Text: William Doyle Hull II, “Part II, Chapter II,” A Canon of the Critical Works of Edgar Allan Poe (1941), pp. 225-249


[page 225:]


“During my year with you I have writ (ten ...),”(1) This sentence from the Poe-Burton letter of June 1, 1840, introduces a list of the number of pages Poe has contributed to Burton's from July, 1839, through June, 1840.

And this estimate leaves out of question everything in the way of extract or compilation. Nothing is counted but bonâ fiede (sic) composition.(2)

He makes even clearer what he has not counted: having deducted from his monthly salary what, “at the usual Magazine prices,”(3) he would get for his copy, he writes that only seventeen dollars a month remain to pay for all of his miscellaneous services, including “compilation of various articles, such as Plate articles, Field Sports, etc,”(4) This tabulation, which Harrison and Campbell have used as a finding-method, is not wholly accurate; nor is it consistent with the qualifications which follow it in the letter.

Harrison notes in his biography that the “correct number of pages” is “123 (not ‘132’) ...(5) the figure which Poe gets from his addition. It is scarcely conceivable that Poe in the [page 226:] adding of a simple column of figures should have made a mistake of nine points. For May and June Poe has; “14 5 copied — Miss McMichael's M. S. 9 3 copied — Chandlers.”(1) Harrison did not count the copied pages; Poe evidently did. These eight points make the total one hundred and thirty-one; a mistake of one point is much more likely than one of nine points. Poe made another mistake in the mere counting; Joseph R. Chandler's “A Night Among the Dead,” in the June, 1840, number(2) is only two pages long; Poe counts it three.

Another difficulty is engendered by the fact that the estimates are patently approximate. Regularly when the material adds up to eight and a half or eight and two thirds pages, Poe counts it as nine. In the case of brief notices, as are the majority in this magazine, the statement is of little value; were there one page on which there were three Poe notices and one Burton, it would appear in the table as a full page.

If the assumption be correct that Poe counted the copied pages to make his one hundred and thirty-two pages, he has violated the qualifications which he placed after the list; copied manuscripts are by no means “bonâ fiede (sic) ” compositions; yet Poe, in including this on the list is [page 227:] demanding for it the price paid for original work. Furthermore, it is sometimes necessary, to make up the number of pages Poe claims, to count the yield Sports articles, and once, in the June, 1840, number, to include the plate article, “Stonehenge.” One must also, on occasion, count two series of articles, “A Chapter of Science and Art,” running from March through May, and “Omniana,” appearing in every issue from April through August. Campbell approaches a solution of the problem thus:

...it is necessary to give each of these items to him in order to make out the total which he claims (though even that fails for April, 1840); besides, several of the articles betray internal evidence of Poe authorship.(1)

These “columns” are much in the manner of “Marginalia,” though they much more closely approach mere compilation of extracts.

Thus, Poe's tabulation is inaccurate in certain demonstrable cases; therefore, with sufficient grounds, one may suppose it to be incorrect in other cases. It will be remembered that the June 1 letter is a rough draft. In drawing up such a draft it would not be unnatural for a person who was not over-meticulously careful to make a hasty counting, which would be checked painstakingly before the final form was prepared. If the letter was sent to Burton at all, in its revised form it may have been quite different from the original which we possess. [page 228:] In the light of these facts and possibilities, and of the actual inconsistencies and inaccuracies of the list, it can not be used as an authentic finding-method; at the most it is of value only as a check.

JULY-OCTOBER, 1839. [[list]]

The reviews for the first four issues of volume five are determined by letters. On September 21, 1839, Poe wrote P. P. Cooke:

The critiques, such as they are, are all mine in the July number, and all mine in the August and September, with the exception of the three first in each — which are by Burton.(1)

On September 11 he had written Snodgrass: “All the criticisms in the Mag: are mine with the exception of the 3 first.”(2) An earlier reference in the letter to the September number makes it clear to which issue he is referring. On October 7, 1839, he again wrote Snodgrass: “In the Ucto, no: all the criticisms are mine —...(3) There is nothing to contradict these statements; in fact for many of the reviews there is corroboratory evidence. [page 229:]

For these four month's the table is exact and consistent with its qualifications: in duly — “To Ianthe in Heaven,” half page, and four and a half pages of reviews — five pages; in August — “The Man Who was Used Up” and “Fairyland, ” five pages, and four, with a few extra lines, of reviews — nine pages; in September —— “The Fall of the House of Usher,” eight pages, and not quite eight of reviews — sixteen.; in October — four pages of reviews —— four. “William Wilson” appeared in this number; it was not counted, one assumes, because it was reprinted from the Gift, 1840.



