Text: William Doyle Hull II, “Part IV, Chapter II,” A Canon of the Critical Works of Edgar Allan Poe (1941), pp. 414-483


[page 414:]

Chapter II: Commentary on the Critical Writings in the Mirror

A great number of the book notices in the Evening Mirror were reprinted in the Weekly Mirror. I have placed at the beginning of this study a canon for both the daily and the weekly; here I mark those notices which appeared later in the Weekly Mirror with a ”WM.” Those few which appeared exclusively in the Weekly Mirror I have treated at the end of this section.

OCTOBER 7, 1844.

THE AMBER WITCH. W [[(WM)]] [[list]]

From pure evidence of style there can be little doubt that this is from the pen of Willis:

This is one of the most romantic of romances, and the bewitchingest of witch-stories ... who set on old Lizzie Kolken (a real witch and no mistake) to circumvent and entangle poor Mary, her life, which had hitherto been that of the young rose amid spring dews and showers, pure and fragrant and happy, became a groaning and shrieking agony ... as they stretched her delicate limbs on the wheel, uncovered her while loins, and strewed her tender body with sulphureous goose-quills, boiled in oil ...

OCTOBER 8, 1844.

* ELIZABETH BARRETT (no heading). W. [[list]]

This first page article quotes three poems interspersed with criticism. It begins:

There will doubtless be criticism by Lowell and Poe — each in a very different spirit from the others but both Damascene as to the temper of the weapon — of a certain new book, just published by the Langleys.

It is clearly from Willis’ pen.

OCTOBER 9, 1844.

* DR. LARDNER’S LECTURE. W. (WM) [[list]]

We did not chance to hear Dr. Lardner‘e excellent and amusing lecture on the ‘London literati, etc., but the [page 415:] report of it in the ‘Republic’ has scraped the nose from one corner of our memory, and we may perhaps, aid in the true portraiture of one or two distinguished men by showing a shade or two in which our observation of then differed from the Doctor ... We were in a ball in the heigth [[height]] of the season, at Brighton ... But at Lady Blessington's ... Bulwer's entrance was certainly the precursor of fun ... At evening parties in other houses, we have never yet seen him [D‘Israeli] leave a room before he had made an impression by some burst in the way of monologue ... When we were first in London ... Three years after, returning to England, we found him master of a lordly establishment in Hyde Park ...

In 1831 Willis first went to England, moving on after a brief stay to France. After Italy and a Mediterranean tour, he returned to England in 1834, bearing a letter of introduction from Landor to Lady Blessington, among others. At her house he met both Bulwer and Disrsaeli.(1) This chatty little article is clearly Wi1lis’.

[[This item is collected in the “Ephemera” section of The Prose Works of N. P. Willis, 1852, p. 720, confirming Hull's assumptions — JAS]]

OCTOBER 26, 1844.

(?) 1. CHRUVELHIER’S ANATOMY. [[list]]

The reviewer begins with the observation that it is pointless to praise this work which has for some while been used as a text in Europe and in America; and the endorsal of the editor, Dr. Pattison, is in itself recommendation enough:

We are not to expect at, the present advanced state of anatomical science much. that is new, and in consequence the chief merit to which writers in this field lay claim is facility in arrangement, clearness and precision in language, and correctness in illustration. The great desideratum in such works is to get a book which shall contain such wood cut plates or engravings as shall; be sufficient substitutes for the dead body.

The entire review in tone, attitude, and method is like Poe; it seems to me probably his. [page 416:]


That lavish Duke of olden, times, of aristocratic France, who employed the first poets and painters of his day to beautify a souvenir, for his ladye love, only anticipated by a century or two, the editions de luxe of 1844 ... As to the beauty of the flower-gems, and the truth of their beauty we suppose there can be but one opinion. American wildflowers, looking at themselves in their own clear lakes, would not see their delicate tints more perfectly reflected ...

This seems probably to be Willis; the atmosphere is that gracious and elegant suavity which he so diligently affected.

OCTOBER 29, 1844.


This book, with a bad title, is wonderfully clever. Weary with Eastern travel, we read it with a lively interest from the first page to the last. — There is a great deal that we object to in it. It is not a wise book, nor a learned; indeed the writer tells us at starting that he means to be superficial. It contains much that is hasty, flipper, and ill-digested; and it contains nothing that is useful, scientifical, moral, political, statistical or geographical. But it has a rarer quality. It is real. The writer tells you what he actually saw and felt.

So begins this review. From this paragraph one gets little help, I think, in determining the authorship. It seems equally possibly Poe's and Willis‘; yet there are certain things which suggest rather Willis. The number of short sentences and their rhythm, the use of “scientifical,” and the phrase “weary of Eastern travel,” Willis in 1833-34 did the Eastern tour. Ones cannot be sure from this phrase whether the writer means merely weary of reading books of Eastern travel, or whether he is writing from first hand experience; however, there is a suggestion. The rest of the review strikes one in much the same way. There is no more [page 417:] of criticism. The reviewer tries the course of the travels, commenting, describing on his own behalf. He is making an interesting article for the first page of the Mirror. For example:

And so, out of this filth and squalor; perhaps lifeless indifference; perhaps crowded, pushing, jostling rascality; there rise the mosques and domes and minarets which alone connect present and past. We discover in such a book as Eothen the marvellous deadness and degeneracy of the East. Fine romantic looking fellows anxious to cheat you. Dignified fellows bent upon plundering you in Allah's name and with the assistance of his prophet. All of the form and none of the realities of the old time ... His account of her (Lady Hester Stanhope) is curious, and in the impression it leaves of a methodical, voluntary, studied madness, does not differ from Lamartine's. But she has a more natural air, and condescends oftener to the truths and commonplaces. She indulged even a talent of mimicry. In which she was said to excel when she presided over her uncle's house in London.

Here perhaps there is a more definite hunt: the remarks on Lady Stanhope seem to be interpolated by the reviewer on his own account. Partly because of the feeling throughout of a firsthand acquaintance with the subject and partly because of the style and general method, I feel confident that this is Willis and not Poe.



There are in this notice certain peculiarities — they can scarcely be called affectations — of diction which seem to me unlike Poe:

We must not begin our notice of this publication by a profession of impartiality, for we confess a predisposition to think well of anything by the save hand ... The idea is brought out by an induction of particulars ... The Lecture is altogether a fine mental and statesman-like effort, and does justice to the prompt and willing fame of Governor Seward. [page 418:]

And yet here are sentences in the Poe tone:

Yet, we cannot but believe that few will differ with us when we call the discourse in question a masterly performance — clear, discriminating and original.

It is only safe to say that, it is perhaps Poe's.

NOVEMBER 7, 1844.


This review is quite clearly from Willis’ pen. The first five sixths of it are devoted to a sentimental recounting of what must be a very sentimental little tale. In the absence of a rich old kinsman who has not been heard of for forty years, the family hall and the family fortune have fallen into the hands of a wicked solicitor. The lamented old kinsman returns to save the estates but as yet no one has recognized him. It is at the family Christmas dinner. A toast is proposed to the safe return of Uncle Nicholas. The reviewer continues:

The safe return! Why, here he is! Here, with a brimming wine-glass which he knows not whether to toss down his throat or over his head.(1) Here he is trying to laugh, but crying all the while. Here he is kissing the girls and hugging the boys ... Here he is, come back to make his kindred happy, end to fulfill the desire which in all conditions of our being has the force of a passion — to lay his bones among his own people.

The concluding paragraph is also quite clear in its indication:

... we delight to read of such natural goodness of heart as is displayed by the villagers breaking forth throw the disguise of their rough manners like sunbeams through a cloud. The conclusion is quite poetical. It is as good as Marco Polo stripping open his rags and showering down jewels [page 419:] on the floor. To young people the story will be a rare treat, and will, like a sunshine ramble in a fine country, mingle the healthiest influences with the purest natural enjoyment.

NOVEMBER 11, 1845.

(?) 3. McCULLOCH’S GAZETEER. (WM). [[list]]

This brief notice is in the Poe tone:

We find no fault with the bringing it out in numbers, but its value evidently is as a whole. For a book of reference to lie an the table or the nearest shelf, ever at hand, we know nothing better of its class. It is just the kind of work, where double columns and small print are not only justifiable, but commendable.

I think it is probably his.

? 4. FROST’S BOOK OF THE ARMY. (WM) [[list]]

This, an announcement of a forthcoming work, makes acknowledged use of information from another reviewer. There is nothing here to point with any definiteness to either Poe or Willis. It may, perhaps, be Poe's.


About this one can say no more than about the preceding notice.

NOVEMBER 12, 1844.


There can be no real doubt as to the author of this article. The first paragraph is almost evidence — a flippant, almost silly playing around with the name Tom, introducing with free generosity tom-tits, tom-cats, tom fools, and Tom O‘Bedlams. In the next four paragraphs one finds general and specific criticism of Hood as an author which bears little resemblance to that which Poe expressed in the Broadway Journal. The last paragraphs give a personal description of Hood, and certain details of his private life. The whole indicates that the author knew Hood personally: [page 420:]

Now, we wish to indicate in this way the exact height of our friend Tom Hood. He is a little below the middle size, with a face as he calls it, better fitted for a number of the ‘Evangelical Magazine’ than a volume of the ‘Comic Annual’. He was mistaken more than once in Germany, he tells us, for a regimental chaplain. His mouth, he informs us, is a little wry.

I have been unable to discover whether or not Willis actually knew Hood; but clearly this is not the work of Poe.

NOVEMBER 13, 1844.

* FREEMAN HUNT. [[(WM)]] W. [[list]]

In the Broadway Journal, November 8, 1845, Poe has a notice of Hunt's Merchants’ Magazine in which he wrote:

We have now lying before us an article from the pen of Willis which speaks very much to the same purpose. There is not one of our readers who will not forgive as for quoting it (BJ, II, 275).

Beginning than with line none of this November 13 Mirror article, he quotes the rest of it. In the article Willis reveals that Hunt was a playfellow of his ‘in round-jacket days.”

NOVEMBER 14, 1844.


This in not so much a notice as a reprinting. After a paragraph of introduction,; consisting largely of quotations from the Viscount, the reviewer quotes at large from the work. There is no real ground for determination of authorship, but my guess would be Willis.


The reviewer observes first:

We think most readers prefer well selected gems of literature to ill-natured critical dissections, and therefore [page 421:] we foresee prosperity “to Smith's exquisitely printed Weekly Volume.

He concludes by pointing out that this periodical, if taken with the will enable the reader to keep up the times. Everything points to Willis.


Though here we cannot be so sure as of the preceding notice, the attitude, particularly the way in which it is expressed, sounds more like Willis than Poe:

The ’Southern Literary Messenger’ has opened full battery upon the Literary Magazines of this country. The article on this subject is of a character, which, though severe, we heartily admire — philosophically attacking the evil, and not discharging venoms upon the personal characters of those who are connected with it.

NOVEMBER 16, 1844.


Poe's attitude to Carlyle, often expressed in “Marginalia” and elsewhere is well known. This article is generally in accord with the expressions: but it does not sound to me like Poe.

The barbarity of the style, no one doubts, and no one except a few very warm admirers defends ... The sum and substance of our own view of the whole matter is, that which we sympathize to some extent with Mr. Carlyle in his dissatisfaction with the present state of things, we remedies he proposes in his deep mouthed and most oracular tone are absolutely naught — the mere dreams of a kind well-intentioned enough, but half-crazed with overweening self-estimation ... What is this but to shock the common sense of history? And his remedy is Hero-hood. What is this but inane twaddle ... One of the wonders of the age to me is, that such a monstrosity as Carlyle should have attained so high a place in its estimation. His merits are so overloaded by the most shocking and unbounded affectation and egotism, that we rise from the perusal of much that he has written with no other sensations than those of weariness and disgust. [page 422:]

Willis, I think, is probably the author.

