Text: Thomas Ollive Mabbott (E. A. Poe), “Raising the Wind (Diddling),” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. III: Tales and Sketches (1978), pp. 867-882 (This material is protected by copyright)


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[page 867, continued:]

RAISING THE WIND (DIDDLING)

The close resemblance of this series of anecdotes to those of “The Business Man” will be noticed at once. But in “Diddling” the tricks are all in the realm of the possible.* Indeed most of them had already been played. Hence Poe was not really repeating himself. Some of his sources in contemporary papers have been found; the others are pretty surely in periodicals that have not been examined.

Responding characteristically to popular interest, Poe seems to have put the pieces together in a hurry for immediate sale. It was published in the Saturday Courier, October 14, 1843. Its theme, and in its first version its primary title, came from James [page 868:] Kenney’s durable farce, Raising the Wind, which deals with the efforts of one Jeremy Diddler to live by means of petty swindles. First produced in London on November 5, 1803, it became extremely popular. There was a New York edition in 1804, Poe’s father appeared in it at least three times (Quinn, Poe, pp. 710-712), and it was played repeatedly in both England and America for decades.

Poe’s story enjoyed surprising popularity. There was a pirated reprint in Lloyd’s Entertaining Journal (London) for Saturday, January 4, 1845, which, however, carried Poe’s name as author. Twenty-three years later a small book, The Diddler, By A. E. Senter (New York: Doolady, 1868), reproduced nearly all of Poe’s material.§

In the 1940’s there was also offered, in advertisements in magazines lacking respectability, a separate pamphlet of Poe’s story for two dollars. This was itself a diddle.*

TEXTS

(A) Philadelphia Saturday Courier, October 14, 1843; (B) Broadway Journal, September 13, 1845 (2:145-148); (C) Works (1856), IV, 267-277.

The version of the Broadway Journal (B) is used. Griswold’s version (C) shows no auctorial change and introduces a new misprint. The earliest text (A) was facsimiled by John Grier Varner, Edgar Allan Poe and the Philadelphia Saturday Courier (1933), pp. 67-85.

Reprint

Lloyd’s Entertaining Journal (London), January 4, 1845, as “Raising the Wind; or, Diddling Considered as One of the Exact Sciences,” from the Saturday Courier. [page 869:]

DIDDLING CONSIDERED AS ONE OF THE EXACT SCIENCES.   [B]  [[v]]

Hey, diddle diddle,

The cat and the fiddle.  [[v]]

Since the world began there have been two Jeremys. The one wrote a Jeremiad about usury, and was called Jeremy Bentham. He has been much admired by Mr. John Neal,(1) and was a great man in a small way. The other gave name to the most important of the Exact Sciences,(2) and was{a} a great man in a great way — I may say, indeed, in the very greatest of ways.

Diddling — or the abstract idea conveyed by the verb to diddle — is sufficiently well understood.(3) Yet the fact, the deed, the thing diddling, is somewhat difficult to define. We may get, however, at a tolerably distinct conception of the matter in hand, by defining — not the thing, diddling, in itself — but man, as an animal that diddles. Had Plato but hit upon this, he would have been spared the affront of the picked chicken.

Very pertinently it was demanded of Plato, why a picked chicken, which was clearly a “biped without feathers,”(4) was not, according to his own definition, a man? But I am not to be bothered by any similar query. Man is an animal that diddles, and there is no animal that diddles but man. It will take an entire hencoop of picked chickens{b} to get over that.

What constitutes the essence, the nare,{c} (5) the principle of diddling is, in fact, peculiar to the class of creatures that wear coats and pantaloons. A crow thieves;{d} a fox cheats; a weasel outwits; a man diddles. To diddle is his destiny. “Man was made to mourn,” says the poet.(6) But not so: — he was made to diddle. This is his aim — his object — his end. And for this reason when a man’s diddled we say{e} he’s “done.”

Diddling, rightly considered, is a compound, of which the ingredients [page 870:] are minuteness, interest, perseverance, ingenuity, audacity, nonchalance, originality, impertinence, and grin.

