Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. E. C. Stedman and G. E. Woodberry), “Notes,” The Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. IV: Tales IV (1895), 4:281-297


[page 281:]


POE was careful in composition and solicitous for the printed text of his works. He published nearly all his tales repeatedly, both in periodicals and in volumes; and, on each reissue, he revised the text, except when some particular tale appeared nearly simultaneously in two places. The extent of the revision varied; usually he shortened the tale, and simplified, moderated, and harmonized the language, but in some instances while keeping the incidents, dialogue, and ideas intact, he rewrote the tale verbally. the “Imp of the Perverse” and the “Tell-tale Heart” are examples of such minute correction. He seems never to have regarded any form as final, but made new changes on the margin of the last printed copy, several of which are embodied in the text for the first time in this edition. The following list shows the date and place of publication of each tale, so far as known, in chronological order of composition, so far as can be conjectured on safe grounds. The tales of which in respect to these points there is no certain knowledge were either from manuscript in Griswold's hands, an unlikely hypothesis, or from periodicals of which no file exists, such as the “Flag of our Union” and the “Dollar Newspaper,” or from obscure publications which have escaped search. The editors of this edition have followed the latest text published in Poe's life-time, except as stated below, but have adopted manuscript corrections in Poe's hand, as already explained in the General Preface. [page 282:]


[The following abbreviations are used: S. L. M., Southern Literary Messenger; G. M., Gentleman's Magazine; Gra. M., Graham's Magazine; S. L. C., Snowden's Lady's Companion; God. L. B., Godey's Lady's Book; A. W. R., American Whig Review; B. J., Broadway Journal; C M., Columbian Magazine. The editions of 1840, 1843, 1845, are indicated by those dates only.]

1. MS. Found in a Bottle. Baltimore Saturday Visiter, Oct. 12, 1833; S. L. M., Dec 1835; The Gift, 1836; 1840; B. J, ii. 14.

2. Berenice. S. L. M., March, 1835; 1840; B. J., i. 14.

3. Morella. S. L. M., April, 1835; 1840; B. J., i. 25.

4. Lionizing. S. L. M., May, 1835; 1840; 1845; B. J., i. 11.

5. Hans Pfaall. S. L. M., June, 1835; 1840.

6. The Assignation (The Visionary). S. L. M., July, 1835; 1840; B. J., i. 23.

7. Bon-Bon. S. L. M., Aug., 1835; 1840; B. J., i. 16.

8. Shadow — A Parable (Fable). S. L. M., Sept. 1835; 1840; B. J., i. 22.

9. Loss of Breath. S. L. M., Sept. 1835; 1840; B. J., ii. 26.

10. King Pest. S. L. M., Sept. 1835; 1840; B. J., ii. 15.

11. Metzengerstein. S. L. M., Jan. 1836; 1840. The text follows Griswold, who must have had a copy representing the revision of 1844.

12. Duc De L’Omelette. S. L. M., Feb. 1836; 1840; B. J., ii. 14.

13. Four Beasts in One (Epimanes). S. L. M., March, 1836; 1840; B. J., ii. 22.

14. A Tale of Jerusalem. S. L. M., April, 1836; 1840; B. J., ii. 11.

15. Silence — A Fable (Siope). Baltimore Book, 1839j 1840; B. J. [[,]] ii. 9

The “Tales of the Folio Club,” submitted to the Committee on the Prize Tale for the Baltimore “Saturday Visiter,” before Oct. 12, 1833, and sent to Carey and Lea, Philadelphia, before Nov. 1834, was made up out of the above titles. “Lionizing” and the “Visionary” are stated to have been among the tales submitted to the Committee, [page 283:] in an editorial note (S. L. M., Aug. 1835),and “Siope” and “Epimanes” are mentioned as among the tales in Carey and Lea's hands, Sept. 11, 1835 (Poe to Kennedy).

The note referred to adds, the “‘Tales of the Folio Club’ are sixteen in all, and we believe it is the author's intention to publish them in the autumn.” The sixteenth tale is unidentified. The volume, not being published by Carey and Lea, was offered by Poe to Harper and Brothers through J. K. Paulding, and by them declined through him, March 3, 1836 (Paulding to White), and also directly, June, 1836 (Harper and Brothers to Poe).

