Text: Margaret Alterton, “Chapter 05,” Origins of Poe’s Critical Theory (1925), pp. 132-183 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 132:]


Unity which Poe felt, from his study of ancient and Christian philosophy, to be a philosophic truth, he now apparently wishes to see as a scientific fact, as a law operating in the physical world. Evidence shows that he recognized the insufficiency of philosophy as a sole guide to a working principle. Take, for example, on this point, his critical review of Taylor Lewis’ edition of Plato’s Laws, in which he replies to the professor’s contemptuous remarks on “this noisy Baconianism, about which there is kept up such an everlasting din.”(1) While he appreciates, he says, the “purity and nobility of the Platonian soul,” he yet “vastly prefers even the noise of Bacon . . . or the nebular star-dust of Nichols, to what Dr. Lewis will insist on terming the ‘clear, simple, commonsense philosophy of Plato’.” In fact, in the light of a sole guide, he values the Platonian philosophy, as “exactly nothing at all.” Observe, also, what he says of the insufficiency of Christian philosophy to set forth the idea of plan or design on the part of the Creator. He makes a statement to the effect that, in order to carry out the plan proposed in the Bridgewater Treatises, a scheme at once impracticable and impossible, would be necessary: “Every object in creation, from an ant to an elephant, every member of every animal would require a separate volume, before the plan would be complete.” Such works on philosophy are only useful, the review contends, for what they may contain of “positive information.”(2)

Not only is Poe of the opinion that philosophy alone cannot explain law as he now sees it, but he grows more and more insistent [page 133:] on the need of scientific proof. Again and again he declares that what he intuitively feels to be a law pervading the universe, receives corroborating testimony from science; that what he feels to be unity, is to him as certain in its existence and in its operation as is the working of any science to a scientist. He says in “The Landscape Garden,” in discussing the principle of unity by which the artist arranges his material, that these sentiments of art afford as absolute a demonstration as does the science of mathematics to the mathematician.(3)

Before attempting, however, to ascertain Poe’s method of comprehending unity as a scientific law of the universe, it may be well to review what is known of his interest in scientific matters. One is inclined to the supposition that with Poe, science was, at an early date, an awakening interest. Two of the most important pieces of evidence on this point are, first that in 1829 he makes his fanciful poem “Al Aaraaf” center around a scientific observation, that of the discovery of a star by Tycho Brahe; and that, in the same year, in a short poem, “Science,” bearing as a sub-title, “Preface to Al Aaraaf,” he discusses, though not with sympathy, in fact with what might be called alarm, the influence that science has in preying on “the poet’s heart.” And it is with apparent reproach that he thus apostrophizes science: —

“Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car,

And driven the Hamadryad from the wood

To seek a shelter in some happier star?”

In 1833 his scientific interests take on a more determinate tone. They are testified to by Sara S. Rice in her “E. A. Poe Memorial Volume,”(4) where she states these facts in the words of John H. B. Latrobe, who gives, according to the author of the “Memorial Volume,” an account of his conversation with Poe concerning the basis for the story of “Hans Phaall — A Tale.”(5) Poe spoke most enthusiastically, Mr. Latrobe says, of certain scientific research he had made for the story of his voyage to the moon. He entered into — [page 134:]

“a somewhat learned disquisition upon the laws of gravity, the height of the earth’s atmosphere, and the capacity of balloons. . . . Presently, speaking in the first person, he began the voyage, after describing the preliminary arrangements, as you will find them set forth in one of his tales, called ‘ The Adventures of Hans Phaall,’ and leaving the earth and becoming more and more animated, he described his sensation, as he ascended higher and higher, until, at last, he reached the point in space when the moon’s attraction overcame that of the earth, when there was a sudden bouleversement of the car and a great confusion among its tenants.”

Poe’s account was so realistic, Mr. Latrobe says, that he quite fancied himself on an actual voyage to the moon.

Between 1835 and 1840, he is discovered to be studying the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, a compilation of scientific papers dating from the year 1665. From these volumes, he appears to have copied notes, which he afterwards used as material for a second presentation of his story referred to above.(6) Comparing this later form of “Hans Phaall,” which appeared in 1840, with these notes, many identical passages come to light, as the following parallel columns will show:

Poe’s Unpublished Notes

Works, vol. 16, p. 347

“He observed the moon when 2 3/4 days old, in the evening soon after sunset, before the dark part was visible, and continued to observe it till it became visible. The two cusps appeared tapering in a very sharp faint prolongation, each exhibiting its farthest extremity faintly illuminated by the solar rays before [page 135:] any part of the dark hemisphere was visible. Soon after the dark limb appeared illuminated. This prolongation of the cusps beyond the semicircle, he thinks, must arise from the refraction of the sun’s rays by the moon’s atmosphere. He computes, also, the height of the atmosphere, which refracts light enough into its dark hemisphere, to produce a twilight more luminous than the light reflected from the earth when the moon is about 32° from the new to be 1356 Paris feet; and that the greatest height capable of refracting the solar ray is 5376 feet.”


Hans Phaall — A Tale

Works, vol. 2, p. 96

“I had been strengthened in my opinion [of lunar atmosphere] by certain observations of Mr. Schroeter, of Lilienthal. He(7) observed the moon when two days and a half old, in the evening soon after sunset, before the dark part was visible, and continued to watch it until it became visible. The two cusps [page 135:] appeared tapering in a very sharp, faint prolongation, each exhibiting its furthest extremity faintly illuminated by the solar rays, before any part of the dark hemisphere was visible. Soon afterward, the whole dark limb became illuminated. This prolongation of the cusps beyond the semicircle, I thought, must have arisen from the refraction of the sun’s rays by the moon’s atmosphere. I computed, also, the height of the atmosphere (which could refract light enough into its dark hemisphere, to produce a twilight more luminous than the light reflected from the earth when the moon is about 32° from the new), to be 1356 Paris feet; in this view, I supposed the greatest height capable of refracting the solar ray, to be 5376 feet.”

Another long passage in Poe’s notes, beginning “Hevelius writes that he has several times found in the skies perfectly clear . . . .” appears, too, in the form of the author’s notes, in the later form of “Hans Phaall.”(8)

Indications pointing to the fact that these notes were drawn from the pages of the Philosophical Transactions, are first, the credit, in one instance, that Poe, in the person of Hans Phaall, gives the 82nd volume of these Transactions for a certain point which regulated the preparation for the passage to the moon.(9) In his notes, he makes another reference to the Philosophical Transactions, giving in this instance the “82nd vol. pr. 2, art. 16” as his source.(10) And further, an investigation extending beyond the 82nd volume, reveals that Poe was even more indebted to the Transactions of the [page 136:] Royal Society than one might have supposed from his reference just quoted. The following columns indicate the nature of Poe’s dependence on these scientific papers:

Philosophical Transactions

vol. 17, p. 450

Of an Appearance of Light, like a Star, seen in the Dark Part of the Moon, on Friday the 7th of March, 1794, by Wm. Wilkins, Esq., at Norwich.

“When I saw the light speck, . . . a few minutes before 8 in the evening, I was very much surprised; for at the instant of discovery I believed a star was passing over the moon, which on the next moment’s consideration I knew to be impossible. I remembered having seen, at some periods of the moon, detached lights from the serrated edge of light, through a telescope; but this spot was considerably too far distant from the enlightened part of the moon; besides, this was seen with the naked eye. I was . . . rivetted to the spot where I stood, during the time it continued, and took every method I could imagine to convince myself that it was not an error of sight; and 2 persons, strangers, passed me at the same time, whom I requested to look, and they said it was a star. I am confident I saw it 5 minutes at least; but as the time is only conjectural, it might not possibly be so long. The spot appeared rather brighter than any other enlightened part of the moon. It was there when I first looked. The whole time I saw it, it was a fixed, steady light, except the moment before it disappeared, when its brightness increased. . .” [page 137:]


Poe’s Unpublished Notes

Works, vol. 16, p. 353

“On March 7, 1794, a few minutes before 8 in the evening, Mr. Wilkins of Norwich, an eminent architect, observed,


with the naked eye,


a very bright spot upon the dark part of the moon; it was there when he first looked at the moon. The whole time he saw it, it was a fixed steady light, except the moment before it disappeared, when its brightness increased — he saw it about five increased — he saw it about five minutes.” [page 137:]

Another part of Poe’s notes is found to come from an article following the one just given. A point about Mr. Wilkins, that of his being an architect, referred to in column 2 above occurs in this article. The observations in both cases are those of Thomas Stretton, or as Poe has it, of Mr. T. Stretton.

Philosophical Transactions vol. 17, p. 451

An account of an Appearance of Light, like a Star, seen lately in the Dark Part of the Moon by Thomas Stretton, in St. John’s Square, Clerkenwell, London; with remarks on this Observation, and Mr. Wilkins’s. Drawn up, and communicated by the Rev. Nevil Maskelyne, D.D. F.R.S., and Astronomer Royal.

“Not doubting but the phenomenon, seen by Thomas Stret-ton, in St. John’s Square, was the same as was seen by Mr. Wilkins at Norwich, . . . .”


Poe’s Unpublished Notes

Works, vol. 16, p. 353

“The same phenomenon was observed by Mr. T. Stretton in St. John’s Sq. Clerkenwell, London, on April 13, 1795.”

Philosophical Transactions

vol. 16, p. 255

Of 3 Volcanoes in the Moon. By Wm. Herschel, LL.D., F.R.S.

“April 19, 1787, 10h 36’ sidereal time, I perceive 3 volcanos (sic) in different places of the dark part of the new moon. Two of them are either already nearly extinct, or otherwise in a state of going to break out . The 3d shows an actual eruption of fire, or luminous matter. . . .

“The appearance of what I have called the actual fire or eruption of a volcano, exactly resembled a small piece of burning charcoal, when it is covered by a very thin coat of white ashes, which frequently adhere to it when it has been some time ignited; and it had a degree of brightness, about as strong as [page 138:] that with which such a coal would be seen to glow in faint daylight. All the adjacent parts of the volcanic mountain seemed to be faintly illuminated by the eruption, . . . . This eruption resembled much that which I saw on the 4th of May, in the year 1783; . . .”


Poe’s Unpublished Notes

Works, vol. 16, p. 353

“Apr. 19, 1787, Dr. Herschel discovered 3 volcanoes in the dark part of the moon. 2 of them seemed to be almost extinct, but the 3rd showed an actual eruption of fire, or luminous matter, resembling a small piece of burning charcoal covered by a very


thin coat of white ashes: [page 138:]


It had a degree of brightness about as strong as that with which such a coal would be seen to glow in faint daylight. The adjacent parts of the mountain seemed faintly illuminated by the eruption. A similar eruption appeared on May 4, 1783.”

From Dr. Dick’s works, Poe also appears, as in the case of the Philosophical Transactions, to be gathering data concerning the solar system. The following parallel columns reveal a study of Dick, especially of his, “The Celestial Scenery”: —

Dr. Dick, op. cit.,

Page 52

“This planet [Juno] is of a reddish color, and is free from any nebulosity; yet the observations of Schroeter render it probable that it has an atmosphere more dense than that of any of the old planets of the system. A remarkable variation in the brilliancy of this planet has been observed by this astronomer, which he attributes to changes that are going on in its atmosphere, and thinks it not improbable that these changes may arise from a diurnal rotation performed in twenty-seven hours.”


Poe’s Unpublished Notes

Works, vol. 16, p. 348

“Juno is free from nebulosity in appearance yet, according to Schroeter, it has an atmosphere more dense than that of any of the old planets of the system — variable atmosphere.”

Page 53

“The following are some of the observations of this planet by Schroeter and Herschel. The atmosphere of Pallas, according to Schroeter, is to that of Ceres . . . nearly as two to three. It undergoes similar changes, but the light of the planet exhibits greater variations.”


Page 353.

“The atmosphere of Pallas, according to Schroeter, is to that of Ceres as 2 to 3; it undergoes great changes.”

Dr. Thomas Dick’s “Christian Philosopher” appears to be a source for “Eureka.” [page 139:]

Christian Philosopher

Chapter: Omnipotence of the Deity, p. 17

“Were we to take our station on the top of a mountain, of a moderate size, and survey the surrounding landscape, we should perceive an extent of view stretching 40 miles in every direction, forming a circle 80 miles in diameter, and 250 in circumference, and comprehending an area of 5,000 square miles. In such a situation, the terrestrial scene around and beneath us — consisting of hills and plains, towns and villages, rivers and lakes — would form one of the largest objects which the eye, or even the imagination, can steadily grasp at one time. But such an object, grand and extensive as it is, forms no more than the forty thousandth part of the terraqueaous globe; . . . were a scene, of the magnitude now stated, to pass before us every hour, until all the diversified scenery of the earth were brought under our view, and were twelve hours a-day allotted for the observation, it would require nine years and forty-eight days before the whole surface of the globe could be contemplated, even in this general and rapid manner.”



