the stratosphere, known in his time; Hans fails even to utilize for hot drinks the “unslacked lime” (16C) added to text E. Inexplicably, Poe lessens the cold in the next paragraph and, of course, ignores the 1,800° to 3,600° F. of outer space, beyond the shielding atmosphere.

53A April 4th]  The telegraphic style of a journal with obvious words omitted begins here and ends in para. 63 (entry of April 14), well before the journey’s end.

53B eye]  Poe probably took a few words from the review of Tucker’s Voyage to the Moon, citing the text itself: “The sun’s rays striking on the Atlantic emitted an effulgence dazzling to the eyes” (p. 72), Poe’s imagined view of land and ocean scarcely accord with the photographs and observations of today’s astronauts nor even with the inferences of astronomers of his day. The former show land masses as brown or orange (depending on the terrain), e.g., desert lands of North Africa. The Intertropical Convergence Zone does exist, and there is a broken line seen vaguely at the equator.

53C cataract]  This sentence is transferred, in E, very largely from para. 36, where Hans’s mere seventeen miles of altitude made it much more suitable. The “convexity” detail is added to accord with the first sentence of para. 51. The sea, as a soundless cataract, is an idea common in Poe’s work (see Pym, 24.12). 53D books] Poe’s explorers are, like their creator, great readers; see Pym, 2.5, 2.8, and 2.10. The review of Tucker’s book cites a passage in which the author stresses the need for reading in space travel.

54A ocean]  Poe seems unaware that from March 21 the North Pole is in constant sunlight. He offers no explanation for the suddenly “darker” hue of the rim of ice which was formerly “white and brilliant” (para. 52).

55A Circle]  Poe chooses to contradict the obvious fact that the difference of twenty-seven miles in the earth’s polar diameter of 8,000 was too slight to be thus perceptible, but he may be implying, as in para. 56, a polar depression in the manner of Symmes (see Pym, 24.14D, para. 1). For the name “Frozen Ocean,” not given sanction in most atlases of the day, see that of Carey and Lea, cited in “Rodman,” 1.1A.

56A truth]  Hans, without a functioning barometer (see para. 43), gives no explanation for the precise figure of 7,254, but Poe is here concerned with the relatively slow ascent of the first day. Now, in the five days of April 2-7, he [page 484:] makes his average rate almost exactly sixty m.p.h., the land-travel figure that he had mentioned in para. 23; but to reach the moon by April 19, he must travel at an average rate of 900 m.p.h.

56B diameter]  Poe’s error was first indicated by C. R. Wylie, Scientific Monthly, September 1946, 63:227-35: “From no finite distance can as much as one-half of the surface of a sphere be surveyed.” In fact, the limit is one-third of the total surface.

56C horizon]  The word “orthographic” is “applied to a kind of perspective projection, in which the point of sight is supposed to be at an infinite distance, so that the rays are parallel” (OED with citations of 1706 and 1864). For the adverb, Poe’s is the second citation of the three given. Poe probably derived the term from Herschel’s explanation of the “projections” chiefly used in maps (Treatise, para. 232), although Herschel specifies it as good for small areas and useless for large ones such as that being considered in this paragraph.

56D extend]  The Arctic Sea, especially above Alaska, was still sufficiently “unexplored” and uncharted for Poe to make only vague references to “the rim of ice” and to say “unbroken or nearly unbroken sheet” here. See “Rodman” (1.8) where Poe again takes up Northern exploration.

56E equator]  R. E. Almy, in the Colophon, Winter 1937, n.s. 2:227-45, first points to this as deriving from Symzonia. Dunglison, in the review of Tucker’s novel (see 11f), cites a passage which shows the hero Atterley as considering and rejecting Symmes’s holes-at-the-poles theory; this may have given Poe the idea as well. For Symmes see Tales, 1:131. The sixty-five seconds is amusingly specific since Hans could not have easily made this measurement, especially from the small glass window in the floor of the car. He makes no mention in para. 11 or elsewhere of instruments useful for this measurement, such as the cross-staff or a suitable astrolabe.

57A ascent]  The earth does not appear yellow in space (see 53A). Poe also overlooks the viewing medium of the window glass in his “painful brilliancy” here and in para. 53. He now acknowledges, almost as a curious contradiction of the second sentence, the fact that eighty percent of the surface is always cloud-covered.

57B ellipse]  Poe derived his specialized phrases here and in paras. 61-63 from Herschel’s discussion of the moon’s orbit: “The plane in which this orbit lies is not the ecliptic, however, but is inclined to it at an angle of 5° 8’ 48” (Treatise, para. 343). The last sentence was added in text E to accord with para. 61 and help to explain the remarkable coincidence of his continuing to head for the moon. Poe is implying that the turning of the earth is causing his course with reference to terrestrial geography to shift; obviously no winds can effect any changes at his altitude. He would be free from the earth’s atmosphere at eighty miles of altitude. In “The Balloon-Hoax” he was to add motive force and steering to the balloon.

On all copies of the Griswold text, of all dates seen (1850 through 1884), an apparent defect in the type for the comma after “it was evident that” in the penultimate sentence makes it appear to be a period, for which there is no space left; the “tail” of the comma is missing, but I print it here as assured.

58A Gulf]  The marked diminution of the diameter points toward the much needed acceleration of the rate of ascent, but the “deeper tint of yellow” has [page 485:] no real significance unless it be a continuation of Poe’s concept early presented in the 1829 “Al Aaraaf,” Part II, 11. 222-236, in which T. O. Mabbott finds a “less gradual but somewhat similar change in the appearance of earth,” citing “the entries for April 4-17” in “Hans Pfaall” (Poems, p. 126). Most apposite are the “light, brazen rays” (1. 240), one might judge. Hans’s reaching the Mexican Gulf fulfills the new direction “due south” of para. 57.

59A agitation]  As this “terrific” or “terrifying” mystery is solved (as “meteors” in para. 64) a greater one develops, namely, how, sealed hermetically in a gumelastic bag, Hans can hear sounds, especially crackling ones, made outside in soundless space, tacitly acknowledged in para. 72. Poe made use of similar sounds, differently produced in “The Balloon-Hoax” (see para. 18), perhaps deriving the germ idea from various balloonists’ accounts of ice on the network (see in the “Aerostation” article of Rees, p. 6, Zambeccari’s report of a strange rustling noise).

61A hours]  The words “fully anticipated” seem to imply that the balloon will now closely follow the moon’s gravitational force. The “vacillation” or swaying of the car, to underscore the sharpness of the shift, implies lack of air resistance and terrestrial gravitational pull. Yet the water clock and floor vent to clear the air continue to serve him. Since this is only five days after he was a mere 7,254 miles above the earth, about one-thirtieth of the total distance (about 67,254 miles at 500 m.p.h.) we wonder at the moon’s capturing the balloon.

62A degrees]  At twenty-five degrees he would be 14,500 miles high-leaving over 200,000 miles to be traversed in six days.

63A earth]  Poe derives his astronomical lore here from Herschel’s Treatise (para. 343): “The points of the orbit at which the moon is nearest to, and farthest from, the earth, are called respectively its perigee and apogee, and the line joining them and the earth the line of apsides.”

64A stupified]  This was an allowed form at the time and is always used by Poe (see Pym, 10.5),

64B balloon]  Compare “The . . . Pendulum”: “Harsh grating as of a thousand thunders” (last para.). Both instances are perhaps derived from the biblical “voice of thunder” (Psalms 77:18; 104:7; Rev. 10:3; 14:2). For the millenary hyperbole see 2b above and also Pym, 1.6A. One questions these and earlier (para. 62) loud noises in a nonatmosphere. “Booming” is a nautical term which Poe uses in Pym, 1.4: “boomed along before the wind.”

64C appellation]  Poe’s meteoric stones may have come germinally from the great Leonid shower of meteors of November 13, 1833, which gave rise to much speculation on the source of meteorites, that is, particles or masses which reach the earth; eighteenth-century science as a whole had denied them an extraterrestrial origin. However, the 1819 Rees’s Cyclopaedia (vol. 14) very diffidently suggests lunar volcanoes as the source. This absurd idea is still presented in the Grande Encyclopéie (Paris, ca. 1880), 1:663, under the authority of the prominent American organic chemist John Lawrence Smith. Poe might also have found the idea of lunar volcanoes in Thomas Dick’s Christian Philosopher (rep., New York, 1826), p. 214. (For more on this subject see 69A.)