This first of the November reviews, must be compared with the June, 1840, notice, “The Youth of Shakspear.” There:

Its design is peculiar — the design of embodying the fancied and historical Shakspear (and his friends) in a connected narrative based as far as possible on facts ...(BGM, VI, 293);


.... the principal, if not the sole design of the author, indeed, being the crowding into a connected narrative as many as possible of these worthies — with a view of depicting them by the aid of the best lights of historical research. This difficult task is well performed. ... (BGM, V, 282).


This was a difficult attempt — but the general opinion is, that it was successful and we have no wish at present to dissent from this opinion (BGM, VI, 293). [page 230:]


We make objection, however, to the author's imbuing his own style — the words in which he personally speaks — with the antique spirit of the people and period discussed (BGM, V, 282);


Popularity might have been attained, and an obvicus discrepancy avoided by relating the story in modern words (BGM, VI, 293).


Messieurs Lea and Blanchard have done a public service in reprinting this work, which will recommend itself to all classes of readers, and should be procured forthwith by every person who has a copy of Shakspeare (that is to say, by the world at large) ...(BGM, V, 282);


’Shakspeare and his Friends’ was well received among that not very numerous class of readers to which the book was addressed, or rather whose approbation the author expected, In fact, the work was more antiquarian than otherwise in character, and had no claims upon the popular attention.. We have heard that the work met with a ready sale; a matter which we find it difficult to believe (BGM, VI, 293).

The discrepancy between the two in the opinions concerning the appeal of the work suggests different authors. The later notice is, I think, unmistakably Poe's. Only three phrases in the earlier suggest Burton; “The immortal bard, ” “worthies, ” In reference to Shakspeare's friends, and “well sustained lifelikeliness.” In an August, 1839, review of Paul de Kock's The Barber of Paris, Burton. has “well-sustained character” (BGM, V, 114). The hyphen may be of significance, for Burton habitually uses it in combinations. The close parallelism in organization, in [page 231:] phraseology, and in ideas, save for the difference observed, point to one author. The latter considerations, I think, overweigh the former.


This book, writes the reviewer

is by the author of the ‘Laws of Etiquette, ’ who is also the author of ‘Advice to a Young Gentleman,’ a volume which we commended with some warmth In a former number of the Magazine (H, X, 45; BGM, V, 282).

In the earlier notice Poe speaks of a “strong feeling of prejudice,” induced by a certain ad captandum air in the title” (BGM, V, 61); here he regards with surprise a “discrepancy between preface and title — between the apparent polish of the one, and the horribly ad captandum character of the other — ” (H, X, 46; BGM, V, 282).(1)

There is a distinction here made between the nature of true erudition and of mere irterweaving of culled material which, except for the change of “only” for “simply” and the addition of a phrase referring to the earlier review is used verbatim in “Guy Fawkes,”(2) The parallel between this and a passage in “The Doctor”(3) has been pointed out.(4)

In “Pinakidia,” Southern Literary Messenger, August, 1836, one finds two catalogues of sources used in the present review; [page 232:] the first is found later in “Marginalia, ” Democratic Review, December, 1844. “Pinakidia:”

Seneca, Machiavelli; Balzac, the author of ‘La Maniere de bien Penser;’ Bielfeld, the German, who wrote, in French, ‘Les Premiere Traits de l‘Erudition Universelle:’ Rochefoucault; Bacon; Bolingbroke; and especially Burdon .... (H, XIV, 39; SLM, II, 574).


...of Horace Walpole, of Bolingbroke, of Chesterfield, of Bacon, of Burton, and of Burdon — even of Bulwer and of D‘Israeli, — with occasional draughts (perhaps at second hand) from the rich coffers of Seneca, or Machiavelli — at Montaigne, of Rochefoucault, of the author of ‘La Maniere de bien penser, ’ or of Bielfeld, the German who wrote in French, ‘Les Premiers Traits de 1‘Erudition Universelle (H, X, 47; BGM, V, 282-3).