[[This item is collected in the “Ephemera” section of The Prose Works of N. P. Willis, 1852, p. 727-728, confirming Hull's assumptions — JAS]]

? 6. BOYD’S RHETORIC. [[list]]

The first paragraph is a quotation from the author's preface. The reviewer continues:

All this is very good, and the book contains many other good things besides. About one half of it would be very acceptable to us; and the other half would not serve our purpose, nor in our opinion, go far to build up and refine the national taste ... We are exceedingly careful in what we commend, and exceedingly viligant and forbearing in accepting the commendations of others. Being so, we have examined Mr. Bud's book kindly and candidly, but we must object to its general tendencies. We do not consider Mr. George B. Cheevers a very great critic,(1) nor Mr. Pollack as a very beautiful poet, nor Dr. Chalmers as a very edifying writer, nor Mrs. Ellis an alluring teacher of goodness ... We think it a great mistake to accord eminence to third-rate minds, and to represent mediocrity in literature as something of higher rank.

There is little here in the way of external evidence, yet from the style itself and from the point of view I think it possible that the notice is from Poe's pen.


Like all the Captain's efforts, these volumes have the grace of readability; and until we discover the source whence the whole or part of the incidents may have been, — borrowed — we shall accord the book the credit of originality too.

This notice like the following, both brief, is Poe's I think.


Poe, if he be as I believe the critic, points to an instance of absurdity after a sentence on Simms’ style:

... it is the comment which follows the remark that Marion like Washington, had no children. ‘This may [page 423:] have baffled some hopes, and in some degree have qualified his happiness, but did not impair his virtues’. Does it often impair man's morals to be without children?


Willis’ editorial comment on this notice(1) proves that it is neither his nor Poe's. As we shall see later,(2) there is some evidence that J. T. Headley contributed some notices to the Mirror. The “literary friend” may be he. This is the tone of the notice:

... must be taken for what they are. They are a fair subject for praises, not for criticism; and we rejoice that a working man, low in health and by no means prosperous in circumstances, can find such solace for the dark hours which drive so many to dissipation and misery.


The only criticism the reviewer offers is than the work utterly neglects chronological order. The notice ends:

We perhaps show our Knickerbocker predilections, but we cannot help stating our preference for the tragical story of Jacob Leisler. It is a genuine New York tale, told by a New Yorker in a veritable New York spirit ... We would cherish every interesting local association, springing from the ancient time-honored periods of our history, and we therefore recommend the story of Jacob Leisler to every genuine son of New York.

It is possible that Poe might adopt such an attitude for the purposes of the Mirror, but I think it highly improbable. The style some that of the unknown critic, perhaps, Headley. Willis’ explanatory note says that he sent a bundle of neglected novelties. It seems likely that they would [page 424:] appear together. This book and the next reviewed seem to be from the same hand that wrote on MacKellar.


Having listed some of the subjects of articles, the reviewer comments:

So far as we can judge from a hasty view, these subjects, some, of which are the greatest that can employ the pen anywhere, are treated with tact and ability, and give us a favorable opinion of the condition of our Western Seminaries of Learning.

The notice concludes with a geographical list of contributors and the sad statement that New York has 40 representative.

[[This item is collected in the “Ephemera” section of The Prose Works of N. P. Willis, 1852, p. 745 — JAS]]


THE FAMILY CIRCLE. (WM) W ? [[list]]

This is a good little book, designed to cherish affections. It can have no other influence.

This is the notice in its entirety. It seems to me fairly safe to give it to Willis, not only on account of what it is, but because it occurs in a column with two other notices which are almost certainly his. However, one must be careful in allowing position as evidence here where a certain number of pages had to be filled up every morning, and where Willis and Poe worked, apparently, together placing out scraps.


is longer and consequently stronger in its suggestion of Willis:

An infant's book has high uses. The far-sighted and generous mind than embraces the welfare of every creature, is worthily employed in feeding the opening intellect.

AMELIA. (WM). W. [[list]]

This notice of the ‘Kentucky Sappho’ is clearly by Willis. [page 425:]

We have expressed our almost unqualified admiration of this lady's poems, as they separately appeared.

There is, as far as I know, no review by Poe of Amelia prior to this date. I have been unable to see the New Mirror, the direct forerunner of the Evening Mirror and the Weekly Mirror therefore I am unable to clinch the argument with citations from earlier notices by Willis. One paragraph, however, will perhaps supply sufficient corroboration:

It was once remarked to us, by a critic as candid as he is discerning that there is a great development of the poetic sentiment in this country; that many of our collections, which, in their brief existence, resemble the flowers that seem to be born only to die, like these delicate, odorous and lovely objects in nature, have often a character of sweetness, purity, and freshness, grateful to the refined taste and a feeling heart.

[[This item is collected in the “Ephemera” section of The Prose Works of N. P. Willis, 1852, p. 728, confirming Hull's assumptions — JAS]]

NOVEMBER 19, 1844.


On September 2, 1844, Thomas wrote Poe:

Poe, you remember that you wrote me that you like my poem which I call “The Beechen Tree very much — Well, my good friend, it is just published. I have no copy by me or I would contrive to send you one — you know how much I value a good word from you my friend ... (1)

And on October 10:

I would have written you in answer before, but I delayed until I could send you a copy of my little book, which please accept as a slight testimony of my faithful friendship and regard.(2)

Thomas continues to hint that a review would please him. On December 10 he wrote again: [page 426:]

Two months ago I wrote to you enclosing a copy of my poem. Since which I have heard not one word from you — not even a line of acknowledgement (sic).(1)

Poe replied an January 4, as we have already seen:

I duly received your two letters and ‘The Beechen Tree’ for which let me thank you. My reason for not replying instanter was that I was just then making arrangements which, if fully carried out, would have enabled me to do you justice in a manger satisfactory to both of us — but these arrangements finally fell through, after my being kept in suspense for months — and I could find no good opportunity of putting in a word anywhere that would have done you service.(2)

The notice itself I shall quote in its entirety save for two sentences:

A modest and acceptable offering to the muse, by one of our popular authors, who has heretofore given us little but good prose ... He has fine command of all forms of expression a true eye to the beautiful, a deep and natural sense of the affections, and possesses, withal, the rarer power of curbing both his imagination and his language at the point this side of curbing both his imagination and his language at the point this side of redundancy. His rhythmus is smooth and musical, and his choice of epithets peculiarly true and artistic. We do not know but we could find some blemishes in this sweet little poem if we should look very critically over its fair pages; but, at any rate, we shall not make the experiment ...

Certain things here, particularly the first phrase and the use of “withal.” do not sound particularly like Poe; however, the tone of the whole seems to me typical of Poe cautiously reviewing a friend, and the circumstantial evidence is strong. I think that it is Poe's. That, then, did he not mention this notice to Thomas, who, apparently, had not seen it? It has already been suggested that Poe seemed anxious to conceal his actual [page 427:] position at this time. Again, the notice is slight; and despite its flattering tone, it is not quite perhaps what Thomas would have wanted. Poe may have been planning a critique on it; for such an article the Mirror would not have been the place for printing. It is even possible that by January Poe had forgotten tossing off this brief notice.

NOVEMBER 21, 1844.


In the Broadway Journal for September 6, 1845, there is a notice of a gamebook called The Oracles of Shakespeare:

This is a very ingenious and beautiful game, to enliven a winter's evening. It is very creditable to Mr. Hamilton's taste and talent (BJ, II, 138).

In the October 11 Journal Mrs. Gilman's book is noticed:

This is the third edition of a book which has been exceedingly popular, and justly so. Nothing could be better adapted for the amusement of an evening party. The game is composed of fourteen questions with sixty answers each, numbered. The Oracle, for example, demands of a gentleman — ‘What is the personal appearance of her who loves you?’ The gentleman answers with any number from 1 to 60 — say 30. Turning to 30 the oracle reads as follows ... The volume is beautifully printed and bound, and forms a most appropriate present (BJ, II, 210).

The Mirror notice has parallels to both:

... a most engaging, and admirable book, compiled after a very singular idea, by the tasteful and talented Mrs. Gilman, of South Carolina. It is a playfully contrived series of chance answers, suitable for amusement round an evening-table. The person who holds the book, asks, for instance, ‘What is the personal appearance of him who loves you?’ The individual answers by selecting a number ... we have only given answers to one question out of fourteen. The others are answered each with sixty quotations ... [page 428:] We close these long extracts with a renewed expression of our admiration at the taste of the compiler, and the ingenuity with which it was originally contrived. The getting-up of the book should not be forgotten. It is in the shape of an annual and the best of Gift-books.

These parallels do not carry too such weight; for certain similarities may have come from consulting the preface of the book.

Two days later appeared more about this book in the Mirror. This article, “New Trial of Culprit Poets,” begins:

Mrs. Gilman has invented a new kind of book, (‘Oracles from the Poets’, of which we gave a notice a few days ago,) and the opening Preface, very charmingly written, tries the Poets by new standards altogether.

There is no reason to doubt, I think, that the two articles are from the same hand. In that case, the author seems to be Willis. One finds sentences like this, completely out of key with Poe:

THE AMERICAN POETS, in contradistinction to their elder and superior brethen (sic) of the fatherland, display a more marked devotion to nature, with which a continued glow of religious sentiment aptly harmonizes.

One finds a grammatical error:

The poetry of CRABBE, though abounding in numerous characters, could furnish almost nothing for her purpose, on account of their being woven into the general strain of his narrations.

Apparently he means to say that Mrs. Gilman could find in Crabbe no descriptive passages, for they were woven into the general strain of the narrative. The last paragraph is attached by means of an “apropos”:

— as the living American Poets are in the process of ‘broidery’, would it not be well to know where their worsteds are deficient, that they may shop up their lacking threads in the Broadway of Contemplation? Will [page 429:] not some of our several sleeping female geniuses — (intellectual dolce-far-nientes of whom we know at least a capable dozen) — take up the American Poets and go through them with a discriminating bodkin, skewing what colors lack replenishing?(1) ... at any rate, turn up their frames of immortality and show us the wrong sides!

This is typically and unmistakably Willis.

NOVEMBER 22, 1844.


I am inclined to think this notice is Poe's on the basis of style alone. Note one sentence for example:

This, emanating as it does from one who has written so largely and so well on the diseases of children, is read by every medical mean with great cars and attention — for there is, perhaps, no writer in our language whose opinion in such matters carries with it so much authority.

NOVEMBER 23, 1844.


For treatment see p. [[428]] of this section.

[[Hull does not provide the page “of this section” as noted, but there is a brief statement on p. 428 that mentions this notice and assigns it as “seems to be Willis.” Fortunately, we can assign this entry to Willis with confidence as this item is collected in the “Ephemera” section of The Prose Works of N. P. Willis, 1852, p. 741-742, which would confirm Hull's assumption — JAS]]



This rather long review I have included in the canon without say direct evidence. One is of course put in find at once of the article which appeared in Snowden's Lady's Companion. October, 1842, “The Landscape Garden,” and which Poe reprinted in the Broadway Journal, September 20, 1845. The Mirror review ends:

His books are already so well known that our commendation is of course superfluous, but it is a subject that lies very near our hearts ... [page 430:]

In the first paragraph one finds:

... the American world was ready for his two capital books upon landscape Gardening and Cottage Residences exactly as they appeared, and no sooner. Up to this period, the few among as who possessed wealth, and were ambitious of some taste in spending it, were generally content with a faint and far-away resemblance of certain English models, in a style properly denominated the “Grecian-bewitched’, paltry and incongruous without, and completely uncomfortable within; surrounded by gardener whose principal distinctive characteristic (?)(1) was a most dogged ulilitarianism. The exceptions to this were often melancholy ones — mistaken attempts at elegance, setting all rules of art at defiance, or grotesque efforts of fancy, whose only result was the association of the owner's name with that mortifying word, “folly” ... To guide the yet incipient taste in these matters was American work was absolutely necessary; and most happily has this necessity been met by Mr. Downing's books. Here are plane and precepts suited to every scale of fortune among us; and general maxims which may be studied with almost equal profit by the householder in the crowded city, and the man of refined taste who retires, with a full purse, to embody his own idea of a rural home.

Common sense is, in every case, first considered. The pseudo-taste which slight this great basis, as condemned as paltry and contemptible.

“The man of refined taste who retires, with a full purse, to embody his own idea” suggests immediately young Ellison. The talk of imitation of the English, of incongruity, of the rules of art in relation to gardening, of mistaken attempts at elegance, grotesque efforts of fancy — all of these remind one of the earlier article. I think that this is Poe's.

NOVEMBER 26, 1844.

