Text: David K. Jackson, “Chapter 02,” Poe and The Southern Literary Messenger (1934), pp. 16-57 (This material is protected by copyright)


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[page 16:]

CHAPTER II

The Messenger, August, 1834-January, 1836

When in May, 1834,(1) the enterprising printer Thomas Willis White(2) sent out his prospectus for a new Southern magazine to be printed every fortnight in Richmond, Virginia, that growing town was in a flourishing condition. It was not only an important commercial port with exports valued at nearly six million dollars in that one year but also a center of the tobacco business, the coal trade, the iron industry, and the commission trade. Its cosmopolitan population, including planters, bankers, manufacturers, lawyers, merchants, free negroes, and slaves, was around seventeen thousand. Richmond, the capital of the Old Dominion, was the home of the State Library and the Virginia Historical and Philosophical Society. The two leading institutions of higher learning in the State were the College of William and Mary at Williamsburg and the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, where were men of leisure and culture.

In the prospectus White had announced that the first number of his periodical would be published on June 15, but for some unknown reason the trial issue was delayed until August. There were at that time no [page 17:] literary magazines in the South, only in the North and East, and so White had little fear of competition from that sector. Southerners, however, did not patronize their own magazines but, if any, those publications of the North and of England. Charleston, South Carolina, “the graveyard of magazines,” had seen magazines come and go, all failing for lack of financial support in the way of subscriptions. Simms, Elliott, Richards, Whitaker, and others faced despair again and again.(3) In Richmond there had been published periodicals whose fates were a little better than those of the Charleston publications: The National Magazine; or, A Political, Historical, Biographical, and Literary Repository (1799-1800), edited by James Lyon and mainly devoted to political interests, and The Virginia Evangelical and Literary Magazine (1818-1828),(4) more evangelical than literary, edited by John Holt Rice.

Thomas Willis White, the founder and the first publisher of The Southern Literary Messenger, was born in Yorktown, Virginia, in 1788, and was “for the most part reared in the Ancient Dominion,”(5) and resided for a short time in Boston, Massachusetts. James Ewell Heath, who knew the owner of the Messenger, once described White’s early training and tastes: [page 18:]

From his childhood he had to struggle with adversity; and, like Franklin, with no other but a self-taught education, he was thrown into the same calling, that of printer’s apprentice, with that illustrious sage. With no pretensions to literature, as a classical or critical profession, he nevertheless possessed a singular tact and discernment which enabled him to distinguish the true and beautiful from what was false or deformed in taste, or vicious and defective in morals.(6)

By the time White had reached the age of thirty-six he had established himself as a printer in Richmond. The loss of a son on October 7, 1832, during a cholera epidemic in Richmond, was the occasion for “Lines in Recollection of Thomas H. White, Who Died at Richmond, Va., October 7, 1832, aged 19 years,” by “Eliza of Saco, Maine” (Mrs. Eliza Gookin Thornton), in the May, 1835, issue of the Messenger,(7) and “Lines in remembrance of Thos. H. White, Who died in Richmond, Va. Oct. 7, 1832, aged 19 years,” by an unknown contributor.(8) Of the tribute to White’s son by Mrs. Thornton, Poe, then living in Baltimore, wrote White:

I cannot say with truth that I had any knowledge of your son. I read the Lines to his memory in No. 9, and was much struck with an air of tenderness and unaffected simplicity which pervades them. The verses [“To Spring”] immediately following, and from the same pen, give evidence of fine poetic feeling in the writer.(9)

On December 11, 1837, his wife Margaret Ann White, four years his senior, who for several years had been an [page 19:] invalid, died, and a notice of her death appeared in the Messenger.(10) Two of White’s daughters, Mrs. Peter D. Bernard and Eliza White, were acquaintances of Edgar and Virginia Poe. From 1836 until his death on January 19, 1843, White was ill, but he bravely carried on with his magazine.

For his own journal he wrote little and depended on his friends Beverley Tucker, James E. Heath, Lucian Minor, and others. His first editor was his friend James Ewell Heath (July 8, 1792-June 28, 1862),(11) a man with no journalistic experience for the position. He was the son of John Heath, the first president of the Phi Beta Kappa society. From 1814 to 185o he held political offices, and in 1834 he became an auditor of the State of Virginia. He was the first recording secretary of the Virginia Historical and Philosophical Society, which was organized in 1834, and he was the author of Edge-Hill; or, The Family of the Fitzroyals (Richmond, Va.: T. W. White, 1828), a novel of plantation life in Virginia; and in 1839 he published also anonymously a play Whigs and Democrats; or, Love of No Politics: A Comedy in Three Acts (Richmond, Va.: T. W. White, 1839).(12 )

Even though busy with his duties, political and social, Heath freely offered his services to White until [page 20:] the May, 1835, issue had come from the press, and in the “Publisher’s Notice” for that month the proprietor of the journal made the following acknowledgment:

It is due to the gentleman who acted as editor up to the present period, that the publisher should, in parting with him, express that deep feeling of gratitude which his disinterested friendship could not fail to inspire. At the commencement of the Messenger, when the prospect of its success was doubtful, and when many judicious friends augured unfavorably of the enterprise, the late editor volunteered his aid to pilot the frail bark if possible into safe anchorage — nor did he desert it until all doubt of success had ceased. The efforts of that gentleman are the more prized, because they were made at a considerable sacrifice of ease and leisure, in the midst too of avocations sufficiently arduous to occupy the entire attention of most men, — and because they were rendered without hope or expectation of reward. And the publisher embraces this occasion, to declare that the success of the Messenger has been greatly owing to the judicious management of the editorial department by that gentleman. For services of so much value, rendered with no other object than a desire to promote the establishment of a literary periodical in Virginia, the publisher is deeply indebted to him — and the readers of the work will, we doubt not, long remember his efforts in their behalf. To him belongs the merit of having given his disinterested aid in the season of its early feebleness. His successor [Edward Vernon Sparhawk] has but to follow in the path which has thus been marked out by a hardy and skilful literary pioneer.(13)

The first issue of the Messenger, with its subtitle, “Devoted to Every Department of Literature and the Fine Arts,” was “sent forth by its Publisher, as a kind of pioneer, to spy out the land of literary promise, before [page 21:] he resolves upon future action.”(14) Under the title appeared the following motto and its translation, which Edward Ingle ascribed to Poe: “Au gre de nos desirs bien plus qu’au gre des vents: As we will, and not as the winds will.”(15) For the first issue White appeared as printer and proprietor. This number contained thirty-two royal octavo pages, with each page divided by a line into two equal columns. The magazine was to cost $5 a year and to be published twice a month, but in the following November the periodical was changed to a monthly, the expediency of which change White hoped would be agreeable to his patrons.(16)

On the first page of the new Southern periodical were printed excerpts from letters of Washington Irving, James Kirke Paulding, James Fenimore Cooper, John Pendleton Kennedy, John Quincy Adams, and Peter A. Browne, under the caption “Publisher’s Notice” which, said White, “ought to stimulate the pride and genius of the south, and awaken from its long slumber the literary exertion of this portion of our country,” at the same time soliciting unpaid contributions and promising to secure a competent editor. Declaring that White’s literary project had his “highest approbation and warmest good wishes,” Washington Irving observed that

Strongly disposed as I always have been in favor of “the south,” and especially attached to Virginia by early friendships and cherished recollections, I cannot but feel interested in the success [page 22:] of a work which is calculated to concentrate the talent and illustrate the high and generous character which pervade that part of the Union.

