Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. B. R. Pollin), “Supplemental Pinakidia,” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan PoeVol. II: The Brevities (1985), pp. 508-551 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 508:]


Taken from

The Works of the late Edgar Allan Poe

[Volume] III: The Literati

(edited by Rufus W. Griswold)

New York: Redfield, 1850

[25 items]

  * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  

Supplementary Marginalia 1

Much has been said, of late, about the necessity of maintaining a proper nationality in American Letters; but what this nationality is, or what is to be gained by it, has never been distinctly understood.(a) That an American should confine himself to American themes, or even prefer them, is rather a political than a literary idea — and at best is a questionable point. We would do well to bear in mind that “distance lends enchantment to the view.” Ceteris paribus, a foreign theme is, in a strictly literary sense, to be preferred. After all, the world at large is the only legitimate stage for the autorial histrio.(b)

But of the need of that nationality which defends our own literature, sustains our own men of letters, upholds our own dignity, and depends upon our own resources, there cannot be the shadow of a doubt. Yet here is the very point at which we are most supine. We complain of our want of an International Copyright, on the ground that this want justifies our publishers in inundating us with British opinion in British books; and yet when these very publishers, at their own obvious risk, and even obvious loss, do publish an American book, we turn up our noses at it with supreme contempt (this as a general thing) until it (the American book) has been dubbed “readable” by some illiterate Cockney critic. Is it too much to say that, with us, the opinion of Washington Irving — of [page 509:] Prescott — of Bryant — is a mere nullity in comparison with that of any anonymous sub-sub-editor of the Spectator, the Athenxum, or the “London Punch”?(c) It is not saying too much, to say this. It is a solemn — an absolutely awful act [[fact]]. Every publisher in the country will admit it to be a fact. There is not a more disgusting spectacle under the sun than our subserviency to British criticism. It is disgusting, first, because it is truckling, servile, pusillanimous — secondly, because of its gross irrationality. We know the British to bear us little but ill will — we know that, in no case, do they utter unbiassed opinions of American books — we know that in the few instances in which our writers have been treated with common decency in England, these writers have either openly paid homage to English institutions, or have had lurking at the bottom of their hearts a secret principle at war with Democracy: — we know all this, and yet, day after day, submit our necks to the degrading yoke of the crudest opinion that emanates from the fatherland. Now if we must have nationality, let it be a nationality that will throw off this yoked.(d)

The chief of the rhapsodists who have ridden us to death like the Old Man of the Mountain,(e) is the ignorant and egotistical Wilson. We use the term rhapsodists with perfect deliberation;(f) for, Macaulay, and Dilke, and one or two others, excepted, there is not in Great Britain a critic who can be fairly considered worthy the name.(g) The Germans, and even the French, are infinitely superior. As regards Wilson, no man ever penned worse criticism or better rhodomontade. That he is “egotistical” his works show to all men, running as they read.(h) That he is “ignorant” let his absurd and continuous schoolboy blunders about Homer bear witness.(i) Not long ago we ourselves pointed out a series of similar inanities in his review of Miss Barrett's poems — a series, we say, of gross blunders, arising from sheer ignorance — and we defy him or any one to answer a single syllable of what we then advanced.(j)

And yet this is the man whose simple dictum (to our shame be it spoken) has the power to make or to mar any American reputation! In the last number of Blackwood, he has a continuation of the dull “Specimens of the British Critics,” and makes occasion wantonly to insult one of the noblest of our poets, Mr. Lowell.(k) The point of the whole attack consists in the use of slang epithets and phrases of the most ineffably vulgar description. “Squabashes” is a pet term. “Faugh!” is another. We are Scotsmen to the spine!” says Sawney — as if the thing were not more than self-evident. Mr. Lowell is called “a magpie,” an “ape,” a “Yankee cockney,” and his name is intentionally miswritten John Russell Lowell. Now were these indecencies perpetrated by an American critic, that critic would be sent to Coventry by the whole press of the country, but since it is Wilson who insults, we, as in duty bound, not only submit to the insult, but echo it, as an excellent jest, throughout the length and breadth of the land. Quamdiu Catilina? We do indeed demand the nationality of [page 510:] self-respect. In Letters as in Government we require a Declaration of Independence. A better thing still would be a Declaration of War — and that war should be carried forthwith “into Africa.”(l)


understood) a. This is the first of the new Marginalia inserted into the Griswold series (undoubtedly by Poe himself; q. v. in my Introduction). It is derived verbatim from the second half of the “Editorial Miscellany” in the 10/4/45 BJ, 2.199-200, marked “P” by Poe in the Whitman copy of the journal, but omitted by Harrison from his index and reprints. The topic of American “nationality” in letters was a favorite with Poe, although his attitude changed at times; see his “Exordium” (this is not Poe's title) to the “Review of New Books” in the 1/42 Graham's, 20.68-69 (H 11.2) for similar ideas, similarly expressed. Poe's views and his relations with Mathews, Duyckinck, et al. on this issue were discussed by Perry Miller, The Raven and the Whale (1956) and, more recently, in thorough fashion, by Claude Richard in Poe: Journaliste et Critique, pp143-83.

histrio) b. The last sentence is Poe's redaction of his “Exordium” statement in para. 3: “ — as if the world at large were not the only proper stage for the literary histrio.” This can be traced through Shakespeare (As You Like It; 2.7.139) and the motto over the door of the Globe Theatre: “Quod fere totus mundus exerceat histrionem” (Almost the whole world are players) to its source in Petronius, Fragment 10. The word “autorial” is a Poe coinage, for the rare “authorial” and anticipating the not yet created “auctorial” (see Pollin, PS, 1977, 10.15-18, which discusses eight more instances; see also PCW 84).

Punch) c. Poe's ref. to a “cockney critic” balances John Wilson's insult to Lowell as a “Yankee cockney” (see below). His irate tone comes from his publication in mid-1845 of the new volume of Tales by Wiley and Putnam, soon to be followed by his Poems, the sales of which would certainly not match those of the many pirated British reprints. In fact, his three instances were highly respected and popular in America: Washington Irving (1783-1859); W. H. Prescott (1796-1859), the prominent historian of Spain and Spanish America, masterly in detail, despite his near blindness, and in narrative style; and W. C. Bryant (see FS 38n for Poe loci). Poe is careless in linking Punch as a journal of literary opinion to the other two magazines. In his 1/46 Godey's review of Simms’ Wigwam and the Cabin Poe expresses resentment of the “sub-sub-editor” of the Athenaeum for “patting on the head an American book ... murder being a taking theme with the cockney” (H 13.96-97). The hyphenated term is Poe's scornful coinage. Poe has in mind the famous essay by Sydney Smith (1771-1845) in the 1/1820 Edinburgh Review, starting with: “In the four quarters of the globe, who reads an American book?”

yoke) d. Poe probably had in mind Washington Irving (1785-1859), whose highly successful Sketch Book by “Geoffrey Crayon” (1819-20) [page 511:] avowed the necessary and desirable dependence of American authors on English models.

Mountain) e. Poe had expressed great interest in Hassan-ben (or ibn)-Sabah of Lebanon, founder of the anti-Crusader sect of the Assassins (q. v. in Pin 24). He seems to have confused this wily old man with the “Old Man of the Sea” in the story of Sinbad of the Arabian Nights (used in “Scheherazade”), who long clung to Sinbad's shoulders until dislodged by being plied with drink.

deliberation) f. Poe's use of the word “rhapsodist,” which can mean only “a person who uses extravagantly enthusiastic or impassioned language” (certainly not “an epic singer”), is individual, and probably refers to John Wilson's lack of restraint, especially in harangue. Poe's varying opinions of “Christopher North” (1785-1854), the versatile, ruthless mainstay of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, have never received thorough treatment (see also SM 7). One may infer that when Poe sought — vainly — to secure reviews of his 1839 Tales (Letters 116, 138-39) and also when he was shaping his own critical approach (see loci in PD 99), he was favorable, but by now (post-1844), he detested his commanding manner and position of Tory authoritarianism. Poe's objections to his manner and egotism are supported by almost all commentators today (see Baugh, Literary History, p. 1179, and Concise CHEL, p. 539), but less to his “ignorance” (see below).

name) g. Poe was ambiguous about Thomas B. Macaulay (1800-59), essayist, historian, statesman, and poet, to whom he often alluded and from whom he borrowed (see Index, PD 59, and TOM Index 1433). Scarcely warranted for interest or importance is this sole ref. to C. W. Dilke (1789-1864), antiquary, critic, editor of the Athenaeum, and friend of major poets.

The omission of the preposition “of” after “worthy” is called “rare, and appropriate only in exalted contexts” by Fowler, Dictionary of Modern English Usage, but the OED gives many instances in Poe's time which are not “exalted” — by Wordsworth and Tennyson among others.

read) h. The superiority of German criticism is directly contradicted in M 181, q. v. See also his views in MM 15, 152, 174. For Poe's increasing disenchantment with German criticism see A. J. Lubell, JEGP, 1953, 52.1-12. Poe's final phrase comes from Habbakuk 2.2: “Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it” but it is adapted by Du Bartas, Cowper, et al. (see Stevenson, Home ... Quotations 1677).

witness) i. Though intemperate, prejudiced, and often superficial, Wilson could not fairly be called “ignorant,” and his seven Homer essays decidedly prove otherwise. Motivated by the new translation of William Sotheby (1757-1833), Wilson published these articles first in “Maga” (as Blackwood's was called) from 4/31 through 2/34. He happily “restored” Chapman's translation “to notice” although he still lauded [page 512:] Pope's translation according to the 10/46 American Whig Review, 4.353. Perhaps this is part of his “blunders” in Poe's eye. Reviews of the published book found only “gusto” and balanced evaluations of all the translations in the work (see London Quarterly Review of 1858, 9.334 and British Quarterly Review, 1865, 4.291).

advanced) j. Wilson reviewed Elizabeth Barrett's Drama of Exile in the 11/44 “Maga.” (56.629-35), criticizing “The women swooned / To see [him] so awful” and a “fellness” occasioned by his “inner entity.” Poe had cleared up the constructions in his 1/3/45 BJ review (1.7) of her book. A kind of priggish obduracy rather than ignorance stirred Wilson's remarks.

Lowell) k. Wilson's article appeared in the 9/45 issue, pp. 366-88, specifically 368-70 for the Lowell criticism. The tone toward the “youngling” Lowell is certainly as scornful as Poe says. Lowell's book, Conversations on Some of the Old Poets (1844; proleptically dated 1845) evinced youthful enthusiasm, wide reading, and some error, but an honorable, thoughtful presentation of sincere views, through three long “dialogues” between Philip and John (hence Wilson's error in the author's first name). The long excerpts from Lowell's work are chiefly from his definition of poetry and his views on Pope in “conversation” one, and the derisive terms are verbatim. Poe's scornful name “Sawney” is a variant of “Sandy” or a shortened form of Alexander used to denigrate a Scot. Wilson is given credit (1818) by the OED for the coinage of “squabash” from “squash” and “bash,” characteristic of his vehemence and style. “Faugh” is merely an old expression of disgust. Amusingly, in the 3/49 SLM review of Lowell's A Fable for the Critics, Poe condemned Lowell for the passage: “Forty fathers of Freedom, of whom twenty bred ... / ... / their daughters for — faugh!” (H 13.171). The expression about Coventry means to mark with disgrace by universally ignoring the culprit.