65A longer]  Poe is strangely illogical about the need for more condensation of air, for since Hans is “close” to the moon, he should now begin to find the [page 486:] air less rarefied, in view of the moon’s breathable atmosphere. His task should be easier.

65B apprehension]  The sentence added to B alone misuses “concussion,” “collision” obviously being intended (see para. 18 for its proper use).

66A diameter]  This measurement would indicate a distance of 2,000 miles from the moon.

66B me]  See Pym, 1.4D and 12.7, for unsteady knees.

67A bouleversement]  Poe means “overturning” or “reversal of position.” He will use it again with stress on its being French for a total revolution of opinion in “Thingum Bob” of 1844 (para. 74) and for footnote 10 of Eureka: “The anomalous revolution of the satellites of Uranus is a simple perspective anomaly arising from the bouleversement of the axis of the planet.”

67B moon]  Hans predicts this event at the end of para. 28 (version E). Poe probably took the idea for the equalization of the gravity of the moon and the earth and the consequent “bouleversement” from Tucker’s book (p. 83) as reviewed and summarized by Dunglison (p. 74), although Marjorie H. Nicolson, Voyages to the Moon (New York, 1948), p. 239, prefers to consider this detail further evidence of the influence of Cyrano de Bergerac’s book (see para. 100 below). Tucker has the floor and ceiling of the space-cube, impelled by lunarium, a metal, change positions, while Atterley, asleep is cradled by the Brahmin; Poe too has his protagonist miss the exact moment of the shift.

67C moment]  In para. 66 Hans has had “a brief and disturbed slumber,” which accords with his “oppressive” labor at the failing condenser, but since the “bouleversement” requires oblivion, Poe expects the reader to overlook this discrepancy.

68A indentures]  Poe uses this less common form of “indentation” in Pym, 23.10 and Note.5. The immediate source was in para. 263 of Herschel’s Treatise: “The opposite border of the enlightened part” of the moon is said to be “indented with deep recesses.” The rest of the paragraph levies upon this and the succeeding paragraph of the Treatise.

68B appalling]  The Burning Fields or Phlegæan Fields near Naples, embracing all the country around Baiae, Pozzuoli, and the adjoining islands, includes Cumae and Lake Avernus and contains hot springs, craters, and fumaroles. This passage is a skillful condensation of most of para. 363 of Herschel’s Treatise: “The generality of the lunar mountains present a striking uniformity and singularity of aspect. They are wonderfully numerous, occupying by far the larger portion of the surface, and almost universally of an exactly circular or cup-shaped form, foreshortened, however, into ellipses towards the limb; but the larger have for the most part flat bottoms within, from which rises centrally a small, steep, conical hill. They offer, in short, in its highest perfection, the true volcanic character, as it may be seen in the crater of Vesuvius, and in a map of the volcanic districts of the Campi Phlegræi* or the Puy de Dome.. . . Although nothing having the character of seas can be traced, (for the dusky spots which are commonly called seas, when closely examined, present appearances incompatible with the supposition of deep water,) yet there are large regions perfectly level, and apparently of a decided alluvial character.” From para. 362 Poe takes the following material: “Of many of the more conspicuous mountains, . . .the heights . . . have been calculated, — the highest [page 487:] being about 1 3/4 English miles in perpendicular altitude.” The change in height may represent a printer’s error or an effort to evade the charge of outright copying. Inadvertently, Poe was improving the datum, for the highest point on the visible side, in the Leibnitz Mountains, rises to 30,000 feet according to John S. Glasby, Boundaries of the Universe (London, 1971), p. 47. Poe’s reference to the moon’s hemisphere repeats his error about seeing one-half the earth in para. 56, but here even more capriciously because of the details seen.

Poe’s word “mis-called” for “meteoric stones” reflects the confused contemporary notions about their origins (see 64C). Until Poe’s day “meteor” from the Greek meteora or “things up in the air” was a word broadly applied to shooting stars, fireballs, bolides, and meteorites (see Encyclopaedia Americana, 1975, 18:713, and Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1973, 15:267). Poe is deprecating the theory of their cometary, nonlunar origin (see also “Manuscript Notes,” para. 41, below).

69A all]  Poe is alluding to paras. 25-27, which concern the atmosphere in space, not at the moon. He was perhaps half-serious about a lunar atmosphere, for in the January 10, 1845, Evening Mirror (1: 81), the paragraphist-almost certainly Poe-under “Lunar Atmosphere” refers to a Tribune correspondent who objected to active lunar volcanoes in the absence of an atmosphere: “But no astronomer contests an atmosphere-for volcanoes are certainly known to exist in the moon, as . . . in the earth. It is the appreciable density of the atmosphere which is now contested-that is to say, it is only doubted whether such an atmosphere as ours exists. Some say it does.” Yet, in his “Literati” sketch of Richard Locke, he deprecated in his “Moon-story” the ability of the putative lunarians “to fly in so rare an atmosphere-if indeed, the moon has any” (para. 16). Of course, now space probes have proved that “the moon has no detectable air. . . no water on the surface. . . . There is no sound. There is no color in the moon’s sky, only blackness, both day and night,” all this according to John N. Wilford, We Reach the Moon (New York, 1971), pp. 43-44. As early as 1651, Riccioli (see “Manuscript Notes,” paras. 6 and 17), in his Almagest, discountenanced air and water as being on the moon.

69B limb]  The major portion of this paragraph, from “But” to “limb,” added to the D text, was derived in toto from the article “Moon” in Rees’s Cyclopaedia (vol. 24, p. 21). Poe first transcribed the material as paras. 22-24 in the “Manuscript Notes” which Harrison included after Eureka in the 1902 edition (vol. 16), following a label on the pages, “Notes on Eureka,” not in Poe’s hand. Margaret Alterton, Origins of Poe’s Critical Theory (Iowa City, 1925), pp. 134-38, was the first to connect the material, establishing that the notes belonged to the tale and, in part at least, preceded the 1839 date of publication of Tales. She ascribed this passage, however, to Poe’s intensive study of two volumes of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, not of the Cyclopaedia which had used the material, with acknowledgments. M. M. Posey aptly traced Poe’s true source for the passage; likewise J. O. Bailey, most of the “Manuscript Notes,” which are similarly borrowed (see below). Poe must have been happy to find additional ground for the moon-atmosphere, so vital to his tale, in this article, other parts of which enter into the “Notes,” but this does not prove that he did not use other articles in the Cyclopaedia for the 1835 form of the tale. Poe changes only the first sentence markedly: “Mr. Schroeter, [page 488:] of Lilienthal, in the duchy of Bremen, has endeavoured to establish the existence of an atmosphere from the following observations.” The following collations will show Poe’s adaptation of the material up to “5376 feet.” The first of each pair, separated by semicolons, is Rees’s text: sunset / sun-set; observe / watch; till / until; after / afterwards; appeared / became; he thinks / I thought; must arise / must have arisen; He computes / I computed; which refracts / (which could refract; and that the greatest / In this view, I supposed the greatest; ray is / ray, to be. The second of Schroeter’s observations, accordingly numbered by Rees (see para. 24 in Poe’s “Manuscript Notes”) is now handled differently, to give the impression that Hans has dipped directly into the Philosophical Transactions, vol. 82, part 3, article 16, as given by the passage in the Cyclopaedia. Of course, the sole author of the original basic paper was Johannes Hieronymus Schroeter (1745-1816), the eminent author of a two-volume selenography, Selenotopographische Fragmente (1791 and 1802) which helped earn him the name of “the Herschel of Germany.” The technical details, we note, are all in the Cyclopaedia; a Paris foot is 12.8 inches. Poe had previously referred to Encke’s comet and zodiacal light in para. 26.