Asserting that “It gives me great pleasure to find that you are about establishing a literary paper at Richmond,” Paulding added:

You have abundance of talent among you; and the situation of so many well educated men, placed above the necessity of laboring either manually or professionally, affords ample leisure for the cultivation of literature. Hitherto your writings have been principally political; and in that class you have had few rivals. The same talent, directed to other pursuits in literature, will, unquestionably, produce similar results, — and Virginia, in addition to her other high claims to the consideration of the world, may then easily aspire to the same distinction in other branches that she has attained in politics.

* * *

If your young writers will consult their own taste and genius, and forget there ever were such writers as Scott, Byron, and Moore, I will be bound they produce something original; and a tolerable original is as much superior to a tolerable imitation, as a substance is to a shadow. Give us something new — something characteristic of yourselves, your country, and your native feelings, and I don’t care what it is. I am somewhat tired of licentious love ditties, border legends, affected sorrows, and grumbling misanthropy. I want to see something wholesome, natural, and national. The best thing a young American writer can do, is to forget that any body ever wrote before him; and above all things, that there are such caterpillars as critics in this world.

“If some [Southern gentlemen], whom I could name,” asserted James Fenimore Cooper, “were to arouse from their lethargy, you would not be driven to apply to any one on this side the Potomac for assistance.” [page 23:] John Quincy Adams’s judgment was that “the periodical literature of the country seems to be rather superabundant than scanty. The desideratum is of quality rather than quantity.” Both J. P. Kennedy and Peter A. Browne wished White success in his undertaking.

Editor Heath’s first contribution to the Messenger was probably an essay entitled “Southern Literature,” signed “H.,” in which he declared:

Hundreds of similar publications [literary journals] thrive and prosper north of the Potomac, sustained as they are by the liberal hand of patronage. Shall not one be supported in the whole south? . . . Are we to be doomed forever to a kind of vassalage to our northern neighbors — a dependance for our literary food upon our brethren, whose superiority in all the great points of character, — in valor — eloquence and patriotism, we are no wise disposed to admit?(17)

He further stated his belief that “If we continue to be consumers of northern productions, we shall never ourselves become producers.”(18) In this same editorial essay Heath appealed to Southerners, particularly Virginians, for their support “towards the creation of a new era in the annals of this blessed Old Dominion.”(19)

Among the original contributions to the August, 1834, issue were: a brief panegyric on “The Mother of Washington,” by “L. H. S.” (Mrs. Lydia Huntley Sigourney of Hartford, Connecticut); “Extemporaneous Speaking,” an essay on the art of the improvvisatore, by “J. H.” (probably James E. Heath); “Lines [page 24:] written in a Young Lady’s Album,” by “S.” (Bransford Vawter); “Serenade,” a poem “altered [by the editor] in some of its expressions . . . not to damp the aspirations of genius, but to prune its luxuriance,” by “M’C.” (John Collins McCabe); Mrs. Sigourney’s “Columbus before the University of Salamanca” and “Intemperance”; “To my Infant Daughter” and “To my Chil-dren — On New-Year,” both by Mrs. D. P. Brown, of Philadelphia; and “Musings,” by the unknown author of Vyvyan.

“Nugator” (St. Leger Landon Carter), whose contributions were many for several years, contributed “Interesting Ruins on the Rappahannock,” with the promise:

When I get hold of anything, however, I will send it to you, and if it be worth nothing, why just “martyr it by a pipe.”(20)

“By a curious coincidence, about the time he [“M.”] was translating the subjoined story [“The Consoled”] from Voltaire, a correspondent of the Richmond Compiler furnished the Editor of that paper with another version, which was published,” but this fact did not deter Heath, who somewhat proudly added:

. . . the reader of taste will find no difficulty in awarding the preference to the one which we insert in our columns.(21)

In this issue of the Messenger was reprinted Richard Henry Wilde’s famous lyric, “My Life Is like the Summer Rose,” and in an editorial note on the authorship [page 25:] of the poem, which had been disputed in the newspaper press, Heath declared:

We do not know that Mr. W [ilde]. has ever confessed the authorship, but we think that they [the lines] would not discredit even their supposed origin. We have had the pleasure to read some of Mr. Wilde’s brilliant speeches in Congress, and we are confident that they are the emanations of a mind deeply imbued with the spirit of poesy. . . . One of our present objects is to give what we conceive to be a correct version of these admired lines. . . . [Heath suggested Tampa for Tempè.](22)

Not only was Wilde valuable as a contributor to the Messenger, gratuitously publishing his verse in the magazine, but he rendered White and Heath important services by securing in his home State of Georgia nearly one hundred subscribers to the Virginia periodical.(23)

In the “Original Literary Notices” six rather unimportant works were, on the whole, favorably reviewed. From four of them copious extracts were printed in this issue: Stephen Olin, Inaugural Address (1834); John P. Kennedy, A Discourse on the Life and Character of William Wirt . . . (1834); J. F. Cooper, A Letter to His Countrymen (1834); Diary of an Ennuyee [sic] (1833); James Sheridan Knowles, The Magdalen and Other Tales (1833); and Mrs. L. H. Sigourney, Sketches (1834), a copy of which in June, 1834, had been sent to White for his daughters by the author.(24) [page 26:] From Knowles’s work was reprinted “Love and Authorship” and from Mrs. Sigourney’s, “The Patriarch.” Lamenting that “Mr. Cooper should have suffered himself to be seduced into the arena of party politics” and hoping for more romantic fictions from his pen, the reviewer of A Letter to His Countrymen indicated briefly one of the editorial policies of the Messenger:

MR. COOPER’S letter is partly private and controversial, and partly political, and therefore any thing like an extended notice or review of it does not fall within the range which has been prescribed for the “Southern Literary Messenger.”(25)

The August, 1834, number ended with an apologue, “Memory and Hope,” by James Kirke Paulding, copied from The New York Mirror, and a short notice of The Southern Magazine, to be published in Charleston, South Carolina, and to be edited by James Haig — “and subscriptions to it will be cheerfully received at the office of the ‘Southern Literary Messenger.’ The South is awakening!”(26)

“The favorable reception of the first number of the Messenger” was “a source of no small gratification”(27) to its publisher, who, in the second issue dated October 15, 1834, expressed his pleasure at the success of the first number, acknowledged all kindnesses, and promised to make the journal a source of innocent amusement and a vehicle of valuable information. In his note to the public he stated that already a sufficient [page 27:] number had come forward as subscribers “to defray the necessary expense of publication; and contributions to the columns of the paper have been liberally offered from different quarters.”(28) Variety, he further stated, would be a characteristic of the periodical, to “enable every reader to find something to his taste.(29) But he minced no words in asking for an increase of public patronage.

The leading article for the second issue of the Messenger was “Letter from Mr. [William] Wirt to a Law Student,” with an introduction by “C.”, followed by “Misfortune and Genius: A Tale Founded on Fact,” by “H.,” in which was described a raven-haired heroine with a knowledge of phrenology. In “Example Is Better than Precept,” “M.” (probably Lucian Minor) humorously pointed out fallacies in the old proverb which gave the title to his essay. Other original material in this issue included: two poems, “The Power of Faith” and “Death among the Trees,” both by Mrs. Sigourney, the “sweet singer of Hartford”; “The Sweet Springs of Virginia, and the Valley which contains them,” by the antiquarian and geologist, Dr. W. Byrd Powell; “Recollections of ‘Chotank’,” a brief descriptive account of plantation life in old Virginia, by “E. S. of Alexandria, Va.” (probably Edgar Snowden); “Important Law Case in a Sister State, involving Questions of Science,” by Peter A. Browne of Philadelphia; a sketch, by “Nugator” (St. Leger Landon Carter), entitled “Sally Singleton”; and a number of anonymous [page 28:] contributions. Echoes of the Gothic romance that were preparing the way for Poe’s “Ligeia” and “Morella” were particularly noticeable in “Extract from a Novel that Never Will Be Published,” taken from The Petersburg (Va.) Intelligencer, for here was a heroine, with “hyacinthine curls,” “ruby lips,” and “gazelle eye,” meeting an untimely death by falling over a precipice. A description of her corpse may have furnished Poe inspiration for some of his tales:

