Text: Thomas Ollive Mabbott (E. A. Poe), “The Man that was Used Up,” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. II: Tales and Sketches (1978), pp. 376-392 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 376:]


This story was so highly regarded by Poe that he gave it a place of honor, second to “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” in both PHANTASY-PIECES and Prose Romances, but it has often baffled or repelled commentators. Quinn (Poe, p. 283), observing its place of eminence, says “there may be some profound meaning in this satire . . . but it escapes the present writer.” There is, however, an important thoughtful element in the tale. The author asks the ancient question, “What is Man?” — and considers the problem of identity. How much of a man still makes a man? The body may be diminished, the spirit is still whole. A relation of the story to the problem of the principium individuationis seems unmentioned by my predecessors, but Poe treated other aspects of the problem in “Morella” and “Ligeia.” A less fundamental subject of the satire is that greater perfection (in the sense of regularity) is to be found in works of art than in those of Nature, which we know at heart are really better.

The literary source for “The Man that was Used Up” was pointed out by Mr. George Wetzel of Baltimore. This is a striking description of two people whose apparent good looks are not the result of natural gifts, in a once extremely popular book, Asmodeus, or the Devil upon Two Sticks, by Alain-René Le Sage.* Of them we learn: “One is a superannuated coquette . . . leaving her hair, eyebrows and teeth on her toilet; the other is an amorous dotard of sixty, . . . he has already laid down his eye . . . and peruke . . . and waits for his man to take off his wooden arm and leg. That beautiful young creature . . . is eldest sister to the gallant . . . her breasts are artificial.” Once observed, the parallel of this to “The Man that was Used Up” is unmistakable. There is a plain kinship, too, to the less repulsive but equally false beauty of the heroine of “The Spectacles.” [page 377:]

The story was timely, for the newspapers were full of references to the troubles with Indians in Florida in 1839, in which the Kickapoo tribe was involved. Readers of historical sources will recall that prisoners were often mutilated by their captors, and some even survived scalping. There are also many allusions to the contemporary scene. The legal troubles of Captain Mann interested journalists in the City of Brotherly Love. So many of the artisans mentioned can now be identified that it seems probable that all were real people, although not all were Philadelphians.

It is not surprising that some readers have thought to find a political satire in “The Man that was Used Up.” The basis for this seems to be that the 1840 campaign song beginning “Van, Van’s a Used Up Man,” in ridicule of Martin Van Buren, is now well remembered by people unaware of how commonly the colloquial phrase “used up,” now applied chiefly to supplies, was applied to books, plays, authors, and actors receiving bad notices as well as to politicians in our author’s time. The policy of Burton’s Magazine was to avoid political controversy, and I do not believe Poe violated it on this or any other occasion. His General Smith neither holds nor seeks office.


(A) Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, August 1839 (5:66-70); (B) Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1840), I, 59-74; (C) PHANTASY-PIECES with manuscript revisions of last, 1842; (D) Prose Romances (1843), pp. 40-48; (E) Broadway Journal, August 9, 1845 (2:68-71); (F) Works (1856), IV, 315-325.

The version of Works (F) is chosen for the text here. In PHANTASY-PIECES Poe added the motto and changed a sentence and a number of words; in Prose Romances he deleted three paragraphs and made other verbal changes. More extensive verbal revisions were made for the Broadway Journal, and two words were [page 378:] improved for Works. All texts place quotation marks before the conversation pause at the end of sentences, a practice not followed here.


The New Mirror, September 9, 1848 (an unauthorized and bowdlerized reprint from Prose Romances that has been sought by collectors in lieu of the extremely rare pamphlet); the Spirit of the Times (Philadelphia), Sept. 12 and 13, 1845, from Prose Romances.



Pleurez, pleurez, mes yeux, et fondez-vous en eau!

La moitié de ma vie a mis l’ autre au tombeau.   CORNEILLE.   [[n]]   [[v]]

I cannot just now remember when or where I first made the acquaintance of that truly fine-looking fellow, Brevet Brigadier General John A. B. C. Smith.(1) Some one did introduce me to the gentleman, I am sure — at some public meeting, I know very well — held about something of great importance, no doubt — at{a} some place or other, I{b} feel convinced, — {cc}whose name{cc} I have unaccountably{d} forgotten. The truth is — that the introduction was attended, upon my part, with a degree of anxious{e} embarrassment which operated to prevent any definite impressions of either time or place. I am constitutionally nervous — this, with me, is a family failing, and I can’t help it. In especial, the slightest appearance of mystery — of any point I cannot exactly comprehend — puts me at once into a pitiable state of agitation.

