Text: Dwight R. Thomas and David K. Jackson, “Chapter 04 [Part 01],” The Poe Log (1987), pp. 145-185


[page 145:]


Richmond and the Messenger

Thomas Willis White [thumbnail]

[Illustration on page 145]
Thomas Willis White


Unsuccessful in finding employment as a teacher in the Baltimore area, Poe is encouraged by John Pendleton Kennedy to write for the Southern Literary Messenger, a monthly published by Thomas Willis White in Richmond. Poe returns to Richmond in August 1835, at a time when the Richmond Academy is advertising for a professor of English and White is seeking editorial assistance. When the professorship goes to another candidate, White employs Poe on a temporary basis and later as full-time editor. By his short stories and critical notices in the Messenger Poe attracts public attention. In October 1835 his aunt Maria Clemm and her daughter Virginia join him in Richmond. In May 1836 Poe marries his cousin Virginia, who is not quite fourteen years of age. White holds close reins on his Messenger, finds Poe's habits not good, and is reluctant to give Poe full editorial control. Late in 1836 White is beset by a printer's strike. In addition, his health is poor, and his wife has a terminal illness. Both Poe and White find themselves hard pressed financially and both are unhappy with their relationship. Poe's editorship terminates in January 1837. With Virginia and Maria Clemm, Poe moves to New York.



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~~ 1835 ~~

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[1835] 19 JANUARY. WASHINGTON. The Daily National Intelligencer notices the December 1834 Southern Literary Messenger: “We have just received the 4th No. ... and cannot refrain from occupying a few lines with a passing expression of our sense of its merits. ... we are glad to find, in its acknowledgments of the number of subscriptions paid within the preceding month, evidence that it is liberally sustained by pecuniary contributors as well as literary ones.”

[The Messenger did not appear regularly at the beginning of each month. With the December 1834 number White began to print on the covers the [page 146:] names of his subscribers and a time period in which their payments had been received. The December issue, for example, appeared after 8 January since subscription payments were acknowledged from “November 28, 1834, to January 8, 1835, inclusive.” Press notices of the Messenger as well as White's correspondence help further to establish the approximate dates of issue. Many of the covers have press notices of the Messenger, letters from correspondents, and a few advertisements.]

[1835] 29 JANUARY. RICHMOND. White writes Beverley Tucker that he is sending him for review the second and third volumes of Washington's letters and expresses his opposition “to the practice of taking whole chapters when noticing works” (Vi-W-TC).

[1835] 5 FEBRUARY. White writes Beverley Tucker, instructing him to keep “Bancroft's 1st vol. History U. S. ... for your Library. This is the disposition I wish you to make of every work you may review for my Messenger” (Vi-W-TC).

[Poe was to meet George Bancroft the following year. See 4 APRIL 1836.]

[1835] CA. 10 FEBRUARY. The January Messenger makes its appearance. In “The Doom,” a tale by “Benedict,” the pseudonymous author alludes to Poe's swimming feat in the James River:

One evening in June, 1832, when the thermometer stood at 94°, I had managed to convey myself about a mile up the river bank for the purpose of bathing, and going into the water 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 (see JUNE? 1824? and 30 APRIL 1835).

[James Ewell Heath, who was then assisting White, expressed “doubts about the admission of ‘The Doom’ into our columns, not because of any inferiority in the style and composition, but because of the revolting character of the story. The writer, with apparent sincerity, states it to be founded upon actual occurrences; but we confess that it seems to us a wild and incredible fiction. ... The hero of the tale ... was in truth a remorseless fiend. ... the ‘Messenger’ shall not be the vehicle of sentiments at war with the interests of virtue and sound morals” (Messenger, 1 [January 1835]: 254-55). In a lengthy letter to the Richmond Compiler “Fro Diavolo” described “The Doom” as “vile balderdash.” To this criticism “Benedict,” apparently amused, pointed out that M. M. Noah of the New York Evening Star had found the tale “the effort of no ordinary pen.” See Compiler, 6, 7, and 8 April 1835.] [page 147:]

[1835] 17 FEBRUARY. White writes his friend Lucian Minor, a lawyer of Louisa County, Virginia, that James E. Heath “cannot find the leisure to do me half that service which he wishes; and continually importunes me to procure the assistance of a competent editor, — and no other name always assails me more than yours. ... Professor [William Barton] Rogers [of the College of William and Mary] ... is equally zealous that I should have you for my editor. ... I will hand you a compensation of $800 per annum” (Jackson [1934], pp. 93-94).

[1835] 17 FEBRUARY. ESSEX COUNTY, VIRGINIA. James Mercer Garnett, a contributor to the Messenger, writes White:

I have taken ... a hasty glance at it [the January Messenger] which has enabled me to say, that it is at least equal, if not superior to its predecessor. Master Benedict [author of “The Doom”] however, has excited my most unqualified disgust & reprobation. Let me earnestly recommend to you, to wash your hands of him, as speedily as possible; unless he will, on some other occasion, strive to make amends, (for he seems capable of writing well,) for so gross an offence as he has committed both against good taste & good morals. I was much gratified by the editorial remarks on his communication, & hope such castigation may do him some good. Such a jumble of incredible, incongruous absurdities, — incongruous in every thing but the character of heartless, diabolical villainy which marks his Hero, I have scarcely ever seen (ViHi).

[Earlier White was indebted to John Marshall for writing a puff of a second edition of Garnett's Lectures. For Marshall's letter see White's advertisement in the Richmond Compiler, 4 December 1824.]

[1835] 26 FEBRUARY. RICHMOND. James E. Heath writes Lucian Minor:

You are not at all mistaken in supposing yourself perfectly authorised to confer with me on the subject of Mr. White's proposition, and I take great pleasure in responding to your enquiries respecting it. In truth I am somewhat a party concerned, and strenuously advised White to engage your services if it were possible to do so. ... I gave him that advice, because in perfect candor, I knew of no one whom I believed better qualified to make the “Messenger” an extensively useful and acceptable work in Virginia than yourself. ... I felt that the humble aid I had rendered him must soon cease from the overwhelming demands upon my time to say nothing of other reasons why he should speedily have an avowed Editor to sustain his periodical. ...

Although I know that White is embarrassed and (inter nos) of fickle temperament, yet I have great confidence in his honor and integrity — and under your avowed auspices — the success of the “Messenger” would be such as to insure the prompt payment of the proposed salary; nay more, — I think that with your Banner at the mast head — the present subscription, approaching 800, would be vastly increased. The question nevertheless presents itself whether you would be justified in abandoning a practice worth $1500 — in the expectation of receiving an equivalent in [page 148:] your professional success here. That the editorial management of the “Messenger” in order to [make?] its firm and permanent establishment, would absorb much of your time, I think there can be no doubt; — From my little experience, I should be safe in asserting that all the cares and duties connected with the editorship would require at least 5 hours a day. Something more or less might answer, but this is my best conjecture. ... it is difficult, very difficult to decide (ViHi).

[1835] 2 MARCH. White writes Lucian Minor that he would expect to pay him $800 a year for his editorial services and that the Messenger has no less than 750 paying subscribers (Jackson [1936], pp. 226-28. See 14 MAY. RICHMOND).

[1835] 12 MARCH. BALTIMORE. The Baltimore Patriot prints an advertisement for a public school teacher:

A Teacher Wanted — At male Public School No. 3 Aisquith St. The commissioners of Public Schools will appoint on Wednesday next, the 18th inst. a Teacher to supply a vacancy which has occurred at Male School No. 3. Satisfactory recommendations as to character, with testimonials of capacity for conducting a School on the Monitorial System, will be required. ... Applications addressed to the commissioners, may be left with either of them or the Secretary, No. 8 Courtland Street (L, 2:474).

[1835] 14 MARCH. RICHMOND. White writes Minor, expressing his disappointment that Minor has refused his offer and informing Minor that the February Messenger will make its appearance 16 March (Jackson [1936], pp. 228-29).

[1835] 15 MARCH. BALTIMORE. Poe solicits Kennedy's help in obtaining employment as a teacher and encloses a copy of an advertisement in the Baltimore Patriot of 12 March or one similar to it: “In my present circumstances such a situation would be most desirable” (L, 1:56).

Kennedy invites Poe to dinner (Poe to Kennedy, 15 March 1835). Poe acknowledges Kennedy's invitation and requests a loan of $20: “Your kind invitation to dinner to day has wounded me to the quick. I cannot come — and for reasons of the most humiliating nature [in] my personal appearance. You may conceive my deep mortification in making this disclosure to you — but it was necessary. If you will be my friend so far as to loan me $20 I will call on you to morrow — otherwise it will be impossible, and I must submit to my fate” (L, 1:56-57).

[1835] 16 MARCH. Poe calls on John Pendleton Kennedy (implied by Poe to Kennedy, second letter of March 15).

[On 10 October 1849 Kennedy wrote in his diary: “It is many years ago — [page 149:] I think perhaps as early as 1833 or 4 — that I found him in Baltimore in a state of starvation. I gave him clothing, free access to my table, and the use of a horse for exercise whenever he chose — in fact brought him up from the very verge of despair” (Woodberry, 2:350).]

[1835] 16 MARCH. RICHMOND. The February Messenger makes its appearance (White to Minor, 14 March 1835. See Compiler, 18, 25, and 31 March 1835).

[1835] 13 APRIL. BALTIMORE. John Pendleton Kennedy writes White that Poe “is very poor. I told him to write something for every number of your magazine, and that you might find it to your advantage to give him some permanent employ. He has a volume of very bizarre tales in the hands of —— [Henry C. Carey], in Philadelphia, who for a year past has been promising to publish them. He is at work upon a tragedy [Politian], but I have turned him to drudging upon whatever may make money” (Griswold [1850], p. xiii).

[1835] AFTER 13 APRIL? PHILADELPHIA. Perhaps Poe calls on Henry C. Carey (Poe to Kennedy, 11 September 1835).

[1835] CA. 17 APRIL. RICHMOND. The March Messenger appears with Poe's tale “Berenice” and Philip Pendleton Cooke's poem “Young Rosalie Lee” (Compiler, 17 April).

[The unsigned “Extract from an Unfinished Poem” in this issue is believed not to be Poe's. See Campbell (1933), p. 206, and Mabbott (1969), 1:506.]

[1835] 18 APRIL. White writes Lucian Minor: “I have called E. V. Sparhawk's attention to that part of your letter touching his notice of [your] New-England Letter No. 4. He promises to look to it” (Jackson [1934], p. 95).

[Edward Vernon Sparhawk succeeded James E. Heath and during the months of April, May, June, and July 1835 assisted White. See 11 JUNE. RICHMOND and 12 JUNE. BALTIMORE.]

[1835] BEFORE 30 APRIL. White, perhaps influenced by James E. Heath, gives Poe his opinion of “Berenice” (Poe to White, 30 April 1835).