I entered the chamber where innocence and beauty had been wont to repose; around me were the trappings of the grave; the cold white curtains with their black crape knots, the shrouded mirror, the scattered herbs — and stretched upon the bed motionless, lay a form — the form of her whose living excellence was unsurpassed. My father came in; he took my hand, led me to the bed, and gently removed the sheet from the marble face. Oh, death, thou art indeed a conquered.(30)

Only two works were reviewed in this issue: Samuel F. B. Morse (ed.), Amir Khan, and Other Poems: The Remains of Lucretia Maria Davidson (1829), and Bulwer, The Pilgrims of the Rhine (1834). The reviewer of the former work digressed, to speak a kind word for Thomas F. Ritchie, the editor of The Richmond (Va.) Enquirer, “for his efforts in behalf of domestic literature.”(31) In the review of this same work, Lucretia Maria Davidson’s “Ruth’s Answer to Naomi” was compared with a paraphrase of the Scripture by Richard Henry Wilde. Of Bulwer’s novels the reviewer asserted: “We are among those who think that [page 29:] they will glide into that oblivious ocean, which is destined to receive a large proportion of the ever multiplying productions of this prolific age.” On the other hand, the critic was struck by “The Maid of Malines,” one of the stories, “as so finished an illustration of some of the noble qualities of woman kind” that it was reprinted for the readers of the Messenger.

A new department of the journal for October was “Editorial Remarks,” in which contributors were introduced to the readers and contributions were either accepted or rejected. Commenting on a manuscript sent to his office, Editor Heath, remembering Paulding’s advice, wrote:

We have read with pleasure, the love tale composed by an accomplished young lady in one of the upper counties; and, whilst we do not hesitate to render a just tribute to the delicacy of sentiment and glowing fancy which distinguish her pages, candor compels us to urge one objection, which we fear is unsurmountable. The story is wrought up with materials derived from English characters and manners; and, we have too many thousands of similar fictions issuing from the British press, to authorize the belief that another of the same class will be interesting to an American reader. We should like to see our own writers confine their efforts to native subjects — to throw aside the trammels of foreign reading, and to select their themes from the copious materials which every where abound in our own magnificent country.

For a similar reason, our friend from Caroline must excuse us for declining to insert his sketches. We have no “dilapidated castles,” nor any “last heirs of Ardendale,” in our plain republican land.(32) [page 30:]

Heath also refused to accept “the slightest resemblance to a fairy tale.”(33) To a correspondent from Prince Edward County, Virginia, who had written Heath a letter in June, 1834, he responded:

. . . we take this opportunity to say, that our columns shall be freely open to education. We conceive that the cause of literature is intimately connected with it; and we have it in contemplation to present ere long, to the public, some candid views, in regard to the policy heretofore pursued in the Councils of our State, on this interesting subject.(34)

The November, 1834, issue of the magazine, which Poe considered “one of the very best issued,” was “delayed in consequence of the change to a monthly instead of a semi-monthly publication,”(35) and the number of pages was increased from thirty-two to sixty-four. Urging his friends to secure subscribers to his journal, White expressed his ambition “not only to secure regular able contributions, but also to embellish some of his monthly numbers with handsome lithographic drawings and engravings,” but none appeared in the first three volumes of the Messenger.

In this issue appeared the first instalment of “Sketches of the History and Present Condition of Tripoli, with some accounts of the other Barbary States,” by Robert Greenhow (1800-1854) , a distinguished native of Richmond, then living in Washington, D. C. Greenhow, whose father was once mayor [page 31:] of his native city, had in his youth barely escaped with his life in the Richmond Theater fire of 181 I, in which his mother perished. Having traveled abroad and studied there, he was a man of the world when, in 1828, he became translator, librarian, and interpreter to the Department of State in Washington. His wife Rose O’Neil Greenhow later became celebrated as a Confederate spy. “The Sketches of Tripoli,” which appeared serially in the Messenger from November, 1834, to October, 1836, displayed the author’s patient and industrious study, even though he modestly described it as “the fruits of researches made for my amusement.”(36) Besides Greenhow’s history there were: a humorous sketch, “The Dyspeptic Man,” by “Belinda,” one of the several pen names of St. Leger Landon Carter; “Pinckney’s Eloquence,” by “Nugator” (St. Leger Landon Carter); “Washington and Napoleon: The Contrast,” a poem of eleven stanzas, unsigned, also by Carter. In a fourth contribution entitled “Picture of Old Virginia” he introduced the Messenger as a means of improvement in the languishing Old Dominion. In 1844 many of Carter’s contributions to the Messenger were collected by him in a small volume entitled Nugee, By Nugator; or, Pieces in Prose and Verse and printed by Woods and Crane of Baltimore, Maryland.

Other contributors to this issue were: Peter A. Browne, Charles B. Shaw, Judge A. B. Meek of Alabama, D. Martin, George W. Munford, and Richard Henry Wilde. “Charles B. Shaw the author of the Alleghany Levels,” Poe wrote White several months [page 32:] later, “is an old acquaintance, and a most estimable and talented man.”(37) Another contributor and friendly adviser was Lucian Minor (1802-1858),(38) whose first instalment of “Letters from New England,” was copied from The Fredericksburg (Va.) Arena. A native of Louisa County, Va., and a graduate of William and Mary College, Minor was commonwealth attorney for Louisa County from 1828 till 1852. Minor, a friendly adviser to White,(39) gave freely of his services to the Messenger. James Russell Lowell, who was favorably impressed with “Letters from New England,” years later urged James T. Fields, then editor of The Atlantic Monthly, to publish them in the New England magazine. Upon Field’s acceptance of Lowell’s proposal the work was published serially in four instalments in The Atlantic, from September, 1870, to June, 1871, under the title, “A Virginian in New England Thirty-Five Years Ago.” Lowell, enthusiastically praising the letters, supplied an introduction to them in the August, 1870, issue of The Atlantic, perhaps not knowing that they had once appeared in the Messenger.

White and Heath were not unaware of Minor’s ability, for when Heath three months later had already begun to find his unpaid-for services irksome and taking a great deal of his own time, White invited Minor to become editor of his journal:

I . . . earnestly again invite you to my editorial chair, — for [page 33:] which services I will hand you a compensation of $800 per annum. To be sure the salary is not an enormous one, — nor yet are the services which I should expect from you enormous . . . half a dozen hours per week would consume all I would have to pour in your ear. — And, I am equally sure, that 24 more hours in the week, would be amply sufficient for you to nourish my Messenger.(40)

Minor refused the invitation, but he continued now and then to contribute something to the pages of the Messenger.

To a selected review of Collections of the Virginia Historical and Philosophical Society (Richmond: T. W. White, 1833) taken from The Western Monthly Magazine published in Cincinnati, Ohio, Heath prefixed the following question:

Why, in the name of every thing that is dear to us, do we not unite our efforts to establish something like a literary and scientific character for the Old Dominion. Is there not something, besides politics, worth living for?(41)

To The Literary Journal, a weekly magazine begun in November, 1834, by M. M. Robinson, the editor of The Richmond (Va.) Compiler, Heath extended a welcome “even if it were likely to conflict with the interests of the “Messenger’,” but he hastened to write:

In truth however, the two periodicals ought to flourish together, and be mutually beneficial. Whilst the “Journal” will be filled [page 34:] exclusively with selected matter, the “Messenger” will chiefly, though not entirely, consist of original articles.(42)

The former, he thought, would enrich the mind and develop the tastes of the reader, while the Messenger would furnish a means of exercising “the talents of our own writers.”(43)

In the “Editorial Department” Heath defended his position, taken in the October issue, concerning fairy tales, domestic productions, and the bestowal of praise on the contributions of friends:

We have been censured, and perhaps justly, for bestowing too much praise on the contributions of our friends. However great the error, it was at least honestly, if not prudently committed.