69C refracted (in footnote)]  Both paragraphs added to text D as a footnote are derived totally, but adapted, from the same article on “Moon” of Rees (pp. 19 and 20), the collations being given below. Johannes Hevelius (1611-1687) studied and wrote about comets, the stars, and the lunar surfaces; his Selenographie may have led Poe to inscribe Selenography, which he wrongly attributed to Brewster, who wrote none, in his final jottings (“Manuscript Notes,” para. 42). Equally famous was Giovanni Domenico Cassini (1625-1712), who set up the astronomical laboratory at Paris and contributed much to planetary data. For both paragraphs, the variations, in wording alone, are given thus, with semicolons between the sets: Text E / Cyclopaedia / “Manuscript Notes” (paras. 14-16) : First para., on Hevelius) moon, at the same / moon, and the same / moon, and the same; maculae did / maculae do / macula do; lucid at all times. / lucid, clear and perspicuous at all times; but are much brighter, purer, and more distinct at one time than another. From / same as Cyclo.; eye of the spectator, / spectator’s eye / spectator’s eye; Second para., on Cassini) when . . . to have / when hid by the moon, near her limb, whether the illumined or dark one, to have / same as text E; all. Hence / all. In like manner, the sun and moon rising and setting in a vapourous horizon, do not appear circular, but elliptical. Hence / same as Cyclo.; Hence it might / Hence, as we know by sure experience, that the circular figure of the sun and moon is only changed into an elliptical one by means of the refraction in the vapoury atmosphere; some have concluded, that the time when the circular figure of the stars is thus changed by the moon, there is a dense matter encompassing the moon, wherein the rays, emitted from the stars, are refracted; and that, at other times, when there is no change of figure, this matter is wanting. / same as text E. Texts D and E are identical except for “oval one,” in para. 2 of text D.

70A air]  The facts here are not consistent with those given for April 17 and 18, during which he is descending under lunar gravity through rarefied air, and yet has not struck the surface despite the details of his view in para. 68. Moreover, the atmosphere extends apparently so slightly above the surface that on the eighteenth his condenser is still laboring. [page 489:]

71A 19th]  This date (but for the year 1787) was also that of Sir William Herschel’s discovery of three lunar volcanoes, recorded by Poe in his “Manuscript Notes” (para. 36) — a coincidence first pointed out by Elva B. Kremenliev in “The Literary Uses of Astronomy in the Writings of . . . Poe” (Ph.D. diss., U.C.L.A., 1963).

71B impetuosity]  Poe assumes that the reader has forgotten the tedious rigging of the sealed bag, button by button, the whole lasting thirty-five minutes. Now, in no better physical condition, Hans is able to do the same and has sufficient time, despite the “frightfully near” surface and “impetuous” approach “momently.” The “geological disturbances” inaccurately refers to both paras. 26 (end) and 64. See paras. 28 and 46 for Poe’s use of strata of air (and note 28A).

71C itself]  Poe may well have had in mind Jean Pierre Blanchard’s exploit in crossing the Channel on January 7, 1785, from England to France, with Dr. John Jeffries, especially since Blanchard eventually toured America for two years after making one ascent and then exhibiting the balloon under the sponsorship of George Washington himself (see Jeremiah Milbank, The First Century of Flight in America [Princeton University Press, 1943], pp. 23-29). His renowned channel crossing required the two men to jettison all the ballast, all supplies and hardware, and finally their clothing, q. v. in “Aerostation” of Rees (p. 6). Poe is inconsistent here, for his balloon rose lightly and steadily for two days (April l and 2) to twenty-five miles, well into highly rarefied air, as he says, in para. 24. With a balloon bag still intact in a lunar atmosphere dense enough for him to breathe in without a condenser, his vehicle precipitously requires this drastic jettisoning.

71D people]  See para. 5 for a description of a lunarian. In “Mellonta Tauta,” which is set upon a balloon, the aeronauts telescopically watch the “diminutive . . .lunarians” construct a huge new temple (para. 17). H. Beaver (n. 30) groundlessly suggests, for this episode, Poe’s following Kepler’s Somnium (1634), untranslated then.

71E zones]  Poe took these two sentences almost verbatim from the following in Herschel’s Treatise (para. 368): “If there be inhabitants in the moon, the earth must present to them the extraordinary appearance of a moon of nearly 2° in diameter, exhibiting the same phases as we see the moon to do, but immoveably fixed in their sky.. ..It will appear clouded with variable spots, and belted with equatorial and tropical zones corresponding to our trade-winds.” The first sentence only is traced by W. H. Gravely and, following him, H. Beaver (n. 34). This passage plus two in para. 365 (given below) are the sole justification of Poe’s later ascribing the tale to his slightly earlier interest “in what is there said respecting the possibility of future lunar investigations. The theme excited my fancy” (“Literati” sketch of Richard Locke, 1846): “Telescopes, therefore, must yet be greatly improved, before we could expect to see signs of inhabitants, as manifested by edifices or by changes on the surface of the soil. . . . Owing to the want of air, however, it seems impossible that any form of life analogous to those on earth can subsist there.”

72A communicate]  Poe here and, below, in his “more” which he “would . . . most willingly detail,” again seems to be paving the way for a possible sequel to his tale as first promised (para. 31) before Richard Locke stole his thunder in his hoax of August 1835. For the “States’ College” see 8A and 76B. [page 490:]

72B water]  This is condensed from Herschel’s Treatise (para. 364): “Hence its climate must be very extraordinary; the alternation being that of unmitigated and burning sunshine fiercer than an equatorial moon, continued for a whole fortnight, and the keenest severity of frost, far exceeding that of our polar winters, for an equal time. Such a disposition of things must produce a constant transfer of whatever moisture may exist on its surface, from the point beneath the sun to that opposite, by distillation in vacuo after the manner of the little instrument called a cryophorus. The consequence must be absolute aridity below the vertical sun, constant accretion of hoar frost in the opposite region, and, perhaps, a narrow zone of running water at the borders of the enlightened hemisphere.”

72C inter-communication]  In eliminating an atmosphere and postulating telepathy or something akin to it, Poe contradicts his references to the terrifying noises of the meteorites and, directly above (para. 71), to a breathable air. The messenger (para. 5) was earless.

72D individual]  Earlier in the paragraph (sentence 3), Hans says that his interesting sojourn was “rendered doubly so” through the earth-moon relation. This would be Poe’s earliest reference to a “double” (as, possibly, in “Usher” in 1839), but here it is an unlikely pun or implication. For the idea of a lunarian influence or connection, Poe had two possible sources. The Cyclopaedia article on “Moon” of Rees (p. 21) ends with a disparaging passage about the superstition of the vulgar treated in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. “The notion of the moon’s influence on all terrestrial things was confirmed by her manifest effect upon the ocean.” More pointedly, R. Dunglison, in his review of Tucker’s Voyage to the Moon, transcribes with minor changes a passage (pp. 37-38 in the original; p. 78 of the Review): “A large number of lunarians, it seems, are born without any intellectual vigour, and wander about like so many automatons, under the care of the government, until illumined by the mental ray from some terrestrial brain, through the mysterious influence which the moon is known to exercise on our planet. But in this case, the inhabitant of the earth loses what he of the moon gains, the ordinary portion of understanding being divided between two; and, as might be expected, there is a most exact conformity between the man of the earth, and his counterpart in the moon, in all their principles of action, and modes of thinking.” Poe probably saw only the review of this rare book of 1827, despite Bailey’s insistence on the use of the book itself (pp. 532-34).

72E orbs]  The word “orbs” here seems a somewhat archaic substitute for “orbits” or “paths” of celestial bodies (with no OED citations beyond the eighteenth century); however, Poe may have known the specialized meaning in astrology which scarcely fits here: the space on the celestial sphere within which the influence of a planet, star, or “house” is supposed to act.

72F sidereal]  This use of “sidereal,” usually given as “of or pertaining to the stars,” is unusual, although the OED gives it also as “of planetary or lunar motion” with an 1833 citation from Herschel: “the sidereal periods of the planets.” In the tale not merely the word and phrasing but the idea of the inscrutable face clearly stems from Herschel’s Treatise (para. 366): “The lunar summer and winter arise, in fact, from the rotation of the moon on its own axis, the period of which rotation is exactly equal to its sidereal revolution [page 491:] about the earth. . . . This is the cause why we always see the same face of the moon, and have no knowledge of the other side. This remarkable coincidence of two periods. . . .”