Works, vol. 16, p. 281

“If we ascend an ordinary mountain and look around us from its summit, we behold a landscape stretching, say 40 miles, in every direction; forming a circle 250 miles in circumference; and including an area of 5,000 square miles. The extent of such a prospect, on account of the successiveness with which its portions necessarily present themselves to view, can be only very feebly and very partially appreciated: — yet the entire panorama would comprehend no more than one 40,000th part of the mere surface of our globe. Were this panorama, then, to be succeeded, after the lapse of an hour, by another of equal extent; this again by a third, after the lapse of another hour; this again by a fourth after lapse of another hour — and so on, until the scenery of the whole Earth were exhausted; and were we to be engaged in examining these various panoramas for twelve hours of every day; we should nevertheless, be 9 years and 48 days in completing the general survey.”

Page 20

“The earth contains a mass of matter equal in weight to at least 2,200,000,000,000,000,000,000, or more than 2 thousand trillions of tons, supposing its mean density to be only about 21/2 times greater than water. To move this ponderous mass, a single inch beyond its position, were it fixed in a quiescent state, [page 140:] would require a mechanical force almost beyond the power of numbers to express. The physical force of all the myriads of intelligences within the bounds of the planetary system, though their powers were far superior to those of men would be altogether inadequate to the production of such a motion.”


Page 282

“But if the mere surface of the Earth eludes the grasp of the imagination, what are we to think of its cubical contents? It embraces a mass of matter equal in weight to at least 2 sextillions, 200 quintillions of tons. Let us suppose it in a state of quiescence; and now let us endeavor to conceive a mechanical [page 140:] force sufficient to set it in motion! Not the strength of all the myriads of beings whom we may conclude to inhabit the planetary worlds of our system — not the combined physical strength of all these beings — even admitting all to be more powerful than man — would avail to stir the ponderous mass a single inch from its position.”

The Solar System

Page 80

“Of this system, the SUN is the center and the animating principle, . . . . This vast globe is found to be about 880,000 miles in diameter. . . . Were its central parts placed adjacent to the surface of the earth, its circumference would reach two hundred thousand miles beyond the moon’s orbit, on every side . . . . Even at the rate of 90 miles a-day, it would require more than 80 years to go round its circumference.”


Page 283

“The diameter of . . . the Sun is 882,000 miles. An inhabitant of the latter, travelling 90 miles a day, would be more than 80 years in going round a great circle of its circumference. . . . Now, were the Sun placed upon the Earth, centre over centre, the body of the former would extend, in every direction, not only to the line of the Moon’s orbit, but beyond it, a distance of 200,000 miles.”

An interesting, bit of evidence also testifying to Poe’s scientific interest is that of his making a scientific experiment the basis of his story, “The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion.” Dr. Dick in the “Christian Philosopher” describes an experiment whereby combustion is seen to follow the total extraction of nitrogen from the air, saying that in all probability that was the method prophesied by the Scriptures for the fiery destruction of our world. Dr. Dick suggests that by the aid of chemical apparatus, we can perform experiments “on a small scale, similar in kind, though infinitely inferior in degree, to the awful event under consideration.”(11)

The following parallel columns will show that Poe in declaring, as he does, that it was the “extension of the idea, which had engendered awe,”(12) was following Dr. Dick’s scientific experiment as prophetic of the means for accomplishing the terrible catastrophe. [page 141:]

Christian Philosopher

Page 32

“The atmosphere is now ascertained to be a compound substance formed of two very different ingredients, termed oxygen gas, and nitrogen gas. Of 100 measures of atmospheric air, 21 are oxygen and 79 nitrogen. The one, namely, oxygen, is the principle of combustion and the vehicle of heat, and is absolutely necessary for the support of animal life, and is the most powerful and energetic agent in nature; the other is altogether incapable of supporting either flame or animal life. Were we to breathe oxygen air, without any mixture or alloy, our animal spirits would be raised.. . .

“If the nitrogen were extracted from the air, and the whole atmosphere contained nothing but oxygen or vital air, combustion would not proceed in that gradual manner which it now does, but with the most dreadful and irresistable rapidity . . . .”


Eiros and Charmion

Works, vol. 4, page 7

“It had been long known that the air which encircled us was a compound of oxygen and nitrogen gases, in the proportion of twenty-one measures of oxygen, and seventy-nine of nitrogen, in every one hundred of the atmosphere. Oxygen, which was the principle of combustion, and the vehicle of heat, was absolutely necessary to the support of animal life, and was the most powerful and energetic agent in nature. Nitrogen, on the contrary, was incapable of supporting either animal life or flame. An unnatural excess of oxygen would result . . . in just such an elevation of the animal spirits as we had latterly experienced. It was the pursuit, the extension of the idea, which had engendered awe. What would be the

Chapter: General Conflagration, p. 135

“. . . should the Creator issue forth his Almighty fiat — ‘Let the nitrogen of the atmosphere be completely separated from the oxygen, and let the oxygen exert its native energies without control, wherever it extends’; — from what we know of its nature, we are warranted to conclude, that instantly a universal conflagration would commence throughout all the kingdoms of nature. . . .” [page 142:]



result of a total extraction of the nitrogen? A combustion irresistible, all-devouring, omni-prevalent, immediate; — the entire fulfilment, in all their minute and terrible details, of the fiery and horror-inspiring denunciations of the prophecies of the Holy Book.” [page 142:]

To sources other than the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society and Dr. Dick’s “Christian Philosopher,” Poe was likewise indebted during the early period of his search for scientific knowledge. He speaks in his notes for “Hans Phaall” of his need of reading Brewster’s edition of “Ferguson’s Astronomy”;(13) and in the passage following this reference, that dealing with the phosphorescence of the moon, he appears to be quoting from that source. At the end of the “Notes,” he again refers to Brewster, mentioning Brewster’s “Selenography.”

Poe seems also to have read a life of Kepler by John Drinkwater Bethune. In “Eureka,” he writes in rapturous strain of Kepler’s intuitively grasping “with his soul” the law that governs “the machinery of the Universe.”(14) Comparing Poe’s passage with Kepler’s exulting words, as Bethune gives them, I shall quote considerably from the latter that it may be seen how nearly Poe preserved the tone of his source. It may be observed that Poe in making his quotations has transposed some sentences, that he really summarizes a long discussion, and that he prefaces his actual borrowing by several remarks of his own on Kepler: Kepler, he says, is “essentially a theorist; . . that divine old man. . . .”


Life of Kepler, by Bethune

“What I prophesied two and twenty years ago as soon as I discovered the five solids among the heavenly orbits [Kepler is referring to the law connecting the mean distances with the periods of their revolution about the Sun, a law which Kepler says is expressed mathematically, as, the squares of the times vary as the cubes of the distances] what I firmly believed long before I had seen Ptolemy’s ‘Harmonics’ — what I had promised my friends in the title of this book, which I named before I was sure of my discovery — what sixteen years ago I urged as a thing to be sought — [page 143:] that for which I joined Tycho Brahe, for which I settled in Prague, for which I have devoted the best part of my life to astronomical contemplations, at length I have brought to light, and have recognized its truth beyond my most sanguine expectations. Great is the absolute nature of Harmonics with all its details, as set forth in my third book; it is all found among the celestial motions, not indeed in the manner which I imagined (that is not the least part of my delight) but in another very different, and yet most perfect and excellent. It is now eighteen months since I got the first glimpse of light, three months since the dawn, very few days since the unveiled sun, most admirable to gaze on, burst out upon me. Nothing holds me: I will indulge in my sacred fury; I will triumph over mankind by the honest confession, that I have stolen the golden vases of the Egyptians.” A note says, “In allusion to the Harmonics of Ptolemy to build up a tabernacle for my God far away from the confines of Egypt. If you are angry I can bear it; the die is cast, the book is written; to be read either now or by posterity, I care not which; it may forgive me, I rejoice; if you well wait a century for a reader, as God has waited six thousand years for an observer.”(15) [page 144:]





I care not whether my work be read now or by posterity. I can afford to wait a century for readers when God himself has waited six thousand years for an observer. I triumph. I have stolen the golden secret of the Egyptians. I will indulge my sacred fury.” [page 144:]

It may also be well to examine the probabilities of any connection Poe may have had with a series of articles in the S. L. M. of 1838, entitled “New Views of the Solar System,” “New View of the Tides,” “Review of ‘New Views of the Solar System’,” “Notice to the Reviewer of ‘New Views of the Solar System’,” and “The Reviewer of ‘New Views of the Solar System’ Reviewed.” The time, the periodical, and the general nature of the subject-matter, all speak for the likelihood of Poe’s having been an attentive reader of these articles. Detailed interest in the subject-matter makes a stronger plea. In fact, it may even suggest, that with the exception of the piece, “Review of ‘New Views of the Solar System’,” Poe was himself their author. I had first, after reading letters from G. W. Eveleth to Poe, entertained the possibility of John William Draper’s authorship,(16) but from facts learned later I have been led to abandon this view. These facts are the following: Eveleth and Prof. Draper, in an exchange of letters, spoke of Poe with reference to his editorship of the S. L. M.; of this editorship being partly at a time when he (Draper, who was now discussing with Eveleth new astronomical ideas) wrote certain reviews for it. From this point and from the fact that Prof. Draper’s lectures on science delivered at Hampden Sydney College were noticed in the Messenger for 1836, lectures which gave evidence of Draper’s scientific attainments, one may suppose that Draper’s own writing for the Messenger, that he was now recalling to Eveleth, under the name of “reviews,” was critical work on astronomical subjects. From the facts, too, that one of the series of articles in question is a long review on “New Views of the Solar System,” that it was known to have been written by a professor of mathematics,(17) and that the author of “New Views” styles himself a [page 145:] novice in the field of astronomy, it would seem that Draper did not write the series on the solar system, but that he may have written the long critical review calling their validity in question. I had entertained, too, the probability of Eveleth’s authorship, but the following facts would dispute his claim. Eveleth, in 1849, frankly calls Poe “the starter” of an effort to “change” views of metaphysics and physical science.(18) Eveleth’s own idea on the rotation of the heavenly bodies, that, in 1849, he refers to as a “bit,” written out for and sent to Silliman’s American Journal and to Prof. Draper (of whom mention has already been made), “two or three months ago,”(19) could not have been so elaborately presented in 1838 as were “New Views” at that time. Clearly, then, Eveleth could not have been the author of the articles on the solar system in the Southern Literary Messenger. No attempt, however, will be made to press Poe’s claim for their authorship beyond the exhibition of striking similarities between his scientific interests and those held by the author of the articles; and of the sympathetic relation that these scientific views bear to what is known to be Poe’s literary criticism and practice of the years preceding and following the publication of these articles. One may recall, too, in this connection, that 1838, the time of their appearing, coincides with what we have every reason to believe was the time of Poe’s renewed study of science for the revised form of “Hans Phaall” as it appeared in 1840.

While the principle of unity seems to be the idea which offers most striking points of contact, a similarity which will be reserved for later discussion, there appear, also, to exist other definite converging lines of interest. In the first place, both authors make use of the same sources. The writings of Sir David Brewster, as they affected Poe, have already been noted. The author of “New Views of the Solar System” also quotes from Brewster in regard to the “absolute motion of the solar system,” and “the discovery of the means” by which it is bound together.(20) A further similarity in sources, regarded negatively, is the fact that for astronomical data, neither Poe in his early study as testified to by his Notes, nor the author of “New Views” appears to depend on Newton and [page 146:] Laplace as unquestioned authority. Poe at that time makes mention only once of Kepler and then with but a slight notice of a certain lunar observation.(21) Of Newton and of Laplace, by name, at least, he also seems oblivious. With the author of “New Views,” writing as we have seen, at about the same time in which Poe took his notes, Newton is inconsistent, and Laplace, while “a reasoning man and a philosopher,” does not give facts “their true bearing upon the tidal phenomena.”(22) Both authors likewise weigh the merits for source material of the practical views and the physical views of the astronomer, both evincing deep interest in experimental work of the former. Three years at least before the publication of the articles on the solar system, Poe makes Hans Phaall “purchase . . . some volumes of Mechanics and Practical Astronomy,” and devote “every spare moment to their perusal.”(23) The author of “New Views” is of the opinion that the practical astronomer alone states conditions as they really exist in the astronomical world. He it is, and not the physical astronomer, who can suggest the true cause lying back of gravitation. His system “requires exact data,”(24) Again, to Poe in his Notes and to the author of “New Views,” Herschel speaks with the voice of authority. The above parallel columns exhibited Poe copying from Herschel’s articles in the Philosophical Transactions. The writer on the solar system speaks contemptuously in answer to his reviewer of what is, in his opinion, false knowledge of the mathematicians in regard to the exact distance of the earth from the sun. He knows, he says, in apparent triumph, what Sir John Herschel thinks of the mathematician’s “ill-conditioned triangles.” In another instance he regards Herschel’s opinion as settling contradictory information concerning the revolution of Venus on her axis.(25) And in still another place, speaking of consulting Newton and Laplace, he announces his intention of “drawing largely . . . on a still later astronomer than either, Sir John Herschel.”(26) [page 147:]