[1835] 30 APRIL. BALTIMORE. Poe replies to White:

I noticed the allusion in the Doom. The writer seems to compare my swim with that of Lord Byron. ... Any swimmer “in the falls” in my days, would have swum the Hellespont, and thought nothing of the matter. ... A word or two in [page 150:] relation to Berenice. Your opinion of it is very just. The subject is by far too horrible, and I confess that I hesitated in sending it especially as a specimen of my capabilities. The Tale originated in a bet that I could produce nothing effective on a subject so singular, provided I treated it seriously. But what I wish to say relates to the character of your Magazine more than to any articles I may offer, and I beg you to believe that I have no intention of giving you advice, being fully confident that, upon consideration, you will agree with me. The history of all Magazines shows plainly that those which have attained celebrity were indebted for it to articles similar in nature —— to Berenice —— although, I grant you, far superior in style and execution. I say similar in nature. You ask me in what does this nature consist? In the ludicrous heightened into the grotesque: the fearful coloured into the horrible: the witty exaggerated into the burlesque: the singular wrought out into the strange and mystical. You may say all this is bad taste. I have my doubts about it. Nobody is more aware than I am that simplicity is the cant of the day — but take my word for it no one cares any thing about simplicity in their hearts. Believe me also, in spite of what people say to the contrary, that there is nothing easier in the world than to be extremely simple. But whether the articles of which I speak are, or are not in bad taste is little to the purpose. To be appreciated you must be read, and these things are invariably sought after with avidity. They are, if you will take notice, the articles which find their way into other periodicals, and into the papers, and in this manner, taking hold upon the public mind they augment the reputation of the source where they originated. Such articles are the “M. S. found in a Madhouse” and the “Monos and Daimonos” of the London New Monthly — the “Confessions of an Opium-Eater” and the “Man in the Bell” of Blackwood. The two first were written by no less a man than Bulwer —— the Confessions [illegible] universally attributed to Coleridge —— although unjustly. The first men in [England] have not thought writings of this nature unworthy of their talents, and I have good reason to believe that some very high names valued themselves principally upon this species of literature. To be sure originality is an essential in these things — great attention must be paid to style, and much labour spent in their composition, or they will degenerate into the tugid [sic] or the absurd. If I am not mistaken you will find Mr Kennedy, whose writings you admire, and whose Swallow-Barn is unrivalled for purity of style and thought of my opinion in this matter. It is unnecessary for you to pay much attention to the many who will no doubt favour you with their critiques. In respect to Berenice individually I allow that it approaches the very verge of bad taste — but I will not sin quite so egregiously again. I propose to furnish you every month with a Tale of the nature which I have alluded to. The effect — if any — will be estimated better by the circulation of the Magazine than by any comments upon its contents. This much, however, it is necessary to promise, that no two of these Tales will have the slightest resemblance one to the other either in matter or manner — still however preserving the character which I speak of (L, 1:57-59).

[A source for a part of this letter is a note entitled “Swimming” in the May Messenger.]

[1835] 30? APRIL. RICHMOND. White writes Lucian Minor and expresses his [page 151:] concern about his failure to bring the April Messenger out on time (Jackson [1936], p. 230).

[1835] 14 MAY. BALTIMORE. Poe notices the April Messenger, of which he has advance sheets, in the Republican and Commercial Advertiser, edited by Samuel Harker.

[This notice, copied in the Richmond Compiler of 20 May, and three other notices were published by Jackson (1935), pp. 251-56.]

[1835] 14 MAY. RICHMOND. White writes Beverley Tucker: “I am pleased to tell you that I have nearly 1000 subscribers and my list is gradually increasing” (Vi-W-TC).

[In a letter to Charles Anthon, late October 1844, Poe wrote that when he joined the Messenger White had about 700 subscribers and 5,500 paying subscribers when he left; and in a letter, late April 1849, to E. H. N. Patterson that during its second year the circulation of the Messenger rose from less than 1,000 to 5,000 subscribers.]

[1835] CA. 14 MAY. The April Messenger makes its appearance with Poe's “Morella” (including “A Catholic Hymn”) and his notices of the following works: the North American Review for April; the London Quarterly Review for February; The Life of Samuel Drew by his son; Volume I of H. Lee's The Life of Emperor Napoleon; Celebrated Trials of all Countries, and remarkable cases of Criminal Jurisprudence, selected by a Member of the Philadelphia Bar; Andrew Reed's No Fiction; Madame Junot's Memoirs of Celebrated Women of all Countries; Influence; Whitehead's English Pirates, Highwaymen and Robbers; Laughton Osborn's Confessions of a Poet; The Language of Flowers; Mr. [Richard Lovell] and Miss [Maria] Edgeworth's Practical Education; The Highland Smugglers; J. G. Lockhart's Valerius; An Account of Col. Crockett's Tour to the North and Down East, written by himself; Illoraz de Courcy, an auto-biographical novel by Josiah Templeton, Esq.; Charles Fenno Hoffman's A Winter in the West, by a New Yorker.

On the wrappers of the April issue White prints an extract from a letter by an anonymous correspondent, perhaps Tucker, who writes: “Poe's story [‘Berenice’] is well written —— very well written. ... Tell me, when you next write, who are the authors of ‘My Classmates,’ and ‘The Doom,’ (the latter is a powerful and nervous writer — the censures hurled against him, will fall harmless at his feet,) that is, if you violate no confidence in so doing.” Also a comment from the Augusta, Georgia, Courier is printed: “The singular tale of ‘Berenice,’ by EDGAR A. POE, developes much beauty and elegance of style, but is altogether too full of the wild, mysterious, [page 152:] horrible, and improbable.” Poe's name appears in a list of subscribers making payments between 13 April and 9 May.

[1835] BEFORE 18 MAY. BALTIMORE. Poe writes Henry C. Carey, the Philadelphia publisher (Carey to Kennedy, 18 May 1835).

[1835] 18 MAY. PHILADELPHIA. Henry C. Carey writes John Pendleton Kennedy: “Poe has written me to say that the tale [‘MS. Found in a Bottle’] selected by Miss Leslie [editor of the Gift for 1836] has been printed already. That being the case, I should be glad [if] he would send her something good in its stead. Will you say so to him, and say that I would have written him but that his letter is only now received, and I am excessively occupied” (Campbell [1917a], pp. 197-98).

[1835] 18 MAY. RICHMOND. “Fair Play” addresses a letter to the Compiler, in which he finds fault with Poe's brief notice of The Language of Flowers in the April Messenger: “The next time you review a work, would it not be more candid to give your own opinion of its merits, without casting sideway reflections on the mental or moral perceptions of its readers?”

[1835] 20 MAY. “J.” addresses a letter to the Compiler, sharply disagreeing with Poe's opinion of Laughton Osborn's Confessions of a Poet, a book reviewed in the April Messenger.

The Compiler also reprints Poe's critique of the April Messenger from the Baltimore Republican of 14 May:

To The Editors of the Compiler.

MESSRS. EDITORS: — A new publication entitled Confessions of a Poet, has received a brief critical notice in the last number of the Southern Literary Messenger. You are generally reputed to be untrammelled in literature as in politics; perhaps, then you will aid me in giving to the expression of my dissent from that criticism all the truth, force and dignity, which printing implies. I know not if the avowal of something like personal interest (not in the work itself, but simply as touched by the criticism) will be regarded as strengthening my claim to be heard. — The critic announces his assured conviction, that none but le vulgaire will go through with The Confessions. It happens that I have done so. My sin, I humbly hope, is the less for having been committed before the criticism appeared, and my pretensions to impartiality not materially weakened by a confession that might have been withheld.

The readers of the Messenger can hardly fail to experience very great surprise at one or the other of two things suggested by the criticism; the critic's capacity of estimating a work which it must be intended that he never read, — or his activity in escaping the lash which he has been guilty of. Or taking yet a third direction, their astonishment, mingled with reverence, may be concentrated on the privileges of the critical ministry, allowed to perpetuate sin that the narrative of experience [page 153:] may deter those who are yet uncontaminated. The critic may possibly allege that the tenor and tendency of a composition can be learned from less than the thorough perusal, and that his opinion has been formed in that way. In truth this is the best and the only explanation he can make. Supposing it to be what himself would reply if examined; and passing over the fact, apparent from the criticism itself, that he has read the first pages of the first volume and the concluding pages of the second, and is moreover acquainted with the outline of the whole story; I presume that the character of the work will not be regarded as stamped unalterably by the very few remarks he has vouchsafed to make directly upon its merits. These remarks are confined to a scoff at the catastrophe of the fable, — a beautifully tender alarm lest the Poet should have survived his own pistol-shot, and be yet in good ability to favour the world with a new series of his confessions, — a stout denial of the author's claim to the sacred title he has assumed, — and the aforesaid undoubting presumption that none but the vulgar will read the Confessions throughout. The complaint that the book is printed on singularly bad paper, and that the matter has been stretched into two volumes, when it might very well have been finished in one printed in the usual type of romances, cannot, I suppose, affect the merits of the composition. For the same reason the notes, which seem to have excited the critic's wrath must be discarded from the estimate of the Confessions. They are professedly written by the editor, as distinguished from the author and hero, who terminates his own wretched existence as soon as his confessions are completed. Whatever be the worth of the notes (and to them also I think great injustice has been done) they form too inconsiderable a portion of the book to determine whether it shall sink or swim. One part of the critic's objection to them is certainly very unfair. They are not added by way of explanation; they are avowedly written by an editor (whether a distinct person in fact from the author is very immaterial) and their principal object is or seems to be the counteraction of improper or extravagant sentiments in the confessions; so the circumstance that two or three of them are in French, cannot sustain the cavil that, professing to explain, they are wrapped in a foreign language, lest they should be understood. The text no where needs explanation. — What the editor's motive could have been for writing some of his notes in French, I do not pretend to comprehend; or rather, I cannot see the sufficiency of the motive he assigns. But admitting that the notes are added for explanation, their character, language or fate can only be important as connected with the work they explain. Here then, is the true question. Is the work itself such as the critic would have his readers believe that it is?

With something very like that inconsistency which he charges upon the author, the critic admits that the composition has merits; that very composition which he has so sweepingly denounced, and which he has forbidden to his readers, upon pain of vulgarity. What those merits are, he does not set forth. Perhaps they are too slight in his judgment, too entirely overborne by the defects and bad character of the Confessions, to be worth enumeration. But these defects and this character, what are they? Oh! the moral, doubtless the moral! — I should very much like to know what the critic's idea of a moral is. If he regards it as something nearly detached from the narrative, something not less distinct from the fable than the tail of a kite is from the kite itself, then certainly there is a want of moral in this book. At any rate, it can only be found in those notes which are deemed an [page 154:] incumbrance. But if the detail of errors overtaken by their consequences; of crimes deeply, severely, to the very extent of retribution, brought into reckoning and gathered around the last hours of the miserable autobiographer; of passions indulged from infancy to manhood, and until their strength became the sole support as it was the unceasing torment of existence; — if such a picture, relieved by two of the finest delineations that fancy ever wrought, can be said to carry with it a moral, the critic is assuredly unreasonable and unjust. For the style, it cannot be denied that extravagance of the wildest sort is frequently to be found in it. How far that exaggeration is appropriate to the character of the story, may form quite another question. Yet in very many portions there is no such defect, while the striking merits of intense compression, energy and rapidity force themselves on the admiration of the reader. If it be said that grossness is a characteristic of the Confessions, and that therefore they are condemned by the critic, I can only reply that the objection applies in no peculiar degree to this novel. There are many works of celebrity established long before the critic's time, and, destined very long to survive him, which no man would ever think of recommending to ladies or children, and every man would be unwilling to see expunged from English literature. It would be easy to enumerate them; and there can be very little doubt as to the manner in which the critic would treat the question whether he has not read every part of every one of them. Indeed, if the last mentioned objection be specifically made to the Confessions, it is almost necessarily implied that the critic was addressing himself to women and children. To children I have nothing to say; and as for the ladies, I presume that the mysterious process by which, without reading a book, they become acquainted with its contents, will in due season be applied to this. I feel very sure that the prediction which the critic has made concerning Valerius will be true of the Confessions; they are destined to live. The slightness of the notice bestowed on them in the Messenger, leaves it uncertain what conjectures the critic had formed about the authorship; but if he supposed that he was reviewing the work of a nameless American, he is probably altogether mistaken. Internal evidence strongly favours the opinion that the author is an Englishman; there is some ground, however, for the conjecture that he is a Frenchman, and that the work has been merely translated into English. Whatever be the author's name or nation, both will in all probability be soon and extensively known. This appeal from the critic's decision is not needed for any influence upon the ultimate circulation of the Confessions, for ultimately they would force themselves into circulation. But there may be some persons within the sphere of the Messenger, willing to devolve on others the trouble of thinking for them, or afraid of being enrolled in the category of le vulgaire if they think for themselves. To such individuals it may be encouraging to perceive that there are two opinions respecting this new publication; the one of a critic who has not read it, the other of a person who has.