Africa) l. The Latin is quoted in reverse order from Cicero's first oration against Catiline: “Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra? quam diu etiam furor iste tuus nos eludet?” (How long will you continually abuse our patience, Catiline? And now how long will that madness of yours mock us?) The final ref. is clearly to the history of Rome by Livy, specifically, Book 28, for 205 B. C., in which Livy vividly reconstructs the speeches by and about Scipio Africanus Major who “kept saying that he could not finish the war unless he should himself transport his army to Africa” (Loeb Classical Library, 1949, 8.161; see also pp. 179-189, F. G. Moore, tr.). The analogy of the critical war to the Punic War, of Rome-America to Carthage-Edinburgh, is an effective peroration to this editorial, now a Marginalia article. [page 513:]

Supplementary Marginalia 2

The Doctor has excited great attention in America as well as in England, and has given rise to every variety of conjecture and opinion, not only concerning the author's individuality, but in relation to the meaning, purpose, and character of the book itself. It is now said to be the work of one author — now of two, three, four, five — as far even as nine or ten. These writers are sometimes thought to have composed the Doctor conjointly — sometimes to have written each a portion. These individual portions have even been pointed out by the supremely acute, and the names of their respective fathers assigned. Supposed discrepancies of taste and manner, together with the prodigal introduction of mottoes, and other scraps of erudition (apparently beyond the compass of a single individual's reading) have given rise to this idea of a multiplicity of writers — among whom are mentioned in turn all the most witty, all the most eccentric, and especially all the most learned of Great Britain. Again — in regard to the nature of the book. It has been called an imitation of Sterne — an august and most profound exemplification, under the garb of eccentricity, of some all — important moral law — a true, under guise of a fictitious, biography — a simple jeu d‘esprit — a mad farrago by a Bedlamite, and a great multiplicity of other equally fine names and hard. Undoubtedly, the best method of arriving at a decision in relation to a work of this nature, is to read it through with attention, and thus see what can be made of it. We have done so, and can make nothing of it, and are therefore clearly of opinion that the Doctor is precisely — nothing. We mean to say that it is nothing better than a hoax.(a)

That any serious truth is meant to be inculcated by a tissue of bizarre and disjointed rhapsodies, whose general meaning no person can fathom, is a notion altogether untenable, unless we suppose the author a mad man. But there are none of the proper evidences of madness in the book — while of mere banter there are instances innumerable. One half, at least, of the entire publication is taken up with palpable quizzes, seasonings in a circle, sentences, like the nonsense verses of Du Bartas, evidently framed to mean nothing, while wearing an air of profound thought, and grotesque speculations in regard to the probable excitement to be created by the book.(b)

It appears to have been written with a sole view (or nearly with the sole view) of exciting inquiry and comment. That this object should be fully accomplished cannot be thought very wonderful, when we consider the excessive trouble taken to accomplish it, by vivid and powerful intellect. That the Doctor is the offspring of such intellect, is proved sufficiently by many passages of the book, where the writer appears to have been led off from his main design. That it is written by more than one man should not be deduced either from the apparent immensity of its [page 514:] erudition, or from discrepancies of style. That man is a desperate mannerist who cannot vary his style ad infinitum; and although the book may have been written by a number of learned bibliophagi, still there is, we think, nothing to be found in the book itself at variance with the possibility of its being written by any one individual of even mediocre reading. Erudition is only certainly known in its total results. The mere grouping together of mottoes from the greatest multiplicity of the rarest works, or even the apparently natural inweaving into any composition, of the sentiments and manner of these works, are attainments within the reach of any well-informed, ingenious and industrious man having access to the great libraries of London. Moreover, while a single individual possessing these requisites and opportunities, might, through a rabid desire of creating a sensation, have written, with some trouble, the Doctor, it is by no means easy to imagine that a plurality of sensible persons could be found willing to embark in such absurdity from a similar, or indeed from any imaginable inducement.(c)

The present edition of the Harpers consists of two volumes in one. Volume one commences with a Prelude of Mottoes occupying two pages. Then follows a Postscript — then a Table of Contents to the first volume, occupying eighteen pages. Volume two has a similar Prelude of Mottoes and Table of Contents. The whole is subdivided into Chapters Ante-Initial, Initial, and Post-Initial, with Inter-Chapters. The pages have now and then a typographical queerity — a monogram, a scrap of grotesque music, old English, &c. Some characters of this latter kind are printed with colored ink in the British edition, which is gotten up with great care. All these oddities are in the manner of Sterne, and some of them are exceedingly well conceived.(d) The work professes to be a Life of one Doctor Daniel Dove and his horse Nobs — but we should put no very great faith in this biography. On the back of the book is a monogram-which appears again once or twice in the text, and whose solution is a fertile source of trouble with all readers. This monogram is a triangular pyramid; and as, in geometry, the solidity of every polyedral body may be computed by dividing the body into pyramids, the pyramid is thus considered as the base or essence of every polyedron. The author then, after his own fashion, may mean to imply that his book is the basis of all solidity or wisdom — or perhaps, since the polyedron is not only a solid, but a solid terminated by plane faces, that the Doctor is the very essence of all that spurious wisdom which will terminate in just nothing at all — in a hoax, and a consequent multiplicity of blank visages.(e) The wit and humor of the Doctor have seldom been equalled. We cannot think Southey wrote it, but have no idea who did.(f)


hoax) a. The Harpers piratically reprinted Southey's curious work The Doctor early in 1836, two years after it had first appeared in England. This article is Poe's review in the 6/36 SLM (H 9.66-69) in toto. Obviously, [page 515:] Poe was fascinated by this miscellany (Southey's first was Omniana, 1818), inspired by Rabelais, Montaigne, and Laurence Sterne, with a thin story about Dr. Daniel Dove and his horse Nobs. Poe felt challenged to detect the real author, and enjoyed the rich store of esoteric information packed into it so lightheartedly. Southey began it in 1815hence, perhaps, the great digressiveness, and added further volumes in 1835, 1837, and 1838, with the popular “Three Bears” in chapter 129. Two more came out posthumously in 1847, edited by his son-in-law J. W. Warter, who discusses the authorship — known throughout England years before. Lockhart denies it to Southey in his Quarterly Review review of 3/34 (51.68-96) in Kenneth Curry's opinion, Southey (1975), p. 117 (although he broadly hints it, to my mind). Jack Simmons, in Southey (1945), p. 195, speaks of the stir carried over from the anonymity of the Waverley Novels and the initial attribution to Sir Egerton Brydges, which “soon” yielded to accurate information. In the 7/37 Fraser's Magazine, 16.676, Southey is declared author. But literary gossip in Great Britain does not reach America, save in print, and Poe seems honestly perplexed. Later he acquired the truth, e.g. in a ref. of 12/41 (H 10.225), although the next month (1/42; H 11.13), when discussing the Doctor as progenitor of Stanley Thorn he forgets Dove's name and suppresses the author. Obviously, by the time he inserted this 1836 review into the revised Marginalia, he knew the author (probably in 1849), but realized that it would require elaborate rewriting; hence, he left it unchanged-but included for its importance or its basic writing and approach.

book) b. Poe often used the term “banter” for praise in criticism, as when he told J. P. Kennedy, 2/11/36, that most of his tales “were intended for half banter, half satire” (Ostrom 84; cf. also letter to B. Tucker, 12/1/35, p. 77). The subject has been treated by S. L. Mooney, AL, 1962, 33.423-32; Pollin, Names Institute Papers, 1973 (Commerce, Texas); and D. B. Stauffer, lecture of 10/81, published by the Poe Society of Baltimore. Poe's mistaken notion about “the nonsense verses of Du Bartas” is repeated elsewhere; it was derived from a misreading of a remark by Griswold in one of his anthologies. The whole matter is treated in Pollin, “Du Bartas ... in Poe's Criticism,” MQ, 1969, 33.45-55.

inducement) c. The fifth sentence in this para. is taken from the “Postscript” (sic) to the “Prelude of Mottoes”: “There are no such characteristics by which an author can be identified. He must be a desperate mannerist who can be detected by his style, and a poor proficient in his art if he cannot at any time so vary it, as to put the critic upon a false scent” (N. Y. 1836 ed., p. x). For Poe's further use of “mannerist” see M 79. Some might take exception to the usage in “the mere grouping ... or even the ... inweaving ... are.”

Poe felicitously coined “bibliophagi” as his italics usually show.

conceived) d. Poe must have thought he was coining “queerity” as well, but the OED instances two early 18th century uses before this [page 516:] as the third. Poe neglects to mention the source of his data on the English edition-the American publisher's note (1.32): “In the English copy this dedication [on p. 33] is printed. .. with some pigment of a hue unknown in the printing office ... [here] and not to be imitated. ...

visages) e. It is Southey who refers to the emblem as a “mysterious monogram” of “omnisignificance” (2.159). However, the “explanation” involving the pun on “plane faces” and “blank visages” is not Southey's but Poe's. The omission of “h” from “polyhedron” and “polyhedral“looking like a misprint — is allowed as a rare form; hence, is uncorrected.

who did) f. Poe's numerous refs. to Southey's works (see PD 87) might lead us to expect him to solve the authorship, but he seems to have known the long poems such as Thalaba and Kehama chiefly, aside from a few pirated reprints on history. He seems not to have read Omniana, closest in material. See Pollin, “Kehama in a Poe poem,” Wordsworth Circle, 1976, 7.101-106, for a preliminary study of a topic thus far neglected.

Supplementary Marginalia 3

It cannot, we think, be a matter of doubt with any reflecting mind, that at least one-third of the reverence, or of the affection, with which we regard the elder poets of Great Britain, should be credited to what is, in itself, a thing apart from poetry — we mean to the simple love of the antique — and that again a third of even the proper poetic sentiment inspired by these writings should be ascribed to a fact which, while it has a strict connexion with poetry in the abstract, and also with the particular poems in question, must not be looked upon as a merit appertaining to the writers of the poems. Almost every devout reader of the old English bards, if demanded his opinion of their productions, would mention vaguely, yet with perfect sincerity, a sense of dreamy, wild, indefinite, and, he would perhaps say, undefinable delight. Upon being required to point out the source of this so shadowy pleasure, he would be apt to speak of the quaint in phraseology and of the grotesque in rhythm. And this quaintness and grotesqueness are, as we have elsewhere endeavored to show, very powerful, and, if well managed, very admissible adjuncts to ideality. But in the present instance they arise independently of the author's will, and are matters altogether apart from his intention.


Note: This para. presents several puzzling elements. It is taken from Poe's 8/36 SLM review of Samuel Carter Hall, editor of The Book of Gems: The Poets and Artists of Great Britain (London and N. Y., 1836; H 9.94). The original review quotes at length an earlier review of the book in the American Monthly Magazine, then edited by Park Benjamin [page 517:] and C. F. Hoffman. In trimming this for reprinting (changing only “connexion” and “Ideality”) Poe cut off the following transition: “Notwithstanding the direct truth of what has been here so well advanced,“. In fact, however, Poe had already substantially reprinted this para. and most of the 1836 review in the BJ of 5/17/45, 1.313, save that he then struck out the ref. to “the grotesque in rhythm” and its follow-up in the rest of the review. There are two questions: Since he had reprinted the material nine years later, why was another reprint needed in the SM? If he thought the para. important, why did he not use the BJ copy, as a better expression of his views? The answer to one is the nature of Griswold's (i.e. Poe's) reprint-collection, much more like a book, preserving Poe's key ideas. As for using the BJ, he may have been reediting his copy for the literary “legacy” without benefit of all the materials needed. We know that he had given his primary copy of the two volumes to Mrs. Whitman in 1848; in addition, he must have been working under great pressure of time. This was certainly an early announcement of his theory of the indefinite, later to be applied to music as well. The term “idealiity,” while at first connected with phrenology, often meant simply “beauty” in Poe's works, as here (see M 20).

Supplementary Marginalia 4

We have long learned to reverence the fine intellect of Bulwer.(a) We take up any production of his pen with a positive certainty that, in reading it, the wildest passions of our nature, the most profound of our thoughts, the brightest visions of our fancy, and the most ennobling and lofty of our aspirations will, in due turn, be enkindled within us. We feel sure of rising from the perusal a wiser if not a better man. In no instance are we deceived. From the brief tale — from the “Monos and Daimonos” of the author — to his most ponderous and labored novels — all is richly, and glowingly intellectual — all is energetic, or astute, or brilliant, or profound. There may be men now living who possess the power of Bulwer — but it is quite evident that very few have made that power so palpably manifest. Indeed we know of none. Viewing him as a novelist — a point of view exceedingly unfavorable (if we hold to the common acceptation of “the novel”) for a proper contemplation of his genius — he is unsurpassed by any writer living or dead. Why should we hesitate to say this, feeling, as we do, thoroughly persuaded of its truth. Scott has excelled him in many points, and “The Bride of Lammermoor” is a better book than any individual work by the author of Pelham“Ivanhoe” is, perhaps, equal to any. Descending to particulars, D‘Israeli has a more brilliant, a more lofty, and a more delicate (we do not say a wilder) imagination. Lady Dacre has written Ellen Wareham, a more [page 518:] forcible tale of passion. In some species of wit Theodore Hook rivals, and in broad humor our own Paulding surpasses him. The writer of “Godolphin” equals him in energy. Banim is a better sketcher of character. Hope is a richer colorist. Captain Trelawny is as original — Moore is as fanciful, and Horace Smith is as learned.(b) But who is there uniting in one person the imagination, the passion, the humor, the energy, the knowledge of the heart, the artist-like eye, the originality, the fancy, and the learning of Edward Lytton Bulwer? In a vivid wit — in profundity and a Gothic massiveness of thought — in style — in a calm certainty and definitiveness of purpose — in industry — and above all, in the power of controlling and regulating by volition his illimitable faculties of mind, he is unequalled — he is unapproached.(c)


Bulwer) a. No good study exists of the enormous influence of Bulwer's varied works (especially fictional) on Poe's ideas and tales — the greatest of any of Poe's contemporaries, although Poe usually denies him the very highest authorial eminence — often, in Poe, a sign of his indefatigable and unacknowledged borrowing for mottoes, quips, maxims, and even situations. For a brief general survey see George H. Spies in the Kyushu American Literature (9176), 17.1-6. For studies of individual influences see A. Hammond, ESQ, 1972, 18.154-64 (especially for “Lionizing”); and Pollin, ANQ, 1965, 4.7-8 (“‘Tell-Tale Heart’ and ‘Monos and Daimonos“’). For the many passages and articles on Bulwer in Poe see PD 15. This passage, taken from the SLM of 2/36, 2.197 (H 8.222), is more laudatory, although the praise is somewhat diluted near the end. Bulwer essayed with popular success every type of literature, but Poe perhaps absorbed his only truly original creative work, that of the short story (as in “Monos and Daimonos”). Poe amusingly fails to recognize Bulwer as the author of the anonymously published Godolphin (see below).