There was something, as it were, remarkable — yes, remarkable, although this is but a feeble term to express my full meaning — about the entire individuality of the personage in question.{f} He was, perhaps, six feet in height, and of a presence singularly commanding. There was an air distingué pervading the whole man, which spoke of high breeding, and hinted at high birth. {gg}Upon [page 379:] this topic — the topic of Smith’s personal appearance — I have a kind of melancholy satisfaction in being minute.{gg} His head of hair would have done honor to a Brutus; — nothing could be more richly flowing, or possess a brighter gloss.(2) It was of a jetty black; — which was also the color, or more properly the no color, of his unimaginable whiskers. You perceive I cannot speak of these latter without enthusiasm; it is not too much to say that they were the handsomest pair of whiskers under the sun. At all events, they encircled, and at times partially overshadowed, a mouth utterly unequalled. Here were the most entirely even, and the most brilliantly white of all conceivable teeth. From between them, upon every proper occasion, issued a voice of surpassing clearness, melody, and strength. In the matter of eyes, {hh}also, my acquaintance was{hh} preeminently endowed. Either one of such a pair was worth a couple of the ordinary ocular organs. They were of a deep hazel, exceedingly large and lustrous; and there was perceptible about them, ever and anon, just that amount of interesting obliquity(3) which gives {ii}pregnancy to expression.{ii}

The bust of the General was unquestionably the finest bust I ever saw. For your life you could not have found a fault with its wonderful proportion. This rare peculiarity set off to great advantage a pair of shoulders which would have called up a blush of conscious inferiority into the countenance of the marble Apollo.(4) I have a passion for fine shoulders, and may say that I never beheld them in perfection before. The{j} arms altogether were admirably modelled.{k} Nor were the lower limbs less{l} superb. These were, indeed, the ne plus ultra of good legs. Every connoisseur in such matters admitted the legs to be good. There was neither too much flesh, nor too little, — neither rudeness nor fragility. I could not imagine a more graceful curve than that of the os femoris, and there was just that due gentle prominence in the rear of the fibula which goes to the conformation of a properly proportioned calf. I [page 380:] wish to God my young and talented friend Chiponchipino, the sculptor, had but seen the legs of Brevet Brigadier General John A. B. C. Smith.

But although men so absolutely fine-looking are neither as plenty as reasons(5) or blackberries, still I could not bring myself to believe that the remarkable something to which I alluded just now, — that the odd air of je ne sais quoi which hung about my new acquaintance, — lay altogether, or indeed at all, in the supreme excellence of his bodily endowments. Perhaps it might be traced to the manner; — yet here again I could not pretend to be positive. There was a primness, not to say stiffness, in his carriage — a degree of measured, and, if I may so express it, of rectangular precision, attending his every movement, which, observed in a more diminutive{m} figure, would have had the least little savor in the world, of affectation, pomposity or constraint, but which noticed in a gentleman of his undoubted dimensions,{n} was readily placed to the account of reserve, hauteur{o} — of a commendable sense, in short, of what is due to the dignity of colossal proportion.

The kind friend who presented me to General Smith whispered in my ear{p} some few words of comment upon the man. He was a remarkable man — a very remarkable man — indeed one of the most remarkable men of the age. He was an especial favorite, too, with the ladies — chiefly on account of his high reputation for courage.

“In that point he is unrivalled — indeed he is a perfect desperado — a downright fire-eater, and no mistake,” said my friend, here dropping his voice excessively low, and thrilling me with the mystery of his tone.

“A downright fire-eater, and no mistake. Showed that, I should say, to some purpose, in the late tremendous swamp-fight away down South, with the Bugaboo and Kickapoo Indians.” [Here my friend{q} opened his eyes to some extent.] “Bless my soul! — blood and thunder, and all that! — prodigies of valor! — heard of him of course? — you know he’s the man —” [page 381:]

“Man alive, how do you do? why how are ye? very glad to see ye, indeed!” here interrupted the General himself, seizing my companion by the hand as he drew near, and bowing stiffly but profoundly, as I was presented. I then thought, (and I think so still,) that I never heard a clearer nor a stronger voice nor{r} beheld a finer set of teeth: but I must say that I was sorry for the interruption {ss}just at that moment,{ss} as, owing to the whispers and insinuations aforesaid, my interest had been greatly excited in the hero of the Bugaboo and Kickapoo campaign.