Minuteness: — Your diddler is minute. His operations are upon a small scale. His business is retail, for cash, or approved paper at sight. Should he ever be tempted into magnificent speculation, he then, at once, loses his distinctive features, and becomes what we term “financier.” This latter word conveys the diddling idea in every respect except that of magnitude. A diddler may thus be regarded as a banker in petto — a “financial operation,” as a diddle at Brobdingnag.{f} (7) The one is to the other, as {gg}Homer to “Flaccus”(8) — as a Mastodon to a mouse — as the tail of a comet to that of a pig.{gg} (9)

Interest: — Your diddler is guided by self-interest. He scorns to diddle for the mere sake of the diddle. He has an object in view — his pocket — and yours. He regards always the main chance. He looks to Number One. You are Number Two, and must look to yourself.

Perseverance: — Your diddler perseveres. He is not readily discouraged. Should even the banks break, he cares nothing about it. He steadily pursues his end, and

Ut canis{h} a corio nunquam absterrebitur uncto,(10)

so he never lets go of his game.

Ingenuity: — Your diddler is ingenious. He has constructiveness large. He understands plot. He invents and circumvents. Were he not Alexander he would be Diogenes.(11) Were he not a diddler.{i} he would be a maker of patent rat-traps or an angler for trout.

Audacity: — Your diddler is audacious. — He is a bold man. He carries the war into Africa. He conquers all by assault. He would not fear the daggers of the Frey Herren.{j} With a little more prudence Dick Turpin would have made a good diddler; with a trifle less blarney, Daniel O’Connell; with a pound or two more brains, Charles the Twelfth.(12)

Nonchalance: — Your diddler is nonchalant. He is not at all [page 871:] nervous. He never had any nerves. He is never seduced into a flurry. He is never put out — unless put out of doors. He is cool — cool as a cucumber. He is calm — “calm as a smile from Lady Bury.” He is easy — easy as an old glove, or the damsels of ancient Baiæ.(13)

Originality: — Your diddler is original — conscientiously so. His thoughts are his own. He would scorn to employ those of another. A stale trick is his aversion. He would return a purse, I am sure, upon discovering that he had obtained it by an unoriginal diddle.

Impertinence: — Your diddler is impertinent. He swaggers. He sets his arms a-kimbo. He thrusts his hands in his trowsers’ pockets. He sneers in your face. He treads on your corns. He eats your dinner,{k} he drinks{l} your wine, he borrows your money, he pulls your nose, he kicks your poodle, and he kisses your wife.(14)

Grin: — Your true diddler winds up all with a grin. But this nobody sees but himself. He grins when his daily work is done — when{m} his allotted labors are accomplished — at night in his own closet, and altogether for his own private entertainment. He goes home. He locks his door. He divests himself of his clothes. He puts out his candle. He gets into bed. He places his head upon the pillow. All this done, and your diddler grins. This is no hypothesis. It is a matter of course. I reason à priori, and a diddle would be no diddle without a grin.

The origin of the diddle is referrible to the infancy of the Human Race. Perhaps the first diddler was Adam. At all events, we can trace the science back to a very remote period of antiquity. The moderns, however, have brought it to a{n} perfection never dreamed of by our thick-headed progenitors. Without pausing to speak of the “old saws,” therefore, I shall content myself with a compendious account of some of the more “modern instances.”(15)

A very good diddle is this. A housekeeper in want of a sofa, for instance, is seen to go in and out of several cabinet warehouses. At length she arrives at one offering an excellent variety. She is accosted, and invited to enter, by a polite and voluble individual at the door. She finds a sofa well adapted to her views, and, upon [page 872:] inquiring the price, is surprised and delighted to hear a sum named at least twenty per cent. lower than her expectations. She hastens to make the purchase, gets a bill and receipt, leaves her address, with a request that the article be sent home as speedily as possible, and retires amid a profusion of bows from the shopkeeper. The night arrives and no sofa. The next day passes, and still none. A servant is sent to make inquiry about the delay. The whole transaction is denied. No sofa has been sold — no money received — except by the diddler who played shop-keeper for the nonce.