* * *

The “Messenger” is designed chiefly to encourage the practice of literary composition among our own writers of both sexes . . . . why is it necessary or proper to slight the familiar materials which every where surround us, and resort to those hackneyed and frequently distorted pictures of transatlantic manners. . . .(44)

“If we look to our own country, it is well understood,” Heath suggested, “that Mr. Cooper owes his reputation as a writer of fiction principally to those fine romances, which are founded upon native character and scenery — and that, if that reputation has suffered at all, it is in consequence of his desertion of a field so wide and magnificent, for the beaten and monotonous track of European character and customs.” His objections to [page 35:] fairy tales were insurmountable, and he hoped that one reader was wrong in criticizing him for allotting too much space in the journal to the productions of the Muse.

Two new departments in the Messenger for November were “Extracts from the Letters of Correspondents” and “Acknowledgments to Contributors, &c.” Exulting in pride, one Virginian sent with his subscription a statement of his reason for subscribing:

. . . I am induced to support the Messenger nevertheless, from the great anxiety which I feel for the progress of literature in the South, and to show to the country that the soil of the Old Dominion, so fertile in the production of patriots and statesmen, can also support and rear to age the bright scions which adorn smoother and more ornamental fields . . . . a solemn duty, which the youth of Virginia owe to their fathers. . . .(46)

The following allusion to Philip Pendleton Cooke appeared in the department in which manuscripts were acknowledged and accepted or rejected:

We regret being obliged to decline the publication in the present number of the lines on “The Creation of the Antelope,” being unable to decipher some of the words in the copy sent. Can we be favored by our correspondent “C” with another copy?(47)

Although White always had hoped to bring out the issues of his magazine “regularly between the 10th and last day of each month,” the December number was delayed on account of the holiday season. In this fourth issue appeared further instalments of Robert Greenhow’s [page 36:] “Sketches of Tripoli” and Lucian Minor’s “Letters from New England”; the first instalment of Peter A. Browne’s “Hints to Students of Geology”; a review of Governor Tazewell’s “Report to the Legislature of Virginia on the Deaf and Dumb Asylum”; the preface, taken from Nathaniel Beverley Tucker’s A Lecture on the Study of Law, which had been printed by White in book form the preceding month; James M. Garnett’s “Valedictory in July, 1829”; Alexander Beaufort Meek’s “To a Young Lady”; two sonnets by Richard Henry Wilde; D. Martin’s “Byron’s Last Words”; and the late Joseph Rodman Drake’s lines addressed to the defenders of New Orleans. To this issue St. Leger Landon Carter contributed “Lines suggested on Viewing the Ruins at Jamestown,” signed “Sylvanus”; “The Mechanician and Uncle Simon,” signed “Nugator”; and “Parody on Bryant’s Autumn,” signed “Nugator.” The selected material included extracts from Lacon for fillers.(48)

“Eliza of Saco, Maine,” who almost rivaled Mrs. Sigourney in her output of sentimental verses, and who became a frequent contributor to the Messenger, was Mrs. Eliza Gookin Thornton (1795-1854). A lineal descendant of the Gookins, Cottons, Winthrops, and Dudleys of the Massachusetts Colony, she was educated by her father. In January, 1817, she was married to James B. Thornton. In the midst of a life devoted to a family of eleven children, it was a remarkable feat that [page 37:] she composed as much as she did, even though most of her verses were tinged with the sweetness and sentiment of the age. Her contribution to the December issue was “The Peasant-Women of the Canaries.”

Under “Original Literary Notices” Heath described Beckford’s Vatliek as an “impure, disgusting, and execrable production. . . . Obscene and blasphemous in the highest degree . . . the production of a sensualist and an infidel.” From Leisure Hours (1835), which was favorably reviewed, he extracted “My Two Aunts.” Under “Editorial Remarks” he again solicited subscribers to the periodical, insisting that Southerners should desire to emulate Northerners in behalf of American literature, and singling out Wilde’s two sonnets for praise.

To the editor and publisher an unknown literary gentleman, residing in Louisiana, wrote that the Messenger gave “signs of vigorous and healthy vitality.” Another reader praised the Messenger, ending his remarks with, “The monotonous sound of politics cannot but be disgusting.” Edmund Ruffin, then editor of The Farmer’s Register and later a hot-headed secessionist, and Sumner Lincoln Fairfield, the editor of The North American Magazine, called Heath’s attention to the fact that Peter A. Browne’s “Mineral Wealth of Virginia,” published in the November issue of the Messenger, had already been printed in their journals.

In the meantime White had doubtless been active in the work of his printing establishment and in the interests of his magazine. On December 4, 1834, he offered the Virginia Historical and Philosophical Society [page 38:] space in the Messenger without charge for a certain number of papers that organization might wish to print. His offer was accepted. Since James E. Heath was both editor of the Messenger and the recording secretary and librarian of the society, it is not strange that the magazine became an unofficial organ of the group.(49) Years afterwards the magazine and its editors were closely identified with the Virginia Historical Society.

The January issue of the Messenger, which appeared some time in February, 1835, contained both original and selected material: Greenhow’s “Sketches of Tripoli”; a defense of phrenology, “Phrenological Examinations,” from The Cincinnati (Ohio) Mirror; Minor’s “Letters from New England”; and R. H. Wilde’s “Napoleon’s Grave.”

“Note to Blackstone’s Commentaries, Vol. I, Page 423,” a defense of slavery as a moral and political benefit, marked the reappearance of Nathaniel Beverley Tucker in the Messenger. A native Virginian of distinguished ancestry and a graduate of the College of William and Mary, Tucker (1784-1851) began the practice of law in Charlotte County, Virginia, the home of his half-brother John Randolph of Roanoke. His two best known works, both novels, are The Partisan Leader (1836-1837), in which he foretold the strife between the North and the South, and George Balcombe, which was praised by Poe in the January, 1837, issue [page 39:] of the Messenger. Commenting on Tucker’s note on Blackstone, Heath agreed with Tucker that “slavery as a political or social institution is a matter exclusively of our own,” but he viewed slavery as a great evil, sooner or later to be removed or to be mitigated by an enlightened Christian morality.

To the January issue Philip Pendleton Cooke, the older brother of John Esten Cooke and a poet himself, contributed “The Creation of the Antelope,” signed “E. D.,” and “A Song of the Seasons,” signed “Zarry Zyle.” As will be remembered, Cooke had submitted his manuscript of “The Creation of the Antelope” to Heath in November, but Heath had been unable to read Cooke’s poor handwriting and had asked for a more legible copy. Heath had also mistaken “Larry Lyle,” Cooke’s pen name, for “Zarry Zyle.” Of a late maturing genius, however, Cooke was invaluable as a contributor to the Messenger, whose editors instantly recognized his worth and gave him an honored place in the journal. To the Messenger he was indebted for his development as a poet and as a prose writer.

An unknown contributor whose pen name was “Alpha” contributed “The Passage of the Beresina,” a descriptive poem of the horrors aboard the ship Bere-sina, inspired by a reading of Scott’s Napoleon, and, “Memory — An Allegory,” which was probably an inspiration for Poe’s “Silence — A Fable.” In the preceding number “Alpha” had already published “The Battle of Breed’s Hill.”