In conclusion, and for fear of misconstruction even more grievous than the stain of vulgarity already impressed upon me, I beg leave to assure yourselves, the critic, and all others whom it may concern, that I am not the unfortunate Fra Diavolo. His rejected rhymes I have never seen, but his printed reasons leave me no ambition to be identified with him. I hope, too, that my own observations are distinguished from his recent assault on the Messenger, not less by their tone and [page 155:] temper, than by the circumstance that he was fiercely for himself, while I am gently for an unknown and probably foreign writer.

[Valerius was J. G. Lockhart's novel described by Poe in the April Messenger as “a book to live.” “Fra Diavolo” submitted “poetical communications” to the Messenger which James E. Heath found as offensive imitations of “such vicious models as Byron, Shelly [Shelley], and other gentlemen of the ‘Satanic school.’ ” To Fra Diavolo's letter to the Compiler, 6 April, “Benedict,” author of “The Doom;” replied, 8 April.]

[1835] 20 MAY. White sends Poe $5 and an order for $4.94 and calls attention to “J.'s” letter in the Compiler (Poe to White, 30 May 1835).

[1835] 30 MAY. BALTIMORE. In a letter to White, Poe acknowledges the receipt of moneys; he apologizes for his review of Kennedy's Horse-Shoe Robinson in the May Messenger, pleading ill health. Poe has read the letter by “J.” in the Compiler; he suggests their ignoring it. He is flattered by Beverley Tucker's favorable comments. He adds: “My notice of your Messenger in the [Baltimore] Republican was I am afraid too brief for your views” (L, 1:59-61).

[1835] 2 JUNE. RICHMOND. White writes Beverley Tucker: “Bless me! I must also ask whether you cannot give me a Review of Chief Justices [John Marshall's] edition of Washington. I received your few hasty lines and read your compliment to Poe & Sparhawk with great pleasure. — They deserve it” (Vi-W-TC).

[For Tucker's “compliment to Poe & Sparhawk” see “Extracts from Letters of Correspondents: From Eastern Virginia” under 11 JUNE 1835.]

[1835] 8 JUNE. White writes Poe, inquiring about his health and sending him magazines perhaps for review (Poe to White, 12 June 1835).

[1835] 11 JUNE. The May number of the Messenger makes its appearance with Poe's “Lion-zing” and his review of Kennedy's Horse-Shoe Robinson.

In “Editorial Remarks” Edward V. Sparhawk writes: “ ‘Lionizing,’ by Mr. Poe, is an inimitable piece of wit and satire and the man must be far gone in a melancholic humor, whose risibility is not moved by this tale. 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. [Frances Anne] Butler's Journal should have disgusted the fashionable world with Lions.”

Under the heading “Publisher's Notice,” Sparhawk is introduced, not by [page 156:] name, as “manager of the editorial department.” Also White acknowledges his indebtedness to Sparhawk's predecessor, James E. Heath, without mentioning his name.

On the wrappers of this issue White prints the following comments:


From Eastern Virginia.

Mr. Poe possesses an extraordinary faculty. He paints the palpable obscure, with strange power; throwing over his pictures a sombre gloom, which is appalling. The images are dim but distinct; shadowy, but well defined. The outline indeed, is all we see; but there they stand, shrouded in darkness, and frighten us with the mystery that defies farther scrutiny. Mr. Pertinax Placid [Edward V. Sparhawk] has given us the best allegory in the language. Such things are commonly dull. But his “Content's Mishap” is ingenious and witty throughout. I have seen nothing of the sort so well sustained.

[A part of this letter was later printed in the biographical sketch of Poe in the Philadelphia Saturday Museum, 4 March 1843, where the correspondent is identified as N. B. Tucker.]


“MORELLA, a Tale, by EDGAR A. POE,” (like his “Berenice,” in the previous number,) is one of the best of those wild and gloomy exhibitions of passion, heretofore belonging almost peculiarly to the genius of the German school of romance. We cannot but think, that such over-wrought delineations of the passions are injurious to correct taste, however attractive they may be to the erratic mood, and unnatural imaginings of a poetically vivid mind. Mr. Poe is capable of higher and more useful flights; and will no doubt reach an enviable eminence, if he does not suffer the current of his genius to be choked by a morbid sensibility, or diverted from its natural channel by the destructive fresher of a superabundant fancy. ...

A Tale of a Nose, by Pertinax Placid.” — This is a nonpareil of humor, and loses nothing from its conveying a good moral, through a laughter-loving medium, irresistibly amusing. There is in it, a great deal of the broad, racy, and piquant humor which distinguishes IRVING and PAULDING, when they feel disposed to exercise our risibles, by introducing

“Mirth, that wrinkled care derides;

And Laughter, holding both his sides.”

We present to our readers, entire, this inimitable “Tale of a Nose,” confident that they will enjoy it with the deepest zest; for it is irresistibly comic and entertaining — Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle.

[The Richmond Compiler had reprinted the Chronicle's notice earlier, 30 May 1835.]

We cannot accord much praise to “Morella,” a tale, by Edgar A. Poe. It is the creation of a fancy unrestrained by judgment and undirected by design. The writer is truly imaginative and possesses great powers of language, while his production [page 157:] attracts and carries along the attention of the reader, it deals out to him in the end a sore and unmerited disappointment. — Charleston (Va.) Kanawha Banner.

Listed as a subscriber paying between 9 May and 6 June is Dr. Thomas Holley Chivers of Georgia.

[1835] 11 JUNE. BALTIMORE. This morning Poe receives White's letter of 8 June with a number of magazines (Poe to White, 12 June 1835).

[1835] 12 JUNE. RICHMOND. The Richmond Enquirer reprints Poe's “Lion-izing.” John O. Lay, Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Richmond Academy, announces a postponement of the choice of a Principal until 26 June (Enquirer, 12 June. See 24 JULY 1835).

[1835] 12 JUNE. BALTIMORE. Poe, “entirely recovered,” writes White that he will do his best to please White with a review of John Marshall's Washington: “I suppose you have recd Mr. [George H.] Calvert's communication. ... I will send you on The American & Republican as soon as the critiques come out. What I can do farther to aid the circulation of your Magazine I will gladly do — but I must insist on your not sending me any remuneration for services of this nature. They are a pleasure to me & no trouble whatever.” Poe congratulates White upon obtaining the assistance of Sparhawk: “He has a high reputation for talent” (L, 1:61-62).

[1835] AFTER 12 JUNE. At White's request Poe calls on John W. Woods, publisher and printer of the Baltimore directories (Poe to White, 22 June 1835).

[1835] 13 JUNE. RICHMOND. White writes Beverley Tucker: “Your critical notices of Sparks and Bancroft are excellent. ... The Review of the Italian novel [G. W. Featherstonhaugh's I promessi sposi] assuming an editorial appearance did not call for eulogy from us. ... It is, in my opinion, as good a Review as you have penned for the Messenger” (Vi-W-TC).

[1835] 13 JUNE. BALTIMORE. The Baltimore Republican publishes Poe's notice of the May Messenger: “Lionizing, a tale by Edgar A. Poe, is an admirable piece of burlesque, which displays much reading, a lively humor, and an ability to afford amusement or instruction, according to the direction he may choose to give to his pen, which should not be suffered to lie unemployed, and will not, we trust, be neglected. ... We refer our readers confidently to the Critical Notices in the present Number. We have read with interest the remarks on the Promessi Sposi of Manzoni; on Mrs. Butler's Journal; and on our townsman Mr. Kennedy's new novel, Horse-Shoe [page 158:] Robinson — of which latter the publication, although long anxiously expected, has been, for what reason we know not, deferred.”

[1835] 15 JUNE. The Baltimore American publishes Poe's notice of the May Messenger: “We are pleased to note a spirited contribution from our townsman Edgar A. Poe, Esq. It is an extravaganza called ‘Lionizing; and gives evidence of high powers of fancy and humor. ... Among the literary notices is a good one of ‘Horse-Shoe Robinson,’ a work for which the public are eagerly looking, and for which we venture to predict universal popularity” (Mabbott [1920], p. 374; Jackson [1935], pp. 254-55).

[1835] 16 JUNE. Perhaps Poe reviews The Italian Sketch-Book in the Baltimore American (Mabbott [1920], p. 374 n. 10).

[1835] 16 JUNE. RICHMOND. The Richmond Enquirer reprints Poe's notice of the May Messenger from the Baltimore Republican.

[1835] 18 JUNE. White sends Poe a reprint of the November 1834 Messenger (Poe to White, 22 June 1835).

[1835] 21 JUNE. BALTIMORE. Poe receives White's letter of 18 June (Poe to White, 22 June 1835).

[1835] 22 JUNE. Poe writes White, expressing doubt that a notice of the reprint of the November 1834 Messenger would be advantageous to White. He continues:

I would therefore look zealously to the future, letting the past take care of itself. ... Many of the Contributors to No. 3 are familiarly known to me — most of them I have seen occasionally. Charles B. Shaw the author of the Alleghany Levels is an old acquaintance, and a most estimable and talented man. I cannot say with truth that I had any knowledge of your son. ... I will pay especial attention to what you suggested in relation to the punctuation &c of my future M.S.S. You ask me if I would be willing to come on to Richmond if you should have occasion for my services during the coming winter. I reply that nothing would give me greater pleasure. I have been desirous, for some time past, of paying a visit to Richmond, and would be glad of any reasonable excuse for so doing. Indeed I am anxious to settle myself in that city, and if, by any chance, you hear of a situation likely to suit me, I would gladly accept it, were the salary even the merest trifle. ... What you say, in the conclusion of your letter, in relation to the supervision of proof-sheets, gives me reason to hope that possibly you might find something for me to do in your office. If so I should be very glad — for at present a very small portion of my time is employed. ... I called upon Mr. Wood[sl as you desired — but the Magazine was then completed. ... I have heard it suggested that a lighter-faced type in the headings of your various articles would improve the [page 159:] appearance of the Messenger. Do you not think so likewise? Who is the author of the Doom? (L, 1:62-64).

[1835] 22 JUNE. Perhaps Poe contributes a note on French tragedy to the American (Mabbott [1920], p. 374 n. 10).

[1835] 22 JUNE. ESSEX COUNTY, VIRGINIA. James M. Garnett writes White:

With respect to Mr. Poe, if I am to judge by his last communication [“Lionizing”], I should determine that he will rather injure than benefit your Paper. His sole object in this seems to be, to inform your Readers how many Authors he knows, — at least by name. That he may be “a scholar of the very highest grade” I will not question; but it is not always the best scholars that write best, or have the best taste & judgment. Read his piece over again, & I think you will agree with me that it has neither wit nor humor; or, that if it has any, it lies too deep for common understandings to fathom it (ViHi).

[1835] 23 JUNE. RICHMOND. The Richmond Compiler reprints a selection entitled “Beauchamp the Murderer” from Charles Fenno Hoffman's A Winter in the West, which Poe had briefly noticed in the April 1835 Messenger.

[1835] 26 JUNE. NEW YORK. James Kirke Paulding writes White: “ ‘Lion-izing.’ by Edgar A. Poe, [is] one of the most happy travesties of the coxcombical egotism of travelling scribblers I have ever seen” (inside front cover of the July 1835 Messenger; reprinted from the Richmond Whig by the Richmond Compiler, 21 July 1835, and by the Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 24 July 1835; reprinted in part in the Philadelphia Saturday Museum, 4 March 1843 and in the Southern Literary Messenger, N.S. 1 [August 1939]: 549. The complete letter was printed by Jackson [1982], p. 41).

[For Poe's reference to Paulding's letter, see 20 JULY 1835.]

[1835] 1 JULY. RICHMOND. Elmira Royster Shelton is baptized at age twenty-four (Mabbott [1969], 1:539 n. 5).

[1835] 6 JULY. PHILADELPHIA. Chief Justice John Marshall dies.