Our cabinet warehouses are left entirely unattended, and thus afford every facility for a trick of this kind. Visiters enter, look at furniture, and depart unheeded and unseen. Should any one wish to purchase, or to inquire the price of an article, a bell is at hand, and this is considered amply sufficient.

Again, quite a respectable diddle is this. A well-dressed individual enters a shop; makes a purchase to the value of a dollar; finds, much to his vexation, that he has left his pocket-book in another coat pocket: and so says to the shop-keeper —

“My dear sir, never mind! — just oblige me, will you, by sending the bundle{o} home? But stay! I really believe that I have nothing less than a five dollar bill, even there. However, you can send four dollars in change with the bundle, you know.”

“Very good, sir,” replies the shop-keeper, who entertains, at once, a lofty opinion of the high-mindedness of his customer. “I know fellows,” he says to himself, “who would just have put the goods under their arm, and walked off with a promise to call and pay the dollar as they came by in the afternoon.”

A boy is sent with the parcel and change. On the route, quite accidentally, he is met by the purchaser, who exclaims:

“Ah! this is my bundle, I see — I thought you had been home with it, long ago. Well, go on! My wife, Mrs. Trotter, will give you the five dollars — I left instructions with her to that effect. The change you might as well give to me — I shall want some silver for the Post Office, Very good! One, two, — is this a good quarter? [page 873:] — three, four — quite right! Say to Mrs. Trotter that you met me, and be sure now and do not loiter on the way.”

The boy doesn’t{p} loiter at all — but he is a very long time in getting back from his errand — for no lady of the precise name of Mrs. Trotter is to be discovered. He consoles himself, however, that he has not been such a fool as to leave the goods without the money, and re-entering his shop with a self-satisfied{q} air, feels sensibly hurt and indignant when his master asks him what has become of the change.

A very simple diddle, indeed, is this. The captain of a ship which is about to sail, is presented by an official looking person,{r} with an unusually moderate bill of city charges. Glad to get off so easily, and confused by a hundred duties pressing upon him all at once, he discharges the claim forthwith. In about fifteen minutes, another and less reasonable bill is handed him by one who soon makes it evident that the first collector was a diddler, and the original collection a diddle.

And here, too, is a somewhat similar thing. A steamboat is casting loose from the wharf. A traveller, portmanteau in hand, is discovered running towards the wharf at full speed. Suddenly, he makes a dead halt, stoops, and picks up something from the ground in a very agitated manner. It is a pocket book, and — “Has any gentleman lost a pocket book?” he cries. No one can say that he has exactly lost a pocket-book; but a great excitement ensues, when the treasure trove is found to be of value. The boat however, must not be detained.

“Time and tide wait for no man,” says the captain.(16)

“For God’s sake, stay only a few minutes,” says the finder of the book — “the true claimant will presently appear.”

“Can’t wait!” replies the man in authority; “cast off there, d’ye hear?”

“What am I to do?” asks the finder, in great tribulation, “I am about to leave the country for some years, and I cannot conscientiously retain this large amount in my possession. I beg your pardon, sir,” [here he addresses a gentleman on shore,] “but you have [page 874:] the air of an honest man. Will you confer upon me the{s} favor of taking charge of this pocket-book — I know I can trust you — and of advertising it? The notes,{t} you see, amount{u} to a very considerable sum. The owner will, no doubt, insist upon rewarding you for your trouble —”

Me! — no, you! — it was you who found the book.”

“Well, if you must have it so — I will take a small reward — just to satisfy your scruples. Let me see — why these,{v} notes are all hundreds — bless my soul! a hundred is too much to take — fifty would be quite enough, I am sure —”

“Cast off there!” says the captain.

“But then I have no change for a hundred, and upon the whole, you had better” —

“Cast off there!” says the captain.

