Text: Thomas Ollive Mabbott (E. A. Poe), “The Spectacles,” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. III: Tales and Sketches (1978), pp. 883-919 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 883:]


This is the longest of Poe’s purely comic tales, and one of the least meritorious. Few will disagree with Woodberry’s description of it as “an extremely weak piece of humor,”* but Dr. Thomas Holley Chivers read it to some ladies who “shouted” with laughter at the joke about the “universe of bustle.”

The central idea of “The Spectacles” is that of mistaken identity. A close analogue to Poe’s tale was found by Burton Pollin in an unsigned story called “The Mysterious Portrait” in a London periodical, the New Monthly Belle Assemblée, a Magazine of Literature and Fashion, of July 1836. In this tale young Frederic de Forlanges lives with his grandmother and her ward Amelia. The two young people have been in love since early youth, but when Frederic is twenty-two his ardor cools because he thinks he has fallen in love with a young lady whose miniature portrait he has found in the Champs Elysées. He confides in the family servant, who shows the miniature to the grandmother. Recognizing it, she devises a plan to remedy the state of affairs. Accordingly, the servant reports that he has found the original of the portrait, the ward of a jealous older man who wishes to marry her and keeps her confined in a nearby house and its garden. With the servant’s help, Frederic plans an elopement. They obtain a key to the garden and after various interruptions find the lady awaiting them there. She turns out to be Frederic’s grandmother, who explains that the miniature is her portrait at the age of twenty, which she had dropped by accident in the park, and that the costume in the picture seems to be contemporary because its style is again in fashion after fifty years. She reconciles Amelia and Frederic, but among their friends a “theme of mirth . . . was the Young Man’s passion for his Grandmother.”

Another probable source for Poe’s tale is a story called “The Blunderer” in the Knickerbocker Magazine for February 1837, [page 884:] reprinted in the New-Yorker, February 11 of that year. This tells of a New York gentleman, near-sighted from infancy, whose brothers and sisters in childhood stole his food and hid his spectacles. In maturity, when he fails to wear them he suffers a number of unhappy adventures including two of which seem to be used by Poe. The hero embarrasses ladies by speaking to some whom he has never met, and, on kicking a dog that is not, as he supposes, his own, but the property of a polite Frenchman, is reproached in a dialect resembling that of the old lady in “The Spectacles.”

Poe’s tale may owe something to You Can’t Marry Your Grandmother, a farce by Thomas Haynes Bayly, first performed in London on March 1, 1838, which in the following year was “a farcical success on May 15th” at the Olympic Theater in New York. There, during the rest of the month, it “was presented almost nightly.”§ Bayly’s plot concerns a grandfather who, through a mock wedding with his charming ward (he fancies he himself would like to marry her), convinces his frivolous grandson that among his many lady friends the ward is his one true love. When the distraught young man declares himself, the lady mockingly protests, “You can’t marry your grandmother!” — but the grandfather’s hoax is revealed and the union of the two young people is accomplished.

Apparently Poe came to realize that his tale is too long. When he reprinted it in the Broadway Journal, November 22, 1845, he wrote in his Editorial Miscellany: “We have to apologize for the insufficient variety of the present number. We were not aware of the great length of ‘The Spectacles’ until too late to remedy the evil.”

Although Poe published the story in the Philadelphia Dollar Newspaper late in March 1844, he, at about the same time, sent a manuscript of it to a new British correspondent, Richard Henry (“Hengist”) Horne,* for possible sale in England. Horne mentioned [page 885:] it specifically in a letter of April 27, 1844 to Poe (printed in Woodberry’s Life, II, 52-55), and the manuscript itself survives, although Horne did not preserve Poe’s letters to him. Long afterwards, Horne stated that his efforts to sell the tale failed because of the “false modesty, and . . . hypocrisy” of the editors he approached. It may be that this was a polite way of declining to pay for so long and poor a story. Prudery did not prevent the editor of Lloyd’s Entertaining Journal, London, May 3, 1845, from copying it from the Dollar Newspaper version.

A so-called earliest version of “The Spectacles,” quite different in plot, was published in the popular American magazine Liberty for September 24, 1938 as from an “old periodical,” which was not named; I cannot believe it authentic.§ [page 886:]


(A) Philadelphia Dollar Newspaper, March 27, 1844; (B) Manuscript sent to R. H. Horne, March or April 1844, now in the Koester Collection at the University of Texas; (C) Broadway Journal, November 22, 1845 (2:299-307); (D) Works (1850), II, 322-346.

Griswold’s version (D) is followed.

[The manuscript is described by Professor Joseph J. Moldenhauer in A Descriptive Catalog of Edgar Allan Poe Manuscripts in The Humanities Research Center Library, The University of Texas at Austin (1973) and the following is quoted by his permission: “Black ink on 10 sheets of white paper, folded and gathered into a booklet of 40 pp., each page measuring 4 1/2 x 7”. Pages 1 through 38 are numbered in Poe’s hand, while the last leaf is blank on both sides. The booklet is sewn into a marbled paper cover and its first and last leaves are stained with the marbling.”]