However, the delightfully luminous conversation of Brevet Brigadier General John A. B. C. Smith soon completely dissipated this chagrin. My friend leaving us immediately, we had quite a long tête-à-tête,{t} and I was not only pleased but really — instructed. I never heard a more fluent talker, or a man of greater general information. With becoming modesty, he forebore, nevertheless, to touch upon the theme I had just then most at heart — I mean the mysterious circumstances attending the Bugaboo war — and, on my own part, what I conceive to be a proper sense of delicacy forbade me to broach the subject; although, in truth, I was exceedingly tempted to do so. I perceived, too, that the gallant soldier preferred topics of philosophical interest, and that he delighted, especially, in commenting upon the rapid march of mechanical invention. Indeed, lead him where I would, this was a point to which he invariably came back.

“There is nothing at all like it,” he would say; “we are a wonderful people, and live in a wonderful age. Parachutes and railroads — man-traps and spring-guns!(6) Our steam-boats are upon every sea, and the Nassau balloon packet(7) is about to run regular trips (fare either way only twenty pounds sterling) between London and Timbuctoo.(8) And who shall calculate the immense influence upon social life — upon arts — upon commerce — upon literature — which will be the immediate result of the{u} great principies of electro magnetics! Nor, is this all, let me assure you! There is really no end to the march of invention. The most wonderful — [page 382:] the most ingenious — and let me add, Mr. — Mr. — Thompson, I believe, is your name — let me add, I say, the most useful — the most truly useful mechanical contrivances, are daily springing up like mushrooms, if I may so express myself, or, more figuratively, like — ah{v} — grasshoppers — like grasshoppers, Mr. Thompson — about us {ww}and all — ah — ah{ww} — around us!”

Thompson, to be sure, is not my name; but it is needless to say that I left General Smith with a heightened interest in the man, with an exalted opinion of his conversational powers, and a deep sense of the valuable privileges we enjoy in living in this age of mechanical invention. My curiosity, however, had not been altogether satisfied, and I resolved to prosecute immediate inquiry among my acquaintances touching the Brevet Brigadier General himself, and particularly respecting the tremendous events{x} quorum pars magna fuit, (9) during the Bugaboo and Kickapoo campaign.

The first opportunity which presented itself, and which (horresco referens) (10) I did not in the least scruple to seize, occurred at the Church of the Reverend Doctor Drummummupp, where I found myself established, one Sunday, just at sermon time, not only in the pew, but by the side, of that worthy and communicative little friend of mine, Miss Tabitha T. Thus seated, I congratulated myself, and with much reason, upon the very flattering state of affairs. If any person knew anything about Brevet Brigadier General John A. B. C. Smith, that person, it was clear to me, was Miss Tabitha T. We telegraphed a few signals, and then commenced, sotto voce, a brisk tête-à-tête. (11)

“Smith!” said she, in reply to my very earnest inquiry; “Smith! — why, not General John A. B. C.? Bless me, I thought you knew all about him! This is a wonderfully inventive age! Horrid affair that! — a bloody set of wretches, those Kickapoos! — fought like a hero — prodigies of valor — immortal renown. Smith! — Brevet Brigadier General John A. B. C.! — why, you know he’s the man —”

“Man,” here broke in Doctor Drummummupp, at the top of [page 383:] his voice, and with a thump that came near knocking{y} the pulpit about our ears;(12) “man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live; he cometh up and is cut down like a flower!”(13) I started to the extremity of the pew, and perceived by the animated looks of the divine, that the wrath which had {zz}nearly proved{zz} fatal to the pulpit had been excited by the whispers of the lady and myself. There was no help for it; so I submitted with a good grace, and listened, in all the martyrdom of{a} dignified silence, to the balance of that very capital discourse.

Next evening found me a somewhat late visitor at the Rantipole theatre, where I felt sure of satisfying my curiosity at once, by merely stepping into the box of those exquisite specimens of affability and omniscience, the Misses Arabella{b} and Miranda Cognoscenti. That fine tragedian, Climax,{c} was doing Iago to a very crowded house, and I experienced some little difficulty in making my wishes understood; especially, as our box was next{d} the slips and completely overlooked the stage.

“Smith?” said Miss Arabella, as she at length comprehended the purport of my query; “Smith? — why, not General John A. B. C.?”

“Smith?” inquired Miranda, musingly. “God bless me, did you ever behold a finer figure?”

“Never, madam, but do tell me —”

“Or so inimitable grace?”

“Never, upon my word! — but pray inform me —”

“Or so just an appreciation of stage effect?”


“Or a more delicate sense of the true beauties of Shakespeare? Be so good as to look at that leg!”

“The devil!” and I turned again to her sister.

