Text: Moses A. Dow, “Correspondence,” Waverley Magazine (Boston, MA), vol. VII, no. 18, October 29, 1853, p 284, col. 1


[page 284, column 1, continued:]


We have received an article from E. A. D., on the “Poe” controversy, which we must decline; because, 1st, it is too personal; and, 2nd, because we have made up our mind to publish no more on the subject, either in favor of Poe or Chivers; for if our readers dislike the mode of discussion as much as we do, they must be rather tired of so much talk about nothing.

An article from “Fiat Justitia” is inadmissible for the reasons above stated, and we do not desire any more articles from him on that subject, or any other.

Another very candid reply to Justitia’s last has been received from I. S. A., and we should be glad to insert it for the beautiful quotations it contains, which we believe establishes his former assertion, that the refrain of “nevermore” is neither new with Poe or Dr. Chivers. We cannot forbear giving our readers his reasons for considering the “Raven” as superior to any other poem, for we can do so without feeling under any obligation of punting the subject any thither. It is as follows.

“In the selection of the locale — the length of the poem — the culmination of interest — the skillful introduction of the “au feutoslie” into one of the most melancholy poems in the world — the contrast of the wild night without, and the physical serenity within the chamber — the employment of the raven instead of the human being to carry on the colloquy — the strange effect of the repetition of the fourth line in the fifth — the impression contained in the fourth, more perfectly developed in the fifth, being perfected in the refrain; but, above all, the strange and peculiar effect of “nevermore” arising from the variance of application. For, although the word remains the same, yet, such is the consummate skill of the author, that there is a variance of meaning in every reply. These, among many other peculiarities of effect, are particularly discussed by Poe, in his “Philosophy of Composition;” and in these singularities of composition, and perfection of artistic taste in arrangement, and in these alone Poe claims originality. See vol. 2. p. 267.”

This must suffice. We shall not publish any more communications on the subject from any one, hereafter.

We must decline a letter from S. H. L., in reply to S. C., on Fanaticism, lest another uninteresting controversy arise, which we shall endeavor to avoid hereafter.




Although highly speculative, based only on initials, “E. A. D.” might have been Evert Augustus Duyckinck, a prominent literary figure who knew both Poe and Chivers. Certainly, Moses A. Dow was very unhappy with how the whole controversy had unfolded, and wished to wash his hands of the matter. A relevant letter from M. A. Dow to Dr. Chivers, undated but probably mid-August 1853, may be found in the Chivers Collection of Duke University. The letter reads:

Dr Chivers, — I return all the MS I have received. I think they all emanate from one source, although they are in a somewhat disguised hand.

I have no [illegible] in the matter of Poe’s character. I as willingly insert your articles as any other, if they are in a less nervous style, calling an opponent “[illegible]” “dunderhead” and a pest [and] other offensive names is no argument.

I have a short article in next week by a third opponent, which I consider in the right spirit, and all articles must be so written to receive an insertion.

Be calm, and give proof of your positions, but dont send me any more such as those I now enclose, because they only take up my time for naught


M. A. Dow

I send you a paper for next week [by] this mail.

The manuscripts returned were probably for the play and the articles on poetry submitted by Chivers for publication in the Waverley Magazine, but rejected by the editor on June 29, 1853. (The items were too long, and Dow was not willing to accept articles that required payment.) The “third opponent” is presumably the unidentified “M” who sent in the brief “Thoughts for the Waverly [[Waverley]]” published in the issue of August 27. The letter is printed by Emma Lester Chase and Lois Ferry Parks, eds., The Complete Works of Thomas Holley Chivers, Volume I: Correspondence, Providence, RI: Brown University Press, 1857, p. 210.



[S:0 - WM, 1853] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - Correspondence (M. A. Dow, 1853)