learned) b. For the majority of these contemporary authors, see the numerous loci in Poe's works, in PD, in the “Index of Names” section. Poe greatly respected Sir Walter Scott as an historical novelist, not as a poet, but there is no general survey of Poe and Scott; only in 1845 (BJ, H 12.189-92), did Poe give up his misspelling of “Lammormuir“. Concerning Ivanhoe T. O. Mabbott calls “Ligeia” a “reworking of the love theme” of the novel (TOM 306). Bulwer's fashionable tale of the dandy Pelham (1828), his first great success, was most appealing to Poe (see PD, “Titles” index) and lent him a great deal, as did the novels of Benjamin D‘Israeli (1804-1881), especially the earliest of the three published prior to this review: Vivian Grey (1826), The Young Duke (1831) and Contarini Fleming (1832). Poe was to persist in his error of ascribing the “magic” novel (as he called Ellen Wareham), in all six times, to Lady Barbarina Dacre, rather than to her daughter Arabella Sullivan, for whom Lady Dacre edited Tales of the Peerage and Recollections of a Chaperon, both also [page 519:] wrongly ascribed by Poe to the mother. For the full account see Pollin, DP, ch. 8, pp. 128-43. Theodore Hook (1788-1841) was a witty, scandalous editor (John Bull, later New Monthly), author of numerous coarse, popular novels, precursors to those of Dickens, whose works Poe mentions (Jack Brag, H 11.40; SLM, 1835, 1.714: uncollected note on Magpie Castle, courtesy of D. K. Jackson). Poe invariably spoke well (see the many loci in PD ) of James Kirke Paulding (1778-1860), keenly observant in his sketches, tales, and novels, powerful as a naval man (Van Buren's Secretary of the Navy), related by marriage to Washington Irving (cf. Salmagundi Papers, also). Did Poe refer to John Banim (1798-1842), called the “Scott of Ireland,” rather than his brother Michael (17961874)? They collaborated on Tales of the O‘Hara Family (three series, 1825-1829) after which Michael published several popular novels alone. The O‘Hara Tales particularly are masterful portrayals of peasant character. The vagueness of Poe's reference suggests hearsay. Poe did know the historical, picaresque romance, Anastasius, or Memoirs of a Greek (1819), by Thomas Hope (1770-1831), as he shows in his 311836 review of Mahmoud (H 8.256-57); it was much admired by Byron. Captain Edward John Trelawny (1793-1881), the spelling of whose name has troubled many others, also used the exotic Levant for his semi-autobiographical Adventures of a Younger Son (1831) and was well known in America for his intimate connection with Byron and Shelley, and also for his travels in America (see Pollin, “Poe as Probable Author of ‘Harper's Ferry,“’ AL, 1968, 40.164-78); he scarcely belongs among “novelists.” Thomas Moore (1779-1852) is more fitting; although primarily a lyric poet, incessantly read and favorably reviewed by Poe (see DP entry), Poe absorbed and probably used the philosophical romance The Epicurean (1827) and perhaps the two accounts of The Fudge Family (1818 and 1835), all of which is discussed by Pollin, ESQ, 1972, 18.166-173. Horatio (“Horace”) Smith (1779-1849), was familiar to Poe for his clever parodies with his brother James in Rejected Addresses and his historical fiction, filled with learned details used by Poe in his early tales (see Pollin, PN, 1970, 3.8-10); see also M 5 for reference to his journalistic essays.

unapproached) c. Collations: The first member of the pair is that of the SLM, 2/36, 2.197: brief Tale / brief tale; Lammormuir (typographical error in both, here corrected); tale of Passion / tale of passion.

Supplementary Marginalia 5

The author of “Richelieu” and “Darnley” is lauded, by a great majority of those who laud him, from mere motives of duty, not of inclination — duty erroneously conceived. He is looked upon as the head and representative of those novelists who, in historical romance, attempt [page 520:] to blend interest with instruction. His sentiments are found to be pure — his morals unquestionable, and pointedly shown forth — his language indisputably correct. And for all this, praise, assuredly, but then only a certain degree of praise, should be awarded him. To be pure in his expressed opinions is a duty; and were his language as correct as any spoken, he would speak only as every gentleman should speak. In regard to his historical information, were it much more accurate, and twice as extensive as, from any visible indications, we have reason to believe it, it should still be remembered that similar attainments are possessed by many thousands of well-educated men of all countries, who look upon their knowledge with no more than ordinary complacency; and that a far, very far higher reach of erudition is within the grasp of any general reader having access to the great libraries of Paris or the Vatican. Something more than we have mentioned is necessary to place our author upon a level with the best of the English novelists — for here his admirers would desire us to place him.(a) Had Sir Walter Scott never existed, and Waverley never been written, we would not, of course, award Mr. J. the merit of being the first to blend history, even successfully, with fiction. But as an indifferent imitator of the Scotch novelist in this respect, it is unnecessary to speak of the author of “Richelieu” any farther. To genius of any kind, it seems to us, that he has little pretension. In the solemn tranquility of his pages we seldom stumble across a novel emotion, and if any matter of deep interest arises in the path, we are pretty sure to find it an interest appertaining to some historical fact equally vivid or more so in the original chronicles.(b)


place him) a. This is the major portion of a review of four Lives (Richelieu, Oxenstiern, Olivares, Mazarin) in the SLM of 10/36 (H 9.168170). George Payne Rainsford James, very early in his career as an Englishjournalist and historical novelist, was encouraged by Washington Irving and Walter Scott (as Poe implies). He quickly turned out numerous novels, popular histories and poems (over 100, reputedly), and was well parodied by Thackeray in the 1847 Punch (Barbazure in Novels by Eminent Hands, 1856). (See M 113 for the amusing false attribution by both Poe and Griswold of Miserrimus to this author.) Poe shows artistic insight and dislike of mindless puffing and cheap didacticism in this “new” Marginalia item, taken from his early criticism. Numerous reviews in the best journals appraised the many novels by James; this excerpt is fairly typical of the stolid satisfaction with mediocrity which Poe reprobated: “Surpassing any of his cotemporaries in extent of productions, Mr. James still continued to write with a rapidity unequaled even by the great Scott himself, inferior to none in attributes which command popularity, probable and well-managed incidents and [with] a perfect agreement in their great events with the most authentic chronicles.” (New Yorker, 9/12/40, 9.401; rev. of The Man at Arms).

chronicles) b. The text is unchanged from the SLM save for its dropping seven long opening sentences and the last para. (five sentences), which contains a little faint praise.

Supplementary Marginalia 6

The enormous multiplication of books in every branch of knowledge, is one of the greatest evils of this age; since it presents one of the most serious obstacles to the acquisition of correct information, by throwing in the reader's way piles of lumber, in which he must painfully grope for the scraps of useful matter peradventure interspersed.


Note: This is the beginning of the second of four paras. of an uncollected review by Poe in the 10/36 SLM of Theodorick Bland (1777-1846), Chancellor (or Judge), Reports of Cases decided in the High Court of Chancery of Maryland (Vol. l, 708 pages). Bland's father of the same name (1742-1790), planter, physician and Revolutionary soldier, “entered” the DAB, but not his juristic son, whose other works seemed to be a 52page “Voter's Handbook” of 1813, 83-page report on “Chili” (1818), and one on a proposed Maryland canal (1823). Poe's first sentence states his thesis: “We cannot perceive any sufficient reason for the publication of this book.” The rest is a well-reasoned, sharply detailed brief against its issuance, showing careful reading and note-taking. In view of the difficulty he had been having in finding a publisher for his “Tales of the Folio Club,” there is poignancy in his final comment on the fine physical format, “not bestowed to better purpose.”

Supplementary Marginalia 7

That Professor Wilson is one of the most gifted and altogether one of the most remarkable men of his day, few persons will be weak enough to deny. His ideality — his enthusiastic appreciation of the beautiful, conjoined with a temperament compelling him into action and expression, has been the root of his prëeminent success. Much of it, undoubtedly, must be referred to that so-called moral courage which is but the consequence of the temperament in its physical elements. In a word, Professor Wilson is what he is, because he possesses ideality, energy and audacity, each in a very unusual degree.(a) The first, almost unaided by the two latter, has enabled him to produce much impression, as a poet, upon the secondary or tertiary grades of the poetic comprehension. His “Isle of Palms” appeals effectively to all those poetic intellects in which the poetic predominates greatly over the intellectual element. It is a [page 522:] composition which delights through the glow of its imagination, but which repels (comparatively, of course) through the niaiseries of its general conduct and construction. As a critic, Professor Wilson has derived, as might easily be supposed, the greatest aid from the qualities for which we have given him credit — and it is in criticism especially, that it becomes very difficult to say which of these qualities has assisted him the most. It is sheer audacity, however, to which, perhaps, after all, he is the most particularly indebted. How little he owes to intellectual preeminence, and how much to the mere overbearing impetuosity of his opinions, would be a singular subject for speculation.(b) Nevertheless it is true, that this rash spirit of domination would have served, without his rich ideality, but to hurry him into contempt. Be this as it may, in the first requisite of a critic the Scotch Aristarchus is grossly deficient. Of one who instructs we demand, in the first instance, a certain knowledge of the principles which regulate the instruction. Professor Wilson's capability is limited to a keen appreciation of the beautiful, and fastidious sense of the deformed. Why or how either is either, he never dreams of pretending to inquire, because he sees clearly his own inability to comprehend. He is no analyst. He is ignorant of the machinery of his own thoughts and the thoughts of other men. His criticism is emphatically on the surface — superficial. His opinions are mere dicta — unsupported verba magistri — and are just or unjust at the variable taste of the individual who reads them. He persuades — he bewilders — he overwhelms — at times he even argues — but there has been no period at which he ever demonstrated anything beyond his own utter incapacity for demonstration.(c)


degree) a. This is the first and longer of two paras. on a new edition of John Wilson's Genius and Character of Burns in the 9/6/45 BJ, 2.136 (H 12.239-40). Cleverly Poe manages to attribute three generally laudable qualities to him and yet end on a totally negative note as he basically prefers to do. The modern critics, some cited in SM 1 f, i, and 1, find him crude, opinionated, and callous. In M 234 Poe devotes more space to his objection to the phrase “moral courage” (q. v.). In the 1/42 Graham's (20.72) is a review of the earlier reprint of the same book which has been claimed for Poe by W. D. Hull and others; to me this claim seems untenable for an essay so generally counter to SM 1 and 7. The accent mark over the first “e” in “preeminent” and below in “preeminence” are signs of Poe's personal predilection and instructions to the printer, in this case through the copy-marks left to his literary executor. Clearly it was not Griswold who altered this text thus. (See the subject treated in my Intro.)

speculation) b. The French word “niaiserie” meaning “trifle” or “foolishness” is a Poe favorite, always used in derogation. In SM 1 Poe offers evidence of his “audacity in the abuse of Lowell.” Yet Poe's statement about his Isle of Palms is generous and agrees with A. C. Baugh's [page 523:] “quietly lovely and Wordsworthian” (p. 1179).

demonstration) c. To Poe a lack of analytical skill is especially reprehensible in the Professor of Moral Philosophy (even though the post came to him through “a gross piece of political jobbery,” as G. Sampson in CHEL, p. 539, aptly says). The witty scorn of the last sentence repeats a form of insult often used by Poe, as in the “Literati” sketch of L. G. Clarke, “noticeable ... for the markedness by which he is noticeable for nothing” (H 15.115).

Supplementary Marginalia 8

Captain Hall is one of the most agreeable of writers. We like him for the same reason that we like a good drawing-room conversationist — there is such a pleasure in listening to his elegant nothings. Not that the captain is unable to be profound. He has, on the contrary, some reputation for science. But in his hands even the most trifling personal adventures become interesting from the very piquancy with which they are told.


Note: This is the first of the two paras. of Poe's uncol. review in Graham's of 4/41, 18.204, of Captain Basil Hall's Patchwork, pirated in Philadelphia from the 1841 London edition (twice issued). Perhaps Poe's phrase “elegant nothings” reflects also the title of Hall's American reprint of his 1836 book, which he reviewed in the SLM, 10/36 (H 9.170-74): Skimmings; or A Winter at Schloss Hainfeld in Lower Styria (Skimmings was an American addition). Many of Hall's numerous works contain his more serious thoughts about exploratory travel and diplomacy. Hall (1788-1844) was an active Fellow in many scientific societies (see the article in En. Brit., 11th ed.). Poe's second review makes him into an English Willis. The word “conversationist” is an allowable variant of “conversationalist.”

