Text: Burton R. Pollin, “July 1836 (Notes),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. V: SLM (1997), pp. 242-245 (This material is protected by copyright)


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Notes [[for July 1836]]

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July 1836 - 1 Title: “Letter to B——.” SLM text: pp. 501-03. Poe’s essay first appeared as the preface to the Poems of 1831, published in New York shortly after his expulsion from the U. S. Military Academy, and financed by a voluntary deduction of $1.25 from the cadet pay of 131 of the 232 classmates of Poe; they vainly expected the meager little volume to contain numerous squibs and satires on their officer-teachers. (See Poe Log, pp. 11718). His first venture into the criticism of poetry, it foreshadows some of the theories later developed in such essays as “The Philosophy of Composition,” “The Rationale of Verse,” and “The Poetic Principle.” Notable already are his scorn for the didactic in verse, his commitment to ideality, and his view that the end of poetry is a vague sense of pleasure in which music plays an essential role. It is, moreover, a harbinger of the later Poe in its attempt at an air of lofty erudition and its condescension to the less well endowed. But it also betrays his youthfulness in its rather silly treatment of Wordsworth.

For the SLM reprinting, Poe altered the title, deleted the opening matter (95 words) and also a confusing paragraph of 28 words about poetry as painting. He added a footnote claiming that the 1831 volume had been issued “for private circulation.” In truth, it might as well have been, for all the attention it brought him. The “B.” of the address is generally thought to be Elam Bliss, his publisher.

The text of this essay will be printed and discussed in another volume of this edition of the Writings. It is, therefore, not included here.

July 1836 - 2 Title: [James Grant]. Random Reflections on the House of Lords. ... Philadelphia: E. L. Carey & A. Hart, 1836. SLM text: 504-05. James Grant, editor of the London Morning Advertiser, [column 2:] was a native of Scotland. He wrote a number of popular volumes about London and its institutions. (The Poe Log, p. 214, erroneously gives the author’s name as Anne Grant; see July 1836 - 6 .) This notice is essentially a summation of the contents. Poe’s few critical comments are generally favorable here, but not later elsewhere, as in the uncollected review of Walks and Wanderings in Burton’s of December 1839 (5: 334), used for the 1844 “Marginalia no. 17” (Pollin 2: 127) and in Letter VI of Doings of Gotham, pp. 65-66, deriding Grant for “outrageous rigmarole.”

July 1836 - 3 Title: [Lydia H. Sigourney]. Letters to Young Ladies. Hartford: William Watson, 1836. SLM text: pp. 505-06. The prolific Mrs. Sigourney had been reviewed by Poe in January 1836 - 1 . In a letter to Poe of June 11, she wrote that she bore him no ill will for his criticism. Apparently White had acted as agent for this book, for she added: “If it would not be too much trouble, might I ask you to inquire of the bookseller, to whom Mr. White conveyed my ‘Letters to Young Ladies,’ if he meets any difficulty in disposing of them?” If so, she said, she would be glad to have them returned, as there was a demand locally and in New York. (Harrison 17: 37-38). The letter probably prompted Poe to write this notice. Some of his comments seem slyly mocking; for example, “The book is, in every respect, worthy of Mrs. Sigourney — and it would be difficult to say more.” However, see Pollin, Dictionary, p. 84, for eight loci of a very different view.