The manuscript (B) is an entirely rewritten version, showing very numerous abortive readings, which in some cases might be regarded as improvements. On this occasion it can be argued that the latest text is not the best, but in view of the unimportance of the story, it does not seem necessary to print the manuscript version in full, or to use it in place of the form long known to the world. Eugénie, incorrectly accented in the Broadway Journal (C) and in Works (D) except on one occasion, has been corrected in our text throughout.


Lloyd’s Entertaining Journal (London), May 3, 1845, from the Dollar Newspaper.


{aa}Many years ago, it was the fashion to{aa} ridicule the idea of “love at first sight;”(1) but those who think,{b} not less than those who feel deeply, have always advocated its existence. Modern discoveries, indeed, in what may be termed ethical magnetism or [page 887:] magnetœsthetics, render it probable that the most natural, and, consequently, the {cc}truest and{cc} intense of the human affections, are those which arise in the heart as if by electric sympathy — in a word, that the brightest and most enduring of the psychal fetters are those which are riveted by{d} a glance. The confession I am about to make, will add another to the already {ee}almost innumerable{ee} instances of the truth of the{f} position.

{gg}My story requires{gg} that I should{h} be somewhat minute. I am still a very{i} young man — not yet {jj}twenty-two years of age.{jj} My name, at present, is a very usual and rather plebeian one — Simpson. I say “at present;” for it is only lately that I have been so called — having legislatively adopted this surname within the last year, in order to receive a large{k} inheritance left me by a distant male relative, Adolphus Simpson, Esq.{l} The bequest was conditioned upon my taking the name of the testator; — the family, not the Christian name; my Christian {mm}name is Napoleon Buonaparte — or, more properly, these are my first and middle appellations.{mm} (2)

{n} I assumed the {oo}name, Simpson, with some reluctance, as{oo} in my true patronym, Froissart, I felt a very pardonable pride — believing that I could trace a descent from the immortal author of the “Chronicles.” While on the subject of names, by the by, I may{p} mention a singular coincidence of sound attending the names of some of my immediate predecessors. My father was a {qq}Monsieur Froissart,{qq} of Paris. His wife — my mother, whom he married at fifteen — was a Mademoiselle Croissart,{r} eldest daughter of Croissart the {ss}banker; whose{ss} wife, again, being{t} only sixteen when married, was the eldest daughter of one {uu}Victor Voissart. Monsieur Voissart,{uu} very singularly, had married{v} a lady of similar name — a [page 888:] Mademoiselle Moissart.{w} She, too, was quite a child when married; and her mother, also, Madame Moissart, was only fourteen when led to the altar. These early marriages are usual in France. {xx}Here, however, are Moissart, Voissart, Croissart, and Froissart, all{xx} in the direct line of descent.(3) My own name, though, as I say, became Simpson, by {yy}act of Legislature, and{yy} with so much repugnance on my part, that, at one period, I actually hesitated about accepting the legacy with the {zz}useless and annoying{zz} proviso attached.

As to personal endowments I am {aa}by no means deficient. On the contrary,{aa} I believe that I am well made, and{b} possess what nine-tenths of the world would call a handsome face. {cc}In height{cc} I am five feet eleven. My hair is black and curling. My nose is sufficiently good. My eyes are large and gray; and although, in fact, they are weak to a very inconvenient degree, still no defect in this regard would be suspected from their appearance. The weakness itself, however, has always much annoyed me, and I have resorted to every remedy — {dd}short of wearing glasses.{dd} Being youthful and good-looking, I naturally dislike these, and have resolutely refused to employ them. I know nothing, indeed, which so disfigures the countenance of a young person, or{e} so impresses every feature with an air of demureness, if not altogether{f} of {gg}sanctimoniousness and of age.{gg} An eye-glass, on the other hand, has a savor of downright foppery and affectation. I have hitherto managed as well as I could without either. But something too much of these merely personal details, which, after all, are of little importance. I will content myself with saying, in addition, that my temperament is sanguine, rash, ardent, enthusiastic — and that all my life I have been a devoted{h} admirer of the women.{i}

One night last winter, I entered a box at the P———{j} Theatre,(4) [page 889:] in company with a friend, Mr. Talbot. It was an opera {kk}night, and the{kk} bills presented a very rare {ll}attraction, so that{ll} the house was excessively crowded. We were in time, however, to obtain the front seats which had been reserved{m} for us, and into which, with some little difficulty, we elbowed our way.

For two hours, my companion, who was a musical fanatico, gave his undivided attention to the stage; and, in the meantime, I amused myself by observing the audience, which consisted, in chief part, of the very élite of the city. Having satisfied myself upon this point, I was about turning my eyes to the prima donna, when they were arrested and riveted by a figure in one of the private boxes which had escaped my observation.