16. Ligeia. The American Museum, Sept. 1838; 1840; B. J., ii. 12. The text adopts manuscript corrections from Mrs. Whitman's copy of B. J.

17. How to Write a Blackwood Article (The Signora Zenobia). The American Museum, Dec. 1838; 1840; B. J., ii. 1.

18. A Predicament (The Scythe of Time). A Pendant to the preceding tale. The American Museum, Dec. 1838; 1840; B.J., ii. 1.

19. The Devil in the Belfry. The (Philadelphia) Saturday Chronicle and Mirror of the Times, May 18, 1839; 1840; B. J., ii. 18.

20. The Man That Was Used Up. G. M., Aug. 1839; 1840; 1843; B. J., ii. 5.

21. The Fall of the House of Usher. G. M., Sept. 1839; 1840; 1845.

22. William Wilson. G. M., Oct . 1839; The Gift, 1840; 1840; B. J., ii. 8.

23. The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion. G. M., Dec. 1839; 1840; 184;. 34. Mystification (Von Jung). 1840; B. J., ii. 25.

25. Why the Little Frenchman Wears his Hand in a Sling. 1840; B. J., ii. 9.

“Tales of the Arabesque and Grotesque,” 2v., Philadelphia, Lea and Blanchard, 1840, was published in Dec. 1839, and included all the above titles.

26. The Business Man (Peter Pendulum). G. M., Feb. 1840; B. J., ii. 4.

27. The Man of the Crowd. G. M., Dec. 1840; 1845. [page 284:]

28. The Murders in the Rue Morgue. Gra. M., April, 1841; 1843; 1845. The text adopts manuscript corrections from the Lorimer Graham copy.

29. The Descent into the Maelstrom. Gra. M., May, 1S41; 1845. The text adopts manuscript corrections from the Lorimer Graham copy.

30. The Island of the Fay. Gra. M., June, 1841; B. J., ii. 13.

31. The Colloquy of Monos and Una. Gra. M., Aug. 1841; 1845.

Poe offered Lea and Blanchard, Aug. 13, 1841, eight later pieces to be added to the “Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque” in a second edition; “the later pieces will be eight in number, making the entire collection thirty-three “ (Poe to Lea and Blanchard). The offer was declined, Aug. 16, 1841 (Lea and Blanchard to Poe).

32. Never Bet the Devil your Head. Gra. M., Sept. 1841;B. J., ii. 6.

33. Three Sundays in a Week (A Succession of Sundays). The (Philadelphia) Saturday Evening Post, Nov. 27,1841; B. J., i. 19.

34. Eleonora. The Gift, 1842; B. J., i. 21.

35. The Oval Portrait (Life in Death). Gra. M., April, 1842; B. J., i. 17.

36. The Masque of the Red Death. Gra. M., May, 1842; B. J., ii. 2.

37. The Landscape Garden. S. L. C, Oct. 1842; B. J., ii. 11. Afterwards incorporated with the “Domain of Arnheim.”

38. The Mystery of Marie Rogêt. S. L. C, Nov., Dec., Feb., 1842-43; 1845. The text adopts manuscript corrections from the Lorimer Graham copy.

39. The Pit and the Pendulum. The Gift, 1843; B. J., i. 20.

40. The Tell-tale Heart. The Pioneer, Jan. 1843 . B. J., ii. 7.

The titles, 26-40, are given in a footnote to Hirst's Life of Poe (Phil. Saturday Museum, March 4, 1843) as a list of the tales written since the publication of the edition of 1840. The article, which was inspired by Poe and reflects his opinion, says: “All the best of Mr. Poe's prose tales have been published since the issue of the volumes,” etc [page 285:]

the “Prose Romances of Edgar A. Poe,” No. I (pp. 40), paper cover, Philadelphia, George B. Zieber & Co., 1843, was published in the summer, and included 20, 28. The edition is of great rarity, and has not been seen by the editors.

41. The Gold-Bug. The (Philadelphia) Dollar Newspaper, June 21-28,1843; 184;. The text adopts manuscript corrections from the Lorimer Graham copy.