“Smith?” said she, “why, not General John A. B. C.? Horrid affair that, wasn’t it? — great wretches, those Bugaboos — savage and so on — but we live in a wonderfully inventive age! — Smith! [page 384:] — O yes! great man! — perfect desperado — immortal renown — prodigies of valor! Never heard!” [This was given in a scream. “Bless my soul! — why, he’s the man ——”

“ ———— mandragora

Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world

Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep

Which thou ow’dst{e} yesterday!”(14)

here roared out Climax just in my ear, and shaking his fist in my face all the time, in a way that I couldn’t stand, and I wouldn’t. I left the Misses Cognoscenti immediately, {ff}went behind the scenes forthwith, and gave the beggarly scoundrel such a thrashing as I trust he will remember to the day of his death.{ff}

At the soirée of the lovely widow, Mrs. Kathleen O’Trump,(15) I was{g} confident that I should meet with no similar disappointment. Accordingly, I was no sooner seated at the card-table, with my pretty hostess for a vis-à-vis,{h} than I propounded those questions {ii}the solution of which{ii} had become a matter so essential to my peace.

“Smith?” said my partner, “why, not General John A. B. C.? Horrid affair that, wasn’t it? — diamonds, did you say? — terrible wretches those Kickapoos! — we are playing whist, if you please, Mr. Tattle — however, this is the age of invention, most certainly the age, one may say — the age par excellence — speak French? oh, quite a hero — perfect desperado! — no hearts, Mr. Tattle? I don’t believe it! — immortal renown and all that — prodigies of valor! Never heard!! — why, bless me, he’s the man ——”

“Mann? — Captain Mann?”(16) here screamed some little feminine interloper from the farthest corner of the room. “Are you talking about Captain Mann and the duel? — oh, I must hear — do tell — go on, Mrs. O’Trump! — do now go on!” And go on Mrs. O’Trump did — all about a certain Captain Mann, who was either shot or hung, or should have been both shot and hung. Yes! Mrs. O’Trump, she went on, and I — I went off. There was no chance [page 385:] of hearing anything farther that evening in regard to Brevet Brigadier General John A. B. C. Smith.

Still I consoled myself with the reflection that the tide of ill luck would not run against me forever, and so determined to make a bold push for information at the rout of that bewitching little angel, the graceful Mrs. Pirouette.

“Smith?” said Mrs. P., as we twirled about together in a pas de zéphyr,{j} (17) “Smith? — why not General John A. B. C.? Dreadful business that of the Bugaboos, wasn’t it? — terrible creatures, those Indians! — do turn out your toes! I really am ashamed of you — man of great courage, poor fellow! — but this is a wonderful age for invention — O dear me, I’m out of breath — quite a desperado — prodigies of valor — never heard!! — can’t believe it — I shall have to sit down and enlighten{k} you — Smith! why, he’s the man ——”

“Man-Fred, I tell you!” here bawled out Miss Bas-Bleu,(18) as I led Mrs. Pirouette to a seat. “Did ever anybody hear the like? It’s Man-Fred, I say, and not at all by any means Man-Friday.” Here Miss Bas-Bleu beckoned to me in a very peremptory manner; and I was obliged, will I nill I, to leave Mrs. P. for the purpose of deciding a dispute touching the title of a certain poetical drama of Lord Byron’s.(19) Although I pronounced, with great promptness, that the true title was Man-Friday, and not by any means Man-Fred, yet when I returned to seek{l} Mrs. Pirouette she was not to be discovered, and I made my retreat from the house in a very bitter spirit of animosity against the whole race of the Bas-Bleus.

Matters had now assumed a really serious aspect, and I resolved to call at once upon my particular friend, Mr. Theodore Sinivate;(20) for I knew that here at least I should get something like definite information.

“Smith?” said he, in his well-known peculiar way of drawling out his syllables; “Smith? — why, not General John A. B. C.? Savage affair that with the Kickapo-o-o-os,{m} wasn’t it? Say! don’t you think so? — perfect despera-a-ado — great pity, ‘pon my honor! [page 386:] — wonderfully inventive age! — pro-o-odigies of valor! By the by, did you ever hear about Captain Ma-a-a-a-n?”{n}

“Captain ‘Mann be d——d!” said I, “please to go on with your story.”

“Hem! — oh well! — quite{o} la même cho-o-ose, as we say in France. Smith, eh? Brigadier General John A — B — C.? I say” — [here Mr. S. thought proper to put his finger to the side of his nose] — “I say, you don’t mean to insinuate now, really and truly, and conscientiously, that you don’t know all about that affair of Smith’s, as well as I do, eh? Smith? John A — B — C.? Why, bless me, he’s the ma-a-an ——”

“Mr. Sinivate,” said I, imploringly, “is he the man in the mask?” (21)

“No-o-o!” said he, looking wise, “nor the man in the mo-o-on.”{p}

This reply I considered a pointed and positive insult, and so{q} left the house at once in high dudgeon, with a firm resolve to call my friend, Mr. Sinivate, to a speedy account for his ungentlemanly conduct and ill-breeding.