...to Seneca, to Plutarch. (through Machiavelli), to Macheavelli himself, to Bacon, to Burdon, to Burton, to Bolingbroke, to Rochefoucault, to Balzac, the author of ‘La janiere de Bien Penser, ’ or to Bielfeld, the German, who wrote, in French, ‘Les Premiers Traits de 1‘Erudition Universelle (H, XVI, 30).

Except for the first two works, the second catalogue in “Pinakidia” is identical with the second in the review:

...the ‘Bibliotheque des Memorabilia Literaria,’ the ‘Recueil des Bons (sic) Pensees,’ ‘the Lettres Edifiantes et Curieuses,’ the ‘Literary Memoirs’ of Sallengre, the ‘Melanges Literaires,’ of Suard and Andre, of the ‘Pieces interessantes et peu Connues’ of La Place (H, XIV, 39; SLM, II, 574 and X, 47; BGM, V, 285). (In the review the French titles are underlined).


This is Poe's second review of Simms. Its authenticity is established by a statement within the review: [page 233:]

Mr. Simms is now and then guilty of a grossness of thought and expression which indicates any thing but refinement of mind. We spoke of this matter at some length in a review, elsewhere, of the ‘Partisan,’ and we speak of it now because we would particularly call the author's attention to the subject (H, X, 53-64; BGM, V, 284).

and by borrowings in “Marginalia.” In the December, 1844, installment in the Democratic Review, Poe gives the passage which he quotes in the last paragraph of the review, using an &c. to cover the last eleven words. The comment in “Marginalia: ” “Body of Bacchus! — only think of poetical beauty in the countenance of a gaping oyster!” (H, XVI, 42; DR, XV, 585); here: “. ... but it is really difficult to conceive what kind of poetical beauty that can be which Mr. Simms is so happy as to discover in the countenance of a gaping oyster” (H, X, 56; BGM, V, 285). In the “Marginalia” he next gives the passage quoted just before this one in the review. The four lines of comment, in the Harrison printing, are identical, with the exception that in “Marginalia” “old world” and “new World” are capitalized, “cue are” changed to “I am, ” and a comma omitted between “one whom” (H, XVI, 41; DR, XV, 585 and X, 56; BGM, V, 285). Later in the same number Poe copies stanzas two and four of the “Indian Serenade” which occurs entire in the review. The introductory sentences should be compared. “Marginalia:” [page 234:]

A ballad entitled ‘Indian Serenade,’ and put into the mouth of the hero, Vaseo Nunez, is, perhaps, the most really meritorious portion of Mr. Simms’ ‘Damsel of Darien.’ This stanza is full of music: (H, XVI, 59; DR, XV, 592).


Perhaps the following beautiful ballad, which is put into the mouth of the hero, Vasco Nunez. is the most really meritorious portion of the book (H, X, 51; BGM, V, 284).


Burton had reviewed Carleton,(1) Mrs. Hall,(2) and Hood.(3) None of these reviews is echoed in this notice. His “frequently expressed ...admiration” (BGM, III, 142) for Mrs. Hall leads one to believe that he would not have been content with merely saying that Carleton's tales “are scarcely as entertaining as those of Mrs. Hall” (BGM, V, 285). In none of the eariler [[earlier]] reviews did he compare the two. Also a censure on Hood is not quite in keeping with his avowed partiality for the man. The reviewer deprecates Hood's having left the comic for the serious tale, for which his talents are not suited, and continues:

The preface would lead us to regard the pieces as original, which they positively are not ...the language, the subject, the general air and manner of the narratives are so strongly marked, that we have no hesitation in pronouncing; them all either intentional, and in that case exceedingly well-managed imitations of Italian novelettos, or disingenuous translations from the same (BGM, V, 236). [page 235:]

This is sufficient to give this double review to Poe.


A February notice of Ellen Pickering's The Fright has: “We expressed our opinion of ‘Nan Darrell’ not very long ago — it is an entertaining book well worth reading” (BGM, VI, 106). “The Fright” is characteristic of Poe:

Miss Pickering has acquired a very enviable reputation among all lovers of light literature, and she may be considered as a highly popular writer. Her style is excellent in its way — simple, inartificial, and direct ...’ ‘The Fright’ is quite as good (as Nan Darrell),(1) and perhaps better (BGM, VI, 106).

