Text: Edgar Allan Poe (???) (ed. T. O. Mabbott), “Literary Theft,” Doings of Gotham: Poe's Contributions to The Columbia Spy (1929), p. 111 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 111:]


The tale called “My First Love,” in the July number of Blackwood, just received, is a literal translation from the German of Seatsfield, who probably stole it from the pages of some of our magazines. The career of American literature is singular. It first makes its appearance in this country, without exciting much attention; it is then translated into German, and published as original, where it acquires considerable reputation; next we see it translated back to English, by the writers for Blackwood; and finally it is published in this country as something quite extraordinary. Like wine, it is supposed to improve by crossing the sea. This Seatsfield, for instance, who has been talked of so much, appears to be a mere bookseller's hack, employed to translate from American works, which are passed off as his own. His levies have been made chiefly upon the novels of Mr. Simms, of South Carolina, the tales of Judge Hall, of Cincinnati, and Graham's and Godey's Magazines.


The paragraph on Literary Theft which appeared in the Columbia Spy for July 31, 1844, is reprinted because it may be the work of Poe. He had alluded to Seatsfield in his fourth signed letter, and his preoccupation with plagiarism is well known. Besides, his last signed letter was a trifle brief, and there may well have been a few little scraps of journalistic interest saved by Bowen — of which this one alone seems to be rather strikingly like Poe's work. Yet the talk about Seatsfield was everywhere, and in the Southern Literary Messenger for July, 1844, I find some of these accusations, given with exact references to the incidents “stolen” from Simms and Hall in the work called Life in the New World. Indeed the whole affair was commonly talked of in many periodicals of the day. The ascription to Poe then is frankly tentative, and I will not indicate more than suspicion of Poe's authorship — but the article is brief, and it seems fairest to reprint it.



Mabbott is equivocal about this item in the two drafts of an introduction for his own edition of the Doings of Gotham. Ultimately, he seems to have decided that relatively late date of publication was a problem, but was still intended to include the short item as a kind of note for Letter 07.


[S:0 - SPM29, 1929] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Doings of Gotham: Poe's Contributions to The Columbia Spy (J. Spannuth and T. O. Mabbott) (Literary Theft)