Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. T. O. Mabbott), “Motto for the Stylus,” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. I: Poems (1969), pp. 328-329 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 328, continued:]


In January 1843, Poe persuaded Thomas Cottrell Clarke to join him in a scheme of publishing the long-planned Penn Magazine under a new punning name, The Stylus. For the projected magazine Poe composed a three-line motto in verse, ascribed to “Launcelot Canning” — a person wholly unknown to historians and bibliographers, to whom, however, Poe ascribes an imaginary work, The Mad Trist, in “The Fall of the House of Usher.” This Canning is, of course, Poe himself, and the motto for The Stylus is Poe’s own.

The “Prospectus of The Stylus,” with the motto and a woodcut by Felix O. C. Darley after a design by Poe, showing a hand writing Alēthe[ia], the Greek word for “truth,” was published in Clarke’s paper, the Philadelphia Saturday Museum, on February 25, 1843; Poe sent a copy with a letter of the same date to his friend F. W. Thomas. Unfortunately, no copy of that issue now survives, but the paper carried the Prospectus regularly for several weeks more, with the verses but without the woodcut.


(A) Philadelphia Saturday Museum [February 25], March 4 (and later dates), 1843; (B) Laurel Leaves, edited by William F. Gill (1876), p. 372; (C) Gill’s Life (1877), p. 115, with illustration “engraved from the original drawing by the poet.”

The text used is A, from a copy of the issue of March 4, now at the University of North Carolina.

[page 329:]


3  The narrator of Poe’s tale “Shadow” (1833) writes “with a stylus of iron” like those pens mentioned in Job 19:24 and Jeremiah 17:1. Horace Binney Wallace in Stanley (1838), I, 51, remarks, “Paulus Jovius said of his own, sometimes a pen of gold and sometimes a pen of iron.” The reference is to a remark of the Italian historian Paolo Giovio (1483-1552). Poe referred to it in “Marginalia,” number 255; and gave it in Latin, “Aureus aliquando STYLUS, ferreus aliquando” on the design for a title page for the magazine which he sent to E. H. N. Patterson in a letter of May 23, 1849. This design is reproduced by Phillips, II, 1405 — the hand differs slightly from that in Gill’s Life, showing only the thumb and two fingers where Gill’s cut shows the full count.



There was almost certainly no version of the prospectus printed with the engraving, as described.


[S:1 - TOM1P, 1969] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions-The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (T. O. Mabbott) (Motto for the Stylus)