In addition to the similarity in sources between Poe’s notes for the revised form of “Hans Phaall,” his lunar story, and the articles on the solar system and the tides, an obvious identity of purpose also exists. Poe makes at least seven-eights of these notes relate to the moon; they show as we have seen, investigation of its motions, conditions, and gravity. The author of “New Views of the Tides” is of the opinion that a satisfactory understanding of the solar system is obtained by a new comprehension of the moon in her relation to our earth.(27)

There are also indications that “New Views of the Solar System” and “New View of the Tides” are connected with Poe’s later work, and that they thus may be regarded as one step in a progressive study of astronomy, beginning with “Hans Phaal — A Tale,” and ending with “Eureka.” In the first place, with both authors the work is throughout strikingly like that of a novice in the field of astronomy. Poe in the progress of his work frequently corrects former theories and as frequently admits errors of statement. In his Addenda to “Eureka,”(28) he says that, since announcing an opinion as to the origin of the satellites, he has been led, by “closer analysis” to modify somewhat that view. He likewise shows a startling reversal of statement in regard to the motion of the moon. In his notes for “Hans Phaall” he has collected data giving the moon the same space of time in rotating on her axis that she has in revolving round us in her orbit.(29) But in his Addenda to “Eureka” he adopts a contrary view. He holds now, he says, “to the idea that the moon must rotate upon her axis oftener than she revolves round her primary.” And he adds that the same must be the case of the moons which accompany Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus.(30) The author of the articles on the Solar System also proclaims himself a novice. He acknowledges that he is but a volunteer, and that, too, without any authority from those who might, in the opinion of some, be considered as a source of unquestioned [page 148:] authority.(31) And, again, he corrects a statement, saying that he had spoken “unreflectingly.”(32)

Not only is the work in both instances that of a novice, but both authors acknowledge that, in support of their theory, they are depending, somewhat, at least, on intuitive processes of the mind. Poe’s whole theory of the universe, as he developes it in “Eureka,” is an exaltation of man’s intuition.(33) The author of “New Views” likewise depends on his intuition. The intuitive recognitions of the mind have led him, he says, to the opinion that, since Jupiter’s moons describe orbits round their primary concave to the sun, so must the paths of all planets be equally concave to some more distant center.(34)

The articles on the solar system also appear to have a logical place in a chain of what is known to be Poe’s predictions of new astronomical views. Taking these predictions chronologically, we find first, in 1835, in “Hans Phaall,” Poe writing of the intelligence to be imparted by the returned voyager from the moon, to the “private ear of the States’ College of Astronomers.”(35) “Much — very much,” Hans Phaall has to communicate, of the climate of the planet, and “above all, of those dark and hideous mysteries. which lie in the outer regions of the moon — regions which, owing to the almost miraculous accordance of the satellite’s rotation on its own axis with its sidereal revolution about the earth, have never yet been turned, and, by God’s mercy, never shall be turned, to the scrutiny of the telescopes of man.” In 1838, the author of “New Views” also promises future astronomical information. He begins his article on the tides with the following paragraph: —

“We see and we acknowledge the vast improvements which have been made in the arts and sciences within the last half century. In these improvements the Americans have signally participated; and can it be now said, with any degree of propriety, that any one has reached the limit beyond which none can penetrate into the fields of improvement and discovery? Or, that all that can be known, is known?”

His theory regarding the solar system which he promises soon to present to the world “will clear up all difficulties respecting these [page 149:] bodies.”(36) He speaks, too, of “another place and another time” being suitable for showing “the entire insufficiency of our astronomers’ gravitations and attractions to produce such effects.”(37) By the theory which he now presents to the world, he hopes “to wake up American philosophers from the bewildering opiates administered to the scientific world by the mathematicians of the last century.” And Poe, several years before 1843, adds predictions to those he had already suggested in “Hans Phaall.” He attempts in these views, which he calls “A Prediction,” to amend Laplace’s theory of the nebular hypothesis. “As soon as the beginning of the next century,” he says, “it will be entered in the books” that the Sun was originally condensed at once (not gradually according to the supposition of Laplace) to his smallest size.”(38) In 1848, appeared “Eureka,” which may doubtless be the culmination of preceding prophecies. In the second place, the articles in question appear not only to take their place in a series of predictions, but to be also part of Poe’s progressive study of astronomy, in that they contain certain points common to his literary and scientific views, other than those of a basis for unity, which law, it must be again remembered, is reserved for a later discussion. Both authors stress the idea of equality in nature. They both appear to conceive of equality or the balancing force in nature, as common to all steps [page 150:] of what we are supposing to be a consistently increasing effort to comprehend the solar system. It will later be shown that Poe expounded his scientific views in “Eureka” with equality as his general law.(39) It will likewise be seen in the latter part of this chapter, that he made use of the idea of equality in literary criticism, especially as that principle was the basis of the metrical art. The author of “New Views” also contends for equality. It is to establish this point that he hazards his new theory of the solar system,(40) a theory by which he hopes to explain equality in the motion of the planets.

Philosophy appears to have influenced both writers in maintaining their principle of equality. Poe is of the opinion that the philosophic conception of a balancing force in nature is no other than the scientific fact of the laws of repulsion and gravitation. The philosopher as well as the scientist speaks in 1836 when he confounds Empedocles’ profession of the system of four elements, to which two more were added, called by the names, “principium amicitiae” and “principium contentionis,” with the laws of attraction and repulsion.(41) As a philosopher, too, it has been noted, he discussed equality as the “root of all Beauty,”(42) and consistently throughout “Eureka” he endeavors to see as one, the philosophic and the scientific explanation of the universe.(43) Kepler, he says in “Eureka,” drew inspiration for scientific conclusions from “the nebulous kingdom of Metaphysics.”(44) As a philosopher, the author of “New Views of the Solar System” also discusses equality in nature. To the bitter attack on his theory, he replies that the reckonings of his reviewer may be mathematically correct, but that they are not so “philosophically.”(45) His reviewer, he thinks, in another instance in refusing to investigate the new theory advanced, [page 151:] has shown himself to be most unphilosophical. A further point in common between the two writers is that magnetism is the cause back of gravitation. Poe says that Newton, “while boldly grasping the Law itself, shrank from the principle of the Law”; and that “Laplace had not the courage to attack it.”(46) He advances the theory that magnetism, or electricity, though he admits an unsatisfactory explanation of the force, since it counterbalances a tendency towards the center, is yet as suitable a term as can be found for the principle of whose “awful character” he speaks with reverence.(47) He says further that he has received much help in trying to solve this question from dynamics. That particular science renders unquestionable aid, he thinks, in recognizing matter to have not only tended towards a center, but in admitting it to have one time existed in a state of diffusion, and this state he consistently explains to be the result of magnetic or electric force.(48) The author of “New Views of the Solar System” appears to be working along the same line for an understanding of the cause back of gravity. He, too, admits gravitation to be an “undefined force.”(49) He is aware, he says, that Newton has hinted at its real nature; but he feels confident that the Principia offers no suggestions of “the means” by which planetary bodies hold their course.(50) Brewster he likewise reports as propounding the question of “the means by which the Almighty has bound the whole” together.(51) He ends his account of his investigation of the cause back of gravitation by saying, as did Poe, that it is upon the science of dynamics that he bases all his views, and that by showing how the planets and satellites are wielded by electro-magnetic machinery, new discoveries, exceeding even those following the discovery of steam, may come to light.(52)

From the foregoing evidence, one may doubtless with reason admit at least that Poe was familiar with the contents of the articles on the solar system, and, with like reason, one might even be willing [page 152:] to entertain the idea of his being their author. Attention remains to be called to the method both authors have of working out from astronomy a principle of unity. Unvarying law, which, as has been shown,(53) Poe felt in 1836 and 1837 to be a philosophic truth, the author of “New Views” in 1838 attempts to see operating under the processes of science.

The author of “New Views” endeavors to show that the principle of unity governs the movements of the planets about the sun. He advances the general theory that the velocity of the planets is equal, while the number of their revolutions about their primary varies. Disregarding the elaborate mathematical calculations by which he tried to prove this idea, I shall state only the main points with which he attempted to substantiate his claim. He takes the revolution of the moon around the earth as an example of equality in motion among the heavenly bodies. The mechanism of this system, he says, shows that the revolutionary progress of our earth is equal to the progressive velocity of its attending body. The progress of the earth he emphatically says must limit the progress of the moon.(54) As another example of equal motion in the heavenly bodies, he cites the motion of Jupiter’s satellites around their center. The velocity of Jupiter’s “retinue of little worlds,” he notes, is equal, limited in their progress as they are, by the course of their primary. But in this equality of motion, he expresses himself as conscious of a variety of motion also. From a suppositional case, he first attempts to prove this point. Suppose, he says, in his article on the tides, that we had an additional moon; the inner moon because of the greater contraction of its orbit, would make more revolutions around the earth than the outer one, and would therefore appear to move faster. Then, from an actual case, that of the action of Jupiter and his satellites, he tries to verify his supposition. Jupiter’s attending bodies describe varying revolutions around their center. This he thinks a just illustration of the law he is considering. He expresses himself as satisfied that in both of the cases cited exists the operation of the law of equality with the variation from the law. Then, viewing the evidence of the small systems, and reasoning from analogy, he next attempts to see equality and variability governing the whole solar system. The mechanism of Jupiter’s little worlds, he says, in the same article, [page 153:] gives a “conclusive idea of the mechanism not only of the greater system of our sun,(55) but of all the systems composing the universe.” And again, he speaks of Jupiter and his moons representing “in miniature” all the systems that exist. He now announces it to be his belief that the sun carries his planets as Jupiter does his moons.(56) In evident justification for thus transferring this law of action from the smaller system to the greater, he elaborately discusses the theory of the progressive sun.(57) It is now generally admitted, he says, “by astronomers in England, France, and Germany, that the Sun is not a stationary body,” but moves on in his grand orbit. Maintaining the sun to be progressive, he then attempts to attach equal velocity to the whole revolving planetary system. No one planet, he says, can advance ahead; none can remain behind. They are all limited in their progress by their luminous leader.(58) He promises to show, mathematically, that the differing velocities as heretofore given cannot be correct — that Jupiter moves with the same velocity that Mercury, Venus, the Earth, and Mars do.(59) A necessary condition of this theory of equal velocity and as the logical consequence of a progressive sun, he believes to be the theory of concave planetary orbits. In this supposition, he takes the cases of our earth and her moon, and of Jupiter and his satellites as indicative of the kind of orbit described by all the planets and their attending bodies. “It is evident,” he says, “that Jupiter’s moons describe orbits round their primary, invariably concave to the sun, and it is equally evident . . . [page 154:] that the planets describe the same kind of orbits, and equally concave to some more distant center, around which the sun himself is describing a similar orbit.”(60)

But even without a progressive sun and concave planetary orbits, the author further professes the ability to demonstrate that the velocity of the planets is equal. Whether the sun is a stationary or traveling body makes no difference at all, he says in the article on the tides, when the question is that of equal motion of the planets. Even with “orbits returning into themselves,” he still maintains equal planetary motion. This proof he contends rests on a consideration of the times of the planets, and he attempts to demonstrate equality by the periods of the planets in their revolutions. “I shall . . . proceed at once to show,” he says in his second article on the solar system, “that the planets must have the same velocity, even to a second of time, or their periods would be very different from what they are.” In other words, he is apparently convinced that an error in the number of revolutions will arise if different velocities are assigned to the planets. In his calculations which follow this statement, he considers the case of Mercury and Venus; first supposing the condition of equal motion. He divides the time of Venus, which “for greater convenience” he has reduced to hours, by the time of Mercury, similarly reduced, and announces the result as showing two periods and nearly one-half of another for Mercury, and one period for Venus. This result, he says, corresponds to the actual facts as demonstrated. He then supposes the condition of unequal velocities, the velocities that are “stated in our books . . . and taught in our schools,” and attempts to show that, by this calculation, an error in the number of revolutions will result. By giving the velocities of these two planets according to our mathematical teachings, he says, Mercury would make only one revolution and part of another, while Venus makes one. He then takes the earth and Jupiter and, as he did with Mercury and Venus, computes the number of their revolutions, first on the basis of equal and then of unequal velocities. In the latter case, he says, the number of revolutions given the earth is incorrect; the earth is made to revolve a little more than five times while Jupiter revolves once. In the former case, he asserts, the computation, resting on equal velocity, the “number of [page 155:] revolutions of the Earth, corresponds to a second of time to the real facts, as they exist in relation to these two planets, in the system, as it came from the hands of its Creator.”(61)

Variability in rotatory motion, he likewise discusses. He advances the theory that the planets give rotation to the sun, and the moons to the planets. The force producing motion is, he says, electro-magnetic pressure, and, being unequal as the densities of the bodies differ, the rotatory motion is unequal also. Such a theory he acknowledges to be original.(62) But it is, he thinks, on that score, none the less true. In attempting to substantiate his contention, he first claims the existence of electro-magnetic force. It is equally easy, he says, in the first article on the solar system, to conceive the Deity creating elastic materials and specifically applying them, as to conceive the creation of our globe in any terms at all.(63) He notes the fact that Newton acknowledged the pressure of magnetic fluid, although in a state of diffusion and without specific offices to perform. He differs, therefore, he says, from Newton, solely in giving this electric material certain definite functions.(64) Can it be possible, he asks, that such materials can be without agency? And he replies to his own question by stating his conviction that one of these offices is to produce rotatory motion. He tries to prove his point by describing what he feels to be the true nature of the influence of the moon on the earth. From the small case, he then forms, as before, in considering equality of motion, a general notion of existing conditions in the solar system at large. He first assumes the existence of elastic, magnetic spheres, explaining that the sun, the planets and their satellites are surrounded by magnetic material. These spheres, he says, act and react upon each other, and in no way is this interaction to be attributed to the planets themselves. He then considers the pressure of these spheres. ,Knowing that the theory of tides admits the pressure of the moon on the earth, he expresses his conviction that this pressure will result in something more than a depression of the water’s surface.(65) It will result, he thinks, in rotary or [page 156:] axillary motion of the earth also. The west-to-east motion of the earth he further explains from his theory that the moon, moving faster than its primary, throws greater pressure on the eastern portion of our globe and hence causes it to rotate always in that direction. He then announces the general notion that he has deduced from the individual case — that of the moons causing the planets to rotate, and the planets, the sun.(66) In this rotation caused by pressure, he then notes variability of motion. He hopes that the great difference between the rotation of the earth and the moon may excite the attention of his learned readers.(67)

Coming now to the work acknowledged to be Poe’s, one finds the same effort to comprehend unity as a scientific principle that characterized the preceding work.