MAGAZINES. W (?) [[list]]

The first and longest of these four short notices, the others consisting of only one or two sentences, is quoted from the United States [page 431:] Gazette. A bit from the notice of The American House Carpenter will be sufficient to suggest Willis as the author:

We have hammered a good deal, without always being able to flatter ourselves that we hit the nail an the head, and so have never attempted house-carpentry... Not being yet au fait of the subject, we can only say it seems like a thing that ought to accompany the compass and square throughout our land.

NOVEMBER 27, 1844.


The reviewer begins with a firms statement that he would as soon think of asking a man to choose his dinner or his company as his poetry.

But alas! libraries must be measured by the square feet, after all; and we see not how we are to have even a taste of what we love, without the aid of such well-qualified and indefatigable choosers — not of the slain, but of the undying — as Mr. Griswold. With our consent he should be gentleman — usher of the Nine; and we hope many of our readers will be of our mind.

This, one will admit I think, is not Poe, even if he were feeling his kindest for Mr. Griswold, it is probably Willis, as is the next,

ANTHON’S HOMER (WM) W (?) [[list]]

We are not sure that the aroma of our College Homer Is still fresh enough in our nostrils to anew its to criticise this one, and understandingly: add sic we will not even swear to hawing read it through in the present handsome edition ... we congragulate [[congratulate]] our grandchildren upon a chance of reading Homer with more profit if not with more pleasure than are did.

When did Poe ever make an admission of this sort?

GODEY’S LADY’S BOOK. (WM) W (?) [[list]]

There is nothing in this brief notice to suggest Poe; in fact, to the contrary. Of a new plate the reviewer says “It is very gorgeous.” This word I do not remember to have ever seen in Poe. [page 432:]


“This is another dipper-full of fun from the reservoir of Punch.”

The notice consists solely of this sentence and a statement as to where the boot may be bought. I should say it is probably Willis’.

DECEMBER 2, 1844.


We have seen the proof sheets of this sterling and popular Monthly for December, and we can assure our mercantile friends that its contents are rich in valuable information.

It will be remembered that in a November 13 sketch of Freeman Hunt, Willis professed to have been his friend from childhood. The sentence just quoted, the first in the present notice, suggests the probability of the notice being Willis’.

DECEMBER 5, 1844.

12. GRIMES’ ETHEROLOGY. (WM). [[list]]

In August, 1844, Poe had published in the Columbian Magazine his “Mesmeric Revelation,” the first sentence of which reads:

Whatever doubt may still envelop the rationale of mesmerism, its startling facts are now almost universally, admitted (H, V, 241).

The first sentence of the present notice may seem at first sight a contradiction:

We opened this book with a strong prejudice against it, expecting to see the usual parade of wonderful performances; but we were agreeably disappointed.

It will be necessary to quote the rest of the notice to make clear my point. [page 433:]

The professor has taken, up then subject de novo and, instead of following in the old beaten track of Mesmer and Deluxe, Burchanan (sic) and the rest, he has attempted to bring the facts of mesmerism and phrenology into harmony with the known and admitted laws of electricity and magnetism. At first it some impassible to reduce such apparently hiterogeneous (sic) facts and assumptions as those which constitute the work of Mesmerism, to anything like a science. But Professor Grimes has done this with a degree of ingenuity and plausibility, to say the least, which commands our admiration of his talents, even if we cannot fully assent to his conclusions. If we are not greatly mistaken, this work will excite much discussion and lead to important results.

It becomes clear that the objection to “the usual parade of wonderful performances” is not aimed at the presentation of the facts of mesmerism, but at what one gathers was the usual practice of doing nothing but parade the facts. As the facts have come to be “almost universally admitted” as facts, the only value in a work of this wore will lie in its attempt, however successful, to develop from the facts the “rationale of mesmerism.” Further on in the Columbian article one finds:

I say that those — which are the laws of mesmerism in its general features, — it would be supererogation is demonstrate ... (H, V, 242).

This notice I give to Poe with no hesitation. Notice in particular the final sentence; this sort of thing Poe does time and time again.

DECEMBER 6, 1844.


A morning paper commends this work, as having ‘enlisted some of the finest, most vigorous, most learned and sharpest pens in the country. Is a fine, vigorous and learned pen improved by being made a sharp one into the bargain? Our opinion is just the contrary. We hope the execution of the work will unable us to add fair to the list of commendations. [page 434:]

This sounds is me like Willis. He constantly pled for gentleness in criticism. He always felt that Poe would have been a greater critical force had he been less sharp. There is nothing here to indicate Poe; the notice is probably Willis’.

DECEMBER 7, 1844.

* MISS BARRETT. W. [[list]]

We received a note yesterday, in a most prepossessing lady's hand-writing, begging a review of Miss Barrett's poems, for the purpose of showing ‘the disordered state of her intellect“. We gave, in a former number of the Mirror, somewhat a similar view of Miss Barrett in an extract or two that we made . ...

The article referred to hers, which appeared on the front page of the October 8 issue, has been shown to be Willis’ beyond doubt. It is the piece in which he prophesies criticism on them now book of versa from Lowell to Poe. This article, then, is his also.

DECEMBER 12, 1844.


Not so much a review as an advertisement of the Mirror Library, this is clearly the work of Willis. After a paragraph of high-pressure sales-talk as to the value of the series for gifts, he lists the contents with a sentence or two of description. First comes his Sacred Poems. His comment:

The first progeny of our poetical youth — pure and prosperous”;

next his Poems of Passion:

The child of a more tempestuous period of manhood — wayward and energetic. [page 435:]

DECEMBER 13, 1844.

? 13. ARTHUR’S LADY’S MAGAZINE. [[list]]

There is nothing in this brief notice to suggest its author; it may be Poe's.

DECEMBER 20, 1844.


I am inclined to believe this is Poe's. It has exactly the tone and attitude which we have so often seen in Poe when he is reviewing popular scientific works.

We have made an attentive examination of this delightful and interesting work. It is a desideratum to all who value a familiar. And an accurate acquaintance with the phenomena of the heavenly bodies. Derived from the latest observations of the ablest Astronomers, and prepared by the most competent authority, it is within the comprehension of the most ordinary minds.

The last touch in particular is characteristic of Poe.

DECEMBER 21, 1844.


For the Mirror this is a long review, occupying half a column. In the first, paragraph the reviewer recognizes that the volume

contains on every page the elements of poetry — but, poet though he undoubtedly is, he has published, in may instances, with too little mechanical finish. His thoughts are beautiful, and many passages are wholly and unexceptionably musical but there are lines of defective rhythm here and there which mar the beauty of his poems — read critically.

The poetry, judged by the samples printed in this article, is of a quality which would have made Poe snort with contempt and impatience. Two sentences in the review should be noted in particular: [page 436:]

‘The allegory of ‘Virtue and Pleasure’ is a production of much excellence ... Poe stated his attitude toward even an incidental use of allegory so definitely in certain Burton's and Graham's reviews which we have noted, and indeed constantly later in his criticism, that this sentence is strong evidence against his authorship.


One more selection, and we must lay the volume aside for graver but less pleasant avocations.

Poe would not so misuse the word “avocation.” If it is correctly used, it indicates that this review was not on the Mirror staff. We have seen that Willis on one occasion sent a package of books to a “literary friend” for review. In the next issue of this paper there is, as we shall see, a review which is probably J. T. Headley's. It seems probable that this also is his. The two are very similar in general tens. However that may be, I am certain that this review of Whitney's poems is not Poe's; nor is there anything to suggest Willis as the author.

DECEMBER 23, 1844.

? 15. BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER. [[list]]

The reviewer is entirely concerned with the typography and decoration of this volume. “The ornamental exterior is in precise ‘keeping’ with the internal beauty.” This sentence is fairly typical of the whole. “Keeping” is a Poe word; yet a certain quality in the diction points more to Willis. The notice may, however, perhaps be Poe's.


In the copy of the Mirror owned by the New York Public Library (from a film of which I have worked), there is written, in autograph, at [page 437:] the foot of this article, “J. T. Headley.” Whose the writing is I have been unable to discover; therefore it is impossible to tell whether the attribution in authentic or not. In any event, it is clearly not Poe's; there is in the whole review nothing suggestive of him; there is nothing which can be paralleled with the review of the second volume of this series of Poems in the Broadway Journal for July 26, 1845. One sentence in the present notice indicates that the reviewer is not Willis, and probably someone with no connection with the Mirror:

One of the pieces of this collection attracted our attention, on its first appearance, last winter, in the ‘New Mirror’, entitled ‘The World for Sale’. The editor headed it with the remark: — ‘Here is a poem written on the tenth wave of feeling’, and so it was, and therein lies the charm.

The New Mirror was the paper to which the Evening and Weekly Mirror succeeded; Willis was the editor. Poe was at that time in Philadelphia, and the chances of his having seen even occasionally the Mirror, are, I imagine, slim. It was aimed for the New York public. It seems probably that the autograph attribution is authentic.

DECEMBER 24, 1844.


This is another of those brief notices which it is difficu1t to place, and which are not, in any case, of intrinsic value. This book was noticed in the November 18 Mirror that notice, we decided, was probably Willis’ work. Here, although there is no indication of its having been reviewed before, it seems to me again to be probably Willis's, certainly not Poe's. Mrs. Child, one is told, is [page 438:]

certainly a women of ability. She not only writes well for men, but fitly and gracefully for children. This pretty book will lure many a child from toys. (sic) and noise to an hour of quiet reading.


Our language does not possess so good a digest of the unanswerable arguments furnished Christianity against scepticism.

This sentence is, of course, not the sort of thing one expects from a metaphysician like Poe. Nor would Poe be guilty, I think, of the bull. The perpetrator, I take it, is Willis.

(?) 16. LOVEL’S YOUNG SPEAKER. [[list]]

The compiler of this book assumed an easy task, that of mere selection. He had little to do, and that little might have been done better.

This — all of the notice hart been quoted — seems to have the Poe ring. Probably it is his.


This, another notice of a game for evening parties, may possibly be Poe's. The last sentence is somewhat characteristic of him:

It is both amusing and instructive, and in recommend it to all our young friends.

LONDON ANNUALS. W (?) [[(WM)]] [[list]]

The final sentences of this notice is an atrocity of a sort I have never found in Poe.

The other engravings illustrate same of the principal scenes in the history of that eventful period; and is one of the most splendid contributions of the Fine Arts to depict modern history; and a most suitable ornament far the tables of those who would unite beauteous pictorial elucidation with eloquent historical intelligence. [page 439:]

That it is not Poe's I feel quite certain; it is difficult even to see it as Willis’, but there is no alternative with any degree of definiteness to recommend it.

MRS. McDONALD’S POEMS. H ? [[(WM)]] [[list]]

There is no sign of Poe here. Never, as far, as I am aware, did he mention this woman. It is possible that the reviewer, again, is Headley. The notice appears as the last page under the heading Literature as did the review of Hoyt's Chaunt of Life. The notices regularly appear on the second page. The general feeling of this and the other two reviews which have been put down as probably Headley's is the same. It is just possible, however, that Willis is the author here. A sentence or two will set the style of it.

The writer does not attempt to soar into the empyrean with the eagle-pinions of Miss Barrett, nor to dally in the subtleties of love with Miss London, but contents herself with embodying, in unaffected and graceful language, the breathings of feminine thought, and domestic affection. The most fastidious narrower of the sphere of woman could not object to these effusions ... through all of them there runs an under-current of sadness, as if the writer turned ‘from all they brought to what they could not bring’. This, we believe is no affectation; and the allusion in one of the poems to a ‘widow's grief’, should enlist for her the sympathetic of the critic and the public.

DECEMBER 26, 1844.


This short notice may be Poe's, but that Willis is the author seems more likely. Three sentences are representative:

He is the unapproached master of effect in drawing. The poetry of the pencil, however, is proved to be [page 440:] transferable to the pan — for Mr. Bartlett has produced a work on the Holy Land, of which he is both author and artist — It is of course a ‘curiosity of literature’ ... it would serve as a very peculiar and charming New Year's present among the people to be ‘restored’.

DECEMBER 28, 1844.


