Text: Richard P. Benton, “Poe Manuscripts at Texas,” Poe Studies, June 1976, Vol. IX, No. 1, 9:26-27


[page 26, continued:]

Poe Manuscripts at Texas

Joseph J. Moldenhauer. A Descriptive Catalog of Edgar Allan Poe Manuscripts in the Humanities Research Center Library[,] The University of Texas at Austin. A Texas Quarterly Supplement. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1973. 89 pp. [Bound with the Autumn 1973 number of the Texas Quarterly, 16, No. 3, at the end, and not separately cataloged by the Library of Congress.]

Of the one hundred and seven items listed and described here, ninety-six came with the William H. Koester Poe collection, acquired by the University of Texas at Austin in 1966.

Moldenhauer prefaces his catalogue with “A Retrospective Foreword,” an “Introduction,” and a section on “Organization and Descriptive Procedures” (all preceded by a “Table of Contents” and a “List of Illustrations”) and then groups the Poe material into five categories: (1) “Literary Compositions” (imaginative literature); (2) “Critical Writings”; (3) “Letters” (from Poe to others), (4) “Signed Documents” (receipts, promissory notes, agreements signed by Poe); and (5) “Autograph Matter in Printed Works” (autographs of Poe in books by others which he owned and corrections and additions in Poe’s hand in printed books he authored).

Moldenhauer is scrupulous and detailed in his physical descriptions of Poe materials. His entries appear exact, informative, meaty. The item entered is carefully described in every detail, and a history of it is set forward. The type of document is identified (for instance, tale, poem, essay, letter, and so forth); the title is given; the subject is stated; the recipient, if there is one, is identified; the number of pages — or the number of lines or stanzas if called for — is given; the specific or approximate date of composition is stated; an exact physical description of the document is given — writing medium, size of document, color and condition of paper, placement of the text on the page — Poe’s corrections and revisions or notations are remarked on; and additions to the text which seem non-authorial are noted. If the manuscript is a literary composition or critical writing, it is related to the Poe canon (with the unpublished [column 2:] whole or partial manuscript transcribed in full); the original printing is cited and a history of subsequent printings during Poe’s lifetime is given; and the text is compared with the present definitive form, whether Griswold, Harrison, Campbell, Stovall, Mabbott, or Ostrom, with all variations between the manuscript and that form set forth. Finally, there is a description of associated materials — newspaper dippings, auction catalogues or clippings from auction catalogues, letters and notes of former owners, dealers’ correspondence, and letters between Koester and scholars (with materials of a strictly business nature omitted). Moldenhauer has been painstaking and rigorous in his scholarship.

Of the literary compositions (of which there are eight whole or partial versions), the most important manuscript is of Poe’s tale “The Spectacles.” It contains numerous variations, “both substantive and accidental,” as Moldenhauer puts it, from the original printing in The Dollar Newspaper of March 27, 1844, as well as from Griswold’s 1850 text and Harrison’s “Virginia Edition” of 1902, which remains definitive. This manuscript of “The Spectacles” is apparently the one Poe sent to the English poet Richard H. Horne in March of 1844 with a view to possible publication in England.

Other manuscripts in this section (either complete or partial versions) include fifty-four lines of Politian — A Tragedy; “The Coliseum,” which contains numerous variations from Mabbott’s definitive edition of Poems; “Eulalie” (apparently an 1844 COPY once owned by Henry B. Hirst) a valentine verse “To Miss Olivia Hunter”; the final stanza of “The Raven”; “The Domain of Arnheim,” which contains numerous variations, mostly accidental, from the printed text; and an early version of “The Bells,” first collected in J. H. Whitty’s 1911 Complete Poems and contained in Mabbott (pp. 429-433).

