Text: James Wood Davidson, “[Review of] Edgar Poe and His Critics,” Yorkville Enquirer (Yorkville, SC), vol. 6, no. 7, February 16, 1860, p. 2, cols. 5-6


[page 2, column 5, continued:]

Edgar Poe and His Critics.

This is the title of a little volume, an early copy of which has just reached us by the mail. It is from the pen of one who knew him in life, and in death has a right to speak of his memory. It is by Mrs. Sarah Helen Whitman, of Providence, Rhode Island. The little volume is written in a spirit of the strictest charity; and is eminently calculated to prepare the public mind for a true understanding of the real point in estimating the strange character of Edgar Poe. — The accomplished authoress does not plead blindly for his errors; but tell us what were those errors, and asks that not they alone be heart. Listen to a few words: “Could we believe that any plea we may have urged in extenuation of Edgar Poe’s infirmities and errors would make the fatal path he trod less abhorent to others, such would never have been proffered. No human sympathy, no human charity could avert the penalties of that erring life. One glance into its mournful corridors — its ‘halls of tragedy and chambers of retribution’ — would [column 6:] appal the boldest heart.” We have not read a book in years with a profounder interest than this. There was everything to invest it with interest — the poetess-writer, whose spirit lends it undefinable charm of beauty to everything it nears; the subject — Edgar Poe, the boldest and ablest of Southern critics, the most striking and earnest poet that ever wrote, the wronged as a man, the misunderstood, the independent, the princely and mournful genius that electrified our whole country by the vigor, brilliancy, and audacity of his pen — Edgar Poe, who was born in a Southern city, who dared defend our Southern literature, and who now “lies in dust” in the city that gave him birth. All these things made this little book intensely interesting to us. Besides, we ourself once wrote something upon the subject. We commend it to you, friends, heartily as a noble and beautiful tribute to truth, given in the genuine spirit of Christian charity to all parties, just warm and fresh from one of the purest and best of better human hearts, that we have ever met. The book is published in exquisite style by Rudd and Carleton of New York. It can be had, postage pad, by sending the price (seventy-five cents) to the publishers. And of course our friend Glass will have it on sale in Columbia in a few days.

J. W. D.




In the original priting, this item is one of several brief notices. The others have been omitted as they do relate to Poe, but the initials at the end, and the location from which the correspondence was sent, have been retained.

James Wood Davidson’s own article was published in Russell’s Magazine in 1857. His comment that Poe was born in the Southern city where he is buried is a reference to Baltimore, Maryland. Although Poe is buried in Baltimore, he was actually born in Boston, but most biographical articles about Poe until about 1874 perpetuated the error that he had been born in Baltimore.


[S:0 - YE, 1860] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - Review of Edgar Poe and His Critics (James Wood Davidson, 1860)