“Never mind!” cries the gentleman{w} on shore, who has been examining his own pocket-book for the last minute or so — “never mind! I can fix it — here is a fifty on the Bank of North America — throw me the book.”(17)

And the over-conscientious finder takes the fifty with marked reluctance, and throws the gentleman the book, as desired, while the steamboat fumes and fizzes on her way. In about{x} half an hour after her departure, the “large amount” is seen to be “a counterfeit presentment,” and the whole thing a capital diddle.(18)

A bold diddle is this. A camp-meeting, or something similar, is to be held at a certain spot which is accessible only by means of a free bridge. A diddler stations himself upon this bridge, respectfully informs all passers by of the new county law, which establishes a toll of one cent for foot passengers, two for horses and donkeys, and so forth, and so forth. Some grumble but all submit, and the diddler goes home a wealthier man by some fifty or sixty dollars well earned. This taking a toll from a great crowd of people is an excessively troublesome thing.(19)

A neat diddle is this. A friend holds one of the diddler’s promises to pay, filled up and signed in due form, upon the ordinary [page 875:] blanks printed in red ink. The diddler purchases one or two dozen of these blanks, and every day{y} dips one of them in his soup, makes his dog jump for it, and finally gives it to him as a bonne bouche. The note arriving at maturity, the diddler, with the diddler’s dog, calls upon the friend, and the promise to pay is made the topic{z} of discussion. The friend produces it from his escritoire, and is in the act of reaching it to the diddler, when up jumps the diddler’s dog and devours it forthwith. The diddler is not only surprised but vexed and incensed at the absurd behavior of his dog, and expresses his entire readiness to cancel the obligation at any moment when the evidence of the obligation shall be forthcoming.

A very minute diddle is this. A lady is insulted in the street by a diddler’s accomplice. The diddler himself flies to her assistance, and, giving his friend a comfortable thrashing, insists upon attending the lady to her own door. He bows, with his hand upon his heart, and most respectfully bids{a} her adieu. She entreats him, as her deliverer, to walk in and be introduced to her big brother and her papa. With a sigh, he declines to do so. “Is there no way, then, sir,” she murmurs, “in which I may be permitted to testify my gratitude?”

“Why, yes, madam, there is. Will you be kind enough to lend me a couple of shillings?’(20)

In the first excitement of the moment the lady decides upon fainting outright. Upon second thought, however, she opens her purse-strings and delivers the specie. Now this, I say, is a diddle minute — for one entire moiety of the sum borrowed has to be paid to the gentleman who had the trouble of performing the insult, and who had then to stand still and be thrashed for performing it.

Rather a small, but still a scientific diddle is this. The diddler approaches the bar of a tavern, and demands a couple of twists of tobacco. These are handed to him, when, having slightly examined them, he says:

“I don’t much like this tobacco. Here, take it back, and give me [page 876:] a glass of brandy and water in its place.”

The brandy and water is furnished and imbibed, and the diddler makes his way to the door. But the voice of the tavern-keeper arrests him.

“I believe, sir, you have forgotten to pay for your brandy and water.”

“Pay for my brandy and water! — didn’t I give you the tobacco for the brandy and water? What more would you have?”

“But, sir, if you please, I don’t remember that you paid for the tobacco.”

“What do you mean by that, you scoundrel? — Didn’t I give you back your tobacco? Isn’t that your tobacco lying there? Do you expect me to pay for what I did not take?”

“But, sir,” says the publican, now rather at a loss what to say, “but, sir —”

“But me no buts, sir,” interrupts the diddler, apparently in very high dudgeon, and slamming the door after him, as he makes his escape. — “But me no buts, sir, and none of your tricks upon travellers.”(21)

Here again is a very clever diddle, of which the simplicity is not its least recommendation. A purse, or pocket-book, being really lost, the loser inserts in one of the daily papers of a large city a fully descriptive advertisement.

Whereupon our diddler copies the facts of this advertisement, with a change of heading, of general phraseology, and address. The original, for instance, is long, and verbose, is headed with Book Lost!” and requires the treasure, when found, to be left at No. 1 Tom{b} street. The copy is brief, and being headed with “Lost” only, indicates No. 2 Dick,{c} or No. 3 Harry street, as the locality at which the owner may be seen. Moreover, it is inserted in at least five or six of the daily{d} papers of the day, while in point of time, it makes its{e} appearance only a few hours after the original. Should it be read by the loser of the purse, he would hardly suspect it to have any reference to his own misfortune. But, of course, the chances are five or six to one, that the finder will [page 877:] repair to the address given by the diddler, rather than to that pointed out by the rightful proprietor. The former pays the reward, pockets the treasure and decamps.