If I live a thousand years, I can never forget the intense emotion with which I regarded,{n} this figure. It was that of a female, the most exquisite {oo}I had ever beheld.{oo} The face was so far turned towards the stage{p} that, for some minutes, I could not obtain a view of it — but the form was divine; no other word can sufficiently express its magnificent proportion — and even the term “divine”{q} seems ridiculously feeble as I write it.

The magic of a lovely form in woman — the necromancy of female gracefulness — was always a power which I had found it impossible to resist; but here was grace personified, incarnate, the beau idéal of my wildest and most enthusiastic visions. The {rr}figure, almost{s} all of{t} which the construction of the box permitted to be seen, was{rr} somewhat above the medium height, and nearly approached, without positively reaching, the majestic. Its perfect fulness and tournure were delicious. The head, of which only the back was visible, rivalled in outline that of the Greek Psyche,(5) and was rather displayed than concealed by an elegant cap of gaze aérienne,{u} which put me in mind of the ventum textilem of [page 890:] Apuleius.(6) The right arm hung over the balustrade of the box, and thrilled every nerve of my frame with its exquisite{v} symmetry. Its upper portion was draperied by one of the loose open sleeves now in fashion. This extended but little below the elbow. Beneath it was worn an under one of some frail{w} material, close-fitting, and terminated by a cuff of rich lace which fell gracefully over the top of the hand, revealing only the delicate fingers, upon one of which sparkled a diamond ring, which I at once saw was of extraordinary value. The admirable roundness of the wrist was well set off by a bracelet which encircled it, and which also was ornamented and clasped by a magnificent aigrette of jewels — telling, in words {xx}that could not be mistaken,{xx} at once of the wealth and{y} fastidious taste of the wearer.

I gazed at this queenly apparition for at least half an hour, as if I had been suddenly converted to stone; and, during this period, I felt the full force and truth{z} of all that has been said or sung concerning{a} “love at first sight.” My feelings were totally different from any which I had hitherto experienced, in the presence of even the most celebrated specimens of female loveliness. An unaccountable, and what I am compelled to consider a magnetic sympathy of soul for soul, seemed to rivet, not only my vision, but my whole powers of thought and feeling upon the admirable object before me. I saw — I felt — I knew that I was deeply, madly, irrevocably{b} in love — and this even before seeing the face of the person{c} beloved. So intense, indeed, was the passion that consumed me, that I really believe it would have received little if any abatement had the features, yet unseen, proved of merely ordinary character; so anomalous is the nature of the only true love — of the love at first sight — and so little really dependent is it upon the external conditions which only seem{d} to create and control it.

While I was thus{e} wrapped in admiration of this lovely{f} vision, a sudden disturbance among the audience caused her to turn her [page 891:] head partially towards me, so that I beheld the entire profile of the face. Its beauty even exceeded my anticipations — and yet there was something about it which disappointed me without my being able to tell exactly what it was.{g} I said “disappointed,” but this is not altogether the word. My sentiments were at once quieted{h} and exalted.{i} They partook less of transport and more of{j} calm enthusiasm — of{k} enthusiastic repose. This state of feeling arose, perhaps, from the Madonna-like and{l} matronly air of the face; and yet I at once understood that it could not have arisen entirely{m} from this. There was something else{n} — some mystery which{o} I could not develope — some expression about the countenance which slightly disturbed me while it greatly{p} heightened my interest. In fact, I was just in that condition of mind which prepares a young and susceptible man for any act of extravagance. Had the lady been alone, I should undoubtedly have entered her box and accosted her at all hazards; but, fortunately, she was attended by two companions — a gentleman, and a strikingly beautiful woman, to all appearance a few years younger than herself.

I revolved in my{q} mind a thousand schemes by which I might obtain, hereafter, an introduction to the elder lady, or, for the present, at all events, a more distinct view of her beauty. I would have removed my position to one nearer her{r} own, but the crowded state of the theatre rendered this impossible; and the stern decrees of Fashion had, of late, imperatively prohibited the use of the opera-glass, in a case such as {ss}this,(7) even had I been so fortunate as to have one with me — but I had not —{ss} and was thus in despair.

At length I bethought me of applying to my companion.{t}

“Talbot,” I said, “you have {uu}an opera-glass. Let{uu} me have it.”

{vv}“An opera-glass!{vv} — no! — what do you suppose I{w} would be [page 892:] doing with {xx}an opera-glass?”{xx} Here he turned impatiently towards the stage.

“But, Talbot,” I continued,{y} pulling him by the shoulder, “listen to me, will you? Do you see the stage-box? — there! — no, the next — Did you ever behold as, lovely a woman?”

{aa}“She is very beautiful, no doubt,”{aa} he said.

“I wonder who she can be?”{b}

“Why, in the name of all that is angelic, don’t you know who she is? ‘Not to know her, argues yourself unknown.’(8) She is the celebrated Madame Lalande(9) — the beauty of the day par excellence, and the talk of the whole town. Immensely wealthy, too — a widow — and a great match — has just arrived from Paris.”

