Text: Epes Sargent (?), Review of Eureka, Evening Transcript (Boston, MA), vol. XIX, whole no. 5518, July 20, 1848, p. 2, cols. 1-2


[page 2, col. 1, continued:]

NEW PUBLICATIONS. “Eureka; A Prose Poem. By Edgar A. Poe. New York, George P. Putnam. Boston, James Munroe & Co.” The author says in his preface, “What I here propound is true: — therefore it cannot die; or if by any means it be now trodden down so that it die, it will ‘rise again to the life everlasting.’” To all which the knowing reader, if he be one of [column 2:] the vulgar, will be apt to reply by placing his forefinger significantly on the side of his nose, and ejaculating humph! Mr Poe proposes here to give us an essay on the material and spiritual universe, and he dedicates his work “with very profound respect” to Alexander Von Humboldt. So ingeniously does he smatter of astronomical systems, concentric circles, centrifugal forces, planetary distances, the Nebular theory and the star Alpha Lyræ, that we should not be surprised if the great cosmogonist himself were to be dismayed by the lavish ostentation of scientific lore, and of conceits, which if not philosophical, will be likely to pass for such with the mass of readers even as paste settings pass for diamonds of the purest water. There is talent unquestionably in these fanciful speculations, and we are occasionally reminded of that remarkable work “The Vestiges of Creation” by the character and tendency of the author's scientific romancing. But the vital element of sincerity is wanting. The mocking smile of the hoaxer is seen behind his grave mask. He is more anxious to mystify and confound than to persuade, or even to instruct; and there are passages,

“Which read and read, you raise your eyes in doubt,

And wonder what the deuce 'tis all about.”

If Mr Poe be not a philosopher he is the most adroit of mimics. He will discourse to you in technical phrase of the mechanism of the universe, its existing phenomena and ultimate annihilation as glibly as a Lyceum lecturer will dilate upon the constitution of the steam engine. But it is as a “poem” that Mr Poe wishes Eureka to be judged “after he is dead.” We trust that he will live much longer than his book — live to exercise his really fine talents upon something more profitable to himself and his readers.



The humorous couplet quoted is taken from William Gifford, The Baviad (1791). The name of the author of this review was assigned by John H. Ingram on a copy of the clipping now in the Ingram Collection at the University of Virginia. The attribution is accepted by The Poe Log.


[S:0 - BET, 1848] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Review of Eureka (E. Sargent, 1848)