[1835] 8 JULY. BALTIMORE. The Baltimore American prints a notice of the death of Mrs. David Poe, Sr.: “Died yesterday morning, July 7th, in the 79th year of her age, MRS. ELIZABETH POE, relict of General Poe, of this city. Her friends are requested to attend her funeral, without further invitation, from the residence of her daughter, Mrs. William Clemm, in Amity Street, at 9 o’clock this morning.”

[1835] BEFORE 10 JULY. RICHMOND. The June Messenger includes Poe's “Hans [page 160:] Phaall — A Tale” and the following reviews by him: The Italian Sketch-Book, Henry W. Longfellow's Outre-Mer, J. N. Reynolds’ Voyage of the U. S. Frigate Potomac, Thomas Moore's The History of Ireland (Volume 1), Blackbeard, Eliza Leslie's Pencil Sketches (Second Series), and the American Quarterly Review for June.

Edward V. Sparhawk furnishes “Hans Phaall” with an introduction:

Mr. Poe's story of “Hans Phaall;” will add much to his reputation as an imaginative writer. In these ballooning days, when every “puny whipster” is willing to risk his neck in an attempt to “leave dull earth behind him;” and when we hear so much of the benefits which science is to derive from the art of ærostation, a journey to the moon may not be considered a matter of mere moonshine. Mr. Poe's scientific Dutch bellows-mender is certainly a prodigy, and the more to be admired, as he performs impossibilities, and details them with a minuteness so much like truth, that they seem quite probable. Indeed the cause of his great enterprise is in admirable harmony with the exploits which it encourages him to perform. There are thousands who, to escape the pertinacity of uncivil creditors, would be tempted to a flight as perilous as that of Hans Phaall. Mr. Poe's story is a long one, but it will appear short to the reader, whom it bears along with irresistible interest, through a region of which, of all others, we know least, but which his fancy has invested with peculiar charms. We trust that a future missive from the lunar voyager will give us a narrative of his adventures in the orb that he has been the first to explore.

On the inside front cover of the June Messenger, White reprints Poe's notice of the May Messenger from the Baltimore American of 15 June, and a notice of “Lion-izing” from the Charlottesville Advocate: “We cannot subscribe to the praise which we see lavished upon Mr. Edgar A. Poe's ‘palpable obscure’ effusions [Tucker's praise, 11 June]. His ‘Lion-izing’ is a feeble imitation of Slawkenbergius, and makes a very pedantic display of authors, which he may or may not have read, but of which no one else ever heard. It is, nevertheless, better than his ‘Morella’ of the preceding number.”

Hans Phaall manuscript, first page [thumbnail]

[Illustration on page 161]
“Hans Phaall”: The first page of Poe's manuscript

[1835] 10 JULY. BALTIMORE. The Baltimore Republican, edited by Samuel Harker, notices the June Messenger: “Hans Phaal, a Tale, by Edgar A. Poe, is a capital burlesque upon ballooning, which has recently been carried to a ridiculous extent, without much prospect of profit to the persons engaged in it, or advantage to the community.”

[1835] 10 JULY. CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA. In a notice of the June Messenger the Daily Courier praises Poe: “The article entitled ‘Hans Phaal,’ in which is narrated with all the minuteness of detail, which properly belongs to truth, a balloon voyage of a Dutch bellows’ mender to the Moon, is one of [page 162:] the most exquisite specimens of blended humor and science that we have ever perused.”

[This notice was reprinted on the covers of the July Messenger.]

[1835] 11 JULY. BALTIMORE. The Baltimore Athenaeum and Young Men's Paper, edited by John N. McJilton and T. S. Arthur, comments: “The Story of Hans Phaall by Edgar A. Poe is well imagined. It details the incidents of a voyage to our lunar neighbor in a balloon. The writer attempts to meet all philosophical objections that might be brought against the journey and certainly displays much ingenuity in setting aside every reasonable barrier, to the prosecution of such an expedition.”

[1835] 11 JULY. NEW YORK. The New-York Mirror puffs Theodore S. Fay's novel Norman Leslie: “We this week present our readers with two detached passages from Mr. Fay's forthcoming novel — the first as a specimen of his powers of descriptive pathos, and his facility of touching the feelings, and the other as an example of his style of narrative.”

[Poe was to create a sensation by damning both the novel and the Mirror's puffery in the December Messenger. His devastating review led to a major battle of periodicals. For a full account see Moss (1963).]

[1835] 14 AND 16 JULY. RICHMOND. In two letters White informs Poe that a trip has not improved his health and that perhaps “too close attention to business” caused his illness. White is anxious to know what opinion the Martinsburg Gazette has expressed of the Messenger. He reports that J. H. Pleasants of the Richmond Whig has criticized the commencement of “Hans Phaall” and that Paulding has praised “Lion-izing.” He requests that Poe obtain a pound of ink and he advises Poe that because of “certain circumstances” his Chief Justice Marshall review will not appear in the July issue (Poe to White, 20 July 1835).

[1835] 16 JULY. BALTIMORE. Perhaps Poe has a note on Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Table Talk in the Baltimore American (Mabbott [1920], p. 374 n. 10).

[1835] 20 JULY. Poe writes White, whose letters of 14 and 16 July he has received. He has read the Martinsburg Gazette's comments on the Messenger at Kennedy's home. He is pleased with John Hampden Pleasants’ remarks (“What Mr Pleasants says in relation to the commencement of Hans Phaal is judicious. That part of the Tale is faulty indeed — so much so that I had often thought of remodelling it entirely”) and with Paulding's letter of 26 June. He sends White a copy of the 12 October 1833 issue of the Baltimore Saturday Visiter and requests that White have the letter written [page 163:] by Kennedy, Latrobe, and Miller, if possible, printed in the Messenger and in any Richmond newspapers. Then he adds: “Look over Hans Phaal, and the Literary Notices by me in No. 10 [the June Messenger], and see if you have not miscalculated the sum due me. There are 34 columns in all. Hans Phaal cost me nearly a fortnights hard labour and was written especially for the Messenger” (L, 1:64-66).

[For Paulding's letter, see 26 JUNE; for Pleasants’ comments, AFTER 7 AUGUST. In his letters Poe spelled his title “Hans Phaal”; but in late 1839, when he reprinted the story in his Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, he again selected the “Hans Phaall” spelling found in his original manuscript written in early 1835 (NNPM), and used in the June 1835 Messenger. In 1842, when he prepared a tentative table of contents for his unrealized edition Phantasy-Pieces, he called this story “The Unparalleled Adventure of one Hans Pfaall,” a title which has been adopted by his posthumous editors. For an explanation of these variants, see Pollin (1978a), pp. 519-27, and (1981), pp. 384-85.]

[1835] 24 JULY. RICHMOND. The trustees of the Richmond Academy advertise in the Enquirer for a teacher of English.

RICHMOND ACADEMY —— By the direction of the Trustees, I give public notice that they will proceed on the 14th day of August next, to choose a Teacher for the English Department in said Institution. ...

The trustees announce to the public that they have engaged the services of Socrates Maupin, Esq. as Principal, and of Rowland Reynolds, Esq. as Teacher in the Academy: — the first will take charge of the school of Mathematics ... and the last, the school of Ancient Languages ...

President of the Board.

[This advertisement, which ran also in the Washington Daily National Intelligencer, the Philadelphia National Gazette, and the New York Evening Post, undoubtedly caught Poe's eye. See BEFORE 14 AUGUST and 19 AUGUST 1835. The job was awarded to Branch A. Saunders (Poe wrote in error “Branch T. Saunders” in his letter of 29 August 1835 to Maria Clemm), who in 1828 had his own school (advertisement, Compiler, 5 September 1828). In 1836 Saunders was head of the English Department of the Richmond Academy. Among the Academy trustees were John O. Lay, Charles Ellis, James E. Heath, and Bernard Peyton, with all of whom Poe was more or less acquainted. The school term was divided into two sessions of five months each, the first commencing 1 October and ending 21 February, and the second commencing 1 March.]

[1835] AFTER 7 AUGUST. The July Messenger appears with Poe's “To Mary” and [page 164:]The Visionary — A Tale” (later called “The Assignation”), including “To One in Paradise.” White prints the following notices of the Messenger:

En passant — Mr. Paulding speaks only of the number before the last. We should like to see his judgment on an article in the last — the voyage to the Moon, by Edgar A. Poe. We see that extraordinary production ridiculed by some; but if the merits of a production may be estimated by the effect on the reader, we at least have never perused one which caused such a dizziness of sensation. There is a great deal of nonsense, trifling and bad taste before Hans Phaal quits the earth — but when he has blown up his creditors and mounted into the solitude of space, his speculations assume a true philosophical character, exhibit genius and invention, and if they shall ever be brought to the test of experiment, will, we are persuaded, be found wonderfully approximating to truth, and penetrative of the mysteries of creation. To our apprehension — uneducated, however, by the rules of art — there is much sublimity in his conceptions and his narrative. — [John Hampden Pleasants,] Richmond Whig.

[Then follows Paulding's letter of 26 June 1835.]

Hans Phaal, a Tale, by Edgar A. Poe, is full of hairbreadth 'scapes and stirring incidents, though not exactly by flood and field. It is an over long chapter in the annals of Ballooning — being no less than a true and authentic narration of a voyage made by Mynheer Phaal, from the city of Rotterdam to the Moon. The voyager did not return to mother earth, but remained in the satellite at the last dates. His bearer of despatches was an inhabitant of that far off region, who had politely consented to visit the authorities of Rotterdam, in that character. The thing to regret is, that there is no account appended touching the fate of the “quadrupeds,” which, by an accident while on the journey, “too soon return’d to earth.” We trust that Mr. PHAAL will not remain among the men in the moon, but will return ere long, and not forget to give an account of his “journey home.” It will doubtless be as interesting as VANDERDECKEN’S. — Baltimore Patriot.

Lion-izing, a Tale, by Edgar A. Poe.” This tale we give entire this morning. The talents of the author are fine and varied; passing from “grave to gay” with pleasing facility. His Lion-izing has all the humor, animation, and satire of Sterne's man from the promontory of Noses, and creates as much sensation in Fum-Fudge, as Riego's did in Strasburg. The reader will take hold of Mr. Thomas Smith's nose with much pleasure and satisfaction. — Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle.

It [the Messenger] contains several stories of superior merit; that for instance, entitled Hans Phaal, is a capital burlesque upon the ballooning mania, which has recently driven a number of our good citizens beyond the confines of this nether world, to seek their fortunes in the unexplored aerial regions. The tale is a long one, but the sprightliness with which it is written, renders its length a recommendation. ...Baltimore Gazette.

[1835] 8 AUGUST. NEW YORK. The New-York Mirror puffs Fay's Norman Leslie.

[1835] BEFORE 14 AUGUST. RICHMOND. Poe arrives and boards at Mrs. [Robert?] [page 165:] Poore's boardinghouse on Bank Street. With Mrs. Poore live her daughter and son-in-law Thomas W. Cleland (Allen, p. 304; Phillips, 1:503-504).

Poe applies to the Richmond Academy for a job teaching English (Margaret Ellis to Charles Ellis, 19 August 1835).

[1835] 14 AUGUST. The Trustees of the Richmond Academy begin the selection of a teacher for the English Department (see 24 JULY and 29 AUGUST 1835).

[1835] CA. 17 AUGUST. AUGUSTA, GEORGIA. William Poe writes Poe (Poe to William Poe, 20 August 1835).

[1835] 18 AUGUST. RICHMOND. White writes Lucian Minor: “[The] Reviews [in the July Messenger are] all by Sparhawk ... I have, my dear Sir, been compelled to part with Mr. Sparhawk, as regular editor — I have run too fast. He will however continue to assist me. Mr. Poe is here also. — He tarries one month — and will aid me all that lies in his power” (Jackson [1934], pp. 97-98).

[1835] 19 AUGUST. Margaret Ellis writes her husband Charles, who is at White Sulphur Springs for his health, that “Edgar Poe is here & I understand has applied for one of the Professorships in the Academy.” Also at White Sulphur are the second Mrs. John Allan, her sons, and Ann Moore Valentine (DLC-EA).