72G man]  The implication of infernal sights on the dark side of the moon accords with the inserted self-direction in Poe’s “Manuscript Notes” (end of para. 6 below) : “Make the invisible half of the moon our hell.” This hint of hell and the lunarian-man connection above are touches of supernaturalism which ought to be excluded from a science fiction narrative as contravening the “plausibility in the details of the voyage itself” on which Poe prided himself in para. 101. A faint trace of these moon elements may lurk in “Eldorado” (1849): “Over the Mountains / Of the Moon, / Down the Valley of the Shadow.”

72H obtained]  This reference to the lunarian’s being “properly instructed” to wait for the pardon contradicts para. 6, where he shows “extreme surprise” and has “apparently no further business to detain him,” but of course Hans cannot foresee his discomposure and is ironically doomed to be moon-bound. His “pining” for his family and home is incompatible with the self-centered and indifferent tone used in paras. 8 and 14. Yet the narrative is presumably a continuously written document with no hiatus between the start and finish.

74A way]  This expression means “to go by the most advantageous route, to go with the greatest possible speed” (OED).

74B accusation]  The problem of the nature or identity of the narrative voice (“I believe”) arises here, for if we accept him as being the omniscient narrator, who can follow all the characters about up to their very door and listen to their conversations, he differs from the narrator of paras. 1-7, who could see only what the others saw, not even into the car of the balloon. If he is a Rotterdamer himself, somewhat ambivalently supporting the officials, why does he cite Niagara (para. 2) like a visiting American? And why does he so extensively cite the antiacademic rumors of the masses? In the first two editions, the narrator clearly sides, rather gullibly, with Hans against the Dutch “overwise” and with the officials against the skeptics. The excised responses make this clearer in the tone of contempt and in the repetitions, with two answers separately restated and no disproof offered (q.v. in the variants).

76A bottle-conjurer]  This word is given as “juggler” by the OED with only one rather ambiguous citation of 1755. A juggler would have had far more poise than the timid, discomposed, and slight being in para. 6.

76B Bruges]  It is not strange for Poe to link Dutch Rotterdam with Belgian Bruges, since both were in the unified kingdom (provinces) set up by the Allies in 1815 (hence the States’ College in para. 72) and ruled over by William I of Orange, although the July 1830 revolution in France led to the speedy separation of Holland and Belgium.

77A Rotterdam]  The facts here fail to agree with para. 4, in which the balloon is “manufactured entirely of dirty newspapers,” according to the same narrator. In neither paragraph, of course, could the facts be perceived for a balloon, high above eye-level, but he speaks of “Gluck, the printer” as being “mistaken.” The name Gluck has no known connection with well-known printers but is common enough for Poe to use it (compare Gluck, the famous composer, although it is rather German than Dutch, but see 8A and 9B). The stress on “dirty papers” helps H. A. Greer (see 4B) to convert the whole tale, very questionably, into a [page 492:] parody of Andrew Jackson’s political career, aided by a venal press in Rotterdam-Washington, a well-buried satire seen apparently by none of Poe’s contemporaries. As a more likely satire on the wisdom of scientists and the science-oriented public the tale points toward the gullibility with which Locke’s moon-hoax was swallowed two months later (see below).

79A be]  For the expression “wiser than they ought to be” see 15E. In inserting “or which ought to be generally received,” the narrator seems to be departing from his reportorial neutrality to join the rumor-mongers, save that the original omitted response, “The d —— l . . . authenticity,” speaks of the “libel” of “the people” against Hans and tacitly enlists him with gullible academics and astronomers. By the same token, accusations two, three, and four are basically true and Hans’s tale is a hoax, clever in its use of data to lend “authenticity,” the very word used in the framework of Pym (Preface.4). Poe’s innuendoes against academics match his views in essays (“The Philosophy of Composition”) and other tales (see the foolish Pundit and Pundita in “Mellonta Tauta”).

80A NOTE]  The oddity of Poe’s deigning to write an Appendix for the 1839 edition of a tale called “a sketchy trifle” in para. 80 demands conjectural explanation: Did he feel the need to justify so much space in the volume for this long pseudovoyage, packed with technical details, when interest in ballooning had waned as well as the excitement over a close survey of the moon produced by Locke’s notorious hoax? Did the long note on the hoax in the 1838 Celestial Scenery by the celebrated Dr. Thomas Dick, probably read after Poe had given the copy of his tale to the printer for the second volume (pp. 25-95), spur Poe to a fuller statement via an appendix (pp. 223-28) than his initial footnote concerning the possible success that he had in a sense narrowly missed (see below his use of Dick’s book for his arguments)? And why did his later notes for the 1850 edition, converting the appendix into a “Note,” deny his possible sources, one of which was mentioned (Tucker’s novel) and yet omit his major source, Herschel’s Treatise, which he very indirectly acknowledges in his October 1846 “Literati” sketch of Locke (see 23A) ? Charles Baudelaire was perhaps the first to comment on the “very strange postscript” of Poe in a note in his newspaper translation of “Hans Pfaall” in Le Pays, April 20, 1855 (given in Crepet’s ed. of the translation, pp. 436-38). The entire note rejoined the text of the translation only in 1908 (Oeuvres posthumes, according to the Pleiade ed. of Baudelaire’s Oeuvres en prose [of Poe], p. 1072) so that it is not well known: “I permit the reader to smile-I myself have smiled more than once in coming unexpectedly upon the pet whims of my author. To the impartial judge, will not the pettinesses of every great one always be a touching spectacle? It is truly odd to see an intelligence, at times profoundly Germanic, at times thoroughly Oriental, betray on particular occasions the American character with which it is saturated.”

Richard Adams Locke published in the New York Sun, on August 25-29 and 31, 1835, a pseudo-report headed “Great Astronomical Discoveries Lately Made by Sir John Herschel, LL. D., F. R. S., &., at the Cape of Good Hope”; it was alleged to be “From the Supplement to the Edinburgh Journal of Science.” Popularly known after exposure as the “Moon-story” or “Moon-Hoax” (see para. 81 ), Locke’s anonymous “downright earnest” account was widely reprinted, even while being serialized, in newspapers, as though true and immediately was reissued by the Sun as a pamphlet, as Poe notes (para. 83). (For Poe’s title of [page 493:] “Moon-story” see his note to the title of the 1839 printing; in his 1846 sketch of Richard Locke he terms it the “Moon story,” paras. 5 and 7.) Locke, an Englishman who had studied at Cambridge, exploited the known fact that Herschel had just set up a large telescope in South Africa. The alleged “Discoveries” were minute observations on the flora and fauna of the moon, including creatures called “man-bats,” all “reported” to an incorrectly named Edinburgh scientific journal by an alleged colleague of Herschel — Dr. Grant. In his sketch of Locke Poe indicates the tremendous boost to the circulation of the needy Sun as a penny paper granted by the hoax of Editor Locke, but he seems unaware that Locke also intended to deride speculations about intelligent moon-inhabitants or lunarians, such as could be found in the very popular and often reprinted book by Dr. Thomas Dick, The Christian Philosopher; or, the Connection of Science and Philosophy with Religion (Glasgow, 1823; 8th ed., 1842). W. N. Griggs, in his preface to the reprint of Locke’s moon-story (New York, 1852), discussed Locke’s particular bias against Dick’s misdirection of the public’s interest in science and Locke’s brilliantly successful effort to gull the credulous, even among scientists. Among the very few early skeptics was the New York Transcript, which began a series of burlesques signed “Captain Tarbox” on August 31 and September 1. From September 2 to 5 it printed Poe’s story anonymously as “Lunar Discoveries. Extraordinary Aerial Voyage by Baron Hans Phaal, the Celebrated Dutch Astronomer and Aeronaut.” Poe was not mentioned but the last installment ended thus: “And now, as regards the residue of the adventures, and doubtless highly important discoveries of Hans Phaal in the moon, will they not be published, as were the preceding, in the Southern Literary Messenger?” There was no “collation” or indication of single authorship of both articles, as Poe says here, and in his Locke sketch (para. 5), but he can be exonerated. On September 11, 1835, Poe wrote to his mentor, John P. Kennedy, asking whether Locke’s Discoveries might not have stolen the idea from his loose talk previously about a telescopic moon-story or from “Hans Pfaall” (Ostrom, Letters, 1:74). Kennedy replied on September 19: “More than yourself have remarked the coincidence between Hans Phaal and the Locke Discoveries and I perceive that in New York they are republishing Hans for the sake of comparison” (Harrison, 17:19-20). Poe may never have bothered to check on the pronoun “they.” It is strange that Poe never realized his error about the “three weeks” (really nine weeks) between the two stories; he repeated his error in the 1846 sketch, but he also handsomely acknowledged there his belief that Locke had not seen his story prior to publishing the hoax, probably because of personal discussions that he had had with Locke over the publication of his own balloon-hoax in the Sun in 1844. In this paragraph, having disclaimed any similarity, Poe then seeks to adduce it, especially because of the success of Locke’s “downright earnest” approach, which he had to admire despite his cavils (paras. 81-90, and sketch of Locke, paras. 1-17). Probably spurious also is Poe’s claim in his sketch of Locke (para. 7) that he had written an expose of the “Moon-story” promptly on its completion (although he was then in Baltimore) to which he “could obtain few listeners,” thereby implying that the succeeding analysis which relied on Dick’s book (see below) was his 1835 response. Earlier he had asserted that Locke’s “blunders . . . were pointed out distinctly by Mr. Poe, in the Southern Literary Messenger, at the time of the jeu d’esprit’s appearance.” This anonymous claim appeared in the fourth editorial letter of [page 494:] January 4, 1844, contributed by Poe to the Columbia Spy of Pottsville, Pennsylvania; all seven letters have been republished as Doings of Gotham, collected by Jacob E. Spannuth, with comments by T. O. Mabbott (Pottsville, 1929). Part II of this “letter” (pp. 52-55) is an abridgment of paras. 80-88 of “Hans Pfaall,” mildly discounting the credibility of Locke, who had recently featured his “Balloon-Hoax” in the Sun — perhaps the reason that he does not laud or even mention “Hans Pfaall” as he does in the 1846 “Literati” sketch. There Poe’s claim that both are hoaxes can be disallowed, for the introductory and concluding sections of “Hans Pfaall,” presented “in a tone of banter,” entirely counterweigh the would-be plausibility of the journey itself. Poe grants this tacitly in para. 101, added to E, chiefly to make this point, where he speaks only of the details of the voyage itself. A “hoax” that is not presented consistently from start to finish in “downright earnest” suffers from divided and self-defeating purposes, and Poe remained rueful and somewhat invidious about Locke’s capitalizing upon the right manner as well as method for his satire, including an alleged provenance from a scientist and scientific journal, whereas Poe’s was published as “by Edgar A. Poe.”