In the meantime, however, I had no notion of being thwarted touching the information I desired. There was one resource left me yet. I would go to the fountain-head. I would call forthwith upon the General himself, and demand, in explicit terms, a solution of this abominable piece of mystery. Here, at least, there should be no chance for equivocation. I{r} would be plain, positive, peremptory — as short as pie-crust — as concise as Tacitus or Montesquieu.(22)

It was early when I called, and the General was dressing; but I pleaded urgent business, and was shown at once into his bed-room by an old negro valet, who remained in attendance during my visit. As I entered the chamber, I looked about, of course, for the occupant, but did not immediately perceive him. There was a large and exceedingly odd-looking bundle of something which lay close by my feet on the floor, and, as I was not in the best humor in the world, I gave it a kick out of the way. [page 387:]

“Hem! ahem! rather civil that, I should say!” said the bundle, in one of the smallest,{s} and altogether the funniest little voices, between a squeak and a whistle, that I ever{t} heard in all the days of my existence.

“Ahem! rather civil that, I should observe.”

I fairly shouted with terror, and made off, at a tangent, into the farthest extremity of the room.

“God bless me! my dear fellow,” here again whistled the bundle, “what — what — what — why, what is the matter? I really believe you don’t know me at all.”{u}

What could I say to all this — what could I? I staggered into an arm-chair, and, with staring eyes and open mouth, awaited the solution of the wonder.

“Strange you shouldn’t know me though, isn’t it?” presently re-squeaked the nondescript,{v} which I now perceived was performing,{w} upon the floor, some inexplicable evolution, very analogous{x} to the drawing on of a stocking. There was only a single leg, however, apparent.

“Strange you shouldn’t know me, though, isn’t it? Pompey,(23) bring me that leg!” Here Pompey handed the bundle, a very capital cork leg, already{y} dressed, which it screwed on in a trice; and then it stood up{z} before my eyes.{a}

“And a bloody action it was,” continued the thing, as if in a soliloquy; “but then one musn’t fight with the Bugaboos and Kickapoos, and think of coming off with a mere scratch. Pompey, I’ll [page 388:] thank you now for that arm. Thomas” [turning to me] “is decidedly the best hand at a cork leg;{b} but if you should ever want an arm, my dear fellow, you must really let me recommend you to Bishop.”(24) Here Pompey screwed on an arm.

“We had rather hot work of it, that you may say. Now, you dog, slip on my shoulders and bosom! Pettitt makes the best shoulders, but for a bosom you will have to go to Ducrow.”(25)

“Bosom!” said I.

“Pompey, will you never be ready with that wig? Scalping is a rough process after all; but then you can procure such a capital scratch at De L’Orme’s.”(26)


“Now, you nigger, my teeth! For a good set of these you had better go to Parmly’s at once;(27) high prices, but excellent work. I swallowed some very capital articles, though, when the big Bugaboo rammed me down with the butt end of his rifle.”

“Butt end! ram down!! my eye!!”

“O yes, by-the-by, my eye — here, Pompey, you scamp, screw it in! Those Kickapoos are not so very slow at a gouge; but he’s a belied man, that Dr. Williams,(28) after all; you can’t imagine how well I see with the eyes of his make.”

I now began very clearly to perceive that the object before me was nothing more nor{c} less than my new acquaintance, Brevet Brigadier General John A. B. C. Smith. The manipulations of Pompey had made, I must confess, a very striking difference in the appearance of the personal man. The voice, however, still puzzled me no little; but even this apparent mystery was speedily cleared up.

“Pompey, you black rascal,” squeaked the General, “I really do believe you would let me go out without my palate.”

Hereupon the negro, grumbling out an apology, went up to his master, opened his mouth with the knowing air of a horse-jockey, and adjusted therein a somewhat singular-looking machine, in a very dexterous manner, that I could not altogether comprehend, [page 389:] The alteration, however, in the entire,{d} expression of the {ee}General’s countenance{ee} was instantaneous and surprising. When he again spoke, his voice had resumed all{f} that rich melody and strength which I had noticed upon our original introduction.

“D——n the vagabonds!” said he, in so clear a tone that I positively started at the change, “D——n the vagabonds! they not only knocked in the roof of my mouth, but took the trouble to cut off at least seven-eighths of my tongue. There isn’t Bonfanti’s equal, however, in America, for really good articles of this description.(29) I can recommend you to him with confidence,” [here the General bowed,] and assure you that I have the greatest pleasure in so doing.”