In the “Addenda to Eureka” Poe starts with the notion of equality and then sees in that equality the existence of variability also. Equality appears to be the effort to view under the same head the two motions of rotation and revolution. He seems also to give it the meaning of unity. An evident emphasis and perhaps a possible indication that he had derived the idea from some source, may be seen in the fact that, in one instance, in referring to the rotation and revolution of a planet, he places in quotation marks the expression both under one.(68)

As an example of this idea of equality, or perhaps of unity, he takes first the motion of the sun. The sun, he says, after its condensation(69) rotated on its axis, but this axis not being the center [page 157:] of the figure, it not only rotated but revolved also. Poe appears to feel that he has given sufficient reason for concluding that the two motions of the sun are a unit, for he adds: “Rotation and revolution are one, but I separate them for convenience of illustration.”(70) With the same evident meaning, he speaks also of Neptune’s making his rotation a revolution; and of Neptune’s moon rotating and revolving “both under one.” As was done in “New Views of the Solar System,” he now endeavors, from analogy, to make the smaller case prove the greater. He says that he has doubtless given enough, without referring to the other planets, to make his point plain.(71) In this unity he sees variability also. He recognizes diversity in the rotatory motions of the planets and then tries to account for it. It had been affirmed, it will be remembered, that rotation was due to pressure of the electro-magnetic spheres — those of the moons on the planets and those of the planets on the sun.(72) The author of “New Views” had remarked, too, on the striking difference between the rotations of the moon and the earth. Poe now appears in his “Addenda to Eureka” to offer a suggested explanation of this diversity. Disregarding as before elaborate mathematical calculations, and his frequent assumptions of his use and interpretation of Newton’s and Kepler’s laws,(73) I shall try to give what seem to be the main steps in his reasoning. He notes the general tendency of planets in condensing to approach the sun.(74) This tendency to approach the center may have the same meaning as had the former term “pressure,” though in the “Addenda” Poe does not definitely so state it. If we grant this to be the case, the progressive steps in this article of his explanation of variability of rotation appear to be consistent with the first steps in “New Views.” He seems to be desirous in the “Addenda” of making the difference in rotation of the planets depend on the difference in their density.(75) He understands density to be governed by distance from the sun, since, as he says, a planet falls nearer in proportion as it condenses. The degree to which the planet approaches the sun would, therefore, indicate the degree [page 158:] of its pressure. Consequently, when he maintains, as has just been shown, that the velocity of rotation depends on density, he doubtless means, as did the former article, that rotation depends on pressure.

Poe, in his effort to find equality governing the physical world, appears to carry his attempted proof into still other fields. Though at no time does he deny that the sun is a moving body, he does not, as did the author of “New Views,” insist on making that theory the principal basis of his assumption of equality of forces. It will be remembered that even the author of those articles advanced the theory of equal velocity of the planets from the standpoint of a stationary sun.(76) That author said he was only endeavoring to invite scientific investigation of his views, but beyond the attacks already referred to his theory met with no response. Poe, on his part, now decides to contend for equality on still another score. In “Eureka” he tries to demonstrate that this principle is the law controlling the creation, present condition, and destiny of the material and spiritual universe. He is of the opinion now that Laplace’s Nebular Hypothesis gives the most satisfactory explanation of the creation of the solar system.(77) It is no doubt a fact that he speaks as the philosopher as well as the scientist, when he terms it “beautifully true,” and as being “far too beautiful . . . not to possess Truth as its essentiality.”(78) He proceeds, then, to outline Laplace’s theory, saying that he gives it as its author himself conceived it. During the course of this outline, it will be noted that Poe stresses the operation of unity and the variation from that law, evidently convinced that the theory covers the working of these two factors. In the first place, the theory recognizes, he says, variety and uniformity in the nebulous mass from which creation sprang. It then assumes matter as diffused in a state of [page 159:] heterogeneous nebulosity.(79) The planets, says the theory, were whirled from the sun, and, as that body continued to condense, they, composed like their parent body of heterogeneous material, lost their form as rings and became broken into an infinity of separate pieces.(80) Poe at this point in his outline expresses himself strongly of the opinion that Laplace felt the necessity of assuming heterogeneous material in the nebulosity. In no other way, he thought, could the French astronomer account for the breaking up of the rings, since they could not have broken had they been homogeneous. He maintains that he reaches the same result as Laplace, that of heterogeneous material, although he reaches it, he says, by another assumption, that of predicating heterogeneity to the atoms that compose the mass.(81)

The theory likewise provides for uniformity, according to Poe’s rendering.(82) The rings whirled from the nebulous mass, possessed, in their heterogeneous nature, at the same time, a constitution nearly uniform. In addition to this general character, the rings when broken into separate pieces showed a tendency to become absorbed by that portion which is superior in mass, a tendency therefore toward oneness. Thus the creation of Neptune, Jupiter, Uranus, and the other planets is hypothetically accounted for, under the law of unity and the variation from it. Poe then outlines the Nebular Hypothesis as it explains the origin of the moons. Neptune threw off a ring of un-uniform material which developed the same tendency to break up and the pieces the same desire to cluster about the center of the heaviest of their number. In this manner, Neptune threw off another ring, with the same result. Neptune thus came to have his two moons, and, as the planets continued to condense, Uranus was finally attended by three lunar bodies, Saturn by seven, Jupiter by four, and our Earth by its one.

As he continues to detail the points of Laplace’s Hypothesis, it can be noted that Poe stresses equality in the rotatory motion of the planets. The theory assumes that the velocity of a planet’s revolution around the sun is equal to the rotary velocity of the sun. With Neptune as an example, this equality is explained, first, when [page 160:] that planet existed as the ring thrown from the nebulous mass. “The ring . . . revolved,” Poe relates, in quoting from Laplace, “as a separate ring, with just that velocity with which, while the surface of the mass, it rotated.” Later, when the ring settles into a planet, the same equality is preserved. The theory likewise assumes equality between the tangential and gravitating forces.

Though expressing himself as satisfied in the main with La-place’s theory, Poe is still of the opinion that the theory needs certain emendations and certain modifications. In the “Addenda to Eureka,” he had declared his wish to guard against the interpretation of adhering in detail to Laplace’s entire view.(83) He also says, later, that his assumptions imply important differences from the Nebular Theory as given by Laplace. The Nebular Hypothesis, he felt convinced, made no provision for the Newtonian law of gravitation. It is true, he says, that Laplace assumed such a law, but, according to the explanation that atoms extend in unlimited succession throughout space, he had no logical right for the assumption.(84) It is not surprising, then, considering his conviction of the need of revision and his custom, as has been noted, of offering new views, that he should now advance a theory of his own that would attempt an explanation of the plan and method he professes to feel in the creation of the universe. He appears to be desirious [[desirous]] of justifying his right to suggest a theory, first, on the grounds that the greatest truths have been brought to light by judicious guesses. Plato, he says, gives proof of the safety of occasional guessing.(85) Kepler grasped “with his soul” the secret of the principle of the machinery of the universe.(86) Laplace, whose [page 161:] hypothesis he has just related, deduced an absolute truth from no better start than mere speculation. In fact, the original idea to

which Laplace owed his theory was derived, Poe thinks, from a compound of the “true Epicurean atoms with the false nebulae” of Laplace’s own time.(87) He also tries to justify his right to theorize on so stupendous a subject as the universe by bringing forth a mass of scientific facts to substantiate his claim. Before entering, however, into these facts in Poe’s attempted proof of his own hypothesis, I shall first give the main points of his theory, with its essential differences from that of Laplace.

Poe appears to construct his theory, first, in imitation, perhaps, of Laplace’s example, on the atomic theory he had learned from ancient philosophy,(88) and to this pagan belief, he joined the conception of the Deity as the Creator, a conception which, as we have seen, he had found so elaborately explained in the pages of Christian philosophy.(89) His purpose seems to be to discover and to demonstrate the true meaning of gravity, the point which he has asserted to be not provided for in Laplace’s theory. No one, he says, “up to this date” has any understanding of what lies behind the essential characteristics of this principle. He states his proposition thus: “Unity is the source of the phenomenon.”(90) It will be remembered that in the “Addenda” Poe had asserted that the differing forces of rotation and revolution should be viewed under one head, and that before that date, in “New Views of the Solar System” the author had tried to maintain equal velocity of the planets. In the theory about to be explained it will be seen that Poe is now claiming equality for two other forces, and furthermore, that he is assuming an identity of source for the two. In other words, he is claiming, first, that the diffusive force originates in unity; secondly, that the diffusive force equals the attracting force, or gravity; and, thirdly, that gravity also has unity for its source. [page 162:]

In advancing this theory, Poe starts with God, whom he chooses to consider under the light of Divine Volition. “As our starting-point,” he says, “let us adopt the God-head,” who, “by dint of his Volition,” created, out of nothing, matter “in its utmost conceivable state of . . . Simplicity.”(91) This starting-point Poe affirms to be his sole assumption in the theory which he advances. Oneness he predicates of this originally created matter. It is a particle, he says, “of one kind — of one character — of one nature — of one size — of one form.” He is of the opinion that the universe was made from this particle. The atoms were irradiated spherically from this center, with equal diffusion. One was thus forced into Many, and the atoms presented an appearance, from their difference in size and their equi-distance between centers of quantity, of a particular un-uniformity, though, in general, there was uniformity in design. But the force was determinate and ceased. Reaction, therefore, set in, a “satisfiable tendency of the disunited atoms to return into One.” But the lapsing into one is not to be allowed until certain ends are accomplished. A “separate something,” Poe says, will, while permitting “up to a certain epoch” atoms to coalesce with one another, at the same time prevent a total, coalition. Thus he describes the two forces as held in balance. When the Divine purposes are fulfilled, however, then the repulsive influence will yield to the tendency toward the center, and all atoms will return to the one from which they sprang. The above, briefly stated, is Poe’s theory.

Poe then attempts to bring forward scientific proof for his theory. He must find, he says, some scientific phenomenon, some phenomenon whose law is known and whose validity is unquestioned which will be a precise parallel to the condition this theory assumes; namely, absolute unity as a source, and equal diffusion from that center. He must find some third idea, an idea science stamps as true, which will be a link between unity and diffusion as his theory gives them.

Poe is of the opinion that irradiation of light will illustrate both the points he needs, and therefore will be the link he is seeking. He is aware, he says, that light particles radiate equally froth a luminous center. He affirms then, that unity is the source of their diffusion. He is also aware that the scientific law governing this phenomenon is that irradiation varies as the squares of [page 163:] the distances from the centre, or, that irradiation proceeds in direct proportion to the squares of the distances. He then states the converse of the idea and says he is further aware of the scientific law governing concentralization or gathering together of light particles towards their centre. This law he states to be: Concen-centralization [[Concentralization]] varies inversely as the squares of the distances.

From the scientific illustration of light showing equal diffusion from a centre, Poe then forms a hypothetical method of diffusion, which will, he thinks, correspond exactly with it. He imagines a hollow sphere of glass, the interior surface of which will receive a stratum of atoms equally diffused by a force resident in the centre. A second and inferior exercise of the same force he then imagines as infusing a second layer on the first. A third and still inferior force deposits a third layer on the second, and so on until the glass sphere is filled. Poe is of the opinion that his imaginative illustration parallels exactly the process in light radiation. He has preserved, he thinks, the same condition; namely, equable diffusion from a center; and, therefore, he expresses himself as justified in assigning to his method of diffusion the law governing light and says the forces of irradiation of atoms are directly proportional to the squares of the distances.