Quite an analogous diddle is this. A lady of ton has dropped, somewhere in the street, a diamond ring of very unusual value. For its recovery, she offers some forty or fifty dollars reward — giving, of her advertisement, a very minute description of the gem, and of its settings, and declaring that, upon its restoration to No. so and so, in such and such Avenue, the reward will be paid instanter, without a single question being asked. During the lady’s absence from home, a day or two afterwards, a ring is heard at the door of No. so and so, in such and such Avenue; a servant appears; the lady of the house is asked for and is declared to be out, at which astounding information, the visitor expresses the most poignant regret. His business is of importance and concerns the lady herself. In fact, he had the good fortune to find her diamond ring. But, perhaps it would be as well that he should call again. “By no means!” says the servant; and “By no means!” says the lady’s sister and the lady’s sister-in-law, who are summoned forthwith. The ring is clamorously identified, the reward is paid, and the finder{f} nearly thrust out of doors. The lady returns, and expresses some little dissatisfaction with her sister and sister-in-law, because they happen to have paid forty or fifty dollars for a fac-simile of her diamond ring — a fac-simile made out of real pinchbeck and unquestionable{g} paste.

But as there is really no end to diddling. so there would he none to this essay, were I even to hint at half the variations, or inflections, of which this science is susceptible. I must bring this paper, perforce, to a conclusion, and this I cannot do better than by a summary notice of a very decent, but rather elaborate diddle, of which our own city was made the theatre, not very long ago, and which was subsequently repeated with success, in other still more verdant localities of the Union. A middle-aged gentleman arrives in town from parts unknown. He is remarkably precise, cautious, staid, and deliberate in his demeanor. His dress is scrupulously neat, but plain, unostentatious. He wears a white cravat, [page 878:] an ample waistcoat, made with an eye to comfort alone; thick-soled cosy-looking shoes, and pantaloons without straps. He has the whole air, in fact, of your well-to-do, sober-sided, exact, and respectable “man of business,” par excellence — one of the stern and outwardly hard, internally soft, sort of people that we see in the crack high comedies — fellows whose words are so many bonds, and who are noted for giving away guineas, in charity, with the one hand, while, in the way of mere bargain, they exact the uttermost fraction of a farthing, with the other.

He makes much ado before he can get suited with a boarding house. He dislikes children. He has been accustomed to quiet. His habits are methodical — and then he would prefer getting into a private and respectable small family, piously inclined. Terms, however, are no object — only he must{h} insist upon settling his bill on the first of every month, (it is now the second) and begs his landlady, when he finally obtains one to his mind, not on any account, to forget his instructions upon this point — but to send in a bill, and receipt, precisely at ten o’clock, on the first day of every month, and under no circumstances to put it off to the second.

These arrangements made, our man of business rents an office in a reputable rather than in a fashionable quarter of the town. There is nothing he more despises than pretence. “Where there is much show,” he says, “there is seldom anything very solid behind” — an observation which so profoundly impresses his landlady’s fancy, that she makes a pencil memorandum of it forthwith, in her great family Bible, on the broad margin of the Proverbs of Solomon.

The next step is to advertise, after some such fashion as this, in the principal business sixpennies of this{i} city — the pennies are eschewed as not “respectable” — and as demanding payment for all advertisements in advance.(23) Our man of business holds it as a point of his faith that work should never be paid for until done.