Supplementary Marginalia 9

How truthful an air of deep lamentation hangs here* upon every gentle syllable!(a) It pervades all. It comes over the sweet melody of the words, over the gentleness and grace which we fancy in the little maiden herself, even over the half-playful, half-petulant air with which she lingers on the beauties and good qualities of her favorite — like the cool [page 523:] shadow of a summer cloud over a bed of lilies and violets, and “all sweet flowers.” The whole thing is redolent with poetry of the very loftiest order. It is positively crowded with nature and with pathos. Every line is an ideaconveying either the beauty and playfulness of the fawn, or the artlessness of the maiden, or the love of the maiden, or her admiration, or her grief, or the fragrance, and sweet warmth and perfect appropriateness of the little nest-like bed of lilies and roses, which the fawn devoured as it lay upon them, and could scarcely be distinguished from them by the once happy little damsel who went to seek her pet with an arch and rosy smile upon her face. Consider the great variety of truth and delicate thought in the few lines we have quoted — the wonder of the maiden at the fleetness of her favorite — the “little silver feet” — the fawn challenging his mistress to the race, “with a pretty skipping grace,” running on before, and then, with head turned back, awaiting her approach only to fly from it again — can we not distinctly perceive all these things? The exceeding vigor, too, and beauty of the line,

And trod as if on the four winds.

which are vividly apparent when we regard the artless nature of the speaker, and the four feet of the favorite — one for each wind. Then the garden of “my own,” so overgrown — entangled — with lilies and roses as to be “a little wilderness” — the fawn loving to be there and there “only” — the maiden seeking it “where it should lie,” and not being able to distinguish it from the flowers until “itself would rise” — the lying among the lilies “like a bank of lilies” — the loving to “fill” itself with roses,

And its pure virgin limbs to fold

In whitest sheets of lilies cold,

and these things being its “chief” delights(b) — and then the pre-eminent beauty and naturalness of the concluding lines — whose very outrageous hyperbole and absurdity only render them the more true to nature and to propriety, when we consider the innocence, the artlessness, the enthusiasm, the passionate grief, and more passionate admiration of the bereaved child.

Had it lived long it would have been

Lilies without — roses within.(c)

* The Maiden Hunting [sic for “Lamenting”] for her Fawn, by Andrew Marvell.


syllable) a. This is another excerpt (the last two paras.) from Poe's review of Samuel Carter Hall's anthology The Book of Gems [I], which he reviewed in the 8/36 SLM (H 9.100-103) — an article which, abridged, he inserted into the 5/17/45 BJ (H 12.143-46). In SM 3 above he used an earlier excerpt from the same article (q. v.). It is strange that the BJ reprint of the present passage includes changes (see end of this note for collations) which were not retained for this Supplementary Marginalia item, for some reason (see SM 3 note for speculation). This passage concerns Andrew Marvell's “The Nymph Complaining for the Death of [page 525:] her Fawn” (1.267-70), its correct title, as in the Miscellaneous Poems of Marvell (1681). Poe always showed great interest in pets, such as cats (e.g., Caterina, the Poe “familiar”), caged birds, and even a fawn discussed as a welcome addition (who never arrived) in the 4/24/1840 letter to Hiram Haines of Petersburg, Virginia (Ostrom 129). See also his tale of the Wissahiccon Creek, later titled “The Elk” which romantically ends with the appearance of a “pet elk” (Tales 866).

delights) b. In the review Poe reprints 30 lines of Marvell's poem before paraphrasing them thus, but he is not entirely faithful to the text (reprinted in modern English, unlike Hall's Book of Gems text): “nest-like bed” is not Marvell's phrase, nor is the concept of the fawn's having its “head turned back” Marvell's; nor does anything in the text warrant the correspondence of the winds with the four feet, an emanation from the “artless” speaker; and Poe changes “delight” to a plural substantive to serve as a summary for his listed “graces” in the poem, whereas Marvell says that the fawn's “chief delight” was always to fill itself with roses.

within) c. Poe speaks of these as “concluding lines” whereas the poem continues for some lines, onto the next page, ending with the actual death and final tears of the animal. It is well that Poe uses “absurdity” to alleviate the sentimentality of his approach to the death of innocence — one of his favorite topics. But the speaker is clearly not a “bereaved child” but a maiden to whom the suitor Sylvio had given the deer before he himself proved “false.” “The wanton Troopers” casually shot the deer which dies during the progress of the verses, until, at the end, the “nymph” promises to erect a Niobe-like statue of herself with the deer at her feet.

Since the BJ version of the two paras. (here printed as one) represents a later form than the SLM original review, it is useful to note the following collation of variants, with the SLM printed before the slash (entries separated by a semicolon): whole thing / whole; the very loftiest ... Every / a very lofty order. Every; or the love of the maiden, / or her love,; sweet warmth / warmth; perfect appropriateness / appropriateness; truth and / truthful and; a race / the race; The exceeding vigor and beauty of the line / How exceedingly vigorous, too, is the line; which are vividly apparent ... artless nature / a vigor fully apparent only when we keep in mind the artless character; Then the garden / Then consider the garden; lilies and roses / roses and lilies; outrageous hyperbole and absurdity / hyperbole; only render / renders [end]

Supplementary Marginalia 10

We are not among those who regard the genius of Petrarch as a subject for enthusiastic admiration. The characteristics of his poetry are [page 526:] not traits of the highest, or even of a high order; and in accounting for his fame, the discriminating critic will look rather to the circumstances which surrounded the man, than to the literary merits of the pertinacious sonnetteer. Grace and tenderness we grant him — but these qualities are surely insufficient to establish his poetical apotheosis.(a)

In other respects he is entitled to high consideration. As a patriot, notwithstanding some accusations which have been rather urged than established, we can only regard him with approval. In his republican principles; in his support of Rienzi at the risk of the displeasure of the Colonna family; in his whole political conduct, in short, he seems to have been nobly and disinterestedly zealous for the welfare of his country. But Petrarch is most important when we look upon him as the bridge by which, over the dark gulf of the middle ages, the knowledge of the old world made its passage into the new. His influence on what is termed the revival of letters was, perhaps, greater than that of any man who ever lived; certainly far greater than that of any of his immediate contemporaries. His ardent zeal in recovering and transcribing the lost treasures of antique lore cannot be too highly appreciated. But for him, many of our most valued classics might have been numbered with Pindar's hymns and dithyrambics. He devoted days and nights to this labor of love; snatching numerous precious books from the very brink of oblivion. His judgment in these things was strikingly correct, while his erudition, for the age in which he lived, and for the opportunities he enjoyed, has always been a subject of surprise.(b)


apotheosis) a. The two paras. are the first of seven in the review by Poe of Thomas Campbell's Life of Petrarch (Phil., 1841), published in the 9/41 Graham's, 19.142-43 (H 10.202-06), reprinted as no. 186 in the Griswold edition with only a few trifling changes in accidentals. Despite his authoritative tone in this review, it is likely that he had little or no first-hand acquaintance with the writings of Francesco Petrarca (1304-74), briefly discussed in Pin 78, 90, in a 2/36 SLM of Bulwer's novel of Rienzi, The Last of the Tribunes (H 8.222-29), whose chief character was Petrarch's friend; and in a mere phrase in a 1/11/45 BJ review (H 12.29). It was Campbell who provided him with everything in this article, aptly put into his own language, save the deprecation of the “rank” of Petrarch's poetry — proof, many would say, of Poe's poor grasp of Italian. In turn, Campbell was almost utterly dependent upon the compendious Life of the Abbé de Sade (1705-78), who professed to believe that the idol of Petrarch's lifelong devotion, Laura, was an early member of his celebrated family (the notorious marquis being his nephew). The source text was available in English (see Pin 78 and also the full text of the review in Graham's, expanding pejoratively upon Campbell's slavish use of earlier sources — as he himself discusses doing preliminarily). Only for the “ballads” of Campbell does Poe have much praise [page 527:] (see PD 17 for loci plus refs. in my Index).

surprise) b. Poe shows some strange naivete about elements in this para. not derived from Campbell's text: the thoroughness of Petrarch's republican “principles” in the late Middle Ages, when he owed his productive and influential long career to the eagerly proffered patronage of such noble tyrants or autocrats as the Gonzaga family at Mantua, the Este family at Ferrara, Malatesta of Rimini, the Visconti of Milan, and the Colonna family of Rome; his zeal for the “welfare of his country” — which would not be a “country” for another 500 years; and the “surprise” over his “erudition” which certainly did not extend to his lack of purity in Latin (see Pin 78) or his very late study and very incomplete acquisition of Greek. Poe seems to think Pindar's works signally lost. Pindar (518-438 B. C.), versatile, extraordinarily popular and honored lyric poet, had his numerous works collected in seventeen books, from which many were lost, but many also survived, including the forty-four hymns called “Epinicia” or “Odes of Victory”; see also MM 147, 265.

Supplementary Marginalia 11

The ordinary pickpocket filches a purse, and the matter is at an end. He neither takes honor to himself, openly, on the score of the purloined purse, nor does he subject the individual robbed to the charge of pick-pocketism in his own person; by so much the less odious is he, then, than the filcher of literary property.(a) It is impossible, we should think, to imagine a more sickening spectacle than that of the plagiarist, who walks among mankind with an erecter step, and who feels his heart beat with a prouder impulse, on account of plaudits which he is conscious are the due of another. It is the purity, the nobility, the ethereality of just fame — it is the contrast between this ethereality and the grossness of the crime of theft, which places the sin of plagiarism in so detestable a light. We are horror-stricken to find existing in the same bosom the soul-uplifting thirst for fame, and the debasing propensity to pilfer. It is the anomaly — the discord — which so grossly offends.(b)


property) a. This is an excerpt from Poe's “Editorial Miscellany” in the 9/20/45 BJ, 2.173, marked with a “P” in the Whitman copy of the magazine but uncollected by Harrison. The preceding section reprints two long passages (seven full sentences), the first from a tale in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier of 6/19/41 by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-92), the second (very close in language) “attributed to Bulwer.” Poe is delighted, of course, to ascribe “this, the most despicable species of theft” (despite his disclaimer of certainty) to Whittier, abolitionist [page 528:] newspaper editor of Quaker stock. His negative opinion of the didactic poetry of the man is expressed in the 12/41 “Autography” article in Graham's (H 15.245-46). This time, certainly, the resemblance is close and convenient for Poe's condemnation, for which he coins the noun “pick-pocketism”; for this theme in the Brevities see many instances via the Index.

offends) b. It is likely that Poe has in mind the ref. in Milton's “Lycidas” (1. 70) to “Fame” “(that last infirmity of noble minds).” His rather exaggerated eulogy of fame leads him to coin the compound “soul-uplifting” which matches his other coinages of “soul-elevating” and “soul-exalting” (q. v. in PCW 64-65). Apparently Poe felt that this passage deserved this inclusion.

Supplementary Marginalia 12

Les anges,” says Madame Dudevant, a woman who intersperses many an admirable sentiment amid a chaos of the most shameless and altogether objectionable fiction — “Les anges ne sont plus purrs [sic] gue le coeur dun jeune homme qui aime en verite.” The angels are not more pure than the heart of a young man who loves with fervor.(a) The hyperbole is scarcely less than true. It would be truth itself, were it averred of the love of him who is at the same time young and a poet. The boyish poetlove is indisputably that one of the human sentiments which most nearly realizes our dreams of the chastened voluptuousness of heaven.(b)

Engraving of Byron and Miss Chaworth [thumbnail]

“Byron and Miss Chaworth” (See note d on p. 532.)

In every allusion made by the author of “Childe Harold” to his passion for Mary Chaworth, there runs a vein of almost spiritual tenderness and purity, strongly in contrast with the gross earthliness per vading and disfiguring his ordinary love-poems. The Dream, in which the incidents of his parting with her when about to travel, are said to be delineated, or at least paralleled, has never been excelled (certainly never excelled by him) in the blended fervor, delicacy, truthfulness and ethereality which sublimate and adorn it. For this reason, it may well be doubted if he has written anything so universally popular.(c) That his attachment for this “Mary” (in whose very name there indeed seemed to exist for him an “enchantment”) was earnest, and long-abiding, we have every reason to believe. There are a hundred evidences of this fact, scattered not only through his own poems and letters, but in the memoirs of his relatives, and cotemporaries in general. But that it was thus earnest and enduring, does not controvert, in any degree, the opinion that it was a passion (if passion it can properly be termed) of the most thoroughly romantic, shadowy and imaginative character. It was born of the hour, and of the youthful necessity to love, while it was nurtured by the waters and the hills, and the flowers, and the stars. It had no peculiar [page 530:] regard to the person, or to the character, or to the reciprocating affection of Mary Chaworth. Any maiden, not immediately and positively repulsive, he would have loved, under the same circumstances of hourly and unrestricted communion, such as the engravings of the subject shadow forth.(d) They met without restraint and without reserve. As mere children they sported together; in boyhood and girlhood they read from the same books, sang the same songs, or roamed hand in hand, through the grounds of the conjoining estates. The result was not merely natural or merely probable, it was as inevitable as destiny itself.