Poe’s next step is an attempt to find an analogy between his imaginary irradiation of atoms and the diffusion of rings from the sun according to Laplace’s theory. In seeking this analogy, he again resorts to a suppositional case. Confining himself to results, he says, and not to the process in both instances, he considers what the results of the processes of being whirled from the center would be if one were able to view them all at once. He imagines what conditions would exist if all the rings whirled from the sun — the rings which in time became Neptune, Saturn, Uranus, etc — remained entire until the final discharge of that ring which gave birth to Mercury. He can picture to himself, he says, a series of coexistent, concentric circles. Between this condition for which, though imaginary, he still claims a scientific starting-point, and his wholly imaginary distribution of atoms in the glass sphere, he claims a correspondence. He is of the opinion that they agree in results; that is, in arrangement of atoms in the one case and of rings in the other. He is also of the opinion that, from this similarity, he is justified in affirming that the forces which threw off each concentric circle varied as the squares of the distances. [page 164:] Poe puts in the step, that, in his imaginary experiment with the glass sphere, the number of atoms diffused on the interior surface and the succeeding circles, are in direct proportion with the forces which diffused them.

Poe has shown, following light radiation, that the diffusive force originates in unity. The planet and his atoms, therefore, he thinks, are radiated from a centre, and are both governed by the same law. He now wishes to point out, first, that the force of gravity equals the diffusive force; and, secondly, that it originates in unity as well as does the diffusive force. He inspects Newton’s law of gravity and states it to be thus: “All bodies attract each other with forces proportional to their quantities of matter and inversely proportional to the squares of their distances.” He restates Newton’s law, giving it as he says a more philosophical phraseology, though by no means modifying its meaning.(92) “Every atom, of every body, attracts every other atom, both of its own and every other body, with a force which varies inversely as the squares of the distances between the attracting and attracted atom.” He then notes certain correspondences. First, the law governing the irradiation of light: that controlling the diffusion of his atoms in the glass sphere; and that guiding the concentric circles and therefore the planets as they were whirled from the sun — that law is identical, he says, in all cases. The force of irradiation in all these phenomena varies as the squares of the distances. Secondly, the law governing the return of light particles corresponds with the return of atoms to their centre, or, in other words, to gravity. In both cases the forces vary inversely as the squares of the distances. He is, therefore, of the opinion that gravity is the reaction, or action conversed, of the diffusive force and is, as a consequence, equal to it.

For the final part of his proposition, namely, that gravity has its source in unity, Poe now tries to advance scientific proof. He tries to fortify his position by quoting from Herschel and Humboldt to the effect that a movement toward a center among the heavenly bodies is, at least, not an untenable idea. Herschel admits, though reluctantly, Poe says, that the systems of the universe are in a state of progressive collapse.(93) Humboldt expresses [page 165:] the belief that we have no data at hand to dispute the possibility of such a movement toward a center.(94) Dr. Nichol, from whom Poe professes to maintain a wide difference of opinion in regard to cosmical conditions, makes on this point, he says, remarks pertinent to the question.(95) According to Dr. Nichol, the observations taken through Lord Rosse’s high-power telescope reveal not circular masses of nebulae, but a condition quite the reverse. Volumes of stars, Dr. Nichol says, “stretch out apparently as if they were rushing towards a great central mass in consequence of the action of some great power.” Poe is of the opinion that the circular masses alluded to are the variations in the absolutely rectilinear path of the planets to their centre. The general path would be a straight line, he says,(96) and the infinity of curves the local deviations from the general uniform motion. From such evidence as he has just brought to bear, Poe appears to feel that he has sufficiently developed the thesis of his discourse to entitle him to assert that gravity is the “tendency to collapse,”(97) and that it is the law under which atoms, planets, stars, and clusters of stars seek their original unity.

Of what use to Poe, one asks, was his scientific study? Doubtless it was owing to his interest in science that changes and additions found their way into his literary theory and practice. I shall try to show, first, that it varied the nature of the critical art from what he had hitherto conceived it; secondly, that it enlarged and enriched his theory in such matters as a new comprehension of plot structure, the necessity of the dénouement, a basis for the metrical art, and the understanding of verisimilitude; and, thirdly, that it produced striking changes in his practice.

Criticism, in Poe’s mind, seems to have passed through successive stages. Recall, for example, what he had to say on the almost utter lack of critical acumen in an English review. He had found mainly, he said, the expression of mere opinion. Recall too, his efforts, in the days of his study of law, to make his criticism judicial. But in this last stage, the period of his scientific training, he comes to view criticism as a science. In one instance he [page 166:] definitely gives it that name;(98) in another, he expresses surprise that critics can so complacently pronounce judgment without the slightest knowledge of determinate principles on which to base their sentence.

Natural science, it has just been said, strengthened Poe’s understanding of plot structure. It has already been noted that A. W. von Schlegel’s “Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature”(99) and Aristotle’s Poetics had each its influence in forming the character of his plot. It has also been seen that philosophy had a bearing in determining its nature.(100) Indeed, the sureness with which a change in source re-acts upon this particular interest invites one’s attention. The method of telling a story as a logical sequence of events bound together by no outstanding idea beyond the oneness of effect produced by an overwhelming mass of sensations, certainly by no emphasis on arrangement of parts — the plot of the Blackwood days, gave way, as we have seen, under Schlegel’s influence, to the comprehension of the plot in the light of totality of interest. The latter idea grew under the influence of Aristotle’s unity of action, an idea which to Poe came to mean the plot as an organism of mutually dependent parts. But it is in all probability not too much to say that the greatest strength of Poe’s conception of plot structure lay in his study and appreciation of Newton’s law of gravitation.

Poe suggests an analogy between plot structure and the universe. He states this idea, in one instance, in the following words: “The Universe is a plot of God.”(101) In attempting to carry out this parallelism, he stresses first of all the idea of the atomic nature of the plot. For example, he thinks that a plot may be appreciated by all in its atoms, but taken as a whole, it is of far too ideal a nature to be a popular interest.(102) In another instance he views plot structure as being atomic, saying that Bulwer’s workmanship shows an ability to adapt the very numerous atoms of his story,(103) and he seems to carry the analogy further in referring to the plot as a “mass.”(104) [page 167:]

The parallel between the universe and the plot in literature appears to be likewise stressed in the attempt to identify the mutual dependence of part on part, or of atom on atom, especially as Newton’s law of gravity gives the idea, with the mutual dependence in the structural formation of the plot. Newton’s law of gravity, it will be remembered, Poe had interpreted to mean: “Every atom of every body, attracts every other atom, both of its own and every other body, with a force which varies inversely as the squares of the distances between the attracting and the attracted atom.” So greatly does Poe appear to be impressed with this scientific truth of mutual dependence, that he declares his mind is overwhelmed with the idea. An atom displaced, he says, would affect the whole universe. —

“If I venture to displace, by even the billionth part of an inch, the microscopical speck of dust which lies now upon the point of my finger, what is the character of that act upon which I have adventured? I have done a deed which shakes the Moon in her path, which causes the Sun to be no longer the Sun, and which alters forever the destiny of the multitudinous myriads of stars that roll and glow in the majestic presence of their Creator.”(105)

It is not surprising, then, that with so profound a conviction of the scientific truth of mutual dependence of atom on atom, that he should express the same idea in literary practice. He makes a distinction between the plot as he understood it from his study of Aristotle’s definition, between the plot as an organism, and the plot as an outgrowth of science. He is of the opinion that Aristotle’s plot calls for only slight dependence of parts in comparison with one springing from scientific knowledge. The difference he places in the degree of injury resulting from the removal of any one of the incidents making up the structure. In the former case, he says, the removal or displacing of any one of the leading incidents would prove a detriment to the whole; in the latter, not one part, not the most minute incident, can be displaced without ruin to the mass. He further illustrates the dependence by affirming that the withdrawal of any part from its rightful place in plot structure would “overthrow the fabric” as completely as would the changing of the position of a single brick in a building. The idea of the most delicate mutual dependence continues throughout [page 168:] Poe’s literary criticism. On its basis, he declares a stanza of poetry to be a unit, one line of which removed would ruin the whole.

Further intensifying his idea of mutual relationship, Poe even insists on plot structure showing reciprocal action between cause and effect. It is very probable that he had met this idea of reciprocity as a philosophic truth in the Bridgewater Treatises.(106) He may also have found it in Kant’s “Critique of the Judgment.”(107) But he also discusses the point of mutuality of adaptation on the basis of his own hypothesis. He first inspects, scientifically and mathematically, the question of mere adaptation. Newton’s law shows, he says, that forces are directly proportional to the amount of matter projected;(108) his own hypothesis supposes the diffusive force directly adapted to the number of atoms diffused.(109) But his own hypothesis appears to add a further step. The mutual relationship between cause and effect, it is highly probable, originated in his idea of gravity and diffusion counterbalancing each other and both having their source in the same center, a condition which Divine Volition, according to his theory, made possible. He maintains that it is from stand-points such as these that the plot in fictional literature should be viewed. The pleasure, he says in Eureka, which one derives from plot structure, is in the ratio of its approach to this species of divine reciprocity. And he adds that, in constructing the plot, one should “aim at so arranging the incidents that we shall not be able to determine of any one of them, whether it depends from any one other, or upholds it.”(110)

The necessity of the dénouement also rests on a scientific basis. Poe had attempted to demonstrate, it was noted, that gravity has its origin in unity, and, at the same time, from its progressive return to its source, carries within itself the necessity of an end. On this latter point, Poe had, it was also noted, laid great stress on Herschel’s admission of the universe presenting a state of progressive [page 169:] collapse;(111) a state which he identifies with gravity and hence with return to unity. He is of the opinion that an obvious analogy exists between the law of gravitation and a dénouement brought about by incidents springing from the main subject of a piece. The end of a piece, he says, must be brought about by events originating in the ruling idea, and springing from the bosom of the thesis.(112) Should one not conceive of the universe as having an end, Poe further says, in continuing the analogy, creation would impress one with the same sense of dissatisfaction we experience from the dénouement in an imperfect plot, brought about by interposed incidents foreign to the subject.

Poe admits, however, that the plot as he sees it in its scientific sense is a standard in criticism, rather than a possibility to be attained by human skill. The universe as the “plot of God,” is an ideal or perfect plot, conceived by science in its strictest sense. The artist should, however, he maintains, hold this plot in mind when he is fashioning his tale, and approach its perfection as nearly as he can.

Poe also endeavors to treat metrical art with a scientific hand. He claims the discovery of what he calls the true method of scanning and of what he conceives to be the real nature of the caesura.(113) The latter has been used, he says, “time out of mind” by all poets, but with no knowledge of the character he gives it. The whole subject of versification he has treated more thoroughly, he maintains, than any other living grammarian, critic, or essayist.

A chronological survey of Poe’s interest in metrical art will reveal somewhat of his sources and the development of his theory. An early evidence presents itself in a letter from Judge Tucker to Poe in December, 1835, the content of which indicates that he and the jurist exchanged critical opinions(114) on the question of versification. Judge Tucker commends Poe ‘s frequent success in the art and, at the same time, asks for criticism in return. “I will try to write out from memory a few rude lines,” he says; “I send them on one condition. You are to judge them candidly.”(115)

The letter further indicates that the correspondents had different [page 170:] standards for judgment. Judge Tucker writes of the lines to which reference has just been made: “Reject them if they do not come up to either my standard or yours. Let me know which.” Ruggedness is apparently the standard which Poe, at this time, has in mind. A mere flow of mellifluous lines, he had evidently said, according to Judge Tucker’s letter, by no means fulfills the demands for metrical art.(116) He seems also to have complained that a certain poem of the jurist’s was faulty, because too “faultless”. Tucker replies to this criticism of his lines: —

“Not that I could not have made them rugged, but because I did not think myself master of that sort of ‘grace beyond the reach of art,’ which so few can snatch. I have seen something analogous to it in the features and in the carriage of persons who were the handsomer for not being perfectly handsome, and the more graceful for a little awkwardness.”(117)

Judge Tucker’s standard, however, differing from Poe’s ruggedness, appears to be equality in time, an equality in which he is also aware of irregularities. The time of the bar, he says, must be the same, no matter how many notes are in it. He requires, he adds, that the notes must be uttered in due time and that the presence of nine, of eleven, or even of twelve syllables should not affect the time but should rather render a relief from “the mawkish sweetness which by continuance becomes nauseous.” He considers that Moore, Pope, and Byron can throw a few syllables out of or into their verse and yet preserve the rhythm without interruption. This art, he thinks, is the secret of Moore’s charm. And he points out to Poe that one of his own (Poe’s) pieces does not measure up to this standard. He refers to what Poe had evidently called a fragment, and insists that there are in it lines which cannot in any way be forced into time. Take, he says, Baldazzar’s speech, at the bottom of the first column of p. 15.(118)

In 1835, Poe was in fair way, as has just been seen, of learning from Judge Tucker certain notions of the charm of equality with irregularity of beat in versification. There are indications during the years 1836 and 1837 that Poe tried to account for the charm of equalized cadence in verse; and to analyze the pleasure that comes from the rhythmic flow of lines varied though not retarded by irregular beat. Judge Tucker had offered him no explanation [page 171:] of this charm. “I do not know,” writes the jurist in the letter of 1835, “to what to liken those occasional departures from regular metre which are so fascinating.” Though he suggests that they may be likened to grace notes in music, he only vouches, he says, for the accuracy of his ear. But it was into the field of philosophy and science that Poe took his investigation for laws lying back of this spell. Poe had found in philosophy, it will be remembered, the principle of unity,(119) for in 1836, Coleridge had taught him an understanding of this principle as it lay back of the creative imagination. His own philosophic research beginning, as we have seen, in the latter days of 1836, had also brought to him an added comprehension of the principle. The Platonic sense of proportion and the conception of Many in One, had, on Socrates’ recommendation, been for him a rich store for rhetorical needs.(120) He had, moreover, found in science, as the present chapter has detailed, what seemed to him ample illustration of unity with its attendant variations in the physical world. He now seems to be of the opinion that the same principles in philosophy and science may be applied to metrical art, — that in them may lie the secret of the charm which he and Judge Tucker were discussing. In furtherance of this supposition may be cited his review in 1837 of Bryant in which he uses for a metrical theory the exact philosophic terms he had been working on the preceding year. He warmly praises Bryant for being able to equalize his measures. And in the same review he cites Pope as an example of the same ability.