“Do you know her?”

“Yes —{c} I have the honor.”

“Will you introduce{d} me?”

{ee}“Assuredly — with the greatest pleasure; when{ee} shall it be?”

“To-morrow, at one, I will call upon you at B——’s.”

“Very good; and now {ff}do hold{ff} your tongue, if you can.”

In this latter respect I was forced to {gg}take Talbot’s advice;{gg} for he remained obstinately deaf to every further question or suggestion, and occupied himself exclusively for the rest of the evening with what was transacting upon the stage.

In the meantime I kept my eyes riveted on{h} Madame Lalande, and at length had the good fortune to obtain a full front view of her face. It was exquisitely{i} lovely: this, of course, my heart had told me before, even had not Talbot fully satisfied me upon the point — but still{j} the unintelligible something{k} disturbed me. I finally concluded that my {ll}senses were{ll} impressed by a certain air of gravity, sadness,{m} or, still more properly, of weariness, which [page 893:] took something from the youth and freshness of the countenance, only to endow it with a seraphic tenderness and majesty, and thus, of course,{n} to my enthusiastic and romantic temperament, with an interest tenfold.

While I thus feasted my eyes, I perceived, at last, to my great trepidation, by an almost imperceptible start on the part of the lady, that she had become suddenly{o} aware of the intensity of my gaze. Still,{p} I was absolutely fascinated, and could not withdraw it, even for an instant. She {qq}turned aside{qq} her face, and again I saw only the chiselled contour of the back portion of the head. After some minutes, as if urged by curiosity to see if I was still looking, she gradually brought her face again around{r} and again encountered my burning gaze. Her large dark eyes fell instantly, and a deep blush mantled her cheek. But what was my astonishment at perceiving that she not only did not a second time avert{s} her head, but that she actually took from her girdle a double {tt}eye-glass — elevated it — adjusted it — and then{tt} regarded me through it, intently and deliberately, for the space of several minutes.

Had a thunderbolt fallen at my feet I could not have been more thoroughly astounded — astounded only — not offended or disgusted in the slightest degree; although an action so bold in any other woman, would have been likely{u} to offend or{v} disgust. But the whole thing was done with so much quietude — so much nonchalance — so much repose — with{w} so evident an air of the highest {xx}breeding, in short{xx} — that nothing of mere effrontery was perceptible, and my sole sentiments were{y} those of admiration and surprise.

I observed that, upon her first elevation of the glass, she had seemed satisfied with a momentary inspection of my person, and was withdrawing the instrument, when, as if struck by a second thought, she resumed it, and so continued to regard me with fixed [page 894:] attention for {zz}the space of{zz} several minutes — for five minutes, at the very least, I am sure.

This{a} action, so remarkable in an American theatre, attracted {bb}very general{bb} observation, and gave rise to an indefinite movement, or buzz, among the audience, which for a moment filled me with confusion, but produced no visible effect upon the countenance of Madame Lalande.

Having satisfied her curiosity — if such it was — she dropped the glass, and quietly gave her attention again to the stage; her profile now being{c} turned toward{d} myself, as before. I continued to watch her unremittingly, although I was fully conscious of my rudeness in so doing. Presently I saw the head slowly and slightly change its position; and soon I became convinced that the lady, while pretending to look at the stage was, in fact, attentively regarding myself. It is needless to say what effect this conduct, on the part of so fascinating a woman, had upon my excitable mind.

{ee}Having thus scrutinized me{ee} for perhaps a quarter of an hour, {ff}the fair object of my passion{ff} addressed the gentleman who attended {gg}her, and, while{gg} she spoke, I saw distinctly, by the glances of both, that the conversation had reference to myself.

{h}Upon its conclusion, {ii}Madame Lalande{ii} again turned towards the stage, and, for a few minutes, seemed absorbed in the performances. At the expiration of this period, however, I was thrown into an extremity of agitation by seeing her unfold, for the second time, the eye-glass which hung at her side, fully confront me as before, and, disregarding the renewed buzz of the audience, survey me, from head to foot, with the same miraculous composure which had previously so delighted and confounded my soul.

This extraordinary behavior, by throwing me into a perfect fever of excitement — into an absolute delirium of love — served rather to embolden than to disconcert me. In the mad intensity of my devotion, I forgot everything but the presence and the majestic loveliness of the vision which confronted my gaze. Watching [page 895:] my opportunity, when I thought the audience were fully engaged with the opera, I at length caught the eyes of Madame Lalande, and, upon the instant, made a slight but unmistakeable bow.{j}

She blushed very deeply — then averted her eyes — then slowly and cautiously looked around, apparently to see if my rash action had been noticed — then leaned over towards{k} the gentleman who sat by her side.