WANTED. — The advertisers, being about to commence extensive business operations in this city, will require the services of [page 879:] three or four intelligent and competent clerks, to whom a liberal salary will be paid. The very best recommendations, not so much for capacity, as for integrity, will be expected. Indeed, as the duties to be performed, involve high responsibilities, and large amounts of money must necessarily pass through the hands of those engaged, it is deemed advisable to demand a deposit of fifty dollars from each clerk employed. No person need apply, therefore, who is not prepared to leave this sum in the possession of the advertisers, and who cannot furnish the most satisfactory testimonials of morality. Young gentlemen piously inclined will be preferred. Application should be made between the hours of ten{j} and eleven,{k} A. M., and four{l} and five,{m} P. M., of Messrs.

BOGGS,{n} HOGS,{o} LOGS, FROGS, & CO.
No. 110 Dog Street.(23)

By the thirty-first day of the month, this advertisement has brought to the office of Messrs. Boggs,{p} Hogs,{q} Logs, Frogs and Company, some fifteen or twenty young gentlemen piously inclined. But our man of business is in no hurry to conclude a contract with any — no man of business is ever precipitate — and it is not until the most rigid catechism in respect to the piety of each young gentleman’s inclination, that his services are engaged and his fifty dollars receipted for, just by way of proper precaution, on the part of the respectable firm of Boggs,{r} Hogs,{s} Logs, Frogs, and Company. On the morning of the first day of the next month, the landlady does not present her bill according to promise — a piece of neglect for which the comfortable head of the house endings in ogs, would no doubt have chided her severely, could he have been prevailed upon to remain in town a day or two for that purpose.

As it is, the constables have had{t} a sad time of it, running [page 880:] hither and thither, and all they can do is to declare the man of business most emphatically, a “hen knee high” — by which some persons imagine them to imply that, in fact, he is n. e. i. — by which again the very classical phrase non est inventus, is supposed to be understood.(24) In the meantime the young gentlemen, one and all, are somewhat less piously inclined than before, while the landlady purchases a shilling’s worth of the best Indian rubber, and very carefully obliterates the pencil memorandum that some fool has made in her great family Bible, on the broad margin of the Proverbs of Solomon.

 


VARIANTS

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 869:]

Title  Raising the Wind; or, Diddling Considered as One of the Exact Sciences. (A)

Motto  Ascribed in A From an Epic by “Flaccus.”

a  was entitled Jeremy Diddler. He was (A)

b  chickeus (A) misprint

c  ware, (A) misprint

d  theives; (B) misprint

e  say that (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 870:]

f  Brobdignag. (A, B, C)

gg . . . gg  a Mastodon to a mouse — as a tail of a comet to that of a pig — as Homer to Flaccus — as the “Iliad” to “Sam Patch.” (A)

h  camis (A) misprint

i  a diddler, / what he is, (A)

j  Harren. (A) misprint

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 871:]

k  dinners, (A)

l  dinks (C) misprint

m  wken (B) misprint

n  a point of (A)

[The following variant appears at the bottom of page 872:]

o  parcel (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 873:]

p  does’nt (A); does n’t (B); does’t (C)

q  self satisfied (B) hyphen added as in A and C

r  personage, (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 874:]

s  the great (A)

t  note, (A)

u  amounts (A)

v  them (A)

w  gentlemen (C) misprint

x  about an (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 875:]

y  day, at dinner, (A)

z  subject (A)

a  bidding (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 876:]

b  Dick (A)

c  Tom, (A)

d  Omitted (A)

e  it (B) misprint

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 877:]

f  finder very (A)

g  Omitted (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 878:]

h  must (C)

i  the (A)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 879:]

j  10 (A)

k  11 (A)

l  4 (A)

m  5 (A)

n  Bogs, (C)

o  Hoggs, (A)

p  Bogs, (C)

q  Hoggs, (A)

r  Bogs, (C)

s  Hoggs, (A)

t  Omitted (A)

 


[page 880, continued:]

NOTES

Title: The title — the subtitle in the first version — is probably a parody on the title of Thomas De Quincey’s essay “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts,” first published in two parts, separated by more than twelve years, in Blackwood’s, for February 1827 and November 1839.

Motto: This is from Mother Goose.

1.  In England (1824-1827) Poe’s correspondent John Neal became a friend of the utilitarian Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), and was for some months a member of his household.

