Text: Burton R. Pollin, “More on Lippard and Poe,” Poe Studies, June 1974, Vol. VII, No. 1, 7:22-23


[page 22:]

More on Lippard and Poe

Bronx Community College of the City University of New York

It is certainly useful for students of Poe to have the proof of George Lippard’s interest in Poe provided by Emilio De Grazia in two articles of 1972 and 1973 (1). Three fortunate circumstances enable me to supplement his information with some important material, including a review of a Poe book by Lippard, and to provide a correct and full text of Lippard’s obituary notice of Poe. The circumstances are my receiving a list of Poe items in The Citizen Soldier, prepared by Professor Mabbott from a file of the newspaper in private hands; a chance to examine the full text of the newspaper The Quaker City in Philadelphia; and the kind provision of several prints of items in The Citizen Soldier made by a friend from the only extensive file in a public repository (2). The Citizen Soldier, a large-paper weekly of 1843, lasted into a second volume, with apparently only a few issues published. All my citations are from volume one, encompassing the months of June through November (3).

The first is an ambiguous June 28 notice of “The Gold-Bug,” which had just appeared in The Dollar Newspaper; the author was possibly but not definitely George Lippard, the editor only in July. In style it is characteristic of Lippard:

The Dollar Newspaper. — A capital sheet. The “Gold-bug, a Prize Story,” by Edgar A. Poe, Esq., is written in the most popular style of the gifted author, characterised by thrilling interest and a graphic though sketchy power of description. It is one of the best stories that Poe ever wrote. And with regard to the matter of the “Prize,” it is a humbug — a transparent, gauze-lace, [column 2:] cobweb-tissue humbug. The public well know that name and not merit, constitute the criterion of the board of secret critics. Were William Shakspeare to write a “Prize Story,” under an anonymous signature, in a disguised hand; were Walter Scott to enter into competition for the “cool hundred,” hand and name also disguised; were Bulwer to send one of his first productions, nameless and “unmarked for the secret eye of the board,” Shakspeare, Scott and Bulwer would vanish, we bow, before T. S. Arthur, or some other amiable young man, whose name has been stereotyped by the magazine puffs of the day. We believe the whole “Prize system,” take it as you will, to be a fraud on the public. The idea that the board of judges do not know the hand writing of all literary men of celebrity, is — with respect we say it — all fudge. In such a system, the man of notoriety has all the chances — the man of genius none. However, with regard to Mr. Poe, we can have but one opinion. This story is worth the “Prize-money,” ten times told. It is not against the men we war, but against the transparent fraud of this contemptible “Prize Story” humbug (1, 140/3) .

A week later the first of the ten numbers of the “Spermaceti Papers” began (I, 148/3).

The next full Poe item, in the issue of July 26, continues in the same eulogistic strain and style and is, unquestionably, by Lippard. It adds to our knowledge a new notice of the Prose Romances, which was on sale on July 22. Thus far the only review recorded was in the New York Mirror of September 9. (In reality, Godey’s Lady’s Book briefly reviewed it, September 1843, and the Public Ledger of Philadelphia accorded it two sentences in its July 21 issue (4).) Here, Lippard says:

Prose Romance of Poe. — We have received from Van Yorx Chesnut street below Third, N. side, the first number of the Serial edition of the works of Mr. Poe. The number before us, containing “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” and “The man that was used up,” strikingly develope [sic] the analytic talent of the gifted author, as well as his powers of cutting and sarcastic humor. The first story is, like the “Gold Bug,” unique, original and impressive in its style and character (1, 172/2).

In November, Lippard announced Poe’s forthcoming “Lecture on American Poetry,” printing it directly after Lippard’s disapproving report on Professor Cleveland’s lecture on “English literature” at the Wirt Institute. As usual, Lippard is enthusiastic about Poe’s critical discussion, in part, of Griswold’s book:

As a contrast to the above lecture, it give. us pleasure to announce a “Lecture on American Poetry” by Edgar A. Poe, Esq., on Tuesday next. Poe was born a poet, his mind is stamped with the impress of genius. He is, perhaps, the most original writer that ever existed in America. Delighting in the wild and visionary, his mind penetrates the inmost recesses of the human soul creating vast and magnificent dreams, eloquent fancies and terrible mysteries. Again, he indulges in a felicitous vein of humor, that copies no writer in the language, and yet strikes the reader with the genuine impression of refined wit; and yet again, he constructs such works as “Arthur Gordon Pym,” which disclose perceptive and descriptive powers that rival De Foe, combined with an analytical depth of reasoning in no manner inferior to Godwin or Brockden Brown.

It was Mr. Poe that made Graham’s Magazine what it was a year ago; it was his intellect that gave this now weak and flimsy periodical a tone of refinement and mental vigor, which all the imbecility of its conductors for a year past, could not entirely erase or utterly annihilate.

We can promise the audience a refined intellectual feast in the lecture of Edgar Allan Poe. (1, 301)

No doubt the report on the lecture itself was even more glowing (5). One might infer from these items and from [page 23:] Lippard’s obituary notice, printed by Mr. De Grazia, that his friendship with Poe argues against the fanatically reactionary position in social and political thinking too often attributed to Poe. The espousal of Poe by the ultra-liberal Lippard, as a person, artist and thinker, indicates great latitude and freedom in Poe’s intellectual positions, at lease as evidenced among his Philadelphia friends at this time (6).