a are responsible] Poe’s views of Locke and Leibniz on memory seem illbased and confused here. Poe probably had little or no direct knowledge of any major work of either author, despite many references to their names; his one [page 243:] reference to Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding is incorrect (to wit: Essay Concerning the Human etc.), and he was probably only vaguely aware of Book II, Ch. X, “Of Retention,” which presents ideas not at all remote from those in Sigourney’s passage, which he seems to be approvingly citing. For Poe and Locke, see Pollin, Dictionary, p. 57. As for Gottfried von Leibniz (or Leibnitz), it may be asserted that all his references are second-hand and imprecise in various ways, e.g., a quotation in French plucked from Biographia Literaria, which Poe ascribed solely to Coleridge (until after learning its true source in 1845), and (2) an idea taken from Rees’s Cyclopaedia article, “Leibnitzian Philosophy.” Poe’s substitution of the name of “Leibnitz” in 1845 for that of George Combe, the phrenologist, as a “candid reason[er]” indicates the instability and superficiality of his judgment here. See Mabbott 2: 115 n. 3, 516 n. 4; also, Pollin 2: 146, 148, 190-91, 272; also, Harrison loci, listed in Pollin, Dictionary, p. 55.

b assistance of Phrenology] Poe again shows his interest in the subject.

c at the bookstore] A response to Mrs. Sigourney’s request in her letter.

July 1836 - 4 Title: [Robert Southey]. The Doctor. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1836. SLM text: pp. 506-07. This bizarre miscellany was published 1834-47. A collection of articles on a variety of subjects, it is loosely bound together, as Poe notes, by the story of Dr. Daniel Dove of Doncaster and his horse Nobs. Its best-known section now is the nursery story “The Three Bears.” As Poe’s opening paragraph notes, authorship was widely debated; he names Southey in his final sentence, but only to doubt that he wrote the book. Only years later, apparently, did he learn the facts. The review was reprinted in the Griswold edition as “Marginalia” CLIX (3: 553-56). Pollin discusses it in his reprint of the Griswold text (2: 513-16), with full information on the argument over attribution.

a Du Bartas] Pollin notes that Poe derived his mistaken notion about the [page 243:] “nonsense verses” from a misreading of a remark by Griswold in an anthology. (See Pollin, Mississippi Quarterly, 33 [19691: 44-55.)

b bibliophagi] “Book-eaters.” Apparently a Poe coinage.

c present edition] The Harpers had pirated the work. Poe derived information about the English edition from the publisher’s note.

d polyedral] We note that the spellings “polyedral” and “polyedron” are rare but correct. The puns on “plane faces” and “blank visages” are Poe’s.

July 1836 - 5 Title: Frederick von Raumer. England in 1835. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea and Blanchard, 1836. SLM text: pp. 507-11. This is a remarkably blatant piece of plagiarism. As the marked text illustrates, only a few sentences may properly be said to have been independently composed by Poe. All the rest of this long notice is close paraphrase or direct quotation of the text, and it raises serious questions about Poe’s ethics as a reviewer. It is true that there was no general American stan dard of “fair use” in this period. Piracy of texts printed abroad was common, and newspaper and magazine writers and editors regularly filched material from many sources. But Poe had a clear responsibility here. He was becoming widely known as “the Editor” of the SLM, and when he employed the editorial “we,” as he did here, his readers had the right to assume that he was speaking in his own voice and expressing his own opinions. But it is impossible to tell whether any of the observations made in this loftysounding discussion reflect his personal views. (For a brief overview of some of Poe’s comments on the topic of plagiarism, see the items indexed under the word in Pollin 2: 569.)

The following notes refer to the marked text. Poe drew heavily on the front matter: the Preface to the American Edition, Translator’s Preface, Memoir of the Author (translated from Konversations Lexikon), and the Author’s Preface. [page 244:]

a what though .... our countrymen] Opinions echo Preface to the American Edition, passim.

b proper results ... only [[any]] such action] Preface to the American Edition, pp. 1011.

c American Social Elevation] Appeared in SLM 2: 381-87 (May 1836); ascribed to H. J. Groesbeck in a review in the “Supplement” to this issue, p. 518.

d the book ... to receive] Close paraphrase, Preface to the American Edition, 2.

e of Professor ... nationally] Phrases from Preface to the American Edition, p. 2.

f He is a member ... no account] Most of paragraph drawn from Memoir of the Author, pp. 18-22.

g gradually modified] From Translator’s Preface, pp. 13-15 and Author’s Preface, p. 23.