42. The Black Cat. The (Philadelphia) United States Saturday Post, Aug. :o, 1843! l845

43. The Elk (Morning on the Wissahiccon). The Opal, 1844.

44. A Tale of the Ragged Mountains. God. L. B., April, 1844; B. J., ii. 21.

45. The Spectacles. (Sent to Home, April, 1844.) B. J., ii. 20.

46. Diddling Considered as one of the Exact Sciences. B. J., ii. 10.

47. The Balloon Hoax. The (New York) Sun, April 13, 1844.

48. Mesmeric Revelation. C. M., Aug. 1844; 1845.

49. The Premature Burial. The (Philadelphia) Aug. 1844; B. J., i. 24.

50. The Oblong Box. God. L. B., Sept. 1844; B. J., ii. 23.

51. Thou Art the Man. God. L. B., Nov. 1844.

52. The Literary Life of Thingum-Bob. S. L. M., Dec. 1844; B. J., ii. 3.

53. The Purloined Letter. The Gift, 1845; 1845. The text adopts manuscript corrections from the Lorimer Graham copy.

54. The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof Fether. Gra. M., Nov. 1845.

The titles, 41-54, except 47 and 52, are given as the tales written since Hirst's list, and of these 48-51, 53, 54, are marked as unpublished, May 28,1844 (Poe to Lowell), — “about sixty altogether including the ‘Grotesque and Arabesque.’” The titles, 45, 46, were, therefore, published earlier than in the “Broadway Journal.” The title, 49, was published not later than Aug. 1844, as extracts from it appeared in the “Rover” at the end of that month, and were introduced by the words, “A writer in one of the Philadelphia papers recently gave,” etc. Poe [page 286:] must have had in mind more tales than he mentioned, as by June, 1844, he had prepared a complete collection, which was even larger in number. He then wrote: “Setting aside, for the present, my criticisms, poems, and miscellanies (sufficiently numerous) my tales are, in number, sixty-six. . . . I have them prepared in every respect for the press” (Poe to Anthon). At that date, Poe had published forty-seven tales, 1-47; and, according to this statement, there were then unpublished nineteen tales, of which the titles of seven only, 48-54, are known. The remaining titles are, in all, fourteen only, of which twelve would be required to justify Poe's estimate. In other words, unless there were tales that never appeared at all, the statement of Poe to Anthon, if it were accepted as exact, would involve the conclusion that he wrote only two tales after June, 1844. The tales were offered to Harper and Brothers through Anthon, and declined Nov. 1844 (Anthon to Poe).

55. The Thousand and Second Tale. God. L. B.. Feb. 1845;B. J., ii. 16.

56. The Angel of the Odd, Unknown. The text follows Griswold.

The titles, 26-56, except 46, 47, are given as the tales written since the publication of the edition of 1840, in a footnote to Lowell's biography of Poe, Graham's Magazine, Feb. 1845.

“Tales,” New York, Wiley and Putnam, 1845, appeared about July, of that year, and included 4, 21, 23, 27, 28, 29, 31,38,41,42,48,53. The selection was unsatisfactory. Poe wrote, Aug. 9, 1846, the “last selection of my tales was made from about seventy by Wiley and Putnam's reader, Duyckinck. He has what he thinks a taste for ratiocination, and has accordingly made up the book mostly of analytic stories. But this is not representing my mind in its various phases — it is not giving me fair play” (Poe to Cooke). It appears that in the two years since he wrote Anthon, the alleged number had not increased. A reviewer of this volume, however, evidently inspired by Poe, and [page 287:] reflecting the above views, says, — “To our own knowledge he has published at least seventy-five or eighty tales.”

57. Some Words with a Mummy. A. W. R., April, 1845; B. J., ii. 17.

The title, 57, was mentioned, it is curious to observe, in the “Columbian Magazine,” January, 1845: “Notice to Correspondents. The following articles are accepted. . . . Some Words with a Mummy.”