In view of a passion thus engendered, Miss Chaworth, (who is represented as possessed of no little personal beauty and some accomplishments,) could not have failed to serve sufficiently well as the incarnation of the ideal that haunted the fancy of the poet. It is perhaps better, nevertheless, for the mere romance of the love-passages between the two, that their intercourse was broken up in early life and never uninterruptedly resumed in after years. Whatever of warmth, whatever of soul-passion, whatever of the truer nare and essentiality of romance was elicited during the youthful association is to be attributed altogether to the poet. If she felt at all, it was only while the magnetism of his actual presence compelled her to feel. If she responded at all, it was merely because the necromancy of his words of fire could not do otherwise than exhort a response.(e) In absence, the bard bore easily with him all the fancies which were the basis of his flame — a flame which absence itself but served to keep in vigor — while the less ideal but at the same time the less really substantial affection of his lady-love, perished utterly and forthwith, through simple lack of the element which had fanned it into being. He to her, in brief, was a not unhandsome, and not ignoble, but somewhat portionless, somewhat eccentric and rather lame young man. She to him was the Egeria of his dreams — the Venus Aphrodite that sprang, in full and supernal loveliness, from the bright foam upon the storm-tormented ocean of his thoughts.(f)


fervor) a. The major elements in the original and second publication of this article have been furnished by TOM, who regarded it as a “sketch” to be included in his two-volume collection of Poe's fiction and near-fiction (1120-24). It was printed first in the Columbian Magazine (New York) of 12/44, 2.275, serving as a “plate” article for an engraving printed at the beginning of the issue (facing p. 241). In theory Poe disapproved of this genre, which implicitly renders the text subordinate to the picture that it “explicates,” but he published several: “Some Account of Stonehenge” in the 6/40 BGM, “The Island of the Fay” in the 6/41 Graham's, “Harper's Ferry” in the 2/42 Graham's (q. v. in Pollin, AL, 1968, 40.164-178), “Morning on the Wissahiccon” in The Opal [of 1844; published 1843]. Despite the separating pages between picture and text, a ref. in the latter clearly points to the former — to be changed slightly [page 531:] (see d. below) in this reprint. Poe did not include it among his tales, left for complete collection to Griswold, because he had directed that it be included among the revised Marginalia series, here. Being without stipulated provenance, the sketch was reprinted in their rather arbitrary selection of the Marginalia by Stedman and Woodberry (Works, 1896, 7.354-55) as undiscovered “in its original issue.” Harrison, however, discovered the Columbian Magazine issue, which he reprints without the picture (14.150-52), as does TOM. Only Mary Phillips, Poe, p. 282, prints the picture, finding a parallel with Poe's unhappy affair with Elmira Royster of 1825 (for data on the engraving see d. below) [[p. 279-282]].

Madame Dudevant was so named from her eight-year marriage (divorced in 1830) to Baron Casimir Dudevant; the “George Sand” came from her love affair with Sandeau. She was born Amandine-Aurore-Lucie Dupin (cf. the name in “Murders” perhaps?). The unconventional, free-thinking and free-living baroness, was the subject of one of the chapters in Léonard Loménie's Galerie Populaire des Contemporains, published in “weekly numbers” in Paris, then collected, and translated by Robert Walsh as Sketches of Conspicuous Living Characters of France, reviewed by Poe in Graham's in 4/41 (H 10.133-39). One suspects Poe's limited acquaintance with her “objectionable fiction.” He praises the account as “full of piquancy and spirit” in the rev., and borrows this quotation from the beginning of the sketch, which he translates back into French of a sort, since angels, being masculine in grammatical gender, require the adjective “purs” rather than the form “pures” which I have left as deliberate: “The angels are not more pure than the heart of a youth of twenty loving with fervor” (Sketches, p. 308). Poe borrowed many opinions about French writers from Walsh and the material for several of the Brevities: MM 244, 246, 274, FS 29, 30.

heaven) b. The word “poet-love” is a coinage by Poe. His phrase “chastened voluptuousness of heaven” shares in the “hyperbole” of George Sand's alleged statement (which I have been unable to find in her more likely works; Walsh-Loménie give no locus). Neither Poe's nor Byron's mid-teen passions, as experienced or as reported, justify the adjective (see Moore's Life below). There may be an overflow of sentiment from this sketch into “Eleonora” which concerns just such a romance, with the “boy” of twenty, and the girl of fifteen, unlike Byron (sixteen) and Mary Chaworth (eighteen). In the tale, when “Love entered” their hearts the “passions” came and “breathed a delirious bliss over the Valley. ... Strange brilliant flowers ... burst out. ... A voluminous cloud ... floated out thence” but the girl is soon to die and become “a saint in Helusion” (640-41). Even in Al Aaraaf one finds, somewhat obscurely, the notion that passion (but not love) means death — (as in the “Power of Words,” TOM 1215); see particularly the section spoken to “Ianthe,” the angel named from the dedicatee of Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage.

popular) c. In “The Dream” (more fittingly called originally “The [page 532:] Destiny,” Moore tells us [annotations to his ed]), written in 1816 after the break-up of his unhappy marriage, Byron presents a romanticized version of his bitter-sweet association with Mary Chaworth, heiress of Annesley Hall adjoining Newstead Abbey back in 1803. Poe had painstakingly copied out the whole poem as a youth and undoubtedly knew its biographical significance from Moore's Life of Lord Byron (1830) which he had used for his own “The Visionary” (later “The Assignation”) of 1834 (TOM 134 [[148]]). The included poem “To One In Paradise” as a reflection of “The Dream” and its connection with the Mary Chaworth essay by Poe is studied by Roy Basler in the 5/1937 AL, 9.232-36 (see DP 94-98; also TOM, Poems 211-12). But Moore does not gloss over the real casualness of the episode to Mary, who never encouraged Byron and wounded his pride after his repeated abstentions from dancing with unkind refs. to his lameness; she most willingly received the proposal of John Musters, whom she married in 1805 (Moore 1.27-29; rep. of 1830 Life, Letters and Journals, J. Murray, 1920). Poe's essay has as much fantasy, it would seem, about the relationship as Byron's “The Dream,” and also his lyric “Love's Last Adieu,” in Hours of Idleness (see the next note). Indeed, Leslie Marchand, in his Life of Byron (1957) notes the early romanticizing (1.77-78) and Byron's ribaldry about the episode years later (2.637).

shadow forth) d. In the first version, this sentence ends: “such as our engraving shadows forth.” The only other change in SM 12 is the dropping of the title: “Byron and Miss Chaworth.” Below the picture, a steel line engraving, are printed ascriptions to H. Richter and to “C. Parker Sc.” (i.e., the engraver), plus the caption “Engraved Expressly for the Columbian Magazine.” In fact, the picture was taken from The Byron Gallery / A series of Historical Embellishments to Illustrate the Poetical Works of Lord Byron (London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1833), in one vol., Part II (unpaged), with the caption Hours of Idleness (Byron's vol. of 1807), “Love's Last Adieu,” with the attribution: “H. Richter (Painter) W. Finden (Eng.)”. Below the picture are these four lines from the poem: “Oh! mark you yon pair: in the sunshine of youth, / Love twined round their childhood his flowers as they grew; / They flourish awhile in the season of truth, / Till chill‘d by the winter of love's last adieu!” (stanza 4). Here the application to the summer spent in Mary Chaworth's company is only inferential. As TOM points out (1121) the engraver in the American magazine copy was correctly George Parker, (?-d. 1868) an Englishman who came to the U.S. about 1834 to work on the National Portrait Gallery, later working in Boston. The artist was Henry James Richter, water-colorist and engraver (1772, Germany-1857, London), who enjoyed much popularity in England for his figure subjects, chiefly domestic in character. The conventional, rather mawkish scene here shown may not be his best effort. In the 1833 London edition the famous William Finden (1787-1852) did the engraving. Certainly the posture [page 533:] of the “boy” gives no hint of Byron's infirmity, or of Mary's “personal beauty” in Poe's text (below). There was also to be another copy of this plate in the 1849 New York reprint of The Byron Gallery (vol. 1, plate between pp. 36 and 38), engraved by “Bannister.”

response) e. As Moore very well indicates, Mary Chaworth never entertained any real regard for the more youthful Byron and clearly indicated her own inclination to marry John Musters. The compound “love-passages” is Poe's coinage, for the OED gives an 1865 “first” instance; likewise, “soul-passion” which has no given instance in the OED. For Poe's peculiar word “hare” used for “grace” or “essence” and derived from Vivian Grey see M 44h and 202, as well as the numerous instances given in PCW 31, 90. Moore in his pages on the Chaworth-Byron episode makes it clear that she did not seriously respond.

thoughts) f. The word “lady-love” (spelled “ladye-love” in the Columbian Magazine) is strikingly Byronic in this context. Moore writes of Byron at the Annesley dances as “solitary and mortified” on “seeing, ‘the lady of his love’ led out by others” (1.27). His quotation marks undoubtedly allude to Byron's “The Dream”: “The Lady of his love reenter‘d there” (st. 3) and “ ... was wed” (5) or else to the pseudo-archaic compound “ladye-love” in Childe Harold (1818): “The minstrel who ... I Sang ladye-love and war, romance and knightly worth” (4.40). Poe surely knew both contexts, as his earlier spelling showed. Egeria (often Aegeria) is reminiscent of Childe Harold (4.115): “Egeria! sweet creation of some heart,” etc. She was the goddess, probably of water, worshipped in association with Diana who gave counsel and love to the legendary Roman king Numa Pompilius (see Livy 1.19). Venus Aphrodite, goddess of love, beauty, and fertility, shows by her name (meaning foam) the nature of her birth, often located near the island of Cyprus. The adjective for ocean reminds us of his 1849 “Dream within a Dream”: “Of a surftormented shore” (1.13).

Supplementary Marginalia 13

We have read Mr. Paulding's Life of Washington with a degree of interest seldom excited in us by the perusal of any book whatever. We are convinced by a deliberate examination of the design, manner, and rich material of the work, that, as it grows in age, it will grow in the estimation of our countrymen, and, finally, will not fail to take a deeper hold upon the public mind, and upon the public affections, than any work upon the same subject, or of a similar nature, which has been yet written — or, possibly, which may be written hereafter. Indeed, we cannot perceive the necessity of anything farther upon the great theme of Washington. Mr. Paulding has completely and most beautifully filled the vacuum [page 534:] which the works of Marshall and Sparks have left open.(a) He has painted the boy, the man, the husband, and the christian. He has introduced us to the private affections, aspirations, and charities of that hero whose affections of all affections were the most serene, whose aspirations the most God-like, and whose charities the most gentle and pure. He has taken us abroad with the patriot-farmer in his rambles about his homestead. He has seated us in his study and shown us the warrior-christian in unobtrusive communion with his God. He has done all this too, and more, in a simple and quiet manner, in a manner peculiarly his own, and which mainly because it is his own, cannot fail to be exceedingly effective. Yet it is very possible that the public may, for many years to come, overlook the rare merits of a work whose want of arrogant assumption is so little in keeping with the usages of the day, and whose striking simplicity and na├»veté of manner give, to a cursory examination, so little evidence of the labor of composition. We have no fears, however, for the future. Such books as these before us, go down to posterity like rich wines, with a certainty of being more valued as they go. They force themselves with the gradual but rapidly accumulating power of strong wedges into the hearts and understandings of a community.(b)

In regard to the style of Mr. Paulding's Washington, it would scarcely be doing it justice to speak of it merely as well adapted to its subject, and to its immediate design. Perhaps a rigorous examination would detect an occasional want of euphony, and some inaccuracies of synta[c]tical arrangement. But nothing could be more out of place than any such examination in respect to a book whose forcible, rich, vivid, and comprehensive English might advantageously be held up, as a model for the young writers of the land. There is no better literary manner than the manner of Mr. Paulding. Certainly no American, and possibly no living writer of England, has more of those numerous peculiarities which go to the formation of a happy style. It is questionable, we think, whether any writer of any country combines as many of these peculiarities with as much of that essential negative virtue, the absence of affectation. We repeat, as our confident opinion, that it would be difficult, even with great care and labor, to improve upon the general manner of the volumes now before us, and that they contain many long individual passages of a force and beauty not to be surpassed by the finest passages of the finest writers in any time or country. It is this striking character in the Washington of Mr. Paulding — striking and peculiar indeed at a season when we are so culpably inattentive to all matters of this nature, as to mistake for style the fine airs at second hand of the silliest romancers — it is this character we say, which should insure the fulfilment of the writer's principal design, in the immediate introduction of his book into every respectable academy in the land.(c) [page 535:]


open) a. This consists of the first and last para. of Poe's 5/36 SLM review of A Life of Washington by J. K. Paulding, reprinted verbatim, first and last paras. only, (H 9.13-16). Here Poe shows clear evidence of wishing to flatter J. K. Paulding (1778-1860) for the sake of advancing his project of publishing his tales as a connected group (see refs. to Paulding in SM 4b and SP 21 note). In addition, his loyalty to Washington as a Virginian may have led to this accolade, which plainly exceeds the bounds of reason. Paulding's book bears the “Dedication” “to the pious, retired, domestic Mothers of the United States, this work, designed for the use of their children, is respectfully inscribed by the Author” and later he wrote “For the youth of my country have I commenced this undertaking” (p. 15). In his final sentence only does Poe remember this limitation. It is preposterous for him to speak of Paulding's filling the “vacuum” left by the two earlier biographers. Jared Sparks (1789-1866), long editor of the North American Review, first professor of history at Harvard, before becoming its president, had devoted many years to collecting the Writings of George Washington, which appeared in 12 vols. (1834-37), the first volume being a Life, and the whole remaining useful to the end of the century. John Marshall (1755-1835), the Chief justice so eminent in basic constitutional interpretation, was often cited by Poe, always laudably (see PD 61 for six loci). Marshall's 5-vol. life (Phila., 1804-7) could certainly not be superseded in 1836 by a 2-vol. nonhistorian's life intended for academies.

community) b. In the full review Poe includes seven very long passages, most of them taken at random, he says; they effectively fill up his space and also show varied types of material. One is especially interesting in view of Poe's apparent coinage of “patriot-farmer” and “warrior-Christian” (sic in SLM ) and his tales of “premature burial” for it concerns Washington's death — with no trace of fear or of religious concern or rites and an admonition to have him buried later than two days after his demise.

land) c. Finally, Poe attempts to be a little more judicious in evaluating a book so dedicated and orientated. It is perhaps characteristic of his concern over simple style that a book so intended might be said to possess virtues of style not always achieved in more ambitious works. In the fourth sentence from the end, there is a touch of distinction between American and English writers not in entire agreement with the belligerent “nationalism” of SM 1 (q. v.).