This book is identified alike with our language and our religion ... It is one of those books of which we never tire, and which every one aims to possess ... Since the simple discourses of Christ, enlivened for every striking and touching form of illustration, were given, Christian doctrine has been presented in dry, stately and didactic form. ‘The Pilgrim's Progress” restored the ancient simplicity and plainness. Instead of the oppressive dogmatism of catechisms, we have here a beautiful dramatic representation of the Christian life ... After an introductory portion, in which we have the ‘Life and Times of Bunyan’ served op with great spirit and clearness, he proceeds in a course (he is Mr. Cheever) of easy, familiar discussion and exquisitely beautiful lectures, to enlarge upon, and apply the vivid allegories of Bunyan, but without changing their allegorical character. He seems to have gotten into the very vein of Bunyan, and even runs into his quaint and picturesque style. His lectures are like spontaneous outgushing meditations which he cannot repress, and which seem born under the inspiration of the allegory.

Here me have the central points of this review of Cheever's Pilgrim's Progress. We had occasion a little before now to call attention to Poe's aversion to allegory, an aversion which this reviewer does not share. In 1847 Poe gave expression to his opinion of the book in question in a review of Hawthorne in Godey's Lady's Book for November:

That ‘The Pilgrims Progress’ is a ludicrously overrated book, owing to its seeming popularity to one or two of those accidents in critical literature which by the critical are sufficiently well understood, is a natter span which no two thinking people disagree; [page 441:] but the pleasure derivable from it, in any sense, will be found in the direct ratio of the reader's capacity to smother its true purpose. In the direct ratio of his ability to keep the allegory out of sight, or of his inability to comprehend it (GLB, XXXV, 555; H, XIII, 148-49).

Obviously enough Poe is not the author of the review in question; it is probably Willis.

THE ROSE. (WM). W. [[list]]

Here one finder Mr. Willis indulging in a flight of sentiment:

The Annuals, when they are of intrinsic value, are very appropriate memorials of attachment; and to youth, when arrived at mature age, will recall the remembrance of the elder friend, who, by this gift of affection, bestows a Rose which will suit the fragrant odour of Friendship, long after the year 1845 shall have passed away.

DECEMBER 30, 1844.


There is nothing here distinctive enough to pass judgment on; the notice may be Poe's.

HOLIDAY GIFTS. W. [[list]]

As in they case of “The Roes,” this notice, which centers its attention on the collected works of Mrs. Ellis, is unmistakable in Willis’ vein:

Of all the enticing things that tempt the fancy for a holiday gift, command us to a pleasant book;(1) nothing proves so fairly a living remembrance of the giver, and nothing sat transports us by its silent and soothing eloquence. What a congregated [page 442:] heap of magnificent tomes are spread, in luxurious profusion, ever the tables of Langley's store ... not forgetting our own ‘Mirror Library’, containing, as one has said, ‘a thousand glorious gem in poesy and prose’ ... ‘We have said enough, and shall doubtless, see this admirable work (Mrs. Ellis’ book) garnishing the boudoirs of many of the fair ones on the coming day of greeting.

THE KEEPSAKE. (WM). W. [[list]]

The notice of this gift book again seems to be by Willis.

We certainly have improved within a fear years in the nature and quality as the presents we make to our friends ... we present them with sumptuous adornings, elegant pictorial embellishments, costly workmanship, and an intellectual feast.

JANUARY 4, 1845.

WHAT IS POETRY. (WM) W. [[list]]

This long article, which is continued in the Mirror for January 7 and concluded in the January 10, is no review at all. The first paragraph quoted from Leigh Hunt's preface to his Imagination and Fancy. My second is — in a way — criticism:

Now, we enriched the idleness of our New Year's Eve by lying on our back and reading this delicious book; and we assure our readers that we do not remember six happier hours. The book is the very essence of an old poet's innermost experience —— unequalled for truth, curiousness and novelty.

The rest is all quoted from the book. This is I think on the face of it obviously Willis’. Poe does not adopt that particular easy personal tone in reviewing. In the Broadway Journal are two reviews of Hunt. From his dicta there one cannot imagine him making these statements about Hunt. In ‘Marginalia’ Graham's, November, 1846, he wrote: “What is Poetry?”, notwithstanding Leigh Hunt's rigmarolic attempts at answering it, is a query that ...” (GM, XXIX, 247; H, XVI, 111). It is fairly safe to give this to Willis. [page 443:]

JANUARY 6, 1845.


JANUARY 9, 1845.


This article Poe reprinted in “Marginalia,” Democratic Review, July, 1846,(1) pp. 30-31. The ideas advanced in it are elaborated and paraphrased in the Broadway Journal review of Mrs. Mowatt's Fashion. In another installment of “Marginalia” he used a sentence from the Mirror article. Here:

The dramatic art, more than any other is essentially initiative, and thus engenders and keeps alive in its votaries the imitative propensity.

In Godey's Lady's Book, August 1845, one finds:

The drama, as the chief of the imitative arts, has a tendency to beget and keep alive in its votaries the imitative propensity (GLB, XXXI, 50; H, XVI, 71-2).

JANUARY 10, 1845.

20. MAGAZINIANA. (WM). [[list]]

This notice of Graham's, the Columbian, Godey's and the American Review seems to be Poe's. A few quotations will give the basis for my opinion:

... may we venture to insinuate a suggestion? — It occurs to us now, and has often occurred to us, and to others before. Authors are sensitive plants — even if the veriest creeds, they are sensitive still — and. for this mason, there should be no list of principal contributors. The omitted, right. fully or wrongfully, win be sure to feel the sting of the insult, and there are same of the [page 444:] race who cannot be insulted with impunity ... Lowell has some lines to the dandelion — musical and thoughtful as his lines always are ... Of the Red Wreath what shall we say? — nothing ... The engraver's name — Doney. — is now to us; he will make a fortune, however, if he be just to himself ... but the decision and delicacy of touch throughout, would compensate for a world of such inadvertence... romance, full of brilliant fancy and nice adaptation ... then whom (Mrs. Osgood) no American poetess does more universally well ... (1)


About this notice of a book which is ‘a sort of guide book’ there is nothing distinctive. It seem to me, however, that it is perhaps Willis’, as perhaps is the next,


These two could, as far as internal indications go, equally well be Poe's or Willis’. However, the “Magaziniana” fills about two thirds of the column. It is followed by a book announcement taken from the Courier and Inquirer. Then came these two brief notices, followed by


which I am convinced is ‘Willis’. Of Griswold's Curiosities the reviewer says: “a clever idea cleverly executed.” Pos wrote of it the preceding summer:

By the way, if you have not seen Mr. Griswold's ‘American Series of the Curiosities of Literature’, then look at it, for Gods sake — or for mine. I wish you to say, upon your word of honor, whether it is, or is not, per se, the greatest of all the Curiosities of Literature, or whether it is as great a curiosity as the compiler himself. (2) [page 445:]

Again the Mirror notice begins:

There can be nothing much more intrinsically valuable In the way of a literary Twelfth-Day present ... than a rich volume ...

This is reminiscent of the December 28 notice of The Rose, where Willis talked of “intrinsic value” in annuals, and of the December 30 notice called “Holiday Gifts.” Another sentence is typical of Willis:

A phrase, now and then, is not much the worse for being common, and we say emphatically of the ‘Curiosities! that no library worth the name’ is complete without it’.

On account of the length of the Poe notice, and the grouping of these three, then, and on account of the lack of any other sort of evidence for the first two of the last three notices, I suspect that these three were done by Willis.


The December 2 notice of this periodical, which seems to be from Willis’ pen, begins:

We have seen the proof sheets of this sterling and popular monthly for December, and we can assure our mercantile friends that its contents are rich in valuable information.

The present notice begins:

This sterling and standard periodical for January to richly freighted with articles of value and interest to the merchants and statesmen, and indeed all who desire solid and profitable information.

It is most probable that this notice of Hunt's magazine is also Willis’. He was, as we have seen, a personal friend of Hunt. [page 446:]

JANUARY 11, 1845.


In the Broadway Journal of April 19, 1845, Poe reviewed this book at length. There is nothing in that review echoing or paralleling this, which is quite as long, if not longer. The approach of the two is quite different. This lack of similarity is enough to make one suspect that Poe is not the anther of the Mirror review, for Poe firmly believed in making full use of every possible occasion of things he had already written.

In the Journal he praises Hunt's “delicate taste and fine fancy ... his exquisite sensibility to all impressions of the beautiful ... his general vivacity of intellect” (BJ, I, 253).

An instinct of the fitting — a profound sentiment of the true, the graceful, the musical, the beautiful in every shape — enables him to construct critical principles which are thoroughly consistent with Nature, and which thus serve admirably as a substructure for Art. But it is in the power of passing behind his principles, that he utterly and radically fails (BJ, I, 253).

He concludes:

... and if we have expressed ourselves of the admirable work before us less warmly than may seem fitting, it is not that we fail to appreciate, or are unwilling to admit its merits, but that, we fool a sensation half of grief half of vexation, at perceiving how narrowly it has missed being more meritorious, by a hundred fold at least, than it actually is, as we now see it (BJ, I, 254).

The Mirror has by and large nothing but praise for Hunt:

The Essay, in particular, is one of the most complete, acuminated, and agreeable pieces of criticism that has appeared for many a day; alike distinguished for [page 447:] its easy strength of diction, its comprehension without vagueness, and its refinement without minuteness.

It was of this essay that Poe wrote in ‘Marginalia’ two years later: “‘What is Poetry?’, notwithstanding Leigh Hunt's rigmarolic attempt at answering it ...” (GM, XXIX, 237; H, XVI, 111). The Mirror critic has, however, a few objections, the justice of which he demonstrates; but, he points out, Mr. Hunt has really failed to carry out exactly what he announced as his intention, so that our objections apply only to his notion, not to what he has accomplished. But again:

Some of his definitions may be objected to as partial or incomplete, or as if he mistook the true meaning of the thing; which, however, may arise, as he intimates in the case of Imagination, from the word(1) not exactly expressing the idea criticism requires or intends. Sometimes objection might be raised to his opinions ... Personal predilections, the hale of the tomb, and some bias of school have inclined him to exaggerate the powers of Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats, especially the last. These kind(2) of things, however, are mere specks, not at all affecting the main character; and even these a little pruning would altogether remove.

Occasionally in the Mirror review one finds a sentence which sounds as somewhat like Poe; but throughout one misses the fine methodical process of incision, of laying back layer after layer, which unerringly classifies and evaluates the work under study. The Mirror review could possibly be Poe's, if it were written in something of a hurry, or if his full faculties were not in play; but I feel convinced that it is not his. The Broadway Journal review of only three months later is a perfect example [page 448:] of the approach he would make to the book, of the way he would handle it. It should also to remembered that there are many instances of direct conflict in opinion. Nor, I think, is the review by Willis. It does not particularly sound like the reviewer we here identified with Headley, but it may be his.

* 21. ALPHADELPHIA TOXIN [[TOCSIN]]. (WM). (B) [[list]]

Like the article an the drama, this notice is reprinted in “Marginalia,” Democratic Review, July, 1846,(1) p. 31.


The fact that this rather long review occurs In the saws issue with the Hunt article is in itself evidence against Poe authorship of the Hunt, for this definitely be shown to be Poe's.

On January 16 Lowell wrote Briggs from Philadelphia:

From a paragraph I saw yesterday in the Tribune I find that Poe has been at me in the Mirror. He has at least the chief element of a critic — a disregard of persons.(2)

The last twenty-seven lines of the review Poe reprinted in “Marginalia,” Godey's, August, 1845.(3)


This notice is not distinctive; it is perhaps, I think, Willis’. [page 449:]


* 23. LONGFELLOW’S WAIF. (WM). (C, B) [[list]]

The “Marginalia” in Godey's for August, 1845, quotes exactly lines 91 to 105 of this review.(1) The “Marginalia” in the same magazine for September, 1845, copies with a few slight changes lines 31-82 of this review.(2) Poe concludes the passage in “Marginalia”:

News, undoubtedly, I intend all this as complimentary to Mr. Longfellow, but it was for the utterance of these very opinions in the ‘New York Mirror’ that I was accused by some of the poet's friends, of inditing what they think proper to call 'strictures’ on the author of ‘Outre-Mer’ (GLB, XXXI, 122).

This is attributed to Poe in the New York Public Library copy of the Mirror apparently is the same hand which gave the “Chaunt of Life‘” to Headley.