The true method of scansion, Poe says, is based in processes of natural law.(121) Equality is its underlying principle. He considers, [page 172:] therefore, that all English prosodists have been laboring under a misconception in placing the secret of scansion somewhere in the study of feet, metres, rhythms, and rules in “ancient” verse.(122) It is a mistake, he insists, to take the Iliad as a starting-point, instead of Nature and common sense. Indeed, the mere fact that he attempts to rationalize the subject shows, it would seem, an effort on his part to see the art in its scientific relations. His very obvious desire to establish an analogy between what he calls the development of verse and a scientific hypothesis of creation places little doubt in the assumption that, to him, versification was a matter of science. The effort to seek this analogy is apparent in that his proposition for the growth of verse forms is in tone strongly reminiscent of his outline of Laplace’s theory and of his general comprehension of scientific law. He says for example, in summing up the details of metrical development, that he believes the processes he gives to be “nearly if not accurately those which did occur in the gradual creation of what we now call verse.”(123) As if to call attention to the progressive nature of this creation, he puts within inverted commas the term processes. And he seems to be desirous of further carrying out the analogy by stating that both are atomic. Poe gave Laplace’s explanation, it will be remembered, of the very start of creation being the meeting of two atoms in space.(124) The beginning of verse, or, as he calls it, the rudiment, results, he thinks, from “the very germ of a thought seeking satisfaction in equality of sound” from words of two syllables.(125) He places the spondee, therefore, at the beginning of the process of verse development, and says that his idea is corroborated by the fact that spondees are most frequent in ancient tongues. A certain parallelism between science and verse appears to continue in the character of the gradual growth in both cases. The two atoms, according to the scientific theory, were joined by others, until an aggregation was formed.(126) The second step, Poe says, [page 173:] in verse creation was the collocation of two spondees; the third, the juxtaposition of three of such words.(127)

Both hypotheses likewise agree that mass, the aggregation of atoms in the one instance, and the collection of spondees in the other, reaches a point where it seeks relief from “excess of self.” In “Eureka” he describes the mass of the sun “needing relief”(128) when its equilibrium was disturbed, and its consequent throwing off of material from its equatorial region. In the hypothetical development of verse, he speaks of the spondees seeking relief from too great predominance of their own material.(129) And he seems to have in mind the same means for relief in both cases. The introduction of variety appears to be the remedy. While the parallel in its details in this regard cannot be too closely insisted upon, yet both theories deal so consistently with relief in consequence of variety, that one is led to think the metrical was suggested by the scientific. The planets whirled from the sun, and, at a later period, from planets themselves, Poe had chosen, in furtherance of his theory, to consider as so many gigantic atoms. These atoms displayed a particular difference in size and form, each from each, though there was always, he thought, a general equality preserved.(130) Although he does not definitely state the connection between variety and the attempt of the planet to obtain relief from its too great predominance of material, it can be seen that he makes the inference plain. In the metrical theory, the perception arises, he says, that relief is needed from excess of spondees; there is too great monotony felt. A variety of forms is therefore resorted to. Words of two syllables, though differently accented, appear; that is to say, iambuses and trochees are introduced.(131) And in like manner and from a like cause, anapaestic and dactylic words came in further to relieve monotony.(132)

Then the line appeared.(133) With considerable minuteness Poe [page 174:] explains this step in verse development, a step which repeats, only on a larger scale, the same search of relief through some phase of variety. Laplace’s two atoms meeting in space, suggestive of the construction of the spondee, now propose lines equal in the number of their feet. To secure a desired variety, the number of feet will show difference: one line will be twice the length of another; and, lastly, numerous proportions will appear.

Rhyme takes its place as one part of the “processes,” it being, Poe feels convinced, an outgrowth of the introduction of lines. Again the same development is seen: namely, from simple forms to those of greater complexity. Those rhythms with the concluding syllable long, he deems the more simple and, for this reason, will show the earliest approach at rhyme. But, in due course of time, the two remaining rhythms, the trochaic and dactylic, will result in double and triple rhymes. He gives the following lines as an example of his meaning:

“Virginal Lilian, rigidly, humblily dutiful;

Saintlily, lowlily,

Thrillingly, holily


Then he analyzes as follows the lines into absolute, proximate, and proportional equalizations, each one of which, he says, will be recognized by the cultivated ear. “Absolute equalities:

1)  Between the long syllable of each dactyl and the two short conjointly;

2)  Between each dactyl and any other dactyl;

3)  Between the two middle lines;

4)  Between the first line and the three others taken conjointly;

5)  Between the last two syllables of the respective words “dutiful” and “beautiful;”

6)  Between the last two syllables of the respective words “lowlily” and “holily.”

Proximate equalities:

1)  Between first syllable of “dutiful” and first syllable of “beautiful”;

2)  Between first syllable of “lowlily” and that of “holily”.

Proportional equalities:

1)  Of five to one, between the first line and each of its members, the dactyls; [page 176:]

2)  Of two to one, between each of the middle lines and its members, the dactyls;

3)  Of five to two, between the first line and each of the two middle;

4)  Of five to one, between first line and the last;

5)  Of two to one, between each of the middle lines and the last;

6)  Of four to one, as concerns number, between all the lines, taken collectively and any individual line.”

The next and final step in verse development and one which appears preeminently reminiscent of Poe’s understanding of scientific law governing the universe is the stanza. May he not at this point have held in mind Herschel’s and Nichol’s hint of a movement of all heavenly bodies towards a center; and also his own interpretation of this theory as a complete surrender to the most perfect satisfaction, the accomplishment of a perfect unity? The following points at least suggest this connection.

Poe calls the stanza a “mass,” and says it owes its “birth” to the completion of a perfect or proportional equality “between all the lines, taken collectively and any individual line.” Such a “mass,” he claims, in its primitive sense, at least, would possess absolute unity. Indeed, (and here his wording reverts to Aristotelian terms, which, as we have seen, he came to view in scientific relations) he asserts that the “removal of one of its lines would have rendered it imperfect.” Then he discusses the steady tendency in all the proportions detailed, to give rise to this perfect satisfaction in unity. All the equalizations are apparent, he says, to a sensitive ear, and they journey to their end with a “progressive increase.”

Of course it cannot with any certainty be said that Poe took as a model the creation of the universe for the development of verse forms, but that he may have done so suggests itself from the similarities between the two that I have detailed, and the hint that Poe throws out to the effect that he could go “behind the idea of equality,” and show “how and why” it is that satisfaction arises from it. Moreover, his continued willingness to rest what he chooses to call the “processes” in the gradual development of verse, on a hypothetical basis, speaks, it would seem, for their dependence on the scientific theory.

Then Poe states it as his opinion that scanning by time is but the appreciation of scientific law. He even endeavors, as will be [page 176:] seen, to work out his system mathematically, giving numerical values to long and short syllables as he conceives of varied beats being forced into equal time. In attempting to explain this method as it is most fully detailed in “The Rationale of Verse,” it seems most understandable, if one keeps in mind the philosophic and scientific laws which have just been referred to. The meaning, then, of what Poe calls his general proposition, will be quite plain. He says: —

“In all rhythms, the prevalent or distinctive feet may be varied at will, and nearly at random, by the occasional introduction of equivalent feet — that is to say, feet the sum of whose syllabic times is equal to the sum of the syllabic times of the distinctive feet.”(134)

Various admonitions follow this proposition, such as that one should take care not to introduce so many variations that distinctive feet no longer exist; and such as that one should take care to wait before introducing any variation, until the ear has become accustomed to what is intended for the distinctive feet. That the variation should correspond with the sense of the piece, he likewise suggests. Pope, he thinks, has fine instances of this care. Having made these suggestions, he then starts to explain and illustrate what he means by his general proposition. He begins by fixing on a standard of measurement, choosing the long syllable as the unit,(135) and considering the short syllable as having a certain proportion to that length. He then takes up the question of the substitution of equivalent feet. A trochee is equal to an iambus, both being equal to three short syllables.(136) Another instance of the substitution of different equivalent feet, he maintains, is the caesura. He considers this foot(137) the most important of all feet, and, as we said at the outset of this discussion, he claims the merit of discovering the character about to be detailed. According to his explanation, it is the best illustration of unity and variety. In fact, he makes it a variable foot, always equal in the sum of its syllable-time to the prevailing foot. He differs, he says, from all prosodists in the nature of its use, though he agrees with them that it is a “pause.”(138) In opposition to the prosodists who introduce [page 177:] it between two members of the same verse, by which one is contrasted with the other, he maintains that it should be used as a pause to give force. Its use is also, he thinks, to allow a stepping over into another species of foot without producing the slightest discord. He marks the caesura with a waved line in order to express variability of value. In the following line, the caesura, he says, is son, and it equals three short syllables: —

“I have a little stepson of only three years old.”

Gray, the caesura, equals four short syllables in: —

“Pale as a lily was Emily Gray.”

A further example of variation he gives as the bastard foot. This foot is illustrated, he says, in the recognition that a precise number of syllables does not have to be adhered to, provided the time required for the whole foot is kept intact.(139) He gives as an example of a bastard iambus: —

“or laugh | and shake | in Rab | e lais ea | sy chair, |”

He wishes to make the three syllables e lais ea equal in time the two syllables composing any one of the other feet, and he thinks it can be done by pronouncing the syllables e lais in double quick time. elais is therefore a bastard iambus. On this basis, he condemns blending, or the effort to force several syllables into a fewer number of beats. In the line: —

“See the delicate footed reindeer”

delicate should not be pronounced “del’cate.” Every syllable should be pronounced in full. But the syllables licate should be made to occupy the time of a short syllable and so must be said twice as quickly as any other of the short syllables in the line. Delicate has, in time, therefore, the value of a long and a short syllable, and he calls it a bastard trochee. He now brings forward what he considers a bolder variation, or bolder substitution of equivalent feet. In the line: —

“Many are the thoughts that come to me”

he considers the syllables ny are the as equal only to a short syllable, and if pronounced in the time of the other short syllables in the line, will make the foot, not a bastard trochee, he thinks, but what he calls a “quick trochee”. [page 178:]

He then proceeds to give numerical values to syllables. He takes again the line: —

“Many are the thoughts that come to me.”

The long syllable is the unit. The prevailing foot is the trochee. Therefore that and to will be pronounced in one-half the time of thoughts and come. Ny are the taken together will be said in one-half the time of Ma, each syllable of the triplet being equal to one-sixth. Me he regards as a caesura and allots it the time of three short syllables. Writing the line again and giving it Poe’s figures, we find it to be: —

Man6y a6re t6he | thoughts t2hat | come t2o | me 3/2.

Poe now considers that the value of his system of scanning by time could be no better tested than by taking a case where usual scansion has failed to agree on the proper mode. He advances the theory that a stanza should be scanned as though it were one continuous verse. As an example he cites the instance of a poem that to the ear is perfectly harmonious, but to the eye is a puzzle to scan. The last word in the first line of Byron’s “Bride of Abydos” has, he says, always been a matter of mystery to the prosodists.(140) The line was meant for dactylic and the foot at the end was irregular and therefore confusing. In a similar way, the first word of the second line also proved a stumbling-block. It prevented the line from being scanned according to the foot that was obviously the poet’s intention. This word, said some prosodists, according to Poe, was evidently the poet’s blunder. Some even demanded that it be cut from the line. Poe now offers to show that scanning by time in one continuous verse without reference to line will clear up the difficulty. In his scansion the ensuing points may be noted. First, that unity as it exists with variations will be seen to be the law followed; that the dactyl is the prevailing foot, or four short syllables; that the caesura has the value of four short syllables. Two spondees in a measure, being equal to two long, are also equal to four short syllables.