From the manuscripts of the late Mrs. Jean Wood, Heath selected the following verses: “Retrospection,” [page 40:] “The Captive Bird,” “The Belle du Jour, or Convolvulus Minor,” “Eventide,” and “Smiling Autumn” for this issue. In October Heath had made a request for an article on the impediments of American literature, and in the following January was reprinted from The Western Monthly Magazine an article, “American Literature — Its Impediments,” by “H. J. G.” (H. J. Groesbeck), in which the author enumerated the following obstacles to a native American literature: an absorbing interest in politics, the lack of a patronizing influence, and the political character of the press.

Other contributions were: “Study of the Latin and Greek Classics,” probably written by Lucian Minor, and the instalment of “Letters from a Sister,” the journal of an American woman abroad, signed “Leontine.” “The Doom,” a short story by “Benedict,” a Baltimorean,(50) appeared in January, with its possible allusion to Edgar Poe’s swimming the James River:

. . . I splashed about with great vigor, thinking about Leander’s remarkable feat in crossing the Hellespont, until I felt a great desire to try whether I might not aspire to equal him, or at least E — P — , who swam from Mayo’s Bridge to Warwick wharf some years ago.(51)

On June 22, 1835, Poe wrote a letter to White, asking, “Who is the author of The Doom?”(52) In the May issue had appeared the following editorial note entitled “Swimming”:

Some of our readers will doubtless remember an allusion in the tale of “The Doom” to an individual who performed the [page 41:] feat of swimming across the James, .at the falls above this city. A valuable correspondent, who was the bold swimmer alluded to, writes us as follows:

“I noticed the allusion in the Doom. The writer seems to compare my swim with that of Lord Byron, whereas there can be no comparison between them. Any swimmer ‘in the falls’ in my days, would have swum the Hellespont, and thought nothing of the matter. I swam from Ludlam’s wharf to Warwick, (six miles,) in a hot June sun, against one of the strongest tides ever known in the river. It would have been a feat comparatively easy to swim twenty miles in still water. I would not think much of attempting to swim the British Channel from Dover to Calais.”(53)

In “Editorial Remarks” Heath stated that he had entertained some doubt about the admission of “The Doom” on account of its “revolting character,” describing it as “a wild and incredible fiction,” in which he had suppressed “certain profane and unchaste allusions.” The Messenger, he wrote, “shall not be the vehicle of sentiments at war with the interests of virtue and sound morals — the only true and solid foundation of human happiness.”(54)

From The Augusta (Ga.) Sentinel for January 15, 1835, was copied Richard Henry Wilde’s letter with his avowal of the authorship of “My Life Is like the Summer Rose,” which Heath thought “one of the most exquisite poems which the genius of our country has produced.” “Dandyism,” a savage attack on dandies, by “Oliver Oldschool” (James Mercer Garnett) prepared the way for Poe’s “Lionizing,” which later appeared [page 42:] in the Messenger. In “Extracts from the Letters of Correspondents”, “X. Y.” pointed out the need of a professional literary class in America and acknowledged the authorship of “Beauty without Loveliness,” published in the January issue. A North Carolinian sent the name of a new subscriber, admonishing White: “‘Go ahead,’ as David Crockett says, ‘since you are right’.” The following lines appeared in January:

IMPROMPTU,

On seeing that the Publisher of the Messenger had changed the color of its covers.

 

So you’re changing your colors, I see, master White,

But say now d’ye think it is perfectly right?

Yet I own, on reflection, it is not so wrong,

And the reason, I think, is sufficiently strong:

Give it up? Then I’ll tell you at once to your shame,

You’re a man of all colors yourself — by your name;

For all the seven colors, you know, must unite

To make the commixture that people call white.

P. Q.(55)

The February number of the Messenger, like preceding issues, was filled with various original and selected articles. A detailed account of the proceedings of the anniversary meeting of the Virginia Historical and Philosophical Society, of which John Marshall was president and James Heath librarian, was presented with a hope that the society would “retrieve the character of our state from the charge of long indifference to the vast resources it contains. .. .” “We should [page 43:] sincerely lament,” wrote the author of the account (probably Heath), “if so noble an effort to diffuse throughout the country a taste for science and elegant literature, should fail for want of encouragement, but we think we perceive a growing conviction of its importance, and an increasing disposition to promote its objects.”(56)

“A Virginian,” in a lengthy letter to White, strongly answered Tucker’s defense of domestic slavery, labeling it a “novel position,” and bringing forth annotations by Tucker’s father on passages in Blackstone in support of his argument. Another reply to Tucker was submitted to the editor, but it was not published.

Other contributors were Alexander Lacey Beard, Robert Greenhow, Lucian Minor, Peter A. Browne, “Leontine,” Mrs. Eliza Gookin Thornton, and Richard Henry Wilde. A new contributor was Edward T. Tayloe, with “Extracts from my Mexican Journal,” a faithful description of his and Joel R. Poinsett’s arrival in Mexico in 1825. James M. Garnett (1770-1843), whose essays on education appeared frequently in the Messenger, contributed “An Address on the subject of Literary Associations to Promote Education.” Such deadly material as essays on education and on kindred subjects, as well as commencement addresses, doubtless injured the journal, and later efforts were made to exclude addresses from the magazine.

In “Original Literary Notices” Poe probably appeared with the review of Calavar: or The Knight of the Conquest: a Romance of Mexico (Philadelphia, [page 44:] 1834), which, declared the critic, was “certainly the very best American novel, excepting perhaps one or two of Mr. Cooper’s, which we have ever read,” although he was not blind to its faults.(57)

Comments on the Messenger were generally favorable. Subscribing to the magazine, Joseph Hopkinson of Philadelphia, author of “Hail, Columbia,” wrote that he was highly pleased with “Letters from New England,” saying that such an article would remove prejudices between the North and the South and promote a national character. At the University of North Carolina the Messenger was read “with universal applause.” A reader in western Virginia sent a list of five new subscribers, and a Georgian boasted that the Messenger would not have to depend on the Old Dominion alone for encouragement. A lady of Washington, D. C., told a friend “that it contained better original poetry than any other periodical she had ever seen.” But not all the readers and contributors to the Messenger were pleased.

In the department “To Correspondents, Contributors, &c.” Heath acknowledged the receipt of a second reply to Tucker’s notes on Blackstone and the contributions of “Fra Diavolo,” which he found offensive in the name of decency. “We have, in fact,” he wrote, “no sort of taste for German ‘diablerie,’ which, in our judgment, sins against good taste, as well as against good morals.” In answer to a correspondent of Shepherdstown, Jefferson County, Virginia [now West Virginia], who supposed a contributor should be known [page 45:] personally to White or his assistants, to obtain admission into the columns of the Messenger, Heath disclosed the purpose of his editorial policy:

The great design of the Messenger, from its commencement to the present moment, has been much misconceived, if such an inference has been deemed in the slightest degree warrantable. Its principal aim has been, to foster and encourage native genius — no matter how obscure or humble, and without inquiring whether the writer be a friend and acquaintance, or a stranger.(58)

Praising several poems in the Messenger — “Beauty without Loveliness,” “Ianthe,” and some lines by “Fergus” — the Shepherdstown correspondent launched an attack on Philip Pendleton Cooke for the obscurity and quaintness of his “Song of the Seasons” and on “Alpha” for the dullness and inconsistencies of his “The Passage of the Beresina,” warning White that he would withdraw his subscription, if the Messenger continued to contain such “middling poetry.”