58. The Power of Words. Democratic Review, June, 1845; B. J., ii. 16.

59. The Imp of the Perverse. Gra. M., July, 1845; Mayflower, 1845.

60. The Case of M. Valdemar. A. W. R., Dec. 1845; B. J., ii. 24.

61. The Cask of Amontillado. God. L. B., Nov. 1846.

62. The Domain of Arnheim. C. M., March, 1847. The tale embodies and develops the “Landscape Garden.”

63. Mellonta Tauta. God. L. B., Feb. 1849.

64. Hop-Frog. The Flag of our Union, 1849. The text follows Griswold, no file being known.

65. X-ing a Paragrab. Unknown. The text follows Griswold.

66. The Sphinx. Unknown. The text follows Griswold.

67. Von Kempelen and His Discovery. Unknown. (Not earlier than 1848.) The text follows Griswold.

68. Landor's Cottage. Unknown. (Sent to the Metropolitan, not earlier than July, 1848, inasmuch as it mentions “Annie.”) The text follows Griswold.

Of these tales, the following were reprinted abroad in Poe's life-time: the “Fall of the House of Usher,” in “Bentley's Miscellany;” the “Purloined Letter,” in Chambers’ “Edinburgh Journal;” “Mesmeric Revelation,” in the “Popular Record of Modern Science,” London; the “Case of M. Valdemar,” in the same, and in “Mesmerism ‘In Articulo Mortis’” (paper), London, 1846; and “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” translated, in La Commerce and La Quotidienne.

Notwithstanding the discrepancy between the number of tales mentioned by Poe in his letters to Lowell, Anthon, [page 288:] and Cooke, and the number that can be traced as existing at the dates on which he wrote, there is little reason to believe that this is not a complete list. The absence of any title, other than those included above, in his correspondence or the publications of the time, discredits the hypothesis that some of his compositions were lost among his manuscripts, and it is incredible that any editor suppressed such manuscripts after his death. He probably included in his calculation all the tales he had written or was engaged upon, and possibly some of his miscellanies. It is clear that he found publication difficult and often long-delayed, and also that his productivity in this kind of composition almost ceased in the last four years of his life, as at other times it had shown a low degree of vitality. The average number of tales written each year, from 1833 to 1846, is between four and five, but it was higher at both the beginning and the end of the period, and from 1837 to 1841 fell to two, which is nearly as low as from 1846 to 1849; in both these latter periods Poe was otherwise occupied in book-making, lecturing, or critical writing.

[[The following pargraph was added to the edition of 1903:]]

P. S. Mr. W. M. Griswold, in the New York “Nation,” June 13 (1895), who's the best-informed authority on the early magazine literature of America, corrects the foregoing list by identifying the first publication of No. 56, Columbian Magazine, Oct. 1844, and of No. 66, Arthur's Magazine, Jan. 1846, and by naming an earlier publication of No. 6, [Godey's] Lady's Book, Jan. 1834, and of No. 14, American Monthly, June, 1837.

[page 289:]



THE text of Poe's quotations and his literary allusions has been revised in this edition by reference to the originals, so far as was practicable. He liked the appearance of scholarship, but his own acquirements were not great, and he took his learning at second-hand. His sources were, at first, books of which Disraeli's “Curiosities of Literature” is a type, and in science some elementary works; generally he seems to have read books only for review, as they came under his notice at random, but he paid much attention to the magazines, home and foreign, throughout his life. The passages that he found quoted in such reading he used as if he were acquainted with the originals, and at times he silently paraphrased the text itself. Early in his career he made a commonplace book, which he mentions in the remarks introductory to his “Pinakidia” (S. L. M., Aug. 1836), a collection of odds and ends of literary knowledge: the “whole is taken from a confused mass of marginal notes and entries in a commonplace book.” From this volume, as shown by the extracts printed as “Pinakidia,” he took several of his quotations, allusions, and notes. Here is the motto of the “Pit and the Pendulum” — the “Quatrain composed for the gates of a market to be erected upon the site of the Jacobin Club House at Paris” — itself out of Disraeli, on which Baudelaire comments: “Le marche — marche Saint-Honoré — n’a jamais eu ni portes ni inscription. L’inscription a-t-elle existe en projet?” Here, too, are the lines from Ariosto and Cervantes, the sentence from Demosthenes and “Hudibras,” and the insomnia Jovis (but ascribed to Longinus instead of Silius Italicus), used in “How to Write a Blackwood Article;” the Corneille [page 290:] motto for the “Man That Was Used Up;” the Jacobus Hugo passage in “Never Bet the Devil Your Head;” the French vaudeville prefixed to “Bon-Bon;” and, again out of Disraeli, the footnote to “Metzengerstein,” citing Mercier, L’An Deux Mille quatte cents quarante, in favor of the doctrine of metempsychosis. Not in “Pinakidia,” but probably in the commonplace book, are two other borrowings from Disraeli, — the motto of “Hans Pfaall” and the Montfleury footnote to the “Duc De L’Omelette.” In the “Messenger” and the edition of 1840, the last extract is in Disraeli's English, but in the “Broadway Journal” Poe turned it into French of his own, which, however, is in this text revised. Under such circumstances as these examples abundantly illustrate, it is not surprising that many errors have intruded into the text, and it has seemed best silently to rectify them, and at the same time to credit the quotations, when verified, with more precision than Poe used. It will be understood, therefore, that authorities alleged in footnotes and in the text are in some instances corrected, in others first identified, in this edition.