81A nature]  If Locke’s “moon-story” was intended to discredit Dr. Thomas Dick, it is ironic that in paras. 81-83, 85, 87-91, Poe directly paraphrased or incorporated material, unacknowledged, from Dr. Dick’s works in order to discredit Locke. In 1846 Poe finally mentioned “the grave denunciation of Dick” in his sketch of Locke (para. 18). In his Celestial Scenery of 1838 Dick notes the recent appearance of Locke’s hoax, with its covert attack on him, and then offers these comments for Poe’s use here: “It is not a little astonishing how easily the public is gulled by such extravagant descriptions as were contained in this pamphlet, and it shows the ignorance which still prevails among the great mass of the community in every country in relation to astronomy and optics, that such pretended discoveries should have been listened to even for a moment” (pp. 272-73).„ In adapting Dick’s remarks, Poe overcame his scruple about distrusting “reasoning” which is “simply analogical” (para. 24). In reality, Locke’s success was due precisely to his “attention” to these two elements in his portrayal of an entirely “earthly” type of paradise, with lamblike beasts, jewellike cliffs, and discardable gold. Shorn of its praise of Locke’s imagination, this becomes para. 8 of the “Literati” sketch of Locke. In Eureka (1848) Poe would speak of the intellect’s “propensity for analogical inference” and “an analogical right to the inference” (pp. 101 and 129).

82A power]  Poe derives all this from two widely separated passages in Dick’s Celestial Scenery: “Her [the moon’s] distance from the center of the earth is, in round numbers, 240,000 miles” (p. 253). “It [Locke’s pamphlet, p. 4] stated that the object-glass had ‘a magnifying power of 42,000 times.’ Now, supposing such a power had been used, the objects on the surface of the moon would still have appeared more than five miles and two-thirds distant; and how could an animal, even of the largest size, be seen at such a distance? Yet the writer of the pamphlet declares that such animals as sheep, and cranes, and small birds were not only distinguished, but the shape and color of their horns, eyes, beard, and the difference of sexes, were perceived. To perceive such objects it was requisite that they should have been brought within six yards instead of six miles” (p. 272). In reality, a telescope of 42,000 magnifications would require a lens of over 1,050 [page 495:] inches. The 200-inch lens at Palomar, California, affording 8,000 magnifications, and a 236-inch telescope at Zelenchuskaya in the Soviet Union represent the largest possible glasses (see para. 90; this information is supplied by Dr. Kenneth Franklin of the American Museum of Natural History). Herschel’s Cape telescope was actually about twenty inches in size. Poe liked his unconventional coinage of “space-penetrating” for magnifying well enough to use it again in para. 90 and in Eureka (1848 ed., p. 99). The faulty spelling, “Herschell,” in the 1839 Tales [[Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque]] (variants 82a and c’ and 88j’) is thrice found in the 1848 Eureka (pp. 125, 127-28).

82B hoax]  The reference to Hartley and Grant appears on p. 6 of Locke’s pamphlet thus: “For casting this ponderous mass he [Sir John Herschel] selected the large glass-house of Messrs. Hartly [sic] and Grant, (the brother of our invaluable friend Dr. Grant) at Dunbarton.” Locke refers to “Dr. Andrew Grant, the pupil of the elder [Herschel], and for several years past the inseparable coadjutor of the Younger Herschel” (p. 2). Locke pretends that Grant has supplied drawings for his account of Herschel’s moon observations made at the Cape, which were sent for “The Supplement” to the “Edinburgh Journal of Science.” S. Levine, who apparently did not look at Locke’s story, in his gloss on Grant as James William Grant (1788-1865), inadvertently locates the probable origin of the surname of Locke’s character. There was no “Grant” in Herschel’s entourage. Poe possibly shows his own peculiar gullibility by accepting Locke’s reference to the lensmaker or glasshouse (Poe meant “cast,” not “moulded”), but adds a correction which he probably derived from a contemporary newspaper criticism of Locke’s story — a correction which I have not been able to find in the press of 1835. On the other hand, Poe may have been enjoying a bit of trickery in inventing the claim that Locke’s “Dunbarton” firm had become extinct. Certainly Dunbarton, near Glasgow, is still a manufacturing center of lens-making (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1966, 7:757).

83A moons]  This is derived from Dick, Celestial Scenery (pp. 343-44): “As the moon always presents nearly the same side to our view, so the earth will be visible to only one half of the lunar inhabitants. . . . When it is new moon to us it is full moon to the lunar inhabitants, as the hemisphere of the earth next to the moon is then fully enlightened; so that, at the time when the sun is absent, they enjoy the effulgence of a full moon 13 times larger than ours.” Dick could have derived his figure “thirteen” from the article on “Moon” of Rees’s Cyclopaedia (vol. 24; see “Manuscript Notes,” para. 5 below). In reality, Dr. Franklin informs me, the correct figure is closer to ninety.

84A left, etc.]  Edmund March Blunt was an eminent hydrographer of Newburyport who, with his sons, in New England and in New York, published numerous charts of the eastern coastal waters which became most popular. The American Coastal Pilot, for example, went into twenty-one editions, q.v. in H. L. Burstyn, At the Sign of the Quadrant (Mystic, Conn., 1957). Locke’s joke, in playfully making Blunt chart the moon (pp. 14-15, 25, and 27), may not have been caught by Poe who adds to his “Manuscript Notes” a sort of bibliography for further research including “Blunt’s Lunar Chart.” Poe is partly correct in noting Locke’s failure to acknowledge the reverse directions of east and west, but not in his implication for north-south directions in the “&c.” which ends the sentence.