h Mrs. Austin .... Lloyd] From Translator’s Preface, pp. 13-15.

i the plan ... science] See Contents, pp. 3-8.

j It appears .... censure] Summation of several passages about Brougham; see pp. 224, 403ff, and 423.

k The person .... people] Text, pp. 403-04.

l Our author’s letter .... progress] Whole paragraph is close paraphrase of sections of Letter LXV, “Finances,” pp. 489-96. Italics are added by Poe to make it seem that he is emphasizing his own observations.

m Von Raumer presents .... divos] Text, pp. 463-65.

n Our author .... proprietor] Quotation and close paraphrase of the text, pp. 454-56.

o The subject ... Agriculture] Text, pp. 281-88.

p Professor Von Raumer .... fin] Quotation and paraphrase of text, p. 243. Italics added by Poe.

q Much of .... following] Text, passim.

r I suddenly .... Rotzis] Excerpts from text, pp. 252-53.

s At page 391 .... Philippe] Paraphrase of text, p. 391.

t The remarks ... Sloman] Text, [column 2:] passim.

u Lady Macbeth .... exhibited] Text, p. 143.

v Our traveller .... omitted] Summarized from text, pp. 249, 329, 420, 421.

w These schools .... effort] Text, pp. 420-21.

x We had noted ... limits] References to text, pp. 398-99; 195- 96.

y The author .... hall] Poe’s source for this information is probably a literary news column but it has not been located.

July 1836 - 6 Title: [Anne Grant]. Memoirs of an American Lady. New York: George Dearborn, 1836. SLM text: pp. 511-12. Anne Grant, known as Mrs. Grant of Laggan, was the daughter of a British Army officer who served in America 1757-68. She was acquainted with “Madame Schuyler” of Albany, New York, the widow of Col. Philip Schuyler and the “American Lady” of the title. The memoir was first published in 1808.

a Laghan] This is probably Poe’s own inaccurate spelling.

b slavery] This is one of the few direct references to the topic in Poe’s editorial comments. The quotation anticipates the paternalistic defense of domestic slavery by Beverley Tucker and other Southern apologists.

July 1836 - 7 Title: [Mary Griffith]. Camperdown; or, News from Our Neighbourhood. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea and Blanchard, 1836. SLM text: p. 513. Wright, p. 145, gives the author as “Mrs. Mary Griffith” and lists two other works of fiction by her. Standard reference works give no other information.

a Mercier’s] Louis Sebastien Mercier’s L‘an deux mille quatre cent / [properly corrected] / quarante (or L‘an 2440) is mentioned in the article “Metempsychosis” in Benjamin D‘Israeli’s Curiosities of Literature (Pollin 2: 60-61); see note to paragraph one of “Metzengerstein” (Mabbott 2: 18).

b disentombed] The OED records only a 1626 example and no modern instance save for De Quincey’s of 1839, another of 1859, etc. It is therefore, a sort of Poe [page 245:] coinage.

* Lan / L‘an | milles / mille

* cents / cent

July 1836 - 8 Title: William D. Gallagher. Erato. No. I: Cincinnati: Joseph Drake, 1835. No. II: Cincinnati: Alexander Flash, 1835. SLM text: pp. 513-14. Gallagher moved from Philadelphia to Cincinnati in 1816 and became editor of several periodicals in the frontier country. He was widely known as a “poet of the West.” He sent Poe a copy of his later Selections from the Poetical Literature of the West. Poe wittily condemned him, in the May 1841 review in Graham’s, for putting, as the editor of this anthology first his own “Miami Woods” and including more of his poems than those by any other poet. The “Autography” sketch by Poe in the December issue of Graham’s speaks of his “popular songs” and long pieces of “high but unequal merit.” In the 1845 Broadway Journal, Poe’s ambivalent feelings were again manifested (see Pollin 4: 212-13, 264). There seemed to be none in Gallagher, who wrote a long and moving laudatory obituary on Poe for his Daily Cincinnati Gazette, October 10, 1849; q.v., in item 93 of Pollin, “The Periodical Press Response to Poe: A Posthumous Assessment,” American Periodicals 2 (1992): 6-50.

a Thalaba] Poe’s numerous references to Southey’s works include mention of this long poem (1801). He was named poet laureate in 1813. See Pollin, “Southey’s Curse of Kahama in Poe’s ‘City in the Sea,‘” The Wordsworth Circle 7 (1976): 101-06.