CRANCH’S POEMS. (WM). H ? [[list]]

Inescapably this review, under the heading “Literary” is from the acme pen that wrote the Hunt review. The preface is a long system of platitudes on the state and position of the poet, ending with the inspiring idea:

But this despair is a good thing, provided it be deep enough, and drives one to the right place; to the boundless treasury of Nature, who has more words than we have thoughts, and cannot be exhausted.

The central idea of the second paragraph is this:

Let the poet cover his all-holding retinue With tine bright ferns of stars and flowers for the fastidious [page 450:] muse to select from to compose her bouquet, we shall no longer hear complaints of the inadequacy of the power of expression.

In the last paragraph he decided that Cranch is a very promising poet, one of “a religious, though somewhat soft and feminine purity.” Everything points away from Poe; there is no similarity in the slightest degree between this and his opinion of Cranch as found in the “Literati,” Godey's, July, 1846. It is possible that his reviewer, and consequently he of the Hunt review, may be Headley.

JANUARY 14, 1845.

? 24. NAPOLEON’S MAXIMS OF WAR. [[list]]

The first sentence announces publication. The second quotes an army man's recommendation. The third: ‘The work will, no doubt, secure an extensive sale.” The notice may be Poe's.


In the January, 13 review Poe wrote:

We have a few word's more to say of “The Waif”, but we may as well say then to-morrow ...

The first installment of the replies to Outis in the Broadway Journal gives in some detail the previous history of the controversy. There Poe wrote:

For the ‘Evening Mirror’ of January 14, before my editorial connection with the ‘Broadway Journal’, I furnished a brief criticism on Professor Longfellow's ‘waif’ (BJ, I, 147; H, XII, 41).

In this January 14 notice Poe points out a similarity between a poem of Hood and one of Aldrich. In “Marginalia,” Democratic Review, April, 1846, he wrote: [page 451:]

Not long ago I pointed out in the ‘New York Mirror’ and more fully, since, in “The Broadway Journal’, a very decided case of similarity between ‘A Death-Bed’ by Mr. Aldrich, and ‘The Death-Bed’, by Thomas Hood (DR, [[XVIII, 269]]; H, XVI, [[96]]).

This like the January 13 article is attributed to Poe in autograph in the New York Public Library copy of the Mirror.


A broadly satirical article, oddly entitled ‘The Literary Life of Thingum Bob Esq., late Editor of the Goosetherumfoodle’, and which appeared originally in that ’Southern Literary Messenger’ for December, has been the subject of much comment lately, in the Southern and Western papers, and the query is put to us especially, here in the North, — ‘who wrote it?’ ‘Who did? — can any one tell?

This I think is Poe's; it seems to me typical of his sense of humor.


This notice, like that of the same work in the December 30 Mirror, may be Poe's. There is nothing to connect the two notices except identity of opinion.


Again, this may be Poe's. There is nothing distinctive about it. The third and last sentence is typical: ’Such a paper is needed, and the patrons of Art should have it in their heaping.’

JANUARY 15, 1845.


This I take to be probably Poe's. It begins;

The name of the author of these volumes (hereafter to be indispensable to a library) is sometimes confounded with that of the Scotch writer of our own times... [page 452:]

The reviewer proceeds then to clear up the confusion, This sort of thing is typical of Poe, as is the giving of a brief sketch of the man's life.

The present work (a posthumous one) was deduced from those State papers ... Its value lies in revealing the kind of information the ministers reviewed from their agents in America.

JANUARY 16, 1845.


This is the title of a circular which embodies a large amount of valuable information for the Irish immigrants is this country — indeed for any immigrants — and to the people of the United States...Ths general tone of this circular, and the fund of sound advice which it embraces, are nothing more than we had a right to expect from the highly respectable and influential gentleman who subscribe it ...

This is Poe's tone; the notice I think is probably his.

(?) 31. RESTORATION OF THE JEWS. [[list]]

This discourse is an extraordinary one, full of novel and cogent thought, and will be widely circulated and admired.

Again, the same verdict: probably Poe's.


This notice, longer than either of the two preceding, is really less distinctive. It merely lists with exclamations of delight the engravings and articles. The profusion of “exquisites” and “superbs” suggests Willis; it may be his.

JANUARY 17, 1845.

* 32. NATURE AND ART. (C, B). [[list]]

A day or two ago, in noticing a book by Mr. Lowell, we ventured open certain propositions which are thus disputed by our friends of the ‘Tribune’. [page 453:]

The Lowell notice of January 11, has been proved to be Poe's. This article proceeds to demolish the Tribune writer in Poe's usual effective manner.

? 33. THIRWALL’S GREECE. [[list]]

This is merely an announcement of publication; it may be Poe's.


Among other able papers, we notice a critique on Miss Barrett's poems, awarding her high praise, of course, but condemning the ‘Drama of Exile’, as a whole. The criticism throughout, is candid, discriminative and just.

This review is probably Poe's. He had written a long review in two installments of Miss Barrett for the Broadway Journal earlier in the month, in which he had done just what he says “of course” the Westminster critic had done.

(?) 35. THE BROADWAY JOURNAL. [[list]]

There is a freshness about the editorial papers, in especial, which cannot fail to create an impression. If keen wit, bold thought, and general raciness can make a paper, the ‘Broadway Journal’ is made.

This probably is also Poe's.


It has occasioned papers of high merit — but a Magazine is neither made nor sustained by merely occasional papers, however good.

Again one recognizes the Poe tone; this notice is probably his.

* 37. CRITICISM. [[list]]

This is ostensibly a notice of The Tribune, or rather the Morning News. In the Mirror for January 18 one finds a paragraph headed “A Mistake”: [page 254:]

Through inadvertence, while penning, yesterday, a paragraph expressing our admiration of certain critical notices which appeared in a morning paper, we wrote ‘Tribune’, when we should nave written ‘Morning News’. The criticisms to which we referred were in the latter ...

However, its real purpose, one discovers, is to answer a misinterpretation of the Broadway Journal review of Barrett:

We observe, in a notice of the ‘Broadway Journal’, a new aspirant for public favor, that Mr. D.(1) speaks of a Review of Miss Barrett's Poems as if it were condemnatory. We should be sorry indeed, if any general disparagement were intended of the most extraordinary woman of her age — perhaps of any age. Our impression, however, is that the critic of the Broadway Journal meant only, by a few unimportant objections, to place her pre-eminent merits in the best light. But perhaps this is Mr. D's impression also, and we have misconceived him.

There can be no doubt that this is Poe. As a matter of fact he states in the review the paint that he bars, makes impersonally.

(?) 38. THE BRANDED HAND. [[list]]

This notice discusses a proposed new magazine to excite “Northern sympathy for abolitionists confined at the South for incendiary attempts ... It is perhaps, a sufficiently good name to begin with; but after a week or two of existence (&&c), it may as well be changed to ‘The Burnt Fingers’. This sounds to me like Poe; probably it is his.


... under the editorial conduct of the Rev. C. Sparry, a gentleman who will not fail to make a magazine of merit and utility. ‘No peace with Rome’ is the motte of the work, and indicates its purpose with full precision.

This is like Poe; I consider it probably his. [page 455:]


This is simply a one sentence announcement of publication; it may be Poe's.

On looking back over the notices for January 17, one may think that they represent more work than one man could do in a morning and part of an afternoon, supposing that none of them were prepared before hand. Note, however, that seven of the nine are of periodicals. Four of those seven are thoroughly general and give no signs of more than hasty perusal. In two the critic had read an article on Miss Barrett. The other is the reply to the Tribune attack an the Lowell review. The remaining two notices are nothing more than announcements of publication. It is always possible, as it has been suggested, that some of these may have been held over from an earlier issue.

JANUARY 18, 1845.

? 41. GODEY’S LADY’S BOOK. [[list]]

Since the notice consists solely of a list of engravings and contributors, there is no possible way for determining authorship; it may be Poe's.

JANUARY 20, 1845.


The North American Review has made a violent attack on a New York biologist who has just got out a new book. The first 88 lines of the Mirror article are deleted to making clear Dr. Draper's position in the eyes of the leading scion-Lists of the world, concluding:

These are the experiments, which, with an amusing simplicity, the North American gives us to understand are to be found in any of our schoolbooks. [page 456:]

The second paragraph gives Dr. Draper's indictment of the North American reviewer as greatly ignorant of the mere elements of chemistry. The third begins:

Should such an article appear in the London Foreign Quarterly, or in any of those journals which systematically abuse everything that comes from America, we could at once appreciate the motive ... A course allusion to ‘medical students’ leads us to suspect that there has entered into the affair something connected with the rivalries of medical colleges ... However that may be, the North American Review stands charged with grossignorance’ by a pretty competent authority; and it behooves the editors, if he means hereafter to criticise scientific books, to extricate himself from that charge.

I have no doubt that this article is Poe's. Willis would not have adopted, I think, so stern a tone; nor does the crack at English magazines seem consistent with him.

43. POST NOTES BY THE CRITIC. (B). [[list]]

Willis introduces this:

The criticisms on the ‘Waif’ which lately appeared in this paper, were written in our office by an able though very critical hand, and we give the following reply to them from an able friend of Longfellow's in Boston. We add also the reply to the ‘reply’, and declare the field upon ...

Here for the first time Poe uses the personal; “I”: “My ‘literary strictures’ on the poem ... I defy ... I deny ... I may know nothing about the rhythm — for I remember (with regret) that it was precisely the rhythm of Mr. Longfellow in the poem which elicited my unqualified applause ...“.

JANUARY 21, 1845.


The books used in the American schools have also been a heterogeneous mass of extracts from foreign writers, [page 457:] without any moral, without any design, without any particular influence. They have been selected without any regard to American principles or feelings, and have no strong impression on the ind of the young scholar ... there are no extracts which will confuse or endanger the opinions of the scholar with regard to fact, either in moral, religious, or philosophical points of view. There are no fictitious dialogues between animals, none between mock heroes, no falsification of history — no imaginary illustration of truth ... There is nothing which his teacher would wish him to pass by or forget ... we need not new fear that instruction in the art of reading will carry with it any bad consequences, in opinions, in words, or in conduct.

This is representative of the ideas advanced in the article — ideas which seem to me characteristic of Poe — ideas which, at least, he would not have expressed in this manner. This notice seems to me probably not Poe's; whether or not it is Willis’ I am unsure.

(?) 44. HOOD’S WHIMSICALITIES. [[list]]

This one sentence notice has a statement which may be interpreted to mean something which Poe said later of Hood: “... unquestionably one of the most extraordinary men of his time, combining features hitherto considered and agonistical.” In the series of notices on Hood which Poe printed in the Journal during August and September, 1845, he pays tribute to Hood as an “extraordinary” man, and comments at length on the combination in him of comedy and tragedy, humor and specious wit, fancy and fantasy. This notice is probably Poe's.

JANUARY 22, 1845.

COX’S HALLOWEEN. H (?) [[list]]

Certain things about this review suggest Poe:

One must be very good-natured indeed, not to consider Byron's ‘There's not a joy this world can give’, as [page 458:] the original of Mr. Cox's ‘Oh! where's the hope like morning's star‘; and the attentive reader will find resemblances equally obvious throughout the volume. Yet there is a quaintness in several of the pieces a kind of antique elegance, such as grows naturally from much reading of the elder English.

As far as attitude goes, this sounds like Poe; but in the language of the last clause particular there is another feeling, which is emphasized by the rest of the review:

As we read on, praising sometimes the smoothness of the verse, and sometimes the piety of the sentiment we are unavoidably reminded of poet after poet whose verses are better known to us ...T. H. Bayly, Pinckney, Moore, Bishop, Heber, Percival, Muhlenberg. Longfellow, Byron — we take a few names in the order is which they occur to us — recur unavoidably; and this, without quite making us set down the reverend author as a plagiarist ... And Mr. C. will, perhaps, remind us that, according to Colerigde, ‘To criticize such trifles, shows nothing, except that you are not the person for whom they wre written’, and we forbear ...

This, it seems to me, is the work of the reviewer whom I have identified with J. T. Headley. A strong argument is the fact that this notice comes under the head “Literary” and is printed on the first page. All of the reviews in the magazine under this heading — and they are all separated from the other notices — have been traced to this reviewer.


It is a much more difficult task, however, is account far the diffuseness which affects our literature, properly so called,(1) and perhaps, were we to attempt the achievement, we should have to speak of climactic, or at least of strictly national, traits ... However objectionable, nevertheless, this diffuseness may be, we had rather see it more prevalent than see the, species of concision which has lately been introduced [page 459:] among us, through imitation of that prophet in great and quack in little matters, Carlyle.

