Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Review of The American Almanac,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. IX: Literary Criticism - part 02 (1902), 9:160-162


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[Southern Literary Messenger, October, 1836.]

THIS is the eighth number of a work more justly entitled to be called “A Repository of Useful Knowledge” than any with which we are acquainted. From its commencement it has been under the editorial management of Mr. J. E. Worcester, for more than twenty years known to the American public as an able and most indefatigable author and compiler. If we are not mistaken, this period at least has elapsed since the publication of his “Gazetteer of the United States.” Besides that work, of whose great merit it is of course unnecessary now to speak, Mr. W. has written ]]“The Elements of Geography” —]] “The Elements of History” — an Edition of Johnson's Dictionary as improved by Todd and abridged by Chalmers — an Abridgment of the American Dictionary of Doctor Webster — and a [[“]]Comprehensive Pronouncing and Explanatory Dictionary of the English Language, with Pronouncing Vocabularies of Classical, Scripture, and Modern Geographical Names.” All these publications are of high reputation and evince an unusual perseverance and ability.

A glance at the “American Almanac” will suffice to assure any one that no ordinary talent, and industry, have been employed in bringing it to its present condition. An acute judgment has been necessary in the selection of the most needful topics, to the exclusion of others having only a comparative value — in the condensation of matter — in the means of acquiring [page 161:] information — and in the estimation of the degree of credit which should be given it when received. The variety of themes handled in the volume, the perspicuity and brevity with which they are treated, their excellent arrangement, and the general accuracy of the statistical details, should secure for the work a circulation even more extensive than at present. With the exception of the astronomical department, for which we are indebted to Mr. Paine, it is understood that all the contents of the volume (a thick and closely printed octavo of 324 pages, abounding in intricate calculations) have been prepared by the indefatigable editor himself.

The “Almanac” for 1837 contains the usual register of the National and State Governments, an American and Foreign obituary and chronicle of recent events, a valuable “Treatise on the use of Anthracite Coal,” by Professor Denison Olmsted of Yale, an account of “Public Libraries,” a “Statistical View of the Population of the United States,” a series of tables relating to the “Cultivation, Manufacture, and Foreign Trade of Cotton,” and Meteorological notices of Seasons and Weather. In the account of each individual State pains have been taken to give accurate intelligence respecting all matters of Internal Improvement — more especially in regard to Canals and Rail-Roads. In the next volume some further details upon this head are promised — some account also of Pauperism in the United States, and a wider variety of statistical notices in relation to foreign countries. We have before stated our conviction, and here repeat it, that no work of equal extent in America embodies as much really important information — important to the public at large — as the eight published volumes of Mr. [page 162:] Worcester's Almanac. We believe that complete sets of the work can still be obtained upon application to the publisher, Mr. Charles Bowen of Boston. Its mechanical execution, like that of all books from the same press, is worthy of the highest commendation.





[S:1 - JAH09, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (J. A. Harrison) (Review of The American Almanac)