At the beginning of 1849, Lippard again assailed the forces of bigotry and corruption in Philadelphia through his new paper, The Quaker City — the name that he had given to his muckraking novel in 1844. He involved Poe in his own version of social satire through a series of papers thee he wrote and published in 1849 (January 20 and 27, February 10, March 10 and 31), all called “Literary and Political Police.” The framework is the same for all of them; “our own particular Reporter” relates the cases being brought before “The Quaker City Police Court” with “Justice Poe on the Bench; Park Benjamin, Esq. at his elbow.” These articles deserve a closer attention than can be given them in this study, since Justice Poe’s questions and comments apparently reflect Lippard’s knowledge of Poe’s attitudes. For example, the police “Gazette” of January 20 talks about a “blackguarding” Yankee Blade from “Bosting,” the only place “where a fellow like himself could get a living.” Poe’s scorn for the Reverend Joel T. Headley, about whom he wrote as a perfect “quack” (7), is paralleled in Lippard’s paragraph on Headley as the murderer of both Napoleon and Washington. Philadelphians would recall Lippard’s vehement and anguished newspaper charges a few years earlier that Headley had borrowed much of his Washington and His Generals from Lippard’s book of the same title. Suitably, Justice Poe punishes the offending murderer by incarceration in a cell with Rufus Griswold. On January 26, Justice Poe advises Jack Tar to continue his flogging of “every flogging Congressman,” in an allusion to the advocates of harsh penalties in the navy. It was a theme eloquently presented the next year by Melville in White-Jacket.

In the February 10 issue, Justice Poe presides over a case of theft which has involved “Brintz Albert” and his spouse “Mrs. Wictoria Albert,” both hirers of “British Murder.” This particular column seemed to court the favor of Irish readers. As a satirist, Lippard varied his approach in the series. In the last one, of March 31, Justice Poe summarily sends “twenty lunatics” to the “Asylum” for vagaries that reflect several of Poe’s personal sentiments and peeves; among the twenty listed are a “Taylor Man” who “did not want an office” and another who “did not know who was to be Collector of the Port” as well as a “Magazine Publisher,” who “did not publish fashion plates.” Certainly the whole series of articles might profitably be examined for the light that they throw on Lippard’s themes and style and also, despite his divergences from Poe on social reform, for his implied views about the author whom he had known intimately.

Finally, in the October 20 obituary appeared the very heartfelt vindication of Poe’s name and character. For the record, the following corrections in Mr. De Grazia’s version of Lippard’s text should be noted and the omitted last two sentences supplied. For the sake of economy of space, it seems best to give the correction in punctuation [column 2:] or spelling or wording merely by listing the original in The Quaker City text, separating them all by slashes. All the items are given in the order in which they occur in the collated paragraph, beginning with the second sentence. They are

dead, / hand, / home-sick / why it is, / Poe spent the day with us. / He talked of the time / quiet home in Seventh street, / well named a “Prose Poem,” / in the cars / seemed loth / Presentiment / His look and his words / his faults, in a tone of condescending pity! / a bitter, / departures from the line of strict propriety / As an author, /

Add this completion after “corpse”:

On some occasion — when the lapse of time shall allow us to express ourselves freely — we shall speak more fully of the gifted dead. For the present we can only say, that his death adds another name to that scroll on which neglect and misfortune has [sic] already written the names of John Lofland and Sumner Lincoln Fairfield.



(1) “Edgar Allan Poe, George Lippard and the ‘Spermaceti and Walnut-Coffin Papers,’” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 6G (1972), 58-60; and “Poe’s Devoted Democrat, George Lippard,” Poe Studies, 6 (1973), 6-8.

(2) The friend, Professor Heyward Ehrlich, used the Bucks County Historical Society file in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Since it appears to be incomplete. I am trying to retrieve the file once shown to Professor Mabbott for the notes graciously given to me by Mrs. Maureen Mabbott.

(3) My citations are followed by the page number and, after a slash, the column number.

(4) These are part of my collection of hitherto unrecorded reviews of Poe’s works, discussed in a paper presented at the Pennsylvania State University Conference on Bibliography, November 30, 1973, and being given to Ian Walker for his forthcoming volume, The Critical Heritage of Poe. Several were gathered during a Guggenheim Fellowship year.

(5) See Mary E. Phillips, Edgar Allan Poe (Philadelphia: John C. Winston, 1926), 1, 846-847, for a flattering report on the popular lecture in the Saturday Museum.

(6) This circle included Col. John Stephenson Du Solle, editor of the Philadelphia Spirit of the Age, which initially employed Lippard and always defended him; see J. Albert Robbins, “Edgar Poe and the Philadelphians,” Poe Studies, 5 (1972), 45-47.

(7) See his posthumously published review of Headley’s The Sacred Mountain, James A. Harrison, ed., The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe ( New York: Thomas Y. Crowell and Co. 1902), XIII, 202-209. It is in Poe’s most severe tomahawking style.


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