Supplementary Marginalia 14

The great feature of the “Curiosity Shop” is its chaste, vigorous, and glorious imagination. This is the one charm, all potent, which alone [page 536:] would suffice to compensate for a world more of error than Mr. Dickens ever committed. It is not only seen in the conception, and general handling of the story, or in the invention of character; but it pervades every sentence of the book. We recognise its prodigious influence in every inspired word. It is this which induces the reader who is at all ideal, to pause frequently, to re-read the occasionally quaint phrases, to muse in uncontrollable delight over thoughts which, while he wonders he has never hit upon them before, he yet admits that he never has encountered. In fact it is the wand of the enchanter.(a)

Had we room to particularize, we would mention as points evincing most distinctly the ideality of the “Curiosity Shop” — the picture of the shop itself — the newly-born desire of the worldly old man for the peace of green fields — his whole character and conduct, in short — the schoolmaster, with his desolate fortunes, seeking affection in little children — the haunts of Quilp among the wharf-rats — the tinkering of the Punchmen among the tombs — the glorious scene where the man of the forge sits poring, at deep midnight, into that dread fire — again the whole conception of this character; and, last and greatest, the stealthy approach of Nell to her death — her gradual sinking away on the journey to the village, so skilfully indicated rather than described — her pensive and prescient meditation — the fit of strange musing which came over her when the house in which she was to die first broke upon her sight — the description of this house, of the old church, and of the church-yard — everything in rigid consonance with the one impression to be conveyed — that deep meaningless well — the comments of the Sexton upon death, and upon his own secure life — this whole world of mournful yet peaceful idea merging, at length, into the decease of the child Nelly, and the uncomprehending despair of the grandfather. These concluding scenes are so drawn that human language, urged by human thought, could go no farther in the excitement of human feelings. And the pathos is of that best order which is relieved, in great measure, by ideality.(b) Here the book has never been equalled, — never approached except in one instance, and that is in the case of the “Undine” of De La Motte Fouqué. The imagination is perhaps as great in this latter work, but the pathos, though truly beautiful and deep, fails of much of its effect through the material from which it is wrought. The chief character, being endowed with purely fanciful attributes, cannot command our full sympathies, as can a simple denizen of earth. In saying, a page or so above, that the death of the child left too painful an impression, and should therefore have been avoided, we must, of course, be understood as referring to the work as a whole, and in respect to its general appreciation and popularity. The death, as recorded, is, we repeat, of the highest order of literary excellence — yet while none can deny this fact, there are few who will be willing to read the concluding passages a second time. [page 537:]

Upon the whole we think the “Curiosity Shop” very much the best of the works of Mr. Dickens. It is scarcely possible to speak of it too well. It is in all respects a tale which will secure for its author the enthusiastic admiration of every man of genius.(c)


enchanter) a. These are the penultimate and antepenultimate paras. of Poe's review of Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop, and other Tales, as the pirating publisher of Philadelphia titles the book. Printed in the 5/41 Graham's, this review expressed many of Poe's basic tenets about genius, and the modern school of British fiction writers; hence this and four more SM articles (16, 17, 20, 22) are taken from it, unchanged. In the preceding para. Poe is discussing the difference between characters and caricatures (he is defending Dickens from inventing the latter) and, about his fictional “personages,” says they “belong to the most august regions of the Ideal” (by which he means “imaginative” — q. v. below). This article (SM 14) then starts with “In truth,” and continues as given (for the whole, see Graham's, 18.248-51; H 10.142-55). Poe probably derives his figure of “the wand of the enchanter” from one of his favorite plays, The Tempest, with Prospero wielding his magic through his wand (5.7. 50, 54: “this rough magic” and “I‘ll break my staff’). See also 2136 SLM review which uses “spell,” “wand,” “enchantment” and “magic” for “the power of identification” (H 8.234-35).

ideality) b. Poe's ref. to “the peace of green fields” may be remotely derived from Shakespeare's description of the death of the old Falstaff in King Henry V 2.3.9ff.: “and ‘a babbled of green fields” in Theobald's emendation. The word “Punch-men” is apparently a “first” in coinage for Poe, signifying “owner of a Punch and Judy show” (OED gives 1861 as first). Poe's adjective of “glorious” for the industrial smelter or forge scene (ch. 44 of the novel) is rather strange, since Dickens aims to depict the threat to life and the horror of the soul-deadening place in which Nell and her grandfather have found a temporary refuge. The “well” is in ch. 55. Poe derived his rather complex concept of “ideality” primarily from the faculties postulated by phrenology, perhaps as expounded in George Combe's The Constitution of Man (q. v. in R. D. Jacobs, Poe, pp. 140-47). Often Poe indicates this himself as in M 20 (q. v.). Frequently the word can be read as a synonym for “imagination” or “imaginative detail” and “skill.” Poe's refs. to Old Curiosity Shop are invariably laudatory, as in M 110 (see also H 11.64 and 247), and his final para. below.

genius) c. Poe's intense admiration for Undine exempted that allegory of the water spirit in human form from his usual animus against the genre (q.v. in MM 98, 181). For Poe's respect for Dickens see the present Index and PD 28 for other loci. The last sentence oddly coincides with Poe's oft expressed notion that there is a kinship between profound [page 538:] appreciation and the creative elements in its composition (see “genius” in Index).

Supplementary Marginalia 15

It is not every one who can put “a good thing” properly together, although, perhaps, when thus properly put together, every tenth person you meet with may be capable of both conceiving and appreciating it. We cannot bring ourselves to believe that less actual ability is required in the composition of a really good “brief article,” than in a fashionable novel of the usual dimensions. The novel certainly requires what is denominated a sustained effort — but this is a matter of mere perseverance, and has but a collateral relation to talent. On the other hand — unity of effect, a quality not easily appreciated or indeed comprehended by an ordinary mind, and a desideratum difficult of attainment, even by those who can conceive it — is indispensable in the “brief article,” and not so in the common novel. The latter, if admired at all, is admired for its detached passages, without reference to the work as a whole — or without reference to any general design — which, if it even exist in some measure, will be found to have occupied but little of the writer's attention, and cannot, from the length of the narrative, be taken in at one view, by the reader.


Note: This is the third para. in Poe's 6/36 SLM review of Dickens’ Watkins Tottle, and other Sketches ... By Boz in its American pirated reprint (SLM, 2.457-60, mostly excerpts; H 9.45-48). Poe's inserting it into the SM shows the importance he attached to this theme thus early expressed, and developed in the celebrated opening of “The Poetic Principle” (1850), in which he ranks a well-constructed short poem as superior to that “artistic anomaly” — the Iliad (H 14.266.67). Another expression of this view, subsequent to 1836, can be found in his 4/41 Graham's review of Bulwer's Night and Morning (H 10.122), which uses some of these words for the same basic idea. Poe is surely ambiguous in his use of “conceiving” in the first sentence, which clearly cannot be taken as artistic embodiment in an objective form, that is, as creation or construction. He must be postulating another stage between the idea and the actual inditing (for narrative), although he has previously treated the topic of the underlying kinship of creation and appreciation (or criticism) in M 122. He speaks thus about “a good thing” to refer to the first passage (quoted) of the book, which shows the writer of this “sly article” to be “pungent, witty, and disciplined.” R. D. Jacobs, in Poe, treats Poe's stress on structural unity in the short story versus the long narrative by properly suggesting [page 539:] the parallel with the “design” of a picture as paramount here (pp. 111-16).

Supplementary Marginalia 16

There are some facts in the physical world which have a really wonderful analogy with others in the world of thought, and seem thus to give some color of truth to the (false) rhetorical dogma, that metaphor or simile may be made to strengthen an argument, as well as to embellish a description. The principle of the vis inertiæ, for example, with the amount of momentum proportionate with it and consequent upon it, seems to be identical in physics and metaphysics. It is not more true, in the former, that a large body is with more difficulty set in motion than a smaller one, and that its subsequent impetus is commensurate with this difficulty, than it is, in the latter, that intellects of the vaster capacity, while more forcible, more constant, and more extensive in their movements than those of inferior grade, are yet the less readily moved, and are more embarrassed and more full of hesitation in the first few steps of their progress.


Note: This is the second SM taken from Poe's review of Dickens’ work, inserted in the 5/41 Graham's, 18.248-51 (H 10.142-55, specifically, 143-44), this being the first half of the third para. For details see SM 14. In the review Poe complains about the device of linking the “tales” together as a series and the “mystification in the matter of title.” Perhaps, he says, there is basis to “the rumors in respect to the sanity of Mr. Dickens” during the periodical publication of the first part (that is, during 1840). Following the passage used for SM 16, he judges it possible “that some slight mental aberration might have given rise to the hesitancy and indefinitiveness of purpose ... perceptible in the first pages.” In fact, according to Edgar Johnson, Dickens and his literary friends pretended to a love madness for the Queen, married to Albert on 2/10/ 40, and behaved so whimsically as to occasion Edwin Landseer's remark that Dickens was “raven mad” (punning on his raven Grip); but there was also a trace of melancholy for the still mourned sister-in-law Mary Hogarth, so that the newspapers were “saying that Charles is demented,” in the fall of 1840 (Johnson, Dickens, 1952, 1.294). The general topic of “analogy” and “proof” is continued by Poe in his 1844 CS 11 (q. v.).

The phrase “vis inertiae” (force of inertia or passive resistance to applied force) is assumed to refer to Newton's first law: “That every body perseveres in its state of remaining at rest ... except as it is compelled by impressed forces to change its state.” In his ref. to the difference [page 540:] between setting large and small bodies in motion, Poe seems to be confusing the procedure with Galileo's discovery of the equality of the velocities of all falling bodies, great and small.

Supplementary Marginalia 17

Thomas Moore — the most skilful literary artist of his day — perhaps of any day — a man who stands in the singular and really wonderful predicament of being undervalued on account of the profusion with which he has scattered about him his good things. The brilliancy on any one page of Lalla Rookh would have sufficed to establish that very reputation which has been in a great measure self-dimmed by the galaxied lustre of the entire book. It seems that the horrid laws of political economy cannot be evaded even by the inspired, and that a perfect versification, a vigorous style, and a never-tiring fancy, may, like the water we drink and die without, yet despise, be so plentifully set forth as to be absolutely of no value at all.


Note: This is another excerpt (one of the five SM; see SM 14) from Poe's review of Dickens’ book, in Graham's of 5/41 (H 10.147). It is the major portion of para. seven of the review. He is discussing the weaknesses in Dickens’ use of Master Humphrey to unify the various tales published together with The Old Curiosity Shop. The para. begins: “Yet the species of connexion in question, besides preserving the unity desired may be made, if well managed, a source of consistent and agreeable interest. It has been so made by Thomas Moore” etc. (identical with SM 17 save for “brilliancies” in the plural). Poe's concern over the rationale of the “Tales of the Folio Club” (TOM 200-206) must have led to his dwelling on Dickens’ “management” of the problem in the book reviewed. His perennial interest in “unity of interest” is also involved. Moore's Lalla Rookh (1817), consisting of four long verse narratives bridged by prose, solved the problem aptly in Poe's opinion; see SM 4b (ad finem), MM 42, 218, FS 6, and 41.