I acknowledged his{g} kindness in my best manner, and{h} took leave of him{i} at once, with a perfect understanding of the true{j} state of affairs — with a full comprehension of the mystery which had troubled me so long. It was evident. It was a clear case. Brevet Brigadier General John A. B. C. Smith was the man — was the man that was used up.



[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 378:]

Motto:  Omitted (A, B); fondez uous (C, D, E, F)

a  and at (A, B, C, D)

b  of this I (A, B, C, D)

cc . . . cc  the name of which (D)

d  stupidly (D)

e  anxious and tremulous (A, B, C, D)

f  After this: What this something was, however, I found it impossible to say. (A, B, C, D)

gg . . . gg  Omitted (D)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 379:]

hh . . . hh  my acquaintance was, also, (A, B, C, D)

ii . . . ii  force to the pregnant observation of Francis Bacon — that “there is no exquisite beauty existing in the world without a certain degree of strangeness in the expression.” (A)

j  His (A, B, C, D)

k  modelled, and the fact of his wearing the right in a sling, gave a greater decision of beauty to the left. (A, B, C)

l  less marvellously (A, B, C, D)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 380:]

m  petite (A, B, C, D)

n  dimension, (A, B, C, D, E)

o  of hauteur (A); hauteur (B, C)

p  ear, at the instant, (A, B, C, D)

q  friend placed his forefinger to the side of his nose, and (A, B, C, D)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 381:]

r  or (D)

ss . . . ss  just at that moment, (A, B, C, D)

t  tête-a-tête, (F) accent added from A, B, C, D, E

u  the application of the (A, B, C, D)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 382:]

v  like — ah / like (A, B, C)

ww . . . ww  and — ah — ah (A, C, D); and — ah (B)

x  events in which he performed so conspicuous a part — (A, B, C, D)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 383:]

y  knocking down (A, B, C, D)

zz . . . zz  proved so nearly (A, B, C, D)

a  of a (A, B, C, D)

b  Arabelli (F) misprint, corrected from A, B, C, D, E

c  Climax, however, (A, B, C, D)

d  next to (A, B, C, D)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 384:]

e  owd’st (all texts) corrected from original

ff . . . ff  and went behind the scenes for the purpose of giving the scoundrel a sound thrashing. (A, B) changed in C except that C has make no doubt instead of trust

g  was very (A, B, C, D)

h  partner, (A, B, C, D)

ii . . . ii  whose solution (A, B, C)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 385:]

j  zephyr, (A, B, C, D, E, F)

k  tell (A, B) changed in C

l  seek for (A, B, C, D)

m  Kickapo-o-o-o-os, (A, B, C, D)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 386:]

n  Mann?” (A, B, C, D)

o  toute (A, B, C)

p  mo-o-o-on.” (A, B, C, D, E)

q  I (A, B, C, D)

r  Omitted (E) misprint

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 387:]

s  smallest, the weakest, (A, B, C)

t  I ever / ever I (A, B, C)

u  After this there are three paragraphs:

“No — no — no!” said I, getting as close to the wall as possible, and holding up both hands in the way of expostulation; “don’t know you — know you — know you — don’t know you at all! Where’s your master?” here I gave an impatient squint towards the negro, still keeping a tight eye upon the bundle.

“He! he! he! he-aw! he-aw! he-aw!” cachinnated that delectable specimen of the human family, with his mouth fairly extended from ear to ear, and with his forefinger held up close to his face, and levelled at the object of my apprehension, as if he was taking aim at it with a pistol.

“He! he! he! he-aw! he-aw! he-aw! — What, you want Mass Smif? Why, dar’s him!” (A, B, C) [in B, C one he-aw! is omitted in second paragraph]

v  bundle, (A, B, C, D)

w  per-performing, (F) misprint

x  analagous (E, F) misprint, corrected front A, B, C, D

y  all ready (A, B, C, D, E)

z  upright (A, B, C, D, E)

a  eyes. Devil the word could I say, (A, B, C, D)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 388:]

b  leg; he lives in Race street, No. 79 — stop, I’ll give you his card; (A, B, C, D)

c  or (A, B, C, D)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 389:]

d  whole (A, B, C)

ee . . . ee  countenance of the General (A, B, C, D)

f  the whole of (A, B, C, D)

g  this (A, B, C)

h  and now (A, B, C, D)

i  my friend (A, B, C)

j  Omitted (A, B, C, D)


[page 389, continued:]


Subtitle:  The Kickapoo Indians were engaged in the Florida Indian Wars at the time; Poe gave them as allies the Bugaboos here and in an article in Alexander’s Weekly Messenger, March 18, 1840, called “The Railroad War.”