[Margaret Ellis was obviously referring to the Richmond Academy, and not to Genaro Persico's school as suggested by Killis Campbell (1936), pp. 487-88.]

[1835] 20 AUGUST. Poe writes William Poe, relating his family history and making several false statements:

Mrs. [Elizabeth Poe] the widow of General D. Poe, and the mother of Maria [Clemm], died only 6 weeks ago, at the age of 79. She had for the last 8 years of her life been confined entirely to bed — never, in any instance, leaving it during that time. She had been paralyzed, and suffered from many other complaints — her daughter Maria attending her during her long & tedious illness. ... My father David died when I was in the second year of my age and when my sister Rosalie was an infant in arms. Our mother died a few weeks before him. ... At this period my grandfather's circumstances were at a low ebb, he from great wealth having been reduced to poverty. ... My brother Henry he took ... under his charge, while myself and Rosalie were adopted by gentlemen in Richmond. ... I was adopted by Mr. Jno Allan. ... The first Mrs. A. having died, and Mr A having married again I found my situation not so comfortable as before, and obtained a Cadet's appointment at W. Point. During my stay there Mr A died suddenly, and left me — nothing. No will was found among his papers. ... I [page 166:] have lately obtained the Editorship of the Southern Messenger. ... Mrs. Clemm ... is now ... struggling without friends, without money, and without health to support [herself] and 2 children (L, 1:66-69 and 2:672 [1966]).

[Poe's employment by White caused the “postponement” of Lambert A. Wilmer's and Poe's plans to publish “a monthly magazine of a superior intellectual character” (Wilmer [1859], pp. 35-36).]

[1835] CA. 20 AUGUST. Poe writes Maria Clemm (Poe to Maria Clemm, 29 August 1835).

[1835] 20-26 AUGUST. BALTIMORE. Maria Clemm writes Poe (Poe to Maria Clemm, 29 August 1835).

[1835] 21 AUGUST. RICHMOND. In a letter to the Enquirer a writer who signs himself “Pocosin” reviews the July Messenger and praises “The Visionary” without mentioning Poe's name.

[A part of this letter appeared on the covers of the August Messenger. See CA. 11 SEPTEMBER.]

[1835] 25-31 AUGUST. NEW YORK. The Sun publishes Richard Adams Locke's hoax, “Great Astronomical Discoveries, Lately Made by Sir John Herschel,” in five installments.

[In his letter to Kennedy, 11 September 1835, Poe expressed his belief that ideas in “Hans Phaall” had been stolen from him by Locke.]

[1835] 27-28 AUGUST. BALTIMORE. Maria Clemm writes Poe (Poe to Maria Clemm, 29 August 1835).

[1835] 29 AUGUST. RICHMOND. Poe writes Maria Clemm:

I have no desire to live and will not. ... I love, you know I love Virginia passionately devotedly. ... All my thoughts are occupied with the supposition that both you & she will prefer to go with N. [Neilson] Poe. ... It is useless to disguise the truth that when Virginia goes with N. P. that I shall never behold her again. ... I had procured a sweet little house in a retired situation on church hill — newly done up and with a large garden and every convenience — at only $5 per month. ... Among strangers with not one soul to love me. The situation [at the Richmond Academy] has this morning been conferred upon another, Branch T. [A.] Saunders, but White has engaged to make my salary $60 a month. ... She [Virginia] will have far — very far better opportunities of entering into society here than with N. P. Every one here receives me with open arms.

In a postscript Poe addresses both Virginia and her mother: “For Virginia, My love, my own sweetest Sissy, my darling little wifey, think well before [page 167:] you break the heart of your cousin. Eddy. ... Dearest Aunty consider my happiness while you are thinking about your own” (L, 1:69-71).

[1835] 29 AUGUST. NEW YORK. The New-York Mirror prints selections from T. S. Fay's Norman Leslie and reports: “In our present number we continue our extracts from this beautiful performance, which will make its appearance in this city and in London simultaneously.”

[1835] 29 AUGUST. CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA. The Courier expresses the belief that “The Visionary” demonstrates that Poe is “not as good at the purely romantic, as he is, supremely, in the humorous extravaganza. ‘Hans Phaal,’ even though it may have sold him to the Dutch, has immortalized him — and it may be but the brightness of his own previous merit that makes him now but seem obscure.”

[1835] 31 AUGUST. RICHMOND. White writes Lucian Minor: “It will be almost indispensably necessary that the [Messenger] Index (including No. 12 [August issue]) should reach me in a fortnight at farthest from this day” (Jackson [1936], p. 232).

[1835] 2-5 SEPTEMBER. NEW YORK. Without identifying the author, the New York Transcript reprints Poe's “Hans Phaall” in four installments under the heading “Lunar Discoveries. Extraordinary Aerial Voyage by Baron Hans Phaal, the Celebrated Dutch Astronomer and Aeronaut.”

[1835] 4 SEPTEMBER. RICHMOND. Poe writes John Neal, in Boston: “Herewith I send a number of the Southern Literary Messenger, a Magazine of which I have lately obtained the Editorship. Do you think you could send me regularly in exchange, The [New-England] Galaxy or any other paper of wh: you have the control?” (L, 1:72).

[1835] BEFORE 8 SEPTEMBER. Poe writes Dr. James H. Miller, in Baltimore (Poe to Kennedy, 11 September 1835).

[1835] 8 SEPTEMBER. White writes Lucian Minor: “I am now as it were my own editor — No. 12 [August 1835 issue] is made out of my wits. When we meet, I will tell you why I was obliged to part with Sparhawk. Poe is now in my employ — not as Editor. He is unfortunately rather dissipated, — and therefore I can place very little reliance upon him. His disposition is quite amiable. He will be some assistance to me in proof-reading — at least I hope so. ... All the Critical & Literary Notices, by Mr. Poe” (Jackson [1934], p. 98). [page 168:]

[John W. Fergusson, employed by White as printer and messenger boy, later asserted: “Mr. Poe was a fine gentleman when he was sober. He was ever kind and courtly, and at such times every one liked him. But when he was drinking he was about one of the most disagreeable men I have ever met” (Woodberry, 2:443).]

[1835] 8-9 SEPTEMBER. WESTMINSTER, MARYLAND. Dr. James H. Miller writes Poe (Poe to Kennedy, 11 September 1835).

[1835] 10 SEPTEMBER. RICHMOND. Poe receives Dr. Miller's letter informing him that Kennedy has returned to Baltimore (Poe to Kennedy, 11 September 1835).

[1835] 11 SEPTEMBER. Poe writes John Pendleton Kennedy:

Through your influence Mr White has been induced to employ me in assisting him with the Editorial duties of his Magazine at a salary of $520 per annum ... You will believe me when I say that I am still miserable in spite of the great improvement in my circumstances. ... I see “the Gift” [for 1836] is out. They have published the M.S. found in a Bottle (, the prize tale you will remember,) although I not only told Mr Carey myself that it had been published, but wrote him to that effect after my return to Baltimore, and sent him another tale in place of it (Epimanes). ... Mr White is willing to publish my Tales of the Folio Club — that is to print them. Would you oblige me by ascertaining from Carey & Lea whether they would, in that case, appear nominally as the publishers, the books, when printed, being sent on to them, as in the case of H. S. Robinson? Have you seen the “Discoveries in the Moon”? Do you not think it altogether suggested by Hans Phaal?. ... I am convinced that the idea was stolen from myself (L, 1:73-75).

[1835] CA. 11 SEPTEMBER. Poe's “The Coliseum. A Prize Poem” (a reprint from the Baltimore Saturday Visiter), “Bon-Bon — A Tale,” two fillers (“The Unities” and “By what bizarrerie ... ”), and “Critical Notices and Literary Intelligence” appear in the August Messenger. Under the heading “To Readers and Correspondents” appear the following remarks:

As one or two of the criticisms in relation to the Tales of our contributor, Mr. Poe, have been directly at variance with those generally expressed, we take the liberty of inserting here an extract from a letter (signed by three gentlemen of the highest standing in literary matters) which we find in the Baltimore Visiter. This paper having offered a premium for the best Prose Tale, and also one for the best Poem — both these premiums were awarded by the committee to Mr. Poe. The award was, however, subsequently altered, so as to exclude Mr. P from the second premium, in consideration of his having obtained the higher one. Here follows the extract. [page 169:]

“Among the prose articles offered were many of various and distinguished merit; but the singular force and beauty of those sent by the author of the Tales of the Folio Club, leave us no room for hesitation in that department. We have accordingly awarded the premium to a Tale entitled MS. found in a Bottle. It would hardly be doing justice to the writer of this collection to say that the Tale we have chosen is the best of the six offered by him. We cannot refrain from saying that the author owes it to his own reputation, as well as to the gratification of the community, to publish the entire volume, (the Tales of the Folio Club.) These Tales are eminently distinguished by a wild, vigorous, and poetical imagination — a rich style — a fertile invention — and varied and curious learning.



We presume this letter must set the question at rest. Lionizing is one of the Tales here spoken of — The Visionary is another. The Tales of the Folio Club are sixteen in all, and we believe it is the author's intention to publish them in the autumn. When such men as Miller, Latrobe, Kennedy, Tucker, and Paulding speak unanimously of any literary production in terms of exalted commendation, it is nearly unnecessary to say that we are willing to abide by their decision.

In another paragraph the “original filler” is introduced: “In every publication like ours, a brief sentence or paragraph is often wanted for the filling out a column, and in such cases it is customary to resort to selection. We think as well, therefore, to mention that, in all similar instances, we shall make use of original matter.”

The publisher reprints on the inside covers of the Messenger the following notices under the heading “Opinions of the Press”:

The editor, understood to be E. V. Sparhawk, Esq., a gentleman of fine literary taste and acquirements, most judiciously leaves in the number [July Messenger] before us, many of the best articles to speak for themselves. — Richmond Compiler, quoting the editor of the Petersburg (Va.) Constellation.

... and amid all the story writers of this story writing age, Mr. Poe deserves no small share of encomium. He first touches so beautifully on what is sure to interest the reader — no long-drawn tedious conversations between Polly and John about the weather and the news; no petty details of breakfast, dinner, and supper tables; his sketches are like the pencillings of some eminent painter, just the outline, with all left to the imagination that deserves to be filled by itself. — Winchester (Va.) Republican.

“The Visionary” is a vivid, inventive, and thrilling sketch — teeming with beautiful language, which has the freshness and volume of the mountain cataract, without its turbulence. There is no bombast in the offspring of this writer, though the dull man will look for it; and we defy the severest critic to find fault with the [page 170:] strength and delicacy of that pencil, which is alternately grasped by a master's hand, or which trembles with a woman's softness. The author has nothing to fear; his genius must light up his onward flight; and with labor and perseverance he will gain that proud fame so beautifully expressed by Beaumont and Fletcher:

—————— “I have towered

For victory, like a falcon in the clouds —

Not dig’d for it, like a mole.”

The Reviewer's and Editor's Department, is conducted with great ability, learning, and taste; while the typographical execution of the work happily unites the neatness of the Boston, with the elegance of the London press. — [from a lengthy review of the July Messenger by “Pocosin” in the] Richmond Enquirer [21 August].

The Visionary, a Tale, by Edgar A. Poe, sustains the high reputation the author has already won as a writer of fiction. The Visionary is decidedly one of his very best effusions. — [Washington] National Intelligencer.

“The Visionary;” a Tale, by Edgar A. Poe, is a wild, imaginative, romantic tale, full of deep interest, which however is left too much ungratified. — Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle.