85A even]  This is entirely drawn from Dick’s Celestial Scenery save that Poe has [page 496:] substituted other well-known names for those of the lunar “seas” in the passage (pp. 266-67): “We perceive a number of large dark spots of different dimensions . . . . generally supposed to be large collections of water similar to our seas, and the names given them by Hevelius. . .are founded on this opinion. . . . But . . . when the boundary of light and darkness passes through these spots, it is not exactly a straight line or a regular curve, as it ought to be were those parts perfectly level like a sheet of water, but appears slightly jagged or uneven.” Poe, it is true, in para. 68 speaks of the “absence of ocean or sea” but fails to explain the source of water for the lunarians in the vast city (para. 71), subject to alternating boiling sunshine and polar cold (para. 72).

86A thought]  The New York Evening Post of August 28, 1835, at once objected to Locke’s borrowing the bat-wings from Peter Wilkins; or, the Flying Islanders, a two-act melodrama which first appeared in 1827 on the London and New York stage. Poe’s reference makes this article or this spectacle itself a likelier source than the romance The Life and Adventures of Peter Wilkins, a Cornish Man, the anonymous book of 1751 by Robert Paltock, whose name was known (and probably never to Poe) only in 1835 upon the sale of the manuscript to Robert Dodsley.

87A Science]  The basis for Poe’s correction of Locke might have been Dick’s statement in the Celestial Scenery: “The real magnitude of the moon, therefore, is only one forty-ninth part of that of the earth” (p. 269). Poe’s remark about the “schoolboy account” of Saturn is scarcely applicable to the one paragraph which introduces “Herschel’s” discovery that the rings comprise “fragments of two destroyed worlds” (p. 29), but which is certainly applicable to many of his own pages of astronomical lore copied from Herschel’s Treatise. Poe refers at the end to the magazine as though he thought that it really still existed under that title. In reality, the properly titled Edinburgh philosophical journal (1819) in April 1826 had become the Edinburgh new philosophical journal. This error (or sly change) by Locke, noticed by none of the contemporary journals or scientists (although later pointed out by Griggs, pp. 19-20), should have been remarked by Dr. Dick who cites the journal of October 1826 in the footnote immediately following his attack upon Locke (p. 273). Poe could not fail to see it there, but had no reason to regard it as the continuation-title. Poe here uses “philosophical” for “scientific” as in para. 96. Poe’s correction of Locke’s misinterpretation of the surface area in the “Moon” article of Rees’s Cyclopaedia is well taken.

88A heads]  This whole paragraph simply amplifies Dick’s statement: “Besides, we ought to consider that we have only a bird’s-eye view of the objects of the moon; and, consequently, supposing any beings resembling man to exist on that orb, we could only perceive the diameter of their heads, as an aeronaut does when he surveys the crowd beneath him from an elevated balloon” (p. 270).

89A rigmarole]  Poe here seems to forget that his strictures against Locke for postulating air for his flying man-bats, scientifically denominated Vespertiliohomo, apply equally to himself (see the “moon atmosphere” in paras. 27 and 69-71 ). He overlooks his deprecation of analogical reasoning in para. 24 in calling for it here. He is correct in terming “rigmarole” Locke’s “hydro-oxygen microscope” for effecting “a transfusion of artificial light through the focal object of vision,” but in invoking the names and work of Brewster and Herschel (pp. 7-10), [page 497:] Locke was exploiting the same method as that on which he prided himself as giving plausibility by minuteness of scientific detail. The work of Sir David Brewster, Scottish physicist and encyclopedist, Poe used flagrantly for his “Chess-Player” (paras. 1-3, 14, 17, 29, 36). For John Herschel, see para. 82 above. In “Marginalia” no. 179 Poe coined “rigmarolic” for Leigh Hunt’s ideas on poetry. 90A purpose] This paragraph represents an expansion of a paragraph in Dick’s Celestial Scenery and an adaptation of Locke’s material (see 89A) : “Nature has set certain limits to the magnifying power of telescopes; for, although we could apply such powers as now stated to any telescope, the vapours and undulations of the atmosphere, and the diurnal motion of the earth, would interpose a barrier to distinct vision; and as the quantity of light is diminished in proportion to the magnifying power, the loss of light in such high powers would prevent the distinct perception of any object” (Celestial Scenery, pp. 270-71 ). Willey Ley, Rockets, Missiles, and Men in Space (New York, 1968), pp. 25-26, considering Locke’s dicta, comments that photography could handle this objection raised by Poe, but not the disturbances of the atmosphere even atop mountains, interfering with faint images. Dr. Kenneth Franklin informs me that we can see one-half mile objects, and if all atmosphere were eliminated objects of 100 to 150 feet, at best.

91A feet]  The mere facts in this added paragraph need discussion in order to establish the source and date (also of para. 90). William Parsons, third earl of Rosse (1800-1867), formerly Lord Oxmantown, using his own methods and workmen at Birr Castle, Parsonstown, Ireland, cast two specula in 1842 and 1843. The telescope, largest in the world, was ready for observations in February 1845. According to the DNB, each mirror was six feet in diameter, four tons in weight, and fifty-four feet in focal length. The Encyclopaedia Britannica (11th ed.), 23:745, speaks of only one construction with these dimensions, but the Encyclopaedia Americana (New York, 1976) speaks of two six-foot specula. “One, weighing four tons was inserted in a tube 50 feet long and seven feet in diameter.” This agrees, in part, with Poe’s probable source, Thomas Dick, whose Christian Philosopher went into numerous editions, pirated in this country, almost impossible to trace fully. In the 1845 or 1846 Glasgow edition occurs a paragraph with all of Poe’s data (except for “In England” — Poe’s erroneous deduction for Rosse’s title, which he misspells). Only one speculum was mentioned as being cast, on April 13, 1842, the weight being three tons, “but the focal distance is about 54 feet” (2:194). Dick, in his Practical Astronomer of 1845 or 1846, says that, since the 1842 date, Rosse cast another speculum with the same dimensions but of four, not three tons. If we knew the exact date when the “50 feet” entered into Dick’s text, we could perhaps date Poe’s changes in the D text for the projected reprint. Certainly they were added after he planned his PHANTASY-PIECES in 1841 or early 1842, according to Quinn, Poe, p. 336. In the footnote of the “Literati” sketch of Locke (October 1846), Poe says: “There is . . . no physical impossibility in our casting lenses of even fifty feet diameter or more.” The “or more” allows for the four-foot variance that raises a question. Probably mid- or late-1845 or early 1846 is the date when he revised it. Since the earl used his great telescope for the study of nebulae, Poe found it particularly relevant to mention “the world-renowned instrument” and “the magical tube” in Eureka (pp. 117, 125, and 88 of the 1848 ed.); also in the 1850 version of “Scheherezade” [page 498:] (Tales, 2:1169 and 1174, n. 44). See also Poe’s references to the dimensions of recent famous telescopes, in the June 4, 1844, Columbia Spy “letter” mentioned in note 80A above.

92A 176]  The detailed information provided here and in the seven following paragraphs strongly suggests that Poe saw a copy of this exceptionally rare book, probably in Philadelphia in 1838 or 1839. On the other hand, one of his transcription errors argues against personal inspection of the title page, namely, his apparent belief that the initials of the translator, Jean Baudoin, or “J. B. D.” included the final letter “A.” On the page, this is clearly the French word ” a” without a grave accent since it is capitalized on the line for the publication data. There is no mistaking this word meaning “at” or “in” since the line is separated from “Mis en nostre Langve, Par I. B. D.” by a decoration centered squarely over “A PARIS.” Moreover, Poe’s changing the translator’s initials to “J. B. D.” argues that the copy that he used had at least these initials filled in, probably with the well-known name “Jean Baudoin,” thereby more sharply distinguishing the initials from the word for “at.” The variants from the actual title page follow, separated by semicolons, with the original text furnished before each virgule, and Poe’s variant following it: l’HOMME DANS LA LVNE / l’Homme dans la lvne; oV / ou; LE VOYAGE CHIMERIQVE / Chimerique; découuert / decouuert; autremet / autremet; Covrrier / Courier; nostre / notre; langue / langve; I. B. D. / J. B. D.; A / A.; Chez / chez; pres / pres; Benoist; / Benoist.; I. Gvignard / J. Goignard; grandsalle / grand’Salle; Consultations. M. DC. XLVIII. / Consultations, MDCXLVIII.; Auec Priuilege du Roy / omitted. Also omitted are the italics for “Mis en nostre Langue, Par I. B. D.” This is another indication of a distinction between the initials and the “A” for “in.” The number of variants suggest Poe’s use of an inaccurate transcription or a catalog entry, but 1 have found no entry, whether American, French, or British, which has transcribed the publication data with the particularity of Poe. Moreover, in furnishing everything, save the final item on the page, and gratuitously the number of pages, as well as details of the engraving in para. 93, Poe seems desirous of convincing the reader that he has used the book itself, as is confirmed by the translations (para. 97-98), and summaries. Obviously Poe was bidding for admiration for his scholarship here, as in the list of books in “Usher.”