To the March issue Poe contributed “Berenice — A Tale,” which Heath described in his “Editorial Remarks” in the following terms:

Berenice,” a tale, by Mr. Edgar A. Poe, will be read with interest, especially by the patrons of the Messenger in this city, of which Mr. P. is a native [sic], and where he resided until he reached manhood. Whilst we confess there is too much German horror in his subject, there can be but one opinion as to the force and elegance of his style. He discovers a superior capacity and a highly cultivated taste in composition.(59)

Disregarding the criticism of the Shepherdstown [page 46:] correspondent, Heath published Cooke’s “Young Rosalie Lee,” signed “L. L., ‘Winchester, Va.,” in this issue, of which the editor said:

We read “Young Rosalie Lee” more than once, before we could fully perceive the exquisite beauty and delicacy of the mind which produced it, — and we venture the prediction, that unless the author is divorced from the society of the sacred nine by paramount duties, he is destined to no ordinary celebrity. We dare say that for the expression of this opinion, we ourselves shall not be spared, for we confess there is a quaintness in the style which will be repulsive to most readers.(60)

In defense of his “Song of the Seasons,” which, it will be remembered, had been criticized by the Shepherda-town correspondent, Cooke explained in a letter to White that quaintness was aimed at in the poem on account of the subject. “One part of my object,” he wrote, “was to depict the minute relations existing between the human heart and earth itself.”(61)

In a brief note Nathaniel Beverley Tucker replied to his critic, “A Virginian,” and in the following letter “Fra Diavolo” answered somewhat warmly Heath’s objections to his contributions:

Mr. White, — I have just seen your sixth number of the Southern Literary Messenger, and shall decline having my contribution published on condition of any improvement of the poetry by your most chaste and wise editor. The admission of such balderdash as the “Doom” and “The Passage of the Beresina,” is quite enough evidence of his literary morality and good taste. I require no further token of it; least of all in my own case, where I am to be martyred at the shrine of such critical [page 47:] acumen — God save the mark! Put the manuscript into the fire, and oblige yours,

FRA DIAVOLO.

March 25, 1835(62)

In the March issue Mrs. Sigourney appeared with her “On seeing the Junction of the Susquehanna and Lackawanna Rivers” and “The Death of the Motherless.” Alexander Lacey Beard of Aldie, Va., contributed “The Wanderer”; Greenhow, his historical sketches; and Helen Maria Williams, “Lines on Barlow’s Monument.” The following note was obviously addressed to Thomas Holley Chivers, a Georgia poet, and indicated plainly that Heath was not an admirer of Chivers’s poetical productions:

There is a great deal of feeling in many of the communications sent to the publisher by T. H. C., M. D.; but to our poor taste, there is not much poetry. We question whether the Doctor will not find the lancet and pill box of more profit in that warm region to which he has emigrated, than the offerings of his prolific muse. The poetical manufacture depends more upon the quality than the quantity of its fabrics, for success.(63)

The April, 1835, issue of The Southern Literary Messenger contained interesting and valuable contributions by distinguished Southern writers: Philip Pendleton Cooke, Chapter I of “English Poetry” and “The Last Indian”; George Tucker, “A Discourse on the Progress of Philosophy”; Lucian Minor, “Letters from New England”; Edward T. Tayloe, “Extracts from my [page 48:] Mexican Journal”; Edgar Allan Poe, “Morella — A Tale”; and St. Leger Landon Carter, “Etymology.” Other contributors were James M. Garnett, Mrs. Eliza Gookin Thornton, Alexander Lacey Beard, and Mrs. Eliza Sloan Buckler. A new contributor, “Pertinax Placid” (Edward Vernon Sparhawk) wrote a humorous “Tale of a Nose,” which Poe considered “exceedingly ludicrous” and “well told,”(64) and composed the original poem, “Content’s Mishap: A Veritable History.” There were several original tales depicting scenes and life in the West, indicating Heath’s interest in the advancing American frontier.

With the utmost confidence Heath recommended the contents of the April issue to his friends and patrons, remarking in his editorial column that “English Poetry” evinced accurate and profound investigation and that Tucker’s discourse possessed the freshness of originality. He lamented that Poe had drunk “deep at some enchanted fountain,” but, on the other hand, he doubted if anything in the same style could be cited, which contained more terrific beauty than “Morella.” He called “The Last Indian” “a magnificent description of a somewhat extravagant dream,” and he welcomed Carter again to his column, informing his readers that Carter was “convalescent from a severe illness which has kept his pen idle for some time.”(65)

At the end of April James Heath relinquished his [page 49:] editorial duties, which had been performed without pecuniary reward and with a sacrifice of ease and leisure in the midst of arduous avocations. As “a hardy and skilful literary pioneer” in the field of Southern journalism, he deserved all the praise that White heaped upon him. Heath, even though he was an untrained magazinist, displayed some ability and originality, for the Messenger was not like the heavy British quarterlies and The North American Review. Although long essays and addresses appeared in the journal now and then, the Messenger, as a rule, contained brief articles on a variety of subjects. The defects in Heath’s make-up were the result of a strain of Victorianism, which found its way into the Messenger, and the lack of high critical standards. Heath conscientiously, but not always judiciously, edited the Messenger, until a successful foundation was assured. His successors were to build upon this foundation.

In the May issue White announced that he had made “an arrangement with a gentleman of approved literary taste and attainments, to whose especial management the editorial department of the ‘Messenger’ has been confided” — “his abstractions from other pursuits will enable him to devote his exclusive attention to the work.”(66) The gentleman was Edward Vernon Sparhawk (born in 1798), the son of Thomas Stearns and Mary Kinsman Sparhawk of Bucksport, Maine.(67) At the age of twenty-two he was the author of a volume [page 50:] of poems, Hours of Childhood, and Other Poems (Montreal, Canada: A. Bowman, 1820). Seven years later Poe probably became acquainted with Sparhawk in Boston, Mass. From 1827 to 1829 he was a reporter for The New York American, covering the trial based on John Jacob Astor’s claim to lands in Putnam County, New York, and the trial of R. Johnson for the murder of Mrs. U. Newman.(68) Journeying South, Spar-hawk took up his residence near Gamble’s Hill, Richmond, and for three months he edited the Messenger, doing most of his work at his home, where his wife Julia B. Sparhawk lay dying of consumption. Some time after the death of his wife on May 31, 1836, he was married to a widow who, with three children, survived him.(69) After leaving the Messenger, Sparhawk became the editor of The Petersburg (Va.) Intelligencer. The following notice of his sudden death on January 6, 1838, taken from The Richmond (Va.) Whig for January 8, 1838, appeared in the Virginia Free Press:

We have the painful task of recording the sudden death, in this city [Richmond, Va.] on Saturday afternoon [January 6], of EDWARD V. SPARHAWK, Esq. the Editor of the Petersburg Intelligencer. Mr. S. had been for the last week attending the sittings of the House of Delegates, as Reporter for his own paper, and Clerk of the Committee of Agriculture and Manufactures. On the day of his death he did not take notes, but seemed in his usual health, and mixed freely and cheerfully with [page 51:] the members and visiters [sic] in the lobby. Soon after the adjournment, as he was passing through the Capitol Square, on his return to his Boarding House, he was taken suddenly ill, and called upon Judge Nicholas, who was near him, to assist him, as he was quite faint. The Judge immediately extended his aid, and called to several gentlemen in sight, one of whom caught Mr. S. as he was falling. A hemorrhage of the lungs had taken place, which produced suffocation and instant prostration. He was conveyed to the Powhatan House, and died in a few minutes.