[1835] 19 SEPTEMBER. BALTIMORE. John Pendleton Kennedy writes Poe:

I am sorry to see you in such plight as your letter shows you in. — It is strange that just at the time when every body is praising you and when Fortune has begun to smile upon your hitherto wretched circumstances you should be invaded by these villainous blue devils. ... You will doubtless do well henceforth in literature and add to your comforts as well as to your reputation which, it gives me great pleasure to tell you, is every where rising in popular esteem. Can’t you write some farces after the manner of the French Vaudevilles?. ... More than yourself have remarked the coincidence between Hans Phaal & the Lunar Discoveries and I perceive that in New York they are republishing Hans for the sake of comparison. ... I will write to Carey & Lea to know if they will allow you to publish The Tales of the Folio Club in their name. Of course, you will understand that if they do not print them they will not be required to be at the risk of the printing expenses. I suppose you mean that White shall take that risk upon himself and look for his indemnity to the sale. My own opinion is that White could publish them as advantageously as Carey (W, 17:19-20).

[1835] 19 SEPTEMBER. John N. McJilton and T. S. Arthur, editors of the Baltimore Athenaeum and Young Men's Paper, observe: “Our townsman, Mr. E. A. Poe, is winning for himself a fair reputation by his contributions to the Messenger. He writes with a bold free hand, and is irresistibly interesting.”

[1835] BEFORE 21 SEPTEMBER. RICHMOND. Poe leaves White and the Messenger and returns to Baltimore (White to Minor, 21 September).

[1835] 21 SEPTEMBER. White writes his friend Lucian Minor: “Poe has flew [sic] [page 171:] the track already. His habits were not good. — He is in addition the victim of melancholy. I should not be at all astonished to hear that he has been guilty of suicide” (Jackson [1934], p. 100).

[1835] 22 SEPTEMBER. BALTIMORE. The Clerk of the Baltimore County Court issues a license for the marriage of Edgar A. Poe and Virginia E. Clemm (Woodberry, 1:143; Allen, pp. 704-05).

[Perhaps Poe and his cousin Virginia were privately married at this time, but conclusive evidence is lacking. Quinn, pp. 227-28, attempted to dismiss the possibility of a secret first marriage; Mabbott (1969), 1:546, argued for that possibility. See 16 MAY 1836.]

[1835] 25 SEPTEMBER. BOSTON. The Boston Courier prints an unfavorable review of the Gift for 1836, without mentioning Poe and his “MS. Found in a Bottle”: “The Gift contains articles by Miss Sedgewick [sic], Mrs. Sigourney, J. K. Paulding, W. L. Stone, Washington Irving, and others, less celebrated in the literary world. ... The longer prose articles we have not read, except the closing sketch, by the veritable Miss Leslie, herself, who edited The Gift — a piece, which we venture to say no one will ever read twice. A more harmless concoction of skimmed-milk and rain-water, never was prepared for the stomach of a sick baby.”

[For Poe's reaction, see LATE SEPTEMBER.]

[1835] BEFORE 29 SEPTEMBER. BALTIMORE. Poe writes White, asking for reinstatement (implied by White to Poe, 29 September).

[1835] 29 SEPTEMBER. RICHMOND. White writes Poe:

Would that it were in my power to unbosom myself to you, in language such as I could on the present occasion, wish myself master of. I cannot do it — and therefore must be content to speak to you in my plain way.

That you are sincere in all your promises, I firmly believe. But, Edgar, when you once again tread these streets, I have my fears that your resolves would fall through, — and that you would again sip the juice, even till it stole away your senses. Rely on your own strength, and you are gone! Look to your Maker for help, and you are safe!

How much I regretted parting with you, is unknown to anyone on this earth, except myself. I was attached to you — and am still, — and willingly would I say return, if I did not dread the hour of separation very shortly again.

If you could make yourself contented to take up your quarters in my family, or in any other private family where liquor is not used, I should think there were hopes of you. But, if you go to a tavern, or to any other place where it is used at table, you are not safe. I speak from experience. [page 172:]

You have fine talents, Edgar — and you ought to have them respected as well as yourself. Learn to respect yourself, and you will very soon find that you are respected. Separate yourself from the bottle, and bottle-companions, for ever!

Tell me if you can and will do so — and let me hear that it is your fixed purpose never to yield to temptation.

If you should come to Richmond again, and again should be an assistant in my office, it must be expressly understood by us that all engagements on my part would be dissolved, the moment you get drunk.

No man is safe who drinks before breakfast! No man can do so, and attend to business properly.

I have thought over the matter seriously about the Autograph article, and have come to the conclusion that it will be best to omit it in its present dress. I should not be at all surprised, were I to send it out, to hear that [James Fenimore] Cooper had sued me for a libel.

The form containing it has been ready for press three days — and I have been just as many days deciding the question (W, 17:20-21).

[1835] SEPTEMBER? WINCHESTER, VIRGINIA? Philip Pendleton Cooke, praises Poe in a letter to White (see LATE SEPTEMBER).

[1835] LATE SEPTEMBER. RICHMOND. The September Messenger (the last issue of Volume I) publishes Poe's “Loss of Breath, a tale a la Blackwood,” two fillers (“Milton is indebted for some of the finest passages in the Paradise Lost to Marino's ‘Sospetti D’Herode’ ” and “The ‘Acajou et Zirphile’ of Du Clos is a whimsical and amusing Fairy Tale ... ”), “Lines Written in an Album” (originally entitled “To Elizabeth”), “King Pest the First. A Tale Containing an Allegory,” “Shadow. A Fable,” and critical notices: Mephistopheles in England, J. Orville Taylor's The District School: or National Education, the New England Magazine for September, the Western Journal of the Medical and Physical Sciences, The Classical Family Library (Nos. XV-XVI, and XVII), Robert Southey's The Early Naval History of England, and Eliza Leslie's Gift for 1836. Poe finds that “The Gift is highly creditable ... this we say positively — the ill-mannered and worse-natured opinion of the Boston Courier to the contrary notwithstanding.” He writes: “The present number closes the first volume of the Messenger; and accompanying it, the Publisher will transmit to each subscriber a title page and copious Index to the volume. Gratified that his past endeavors to please, have been crowned with success — the Publisher anticipates with confidence that, with the continued patronage of the public, the forthcoming volume shall in no respect be behind, if it does not greatly outstrip its predecessor.” To readers and correspondents Poe reports that the whole edition of Volume I, consisting of fourteen hundred copies, has been exhausted. Extracts from “Opinions of the Press” follow:

We have been favored by the proprietor of the Southern Literary Messenger, [page 173:] with the perusal of a letter from the writer of articles on “English Poetry.” The writer [Philip Pendleton Cooke], whose name we are not at liberty to give to the public, is unquestionably one of the most gifted and highly intellectual of Virginia's sons. He pays a deserved compliment to a fellow contributor to the Messenger; and we take great pleasure in spreading an extract from his letter before our readers.

“In looking over your list of contributors, I see the name of Mr. Poe. I have heard of some passages in his life, which have added to the interest with which I read his writings. *** For God's sake, value him according to his merits, which are exceeding great. I say this with deliberation, for I have been months in coming to the conclusion that he is the first genius, in his line, in Virginia. And when I say this, how many other States are included — certainly all South of us. The conversation in Morella — the description in Berenice of a mind dwelling with strained intensity upon some particular [trifling] object with which the eye meets — and the description of that Beckford of Venice, and his singular sanctum in the Visionary: as also the vague speculations of Hans Phaal upon the scenery of the moon — with its shadow-stained lakes and sombre vegetation — are compositions of rare beauty. I am too much hurried to write good English, but you may understand from what I have scribbled above, that I admire Poe greatly.” — Richmond Compiler.

.... The next article in order is “Bon-Bon,” a Tale, by EDGAR A. POE. It is characterized by the quaint humor and eccentricity for which that gentleman's writings are usually remarkable, and by the antique lore, and happy talent for invention which distinguish some of his other tales. Bon-Bon is a most philosophical restaurateur, and the Devil, who appears to him, the most gentlemanly of his race. ... — [Washington] National lntelligencer.

Of the preceding editor [Sparhawk] we know nothing. Of the present we know this, and we lose no time in saying so, he is emphatically a man of genius. Being a man of genius, it will depend altogether upon the sort of encouragement he receives, whether the work [the Messenger] be a matter of pride or of reproach to the south. ...

But first — a word with the Richmond Enquirer, whose opinion of the work appears on the inside cover [of the August Messenger]. What the devil do you mean by the following passage? Speaking of the editor you say, “His notices are learned without pedantry, and his criticisms are redolent of a poet's taste, and beaming with a poets fire.” Hav’n’t ye such a thing as an English Dictionary in your office? ... Who will care a fig for your opinion of a literary work, if you are guilty of such unforgiveable nonsense?

To Sarah. — Boyish but sincere.

Bon-Bon: by Edgar A. Poe. — Excellent! — we need not say more — excellent!

Ballad. — Very sweet and affectionate.

The Coliseum: Edgar A. Poe. — Majestic and powerful poetry.

Critical Notices. — Rather too cautious, but lively. — [John Neal,] New England Galaxy.

Bon-Bon: by Edgar A. Poe — One of the most exquisite jeu d’esprit we have read in [page 174:] many a day. It is equal, perhaps superior, to any thing Theodore Hook ever wrote.

The Critical Notices, though numerous, and generally correct, are too slight for our taste. ...New York Courier & Enquirer.

We have derived great pleasure from the contributions of our townsman E. A. Poe, Esq. who is fast building up for himself a high reputation as a writer of fiction. — [Neilson Poe?] Baltimore Chronicle.

Coliseum, a Prize Poem, by Edgar A. Poe, evinces no inconsiderable descriptive talent. Indeed, we think the author's fertile imagination can range the heights of Parnassus as well as the lofty mountains of our friendly and now highly interesting satellite. His Hans Phaal, published in a recent number of the Messenger, should be bound up in the same volume with the description of the sublime discoveries recently made by Dr. Herschell at the Cape of Good Hope. ... [William Gwynn, editor,] Baltimore Gazette.

... Mr. Poe's Bon-Bon is quite a unique and racy affair. — Winchester Republican.

The number before us is made up of original matter, with the exception of a single article, “The Coliseum a Prize Poem,” by E. A. Poe. — Camden (S. C.) Journal.

The articles of Edgar A. Poe, in this and previous numbers, give us a very high opinion of his talents. He invariably exhibits great research, a fund of rich thought, and a felicity of expression, scarcely equalled by one of his years. Experience and practice, under judicious criticism, will render him distinguished as a literary man. — Richmond Compiler.

... Edgar A. Poe, who, say what the captious may, has given the most conclusive evidence of genius and talent of no ordinary cast as a writer, in his Hans Phaal and several other productions, before the readers of the Messenger. — [Hiram Haines, editor,] Petersburg (Va.) Constellation.

Bon-Bon, a Tale by Edgar A. Poe, sustains the well established reputation of the author as a writer possessing a rich imaginative genius, and a free, flowing and very happy style. — [William Gwynn, editor,] Baltimore Gazette.

[1835] 1 OCTOBER. CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA. The Courier acknowledges receipt of the Messenger for September.

[1835] 1 OCTOBER. RICHMOND. White writes Lucian Minor, with whom he is indexing Volume I of the Messenger: “I have just seen Mr. Heath. He thinks he can manage the Autography for me. He proposes striking out Cooper's and Irving's names. I will not put the article in till I hear from you. Give me your candid opinion of it. Poe is its author. I should not like to shoot so sarcastic an arrow at poor Cooper — however much he deserves it” (Jackson [1934], pp. 101-02).

[1835] 3 OCTOBER. Poe, Virginia, and Maria Clemm arrive from Baltimore and board at Mrs. James Yarrington's home (Maria Clemm to William Poe, 7 [page 175:] October 1835; W, 17:379-81; Poe to George Poe, Jr., 12 January 1836).

[1835] 4 OCTOBER. PHILADELPHIA. Henry Carey writes John Pendleton Kennedy: “I do not know what to say respecting Poe. Is he not deranged? I should care nothing about aiding him as you propose, but I should like to be sure he was sane; let me hear from you” (Campbell [1917a], p. 198).