July 1836 - 9 Title: [Charles Robbins Gilman]. Life on the Lakes. ... New York: George Dearborn, 1836. SLM text: pp. 514-15. Poe gives no indication that he had reviewed another work by Gilman, Legends of a Log Cabin, in December 1835 - 9 .

a Crockford’s] A well known London gambling house.

b Pictured Rocks] Colored sandstone bluffs along the shore of Lake Superior. [column 2:]

c O‘Connell] Irish political leader involved in the fight for Catholic emancipation. Poe was himself, of course, of Irish ancestry. His present sympathy explains the long, excerpted description of O‘Connell in the Von Raumer book review (article 5). However, O‘Connell’s publicized support for the American Abolition movement, much later, explains Poe’s shift vis-avis the Irish leader in Poe’s 1843 “Diddling” (see Mabbott 3: 870 at n. 12). Poe’s connection of a “brogue” with the “lowest of the Irish” may indicate his attitude with regard to his own reliance upon the brogue in his works, as in “Why the Little Frenchman Wears his Hand in a Sling” (Mabbott 2: 463-70).

d Paul Ulricism] Poe had scornfully reviewed Morris Mattson’s Paul Ulric in February 1836 - 2 . This is Poe’s coinage, of course.

July 1836 - 10 Title: Leitch Ritchie. Russia and the Russians. Philadelphia: E. L. Carey and A. Hart, 1836. SLM text: 515-16. Ritchie (1800-65), Scottish litterateur, was a prolific writer of history and travel books. His first name is given erroneously as “Leigh” in the caption. Poe alludes to his Schinderhannes, a work named on the title page.

a The wooden pavement] Poe’s choice of this part of the sketch of the Russian capital may have arisen from his interest in the practical aspects of life in a city, in this case the stress and distress to and from roadways, an interest carried over into his essay, “Street-Paving” in the Broadway Journal of 1845, with similar discussion of the need for using and preserving wooden blocks (Pollin 3: 94-96, 4: 7375).

July 1836 - 11 Title: Supplement. SLM text: pp. 517-24. Only the first two pages of this eight-page selection of notices of the SLM are reprinted here, since they contain all of Poe’s comments on his critics. This was the last such supplement, perhaps because it was — as the [page 246:] first paragraph tells us — “an extra expense to the publisher.” It is also likely that it was increasingly being perceived as Poe’s own personal puffery, a charge that White responded to on the cover of the October issue (see below). The Newbern Spectator had been attacking Poe for some time. The Poe Log, p. 189, identifies the editor as “presumably Robert G. Moore.”

* once / nonce

a Walsh, Blackwood, Jeffries] Walsh: Poe reviewed his Didactics in May 1836 - 6 . Blackwood: Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine. Jeffries: purposely retaining the Spectator’s error for Francis Jeffrey, a founder of the Edinburgh Review (see Letters, p. 77).

b American author] The allusion is probably to Washington Irving.




In the 1997 printing, the references for the various corrections to itemm 07 are given out of order with the note for letter code b, which should occur after these and thus at the top of the next page rather than at the bottom of the previous page. In the current presentation, this minor anomlay has been allowed to stand, since changing it would affect the pagination, with this note being considered as sufficient. The problemm is also somewhat alleviated by the fact that links are provided and give more direction to the reader.


[S:0 - BRP5S, 1997] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe (B. R. Pollin) (July 1836 (Notes))