Supplementary Marginalia 18

This is a queer little book,* which its author regards as “not only necessary, but urgently called for,” because not only “the mass of the people are ignorant of English Grammar, but because those who profess great knowledge of it, and even those who make the teaching of it their business, will be found, upon examination, to be very far from understanding its principles.” [page 541:]

Whether Mr. P. proceeds upon the safe old plan of Probo meliora, deteriora seguor — whether he is one of “the mass,” and means to include himself among the ignoramuses — or whether he is only a desperate quiz — we shall not take it upon ourselves to say; but the fact is clear that, in a Preface of less than two small duodecimo pages (the leading object of which seems to be an eulogy upon one William Cobbett,) he has given us some half dozen distinct instances of bad grammar.(a)

“For these purposes,” says he — that is to say — the purposes of instructing mankind and enlightening “every American youth” without exception — “for these purposes, I have written my lessons in a series of letters. A mode that affords more opportunity for plainness, familiarity, instruction, and entertainment, than any other. A mode that was adopted by Chesterfield, in his celebrated instructions on politeness. A mode that was adopted by Smollett, in many of his novels, which, even at this day, hold a distinguished place in the world of fiction. A mode that was adopted by William Cobbett, not only in his admirable treatise on English Grammar, but in nearly every work that he wrote.” “To Mr. Cobbett,” adds the instructer of every American youth — “to Mr. Cobbett I acknowledge myself indebted for the greater part of the grammatical knowledge which I possess.” Of the fact stated there can be no question. Nobody but Cobbett could have been the grammatical Mentor of Mr. Pue, whose book (which is all Cobbett) speaks plainly upon the point — nothing but the ghost of William Cobbett, looking over the shoulder of Hugh A. Pue, could have inspired the latter gentleman with the bright idea of stringing together four consecutive sentences, in each of which the leading nominative noun is destitute of a verb.(b)

Mr. Pue may attempt to justify his phraseology here, by saying that the several sentences, quoted above, commencing with the words, “A mode,” are merely continuations of the one beginning “For these purposes;” but this is no justification at all. By the use of the period, he has rendered each sentence distinct, and each must be examined as such, in respect to its grammar. We are only taking the liberty of condemning Mr. P. by the words of his own mouth. Turning to page 72, where he treats of punctuation, we read as follows: — “The full point is used at the end of every complete sentence; and a complete sentence is a collection of words making a complete sense, without being dependent upon another collection of words to convey the full meaning intended.” Now, what kind of a meaning can we give to such a sentence as “A mode that was adopted by Chesterfield in his celebrated instructions on politeness,” if we are to have “no dependence upon” the sentences that precede it? But, even in the supposition that these five sentences had been run into one, as they should have been, they would still be ungrammatical. For [page 542:] example — “For these purposes I have written my lessons in a series of letters — a mode that affords more opportunity for plainness, familiarity, instruction, and entertainment than any other — a mode, etc.” This would have been the proper method of punctuation. “A mode” is placed in apposition with “a series of letters.” But it is evident that it is not the “series of letters” which is the “mode.” It is the writing the lessons in a series which is so. Yet, in order that the noun “mode” can be properly placed in apposition with what precedes it, this latter must be either a noun, or a sentence, which, taken collectively, can serve as one. Thus, in any shape, all that we have quoted is bad grammar.

We say “bad grammar,” and say it through sheer obstinacy, because Mr. Pue says we should not. “Why, what is grammar?” asks he indignantly. “Nearly all grammarians tell us that grammar is the writing and speaking of the English language correctly. What then is bad grammar? Why bad grammar must be the bad writing and speaking of the English language correctly!!” We give the two admiration notes and all.(c)

In the first place, if grammar be only the writing and speaking the English language correctly, then the French, or the Dutch, or the Kickapoos are miserable, ungrammatical races of people, and have no hopes of being anything else, unless Mr. Pue proceeds to their assistance: but let us say nothing of this for the present. What we wish to assert is, that the usual definition of grammar as “the writing and speaking correctly,” is an error which should have been long ago exploded. Grammar is the analysis of language, and this analysis will be good or bad, just as the capacity employed upon it be weak or strong — just as the grammarian be a Horne Tooke or a Hugh A. Pue.(d) But perhaps, after all, we are treating this gentleman discourteously. His book may be merely intended as a good joke. By the by, he says in his preface, that “while he informs the student, he shall take particular care to entertain him.” Now, the truth is, we have been exceedingly entertained. In such passages as the following, however, which we find upon the second page of the Introduction, we are really at a loss to determine whether it is the utile or the dulce which prevails. We give the italics of Mr. Pue; without which, indeed, the singular force and beauty of the paragraph cannot be duly appreciated.

“The proper study of English grammar, so far from being dry, is one of the most rational enjoyments known to us; one that is highly calculated to rouse the dormant energies of the student; it requiring continual mental effort; unceasing exercise of mind. It is, in fact, the spreading of a thought-producing plaster of Paris upon the extensive grounds of intellect! It is the parent of idea, and great causation of reflection; the mighty instigator of insurrection in the interior; and, above all, the unflinching champion of internal improvement!” We know nothing about plaster of Paris; but the analogy which subsists between ipecac and grammar — at least between ipecac and the grammar of Mr. Pue — never, certainly, [page 544:] struck us in so clear a point of view, as it does now.

But, after all, whether Mr. P.'s queer little book shall or shall not meet the views of “Every American Youth,” will depend pretty much upon another question of high moment — whether “Every American Youth” be or be not as great a nincompoop as Mr. Pue.(e)

* A Grammar of the English Language, in a series of Letters, addressed to every American Youth. By HUGH A. PUE. Philadelphia: Published by the Author.


grammar) a. This is Poe's review of Pue's book, taken verbatim (save for the first sentence) and with changes only in a few accidentals including paragraphing from the 7/41 Graham's, 19.45 (H 10.167-71). Its major importance is the presentation of Poe's ideas on grammar. It is also a characteristic expression of scorn for inept writing and thinking. Significantly, it is published “by the author” and is poorly edited, as a full page of errata shows. It numbers 149 pages. In using this as one of the Marginalia, Poe changed the opening of the review text: “This is the title of a queer little book” since there the publication data were given first. The first quotation comes from Pue's Preface (p. 9) which begins the text. The Latin of Ovid, Metamorphoses, 7.20, is slightly different: “Video meliora, proboque; I Deteriora sequor” (I see and approve better things, but follow worse). In the first para. of “Philosophy of Furniture” in the 5/40 BGM Poe cited this with another alteration, “meliora probant, deteriora sequuntur” to suit “the people” of France (H 14.101). Poe's word “quiz,” for one who “banters or chaffs another” (dating from 1780) is no longer common as it was in his day. Poe exaggerates in his word “eulogy” since only two sentences of the Preface concern Cobbett and he disclaims him as a “monarchist” in his attitudes (and examples) — therefore unsuitable for American youth. But Poe justly attacks the overblown metaphors and poor grammar of the whole book.

verb) b. Poe always expressed great scorn for the writings of William Cobbett (1766-1835), journalist, political writer and politician, who eventually served in Parliament and was a prodigiously voluminous writer, often under the name of “Peter Porcupine.” He spent two lengthy periods in America which he bluntly criticized, although often equally adverse to British class stratifications and customs. His Grammar of the English Language, in a series of letters first came out in America (1817) where it soon sold 10,000 copies. Despite Poe's strictures, his style was forcible and correct in the over 100 volumes of his writings. His inveterate preference for British style and standards, his initial monarchic loyalties (later veering toward radical views), and his intrepid excursi into varied fields, always presented aggressively and arrogantly, alienated Poe, who speaks of him as “silly” in the M Intro. (q.v.), and in the 12/44 “Thingum Bob” includes his works among those of the too prolific, which produce only a “decent trifle” when passed through a shredder and a sieve (H 6.21). Poe is correct about Pue's model, however, for the approach is the same: an appeal to the illiterate with highly prescriptive advice, in 22 letters, including a series of blunders to be avoided, selected [page 543:] from “the best authors” (in Cobbett's book Johnson's Rambler and Watt's Logic; in Pue's, the Spectator papers); 285 sections or articles in Cobbett's and 291 in Pue's book; similar topics and definitions in both. In addition to his acknowledgments to Cobbett in Preface and Intro. Pue cites him on cases (pp. 102-106, 118). “Instructer” was still common in Poe's day, although changed from “instructor” in Graham's.

and all) c. Poe's analysis of style here is typical and valid, as in LST (Part II) and in numerous reviews, and in citing “page 71” he argues cogently and shows his more thorough reading of the text than in many of his reviews. He quotes accurately here and elsewhere in the article save for changes in accidentals, and, in the next para., “correctly” supplants Pue's “with propriety” — the original being very common in earlier grammatical texts; cf. Lindley Murray, in 1824, cited under “grammar” in the OED and Cobbett, “Letter 2” (London ed.,1819, p.13): “Grammar ... teaches us how to make use of words ... in a proper manner.” The term “admiration note,” more commonly “note of admiration,” was then used for “exclamation point.”

Pue) d. Poe's analysis of Pue's illogic is well taken, as is his impatience with the ambiguity in our use of “grammar“-accentuated today by the advocacy of common usage rather than prescriptive rules for “proper” acceptability (cf., Charles C. Fries, American English Grammar). Poe was fond of using the name “Kickapoo” (an Indian tribe) for its exotic and strangesounding flavor as in “Philosophy of Furniture” (TOM 496), “Business Man” (486), “Used Up Man” (382-85), and “Thingum Bob” (1145), often combined with other outre names such as “Hottentot.”

Poe had an inordinately high regard for Horne Tooke (17361812), radical advocate of Parliamentary reform, author of Epea Pteroenta, or the Diversions of Purley (1786 and 1798 for the two parts), of which the doctrine that all grammatical inflections are reducible to the noun alone was approved by Poe (see review of Edinburgh Review in the 12/35 SLM, H 8.87). For other loci of favorable mention see H 8.49, 9.105, 13.72). The contrast of Cobbett with the “sage” Tooke is repeated in para. 5 of the M Intro. which makes the same point about “bad grammar” (also in “Rationale of Verse,” H 14.212-13).

Mr. Pue) e. Poe cites Pue's sentence about “entertaining” from p. 9 with telling sarcasm but is heavy-handed in his “ipecac” jesting. In )e two Latin words, Poe is loosely referring to Horace's Ars Poetica (343 14): “Omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci, / Lectorem delectando pariterque monendo” (He has gained every vote who has mingled profit with pleasure by delighting the reader at once and instructing him”). In the last para. is “nincompoop” — a strong, characteristic term as in Tales 93/32, 113/13, 374/15. Poe's scorn of this volume is fully justified by its ineptitude and imitativeness; only three copies could be traced (L. C., Harvard, Columbia Univ.). [page 545:]

Supplementary Marginalia 19

That Lord Brougham was an extraordinary man no one in his senses will deny. An intellect of unusual capacity, goaded into diseased action by passions nearly ferocious, enabled him to astonish the world, and especially the “hero-worshippers,” as the author of Sartor Resartus has it, by the combined extent and variety of his mental triumphs. Attempting many things, it may at least be said that he egregiously failed in none. But that he pre-eminently excelled in any cannot be affirmed with truth, and might well be denied à priori.(a) We have no faith in admirable Crichtons, and this merely because we have implicit faith in Nature and her laws. “He that is born to be a man,” says Wieland, in his Peregrinus Proteus, “neither should nor can be anything nobler, greater, nor better than a man.”(b) The Broughams of the human intellect are never its Newtons or its Bayles. Yet the contemporaneous reputation to be acquired by the former is naturally greater than any which the latter may attain. The versatility of one whom we see and hear is a more dazzling and more readily appreciable merit than his profundity; which latter is best estimated in the silence of the closet, and after the quiet lapse of years. What impression Lord Brougham has stamped upon his age, cannot be accurately determined until Time has fixed and rendered definite the lines of the medal; and fifty years hence it will be difficult, perhaps to make out the deepest indentation of the exergue. Like Coleridge he should be regarded as one who might have done much, had he been satisfied with attempting but little.(c)


à priori) a. This is the first para. of Poe's review of The Critical and Miscellaneous Writings, in 2 vols., pirated in Phila., the article appearing in the 3/42 Graham's (H 11.98-101). For his vast success or Whig politics, or other obscure reasons, Poe rarely had a good word for Henry Peter Brougham, first Baron (1778-1868), lord chancellor of England, who was broad and varied in his achievements: oratory, parliamentary influence, law, science, political philosophy, and history, present and past, but his egotism and eccentricity are attested by all (see En. Brit., 4.652-55), in full support of Poe's charges. For other remarks, see MM 37, 78, and 112 (this last favorable to his oratory; also H 8.49, 9.57). For Thomas Carlyle, whose Heroes and Hero-Worship and Sartor Resartus he derided, see numerous Index items and PD 17.

man) b. For the versatile genius James Crichton (1560?-82?) see M 207a. For the C. M. Wieland quotation from Peregrines Proteus, taken from Bulwer Lytton's Ernest Maltravers, see M 229 a.

little) c. Poe mentions Isaac Newton with respect but no first-hand knowledge (see M 169, CS 11). Poe also respected Pierre Bayle, famous for his Dictionnaire historique et critique, which discusses a topic in M 3 (q. v.). Poe derived his ideas about the portion of the coin, called [page 546:] the exergue, from Jacob Bielfeld's Universal Erudition, Bk. 3, ch. 11, sections 11 and 12, q.v. in TOM 449n6 to the text of “William Wilson” (430/34) of 1839. For his highly ambiguous attitude toward S. T. Coleridge see MM 109, 133, 193, 213 (and the notes).