[1835] 7 OCTOBER. RICHMOND. Maria Clemm writes William Poe, in Augusta, Georgia: “Edgar received a letter from you yesterday and requested me to answer it for him, as he is at present so much engaged. ... We arrived here on Saturday evening last. Edgar went on to Baltimore for us. ... My health is at present so bad that I have had no opportunity of seeing the place. ... He [Poe] does not wish me to engage in any kind of business until my health is better. ... [She relates their family history.] My daughter Virginia is with me here and we are entirely dependent on Edgar. He is, indeed a son to me & has always been so. ... He requests me to say that he is obliged to you for the subscribers you procured him and says that all that you can obtain for the Messenger will be to his advantage” (W, 17:379-81, where it is misdated “1836”).

[1835] 8 OCTOBER. Poe writes Robert Montgomery Bird, a Philadelphia novelist and playwright: “At the request of Mr. Thomas W. White ... I take the liberty of ... soliciting your aid in the way of occasional or regular contributions to his Magazine” (L, 1:75-76).

[1835] 10 OCTOBER. NEW YORK. The New-York Mirror puffs Theodore S. Fay's Norman Leslie a fourth time by quoting a passage from the novel.

[1835] 17 OCTOBER. CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA. The Courier acknowledges receipt of Eliza Leslie's The Gift. A Christmas and New Year's Present for 1836.

[Four days later, the Courier printed a brief notice: “This is indeed a gem among the Annuals. ... Among her [Miss Leslie's] contributors are Miss SEDGWICK, Mrs. SIGOURNEY, WASHINGTON IRVING, SIMMS, PAULDING, EDGAR A. POE, AND W. L. STONE — names well known to literature and poesy. ... the ‘Manuscript found in a Bottle,’ is an extravaganza, somewhat of the terrific order, by EDGAR A. POE, whose eccentric genius delights in the creation of strange possibilities, and in making a play thing of science, and whose fanciful aim, in the production under consideration, seems to be to give the credulous well bottled proof of Capt. SYMMES’ theory of polar apertures and concentric circles.” John Cleves Symmes propounded the belief that the earth was hollow, open at both of the poles, and capable of habitation within. He and James McBride published [page 176:] Symmes’ Theory of Concentric Spheres (Cincinnati, 1826), which Poe drew on for “MS. Found in a Bottle;” “Hans Phaall,” and The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.]

[1835] 20 OCTOBER. RICHMOND. White writes Lucian Minor: “Mr. Poe, who is with me again, read it [Minor's ‘Address’] over by copy with great care. He is very much pleased with it — in fact he ... intends noticing it under the head of Reviews. ... Critical Notices [in the September Messenger], all by Poe” (Jackson [1934], pp. 102-03).

[1835] 22 OCTOBER. WASHINGTON. The Daily National Intelligencer reports: “We received a few days ago the thirteenth number (being the closing No. of the first volume) [the September issue] of Mr. White's Southern Literary Messenger.” It has nothing but praise for the journal.

[1835] 24 OCTOBER. RICHMOND. White writes Lucian Minor:

I very much fear that I shall not be able to issue the 1st No. [December 1835] of my 2d Vol. till about the 25th Nov. Suppose you send me a modest paragraph — mentioning that the gentleman [Sparhawk] announced as my assistant in the 9th No. [May 1835] of the Messenger retired from its editorship with the 11th No. [July 1835] — that the paper is now under my own editorial management, assisted by several gentlemen of distinguished literary attainments. — You may introduce Mr. Poe's name as amongst those engaged to contribute for its columns — taking care not to say as editor. ... I am in no little trouble. — My wife is very sick now, and has been for 10 days — though I think her much better to day (Jackson [1934], pp. 103-04).

[1835] 31 OCTOBER. Poe, acting as amanuensis for White, writes Lucian Minor: “I will hand your translation to Mr. Poe in the morning, and will attend to your request touching keeping your name secret” (L, 1:76).

[1835] NOVEMBER. NEW YORK. The Knickerbocker Magazine publishes Lewis Gaylord Clark's notice of Fay's Norman Leslie: “With some faults, incident to a first attempt, this work of Mr. Fay is said by those critics who have perused it, — (a pleasure in which, owing to absence from town, we have been unable to participate,) to possess scenes of great power, and to be often characterized by that quiet ease of style and purity of diction for which the author is distinguished, and of which we have heretofore spoken in this Magazine. It may be taken as a conclusive evidence of the power of the novel to awaken interest, that in two weeks after the publication of the first large edition, not a copy remained in the hands of the publishers.”

[1835] 23 NOVEMBER. RICHMOND. White replies to Lucian Minor's letter of 20 November: “You are altogether right about the Leslie critique. Poe has [page 177:] evidently shown himself no lawyer — whatever else he may be. The Editor of the Metropolitan has fallen into the same error. — Well, that blunder cannot be repaired. — It will pass undetected I hope. ... if you really see talent in it [‘The Broken Heart’ in the December Messenger] I hope you will point it out. My daughter Eliza wrote it, — and it is her first attempt at blank verse” (Jackson [1934], pp. 105-06).

[Gossip linked Poe with White's daughter Eliza, called “Lizzie.

When I [Susan Archer Weiss] was a girl I more than once heard of Eliza White and her love affair with Edgar Poe. “She was the sweetest girl I ever knew,” said a lady who had been her schoolmate; “a slender, graceful blonde, with deep blue eyes, who reminded you of the Watteau Shepherdesses upon fans. She was a great student, and very bright and intelligent. She was said to be engaged to Poe, but they never appeared anywhere together. It was soon broken off on account of his dissipation. I don’t think she ever got over it” (Weiss [1907], pp. 78-79).

When Poe first went to Richmond, Mr. White, as a safeguard from the temptation to evil habits, received him as an inmate of his own home, where he immediately fell in love with the editor's youngest daughter. ... the father, who idolized his daughter, and was also very fond of Poe, did not forbid the match, but made his consent conditional upon the young man's remaining perfectly sober for a certain length of time. All was going well, and the couple were looked upon as engaged when Mrs. Clemm ... may have received information of the affair, and we have seen the result (Weiss [1907], pp. 77-78).

Maria Clemm in her letter of 22 April 1859 to Sarah Helen Whitman denied that Poe was ever engaged to Eliza White. See Harrison and Dailey, p. 448; Mabbott (1969), 1:545; Whitty, p. xxxix.]

Southern Literary Messenger, December 1835 [thumbnail]

[Illustration on page 178]
Front wrapper of the December Messenger

[1835] CA. 26 NOVEMBER. The December Messenger appears with a publisher's notice written by Minor, reporting the departure of Sparhawk with the July issue and the engagement of Poe as an assistant:

The gentleman, referred to in the ninth number of the Messenger, as filling its editorial chair, retired thence with the eleventh number; and the intellectual department of the paper is now under the conduct of the Proprietor, assisted by a gentleman of distinguished literary talents. Thus seconded, he is sanguine in the hope of rendering the second volume which the present number commences, at least as deserving of support as the former was: nay, if he reads aright the tokens which are given him of the future, it teems with even richer banquets for his readers, than they have hitherto enjoyed at his board.

Some of the contributors, whose effusions have received the largest share of praise from critics, and (what is better still) have been read with most pleasure by that larger, unsophisticated class, whom Sterne loved for reading, and being pleased “they knew not why, and care not wherefore” — may be expected to continue their favors. Among these, we hope to be pardoned for singling out the name of MR. EDGAR A. POE; not with design to make any invidious distinction, but because such a mention of him finds numberless precedents [page 179:] in the journals on every side, which have rung the praises of his uniquely original vein of imagination, and of humorous, delicate satire (White to Minor, 24 October 1835).

The December Messenger contains Poe's “Scenes from an Unpublished Drama” (Politian), two unsigned fillers (“Logic” and “Le Brun”), “MS. Found in a Bottle” (from the Gift), comment on Lucian Minor's “Greek Song,” and critical notices: “The Heroine” (Eaton Stannard Barrett's The Heroine: or Adventures of Cherubina), “Hawks of Hawk-Hollow” (Robert Montgomery Bird's The Hawks of Hawk-Hollow; a Tradition of Pennsylvania), “Peerage and Peasantry” (Tales of the Peerage and the Peasantry, edited by Lady Barbarina Dacre), “Edinburgh Review,” “Nuts to Crack” (anon., Nuts to Crack: or Quips, Quirks, Anecdote and Facet of Oxford and Cambridge Scholars), “Memoir of Dr. Rice” (William Maxwell's A Memoir of the Reverend John H. Rice), “Life of Dr. Caldwell” (Walter Anderson's Oration on the Life and Character of the Rev. Joseph Caldwell, D.D., late President of the University of North Carolina), “Washingtonii Vita” (Francis Glass's A Life of George Washington, in Latin Prose, edited by Jeremiah N. Reynolds), “Norman Leslie” (Theodore S. Fay's Norman Leslie: A Tale of the Present Times), “The Linwoods” (Catharine Maria Sedgwick's The Linwoods; or, “Sixty Years Since” in America), “Westminster Review,” “London Quarterly Review;” “North American Review” “Crayon Miscellany” (Washington Irving's Crayon Miscellany), “Godwin's Necromancy” (William Godwin's Lives of the Necromancers), “Rev. D. L. Carroll's Address” (Inaugural Address of the Rev. D. L. Carroll, D,D., President of Hampden-Sidney College), “Minor's Address” (Lucian Minor's An Address on Education, as connected with the Permanence of our Republican Institutions), “Legends of a Log Cabin” (Chandler Gilman's Legends of a Log Cabin), “Traits of American Life” (Sarah Josepha Hale's Traits of American Life), “Western Sketches” (James Hall's Sketches of History, Life, and Manners in the West), “American Almanac” (The American Almanac ... for the year 1836, edited by J. E. Worcester), “Clinton Bradshaw” (F. W. Thomas’ Clinton Bradshaw; or The Adventures of a Lawyer), and “[Three] English Annuals” (Friendship's Offering, The Forget Me Not for 1836, and Fisher's Drawing-Room Scrap-Book for 1836). Also published are Eliza White's “The Broken Heart,” Lambert A. Wilmer's “To Mira,” and Lucian Minor's review of Conway Robinson's Practice. In the “To Correspondents” paragraph appears this notice: “A Cosmopolite, and Sylvio, we have declined after much hesitation.”

[“Sylvio” was the author of “To Sarah,” a poem of twenty-four lines in the August 1835 Messenger, once attributed to Poe (see Mabbott [1969], 1:506). Poe's “Washingtonii Vita,” a review of Jeremiah N. Reynolds’ A Life of George Washington, later reappeared in part as a testimonial in a [page 180:] second edition of the book (Jackson [1976b], pp. 29-31). Poe called Fay's Norman Leslie “the most inestimable piece of balderdash with which the common sense of the good people of America was ever so openly or so villainously insulted,” the plot “a monstrous piece of absurdity and incongruity;” and the author's style “unworthy of a schoolboy.” Poe's unsuccessful Politian, an unfinished play based on the real-life Sharp-Beauchamp tragedy of Kentucky in 1824-25 (see 7 NOVEMBER 1825), appeared as “Scenes from an Unpublished Drama” in the Messenger for December 1835 and January 1836. Poe, unhappy with it, wrote George W. Eveleth, 15 December 1846: “There is no more of Politian.” On its appearance it was severely criticized by the press, especially the Newbern (N. C.) Spectator (see 15 JANUARY 1836). Beginning with the December issue Poe gave titles to the book reviews.]

The Messenger covers carry excerpts from newspapers:

“Loss of Breath: A Tale a la Blackwood, by Edgar A. Poe,” is a capital burlesque of the wild, extravagant, disjointed rigmarole with which that much overrated and over-praised magazine is so redundant. The writer has hit off admirably the false, extravagant and exaggerated humor — the inconclusive nothings, and the rude baldness of so many of its articles, of which the beginning, the middle and the end is nothing. The reader finds it impossible to fathom the object, or could not develope it to the comprehension of common sense. We have our eye on Mr. Edgar A. Poe, and from what we have already seen of him, venture to predict it will not be long before his name will stand on a level with those of much higher pretensions. ...