In the six lines notice of Nan Darrell, which begins as do many of Poe's notices with remarks on the quality and popularity of earlier works of the author, one finds again an instance of Poe's art of equivocation:

‘Nan Darrell’ is a better book than either of these two, and may well stand a comparison with any modern novel of its class and character (BGM, V, 286).

These two, I think, are Poe's.


The last of the November reviews, of Burton's The Literary Souvenir, begins:

We seize the opportunity afforded by Mr. Burton's absence in Baltimore, to say a word or two in behalf of this annual (BGM, V, 286).

The last sentence is reminiscent of many Messenger review:

We will say, however, that the ‘Aeronaut's Revenge, a Tale of the Confessional,’ is a well conceived and [page 236:] managed story of exceeding interest, and gives evidence of very lofty capacity in its author (BGM, V, 286).(1)

Neither the date nor the duration of Mr. Burton's “Absence in Baltimore” in ascertainable. The fact, however, suggests the possibility of a preoccupation on the part of Mr. Burton at a time which left Poe alone responsible for the critical department. Only on the basis of this, or on the grounds that the other reviews are his and that no contradictory evidence exists, can one assign the notice of Miss Leslie's The Violet to Poe. It is entirely non-committal. As far as style goes, it could as well be Burton's as Poe's.


This has already been shown to be Poe's.

The table again proves correct for November: there are five pages of reviews, counting a half page of quotations; and five is Poe's figure. This may indicate that the first notice, “Shakspear and His Friends,” is Poe's; for without it he would have had no more than four and a fourth pages. However, because of the apparent method of his tabulation, it is dangerous to draw too positive a conclusion. here again a reprint is not counted: “Morella,” almost three pages long, is reproduced from the forthcoming Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque. [page 237:]



Before this notice can be assigned, it is necessary to examine the one following.


Of the Christian Keepsake and Missionary Annual for 1840 the reviewer writes: “The present volume is in the same excellent keeping(1) that won deserved praise in our notices of the Keepsake for 1838 and 1839” (BGM, V, 327). Burton reviewed this annual in October, 1837(2) and in January, 1839.(3) The reviewer betrays acquaintance with the earlier volumes:

The engravings in the present volume are superior in value to the illustrations of the preceding years ...The literary contents of this year's Christian Keepsake fully sustain the former reputation of the work (BGM, V, 327).

It scarcely seems likely that Poe, in the ordinary course of events, would have been familiar with this annual. The reviewer quotes from a letter of praise from a Scotch minister to whom he refers as “the Reverend” (BGM, V, 327), He “freely” endorses “the Reverend's opinion” that the work will “promote the cause of pure and undefiled religion, inasmuch as nothing of a sectarian spirit pervades any of the capers” (BGM, V, 327). In the 1837 review Burton particularly praised it as “free [page 238:] from the rankness of sectarianism” (BGM, I, 284). The first two paragraphs are, I think, decidedly Burtonesque: such phrases as

.... the advent of the season of Souvenirs and Gifts ...the remembrance-seekers of Christmas and New Years tide — ... whose genius requires nothing but maturity to enable him to cope with the proudest sons of the easel ...woful lack of skill(1) ...the well-known appellations of certain wordy poetasters (BGM, V, 327-328).

And this:

General Washington is said, while encamped at Valley Forge, to have frequently retired into the depts [[sic]] of a secluded grove for the purpose off prayer. The painter has placed the illustrious hero upon his knees, it is true, but there is a self-satisfied air about his figure, and a smirk upon his countenance, which sadly(2) harmonize with the act of supplication to the God of Battles (BGM, V, 327).

In content the last two paragraphs strongly suggest Poe. The fourth is concerned with a “reprehensible instance of neglect” (BGM, V, 327) : in the index nearly thirty names are listed “whose articles do not appear in the body of the work.”

The reader will readily excuse the absence of the pretty verses of various of the Honorables and the Reverends, of the Clarks, and the Jameses, and the Browns, but it is hard to be promised articles from such writers as James Montgomery, Mrs. Opie, and Rev. Thomas Raffles, George W. Bethune, and Professor Cleveland, and yet fail to find they in the rages of the work (BGM, V, 328).