I now felt a burning sense of the impropriety I had committed, and expected nothing less than instant exposure; while a vision of pistols upon the morrow floated{l} rapidly and uncomfortably through my brain. I was {mm}greatly and{mm} immediately relieved, however, when I saw the lady merely hand the gentleman a playbill, without speaking; but the reader may form some feeble conception of my astonishment — of my profound{n} amazement — my{o} delirious bewilderment of heart and soul — when, instantly afterwards, having again glanced furtively around, she allowed her bright eyes to settle fully and steadily upon my own, and then, with a faint smile, disclosing a bright line of her pearly teeth, made two distinct, pointed and unequivocal {pp}affirmative inclinations of the head.{pp}

It is useless, of course, to dwell upon my joy — upon my transport — upon my illimitable ecstasy of heart.{q} If ever man was mad with excess of happiness, it was myself at that moment.{r} I loved. This was my first{s} love — so I felt it to be. It was love supreme — indescribable. It was {tt}“love at first sight;” and at{tt} first sight too, it had been appreciated and{u} returned.

Yes, returned. How and why should I doubt it for an instant? What other construction could I possibly put upon such conduct, on the part of a lady so beautiful — so wealthy — evidently so accomplished — of so high breeding{v} — of so lofty a position in [page 896:] society — in every regard so entirely respectable as I felt assured was Madame Lalande? Yes, she loved me — she returned the enthusiasm of my love, with an enthusiasm as blind — as {ww}uncompromising — as uncalculating — as{ww} abandoned — and as utterly unbounded as my own!{x} These delicious fancies and reflections, however, were now interrupted by the falling of the drop-curtain. The audience arose; and the usual tumult immediately{y} supervened. Quitting Talbot abruptly, I made every effort{z} to force my way into closer{a} proximity with Madame Lalande. Having failed in this,{b} on account of the crowd, I at length gave up the chase, and bent my steps homewards; consoling myself for {cc}my disappointment in{cc} not having been able to touch even the hem of her robe,(10) by{d} the reflection that I should be introduced by Talbot, in due form upon the morrow.

This morrow at last came; that is to say, a day finally dawned upon a long and weary night of impatience; and then the hours until “one,” were {ee}snail-paced, dreary{ee} and innumerable. But {ff}even Stamboul,{ff} it is said, {gg}shall have an end,{gg} (11) and there came an end to this long delay. The clock struck. As the{h} last echo ceased, I stepped into B —— ’s and inquired for Talbot.

“Out,” said the{i} footman — Talbot’s own.

“Out!” I replied, staggering back half a dozen {jj}paces — “let{jj} me tell you, my fine fellow, that this thing is thoroughly impossible and impracticable; Mr. Talbot is not out. What do you mean?”

“Nothing, sir: only Mr. Talbot is not in. That’s all. He rode over to S——, immediately after breakfast, and left word that he would{k} not be in town again for a week.”

I stood petrified with horror and rage. I endeavored to reply,{l} but my tongue refused its office. At length I turned on my heel, [page 897:] livid with wrath, and inwardly consigning the whole tribe of the Talbots to the innermost regions of Erebus.(12) It was evident that my considerate friend, il fanatico, had quite forgotten his appointment with {mm}myself — had{mm} forgotten it as soon as it was made. At no time was he{n} a very scrupulous man of his word. There was no help for it; so smothering my vexation as well as I could, I strolled moodily up the street, propounding futile inquiries about Madame Lalande to every male{o} acquaintance I met. By report {pp}she was known, I found,{pp} to all — {qq}to many by sight{qq} — but she had been in town only a few {rr}weeks, and there were very few, therefore, who claimed her personal acquaintance.{rr} These few,{s} being still comparatively strangers, could not, or would not, take the liberty of introducing me through{t} the formality of a morning call. While I stood thus,{u} in despair, conversing with a trio of friends upon the all absorbing subject of my heart, it so happened that the subject itself passed by.

“As I live, there she is!” cried one.

“Surpassingly{v} beautiful!” exclaimed a{w} second.

“An angel upon earth!” ejaculated a{x} third.

I looked; and, in an open carriage which approached us, passing{y} slowly down the street, sat{z} the enchanting vision of the opera, accompanied by the younger lady who had occupied a portion of her box.

“Her companion also wears remarkably well,” said the one of my trio who had spoken first.

“Astonishingly.” said the second; “still{a} quite a brilliant air; but art will do wonders. Upon my word, she looks better than she did at Paris five years ago. A beautiful{b} woman still; — don’t you think so, Froissart? — Simpson, I mean.” [page 898:]

{cc}Still!” said I, “and why shouldn’t she be?{cc} But compared with her friend she is as{d} a rushlight to the evening star — a glowworm to Antares.”{e} (13)

“Ha! ha! {ff}ha! — why,{ff} Simpson, you have an astonishing tact at making discoveries — original ones, I mean.” And here{g} we separated, {hh}while one of the trio began{hh} humming a gay vaudeville, of which I caught only the lines —

Ninon, Ninon, Ninon à bas — (14)

A bas Ninon De L’Enclos!{i}

During this little scene, however, one thing had served greatly to console me, although it fed the passion by which I was consumed. As the carriage of Madame Lalande rolled by our group, I had observed that she recognised me; and more than this, she had blessed me, by the most seraphic of {jj}all imaginable{jj} smiles, with no equivocal mark of the recognition.

