Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Marginalia [part XV],” Manuscript fragments, about May 1849


[[Fragment 01:]]

[sheet 1:]


[[I have sometimes amused myself by endeavoring to fancy what would be the fate of any individual gifted, or rather accursed, with an intellect very far superior to that of his race. Of course, he would be conscious of his superiority; nor could he (if otherwise constituted as man is) help manifesting his consciousness. Thus he would make himself enemies at all points. And since his opinions and speculations would widely differ from those of all mankind — that he would be considered a madman, is evident. How horribly painful such a condition! Hell could invent]] no greater torture than that of being charged with abnormal weakness on account of being abnormally strong.

In like manner, nothing can be clearer than that a very generous spirit — truly feeling what all merely profess — must inevitably find itself misconceived in every direction — its motives misinterpreted. Just as extremeness of intelligence would be thought fatuity, so excess of chivalry could not fail of being looked upon as meanness in its last degree: — and so on with other virtues. This subject is a painful [sheet 2:] one indeed. That individuals have so soared above the plane of their race, is scarcely to be questioned; but, in looking back through history for traces of their existence, we should pass over all biographies of “the good and the great”, while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows.


[[Fragment 02:]]

[sheet 3:]


There are moments when, even to the sober eye of Reason, the world of our sad humanity must assume the aspect of Hell; but the Imagination of Man is no Cara]]this, to explore with impunity its every cavern. Alas! the grim legion of sepulchral terrors cannot be regarded as altogether fanciful; but, like the Demons in whose company Afrasiab made his voyage down the Oxus, they must sleep, or they will devour us — they must be suffered to slumber, or we perish.



[[Fragment 03:]]



Talking of puns: — “Why do they not give us quail for dinner, as usual?” demanded Count Fessis, the other day, of H—, the classicist and sportsman.

“Because at this season”, replied H—, who was dozing, “qualis sopor fessis”. (Quail is so poor, Fessis.)




An infinity of error makes its way into our Philosophy, through Man's habit of considering himself a citizen of a world solely — of an individual planet — instead of at least occasionally contemplating his position as cosmopolite proper — as a denizen of the Universe.




The Carlyle-ists should adopt, as a motto, the inscription on the old bell from whose metal was cast the Great Tom, of Oxford: — “In Thomæ laude resono ‘Bim! Bom!’ sine fraude:” — and “Bim! Bom”, in such case, would be a marvellous “echo of sound to sense.”





Fragments 01 and 02 are currently owned by the Richmond Poe Foundation. The number “30” at the end presumably indicates the segment of the original manuscript, before it was pasted together by Poe to form a roll. Although the paper is much faded, traces of the orginal blue color are still apparent, particularly on the back.

On the back of the first fragment appears the note “Edgar A. Poe's MS” in ink, in an unknown hand. Above this, apparently in a different hand, is the designation of “1 - 61”

Fragment 03 is shown in an auction catalog, American Art Assocation (New York) of the Library of Samuel H. Austin, as item 586, April 24, 1917. The fragment is currently unlocated.

It is likely that other fragments also survive, but have not been located.


[S:1 - MS, 1849] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Misc - Marginalia [part XV] [Text-01]