None of these people have I seen mentioned by Poe but James Montgomery; of him Poe wrote in “Marginalia:”(3) [page 239:]

This is mere ‘pride and arrogance, and the evil way, and the froward mouth.’ Or, perhaps, so monstrous a propostion [[proposition]] (querily put) springs rather from the thickness of the Montgomery skull, which is the Montgomery predominant source of error — the Eidolon of the Den wherein grovel the Montgomery ours (H, XVI, 10).

The fifth exposes eight lines of plagiarism, Mr. Dodson from Mrs. Hemans. These two stanzas are compared without comment in “Marginalia.”(1) In this installment, however, Poe uses material. from two other Gentleman's Magazine reviews. Apparently he had a copy for consultation; it is not unlikely that he should have taken this bit of work in one of his favorite hobbies from a Burton review. It is even possible gnat on either seeing or being shown the Dodson verse, he had pointed out the theft to Burton. Poe was familiar with the work of Mrs. Hemans. In any case it is difficult to believe that the review is his. The quoting of the Scotch minister with apparent sincerity, a painful striving for quaint humor, the bombast and rhetoric are too marked. The very sentence revealing the plagiarism; is a diffuse peiod [[???]] which seems to me unlike Poe:

One of the most important specimens of plagiarism that ever occurred, disgraces the pages of this Annual, and deserves exposure and castigation, inasmuch as it is an insult to the common sense of the reading community, and a positive wrong to the publishers, who have liberally expended the necessary sums in the procuration of superior literary worth (BGM, V, 328).

The reference to the earlier notices is conclusive. Burton is the author. [page 240:]

Considering this review Burtor's, one way with confidence assign to him the first of the December notices, “The Museum of Religious Knowledge.” It begins:

A valuable and judicious embodiment of various papers connected with the exposition of the necessity of religious truth. There is no sectarian violence in the matters broached (BGM, V, 327).

Sectarianism seems to have been with Burton a bete noire.


The review of The Poet presents Billy Burton in his critical Sunday-best:

‘The Poet’ is a combination of the beauties of the poets of the seventeenth century, placed not ‘like orient pearls at random strung, ’ but in relative order and connected bearing, to illustrate the origin, progess [[progress]], and completion of an amatory siege ...the poet, ‘in imagination all compact,’ must hasten to secure this cyclopedia of Cupid's love, delivered in the choice language of the quaint old posters who drank from the purl: well of English undefiled. The lover must not neglect possessing this vade-mecum, wherein he can trace the passage of his own disease, ana read, in choice and fancied epithets, the manner of his own pursuit. ... the delicacy of the conceit, and the variety of the gems embodied in the carry-out of what conceit, must render this little volume peculiarly delightful to all sensitive minds .... the volume is dedicated by Mr. Walter to Nicholas Biddle. The congratulate the gentleman on their acquaintance with each other (BGM, V, 328).


In “Albert de Rosann,” again, there is a parallelism with a passage in “Marginalia”(1) which suggests Poe: [page 241:]

The author of ‘Misserrimusmight have been W. G. Simms, but is G. M. W. Reynolds, an Englishman, who wrote, also; ‘Albert de Rosann ’ and ‘Pickwich Abroad“ — both excellent, things in their way (H, XVI, 62-63; DR, XV, 593).

Griswold has a note:(1) “Mr. Poe was wrong. ‘Miserrimus’ was written by Reynolds, who died at Fontainbleau in 1850” (H, XVI, 62). The reviewer here presents Reynolds as “the author of a work on French Literature,” Pickwick Abroad, and continues: “We believe also that Mr. Reynolds is the anonymous author of the celebrated novel of ‘Miserrimus!’ a work of talent and worth” (BGM, V, 329). This bit of evidence, however, does not balance that in favor of Burton's authorship; and it may be surmounted as in the case of the Keepsake review.

The first sentence is the sort of thing Burton said repeatedly: “This is decidedly the best reprint of the year” (BGM, V, 328). In the August, 1839, number he called de Kock's The Barber of Paris “the most agreeable reprint of the season” (BGM, V, 114).

If Paul de Kock's name had appeared on the title page as the author, the work would have received a larger share of popularity, but we doubt if Paul de Kock, fond of him as we are, ever penned a better novel or tale of life than this same Albert de Rosann (BGM, V, 328).