2.  In the first version Poe named Jeremy Diddler, who was the leading character in James Kenney’s Raising the Wind.

3.  The OED describes the verb to diddle, in the sense used by Poe, as colloquial — “a recent word, of obscure origin,” suggests that it may be a backformation from the name Diddler, and gives 1806 as the date of the earliest example cited. The Century Dictionary calls it slang and cites B. Disraeli, The Young Duke, II, 3: “I should absolutely have diddled Hounslow if it had not been for her pretty face flitting about my stupid brain.”

4.  The phrase is not now considered to be Plato’s, but see Diogenes Laertius VI, vi, 40:

Plato had defined man as an animal, biped and featherless, and was applauded. Diogenes plucked a fowl and brought it into the lecture room with the words, “Here is Plato’s man.” In consequence of which there was added to the definition, “having broad nails.” — Loeb ed., vol. II, p. 43.

5.  This archaic word appears in the lines from Butler’s Hudibras adopted as motto for “The Folio Club.” Poe used it himself “with a figurative twist for which the dictionaries record no parallel” in the earlier versions of “King Pest,” here, and in “Byron and Miss Chaworth.” (See Killis Campbell in MLN, December [page 881:] 1927, pp. 519-520.) Poe’s metonymy uses the obsolete word for nostril to represent that which the nostril detects. It may be added that the word was accurately transcribed from Hudibras in the manuscript of “The Folio Club,” but Harrison (II, xxxvi) printed it “hare.” Poe used “nare” in all the earlier versions of “King Pest,” but our text (Griswold’s) has “nature” — presumably an auctorial change. In the first version of the present tale the word was misprinted “ware.” In “Byron and Miss Chaworth” it is given correctly in both the texts collated. Poe’s use of nare is probably another of his borrowings from Vivian Grey. See Ruth Hudson, “Poe and Disraeli” (AL, January 1937).

6.  The poet is Robert Bums.

7.  Without the regulating influence of the Second Bank of the United States, lost in 1836 when President Jackson vetoed the renewal of its charter, there were years of bank failures and bankers came to be suspected (sometimes justly) of fraudulent practices. Brobdingnag (frequently spelled Brobdignag; see OED for instances from Pope, Southey, and Carlyle) is the land of giants in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

8.  “Flaccus” was the pen-name of Thomas Ward, M.D. (1807-1873), whose volume Passaic (1842) was unfavorably reviewed by Poe in Graham’s for March 1843. Ward wrote regularly for the Knickerbocker, which did not endear him to Poe. In the first version Poe mentioned the poem by “Flaccus” as “Sam Patch.” By this he meant “The Great Descender,” an account of the eccentric Sam Patch, who went about the country accompanied by a pet bear, diving down waterfalls. He was killed at the falls of the Genesee, Rochester, New York, on November 13, 1829. I heard an old-fashioned saying, “As queer as Sam Patch,” in New York as late as 1920.

9.  Poe elsewhere compares great things to small. See a review of Home’s Orion in Graham’s for March 1844, comparing “an anthill with the Andes”; “The Spectacles,” comparing “a rushlight to the evening star — a glow-worm to Antares”; and “Editorial Miscellany” in the Broadway Journal, October 11, 1845, where Poe says “Putting the author of ‘Norman Leslie’ by the side of the author of the ‘Sketch-Book’ is like speaking of ‘The King and I’ — of Pop Emmons and Homer — of a mastodon and a mouse.”

10.  “As a dog is never driven from a greasy hide” is from Horace, Satires, II, v, 83.

11.  Edward Hungerford, in “Poe and Phrenology” (p. 219) says: “Constructiveness is the organ which lies just below Ideality,” and quotes George Combe’s Lectures on Phrenology (3rd ed., New York, 1841, p. 172) on that organ: “It does not invent; but merely fashions or configurates, though when large it stimulates the understanding to invent what will employ it agreeably in constructing.”