The true object of concision is to save time, not in saving words, but in saving thought. — That style, therefore, is the most truly concise which most rapidly transmits the sense. The style is not concise, however few the words, if the sense is impeded by unusualities of construction. With this understanding we may call Judge Marshall concise, and Carlyle, with Gibbon, diffuse. ‘Those are mad who admire the brevity which squanders our time for the purposes of economizing our printing-ing (sic) and paper’.

In “Marginalia” Democratic Review, November, 1844, there is an article of some length on Gibbon's style, in which Poe shows that despite his reputation Gibbons is not concise. One finds this passage:

Such concision is, nevertheless, an error, and, so far as respects the true object of concision is a bull. The most truly concise style is that which most rapidly transmits the sense. What, then, should be said of the concision of Carlyle? — that those are mad who admire a brevity which squanders our time for the purpose of economizing our printing-ink and paper (DR., IV, 489; H, XVI, ???).

This is the only instance I remember of Poe's having made later use of something in “Marginalia”; the pattern operates regularly in the reverse. There can be no suspicion here of plagiarism. The Mirror article is clearly Poe's.

JANUARY 23, 1845.


... the finely humorous and fanciful paper ... Some of the best things in our literature have been done by the author of ‘The Mound-Builders‘; and we regret for our own sakes, that the opinion we here express is more general in England than in America. Among the really illustrious Londoners who have done justice to Mr. M., we may mention Elizabeth Barrett and Douglas Jerrold. [page 460:]

This may very well be, in fact probably is, by Poe; the style is his. In February, 1842, he reviewed and Mathews’ ‘Wakondah’ with a snicker-snee, but he prefaced his destruction with: “we had become imbued with the idea of high poetical talent in Mr. Mathews” (GM, XX, 130; H, XI, 26). In January of the same year he wrote favorably of Mathews in “Autography”;(1) and he reviewed in the Broadway Journal and Godey's in September and November, 1845,(2) the work here announced, Big Abel and Little Manhattan, and with praise.

? 47. MEDICAL LEXCON [[LEXICON]]. [[list]]

This announcement may be Poe's.

JANUARY 25, 1845.

? 48. LITTELL’S LIVING AGE. NO. 37. [[list]]

is just published, and manifests, as usual, the discrimination and taste of its editors.

This announcement likewise may be Poe's.

JANUARY 27, 1845.


It is only at distant intervals, that great discoveries are made in these branches of science that have long been subjects of attention and interest. When once made, they strike us with surprise, not as much at the sagacity which has been manifested in the investigation, and the extraordinary success which has attended it, but that they should so long have escaped the attention of the curious and profound ... The fable and fact of the early ages are much better ascertained and distinguished in these volumes than they were by the contemporaries of Cicero. The style appears to us admirable adapted to the subject; earnest and dignified; in fact, as it [page 461:] should be, very Roman. Though not graceful, it is energetic and impressive; judging of it from the translation, which alone we have seen, this is well executed, and as little German as any translation can well be.

This last touch, as well as the whole review, is characteristic of Poe; I think he is the author.

JANUARY 28, 1845.


Again one finds a review under the heading “Literary”; and again one finds nothing to suggest Poe and much to suggest the reviewer who has been identified with Headley. Random quotations will make clear the point:

Did any body ever hear a French friend — possessed with the conviction of his complete knowledge of English on the strength of three month's practice — undertake to read aloud Shakspeare or Byron;(1) The smash which the adventurous Gaul is sure to make of the wonderful music of the great Dramatist's verse, or of Byron's strong rhythm, is about equal to the execution done on Latin verse by ninety-nine in every hundred of the classical scholars turned out yearly by our schools and colleges...There is in the verses of the two Augustan gentlemen much in the way of cadences and harmonies ...Mr. Casserly's publication... is marked pleasantly by much seal and enthusiasm for his art, — and altogether strikes us as the best book extant, to teach one to read Latin verse with gentlemanly correctness...

JANUARY 29, 1845.


There is a curious analogy between this notice and one of the same work in the Broadway Journal of January 18, 1845. Here one finds: [page 462:]

This print is a beautifully illuminated facsimile of the Genealogy of the family of the ‘Father of his Country’, as supplied by the British Herald's College, to Augustine Washington, the father of the general, in the year 1750, and contains at one view, their history for upwards of three centuries. This illuminations consists (sic) of the arms of the family and alliances emblazined in gold and colors, and as a work of art, is highly creditable to the artist and worthy of a place(1) in every parlor. Mr. Coleman the publisher, has, we think acted wisely, in publishing this beautiful record of our country's illustrious hero, at a price so small as to put it within the reach of every citizens (sic).

The Journal attacks the republican scruples against an interest in heraldry; then;

The work before us consists of the genealogical tee of the Washington family, the same as made out in the British Herald's College, for Augustine Washington, of Virginia., the father of our illustrious Patriot, and gives at one glance, their family history from the time of Richard III. up to the death of George Washington, a period exceeding 300 years. It is printed in gold end colors, with the blazonry of the Washingtons and their alliances. As a work of art alone, it would be worthy a place in every parlor(2), did it not relate to one whose memory lives in the hearts of every lover of his country; and we are pleased to see that Mr. Coleman has published it at a price so low as to bring it within the easy acquisition of all our citizens (BJ, I, 35).

Had Poe written both, there would be nothing strange, for obviously the first is modelled on the second, which appeared first, or else on a common source. After the notice in the Journal is printed in parenthesis “ (Communicated). ” After none of the Poe reviews in the Journal is there [page 463:] any sort of an ascription or explanation, save for the Outis articles, which are signed “P.” Nor does the first part of the notice sound like Poe. There would certainly be no point in the Mirror critic's — be it Poe or Willis — taking the trouble to paraphrase a notice from the Journal. Had he planned to use that notice he would have copied it exactly, acknowledging its source; such transferred notices one finds not unfrequently in the Mirror. It is likely that the two reviewers got their material from a publisher‘s preface or blurb. The Journal notice may actually be Mr. Coleman's advertisement. The Mirror notice is probably, I think, Willis’.


We acknowledge the reception of this Review a few days since; but not having then read it, we could give no opinion of its contents.

The earlier acknowledgment, of January 17, is, it was decided, probably Poe's. This, of course, should fall under the same decision. There is some corroboration here in the way of internal evidence:

Having now perused it, we have no hesitation in pronouncing it one of the best Reviews of the quarter ... We know no foreign Review, whose general tone is more favorable to American institutions or to American productions, and this should secure its successive numbers a favorable reception amongst us.


There is nothing here on which to base a decision; the notice, two sentences longs may be Poets. The same must be said of the one-sentence announcement of the appearance of

? 52. MIKE MARTIN. BY DURIVAGE. [[list]] [page 464:]

THE NEW WORLD. W (?) [[list]]

This paper, says the reviewer, we have seldom noticed because of

its scurrilous and frequent attacks on Mr. Cooley and other respectable citizens. A gentleman now edits it, however, and the ‘metamorphosis’ has delighted every body. The New World is no longer an arena, ‘to manage private and domestic broils‘; but a well conducted sheet, worthy alike of commendation(1) of the press and the support of the community. We welcome it to our fire-side and wish it every success.

This notice, it seems to me, is probably Willis’.

JANUARY 3l, 1845.


This ancient chronicle of American Science (the quarterly remembrances of our literary mother Yale College) is just published.

This notice is by Willis, who was a Yale man.

FEBRUARY 3, 1845.


This article is lifted practically out of the Graham's March, 1844, review of Orion. The first five and the last seventeen lines are completely reworked. The rest, except for an occasional alteration of single words and the omission of one phrase, is exact from H, XI, 1.21, 254, to 1.14, 257.


This notice I consider Poe's. It opens with a sketch of the magazine's past history; this section concludes:

Its stability will be assured for the future, we presume, if an no other ground than that of the absolute need which the South has of some such organ, in the present aspect of her political affairs. [page 465:]

Equally typical of Poe is the last sentence:

This is a well-written review, and embraces some novel conceptions of the extraordinary man of whom it treats.


Again I have no doubt that this is from Poe's pen. One recognizes that close packedness, that clear conciseness of which Willis, or anyone also who to my knowledge wrote for the Mirror, always excepting Poe was incapable:

The idea is to afford in a single book of no very formidable dimensions, and at a price which brings it within the reach of very moderate circumstances, a sufficient outline of the worlds whole history, with similar outlines of the history of each individual people. The historian gives first a general sketch of the rise and progress of nations, with their influences one upon the ether — secondly, a digest of all absolutely necessary to be known by the general reader respecting each — thus bringing the salient points of history within a manageable compass and laying a solid and safe foundation for future superstructures.


Asa Kinne, Esq., very favorably known as the author of nmepus legal works which tend to simplify the science,(1) and which have received warm approbation from these whose approbation is of most value, has issued the first number of a series, the object of which is distinctly explained by the title ...

This, again, is so thoroughly characteristic of Poe that I assign it to him without hesitation.


This pamphlet announces that the Orion is to be merged in a new magazine and is to be edited by Simms. The reviewer comments: [page 466:]

We must be permitted to doubt, however, whether he has been at all concerned in selecting the name of the new journal. ‘The Southern and Western Monthly Magazine and Review’ is assuredly a speech if anything. But apart from the mere matter of ‘linked sweetness long drawn out’, the words in question are no more a proper name for the work intended, than man is a proper name for the individual biped, without feathers.

With some confidence I give this also to Poe.

? 58. LITTELL’S LIVING AGE. [[list]]

This periodical the reviewer finds “abundant in good things,” a favorite phrase with Poe. The notice, however, is too brief to allow the forming of a definite opinion; it is perhaps Poe's.

? 59. MARSH’S ADDRESS. [[list]]

Here one finds even less to go on; it also may be Poe's.


... a work which has done more, perhaps, than any other single American book to elevate the character of our literature and give us caste in Europe. How universally it has been greeted with applause as an original, impartial, comprehensive, and elegant history — elegant yet forcible — it is quite unnecessary for us to say. If ever work of the kind was firmly based in the good opinion of all who are qualified to form an opinion on the subject, it is ‘Ferdinand and Isabella’ ... To every library the work is an essential item.

Again, with no grounds but internal evidence, I feel convinced that Poe is the author of this notice, as of the next,


The Broadway Journal for last week in overflowing with good things(1) the shape sound and pungent criticism, notices of the Fine Arts, and racy editorial and contributed matter in general. It is a frank, bold, nervous, discriminative and altogether excellent journal. [page 467:]


This short notice, as well as the next,

? 63. MARTIN’S BIBLE, (WM). [[list]]

are undistinctive; they may be Poe's.

FEBRUARY 5, 1845.

* LONGFELLOW’S WAIF. (WM). W. [[list]]

Under this heading Willis discusses the Poe reviews and attempts to make his own position clears:

A friend, who is a very fine critic, gave us, not long since, a review of this delightful new book.

He continues to say that, being very busy, when the article was submitted for his approval, he glanced over it hastily,

now, however, without mentally differing from the writer as to the drift of his last sentence,

which Willis here quotes. The principle an which he admitted it, he explains, is the belief that an attack of the sort and the inevitable defences do no harm to the writer in question, but positive good.

[[This item is collected in the “Ephemera” section of The Prose Works of N. P. Willis, 1852, p. 768-769 — JAS]]

FEBRUARY 6, 1845.


That this column of literary information is Poe's there can be little doubt:

It (Wilde's Tasso) was an admirable book in its way — the best specimen o f historical criticism, indeed, the country has produced... Nathaniel Hawthorne's admirable ‘Twice Told Tales’ are out of prim. Thy will no one give us a new impression, and the modest author a couple of thousands? We hazard nothing with the appreciative reader, when we say that neither [page 468:] Blackwood in its palmiest(1) days, nor any periodical, Indeed, in England, has contained tales of as high a character as this author has produced tales so remarkable for humor, feeling, fancy, or imaginations and yet he goes begging for a publisher here, in the metropolis of his own country.

FEBRUARY 7, 1845.