In August, 1839,(2) and December, 1837,(3) Burton reviewed de Kock, stressing his popularity and admitting admiration, Poe, as [page 242:] far as I know, his no reference to this French novelist, at least not before 1839. The third sentence betrays Burton's interests:

Mr. Reynolds is the son of the old dramatist, who is notorious in histionie record for the number of bad comedies which he has inflicted upon the suffering public, and for the quantities of monies that he obtained in payment for his trash (BGM, V, 328).

The reference to the “dry humor of Samivel Weller” (BGM, V, 328), again points to Burton. In October, 1837, he reviewed the Pickwick Papers. The Wellers seem to have captured his fancy; the only citation is a scene between Sammy and his father. This is true of the February, 1838, review of Pickwick abroad. In the September, 1839, “A Reply to the Critics, ” he quotes a line of advice from Teller to Samivel. I remember no reference to Poe to the Wellers. Two phrases seem particularly unlike Poe: “a writer of wonderful excellence .... a vividity in the details” (BGM, V, 329). Poe's method is just the reverse of that found here: usually he places first remarks or earlier works; and second comparisons with other writers, Burton, I think, is the author,


This notice cannot be definitely assigned; there is no evidence save purely internal — and that is not sufficiently distinctive. However, from the clear matter-of-fact tone, it seems more likely Poe's. The greater part of the twenty lines is concerned with identifying Dumas, stating offices he has held, [page 243:] and revealing what periods in his life the present work covers. The notice ends:

These Memoirs are the result of dictation to an amanuensis. They are, off course, very interesting, and should have a place in every historical library (BGM, V, 329).

The first sentence reminds one of Poe's interest in the method of composition by dictation.(1) The last sentence is more characteristic of Poe than Burton.


This is, I think, unmistakably marked as Poe's. Forty-one lines long, it is cohesive in a degree scarcely possible to Burton. The first paragraph gives the raison d titre end the background of the publication; the second presents its good qualities and its value. Likewise, in style there is a clarity and compactness never to be found in Burton. A few sentences will demonstrate that not only the tone but the attitude is Poe's:

There are view men of logical thought who have not, at some period of life, experienced the benefit of reducing a course of study to a system of question and answer; and, certainly, no one who ever tried it, will hesitate to acknowledge its importance and advantage in the methodizing of knowledge — in the stamping it upon the memory, in the rendering it distinct, and, in short, in giving it all the qualities which it enduring, and at any moment available. The system is applicable to all sciences, and in none is more essential than in law, whose complexity exceeds that of all others ...To the jurist it will be exceedingly useful in its indicial and [page 244:] digestive character; to the scholar as an aid in the task of revision and condensation; and to every general reader as a convenient manual, not only of law, but of its origin and principles. In the latter respect we look upon it as a better book than the ‘Analysis’ of Judge Field ... We should like to say more of this volume, which is indeed of unusual value, and with which we are especially taken, as with an important step in the simplification and unquacking [[unpacking??]] of an unnecessarily complex and much bemystified science; but the truth is that the merits of the work speak loudly for themselves, and thus leave us very little to say (BGM, V, 329-330).

This review reminds one of the “Bland's Chancery Report” in the October, 1836, Messenger, where Poe deprecated the publication of the work as increasing the complexity already unnecessarily great in the science of law.(1)


This thirteen line notice ends;

We think it somewhat surprising that his serious pieces have elicited to little attention; but, possibly, they have been lost in the blaze of his comic reputation. One of the most forcible things ever written is a brief story of his called ‘The Black Viel [[Veil]]’ a strangely pathetic and richly imaginative production, replete with the loftiest tragic ability (BGM, V, 330).

In “Marginalia;”(2) “The serious (minor) compositions of Dickens have been lost in the blaze of his comic reputation” (H, XVI, 10; DR, XVI, 487). Then follows the last sentence of the review, identical, save that “brief story” has become “short story, ” and “tragic ability” “tragic power” (H, XVI, 10-11; DR, XV, 487). [page 245:]


Thirty-one lines of “Chandler's address,” 1.11, p. 58 to the end (H, X) appeared in “Marginalia” altered slightly (H, XI, 62).


From internal evidence alone one has little hesitation in giving the review of The Poets of America to Burton. Here is illustrated his habit of interspersing random quotations:

There are names in his list ‘alike to fortune and to fame unknown,’ and the merits of their doings will not compensate the reader for the offence of pushing better men from their stools ...his Shakspeare Ode, which is indeed a gem ‘of purest ray serene’ (BGM, V, 331-332).