Diogenes the Cynic’s independence caused Alexander the Great to say, according to Diogenes Laertius, VI, vi, 32: “Had I not been Alexander, I should like to be Diogenes.” Compare “The Duc De L’Omelette,” n. 32. [page 882:]

12.  Scipio defeated Hannibal (202 B. C.) by carrying the war into Africa; see Livy, XXIX, 26. The Frey Herren means literally “The Free Gentlemen,” a term used obviously for desperadoes, but its source has not been traced. Dick Turpin (1706-1739), English highwayman executed for stealing horses, is the hero of various legendary romances. Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847), Irish patriot, had recently declared himself an abolitionist, and hence was unpopular with Americans of another opinion. Charles XII, King of Sweden from 1697 to 1718, was a reckless fighter.

13.  “Cold as cowcumbers” is in the first scene of Beaumont and Fletcher’s Cupid’s Revenge. The word was formerly pronounced coo-cumber, and the vegetable was thought to be of a cold nature (and hence indigestible). The source of the quotation about Lady Charlotte Susan Maria Bury (1775-1861), English novelist and diarist, is not yet found. “Easy as an old glove,” is perhaps slightly misquoted from All’s Well, V, iii, 278, “This woman’s an easy glove.” Baiæ, near Naples, was a watering place, noted in ancient times for licentiousness.

14.  Some of these offenses may have been suggested by the doings of Jeremy Diddler in Kenney’s farce.

15.  Compare As You Like It, II, vii, 156; “Full of wise saws and modern instances.”

16.  “Time and tide wait for no man” is an old proverb.

17.  The Bank of North America, founded in Philadelphia in 1781, had, through years of nationwide financial uncertainty, the proud record of redeeming its currency in specie on demand.

18.  See Hamlet, III, iv, 54, “counterfeit presentment of two brothers,” also quoted in Graham’s for February 1842 in “A Few Words about Brainard” by Poe.

19.  For another account of the toll gate trick see The Rover, New York, September 14, 1844, which says it was played on the National Road, near Wheeling (now in West Virginia).

20.  Two shillings means two bits, a quarter of a dollar.

21.  This widespread story is told in Atkinson’s Casket (Philadelphia, May 1831), p. 237, as “Tricks upon Travellers.” Some of Poe’s poems were reprinted in that number of the magazine. “But me no buts” is traced to Fielding’s Rape upon Rape, II, xi.

22.  Note the distinction in price and character of newspapers; penny (one cent) newspapers had only been established since 1833.

23.  There is a firm of similar rhyming name in “Thou Art the Man.”

24.  Non est inventus means “He is not to be found.” The Latin phrase is very frequently used in the second part (November 1839) of De Quincey’s satire on murder.

 


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 867:]

*  R. P. Blackmur, in his edition of The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales (1960), p. 382, says, “In that story [“Diddling”] the possible edges into the impossible; in most others it is the impossible that trespasses.”

  The late Professor Carl Shreiber told me he thought accounts of several of the tricks were in the columns of the Saturday Courier; a search by Richard P. Benton of the files for 1842 and 1843 revealed several reports of diddles, though not of any Poe used. Mr. Benton wrote to me, however, that he found the phrase “raising the wind” — obtaining a supply of ready money through some shift or other — current at the time, and, specifically, in the Courier of February 18, 1843, he had found “a trick of defraudment” referred to as a “New Way to Raise the Wind.”

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 868:]

  [Burton Pollin, in the Southern Literary Journal, Fall 1969, points out that the play was produced in Philadelphia on September 9 and October 11, 1843.]

§  Its so-called “preface” consists of Poe’s first fourteen paragraphs and all but the last sentence of the fifteenth. All ten of Poe’s “diddles” are used, with the omission of some transitional phrasing, but they are scattered among many bits from other sources. The “Preface” is footnoted: “We are indebted to the unknown author of this preface and other articles from his pen. May his shadow never grow less and never be diddled worse.” Senter’s small volume concludes with a reprint (authorship acknowledged) of Kenney’s Raising the Wind.

*  As a last word one may note that in some parts of America “diddling” like “cheating” is slang for irregular lovemaking.

 


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Notes:

None.


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[S:1 - TOM3T, 1978] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (T. O. Mabbott) (Raising the Wind (Diddling))