As for an introduction, I was obliged{k} to abandon all hope of it, until such time as Talbot should think proper to return from the country. In the meantime I perseveringly frequented every reputable place of public amusement; and, at length, at the theatre, where I first saw her, I had the supreme bliss of meeting her, and of exchanging glances with her once again.{l} This did not occur, however, until{m} the lapse of a fortnight. Every day, in the interim, I had inquired for Talbot at his hotel, and every day had been thrown into a spasm of wrath by the everlasting “Not come home yet” of his footman.

Upon the evening in question, therefore, I was in a condition little short of madness. Madame Lalande, I had been told, was a Parisian — had lately arrived from Paris — might she not suddenly return? — return before Talbot came back — and might she not be thus{n} lost to me forever? The thought was too terrible to bear. Since my future happiness was at issue, I resolved to act [page 899:] with a manly decision. In a word, upon the breaking up of the play, I traced the lady to her residence, noted the{o} address, and the{p} next morning sent her a full and elaborate letter, in which I poured out my whole heart.

I spoke boldly, freely — in a word, I spoke with passion. I concealed nothing — nothing even of my weakness.{q} I alluded to the romantic circumstances of our first meeting — even to the glances which had passed between us. I went so far as to say that I felt assured of her love; while I offered this assurance, and my own intensity of devotion, as two excuses for my otherwise unpardonable conduct. As a third, I spoke of my fear that she might quit{r} the city before I could have the opportunity of a formal introduction.{s} I concluded the most wildly enthusiastic epistle ever penned, with a frank declaration of my worldly circumstances — of my affluence — and with an offer of my {tt}heart and of my hand.{tt}

In an agony of expectation I awaited the reply. After what seemed the lapse of{u} century it came.

{vv}Yes, actually came.{vv} Romantic as all this may appear, I really received a letter from Madame Lalande — the{w} beautiful, the wealthy, the idolised Madame Lalande. — Her eyes — her magnificent eyes — had not belied her noble{x} heart. Like a true Frenchwoman, as she was, she had obeyed the frank dictates of her reason — the generous impulses of her nature — despising the conventional pruderies of the world. She had not scorned my proposals.{y} She had not sheltered herself in silence. She had not returned my letter unopened. She had even sent me, in reply, one penned by her own exquisite fingers. It ran thus:

Monsieur Simpson vill{z} pardonne me for not compose de butefulle tong of his contrée so vell{a} as might. It is only{b} de late dat I am arrive, and not yet ave{c} de opportunité{d} for to — l’étudier.{e} [page 900:]

Vid{f} dis apologie for the manière,{g} I vill now say dat, hélas! — Monsieur Simpson ave guess but de too true. Need{h} I say de more? Hélas!{i} I am I not ready speak de too moshe?


This noble-spirited note{k} I kissed a million times, and committed, no doubt, on its account, a thousand other extravagances that{l} have now escaped my memory. Still{m} Talbot would not return. Alas! could he have formed even the vaguest idea of the suffering his absence occasioned his friend, would not his sympathising nature have flown immediately{n} to my relief? Still, however, he came not.{o} I wrote. He replied. He was detained by urgent business — but would{p} shortly return. He begged me not to be impatient — to moderate my transports — to read soothing books — to drink nothing stronger than Hock —(15) and to bring the consolations of philosophy to my aid. The fool!{q} if he could not come himself, why, in the name of everything rational, could he not {rr}have enclosed me a letter of presentation?{rr} I wrote again, entreating him to forward one forthwith. My letter was returned by that footman, with the following endorsement in {ss}pencil. The scoundrel had joined his master in the country:{ss}

Left{t} S——— yesterday, for parts {uu}unknown — did not{uu} say where — or when be back — so thought best to return letter, knowing your handwriting, and as how you is always, more or less, in a hurry.

Yours, sincerely,   STUBBS.

After this, it is needless to say, that I devoted to the infernal deities both master and valet; — but there was little use in anger, and no consolation at all in complaint.

But{v} I had yet a resource left,{w} in my constitutional audacity. Hitherto it had served me well, and I now{x} resolved to make it [page 901:] avail me to the end. Besides, after the correspondence which had passed between us, what act of mere informality could I commit, within bounds, that ought to be regarded as indecorous by Madame Lalande? Since the affair of the letter, I had been in the habit{y} of watching her house, and thus discovered that, about twilight,{z} it was her custom{a} to promenade, attended only by a negro in livery, in a {bb}public square{bb} overlooked by {cc}her windows.{cc} Here, amid the luxuriant and {dd}shadowing groves,{dd} in the gray gloom{e} of a {ff}sweet midsummer evening, I observed my opportunity and{ff} accosted her.