Mr. Sparhawk was a gentleman of fine talents and extensive acquirements, and a most useful member of society. He was deservedly popular with the members of the Legislature, of the proceedings of which he had been for seven years a faithful Reporter — and he had many warm friends both here and in Petersburg. He was about 35 years of age, and his health had long been delicate and precarious. He has left a devoted wife and three children — towards whom a feeling of universal sympathy prevails. An event so sudden and appalling, has created a general gloom throughout the city, and among the members.(70)

The May issue of the Messenger, under the editorship of Sparhawk, was made up entirely of original articles. By now Robert Greenhow, “Leontine,” Mrs. Eliza Gookin Thornton, and “Pertinax Placid” (Sparhawk) had become frequent contributors to the magazine. Another regular contributor was Poe, whose “Lion-izing —— A Tale” and reviews appeared in the May number. “Democritus, Jr.” contributed “A.. Prodigious Nose,” which Poe perhaps saw in manuscript before his writing “Lionizing.” “ ‘Lion-izing; by Mr. Poe,” remarked Sparhawk, “is an inimitable piece of wit and satire: and the man must be far gone [page 52:] in a melancholic humor, whose risibility is not moved by this tale.”(71) Alluding to Mrs. Butler’s Journal, a review of which appeared in this issue, he further asserted:

Although the scene of the story is laid in the foreign city of “Fum Fudge,” the disposition which it satirizes is often displayed in the cities of this country — even in our own community; and will probably still continue to exist, unless Mrs. Butler’s Journal should have disgusted the fashionable world with Lions.(72)

The first instalment of “Visit to the Virginia Springs during the Summer of 1834,” unsigned; “Dissertation on the Characteristic Differences between the Sexes and on the Position and Influence of Woman in Society,” signed “Z. X. W.” (Thomas R. Dew); “Letters on the United States of America,” by “a young Scotchman now no more” (George W. Wat-terston); and “Lionel Granby,” signed “Theta,” were printed in May. Both Sparhawk and Poe agreed that.. Thomas R. Dew’s work was the most perfect essay on the subject in the whole range of literature, and the former described as its striking features: “The comprehensive views taken by the writer, of the whole subject; the copiousness of his illustrations, and the happy manner in which they are brought to sustain his various positions. . . .”(73) With the opinions of the author of “Recent American Novels” Sparhawk disagreed, expressing his belief that [page 53:]

. . . Mr. Kennedy and Dr. Bird will prove themselves worthy successors to Cooper and Irving (so far as the latter may be considered a novel writer,) when the mantles shall fall from their shoulders — nor will Mr. Sims [sic], the author of Guy Rivers and the Yemassie [sic], (either of which, we apprehend, are superior to the Insurgents,) be far behind.(74)

In his “Letters on the United States of America” Watterston presented information concerning the sciences and literature of the United States. He found that progress in science, for so young and growing a nation had been as steady and rapid as could reasonably be expected, and although he was not impressed with the scientific journals, and particularly the various societies, he named Bigelow, Nutall, Barton, Eaton, Elliott, Wilson, Bonaparte, Audubon, Cleveland, and Say as scientists who would not be ranked below the best in Europe. Dr. Samuel Latham Mitchill, he wrote, was “One of the most extensively informed scientific men this country has produced. . . .”(75) He was not greatly impressed with the literature of America:

Literature does not receive that encouragement and patronage under this Republic, which are calculated to give it a vigorous growth or a permanent and healthy existence. There is not much individual wealth, and few can afford . . . to purchase the productions of native authors. There is . . . another cause which operates to the disadvantage of American literature . . . it is the cheapness and facility with which the productions of the British press can be republished in this country. . . Few [writers] can afford to write for mere fame, and no great inducement is offered to write for any thing else. . . . For a long time . . . the people of [page 54:] this country were disposed to underrate their own literary powers, and many believed that none but the works of the British press were worthy of perusal or patronage. This prejudice is, however, now beginning to wear away, especially since the critics of our country have been forced to acknowledge the genius and literary excellence of some of the native writers of America.(76)

In his second instalment, in the July issue Watterston informed his readers that

Novel reading has been legitimatized by Sir Walter Scott, and though his productions furnish an admirable standard, nothing in the nature of romance now goes amiss. . . .(77)

The Federalist he praised, and he stated that Charles Brockden Brown’s novels were rapidly sinking into oblivion as a result of the rise of Cooper’s and Scott’s romances.

Complaining that contributors were careless in their manuscripts, Sparhawk urged them to revise their works before sending them to the Messenger. He insisted that:

The duty we have assumed, is to foster the productions of native writers — to awaken, especially in the south, a literary spirit, an ambition to excel in the cultivation of polite learning — and to give our humble aid in stimulating the ambition of our youth, by offering a fit repository for the offspring of taste and genius . . . . . . articles are not seldom inserted in the Messenger, which exhibit defects of conception and style, which it is no part of our duty to mend, but which we believe to be counterbalanced by beauties or merits indicating that their authors are capable of better things.(78) [page 55:]

A brief note, “Deferred Articles,” at the end of the May issue, plainly indicated that the publisher and editor were now having little difficulty in securing material for the magazine, but whether it was printable or not was a different matter.

In previous issues the column “Editorial Remarks,” with comments on the contents of the magazine, had been printed on the last page of each issue; but in June, 1835, the title of the department was changed to “Editorial Introduction” and printed on the first page. The editor particularly recommended “Letters from a Sister,” by “Leontine”; “Conversational Parties, Soirees and Squeezes,” by “Oliver Oldschool” (James Mercer Garnett); “The Sandfords,” by “A.”; “English Poetry,” by P. P. Cooke; “The Sale” and “The Old Parish Church,” by St. Leger L. Carter; “A Scene from ‘Arnold and Andre’,” by George Herbert Calvert; “Lafayette,” by Mrs. Emma Willard; and Edgar A. Poe’s “Hans Phaall — A Tale.” “It is with great pleasure,” the editor informed his readers, “we announce the writer [George Herbert Calvert] of this admirable scene, as one from whom future contributions to the Messenger may be anticipated.”(79) He also explained that the lines, “Estelle,” composed in the Gothic manner, were printed with “Fra Diavolo’s” permission. Many stanzas printed in the journal were the subjects of the deaths of beautiful women — a subject which fascinated Poe.

Sparhawk’s editorial duties were completed with the July, 1835, issue, which contained the following [page 56:] articles: Nathaniel Beverley Tucker, “Valedictory Address”; “Grayson Griffith,” unsigned (William Swan Plumer, White’s pastor); “Where Shall the Student Rest?” unsigned, and “The Age of Reptiles,” unsigned (both by Judge John W. Wilde, brother of Richard Henry Wilde, Augusta, Ga.); “Visit to the Virginia Springs during the Summer of 1834,” unsigned; “My First Night in a Watchhouse,” by “Pertinax Placid” (Edward Vernon Sparhawk); “Dissertation on the Characteristic Differences between the Sexes,” by Thomas R. Dew; “Lionel Granby,” unsigned; “On the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Girl of the Asylum at Hartford, Connecticut,” by Mrs. Lydia Huntley Sigourney; “My Native Home,” by George Watterston; “To Mary” and “The Visionary,” both by Poe; and several reviews by Sparhawk.

In his note to correspondents Sparhawk asserted:

The quantity of rhyme poured in upon us, is indeed a matter of admiration. The effusions which we consign to outer darkness monthly, are past enumeration. Such, for instance, as one containing the following lines, and which purports to be “copyed from a young ladies Album” —

Miss E— we have of times met before

And — we may — meet no more

What shall I say at parting

Many years have run their race

Since first I saw your face

Around this gay and giddy place

Sweet smiles and blushes darting.(80)

Thus ended Sparhawk’s régime. As a pilot of the [page 57:] Messenger, he had proved himself a man of journalistic ability. The magazine had been characterized by variety, originality, and the expansion of the department of “Literary Notices” under his editorial management. His reasons for leaving White were never satisfactorily explained in the columns of the magazine.(81) Perhaps he and White had clashed over the editorial policies of the journal. One fact was certain: White was extremely jealous of his literary project, and the identity of his assistants and editors would not be made public without his consent.

 


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 16:]

1.  A prospectus of The Southern Literary Messenger dated May 1, 1834, was printed in The National Intelligencer (Washington, D. C.), Thursday, May 15, 1834.