Motto:  This is from Corneille’s tragedy Le Cid, III, iii, 7-8, and appears also in “Pinakidia,” number 20 (SLM, August 1836, p. 575) with the translation: “Weep, weep, my eyes! It is no time to laugh / For half myself has buried the other half.”

1.  The General’s name is an amalgam of commonplace elements, as Betsy Gavin pointed out to me. Compare the names of Joe Miller in “Autography.”

2.  Although the Roman celebrated for beautiful hair was Cincinnatus (as is mentioned by Suetonius, “Gaius [Caligula],” chapter xxxv), there may have been some tradition of playing Shakespeare’s Brutus with long hair.

3.  Descartes revealed that, because the first little girl that charmed him squinted, he connected obliquity of vision with beauty. See P. P. Cooke’s “Leaves [page 390:] from my Scrapbook” (SLM, April 1836 and Descartes’ Œuvres, X, 53. For other uses of the quotation from Bacon in the canceled passage, see “Ligeia,” n. 4.

4.  The Apollo par excellence is the Belvidere Apollo.

5.  Reasons, pronounced “raisins,’ is punned upon in Shakespeare’s first part of Henry IV, II, iv, 265. The phrase is also used in “Revivals,” in Alexander’s Weekly Messenger, March 4, 1840.

6.  Man traps and spring guns were devices to discourage intruders on private property, especially in England.

7.  See the pamphlet by Monck Mason, Account of the late Aeronautical Expedition from London to Weilburg, Accompanied by Robert Hollond Esq., Monck Mason, Esq. and Charles Green, Aeronaut (London, 1836; New York, 1837). Poe drew on this account for “The Balloon Hoax,” which first appeared in The Extra Sun, April 13, 1844. In that tale he refers to “Mr. Monck Mason (whose voyage from Dover to Weilburg in the balloon, ‘Nassau,’ occasioned so much excitement in 1837).”

8.  Timbuctoo, a city of Central Africa (now Tombouctou, Mali), was in Poe’s time a type of the most utterly remote place that might be visited by a civilized man.

9.  The Latin quotation from the Æneid, II, 6, means “Of which things he was a great part.”

10.  The quotation means, “I shudder recalling it,” from the Æneid, II, 204, and is used again in “The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion.”

11.  Tabitha is a feline name and the young lady is catty. Before Morse’s successful demonstration in 1844, “telegraph” usually meant a device for visible signaling.

12.  Compare Samuel Butler’s Hudibras, I, i, 11-12, “And pulpit, drum ecclesiastic, / Was beat with fist, instead of a stick.”

13.  Job 14:1-2.

14.  Othello, III, iii, 330-333.

15.  Mrs. O’Trump is a card-player.

16.  Captain Daniel Mann was involved in the five-week trial of Dr. Thomas W. Dyott, who was convicted of fraud. See the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 15 - June 3, 1839 passim; and Cornelia Varner, “Notes on Poe’s Use of Contemporary Materials,” Journal of English and Germanic Philology, January 1933.

17.  A pas de zéphyr — a ballet step — is mentioned also in “Loss of Breath,” “The Devil in the Belfry,” and “The Angel of the Odd.”

18.  Bas-bleu, bluestocking, is also the name of a lady in “Lionizing.”

19.  Man-Fred is a burlesque by Gilbert A’Beckett on Byron’s play. It concerns a heroic sweep, in blackface, seeking the heights by climbing chimneys. It was first produced about 1834.

20.  What Poe has in mind seems to be a Cockney pronunciation — compare [page 391:] that of Sam Weller in Dickens’ Pickwick Papers — of “insinuate.” In William E. Burton’s article, “Some Account of George Cruikshank,” in Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, January 1840, the author imagines a bold-faced villain in a London jail remarking, “Vot the ’ell does this ’ere old covey mean by his sinnervations?” Hope for definite direct information from Mr. Sinivate was slight.

21.  The Man in the (Iron) Mask is mentioned also in “Lionizing,” where see the notes.

22.  Poe probably got this comparison from Hugh Blair’s Lectures on Rhetoric (1783), lecture xviii: “The two most remarkable examples that I know, of conciseness carried as far as propriety will allow . . . are Tacitus the [Roman] historian, and the President Montesquieu in L’Esprit des Loix.” Allusions to one or both of the same examples of conciseness occur in Poe’s preface to “Marginalia,” in his review of the Memoirs of Lucien Bonaparte (SLM, October 1836), and in a canceled passage of “Three Sundays in a Week.”