“Know ye the | land where the | cypress and | myrtle Are | emblems of | deeds that are | | done in their | clime Where the | rage of the | vulture the | love of the | turtle Now | melt into | softness now | madden to | crime | Know ye the | land of the [page 179:] cedar and | vine where the | flowers ever | blossom the | beams ever | shine Where the, | etc.”

Another influence of Poe’s scientific interest on his literary work is its obvious effect on his understanding of the power of reality to produce an impression. The question grows in his mind into a comprehension of verisimilitude. His changed attitude in this regard is interesting to follow. In the “Letter to B—”, in 1831, he had apparently wholly discredited the place of real life in the poet’s art. He spoke at that time with contempt of “Peter Bell” and quoted with enthusiasm from Ossian the passages which, in his opinion, Wordsworth had unjustly criticized. In “Genius,” written some time before 1836, he again doubts that realism can satisfy the poet’s fancy. “The dull scenes of real life,” he says there in this connection, “can never be suffered to chill the ardor of the romantic imagination.” While it is true in this early period of writing he imitated the detailed method of the physician and the sensation story-writer as they presented their material in Blackwood, it is not until he has passed through a long period of scientific thinking that he has much to say on the subject of real life. Then, as a student of natural science, he explains his meaning.

Plausibility of a story rests, says Poe, on the faithfulness with which a writer adheres to minute detail. Especially is this true, he adds, in fiction whose ground-work is science. In this case the detail must be eminently scientific as far as observation and analogy can carry it.(141) In a note appended to the revised form of “Hans Phaall” he explains that Locke, the author of the “Moon Hoax,” in attempting to give plausibility by scientific detail, owing to astronomical blunders, had failed in being credited with belief. Among other errors, Locke had, it seems, quoted Herschel erroneously to the effect that with high magnifying lens one could see flowers on the surface of the moon and even detect the color and shape of the eyes of small birds. Poe goes on to examine other stories of similar nature to the “Moon Hoax.” As in the former case, he attributes the lack of plausibility in “L ‘Homm.e dans la lune, ou le Voyage Chemerique fait au Monde de la lune,” to scientific errors. In spite of its author’s claiming a knowledge of natural science, the book exhibits only fanciful theories of his time. [page 180:] For example, the seventeenth century writer maintains that “gravitating power” extends but a short distance from the earth’s surface; and that the motion of our globe is “from the east to the west.” But plausibility by a strict adherence to fact, Poe maintains, is exemplified in his own “Hans Phaall.” He has so aimed at verisimilitude, he says, by making every minute detail in the passage from the earth to the moon accord with the views of the most eminent astronomers, that the unreal element in the thesis of the story becomes an accepted reality. Unbelief is suspended.

Even in critical opinions dealing not at all with scientific subjects, Poe also shows the influence of training in natural science. Art criticism, in 1836, appealed to him chiefly as the principle of unity he had learned in the drama. In 1845, however, he gives full expression in art comments to what he calls truth — the truth of expression, the perfection of proportion. Recall what he said on the anatomy of the figure in the “Ivory Christ” being well wrought out.

The drama, he thinks, furnishes striking proof of the need of verisimilitude. In his article on “The New Comedy” he is attempting to account for what, as he says, is usually spoken of as the decline of the drama. He is of the opinion that the drama has not declined; it has simply not advanced. “Our fault-finding,” he says, “is on the score of deficiency in verisimilitude — in natural art, that is to say in art based in the natural laws of man’s heart and understanding.” He cites as an example the answer one character makes to every remark addressed to him, that “he is indifferent to flowers.” Such a reply is not only absurd, Poe thinks; it has not even the redeeming feature of a farcical element. He gives other instances in which real life is little displayed. “Also in the same category, we must include the rectangular crossings and recrossings of the dramatis personae on the stage; the coming forward to the foot-lights when anything of interest is to be told; the reading of private letters in a loud, rhetorical tone; the preposterous soliloquizing; and the even more preposterous ‘asides.’ “(142)

A curious instance in this connection is what Poe has to say on Scriptural prophecies carrying out a scientific method. He professes himself struck with the fact that the Scriptures in their predictions do not depend for belief on general statements, but trust their truths to minute details. The Christian and the philosopher, [page 181:] he says, will understand him when he attributes to the Deity a conscious intention of providing for the evidence of the fulfillment of the word of scripture, an intention manifested in the smallest detail.(143) He expresses his conviction of what he conceives to be the wisdom of this plan, saying: “No general meaning attached to a prediction, no general fulfilment of such prediction, could carry to the reason of mankind inferences so unquestionable as its particular and minutely incidental accomplishment. General statements, except in rare instances, are susceptible of misinterpretation or misapplication; details admit no shadow of ambiguity.”

It remains now to suggest in what way Poe’s practice was affected by his interest in science. We have already noted instances of his taking over scientific material as subject-matter. For example, Dr. Dick’s predicted destruction of the world resting on a carefully detailed experiment becomes as we have seen part of Poe’s text in “Eiros and Charmion;” and experimental work in the Philosophical Transactions appears in his story of the flight to the moon. But his scientific training also extends into realms that have nothing to do with science. Perhaps the best way of noting this influence in his practice is to contrast former ways he employed to produce an effect with those of later time. In early work he adopted such measures as the human-like body of the ship in the “MS,” the gruesome teeth of Berenice, the mystic eyes of Ligeia, the recurring of the name, Morella, ghostly in its echo, the horrors of the charnel-house, some climactic instances of metempsychosis, to strike the attention and to prolong the impression. While it is true that at all times he shows an aptness to return to these means, a growing desire to depict reality becomes apparent in his work. This effort seems to manifest itself, first, in a wavering attempt to draw on nothing but real life. For example, the end of his long realistic tale of 1838, the “Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym,” is curiously confused with certain points and with the general tone of his mystic tale of the “MS,” the early effort of 1831. The brig in the “Narrative” rushing with hideous velocity into the southern polar gulf, a shrouded human figure in the pathway, almost, one might say, tells again of the phantom ship in the “MS” sweeping into the current flowing northward and whirling dizzily in the circles of the whirlpool. Then a more consistent depicting of real life reveals itself in 1846 in the “Cask [page 182:] of Amontillado.” In fact, this tale shows an absolute change in method. It may not be too much to say that all the training science had given him both in choice of subject-matter and in technical method appears in this story. In it, Poe shows himself a scientific writer. He finds his thesis in real life and presents a plot of mutually dependent parts, each “atom” of which appears to spring irresistibly from the bosom of the thesis. The main points of the story will, I think, make his intention plain.

Revenge is the thesis. Montresor exclaims as the opening words: “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as best I could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.”

The working out of the thesis follows the events as given:

Dusk of an evening in Italy.

During madness of carnival season.

Montresor and Fortunato meet.

Fortunato garbed in motley, with bells that tinkle from the top of his cap.

Drunk, blear-eyed, unsteady, but eager still for adventure. Montresor tells of his vaults filled with choice Amontillado. Hints he may ask Luchresi to test it for him.

Fortunato, stung to jealousy at slight of his connoisseur-ship, and eager for his favorite wine, insists on descending with his companion to depths of underground passages where are the vaults of the Montresor palace.

Palace at this hour empty of attendants.

Fortunato at Montresor’s suggestion notes damp walls where nitre hangs moss-like; dank air of the crypt in which the flame of the torches only glows instead of flames; listens to Montresor’s description of arms of Montresor family:

“A human foot d’or, in a field azure; the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are embedded in the heel.”

They pass on in search of the Amontillado.

Come to another crypt less spacious.

Three walls lined with human bones piled to vault overhead. “From the fourth side the bones had been thrown down, and lay promiscuously upon the earth, forming at one point a mound of some size. Within the wall thus exposed by the displacing of the bones,” was a still interior [page 183:] crypt or recess, in depth about four feet, in width three, in height six or seven.

Fortunato steps unsteadily into this crypt. In an instant he is chained by his enemy to wall of granite at the back.

Shrieks for help.

No aid comes.

Montresor starts to wall up victim.

As he places the last stone in its position he calls Fortunato’s name, but he hears only faint jingling of bells.

The “atoms” in the story show a tendency, as evidently was Poe’s intention, to point, or as the scientific theory expressed it, to rush back to their origin — to their original oneness from which they sprang, and the complete satisfaction in revenge remains to impress as the faint tinkling of the bells on Fortunato’s cap tells that the victim is crushed. Thus the dénouement, following the scientific theory, is a matter of supreme necessity.



[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 132:]

1.  Broadway Journal, vol. 1, p. 393. Plato contra Atheos. Plato against the Atheists; or the 10th Book of the Dialogue on Laws. Taylor Lewis was professor of Greek Language and Literature, in the University in the City of New York.

2.  Ibid., vol. 1, p. 78. Review of Chemistry, as Exemplifying the Wisdom and Beneficence of God. By George Fownes, Ph.D., F.R.S. Harrison does not list this short review as Poe’s work. It follows, however, the same line of thought as Poe’s review given above, and, moreover, appears in the same magazine at very nearly the same time.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 133:]

3.  Works, vol. 4, p. 266.

4.  Rice, Sara S., Edgar Allan Poe, A Memorial Volume, Baltimore, 1877, p. 61.

5.  S. L. M., vol. 1, p. 565. Hans Phaall — A Tale. That this conversation took place in 1833 is testified to by the fact that Latrobe speaks of it being on the Monday following the publication in the paper, the Saturday Visitor, of the MS. Found in a Bottle, the tale which received the hundred dollar prize, Oct. 12, 1833. Mr. Latrobe was one of the three members of the committee that awarded the prize.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 134:]

6.  Harrison publishes these notes with the title Poe’s Unpublished Notes. (Works, vol. 16, p. 347). He says: “These MS. notes were found in Poe’s handwriting among the MSS. in possession of Mrs. W. M. Griswold, Cambridge, Mass. . . . The notes are legible and neatly written with a pencil on both sides of four and a half sheets (the last being torn) of ordinary memorandum paper.” Harrison is of the opinion that these notes refer principally to Eureka, Poe’s work of 1848, although he says they may be outgrowths of Poe’s studies for Hans Phaall. He says that “Notes on Eureka” is endorsed on the MSS. in handwriting not Poe’s. That they were started with a revision of Hans Phaall in mind seems probable since they furnish material for the 1840 form of the tale which the 1835 form as printed in the S. L. M., did not possess. Works, vol. 2, p. 330.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 134, running to the bottom of page 135:]

7.  Harrison makes the point that in the opening sentence of Poe’s notes — [page 135:] “He observed the moon when 2 3/4 days old” . . . “it is not clear to whom reference is made.” The column above, in the text under Hans Phaall, shows, however, that Poe by “he” is referring to Mr. Schroeter of Lilienthal, who, it seems, was a scientist of considerable repute.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 135:]

8.  Works, vol. 16, p. 351. Poe’s Notes. Cf. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 96. Hans Phaall.

9.  Ibid., vol. 2, p. 96.

10.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 347. Poe’s Unpublished Notes.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 140:]

11.  Dick, Works, vol. 2, p. 135. The Christian Philosopher.

12.  Works, vol. 4, p. 7. Eiros and Charmion.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 142:]

13.  Works, vol. 16, p. 349. Poe’s Unpublished Notes.

14.  Works, vol. 16, pp. 197, 198. Eureka.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 143, running to the bottom of page 144:]

15.  It is doubtless permissible to think that Poe read and copied from this life of Kepler, for not only does this identity of phrasing exist, but he also appears to refer to the volume containing the passage in his How to Write a Blackwood Article. In this satirical sketch, he praises in a mocking way the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, calling it, for short, S. D. U. K. Bethune’s life of Kepler is bound up in the series, Library of Useful [page 144:] Knowledge, a series which bears in a note on the title-page, “Published under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge,” the first letters of which title resolve the series into what may possibly be the S. D. U. K. of Poe’s source.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 145:]

16.  Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, The Letters from George W. Eveleth to Edgar Allan Poe. The New York Public Library, 1922, p. 23. John William Draper was professor of natural philosophy and chemistry in Hampden Sydney College and later in the University of New York.

17.  S. L. M., vol. 5, p. 105; vol. 4, p. 747. While it is true that Draper was professor of natural philosophy and of chemistry in Hampden Sydney College, Allibone gives the information that he published Treatises on “mixed mathematics,” a point that might possibly explain the reference made by the author of “New Views of the Solar System.”

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 145:]

18.  Mabbott, Letters from George W. Eveleth to Edgar Allan Poe. p. 20.

19.  Ibid., p. 22.

20.  S. L. M., vol. 5, p. 267. The Reviewer of “New Views of the Solar System” Reviewed.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 146:]

21.  Works, vol. 16, p. 351. Poe’s Unpublished Notes.

22.  S. L. M., vol. 4, p. 748. New View of the Tides; vol. 5, p. 224. Notice to the Reviewer of “New Views of the Solar System.”