Supplementary Marginalia 20

The Art of Mr. Dickens, although elaborate and great, seems only a happy modification of Nature. In this respect he differs remarkably from the author of “Night and Morning.” The latter, by excessive care and by patient reflection, aided by much rhetorical knowledge, and general information, has arrived at the capability of producing books which might be mistaken by ninety-nine readers out of a hundred, for the genuine inspirations of genius. The former, by the promptings of the truest genius itself, has been brought to compose, and evidently without effort, works which have effected a long-sought consummation — which have rendered him the idol of the people, while defying and enchanting the critics. Mr. Bulwer, through art has almost created a genius. Mr. Dickens, through genius, has pe[r]fected a standard from which art itself will derive its essence in rules.


Note: This is the fourth excerpt used in the SM by Poe from his 5/41 Graham's review of Dickens’ Master Humphrey's Clock etc. (see SM 14); it is para. 13, reprinted verbatim. The comparison of Dickens and Bulwer, with regard to art and genius, became a passage of Letter 3 of 5/27/44 to the Columbia Spy, which in turn became M 110 (q.v.). Understandably, Poe directed his executor to drop M 110 when inserting SM 20, despite the difference in wording. Poe's views of Edward BulwerLytton (1803-73) were ambiguous, although predominantly disparaging, as can be seen in the numerous Brevities’ items (see Index) and elsewhere in Poe's corpus of works (see PD 15). Significant is Poe's here underscoring the highest rank accorded to the “original genius” or the natural artist to the derogation of the talented craftsman, despite his own efforts to search out, codify, and apply the “rules of art” (see Jacobs, Poe, 256-59, on this 18th century tendency in Poe).

Supplementary Marginalia 21

While Defoe would have been fairly entitled to immortality had he never written Robinson Crusoe, yet his many other very excellent writings have nearly faded from our attention, in the superior lustre of the Adventures of the Mariner of York. What better possible species of [page 547:] reputation could the author have desired for that book than the species which it has so long enjoyed? It has become a household thing in nearly every family in Christendom. Yet never was admiration of any workuniversal admiration — more indiscriminately or more inappropriately bestowed. Not one person in ten — nay, not one person in five hundred, has, during the perusal of Robinson Crusoe, the most remote conception that any particle of genius, or even of common talent, has been employed in its creation! Men do not look upon it in the light of a literary performance. Defoe has none of their thoughts — Robinson all. The powers which have wrought the wonder have been thrown into obscurity by the very stupendousness of the wonder they have wrought! We read, and become perfect abstractions in the intensity of our interest — we close the book, and are quite satisfied that we could have written as well ourselves. All this is effected by the potent magic of verisimilitude. Indeed the author of Crusoe must have possessed, above all other faculties, what has been termed the faculty of identification — that dominion exercised by volition over imagination which enables the mind to lose its own, in a fictitious, individuality. This includes, in a very great degree, the power of abstraction; and with these keys we may partially unlock the mystery of that spell which has so long invested the volume before us. But a complete analysis of our interest in it cannot be thus afforded. Defoe is largely indebted to his subject. The idea of man in a state of perfect isolation, although often entertained, was never before so comprehensively carried out. Indeed the frequency of its occurrence to the thoughts of mankind argued the extent of its influence on their sympathies, while the fact of no attempt having been made to give an embodied form to the conception, went to prove the difficulty of the undertaking. But the true narrative of Selkirk in 1711, with the powerful impression it then made upon the public mind, sufficed to inspire Defoe with both the necessary courage for his work, and entire confidence in its success. How wonderful has been the result!


Note: This is the second para. of Poe's four-para. review in the 1/36 SLM, 2.127-28 (H 8.169-73) of the Harper and Brothers pirated reprint of The Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe ... with a Biographical Account of Defoe. This is the first major statement about the book in Poe's works, to be followed by a dozen more, all in agreement, and key elements in Poe's literary theory are stated here; significantly he underscores them by this directed reprint. However, almost every idea is borrowed from or at least paralleled by statements in the “Biographical Sketch” of the book reviewed (pp. ix-xxiii), unacknowledged. Only missing are the terms “identification” and “perfect isolation” but the ideas are included; moreover, Scott, in an 1834 sketch of Defoe stressed the hero as “a solitary being” as did Isaac Disraeli in his CL article on “Robinson Crusoe” (1863 ed.; 2.463-68). For a full treatment [page 548:] of the entire “Significant Relationship of Poe and Defoe” see Pollin, Topic: 30, 1976, 1-22. Poe's subsequent use of his “theory of identification” (should we say “psychological projection” by the author?) led, e.g., to its use in his review in the 8/16/45 BJ of Hazlitt's Characters of Shakspeare (H 12.226-28). More important was the influence of the book with its preface on his subsequent creation of the novel of “perfect isolation” Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (see Imaginary Voyages, p. 6 and various textual refs. in the Index). Even the very last tale by Poe, left unfinished, “The Light-House,” embodies this theme (TOM 1390-92).

Supplementary Marginalia 22

One half the pleasure experienced at a theatre arises from the spectator's sympathy with the rest of the audience, and, especially, from his belief in their sympathy with him. The eccentric gentleman who not long ago, at the Park, found himself the solitary occupant of box, pit, and gallery, would have derived but little enjoyment from his visit, had he been suffered to remain. It was an act of mercy to turn him out. The present absurd rage for lecturing is founded in the feeling in question. Essays which we would not be hired to read — so trite is their subject — so feeble is their execution — so much easier is it to get better information on similar themes out of any encyclopædia in Christendom — we are brought to tolerate, and alas, even to applaud in their tenth and twentieth repetition, through the sole force of our sympathy with the throng.(a) In the same way we listen to a story with greater zest when there are others present at its narration beside ourselves. Aware of this, authors without due reflection have repeatedly attempted, by supposing a circle of listeners, to imbue their narratives with the interest of sympathy. At a cursory glance the idea seems plausible enough. But, in the one case, there is an actual, personal, and palpable sympathy, conveyed in looks, gestures and brief comments — a sympathy of real individuals, all with the matters discussed to be sure, but then especially, each with each.(b) In the other instance, we, alone in our closet, are required to sympathise with the sympathy of fictitious listeners, who, so far from being present in body, are often studiously kept out of sight and out of mind for two or three hundred pages at a time. This is sympathy double-diluted — the shadow of a shade. It is unnecessary to say that the design invariably fails of its effect.(c)


throng) a. This is the fifth excerpt borrowed for the SM by Poe from his review of Dickens’ Master Humphrey's Clock etc. in the 5/41 Graham's (see SM 14, 16, 17, 20), 18.248-51 (H 10.142-55). This is the fourth para. shorn of its first three sentences which provide a useful [page 549:] connection: “The design of the general work, ‘Humphrey's Clock,’ is simply the common-place one of putting various tales into the mouths of a social party. The meetings are held at the house ... where an oldfashioned clock-case is the place of deposit for the M. S. S. [sic]. Why such designs have become common is obvious.” Poe's keen interest in dramatic affairs makes him find elements of the theatrical in a situation where they are, perhaps, minimal. For this interest see H. B. Fagin, Histrionic Mr. Poe, ch. 3, pp. 93-132, for his activities as viewer and reviewer of plays; see also E. Wagenknecht, Poe, pp. 106-11. The “rage for lecturing” (in which Poe tried to participate as a source of revenue) refers to the Lyceum movement, started in 1826, with over 3,000 founded in various towns by 1834 and a national convention in 1839 of the Lyceum Union. Could Poe have in mind the well-paid lectures of Emerson, which often became his published essays?

with each) b. Poe's fairly recent efforts to place his collection of “Tales of the Folio Club” with a major publisher make this comment on Dickens’ device a bit poignant. See the account in TOM 200-201 and Poe's letter of 9/2/36 to Harrison Hall (Ostrom 103-104, also 74-75, and 85n). His knowledge of the 18th century Tuesday Club and of the Delphian Club (1816-25), as TOM indicates was part of the background.

effect) c. The phrase “the shadow of a shade” comes from Young's paraphrase of job, No. 38, 1.188: “Dream of a dream! and shadow of a shade!” — both phrases looming large in Poe's consciousness. It was the large bulk of Old Curiosity Shop that ruined Dickens’ original plan, as Poe indicates at the beginning of his rev.

Supplementary Marginalia 23

The qualities of Heber are well understood. His poetry is of a high order. He is imaginative, glowing, and vigorous, with a skill in the management of his means unsurpassed by that of any writer of his time, but without any high degree of originality. Can there be anything in the nature of a “classical” life at war with novelty per se? At all events, few fine scholars, such as Heber truly was, are original.


Note: Reginald Heber (1783-1826), English bishop of Calcutta (where his exertions killed him) and outstanding hymn writer, published sermons, narrative poems, and other types of prose, his numerous poems being collected in 1841 (his Hymns reached a 10th ed. in 1834). This is the second para. of the three in Poe's review of the American reprint of his Poetical Works, in the 1/42 Graham's (20.‘71, uncollected by Harrison). Poe speaks of his merits as like those of Willis in his 1/18/45 sketch of the latter in the BJ (H 12.36), but his appraisal here matches a common [page 550:] one expressed by the En. Brit. (13.167): “His hymns and other poems ... [have] finish of style, pathos, and soaring aspiration; but they lack originality, and are rather rhetorical than poetical.” In para. 3 Poe lauds Heber's “Carmen Seculare” which was his prize poem at Oxford. His hymns alone perpetuate his memory.

Supplementary Marginalia 24

Original characters, so called, can only be critically praised as such, either when presenting qualities known in real life, but never before depicted, (a combination nearly impossible) or when presenting qualities (moral, or physical, or both) which, although unknown, or even known to be hypothetical, are so skilfully adapted to the circumstances which surround them, that our sense of fitness is not offended, and we find ourselves seeking a reason why those things might not have been, which we are still satisfied are not. The latter species of originality appertains to the loftier regions of the Ideal.


Note: This and the following SM article are both taken from Poe's 1/37 SLM long review (H 9.243-65) of George Balcombe, the anonymous novel of Nathaniel Beverley Tucker (1784-1851), professor of law at William and Mary, writer on political economy and law, and of another novel The Partisan Leader (1836), ardently conservative and aristocratic in background and views. From 12/34 he contributed varied papers, reviews, and poems to the SLM (see Mott, pp. 409, 632, 642) and maintained a flourishing correspondence with Poe in the 1830s (see Ostrom, Check List nos. 110, 111, 115, 116, 136; also H 17.6, 21-24). This para. occurs near the end of the review, when Poe describes the last of the many characters: the cunning, hypocritical, malignant, closely observed and faithfully detailed Montague. Poe seems to be concerned about a character who is credible without being natural, and thus ends his para. (H 9.261-62). He has stated the distinction between the moral and the physical type of courage above, just as he did in MM 185, 234, and, glancingly, SM 7a. For his use of “Ideal,” meaning “imaginative” and derived from phrenology, see SM 14b.

Supplementary Marginalia 25

George Balcombe, we are induced to regard, upon the whole, as the best American novel. There have been few books of its peculiar kind, we think, written in any country, much its superior. Its interest is intense [page 551:] from beginning to end. Talent of a lofty order is evinced in every page of it. Its most distinguishing features are invention, vigor, almost audacity, of thought — great variety of what the German critics term intrigue, and exceeding ingenuity and finish in the adaptation of its component parts. Nothing is wanting to a complete whole, and nothing is out of place, or out of time. Without being chargeable in the least degree with imitation, the novel bears a strong family resemblance to the Caleb Williams of Godwin. Thinking thus highly of George Balcombe, we still do not wish to be understood as ranking it with the more brilliant fictions of some of the living novelists of Great Britain. In regard to the authorship of the book, some little conversation has occurred, and the matter is still considered a secret. But why so? — or rather, how so? The mind of the chief personage of the story, is the transcript of a mind familiar to us — an unintentional transcript, let us grant — but still one not to be mistaken. George Balcombe thinks, speaks, and acts, as no person we are convinced, but Judge Beverley Tucker, ever precisely thought, spoke, or acted before.


Note: This article comprises the last two paras., joined together, in Poe's 1/37 SLM review of N. B. Tucker's novel George Balcombe, as in SM 24. Only the first sentence is altered: “We have thus spoken at length of George Balcombe, because we are induced” etc. It is interesting that in the seventh sentence (below) Poe admits this “best” of American novels to be inferior to the modern British works (presumably by Godwin, Bulwer Lytton, Dickens, Benjamin Disraeli). In sentences 5 and 6, Poe praises highly the quality of harmony or what he calls, at times, “keeping,” a term that he borrows from art criticism. In linking it to Caleb Williams by William Godwin, i.e., Things as They are; or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams (1794, 1796, 1797; numerous later reprints), Poe paid Tucker's book signal honor (for Poe's refs. to Godwin see MM 96, 206, 221, 231, CS 6, and ch. 7 of DP, especially 112 for George Balcombe). Poe, having edited many of Tucker's SLM contributions and exchanged many letters, was well qualified to make his ascription of authorship — in any case, an open secret (see SM 24 for data). It may be surmised that Tucker's social position and power (he was half-brother of the deceased John Randolph of Roanoke) somewhat affected his expressed estimate of the novel.







[S:0 - BRP2B, 1985] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe (B. R. Pollin) (Supplemental Pinakidia)