The better to deceive the servant in attendance, I did this with the assured air of an old and familiar acquaintance. With a presence of mind truly Parisian, she took the cue at once, and, to greet{g} me, held out the most bewitchingly little{h} of hands. The valet{i} at once fell into the rear; and now, with hearts full to overflowing, we discoursed long and unreservedly of our love.

As Madame Lalande spoke English even{j} less fluently than she wrote it, our conversation was necessarily in French. In this sweet tongue, so adapted to passion, I gave loose to{k} the impetuous enthusiasm of my nature, and with all the eloquence I could command, besought her consent to an immediate marriage.{l}

At this impatience she smiled. She urged the old story of decorum — that bug-bear which deters so many from bliss until the opportunity for bliss has forever gone by.{m} I had most imprudently made it known among my friends, she observed, that I desired her acquaintance — thus{n} that I did not possess it — thus, again, there was no possibility of concealing the date{o} of our first knowledge of each other. And then she adverted, with a blush, to the extreme recency of this date. To wed immediately would be [page 902:] improper — would be indecorous — would be outré. All this she said with a charming{p} air of na├»veté{q} which enraptured while it grieved and convinced me. She went even so far as to accuse me, laughingly, of rashness — of imprudence. She bade me remember that I really even knew not who she was — what were her prospects, her connections, her standing in society. She begged me, but with a sigh, to reconsider my proposal, and termed my love an infatuation — a will ’o the wisp — a {rr}fancy or fantasy{rr} of the moment — a baseless and unstable creation rather of the imagination than of the heart. These things she uttered as the shadows of the sweet twilight gathered darkly and more darkly around us — and then, with a gentle pressure of her fairy-like hand, overthrew, in a single sweet instant, all the {ss}argumentative fabric{ss} she had reared.

I replied as {tt}best I{tt} could — as only a true lover can. I spoke at length, and perseveringly of my {uu}devotion, of my passion{uu} — of her exceeding beauty, and of my own enthusiastic admiration.{v} In conclusion, I dwelt, with a convincing energy, upon the perils that encompass the course of{w} love — that course of true love that never did run smooth, and thus deduced the manifest{x} danger of rendering that course unnecessarily long.(16)

This latter argument seemed finally to soften the rigor of her determination.{y} She relented; but there was yet an obstacle, she said, which she felt assured I had not properly{z} considered. This was a delicate point — for a woman to urge, especially {aa}so; in mentioning{aa} it, she saw that she must make a sacrifice of her {bb}feelings; still,{bb} for me, every sacrifice should be{c} made. She alluded to the topic of age. Was I aware — was I fully aware of the discrepancy between us? That the age of the husband should surpass by a few years — even by fifteen or twenty — the age of the wife, was regarded by the world as admissible, and, indeed, as even{d} proper; but she had always entertained the belief that the years of the wife [page 903:] {ee}should never{ee} exceed in number those of the husband. A discrepancy of this unnatural kind gave rise, too frequently, alas! to a life of unhappiness. Now she was aware that my own age did not exceed two and twenty; and I, on the contrary, perhaps, was not aware that the years of my Eugéne{f} extended very considerably beyond that sum.

About all this there was a nobility of soul — a dignity of{g} candor — which delighted — which enchanted me — which eternally riveted my chains. I could scarcely restrain the excessive transport which possessed me.

{hh}“My sweetest Eugénie,”{hh} I cried, “what is all this about which you are discoursing? Your {ii}years surpass{ii} in some measure my own. But what{j} then? The customs of the world {kk}are so many conventional follies.{kk} To those who love as ourselves,{l} in what respect differs a year from an hour? I am twenty-two, you say; granted: indeed you may as well call me, at once, twenty-three. Now you yourself, my dearest{m} Eugénie, can have numbered no more than — can have numbered no more than — no more than — than — than —{n} than —”

Here I paused for an{o} instant, in the expectation that Madame Lalande would interrupt me by supplying her true age. But a French woman is seldom direct, and has always, by way of answer to an embarrassing query,{p} some little practical reply of her own. In the present instance, Eugénie, who, for a few moments past, had seemed to be searching for something in her bosom, at length let fall upon the grass a miniature, which I immediately nicked up and presented to her.{q}

“Keep it!” she said, with one of her most ravishing smiles. “Keep it for my sake — for the sake of her whom it too flatteringly represents. Besides, upon the back of the trinket, you may discover, [page 904:] perhaps, the very{r} information you seem{s} to desire. It is {tt}now, to be sure, growing rather dark{tt} — but you can examine it at your leisure in the morning. In the meantime, you shall be my escort home to-night. My friends{u} are about holding a little musical levée. I can promise you, too,{v} some good singing. We French are not nearly so punctilious as you Americans, and I shall have no difficulty in smuggling you in, in the character of an old acquaintance.”