The French title reads in English: “The Man in the Moon, or the Fantastical Voyage made to the World of the Moon, newly discovered by Dominique Gonzales, Spanish Adventurer, otherwise called the Flying Courier. Put into our language, by I. B. D. In Paris, published by the firm of François Piot, near the Fountain of Saint Benoist; at the first pillar of the Great-hall of the Palace [of justice] near [or next to] the [cabinets or rooms for legal] consultations, 1648.” (For the Guignard address see the citation for “consultation” in Emile Littré, Dictionnaire de la langue Française, 1964, 2:735.)

93A mienne]  There is no “terrible ambiguity” in the preliminary statement or “Advis du Traducteur” which begins the first French edition, even though the name of Francis Godwin does not appear. Since the eight-page “Epistre” to “M. de Deremberg,” which precedes this, speaks of “mes traductions” and of “1‘Autheur de ce Liure, soit Espagnol, soit Anglois” (p. iii) and is signed “I. Bavdoin” and since the rest of the “Advis” discusses his redoing an original, Poe’s reservations are not very well-founded. Moreover, Jean Baudoin was a [page 499:] prolific translator of works from Latin, Italian, Spanish, and English, including Bacon’s essays and other works and Sidney’s Arcadia. Yet Poe may have based his idea upon the views of some dictionary or history of literature, for there had long been perplexity about The Man in the Moone: or a Discourse of a Voyage thither. By Domingo Gonsales The speedy Messenger, by Francis Godwin (1562-1633), bishop of Hereford, first published posthumously in London in 1638 by “F. G., B. of H.” A second edition followed in 1657 and a compressed and mutilated text in 1686. Several later editions, based on the last of 1686, however, were issued, so that it is difficult to understand why Poe and Jules Verne “were not alone in believing the work French,” especially since between 1638 and 1768 twenty-five editions of the books were published in four languages (See Marjorie H. Nicolson, and also Grant McColley, ed. of reprint in Smith College Studies in Modern Languages, 1937, pp. vii-viii). Similarly, there seems almost an acknowledgment of the English origin of the work in Poe’s trying to twist d’Avisson into “Davidson.” Poe seems to misinterpret the French, which reads more accurately thus: “l’en ay eu 1‘Original de Monsieur d’Avisson, Medecin, des mieux versez qui soient aujourd’huy dons la conoissance des belles Lettres, fd sur tout de la Philosophic naturelle. Ie luy ay cette obligation entre les autres, de m‘auoir non seulement mis en main ce Liure en Anglois, mays encore le Manuscrit du sieur Thomas d’Anan, Gentilhomme Escossois, recommandable pour sa Vertu, sur la Version duquel i’aduoüe que i’ay tiré le plan de la mienne.”

It should be noted that Poe’s text changes capitals, several of the archaic spellings, two with a tilde-like mark, “surtout” and “Escossois.” A literal translation of the passage will show Poe’s probable error in attributing the text itself rather than a mere copy of the book to M. d’Avisson, owing no doubt to his thinking the first “de” to be “of” rather than “from” despite the overlooked presence of “en” (“of it”) : “I have had the original of it from Mr. d’Avisson, a doctor, among those best versed today in their knowledge of literature and especially science. I owe to him this obligation among others, of having put into my hand not only this book in English but also the manuscript of Sir Thomas d’Anan, a Scotch gentleman, commendable for his virtue, on whose translation I confess that I have based the plan of my own.”

Poe seems to think that d’Avisson himself was the author of the English original, but there is no proof of this in the text cited by Poe. Yet, either through undisclosed information or shrewd conjecture, Poe is not totally wrong, for Baudoin may have had his text through the kindness of Dr. William Davidson of Aberdeen, called “the first British professor of chemistry” by John Reed in his Aberdeen University monograph of 1951 (no. 129). In the catalogs of the British Museum Library and the Bibliotheque Nationale are at least seven works on medicine and chemistry, largely in Latin, from the pen “Willelmi Davissoni.” Two were published in 1651 by the Paris firm of F. Piot, which may have been instrumental in arranging for Baudoin’s translation also of the Godwin work, perhaps transmitted by Davidson. Poe was also confused by the differentiated capitals used in the original text, for he transliterated the first letter in the surnames as a capital “d” whereas both are lowercase capitals, more properly to be considered a lowercase letter: “d’Avisson” and “d’Anan.” In other names, such as the “Duc De l’Omelette” and the Duke Di Broglio,” Poe’s capitalizations [page 500:] of foreign names are irregular and unconventional.

94A Blas]  Poe is entirely correct about the early life of “Gonzales” but for twenty-three, not thirty pages, as being much more like that of “Gil Blas.” It was a book that he knew well. This picaresque masterpiece by Alain Rene Lesage, of 1715, was one of the few volumes sent to him, although rather pointlessly, at the University of Virginia by John Allan (see Poe’s letter of January 3, 1830). He mentions it in his reviews of Paul Ulric, Bulwer’s Night and Morning, and Cooper’s Wyandotté, as well as in “The Angel of the Odd.”

94B machine]  The summary and details here and below seem to prove Poe’s personal examination of the French text, but his inspection of the picture is careless. This is the widely reproduced picture of Gonzales being borne aloft by his harnessed geese, on p. 15 of the 1638 London edition and used as a frontispiece in the 1648 French edition, with a sign cleverly hung from the apparatus to announce the title. While Gonzales does wear ruffles, his large hat prevents us from seeing “a huge periwig”; the support is much too short and thick to resemble a “broomstick”; and the “strings” are certainly not attached to “their tails” (indeed, how could they be?) but vaguely from the body or perhaps the claws. The text does not specify the point of attachment, for each of the specified twenty-five birds, but it mentions the odd difference in their claws, one “bent” like an eagle’s and the other like an ordinary swan’s. Godwin’s strange terminology mystified both Baudoin and Poe. They are presented as “wild swans” in English and yet are called “gansas,” that being the Spanish for geese. Baudoin, seeing the discrepancy, tries to reconcile it thus: “de mes Gansas, (ou si vous voulez de mes cignes sauvages).” Poe fell into an error by false analogy, for he must have reasoned that “Gonzales” is often spelled “Gonzalez”; hence, “z” and “s” are interchangeable (could he have known that Bishop Godwin termed the putative author “Domingo Gonzales“?). And therefore, why not spell the birds “gansas” — utterly non-Spanish? For Poe’s notions of Spanish forms and orthography, see the doggerel that he included at the end of his review of the memoirs of Madame Malibran, in the May 1840 Gentleman’s Magazine.

95A fans]  The details given seem to prove that Poe skimmed through much of Godwin’s book in the French translation, to the end of the moon sojourn before the return of Domingo via China. The “very brief period” is twelve days (p. 90), the lunarians vary from one earthman’s height to thirty feet (p. 102) and live from eighty to one thousand years, with “Hiruch,” a governor, achieving five thousand (pp. 110-11, 126), and they jump fifty or sixty feet (p. 113). Finally, the hero is not carried “straight up” in the sense of “uninterruptedly,” for the two paragraphs translated below (paras. 97 and 98) described a skyey land visited a day “out” from earth (pp. 76-79). Poe might have calculated the distance at fifty leagues an hour (175 miles) for twelve days for a total of only 50,400 to the moon, as Willey Ley also estimated in Rockets, etc., p. 18.

96A philosophy]  Poe is using the term with the meaning of “science,” which the OED declares “now rare or Obs.,” the last citation being dated 1813-1826 (probably later ones could easily be found beside Poe’s).