* 65. THE AMERICAN REVIEW. (WM). [[list]]

This notice in its entirely is unmistakably Pos's, but one passage in itself is sufficient as evidence:

No paper in the work. is even indifferent. All are good — some admirable. To notice especially an article by a gentleman who never does otherwise than well (Mr. Duyckinck) on the ‘Literary Prospects’ of the country for 1845. With the hand on the heart we thank Mr. D. for this essays, which, at the present crisis, is the one thing needed. It will do infinite service to the good cause — te the cause of troth, of free and hearty speaking and thinking, self-dependence, force, and originality, in contra. distinction from the supine and despicable imitativeness, namby-pambyism, and subserviency to foreign opinion which have so long and so disastrously kept our literature grovelling in the earth.

There exists, in addition, positive external evidence. In an article “Magazine Literature,” in the February 12 Mirror (this is definitely his), Poe wrote:

It is but a few days since we were called upon to speak of Mr. Colton's very promising ‘American Review’ ...


To the ‘French Spoliations’ our friends will remember that we were particularly indebted in our late editorial article on that important subject. [page 469:]

This article appeared in the Mirror on February 1; the Mirror for February 4 and 6 have also editorials based on articles in the current Merchant's Magazine. This seems to assign the present notice to Willis with definiteness. There is no reason to suppose that Poe reviewing the magazine would remark in the editorial “we” on Willis’ indebtedness to that magazine for a past editorial.


There is nothing distinctive about this notice, it may be Poe's.


Poe here announces that J. S. Redfield will soon publish the Poetical Writings of this lady:

She is a woman of genius, with feeling and fancy. We shall do our duty on the appearance of the volume, which can hardly fail of success.

The volume eventually appeared, and Poe did his duty in the August 23 number of the Broadway Journal, as well as several times later.


An experiment has recently been made ... to introduce into the English theatre the classic drama of ancient Greece, depending for its effect, not on the material and the commonplace resources of the stage, scenery, incident, and bustling action, but on the ideal of poetry, and the grand and truthful in art. We allude to the production in an English dress, at Covent-Garden theatre, of the Antigone of Sophocles; which, in spite of the contrary productions (sic) of the cognoscenti, was received by a highly distingue audience and a crowded house, with the most enthusiastic applause and decided approbation ... The play itself — its conduct, its deep and imposing grandeur, its magnificent declamation, its terrible catastrophe, its awful declineation of the overhanging fate, the inevitable destiny — all these were fully appreciated ... The [page 470:] acting of Mr. Vandenhoff, as Creon, and Miss Vandenhoff, as Antigone, is spoken of by the London press as quite in keeping with the classic and massive dignity of the passion of the poem ... This may be looked upon as a triumph of the spiritual cover the material, of the fact over the scene-painter and the costume, (for the play was unsupported effects, or the usual gauds of dress and display;) and we, therefore, hail it as some promise of the revival of a better taste in theatricals, which will one day put an end to the reign of ‘dumb-show and noise’, and give us a higher appreciation of dramatic history, and of the truthful and classical in art.

In the Broadway Journal for April 12, Poe has a review of the performance of Antigone at Palmo's:

Our readers are aware that the ‘Antigone’ of Sophocles has been lately brought out at Berlin, at Paris, and at London. In the two former cities the success might be called decided in the usual theatrical acceptation of the term — that is to say, the house was sufficiently full every night, and the nights of representation were sufficiently numerous to remunerate the management. At London there was less enthusiasm (whether true or false) and the announcement that the tragedy was there ‘performed with extraordinary success’ must be swallowed cum grano salis: — the phrase, indeed, is by far too strong for either the Berlin or Paris attempt ... there is about the ‘Antigone’ ... an insufferable baldness, or platitude, the inevitable result of inexperience in Art ... The profound sense of one or two tragic, or rather melo-dramatic elements (such as the idea of inexorable Destiny) — this sense, gleaming at intervals from out the darkness of the ancient stage, serves, in the imperfection of its development, to show not the dramatic ability, but the dramatic inability of the ancients ... The idea of a Greek play before a modern audience is the idea of a pedant and nothing beyond ... Had the ‘Antigone’ been produced with all classical appliances — a monstrous folly still it would have been — but of the numerous schoolboys who were present an the opening night, there was not one who could have failed to laugh in his sleeve at the medley of anachronisms — solecisms — sotticisms — which rendered the whole affair an unintentional burlesque (BJ, I, 236-37; H, ???,???). [[page 471 is left blank, or skipped due to misnumbering.]] [page 472:]

These two reviews of Antigone conflict so sharply in every respect that it is possible to deny Poe that in the Mirror with certainty Willis is the author of it.

FEBRUARY 12, 1845.

* MR. GILLESPIE’S BOOK. (WM). W. [[list]]

‘Rome, as soon by a New-Yorker’ is the modest title of a volume by a gentleman with whom we have long been more or less associated in literary labor, and with whose mind, through the columns of the old Mirror, the public have, for years,, been most favorably acquainted. To knew so wall the mental qualities by which the book is guided — the elegance of taste, purity and good judgment — that we are scarcely prepared to criticize it as a new book — a little, perhaps, from being as familiar with the subject of the book as with the writer's mind.

Clearly this is Willis, who was in Rome at the same time that Gillespie was.

* 68. MAGAZINE LITERATURE. (WM). (B) [[list]]

The first paragraph, which is a preface to a notice of the first number of the Aristidean, Poe reproduced in “Marginalia,” Godey's, August, 1845, with a few slight stylistic alterations and the omission of one clause H, XVI, 8, 11.6-30.

FEBRUARY 13, 1845.

? 69. THE LONDON LANCET [[list]]

This notice is too undistinctive to furnish grounds for an opinion; it may be Poe's.

FEBRUARY 14, 1845.

GRAHAM FOR MARCH. (WM). W. [[list]]

We understand that Graham is in town, playing the phoenix to his brother's ashes — (when a man's books are burnt, [page 473:] those are ‘his ashes” we presume!) and this the younger Graham will spread his wings again (open his window-shutters that is to say) in a few days, brighter, for being consumed by fire. We were talking the other day, of the Canadian fashion of ... His Magazine is a fine feature in the history of enterprise, tact and good taste, and the March number, now before us, adds another as bright a link as those that have gone before.

That this is Willis there can be no doubt; yet in the absence of external evidence, it is not possible to star the entrance in the canon.

* A PARAGRAPH ON THE POE LONGFELLOW WAR (this has no heading). (WM) [[list]]

To satisfy a friend we say that if our playful notice of our assistant critic's notice of Longfellow's ‘Waif’ a few days since, did not give the impression that we (Willis) fully dissented from our assistant ...

FEBRUARY 15, 1845.

* 70. IMITATION PLAGIARISM. (WM). (C, B) [[list]]

The first section of this article Poe made use of in “Marginalia,” Godey's: September, 1845, though he altered it and wove it into an article purely on the question of international copyright. It will be necessary to quote from both articles. In the Mirror:

The British reviewers have very frequently accused us of imitation, and the charge is undoubtedly well based. We imitate however, chiefly the British models, and in doing this, we act only in a natural manner. just as it might have been demonstrated a priori that we should and must have acted under the circumstances. All colonies have shown a proneness to ape the mother country in arts and letters. But the sin of imitativeness in general lies, we think, at the door of our legislators. The want of an international copy-right law renders it impossible for our men of genius to obtain remuneration for their labors. Now since, as a body, men of genius are proverbially poor, the want of the international law represses their efforts altogether. Our sole writers, in consequence, are from the class of dilettanti: and although among this class are unquestionably many gifted men, still as a class — as men of wealth and leisure — they are [page 474:] imbued with a spirit of conservatism, which is merely a mood of the imitative spirit. But apart from this consideration, we must observe that to imitate is a matter of less effort than to originate; and we must not expect effort, as a general thing, certainly not as a continuous thing, from those whose condition is affluence and ease.

In “Marginalia”:

We get more reading for less money than if the international law existed; but the remoter disadvantages are of infinitely greater weight. In brief they are these: First, we have injury to our national literature by repressing the efforts of our men of genius; for genius, as a general rule, is poor in worldly goods and cannot write for nothing. Our genius being thus repressed, we are written at only by our ‘gentlemen of elegant leisure”, and mere gentlemen of elegant leisure have been noted, time out of minds for the insipidity of their productions. In general, too, they are obstinately conservatives and this fooling leads them into imitation of foreign, more especially of British models. This is one main source of imitativeness with which, as a peoples, ore have been justly charged, although the first cause is to be found in our position as a colony. Colonies have always naturally aped the mother land (GLB, XXXI, 120-1; H, XVI, 78-9).

The second half of the Mirror article, that on plagiarism, is even more typically Poe; however, there is no need, I think, to collect more evidence. The case stands clear enough.

* 71. THE HON. ROBERT T. CONRAD. [[list]]

Announcing the serious illness of Judge Conrad, this paragraph continues:

Judge Conrad is widely known as the author of one of the allowed best American tragedies, ‘Aylmere’, written with an especial care to the dramatic abilities of Mr. Forrest, and for that reason, defective in some important particulars, Nothing so paralyses the soul of a man of genius as a restriction of this nature ... A biography of this gentleman, which, although highly complimentary, did him no more than absolute justice, appeared recently, with a portrait in ‘Graham's Magazine’. [page 475:]

In this Graham's article Poe wrote:

‘Aylmere’, or ‘Jack Cadet, was written come years after.. ward; and, in its composition, the dramatist had to contend with the great perplexity of moulding his principal character to the mental and physical conformation of the actor for whom it was expressly designed. This actor was Mr. Forrest...The genius of an author — and very especially of the dramatic author — should be left totally untrammeled. Even the semblance of a restriction — even a purely imaginary restraint — is all-potent to dampen the true ardor of the poet (GM, XXIV, 242).

Here as well as in “Autography” Poe declared the play one of the best American dramas.

(?) 72. MR. SAUNDERS. [[list]]

This paragraph undertakes to identify a Mr. Saunders who has

lately acquired so much distinction as the inventor, or at least one of the inventors of the electric light ... we are assured, through Mr. Saunders himself, that Professor Farraday expresses himself in warm terms, not only in respect to the importance of the new light, but in regard to the claims of Mr. Saunders as its inventor. Mr. S. is the Milton J. Saunders who has, for so long a time, occupied a favorable position in Western Literature. Some of his sketches of Indian atrocity, and of Indian ‘perils by field and flood’ have been remarkable for their vivid and thrilling interest.

Poe is probably the author.


This pamphlet, the consideration of whose suggestions was coldly rejected by the Fathers of the city, is well worthy the perusal of all(1) — Fathers, Mothers, and Children ... Would that many more such heroes might rise among us, for nowhere are they more needed ... Why need we be constantly building new prisons, when the outlays necessary for them judiciously applied in the way of prevention would obviate a necessity for any? [page 476:]

Certain touches suggest Poe, particularly in the last sentence, while others seem unlike him; it is perhaps his.

FEBRUARY 17, 1845.

* 74. PLAGIARISM. (WM). [[list]]

This article has an introductory paragraph by Willis:

About a month ago a very eminent critic connected with this paper, took occasion to point out a parallelism between certain lines of Thomas Hood, and certain ethers which appeared in the collection of American poetry edited by Mr. Griswold. Transcribing the passages, he ventured the assertion that 'somebody is a thief’. (He goes on below to speak for himself.)

Eveleth wrote Poe on October 13, 1846:

Also in a number of the “Mirror” for 1845 the Editor tells of a very eminent critic connected with his paper finding a resemblance between a poem by James Aldrich and one by Thomas Hood. Circumstances have led me to believe that you were that critic. Am I right in this?(1)

Poe answered on December 13 [[15]].

The critic alluded to by Willis as connected with the Mirror, and as having found a parallel between Hood and Aldrich is myself.(2)

In the first reply to Outis in the Journal Poe, recounting the previous history of the warfare, wrote:

In the meantime Mr. Brigg's — in this paper — did me the honor of taking me to taskÔÇ× for what he supposed to be my insinuations against Mr. Aldrich. My reply (in the ‘Mirror’), prefaced by a few words from Mr. Willis, ran as follows (BJ, I, 148; H, XII, 44).

He quotes then the whole of the Mirror article, except for the parenthetical sentence in which Willis turns the column over to Poe. [page 477:]


We have had occasion more than once to remark on the evident ill consequences of the lack of experience in our public offices, owing to frequent changes in office.