It has proved impossible to trace every passage, but in the course of verification some illustrative material of value has been met with. The Latin motto of “Berenice,” for example, from Ebn Zaiat, has not been found, but an interesting note on the original Arabic has been kindly furnished the editors by Dr. Richard Gottheil. It seems that Ebn Zaiat, whose real name was Muhammad ibn Abd Almalik ibn Alzaijat (or Azzaijat), Vezir under the Caliphs Almutassim Billahi and Alwathik Billahi, was very much in love with a slave and mourned her death; his companions suggested that he should seek comfort at her grave; on this he wrote, — “My friends say — ‘If thou wouldst only visit her grave;’ but I answered, — ‘Has she any grave other than my heart?’” Kitab alaghani, vol. xx. (cf. D’Herbelot, Bibliotheca Orientalis, ii. s. v. Zaiat). A curious case of borrowing is disclosed by the quotation from Jonas Ramus in “A Descent into the Maelstrom” (ii. 238-244). The passage is found textually in the “Natural History of Norway, translated from the Danish original of the [page 291:] R. Rev. Erich Pontoppidan,” London, 1755, p. 77, as from Ramus. The passage immediately succeeding, ascribed to the “Encyclopaedia Britannica,” is also textually from the same book, and other parts of Poe's geographical account are paraphrased from it. Poe did not use the translation of Pontoppidan, but derived the whole from the “Encyclopaedia Britannica,” to which he credited a part. The “Encyclopaedia” article (Third Edition, Edinburgh, 1797) was taken bodily and identically from the translation of Pontoppidan, without credit or any mention of its source. It is a curious commentary on the making of books, even encyclopaedias, to read in the last (ninth) edition of the “Britannica,” under “Whirlpool,” as follows: the “various reports of travellers and descriptions of poetical philosophers as to the appearance of the Malstrom were faithfully collated and thrown into stereoscopic relief by Edgar Allan Poe in his celebrated story.” The author, after having given Poe credit for erudition taken solely from a previous edition of this very encyclopaedia, which in its turn had stolen the learning from another, quotes the parts that Poe invented out of his own head.

A third instance will show Poe's carelessness in quoting his authorities, even at first hand. In the footnote to the “Domain of Arnheim” (ii. 94) he refers to the Thelluson will, and says that he saw an account of it in the “‘ Tour’ of Prince Piickler Muskau, who makes the sum inherited ninety millions of pounds [sic] and justly observes that ‘in the contemplation of so vast a sum, and of the services to which it might be applied, there is something even of the sublime.’” In the Philadelphia edition of the “Tour,” 1833, which is doubtless the one Poe saw, the passage reads: “In twenty years his term will expire; and I saw the present Mr. Thelluson, a man of forty who has very little; and his son, a pretty boy of eight, who is probably destined in his twenty-eighth year to be master of twelve millions sterling, — ninety-four millions of our money [German]. . . . However I could not help heartily wishing good luck to the little fellow with his splendid hopes. There is really something grand in having such [page 292:] enormous wealth; for it cannot be denied that money is the representative of most things in the world. What marvellous objects might be attained by such a fortune well applied I” (p- 275) It is hard to conjecture what signification quotation marks bore to Poe, after comparing these passages.