There is an air of independence about the criticisms, which is becoming in all who undertake to preside in the courts of literature. But we differ entirely from some of the principles adopted by the Messenger. — Most especially do we denounce the assertion of Victor Hugo, quoted, as we understand it, with approbation by the critic, that Racine, Bossuet, Pascal, Fenelon, LaFontaine, Corneille and Voltaire, would be but common writers, were it not for their “style.” This is one of the new fangled French opinions fashionable in Paris, and in the true French spirit, places the ruffle before the shirt. It is an excrescence of the musical mania prevailing in that quarter, and is founded on the superiority of sound over sense, and of the ears over the understanding. It is analogous to the taste of a fine lady, who thinks much more of the dress of a man than of the man himself. Such opinions distinctly mark the decline of literature in France, and we do not wonder that Monsieur Victor Hugo should be considered a prodigy, among a people who prefer sound to sense. — New York Courier and Enquirer.

The entire volume [1] of which this number [13] forms the completion, is without an exception, (we do not forget the old Southern Review,) the most creditable to the literature of the South of any thing which in the shape of a periodical, has yet emanated from it. ... “Loss of Breath” is really a capital thing, well imagined, well sustained, and well told; and with some triteness in the main incident, of sufficient novelty to attract highly. ... “King Pest, the First” is told with spirit, [page 181:] and evinces talent though somewhat nonsensical towards the end. ... It [the Messenger] is ably and judiciously edited. ...Georgetown Metropolitan [21 October].

... we must allude to an article in the last number, which gave us unalloyed amusement, and which we esteem one of the most admirable specimens of brilliant fancy, and apt description which we have ever read. It is “KING PEST THE FIRST,” containing an Allegory. There can be no mistake in attributing it to the prolific pen of Edgar A. Poe, whose talent in imaginative productions, is not excelled by any writer of his age in this country. We say this from no motive of interest or partiality for we have scarcely an acquaintance with the author, but from the sincere opinion that he possesses talents and attainments of the first order, which he should persevere in using for the public benefit, regardless alike of the detractions of the envious, or the sneers of the critic race, who “hate the excellence they cannot reach.” — [Richmond] Compiler.

It contains a number of well-written and interesting articles ... we may mention ... Mr. Poe's Tale of “Loss of Breath”. ... the critical notices are distinguished by candor and liberality. — Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post.

Magazines in America. — One Poe (“Phoebus! what a name!”) is its [the Messenger's] chief contributor, — perhaps its editor. ... Portland Advertiser.

We were exceedingly amused with Poe's story à la Blackwood, entitled “Loss of Breath,” and have been delighted with several of the poetical scraps, one of which will be given to-morrow ...Richmond Compiler.

We publish this morning from the Southern Literary Messenger the tale entitled, “King Pest the First,” which we spoke of a few days since in noticing the last number of the Messenger. The article, seems generally, and we believe justly attributed to the pen of Mr. Edgar A. Poe, our townsman, whose productions have met almost universal approbation from the critical press. In King Pest, the evils and maladies attendant upon intemperance are well portrayed in the allegorical personages who group around the drinking table of the monarch “Tim Hurlygurly.” Indeed few of Mr. P's tales are without aim or a moral; “Hans Phaal” was a burlesque upon the mania for ballooning — “Lionizing;” upon the rage for making a Lion of every contemptible pretender to fashion, or small authorship — “Loss of Breath” is evidently a burlesque on the extravagant and rigmarole species of writing so prevalent in the pages of Blackwood. — [Richmond] Compiler.

[1835] BEFORE 29 NOVEMBER. Poe writes Carey & Lea (implied by Carey & Lea to Poe, 29 November).

[1835] 29 NOVEMBER. PHILADELPHIA. A partner in Carey & Lea, probably Henry C. Carey, writes Poe: “I have called on Mess. E. L. Carey & A. Hart, who are the publishers of ‘The Gift,’ and they have examined among all the MS. and cannot find the story to which you allude. They think it very probable that Miss L. [Eliza Leslie] returned it with others but it cannot [page 182:] now be found. Should it be hereafter they will return it” (Woodberry, 2:375, where dated “1836”; Hammond, pp. 32-33).

[1835] 29 NOVEMBER. WILLIAMSBURG. Beverley Tucker writes White:

I am much flattered by Mr. Poe's opinion of my lines. Original thoughts come to me “like angels’ visits few and far between.” To Mr. P they come thronging unbidden, crowding themselves upon him in such numbers as to require the black rod of that master of ceremonies, Criticism, to keep them in order. I hope he will take this and other suggestions of mine kindly. I am interested in him, and am glad he has found a position in which his pursuit of fame may be neither retarded, nor, what is worse, hurried by necessity. His history, as I have heard it, reminds me of Coleridge's, — With the example of Coleridge's virtues and success before him, he can need no other guide. Yet a companion by the way to hint that “more haste makes less speed” may not be amiss. Will he admit me to this office? Without the tithe of his genius, I am old enough to be his father (if I do not mistake his filiation, I remember his beautiful mother when a girl), and I presume I have had advantages the want of which he feels. Now, if by aiding you, I can aid him too to disencumber himself of the clogs that have impeded his progress, I shall kill two birds with one stone. Let me tell you then why in the critique I prepared for [Duff] Green, I said nothing of his Tale [“MS. Found in a Bottle” reprinted in the December Messenger]. It was because I thought that he had been already praised as much as was good for him. And why? Because I am sure no man ever attained to that distinction to which Mr. P. may fairly aspire by extravagance. He is made for better things than to cater for the depraved taste of the literary vulgar, the most disgusting and impertinent of all vulgarians. Besides, I was disappointed in the tale; not because of the praises I had heard (for I make light of such things), but because Mr. P. had taught me to expect from him something more than the mere physique of the horrible. I had expected that the author of “Morella” on board the Flying Dutchman would have found a Dutch tongue in his head, would have thawed the silence of his shipmates, and have extracted from them a tale of thrilling interest, of the causes of that awful spell which has driven and still drives their ship careening safely through the innumerable horrors he has described. Cannot he rescue her yet from her perils, and send us another bottle full of intelligence of her escape, and of her former history? Cannot he, by way of episode, get himself sent on board of some fated ship, with letters from the spellbound mariners to their friends at home? Imaginations of this sort flocked to my mind as soon as I found him on her decks, and hence I was disappointed. I do not propose that he should work up these materials. He can do better in following the lead of his own fancy. But let him remember that fancy must be servant, not mistress. It must be made the minister of higher faculties. ...

Now one word more. If Mr. P. takes well what I have said, he shall have as much more of it whenever occasion calls for it. If not, his silence alone will effectually rebuke my impertinence (Wilson [1924], pp. 652-53; Woodberry, 1:151-53; Quinn, pp. 234-35).

[1835] 29 NOVEMBER. AUGUSTA, GEORGIA. William Poe writes Maria Clemm [page 183:] about their family history and adds: “Remember me very affectionately to Edgar & his Sister & your daughter & say to Edgar that I hope to write him soon” (Quinn and Hart, pp. 11-12).

[1835] 1 DECEMBER. RICHMOND. Poe, in his letter postmarked 3 December, writes Beverley Tucker:

Mr White was so kind as to read me some portions of your letter to himself, dated Nov 29. ... in relation to your own verses. That they are not poetry I will not allow, even when judging them by your own rules. ... What is, or is not, poetry must not be told in a mere epistle. I sincerely think your lines excellent. The distinction you make between levity, and wit or humour (that which produces a smile) I perfectly understand; but that levity is unbecoming the chair of the critic, must be taken, I think, cum grano salis. ... Your opinion of “The MS. found in a Bottle” is just. The Tale was written some years ago, and was one among the first I ever wrote. I have met with no one, with the exception of yourself & P. P. Cooke of Winchester, whose judgment concerning these Tales I place any value upon. Generally, people praise extravagantly those of which I am ashamed, and pass in silence what I fancy to be praise worthy. The last tale I wrote was Morella and it was my best. ... At present, having no time upon my hands, from my editorial duties, I can write nothing worth reading. What articles I have published since Morella were all written some time ago. ... music is a most indefinite conception. ... In short — I especially pride myself upon the accuracy of my ear. ... In speaking of my mother you have touched a string to which my heart fully responds. To have known her is to be an object of great interest in my eyes. I myself never knew her — and never knew the affection of a father. Both died (as you may remember) within a few weeks of each other. I have many occasional dealings with Adversity — but the want of parental affection has been the heaviest of my trials (L, 1:76-79).

[1835] 3 DECEMBER. White writes Beverley Tucker: “I have read to Mr. Poe such portions of your letter as related to himself. He is, I assure you, much pleased with the spirit breathed in every line, — and promises me that he will respond to all your arguments by the mail of this Evening” (Vi-W-TC).

[1835] 5 DECEMBER. WILLIAMSBURG. Beverley Tucker writes Poe: “I have been congratulating myself on the success of my attempt to draw you into correspondence. ... You are doubtless right in thinking that a mere flow of mellifluous lines is not the thing called for by the laws of metrical harmony. ... Now in the ‘fragment’ [Politian] there are lines that cannot by any reading be forced into time. Take Baldazzar's speech at the bottom of the first column of p. 15 [December Messenger]. ... I am glad you do not know who your dreamer is. He will keep his secret, and take care not to complain. [Here Tucker refers to the lines entitled “The Dream” by [page 184:] “Sylvester” in the December Messenger.] Mr. White writes me that he is labouring under a woful lack of matter” (W, 17:21-24).

[1835] 7 DECEMBER. NEW YORK. James Kirke Paulding praises Poe in a letter to White: “Your publication is decidedly superior to any Periodical in the United States, and Mr. Poe is decidedly the best of all our going writers. I dont Know but I might add all our Old Ones, with one or two exceptions” (Paulding, pp. 170-72; Daily National Intelligencer, 18 December 1835; Messenger, 2 [January 1836]: 138).

[1835] 9 DECEMBER. CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA. In its notice of the December Messenger the Charleston Courier singles Poe out for praise: “Among its contributors, EDGAR A. POE, equally ripe in graphic humour and various lore, seems by common consent, to have been awarded the laurel, and in the number before us, fully sustaining the reputation of its predecessors, will be found proofs of his distinguished merit.”

[1835] 11 DECEMBER. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. The Georgetown Metropolitan reports that “the unpublished drama by Poe, though crude, has both original thoughts, incidents and situations. ... as we said before, [we] wish cordially that the bottle with that confounded manuscript had never been uncorked” (reprinted in the January 1836 Messenger supplement).

[1835] 12 DECEMBER. NEW YORK. In the New-Yorker Horace Greeley gives Poe's Politian an “unenthusiastic” notice (Hyneman, p. 15).

[1835] 15 DECEMBER. RICHMOND. The Richmond Whig quotes Mordecai M. Noah's comments on Politian: “Mr. Poe's ‘Unpublished Drama’ does not suit our taste. Why eternally ring the changes on those everlasting and hackneyed Venetian Doges and Italian Counts — latticed balconies, and verandas — time out of mind exhausted?” Noah finds: “The Critical Notices are full as they should be on American productions, and written with uncommon spirit. The decisions are generally correct, and we are glad to see the censures so unsparingly, but judiciously directed against the mawkish style and matter of those ephemeral productions with which, under the name of chef-d’œuvres in novel writing, the poor humbugged public are so unmercifully gagged and bamboozled” (Hyneman, p. 18).

[White reprinted Noah's remarks in the January 1836 Messenger supplement.]

In still another notice the Richmond Whig quotes the postscript of Paulding's 7 December letter to White. [page 185:]

[1835] 25 DECEMBER. White writes Lucian Minor that “All the Critical Notices [in the January 1836 Messenger] are from the pen of Poe — who I rejoice to tell you, still keeps from the Bottle. ... The No. will be out on the 1st January, 1836” (Jackson [1934], p. 107).






[S:1 - TPL, 1987] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - The Poe Log (D. R. Thomas and D. K. Jackson) (Chapter 04 [Part 01])