As far as I am aware Poe has nowhere a reference to the evils to which this reviewer refers. It is, I think, Willis’.

THIERS’ LIFE OF NAPOLEON. (WM). W (?) [[list]]

The seal of fifteen years is set upon his former work ... It is fitting that the closing acts of the grand drama should be by the same hand that so worthily portrayed its opening in ‘The French Revolution’.

This notice, and the next,

MY OWN STORY. BY MARY HOTITT. (W). I (?) [[list]]

seem probably to be the work of Willis. Note:

In reading through Mary Howitt's Tales for the People and their children as they have successively appeared — our minds have often been led to ponder upon the diversity. of materials and character which size has embodied and the forcible ‘truthfulness in which she has arrayed, her living examples of virtue and waywardness ... Mothers will be fitly engaged in first reading Mary Howitt's story, and then they should give it to their girls.

FEBRUARY 18, 1845.


We can only wish the ‘Introduction’ the place which is justly its own, among American works of learned research. In theology and Biblical criticism, our country stands confessedly on a par with England ... The learned and inquiring, all who are interested, (and who is not?) in Bible and Church History, will find this book an invaluable addition to their libraries. It aims to settle, by the most extensive and thorough research, that point in chronology upon which thousands of subordinate, yet very important particulars depend — the era of our Saviour's birth ... a merit to be praised and prized for its rarity in these oculist-enriching days. (We must [page 478:] be excused for coining a compound, which will soon necessarily be naturalized among us, if we do not get a copy-right law.)

The attitude revealed here is not that one ordinarily expects from Poe. The inexactness of diction, in the use of ‘era’, and a certain quality in both the coined compound and the succeeding joviality are a little out of key. The notice seems probably Willis’.


We have called the attention of our readers to this work in a notice of the Westminster Review, but its remarkable merits entitle it to a separate consideration.

The January 29 notice of the Review has:

The review of the ‘Life and Correspondence of Thomas Arnold’ we commend to all our readers, but not more than the book itself, which is one of the very best of the day.

This, then also, is probably Poe's.

FAUST. [[(WM)]] W. [[list]]

From the first line one recognizes Willis in a fanciful mood:

A delicate and piquant offering from the heart of spindle-dom — a charming little souvenir of Goethe. Its very gray-green cover, and goblin-looking back, look so vaterlandisch, that one expects to find crabbed-looking text within, but, instead of such, type clear as diamond, clear enough to tell even Margaret's story, meets the eye ...

FEBRUARY 19, 1845.

COUNTESS BLESSINGTON’S NEW BOOK. [[(WM)]] (Strathern). [[list]]

The Countess is one of those authoresses whose books are enjoyable if read with kind allowance. She uses authorship to let off the bath of conversation in which she swims nightly, and though it all breathes of her ladyship, it is colder than when she first made it enchanting. The [page 479:] following review and distilment of her book, is from the London Examiner, written doubtless by Fonblanque, who had heard said at table the good things he quotes from the book ...

It will be remembered that when Willis was in London in the 1830's, he carried to Lady Blessington a letter of introduction from Landor, and that that Lady became his social patroness. These sentences strongly suggest that the author had moved in the Lady's circle. The rhetoric, in itself, is unmistakable.

FEBRUARY 20, 1845.


There is nothing here distinctive; the notice may be Poe's, but rather it is Willis’, I think. Poe seems to have left the Mirror by this time.

FEBRUARY 21, 1845.

THE COLUMBIAN MAGAZINE. [[(WM)]] W (?) [[list]]

A Chinese story by Mrs. C. A. Butler, a lady who has, we are informed, been on the spot — and who is certainly a very spirited and agreeable writer about things an this wide of the obs; the spirit-love full of the love-spirit ... a sterling(1) story by Mrs. Ellis.

This brief notice seems to be from Willis’ pen.


This article is, I think, composed in his most elegant and urbane vein. A letter in the London Times has described French women standing outside the Bourse buying and selling stock. Willis begins in second paragraph: [page 480:]

Fancy a few of the customs of the ‘most polite nation’ introduced into New York! What would ‘Mrs. Grundy’ say of ...

His catalogue of the free habits of French woman as they would be adopted by the women of New York ends with:

Funny place, France! Yet in no country that we were ever in, seemed woman so insincerely worshipped — so mocked with the shadow of power over men. We should think it as great a curiosity to see a well-bred Frenchman lovesick (when he supposed himself alone) as to see an angel tipsy or a marble bust in tears ... We remember once asking a French nobleman ...

At this point one discovers that all of these seventy lines have been merely an introduction to a notice of Margaret Fuller's Woman in the Nineteenth Century. Fourteen of the last thirty lines are devoted to describing the decoration on the title-page, in language of this sort: “an emblatic [[emblematic]] device resembling, at first view, the knightly decoration called by our English neighbors a Star” the notice ends:

we hope it may have an influence in convicing [[convincing]] if not ‘man’, at least some men, that woman was born for better things than to ‘cook him something good’.

FEBRUARY 22, 1845.

TWO BOOKS ON WOMEN. [[(WM)]] H ? [[list]]

We mentioned yesterday Hiss Fuller's new book, end today a very able friend has handed us a comparative notice of this and another, lately published in England! on the same subject — the latter called ‘The Rights Of Woman’. Our Friend says: —

The friend does not seem to be Poe, Miss Fuller's book: the reviewer calls “Bold, generous, aspiring, and somewhat ideal”, the English work: “critical, caustic, and not a little contemptuous.” The Quarterly, he feels, takes a realistic attitude without faith. [page 481:]

... we would rather trust with her than sneer with the Quarterly ... ‘Be ye warmed’ is sometimes not ill; ‘ye will be warmed’ encouragingly spoken is oftentimes well; but better than, all is to set about kindling the fire. This Miss Fuller does, and he must be cold indeed, who does not catch some glow from her warm and animated page.

These last two sentences are certainly not Poe. Nor is the attitude, or rather the approach of the reviewer his. In “Literati”, August, 1846, Poe wrote at some length about Miss Fuller's book. He admits that it is “nervous, forcible, thoughtful, suggestive, brillimat, and to a certain extent scholar-like.” But the conclusions reached are only in part his own.

... too many promises have been distorted amid too many analogical inferences left altogether out of sight. I mean to say that the intention of the Deity as regards sexual differences has not been sufficiently considered. Miss Fuller has erred, too, through her own excessive objectiveness. She judges woman by the heart and intellect of Miss Fuller, but there are not more than one or two dozen Miss Fullers on the whole face of the earth (GLB, XXXIII. 72; H, XVI, 74-5).

Of the identity of the friend I am uncertain; he may be Headley.


... we will try to enjoy the feast, while the American public, through its magnanimous Congress refuses payment for its share to the host by whose toil and skill the entertainment is provided.

Willis is probably the author of this brief notice, as of the next,


There is wanting not only the outline but the filling up, at least enough of it to exhibit the prominent features of the passing actors, and the characteristics of the scenery as they, have been exhibited both in the anterior and more recent periods. [page 482:]

FEBRUARY 24, 1845.

SHEW’S HYDROPATHY. [[(WM)]] W. [[list]]

We have before given an opinion of hydropathy — that with its adjuncts of abundance of pure air and out-door exercise, an entire change of habit, a strict, yet nutritious change of regimen, a cheerful tone in both physician and patient, together with the rest in favor of the please and the man — this system would cure most curable complaints.

This opinion was earlier expressed in the Weekly Mirror; for November 2, 1844:

Pure air, regular hours, wholesome diet, a cheerful tone, and the prestige in favor of the plan, will, in nine cases out of ten, restore health (WM, 55).

This earlier articles for it is not a review, bears out the feeling one gets here, that Willis in the author.

ANASTASIS. [[(WM)]] W. [[list]]

Professor Bush deserves, in our estimation, that highest commendation, for giving publicity to his view of this important scriptural truth.. These views differ widely from those commonly received(1) by the religious world, and it is rare, indeed, to meet with the boldness which has been exhibited on this occasion. The religious body to which Professor Bush belongs, has silenced and deposed members, and that, too, in recent years, for much less important innovations in received doctrine than those brought forward in this publication ... In any event, the fact of the immemorial doctrine of that church,, and of the church in general, is an evidence of advance in the independence with which theological subjects are discussed. We are not called upon to give our opinion of the author's views ... we heartily recommend the work to the philosophical and the pious.

Poe has a paragraph on Anastasis in ‘Marginalia,” Democratic Review, April, 1846:

There can be no doubt, that up to this period, the Bushites have had the best of the battle. The ‘Anastasis’ is lucidly, succinctly, vigorously, and logically written, and proves, in my opinion, everything it attempts provided that we omit the imaginary axioms from [page 483:] which it starts; and this is as much as can be well said of any theological disquisition under the Sun (DR, XVIII, 270; H, XVI, 97-98).

There appears a fundamental incompatibility between the points of view of the two articles. That in the Mirror, I believe, is Willis’.

FEBRUARY 27, 1845.


This announcement of publication containing only a list of the lives included has in itself no evidence. However Poe seems to have left the Mirror before this time. The notice, I think, is probably Willis.


[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 415:]

1.  See Beers Nathaniel Farber Willis, pp. 207.-09; 137-38.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 418:]

1.  Note the loose reference of the relative pronoun.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 422:]

1.  Cf. “Marginalia,” DR., April, 1846 (H, XVI, 101). UVL lacks this volume of the DR.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 423:]

1.  See p. ??? of this section.

2.  See p. ??? of this section.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 425:]

1.  Thomas-Poe, Washington, September 2, 1844. Gr. MSS. Phot. in UVL.

2.  Thomas-Poe, Washington, October 10, 1844. Gr. MSS. Phot. in UVL.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 426:]

1.  Thomas-Poe, Washington, December 10, 1844. Gr. MSS. Phot. in UVL.

2.  Poe-Thomas, Now York, January 4, 1844. Gr. MSS. Phot. in UVL.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 429:]

1.  This is an inexactness in diction of which Poe would not be capable.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 430:]

1.  The parentheses are the reviewer's.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 441:]

1.  Note the awkwardness.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 443:]

1.  Campbell points out this repetition in his article in Nation, LXXXIX, 623.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 444:]

1.  Four or five times Poe declared Mrs. Osgood to be the most graceful, the queen of American poetesses.

2.  “Doings of Gotham,” Letter VI, New York, June 18, 1844. Spannuth and Mabbott (eds.), op. cit., p. 69.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 447:]

1.  Note the grammar.

2.  Note the grammar.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 449:]

1.  GLB, XXXI, 50-1; H, XVI, 1.19, 73, to 1.10, 74.

2.  GLB, XXXI, 121-2; H, XVI, 1.28, 79, to 1.4, 81.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 454:]

1.  DUYCKINCK, Poe has explained, is the author: “(shall we take it for granted it is Mr. D.?).”

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 448:]

1.  Campbell points this out in his article Nation, LXXXIX, 623.

2.  Lowell-Briggs, Philadelphia, January 16, 1845. Scudder, Life of Lowell, I, 163.

3.  GLB, XXXI, 49-50; H, XVI, 69, 11.6-29.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 458:]

1.  Note the use of this phrase, a favorite with Poe; here he is distinguishing between literature and legislature oratory.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 460:]

1.  GM, XX, 45; H, XV, ???.

2.  BJ, II, 177-8. GLB, XXXI, 218-9; H, XIII, ???.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 461:]

1.  Headley (?) seems to have been especially fond of Byron.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 462:]

1.  Poe regularly writes this “worthy a place.”

2.  Note this phrase.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 464:]

1.  Note the form of the phrase.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 465:]

1.  In the SLM October, 1836, notice of Bland's Chancery Reports, Poe stressed the need for simplification in the science of law. See SLM, II, 731-2.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 466:]

1.  Note the use again of this phrase.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 468:]

1.  The February 3 notice of the Southern Quarterly Review which was given to Poe, uses this phrase.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 475:]

1.  Note the omission of the “of.”

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 476:]

1.  Eveleth-Poe, Phillips, October 13 [[15]], 1846. Mabbott, Letters, etc. p. 8.

2.  Poe-Eveleth, New York, December 15, 1846. Wilson, Letters, etc. pp. 10-11.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 479:]

1.  Note this word, a favorite with Willis which I do not remember to have met in Poe.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 482:]

1.  Note the usage.


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