A more remarkable instance of dealing with an author occurs in the motto of “Lionizing” ascribed to Bishop Hall: —

“all people went

Upon their ten toes in wild wonderment.”

The original of this is found in Hall's “Satires,” II. iii.

“Genus and Species long since barefoote went,

Upon their ten-toes in wilde wanderment.”

The passage has been left in the text as Poe adapted it, since the original would have little relevancy there. The motto of “A Descent into the Maelstrom,” which had not been identified when the second volume went to press, is from Glanvill's “Essays on Several Important Subjects in Philosophy and Religion,” London, 1676, p. 15, and should read: the “ways of God in Nature (as in Providence) are not as ours are: Nor are the Models that we frame any way commensurate to the vastness and profundity of his Works; which have a Depth in them greater than the Well of Democritus.” The example is a characteriztic one. The motto of “Ligeia,” ascribed to the same author, has not been found. The passage from Flavius Vopiscus (iv. 97, 98) follows the reading of the edition of Salmasius, Paris, 1620, except at the close, where Poe has sanguinis effudit, which has not been found even as a variant, and may be an error of memory in the writer from whom Poe took it. The example illustrates another source of error.

In respect to book-titles, especially those meant to give the impression of recondite learning, the labor of investigation has been fruitless in several instances. Some of these titles are clearly fictitious, even when not humorous inventions, [page 293:] and others are either too briefly or too incorrectly given to be found except by accident. Few seem to justify a note. The title of the curious book mentioned in “Hans Pfaall” (ii. 199, 200) is given in the Catalogue of Printed Books in the British Museum, L’Homme dans la lune, ou le voyage chim/rique fait au monde de la lune nouvellement decouvert par D. Gonzales autremit dit Le Courrier volant. Mis en nostre langue par J. B[au] D[oin]. Paris, 1648. Querard, Supercheries Littéraires Devoilies, adds that the chronicle is “traduit de l’anglais de Francois Godwin par Jean Baudoin.” Godwin's romance, the “Man in the Moon, or a Discourse of a Voyage thither, by D. G.,” London, 1638, has often been reprinted, and may be seen in the Harleian Miscellany. These are the bibliographical facts involved in Poe's note, but the editors have been unable to find the volume, and the French quoted has not been verified. The Vigiliae Mortuorum and the “Mad Tryst” of the “Fall of the House of Usher,” and the Duelli Lex Scripta et non; aliterque of Hédelin in “Mystification” will serve as examples of titles not found; and the Directorium Inquisitorum of the former as an example of titles revised. Some of these titles were invented, but for most of them it seems likely that Poe had some suggestion other than his own fancy. A Vigilie majores minoresque mortuorum was printed at Augsburg, 1492, and the French Vigilles des mors, translated from the Latin, in quarto Gothic, are well known; but as the Bibliotheca Moguntina (Würdtwein), 1789, does not mention the title given by Poe, and it is not elsewhere known, it may be presumed that the book does not exist. The Duelli Lex Scripta is, doubtless, a fabrication, but the idea of the book as described is hardly likely to be original with Poe. The other titles in the tale in which this occurs (iii. 296) illustrate Poe's loose practice in referring to known books. D’Audiguier's “On the Permission of Duels” is the work entitled Le Vray et ancien usage des duels, Paris, 1617. Brantôme's “Memoirs of Duels” is Anecdotes Touchants des Duels, but not “published at Cologne, 1666, in the types of Elzevir;” the [page 293:] Elzevirs did not print at Cologne, and no edition printed by any one at Cologne is mentioned in the bibliographies. So much it seems necessary to say to illustrate the treatment of the text in this particular and to explain its state. All expressions in foreign languages, when not quoted, have been freely revised, as occasion arose, with a view to linguistic accuracy. [page 295:]