23.  Ibid., vol. 1, p. 567. Hans Phaall — a Tale.

24.  Ibid., vol. 5, p. 267. The Reviewer of “New Views of the Solar System” Reviewed.

25.  Ibid., vol. 4, p. 750. New View of the Tides.

26.  Ibid., vol. 5, p. 224. Notice to the Reviewer of “New Views of the Solar System.”

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 147:]

27.  S. L. M., vol. 4, p. 747. New View of the Tides.

28.  Works, vol. 16, p. 339.

Poe may have owed his changed opinion to Eveleth. Cf. Mabbott, Letters from George W. Eveleth to Edgar Allan Poe. p. 22.

29.  Works, vol. 16, p. 351. Poe’s Unpublished Notes.

30.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 339.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 148:]

31.  S. L. M., vol. 4, p. 750. New View of the Tides.

32.  Ibid., vol. 5, p. 265. The Reviewer of “New Views of the Solar System” Reviewed.

33.  Works, vol. 16, pp. 197, 212, 252, 266.

34.  S. L. M., vol. 4, p. 750. New View of the Tides.

35.  Ibid., vol. 1, p. 579. Hans Phaall — A Tale.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 149:]

36.  S. L. M., vol. 4, p. 770. New Views of the Solar System.

A study might be made of a serial story that runs through the American Museum during the time the author of News Views of the Solar System is publishing his pieces. The story is entitled, The Atlantis. It presents many points that are congenial to both Poe and the writer of the articles we are considering. For example, The Atlantis dwells with apparent delight on the alacrity with which in the Utopian island, scientists and philosophers are willing to investigate new views. It also stresses the fact that literature betrays a sad need of scientific study. Whoever may be the author, he is, to all intents and purposes, the Pope of American letters, for he draws largely on Pope’s Art of Sinking in Poetry for the stand he takes against ignorant writers. Compare in this instance Poe’s How to Write a Blackwood Article with Pope’s Martin Scriblerus.

37.  S. L. M., vol. 4, p. 750. New View of the Tides.

38.  Works, vol. 16, p. 337. Addenda to Eureka. Poe writes to G. W. Eveleth, February 29, 1848, that several years before writing Eureka he had penned but never printed some views on astronomy to which he gave the heading, A Prediction. Harrison prints this letter from the Methodist Review of January, 1896.

Cf. also Eveleth’s letter to Poe, March 9, 1848. Mabbott, Letters from George W. Eveleth to Edgar Allan Poe, p. 19.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 150:]

39.  Works, vol. 16, p. 253. Eureka.

Poe definitely states that unity is the law, and that variety has the meaning of variations from that law. On this score he criticizes Leigh Hunt’s terming the law unity in variety. Prescott, op. cit., p. 179.

40.  S. L. M., vol. 4, p. 769. New Views of the Solar System.

41.  Ibid., vol. 2, p. 581. Pinakidia.

42.  Cf. Chapter on Philosophy.

43.  Works, vol. 16, p. 266. Eureka.

44.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 197.

45.  S. L. M., vol. 5, p. 265. The Reviewer of the “New Views of the Solar System” Reviewed. The attack referred to appeared in S. L. M., vol. 5, p. 105: Review of 2 Pieces entitled New Views of the Solar System.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 151:]

46.  Works, vol. 16, p. 223. Eureka.

47.  Ibid., vol. 16, pp, 212; 213. Eureka.

48.  Considerations of dynamics are to be found in Eureka; pp. 237; 245.

49.  S. L. M., vol. 5, p. 264. Reviewer of “New Views of the Solar System” Reviewed.

50.  Ibid., vol. 5, p. 224. Notice to Reviewers of “New Views of the Solar System.”

51.  Ibid., vol. 5, p. 267. Reviewer of “New Views of the Solar System” Reviewed.

52.  Ibid., vol. 5, p. 267.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 152:]

53.  Cf. Chapter on Philosophy.

54.  S. L. M., vol. 4, p. 747. New View of the Tides.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 153:]

55.  Ibid., vol. 4, pp. 747-750. New View of the Tides.

56.  Ibid., vol. 4, p. 433. New Views of the Solar System.

57.  Ibid., vol. 4, p. 750. New View of the Tides. The author of New Views mentions Dr. Wilson of Glasgow as the first one who advanced this theory. The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, vol. 10, p. 296, gives a biographical account of Dr. Alexander Wilson. The theory referred to is there attributed to the son of Dr. Wilson, Patrick Wilson. The Reviewer of New Views of the Solar System, who, as has been said, may possibly be Prof. Draper of Hampden Sydney College, mentions three other propounders of the same theory, Mayer, in 1760, Lalande in 1776, and Herschel in 1780, the first two of whom in his opinion, having back of the assertion no more than analogical reasoning, and the last supposing he has discovered the proof of translation. The reviewer advises the author of New Views to convince himself of these facts by reading: Blot’s Astronomie, vol. 3, chap. 3, and Delambre’s Astronomie, vol. 3, chap. 32.

58.  S. L. M., vol. 4, p. 434. New Views of the Solar System.

59.  Ibid., vol. 4, p. 435.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 154:]

60.  Ibid., vol. 4, p. 750. New View of the Tides.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 155:]

61.  Ibid., vol. 4, p. 770. New Views of the Solar System.

62.  Ibid., vol. 4, p. 435. New Views of the Solar System.

63.  Ibid., vol. 4, p. 433. New Views of the Solar System.

64.  Ibid., vol. 5, p. 266. Reviewer of “New Views of the Solar System” Reviewed.

65.  Ibid., vol. 4, p. 749. New View of the Tides.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 156:]

66.  Ibid., vol. 4, p. 433. New Views of the Solar System.

67.  A series of articles entitled Curiosities of Science, written by John Lofland, called the Milford Bard, have certain points in common with New Views of the Solar System. They speak of the sun as a galvanic battery; of the planets being moved by electricity; and of electricity being the “grand cause of all the phenomena or operations of nature.” It does not seem reasonable, however, to think that Lofland could have written New Views, for his ideas are scattered and disconnected, and he does not seem to be working with any principle in mind; rather to be detailing certain knowledge chiefly from his own experimentation, which he considers curious and interesting. He does not exploit, moreover, the main contention of New Views, namely, equal velocity of the planets. Lofland, John, Curiosities of Science, Baltimore, 1853.

68.  Works, vol. 16, p. 338. Poe’s Addenda to Eureka.

69.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 337. Poe affirms here that he differs from Laplace in thinking that the sun was originally condensed at once, and not gradually, as in the Nebular Hypothesis.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 157:]

70.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 338.

71.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 339.

72.  Cf. note 65.

73.  Works, vol. 16, p. 342.

74.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 343.

75.  Ibid.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 158:]

76.  Cf. note 61.

77.  Poe’s dependence in Eureka on Laplace’s theory when, if we consider him the author of New Views, he had there appeared to have only a slight acquaintance with that astronomer, is quite consistent with the progressive nature of his study, his acknowledgement of being only a novice in astronomical learning, his frequent corrections of his own mistakes, and his assertion that, despite his conviction that Laplace’s knowledge was wanting in certain fields, he intended at a future time, to draw largely on him for material. S. L. M., vol. 5, p. 224. Notice to the Reviewer of “New Views of the Solar System.”

78.  Works, vol. 16, p. 252.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 159:]

79.  Ibid., vol. 16, pp. 245-252.

80.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 247.

81.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 248.

82.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 247.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 160:]

83.  Works, vol. 16, p. 337. Poe’s Addenda to Eureka.

84.  Poe’s words, on this point, are (Works, vol. 16, p. 266): “His [Laplace’s] most unwarranted assumption was that of giving the atoms a movement towards a center, in the very face of his evident understanding that these atoms, in unlimited succession, extend throughout the Universal space. . . . Under such circumstances, there could have occurred no movement at all; and Laplace, consequently, assumed one on no more philosophical ground than that something of the kind was necessary for the establishment of what he intended to establish.”

85.  Works, vol. 16, p. 279. Eureka.

It is suggested that a study might be made of Poe’s detective story in the light of his knowledge of law, in general, of medical jurisprudence, and of what he has to say concerning the relation between data and the hypothesis.

86.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 197. Vol. 14, p. 187. A Chapter of Suggestions.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 161:]

87.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 266.

88.  Cf. Chapter on Philosophy.

89.  G. W. Eveleth, in writing to Poe, Mar. 9, 1848, praises warmly this starting-point that he (Poe) has chosen. He admits the chance of some opposition on the ground that the starting-point is “but an off-spring of the imagination”; but he professes himself satisfied with it since it is supported “to full maturity.” Mabbott, Letters from G. W. Eveleth to Edgar Allan Poe, p. 19.

90.  Works, vol. 16, p. 217. Eureka.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 162:]

91.  Ibid., vol. 16, pp. 205-206.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 164:]

92.  Works, vol. 16, p. 215.

93.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 297.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 165:]

94.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 299.

95.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 298.

96.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 299.

97.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 301.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 166:]

98.  Works, vol. 11, p. 1. Exordium.

99.  Cf. Chapter III. Unity in the Drama and Fine Arts.

100.  Cf. Chapter IV. Unity in Terms of Philosophy.

101.  Works, vol. 16, p. 292. Eureka.

102.  Ibid., vol. 10, p. 120. Review of Bulwer’s Night and Morning.

103.  Ibid., vol. 10, p. 117.

104.  Ibid., vol. 13, p. 45. The American Drama.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 167:]

105.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 218.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 168:]

106.  Poe read, according to his own statement, the article on the Bridgewater Treatises in which mutuality of relation between cause and effect is discussed, though with no scientific explanation. It is surprising, then, to find him saying, in his article on the American Drama, and in Eureka, that the Bridgewater Treatises have overlooked this point.

107.  Cf. Chapter IV. Unity in Terms of Philosophy. Cf. note 79.

108.  Works, vol. 16, p. 215. Eureka.

109.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 231.

110.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 292.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 169:]

111.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 301.

112.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 306.

113.  Works, vol. 11, p. 229. Review of Poets and Poetry of America.

114.  Letters, p. 21. Judge Tucker’s letter to Poe.

115.  Ibid., p. 24.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 170:]

116.  Ibid., p. 21.

117.  Ibid., 22.

118.  S. L. M., vol. 1, p. 15. This fragment to which Judge Tucker refers is evidently Poe’s Politian, called an unfinished drama.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 171:]

119.  Cf. Chapter on Philosophy.

120.  Cf. Chapter on Philosophy.

121.  Works, vol. 14, p. 218. Rationale of Verse.

Mr. Mabbott, in his work on Poe’s Politian, suggests that Poe’s prosody is in need of a thorough study. Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, Politian, An Unfinished Tragedy, by Edgar A. Poe. Including the Hitherto Unpublished Scenes from the Original Manuscript in the Pierpont Morgan Library, Now First Edited with Notes and Commentaries. The Collegiate Press, George Banta Publishing Co., Wisconsin, 1923.

While the study that I am presenting does not claim in any sense to be thorough, it does, I believe, give the basic principle on which Poe founded his verse. It shows, too, that Poe’s later poetry, for example, the Raven, was preceded by a study of theory. Mr. Mabbott’s statement, then, that the student must remember that Poe always practiced first and theorized afterwards, seems not wholly justified. Mabbott, Politian, p. 83.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 172:]

122.  Ibid., vol. 14, p. 217. Rationale of Verse.

123.  Ibid., vol. 14, p. 229. Cf. vol. 16. P. 260. Eureka.

124.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 246. Eureka.

125.  Ibid., vol. 14, p. 220. Rationale of Verse.

126.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 246. Eureka.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 173:]

127.  Ibid., vol. 14, p. 220. Rationale of Verse. In one instance Poe makes use of this term in discussing one of the forms of verse as it developed. It will be noted later in the chapter.

128.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 249. Eureka.

129.  Ibid., vol. 14, p. 223. Rationale of Verse.

130.  Ibid., vol. 16, p. 269. Eureka.

131.  Ibid., vol. 14, p. 220. Rationale of Verse.

132.  Ibid., vol. 14, p. 222. Rationale of Verse.

133.  Ibid., vol. 14, pp. 223-226. Rationale of Verse.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 176:]

134.  Ibid., vol. 14, pp. 234-235.

135.  Ibid., vol. 14, p. 249.

136.  Ibid., vol. 14, p. 234.

137.  Poe very plainly calls the caesura a foot. It is, he says, “a perfect foot.” Ibid., vol. 14, p. 216.

138.  Works, vol. 11, p. 228. Poets and Poetry of America.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 177:]

139.  Ibid., vol. 14, p. 232. Rationale of Verse.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 178:]

140.  Ibid., vol. 14, p. 243. Rationale of Verse.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 179:]

141.  Works, vol. 2, p. 103. Note to Hans Phaall.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 180:]

142.  Broadway Journal, vol. 1, p. 205.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 181:]

143.  Works, vol. 3, p. 9. Review of Stephens’ Arabia Petraea.






[S:0 - OPCT, 1925] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - Origins of Poe's Critical Theory (M. Alterton) (Chapter 05)