The section of critical writings includes portions of an “Essay on American Poetesses” which incorporates parts of a review of the work of Lucretia Davidson and material in “The Literati” on this writer and on Margaret Miller. The first two paragraphs of this manuscript, however, appear neither in “The Literati” nor in Harrison, and there are numerous variations of a substantive nature between the text and Harrison’s “Virginia Edition” as well as Griswold’s printing. There is also an essay on Richard Adams Locke that appears in “The Literati” but with some variations; an essay on Henry B. Hirst that appears in Griswold and Harrison; and four lines on Sara Anna Lewis that appear in the Democratic Review, in Griswold, and in Harrison; another essay on the same subject published in the Democratic Review and included in Harrison; portions of “The Rationale of Verse” published in the Southern Literary Messenger, and another portion of the same; part of a critique of Eugene Sue’s The Wandering Jew (quite condemnatory of action and motive) that appears never to have been published; an apparently unpublished passage on Laughton Osborn; some material on John Neal that became part of “Marginalia,” though with variations, another portion of “Marginalia”; part of “Fifty Suggestions”; a portion of an essay on Frances Sargent Osgood; essays on Henry Cary and James Lawson which have a number of substantive variations from Harrison, not to speak of variations in accidentals; an essay on Laughton Osborn [page 27:] that has been heavily revised and expanded, which differs considerably from Harrison; and another essay on the same subject that also differs widely from Harrison.

In the section of Poe letters, one from Poe to Thomas Wyatt, dated “Philadelphia, April 1, 1841,” does not appear in Ostrom but was published by Moldenhauer in American Literature in 1971; another from Poe to Robert Hamilton, dated “Philadelphia, Oct. 3, 1842,” is apparently published here for the first time (Hamilton was editor of Snowden’s Ladies Companion in New York, and Poe complains bitterly to him about “typographical blunders” noted in his “Landscape — Garden”); an envelope addressed by Poe to P. P. Cooke is apparently hitherto unpublished; a letter from Poe to Cotesworth P. Bronson, dated 1847, differs in numerous particulars from the one in Ostrom’s first supplement (some accompanying information furnished by Bronson’s daughter, M. E. Le Duc, is important in terms of Poe’s criticism and biography); included with Poe’s letter to Charles R. Bristed, dated “Fordham, June 7, 1848,” is one of Poe’s own visiting cards he had made after the death of his wife, Virginia; and, finally, there is an apparently unpublished letter from Poe to John R. Thompson, dated “New York, Jan. 31, 1849,” written to accompany eleven pages of “Marginalia.”

In the section on autograph documents, one is a memorandum of the agreement in which John Bisco sells Poe the Broadway Journal on October 24, 1845, for $50.00 cash, with the purchaser agreeing to assume the current debts of the Journal in a note payable in three months; another is Poe’s receipt to George P. Putnam acknowledging the payment of $14.00 for the manuscript of Poe’s Eureka, which Putnam published in book form.

In the section listing autograph matter in printed books, one sees that Poe owned copies of Fabulae Aesopi Selectae or Select Fables of Aesop, with English translation by H. Clarke (Baltimore, 1817); John Bunyan’s The Holy War Made by King Shaddai Upon Diabolus, a new edition with notes by the Rev. G. Burder (Pittsburgh/Philadelphia, 1831); and the Rev. Thomas Chalmer’s On the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, as Manifested in the Adaption of External Nature to the Moral and Intellectual Constitution of Man (Philadelphia, 1833), which contains annotations by Poe. Also in the collection are the Lorimer Graham Raven and Other Poems (New York, 1845), Poe’s personal copy with corrections and additions in his hand, as well as similarly annotated first editions of Eureka the Nelson-Mabbott copy; a facsimile of the Bishop Hurst-Stephen H. Wakeman copy; and a third copy with an autograph inscription thought to be in Poe’s handwriting, which includes on the front flyleaf a lyric by Schiller written in Poe’s German. Thus the material exists in the Texas Library for the construction of a definitive text of Eureka in large part, for the copy of this work in the Lilly Library has few corrections, and it is disputed whether these are by Poe or Sara Helen Whitman.

In sum, Professor Moldenhauer has produced a valuable piece of scholarship which has obviously been a work of love and which underlines once again his complete scholarly competence. Students of Poe are in his debt.

Richard P. Benton, Trinity College


Associated Article(s) and Related Material:

  • None


[S:0 - PS, 1976]