It was occasionally charged in Poe's life-time that he plagiarized the ideas of his tales, but without sufficient proof to make any lasting impression. He formed his style on Disraeli and Bulwer, and he sometimes found the germ or worked out the accessories of a tale from his reading. In “Metzengerstein,” the episode of the Prince of Little Lilliput and his rival neighbor in “Vivian Grey,” together with the picture of the ancestor on horseback in the Prince's cabinet and something of the feeling of the whole, clearly enough reappears; and in “King Pest” a similar obligation to the adventure in the castle of Duke Johannisberger, in the same novel, exists. The idea of “Three Sundays in a Week” is a passage of Herschel made fiction; and in the scientific tales, such as “Hans Pfaall,” there is free paraphrasing of scientific works analogous to that employed in the tales of adventure and exploration. the “Gold-Bug” was said to be indebted to Miss Sherburne's “Imogene,” and pains were taken to disprove the charge. Perhaps the best illustrative instance is “William Wilson.” The alleged obligation to Calderon may be dismissed as on the whole improbable; but the tale is sometimes said to have been taken from Boaden's the “Man with Two Lives,” Boston, 1829. The idea of a double self is very old, but the identification of the other self with conscience is a modification of the usual form of the idea. Boaden's novel has in substance nothing at all in common with Poe's tale, and the burden of the charge rests for justification wholly on the last paragraph, as follows: —

“Here I shall close this narrative. I have reached that point of my existence when the connection of the two lives was dropt entirely. I describe the scenes only in which it influenced my present [page 296:] being. The world at large will not perhaps regret that this amazing privilege has been peculiar to myself. I do not think that they ought. Yet in fact most men are permitted Two Lives even here; one of ACTION with its usual attendant ERROR, — the other of REFLECTION and, as it ought to prove, of ATONEMENT. To carry on the parallel, neither are They without a mysterious friend and guide, to whom the Magnetic MESMER was but a shade, who comes upon them unannounced and knows them through all disguises. He is plain too and generally alarming in his addresses and urges them to take the only course that conducts to their real interest, their peace, their honor and their final happiness. The reader feels that I can only here mean the power of CONSCIENCE.”

This, however, may be only coincidence; but, in style and feeling again, the mark of Bulwer's “Monos and Daimonos “ in the “Conversations with an Ambitious Student in Ill Health, with other Pieces,” is easily distinguished, as in such tales as “Shadow” and “Lionizing,” also, the same influence is unmistakable. In general, Poe's obligations of this sort were contracted through his temperament rather than his mind, though occasionally he took an idea and used it with the royal right. Thus “Hop-Frog” is out of “Froissart,” and wide acquaintance with contemporary magazine literature and the perishable stories of the day might disclose less usual debts of that nature; from such reading a writer in “Notes and Queries,” May 12, 1894 (v. 85, p. 366), has brought forward what is either the original suggestion for, or else a curious parallel to, the “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” as follows: —

Poe's ‘Murders In The Rue Morgue.’ — The employment of an ourang-outang in the committal of these murders has always seemed to me one of the most original ideas in fiction with which I am acquainted, until now when I light upon an extract from the Shrewsbury Chronicle, tucked away in the ‘Chronicle’ columns of the ‘Annual Register.’ Poe's story was published in Graham's Magazine for April, 1841. What took place at Shrewsbury occurred in July or August, 1834. At that time certain showmen visited the town with a ‘ribbon-faced baboon’ which, it was afterwards shrewdly suspected, had been taught to burgle, or as the Chronicle puts it and I underline it, to ‘commit robberies by night [page 297:] by climbing up places inaccessible to men, and thereby gaining an entrance through the bedroom window’ — precisely the method of procedure adopted by Poe's anthropoid. In her bedroom one night a Shrewsbury lady found the creature. She raised an alarm and the baboon instantly attacked her and with so much fury that the lady's husband, who had come to the rescue, was glad to let it escape by the window.’ The ourang-outang of the Rue Morgue makes a similar though more fatal attack when it is discovered in a lady's bedroom there and effects its escape by the same means. It is, of course, possible that Poe may never have come across this episode; but it seems something more than probable that he did. Anyhow the coincidence is singular.

“W. F. Waller.”

Whether Poe was actually indebted to this incident cannot be determined Such question as has been made of his originality in invention is of the sort illustrated by the several instances given above, and is essentially slight. His plots, if they can be so termed, are too simple and common to be plagiarisms, and his originality lay rather in his method and his power of word than in creation.

G. E. W





Although still scarece, files of both the Flag of Our Union and the Dollar Newspaper are now known.



[S:0 - SW94, 1895] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Notes (Stedman and Woodberry, 1895)