Also one finds “bantling,” used in reference to an author's work: this usage occurs in a January, 1839, review and elsewhere (BGM, IV, 64). Two passages are representative of the manner of the whole, a sort of rhetoric that Poe would have termed ‘rodomontade;’ the first is typical of the kind of vanity which seems to have been Burton's:

Our readers, who may have perused the fulsome praises bestowed upon this volume in the generality of the newspapers, will doubtless stare at the opposite nature of our dictum. We are not sold to the will of any publishers; we never criticise a work without giving it an attentive perusal; we never obtain the gratuitous, presentation of expensive publications by the promise of a puff; nor do we covertly slander a brother scribe because he is connected with another periodical. There are editors who cannot make these averments. The expression of our just opinions may give offence to various individuals, but we are not [page 246:] to be deterred in the execution of our critical duty .... The editor of the ‘Poets of America’ has wofully(1) erred in the selection of some of the authors included in his list — we know not whether he has mistaken the quality of the chosen from the lack of a kindred spirit with the sons of poetry — from an ignorance of the attributes of those whose names, although not enrolled on the catalogue of his acquaintances, have awakened the echoes of the bi-forked hill — or whether he has suffered the interference of personal prejudice to warp his judegment (sic) and direct his choice (BGM, V, 331).

In quite a different tone is Poe's comment, three years later:(2)

Mr. Keese ...brought to his task, if not the most rigorous impartiality, at least a fine taste, a sound judgment, and a more thorough acquaintance with out poetical literature than had distinguished either of his predecessors (H, XI, 150).

58. NIX’S MATE. BY RUFUS DAWES. [[list]]

This notice is only twelve lines long, but the nature of the criticism assigns it to Poe:

It is a difficult and a dangerous matter to blend the ideal with the real in a narration of historical events so well known as the matters connected with Sir Edmund Andros’ government of Massachusetts. The introduction of the agency of witches in a New England tale is a good idea, but the author has sadly missed his arim [[aim]] in rendering their Magical powers most positive and real. The indisputable matter-of-fact details of colonial government assort but strangely with the freaks of an Indian sorceress, exercising unlimited control over the fiends of hell, and, according to our notions, New England witches are somewhat different from Mr. Dawes’ hags of the Brocken and the Hartz, who leave their German mountains to boil their unholy cauldrons on the beach at Nahant. This strange mistake militates against the general effect of the tale; nevertheless, we believe that the publisher will find it the best selling book of the season. (BGM, V, 332) [page 247:]


The “Marginalia” in the Democratic Review for December, 1844, makes use of twenty-eight lines (H, XVI, 29, 1.6-33) only slightly changed from the second paragraph (excepting the first and the two last lines) of the December, 1839, review of Morris’ National Melodies of America. The “Marginalia” in the Southern Literary Messenger for April, 1849, incorporates the whole review. It follows the Burton's article closely for the first three paragraphs: aside from a sentence added and one ommitted [[omitted]], the only difference is in the punctuation, in an occasional revision of phrase, and the change from “we” to “I.” The next paragraph in the Messenger condenses the last two in Burton's, with the last sentence in each only slightly different. The final paragraph of the Messenger article is not found in the review.(1)


The notice of the United States’ Military Magazine may be given to Poe, though it is somewhat nondescript. Aside from his probate interest in such a periodical, the last sentences are indicative:

.... and the editor says — ‘It is not known to whom belongs its authorship!’ It belongs to John Neal, of Portland, than whom a more graphic or vigorous writer is not now living ...(BGM, V, 334). [page 248:]

Poe in a passage in “Marginalia”(1) stresses the vigor of Neal's writing, and assigns him “first, or at all events second rank’ among our men of indisputable genius” (H, XVI, 152; XV, 294).


In “Marginalia”(2) Poe wrote of Grant, the author of Walks and Wanderings:

His mind — granting him any — is essentially at home in little statistics, twaddling gossip, and maudlin commentaries, fashioned to look profound; but the idea of his attempting original composition is fantastic (H, XVI, 9; DR, XV, 487).

In the notice of the book;

His mind, if indeed he has any, is essentially at home in statistics, and twaddling gossip, with maudlin commentaries fashioned in imitation of profundity. But the idea of his launching his very little vessel into the ocean of original composition, has in it, to our apprehensions at least something supremely fantastic (BGM, V, 334).

