Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Fifty Suggestions,” manuscript, about April 1849


[[9. FS009]]

[[Cottle's “Reminiscences of Coleridge” is just such a book as damns its perpetrator forever in the opinion of every gentleman who reads it. More and more every day do we moderns pavoneggiarsi about [column 2:] our Christianity; yet, so far as the spirit of Christianity is concerned, we are immeasurably behind the ancients. Mottoes and proverbs are the indices of national character; and the Anglo-Saxons are disgraced in having no proverbial equivalent to the “De mortuis nil nisi bonum.” Moreover — where, in all statutory Christendom, shall we find a law so Christian as the “Defuncti injuria ne afficiantur” of the Twelve Tables?]]

The simple negative injunction of the Latin law and proverb — the injunction not to do ill to the dead — seems, at a first glance, scarcely susceptible of improvement in the delicate respect of its terms. I cannot help thinking, however, that the sentiment, if not the idea intended, is more forcibly conveyed in an apothegm by one of the old English moralists, James Puckle. By an ingenious figure of speech he contrives to imbue the negation of the Roman command with a spirit of active and positive beneficence. “When speaking of the dead” he says, in his “Grey Cap for a Green Head”, “so fold up your discourse that their virtues may be outwardly shown, while their vices are wrapped up in silence”.




This fragment is in the Koester Collection at the HRCL of the University of Texas at Austin. The portion given above in blue is lacking from the fragment, and provided here (from the printed text) merely as context. Across the left side of the manuscript, running perpendicular to the text, is written, in pencil and by an unidentified hand, “Edgar A. Poe.”



[S:0 - MS, 1849] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Misc - Fifty Suggestions (MS)]