23.  Pompey is the name of a Negro servant in “How to Write a Blackwood Article.”

24.  Most of the tradesmen mentioned here and below apparently were real people. John F. Thomas, a maker of artificial limbs, 79 Race Street, advertised in the Philadelphia Public Ledger from April 17, 1839. He stated he had worn an artificial leg for thirty-five years. In the early versions of his tale Poe gave the address. Possible Bishops are Joaquiam Bishop, 213 Cherry St., a maker of chemical instruments; U. C. Bishop, 119 West High St., a furniture dealer; and Gotlieb Bishop, 11 Sassafras Alley, a tailor. Mr. R. N. Williams, Director of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, found these people in the Directory. I join him in the wish that Gotlieb, whose address is so appealing, was the right man to make an arm.

25.  Nicholas Pettitt, 119 North Second Street, was a tailor named in the Philadelphia directory of 1837. Ducrow is not surely identified, but Andrew Ducrow, the great London equestrian performer, was a man of the most noble form, and certainly had a fine bosom.

26.  De l’Orme is the title of a novel (1830) by G. P. R. James, mentioned in the heading of Poe’s review of James’s Memoirs of Celebrated Women (Burton’s, July 1839). Poe used a variation of the name in “Bridal Ballad” in 1841 (Mabbott, I, 309). No wigmaker named De l’Orme has been identified in Philadelphia, New York, or Baltimore.

27.  Many American dentists, some in Philadelphia, bore the name Parmly. In 1923 Lawrence Parmly published a book about them, The Greatest Dental Family.

28.  Note the use of “gouge” here; see “The Gold-Bug” at note 20. The General says Dr. John Williams is “belied,” because he had a bad reputation as a quack. He is referred to also in Poe’s “Enigmatical and Conundrum-ical” in Alexander’s Weekly Messenger, December 18, 1839. He is described in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier, December 21, 1839, as a humbug, who called himself “Oculist to his Majesty” (William IV of England) when he came to America [page 392:] about 1837. One of his patients sued him because he went to him seeing out of one eye, but under his care became totally blind. Says the Philadelphia Public Ledger of December 14, 1839:

Dr. Williams the Oculist, has been cast in a suit brought by one of his patients to recover $75, the amount paid for an anticipated cure of his eyes. The jury, notwithstanding all of the doctor’s patients, blind and nearly blind, testified to his miraculous cures, brought in a verdict against him for $75 and costs.

29.  Joseph Bonfanti sold talking dolls in New York. He published rhyming advertisements, which were widely copied by newspapers throughout the country, as “Selected Poetry.” The following is from a reprint in the Saturday Herald of Baltimore, January 1, 1825, or “O’Teague’s Description of Jos. Bonfanti’s Fancy Store, 279 Broadway,” Tune — “Sprig of Shilaleh”:

For jewels and trinkets Bonfanti’s the man,

He sells all that’s pretty,

he sells all that he can,

At his elegant new fancy store in Broadway . . .

St. Patrick defend us from wizzards and snakes,

The deuce of a doll has he got but what spakes.



[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 376:]

*  The French original, Le Diable Boiteux, first appeared in 1707, and was greatly revised in 1727. The characters are described in the third chapter. I use the English version in a London edition of 1881. Never as popular as his Gil Blas, Le Sage’s book is now not often read. See London N & Q, January 1953.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 377:]

  In a letter of 1836, Poe said he had had occasion to “use up” W. L. Stone’s Ups and Downs in a review, and in a letter of 1849 he commented: “Lowell is a ranting abolitionist and deserves a good using up” (John Ward Ostrom, The Letters of Edgar Allan Poe, 1948, pp. 101, 427-428). Phillips (Poe the Man, 1926, I, 580) described Poe’s story as “on the order of a political farce.” William Whipple did more in University of Texas Studies 35:91 (1956), for he thought Poe’s satire aimed at Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky, an Indian fighter, senator and congressman, and Van Buren’s vice-president, 1837-1841. No reference to any commentator seeing any political significance in Poe’s tale prior to 1926 has been found.




In regard to note 2, an examination of several mid-19th century illustrated editions of Shakespeare, with elaborate engravings featuring famous actors of the period in the various roles, does not support the idea that there was a tradition in which Brutus was played with long hair. Instead, most images show Brutus, and indeed all of his fellow Romans, as being played with fairly short hair. Surviving historical busts, and coins with bas relief images, consistently show celebrated Romans with short hair. In the case of Brutus, it may have been a theatrical tradition that his hair was extremely curly, as it appears to have been in several engravings.


[S:1 - TOM2T, 1978] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (T. O. Mabbott) (The Man that was Used Up)