In “fifty Suggestions:”(3) “ —— that ‘Conscience which makes cowards of us all’ will permit me to say ... only ...” (H, XIV, 183; GM, XXXIV, 364); here; “That ‘Conscience which makes cowards of us all’ will not permit us to say .... (BGM, V, 334).


The last notice to the December issue is of Mrs. Hale's The Good Housekeeper. Only seven lines in length and a [page 249:] perfunctory affair in a gallant tone, this cannot be defintely [[definitely]] placed; however, partly because of position, I think it probably Poe's. In this volume, with the one exception of the “Poets of America,” Burton's reviews have consistently preceded Poe's.

For this number Poe's estimate causes trouble. If my attributions are correct, there are only five pages of reviews; “The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion” covers two and a fourth pages — seven and one fourth, then, in all; Poe claims twelve, Counting all the reviews, one gets seven and a third pages. Adding to this “The Conversation, ” one still has not quite ten “pages. Everything else is signed but a short poem, “December,” not Poe's; a Scotch dialect story; and the Sports article. Adding the latter to the total, one has almost exactly twelve pages. Reducing the reviews to five pages, my count, and adding “The Scotchman and the Twa Sarks, ” one has practically twelve pages. This article, amounting to little more than an anecdote, has no signs of being Poe's; however, it is hack work such as Poe could have done as filler. Despite this difficulty, it is impossible to give to Poe all of the December reviews.


[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 225:]

1.  Poe-Burton, June 1, (1840). MS. Copy in Ingram Collection, UVL.

2.  Ibid.

3.  Ibid.

4.  Ibid.

5.  H, I, 163.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 226:]

1.  Poe-Burton, June 1, (1840). mow. Copy in Ingram Collection, UVL.

2.  BGM, VI, 253-254.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 227:]

1.  K. Campbell, “Bibliographical Notes on Poe — I,” Nation, LXXXIX, 622.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 228:]

1.  Poe-Cooke, Philadelphia, September 21, 1839. H, XVII, 53. Robertson mistakenly says that this is a letter to Eveleth.

2.  Poe-Snodgrass, Philadelphia, September 11, 1839. Ostrom, op. cit., p. 11.

3.  Poe-Snodgrass, Philadelphia, October 7, 1839. Ostrom, op. cit., p. 12. Robertson writes: “In a letter to his cousin Neilson Poe he wrote that the ten book-reviews in this issue were by himself.” Robertson, op. cit., 11, 1837. I know of no, such letter.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 231:]

1.  July, 1839. The reviews for this month have been shown to be Poe's.

2.  BM [[GM]], November, 1841. H, X, 216.

3.  SLM, July, 1836. H, IX, 68.

4.  See pages 139-40.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 234:]

1.  BGM, IV, 193.

2.  BGM, II, 358 and III, 142.

3.  BGM, II, 140.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 235:]

1.  The parentheses are mine.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 236:]

1.  That this notice was largely sincere is evidenced by “Autography,” GM, December, 1841: “In this work many of the tales were good.” H, XV, 236.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 237:]

1.  A Poe word, but in this usage not distinctive.

2.  BGM, I, 283-285.

3.  BGM, IV, 71.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 238:]

1.  “Woful” is a favorite word with Burton; cf. VII, 55, et passim.

2.  This is another favorite Burton word.

3.  DR, December, 1844.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 239:]

1.  SLM, April, 1849.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 240:]

1.  DR, December, 1844.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 241:]

1.  Printed in H as a footnote.

2.  BGM, V, 113-114.

3.  BGM, I, 427.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 243:]

1.  Cf, for instance the August, 1839 Poe review of James ‘The Gentleman of the Old School, BGM, V, 114-115.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 244:]

1.  SLM, II, 731-732.

2.  DR, November, 1844.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 246:]

1.  Note again the use of this word.

2.  Boston Miscellany, November, 1842.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 247:]

1.  Harrison has used the Messenger text for both the Burton's review and the “Marginalia” article. See H, X, 41-45 and X VI, 136-140.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 248:]

1.  SLM, May, 1849.

2.  DR, November, 1844.

3.  GM, June, 1845.


[S:0 - CCWEAP, 1941] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - A Canon of the Critical Works of EAP (W. D. Hull) (Part II, Chapter II)