Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Advertising Oddities,” Alexander’s Weekly Messenger, vol. 4, no. 9, February 26, 1840, p. 2, col. 3


[page 2, column 3:]

Advertising Oddities.

Goward, the writing and music master of New York, is beyond doubt the most knowing advertiser of his day. What he does in this way he does thoroughly, and there never is any danger of misunderstanding what he says. He gives the thing with a downright improviso air that is altogether irresistible. We believe that his late paragraph, in which he declares that nobody has yet dared to accept any one of his challenges, and pledges his word to teach fully one hundred and fifty new tunes in five minutes, have set him at the head of his profession (whatever it is) and fairly taken the town by storm.

But vixere fortes ante Agamemnona, and there are other geniuses besides Goward. What a fine idea that is of somebody who advertises that he is in immediate want, these dull times, of precisely four guagers at fifty cents per cask, exactly fifty surveyors at twelve and twenty dollars, and just twenty engineers at fifty round dollars, per day! Lest the applicants should be in want of money, the advertiser will give them as much as they want, and buy all their instruments into the bargain.

The Picayune says that it met with the following in one of its New England exchange papers: “Wanted a man to take charge of a milk cart, and a horse entertaining abolition principles” — but we consider this a mere slander. Now here is a genuine thing, and really appears in a down east daily —

Any gal what’s got a cow, a good feather bed with comfortable fixins, five hundred dollars in the hard pewter, one that’s had the measels and understands tendin’ children can find a customer for life, by writin’ a small billy dux, addressed Q. Z., and stickin’ it in a crack of Uncle Ebenezer’s barn, joinin’ the hog-pen.




This item was first attributed to Poe by Clarence S. Brigham in Edgar Allan Poe’s Contributions to Alexander’s Weekly Messenger, 1943, pp. 40-42.

The “Goward” mentioned in the first sentence was Isaac R. Goward, a New York music teacher. Brigham notes that Goward “is generally entered in the Directories merely as ‘teacher,’ but in the Directory for 1839 he is entered as ‘Isaac R. Goward, of Amherst College, professor and teacher of music, dancing, writing, &c.’ He was a member of the Class of 1830 at Amherst, but did not graduate. His advertisements ran regularly in the New York Evening Signal. He calls himself ‘Rev. Isaac Goward, A.M.,’ and says that he was educated for the ministry but ‘on account of his extraordinary faculty for teaching, he was advised by numerous Christian friends to leave the pulpit and benefit the world by teaching arts, sciences and languages.’ He also mentions his three daughters, Euterpe Seraphine, Flora Terpsichore, and Calliope Rosina, ‘aged 8, 6 and 4.’ ” An advertisement typical of the sort referred to is: “Challenge! I challenge any man living to write a Business Hand with me, teach the same, or to teach Music, or Dancing, with me, for $1000, less, or nothing. Put a man down fairly, not by slander, or puffing unworthy ones for money! I have certificates of teaching 50 tunes in 5 minutes!!! Lessons cheap, at all hours — satisfaction or no charge. GOWARD, THE GREAT TEACHER” (Evening Signal, January 18, 1840).



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