2.  Mr. J. H. Whitty, who possesses a White autograph, informs me that the correct spelling of White’s middle name is Willis, not Wyllis (see the present writer’s “Poe Notes: Pinakidia’ and ‘Some Ancient Greek Authors’,” American Literature, V, 259n (Nov., 1933).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 17:]

3.  For an interesting and illuminating account of Southern periodicals, see Professor Jay B. Hubbell’s chapter, “Southern Magazines,” Culture in the South, ed. W. T. Couch (Chapel Hill, N. C., 1934), pp. 159-182.

4.  See A. J. Morrison, “The Virginia Literary and Evangelical Magazine, Richmond, 1818-1828,” The William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, XIX, 266-272 (April, 1911).

5.  See S. L. M., I, 65 (Nov., (18)34); James E. Heath, “Death of Thomas W. White,” ibid., IX, 65 (Feb., 1843); and “Death of Thomas W. White, Esq.,” The Richmond (Va.) Enquirer, Saturday, Jan. 21, 1843.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 18:]

6.  James E. Heath, “Death of Thomas W. White,” S. L. M., IX, 65 (Feb., 1843).

7.  I, 491-492 (May, 1835).

8.  I, 698 (Aug., 1835). See Appendix B, p. 99.

9.  Va. Poe, XVII, 9.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 19:]

10.  IV., 672 (Oct., 1838). Observe the interesting fact that her case was decided hopeless by her physicians in Aug., 1835, at the same time that Poe became assistant to White.

11.  See Armistead C. Gordon, Jr.’s biographical sketch of Heath in the Dictionary of American Biography, eds. Dumas Malone and Allen Johnson (New York, 1928 — ), VIII, 489. Hereinafter the Dictionary of American Biography will be cited as D. A. B.

12. See a review of this play entitled “A Virginia Comedy,” S. L. M., V, 571-572 (Aug., 1839).

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 20:]

13.  “Publisher’s Notice,” S. L. M., I, 461 (May, 1835).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 21:]

14.  I, 1 (Aug., 1834).

15.  Prosper Jolyot de Crebillon, Electre, Act II, Scene I, Line 8.

16.  I, 65 (Nov., 1834).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 23:]

17.  I, 1 (Aug., 1834).

18.  Ibid., p. 2.

19.  Ibid., p. 3.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 24:]

20.  I, 9 (Aug., 1834).

21.  I, 10 (Aug., 1834).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 25:]

22.  I, 13 (Aug., 1834). Messrs. Lewis Chase and Aubrey H. Starke are preparing for publication a complete study of the life and works of Richard Henry Wilde.

23.  Aubrey H. Starke, “Richard Henry Wilde: Some Notes and a Check-List,” The American Book Collector, IV, 230n (Nov., 1933).

24.  MS. letter dated June 14, 1834, from Mrs. L. H. Sigourney to T. W. White, in the New York Historical Society Library. For a biographical study of Mrs. Sigourney, see Gordon S. Haight, Mrs. Sigourney: The Sweet Singer of Hartford (New Haven, 1930).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 26:]

25.  I, 15 (Aug., 1834).

26.  I, 32 (Aug., 1834).

27.  I, 33 (Oct. 13, 1834).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 27:]

28.  Ibid.

29.  Ibid.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 28:]

30.  I, 49 (Oct. 15, 1834).

31.  I, 51 (Oct. 15, 1834).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 29:]

32.  I, 64 (Oct. 15, 1834).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 30:]

33.  Ibid.

34.  Ibid.

35. See the present writer’s “Four of Poe’s Critiques in the Baltimore Newspapers,” to be published in Modern Language Notes.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 31:]

36.  I, 65 (Nov., (18)34).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 32:]

37.  Va. Poe, XVII, 9. A second printing of the November issue was brought out in the spring of 1835. Poe advised White against notices of it in the newspapers.

38.  D. A. B., XIII, 27.

39.  See Appendix B, pp. 93-94.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 33:]

40.  MS. letter in the possession of Mr. Oliver R. Barrett of Chicago, Ill., who has kindly given me permission to print the letter in full (see Appendix B, pp. 93-94). Quoted in part by Miss Phillips in op, cit., I, 491.

41.   I, 123 (Nov., 1834).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 34:]

42.  I, 124 (Nov., 1834).

43.  Ibid.

44. I, 125 (Nov., 1834).

45.  Ibid.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 35:]

46.  I, 128 (Nov., 1834).

47.  Ibid.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 36:]

48.  For information about the fillers in the first two volumes of the Messenger, some of which were undoubtedly Poe’s, see the present writer’s “Poe Notes: Pinakidia’ and ‘Some Ancient Greek Authors’,” American Literature, V, 258-267 (Nov., 1933).

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 38:]

49.  See “History of the Virginia Historical Society” (Formerly the Virginia Historical and Philosophical Society),” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, XXXIX, 299 ff. (Oct., 1931).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 40:]

50.  Mr. J. H. Whitty informs me that “Benedict” was a writer of Baltimore.

51.  I, 235 (Jan., 1835). Quoted by Whitty, op. cit., pp. xxviii-xxix.

52.  Va. Poe, XVII, 10.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 41:]

53.  I, 468 (May, 1835).

54.  I, 255 (Jan., 1835).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 42:]

55.  I, 198 (Jan., 1835).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 43:]

56.  I, 257 (Feb., 1835).

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 44:]

57.  I, 315 (Feb., 1835).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 45:]

58.  I, 321 (Feb., 1835).

59.  I, 387 (March, 1835). In the Messenger “Berenice” is the first identified story by Poe.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 46:]

60.  I, 387 (March, 1835).

61.  I, 388 (March, 1835).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 47:]

62.  I, 388 (March, 1835).

63.  I, 387 (March, 1835). It is unlikely that Poe wrote this note, as S. Foster Damon would have one believe in his Thomas Holley Chivers: Friend of Poe. . . (New York and London, 1930), pp. 85-86.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 48:]

64.  See the present writer’s “Four of Poe’s Critiques in the Baltimore Newspapers,” to be published in a forthcoming issue of Modern Language Notes.

65.  I, 460 (April, (58)35).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 49:]

66.  “Publisher’s Notice,” S. L. M., I, 461 (May, 1835).

67.  I am indebted to Mr. J. H. Whitty for information concerning Spar-hawk and for a description of his volume of verse, the only known copy of which is in Mr. Whitty’s possession.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 50:]

68.  S. Austin Allibone, A Critical Dictionary of English Literature and British and American Authors Living and Deceased from the Earliest Accounts to the Latter Half of the Nineteenth Century. 3 vols. (Philadelphia, 1891), II, 2190.

69.  The Richmond (Va.) Enquirer, Friday, June to, 1836.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 51:]

70.  Virginia Free Press (Charlestown, Jefferson County, Va. [now W. Va.]), Thursday, Jan. 78, 1838.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 52:]

71.  I, 531 (May, 1835). “Lion-izing” was copied in The Richmond (Va.) Enquirer, Friday, June 12, 1835.

72.  I, 531 (May, 1835).

73.  I, 531 (May, 1835).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 53:]

74.  I, 533 (May, 1835). For a brief study of Watterston, see Julia E. Kennedy, George Watterston: Novelist, “Metropolitan Author,” and Critic. A Doctoral Dissertation (Washington: The Catholic University of America, 1933).

75.  I, 482 (May, 1835).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 54:]

76.  I, 482-483 (May, 1835).

77.  I, 602 (July, 1835).

78.  I, 532 (May, 1835).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 55:]

79.  I, 533 (June, 1835).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 56:]

80.  I, 652 (July, 1835).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 57:]

81.  See Appendix B, p. 98.

 


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Notes:

None.

 

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[S:0 - PSM, 1934] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - Poe and The Southern Literary Messenger (D. K. Jackson) (Chapter 02)