97A I]  :Here is the French text of The Man in the Moon of 1648, pp. 76-79, the source of paras. 97-98: [page 501:] (p. 76) Ie veux maintenant vous declarer la qualité du lieu où Pestois alors. Toutes les nuées m‘estoient (p. 77) sousmises, ou si vous voulez esparses entre moy & la terre. Qu?t aux estoilles, pource qu’il n‘y auoit la point de nuit, ie les voyois toûjours d’vne mesme sorte; non pas brillantes à l’ordinaire, mais d’vne couleur blancheastre, & telle a peu pres qu’est au matin celle de la Lune. Elles se saisoient remarquer en fort petit nombre; & dix fois plus grandes (à ce que i’en pûs juger) qu elles ne se monstrent aux habitans de la terre. Pour ce qui est de la Lune, qui à deux iours prés, s‘en alloit estre pleine, elle estoit d’vne grandeur effroyable.

Il ne faut pas oublier icy, que les Estoilles ne paroissoient lit que du coste de 1‘Hemisphere, tourne (p. 78) vers la Lune; & que tant plus elles en approchoient, tant plus elles sembloient estre grandes. i’ay a vous dire encore, que soit que ie fusse en Fair, dans le calme, ou porte aucc agitation, ie me trouuois tousiours tout droit entre la Lune, & la Terre. Cc que ie pouuois remarquer, non seulement en cc que mes oyeaux n‘addressoient leur route, que droit a la Lune; mais encore, pource qu’il ne nous aduenoit iamais de nous reposer (comme nous fismes par plusicurs heures, au commencement de nostre voyage) que nous ne fussions portez insensiblement autour du Globe de la terre. Car i’obmets le sentiment de Coperni(p. 79) cus, qui tient, qu’elle ne cesse de tourner en rond de 1‘est a l’Oiiest (laissant aux Planettes cc mouuement que les Astrologues appellent naturel) non pas sur les Poles de 1‘Equinoctial, communement nommez les Poles du Monde, mais sur ceux du Zodiaque; cc qui est vne question dont ie me propose de parler plus amplement cy-apres, quand i’auray loisir de me remettre en memoire 1‘Astrologie que i’appris a Salamanque, estant ieune, & que i’ay depuis oubliée.

For the aptness of this long passage, compare the original text by Bishop Godwin in the 1638 edition (pp. 51-54), conveniently reprinted by Grant McColley, pp. 20-21. If the translation is genuinely by Poe, it furnishes one of the best evidences of Poe’s mastery of French which has often been doubted (see B. Pollin, Discoveries in Poe, pp. 10-11, and the notes). Yet the scarcely idiomatic “terrible bigness” and “insensibility” suggest a native Frenchman. Certainly Poe’s reading of the material was sharp, for the only blunder that he noted, in text D was a false translation by Baudoin of Godwin’s “West to the East,” p. 53. (He also changes “astronomy” to “astrology.”) Poe’s criticism of the science involved in his second italicized passage (para. 98) might well apply to his own device of aiming Hans directly at the moon without benefit of steering mechanism. For a good account of Godwin’s contribution to science fiction, see M. Nicolson, pp. 71-85.

99A globe,” &c.]  Poe’s inference about “gravitation” seems unwarranted, for Godwin implies an atmosphere persisting all the way to the moon — an atmosphere which turns as does the earth and is held down by force of gravity, although lunar gravity is deemed insignificant.

100A meaningless]  Poe refers to Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac (1620-1655), whose unlicensed Histoire comique ou Voyage dans la Lune, of 1650, was published, authorized, in 1656 as Histoire comique des Estats et Empires de la Lune (first published in English as Selenarchia in 1659). Poe’s scoffing comment certainly applies to Cyrano’s levitational use of bottles of dew, but not to his powder rockets, which by chance anticipated the mechanism of modern space ships, nor does it apply to the satirical aim of a work which did not pretend to be science fiction.

100B satellite]  Just as Poe, years later, acknowledged indirectly his use of [page 502:] Herschel’s Treatise for facts (in the October 1846 “Literati” sketch of Richard A. Locke), similarly this note, added in 1839, grudgingly acknowledges Professor Robley Dunglison’s anonymous, detailed review, in the March 1828 magazine (3:61-88), of the Voyage to the Moon (1827) by “Joseph Atterley,” i.e., George Tucker, professor at the University of Virginia. Poe’s debt was probably solely to the review, as M. N. Posey first indicated, rather than to the unreprinted book, with its simple, unforgettable title. J. O. Bailey, developing remarks of J. A. Harrison, Works, 1:55, and Hervey Allen, Israfel (1926), 1:175, argued for Poe’s use of the book itself, but Dunglison’s long summaries and citations furnish all of these parallels: (1) The stealthy, nocturnal ascent begins rapidly. (2) An exotic metal is used, although not for gas-making but for negative gravity (“lunarium”). (3) The hermetically sealed space vehicle (Tucker’s is a six foot cube of metal) has neatly fitted panes of glass, one to a side. (4) It has a condenser for the “void” of space, based on a secret principle, shared unfortunately with another after the voyage. (5) External hooks (for “lunarium”) which can be freed from within are suggestive of Hans’s buttons on the bag. (6) Panoramic views of broad areas of oceans and lands are noted, and England and France sink into insignificance. (7) The North Pole raises the question of Symmes’s polar holes. (8) At the counter-gravity point the vehicle turns around, but both heroes are asleep, and mistake the moon for the earth. (9) Ballast must be suddenly and copiously ejected. (10) Lunar volcanoes produce meteorites. (11) Lunarians and mortals are mysteriously interconnected. Certainly there are many differences, and Tucker’s aim, as Poe says (para. 101), is satirical, but the correspondences are far too many and too individualized to discount Poe’s reliance on the review. It is likely that Poe deliberately deprecated his own debt by an incorrect view of Atterley’s responsibility for the construction of the space craft, owed entirely to his companion the Brahmin, steeped in the lore of the Sanscrit “Pundits” (compare “Mellonta Tauta”) and experienced through a previous lunar flight.

100C Bay]  Dunglison mentions, more correctly than Poe, the famous story of the flight of “Daniel O‘Rourke” (p. 68), about whom Poe may have read in many places. The tale, by Dr. William Maginn, first appeared in an anonymous collection of 1825, The Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland, and then appeared in the Grimm brothers’ Irische Elfenmdrchen aus der Englischen (Leipzig, 1826), as Poe says. He might have learned of this from the preface to a rhymed version, published by Ainsworth in 1828, by T. Crofton Croker, Maginn’s friend, entitled Daniel O‘Rourke, or Rhymes of a Pantomime (performed in 1826; pp. 7-8), and the story itself has often been reprinted (see Ten Tales by Dr. William Maginn [London, 1933]). Again, Poe incorrectly presents the plot, which tells nothing of an Irish peer, only of Daniel drunk and stuck in a bog, flown to the moon, and there marooned by an eagle whose nest he had robbed. He finally comes back via a friendly gander who sets him down at Cape Clear, about twenty miles from his home (and at the southernmost point of Ireland — to be mentioned in “The Balloon-Hoax,” para. 14). He finally awakes from a dream. Hungry Hill, mentioned in the tale as a mere hill in a town on Bantry Bay, is actually 2,251 feet high and is situated three-fourths of the way down from the head of the bay on the north shore. Maginn turned his tale into a sonnet with an allusion to “Crofty Croker,” perhaps for his [page 503:] “Pantomime” version, as a contribution by “O‘Doherty” in the October 1839 Fraser’s Magazine, after “Hans Phaall” had been revised.

101A moon]  This paragraph, added to the E text, repeats ideas in para. 80. Poe’s term “brochures” is scarcely applicable, save to Locke’s pamphlet. Poe personally did not see the sizable Voyage to the Moon of Tucker. Poe chooses to overlook the fact that Locke’s “Moon-story,” which initiated this long “Note,” was not a satire on earthly customs through a comparison with those of the lunarians but, more subtly, of Dr. Dick’s pseudoscientific, fundamentalist implications. He also ignores the “verisimilar” envelope of Locke’s tale by comparison with his own bantering envelope which completely undercuts credulity. Yet he did indeed have priority by two months in accumulating scientific data for the major portions of the science fiction tale of “Hans Pfaall,” perhaps the first in literature, as he claims.

 


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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) (Hans Pfaall)