With this, she took my arm, and I attended her home. The mansion{w} was quite a fine one, and, I believe, furnished in good taste. Of this latter point, however, I am scarcely qualified to judge; for it was just dark as we arrived; and in American mansions of the better sort, lights seldom, during the heat of summer, make their appearance at this, the most pleasant period of the day.{x} {yy}In about an hour(14) after my arrival, to be sure, a single shaded solar lamp(17) was lit in the principal drawing-room; and this apartment, I could thus see, was arranged with unusual good taste and even splendor; but two other rooms of the suite,{z} and in which the company chiefly assembled, remained, during the whole evening, in a very agreeable shadow. This is a well conceived custom, giving the{a} party at least a choice of light or shade, and one{b} which our friends over the water could not do better than immediately adopt.

The evening thus spent was unquestionably the most delicious of my life. Madame Lalande had not overrated the musical abilities of her friends; and the singing I here heard I had never heard excelled in any private circle out of Vienna. The instrumental performers were many and of superior talents. The vocalists were chiefly ladies, and no individual sang less than well. At length, upon a peremptory call for “Madame Lalande,” she arose at once, without affectation or{c} demur, from the chaise longue upon which [page 905:] she had sate{d} by my side, and, accompanied by one or two gentlemen and her female friend of{e} the opera, repaired to the piano in the main drawing-room. I would have escorted her{f} myself; but felt that, under the{g} circumstances of my introduction to the house, {hh}I had better{hh} remain unobserved where I was. I was thus deprived of the pleasure of seeing, although not of hearing her, sing.

The impression she produced upon the company seemed{i} electrical — but the effect upon myself was something{j} even more. I know not how adequately to describe it.(18) It arose in part, no doubt, from the sentiment of love with which I was imbued; but chiefly from my conviction of the extreme sensibility of the singer. It is beyond the reach of art to endow either air or recitative with more impassioned expression than was hers. Her utterance of the romance in Otello — the tone with which she gave the words “Sul mio sasso,” in the Capuletti — is{k} ringing in my memory yet.(19) Her lower tones were absolutely miraculous. Her voice embraced three complete octaves, extending from the contralto D to the D upper soprano, and, though sufficiently powerful to have filled the San Carlos,{l} (20) executed, with the minutest precision, every difficulty of vocal composition — ascending and descending scales, cadences, or fioriture.{m} In the finale{n} of the Sonnambula, she brought about{o} a most remarkable effect at the words —

Ah! non giunge{p} uman pensiero

Al contento ond ’io son piena.{q}

Here, in imitation of Malibran, she modified the original phrase of Bellini,(21) so as to let her voice descend to the tenor G, when by a rapid transition, she struck the G above the treble stave, springing over an interval of two octaves.

Upon rising from the piano after these miracles of vocal execution, she resumed her seat by my side; when I expressed to her, in terms of the deepest enthusiasm, my delight at her performance. [page 906:] Of my surprise I said nothing, and yet was I most unfeignedly surprised; for a certain feebleness, or rather a certain tremulous indecision of voice in ordinary conversation, had prepared me to anticipate{r} that, in singing, she would not acquit herself with any remarkable ability.

Our conversation was now long, earnest, uninterrupted, and totally unreserved. She made me relate many of the earlier passages of my life, and{s} listened with breathless attention, to every word of the narrative. I concealed nothing — I felt that I had a right to conceal nothing from her confiding affection. Encouraged by her candor upon the delicate point of her age, I entered, with perfect frankness, not only into a detail of my many minor vices, but made full confession of those moral and even of those physical infirmities, the disclosure of which, in demanding so much higher a degree of courage, is so much surer{t} an evidence of love.{u} I touched upon my college indiscretions — upon my extravagances — upon my carousals — upon my {vv}debts — upon my flirtations.{vv} I even{w} went so far as to speak of a slightly hectic cough with which, at one time, I had been troubled — of a chronic rheumatism — of a twinge of hereditary gout — and, in conclusion, of the disagreeable and inconvenient, but hitherto carefully concealed, weakness of my eyes.

“Upon this latter point,” said Madame Lalande, laughingly, you have been surely{x} injudicious in coming to confession; for, {yy}without the confession, I take it for granted that no one would have accused you{yy} of the crime. By the by,” she continued, “have you any recollection”{z} — and here I fancied that a blush, even through the gloom of the apartment, became distinctly visible upon her cheek — “have you any recollection, mon cher ami, of this little ocular assistant{a} which now depends from my neck?”

As she spoke she twirled in her fingers the identical double eye-glass, [page 907:] which had so overwhelmed me with confusion at the opera.{b}

“Full well — alas! do{c} I remember it,” I exclaimed, pressing passionately the delicate hand which offered the glasses{d} for my inspection. They formed a {ee}complex and magnificent{ee} toy, richly chased and filagreed, and gleaming with jewels, which, even in the deficient light, I could not help perceiving were of high value.

Eh bien! mon ami,” she resumed with a certain empressement of manner that rather{f} surprised me — “Eh bien, mon ami, you have earnestly besought of me a favor which you have been pleased to denominate priceless. You have demanded of me my hand upon the morrow. Should I yield to your entreaties — and, I may add, to the pleadings of my own bosom — would I not be entitled to demand of you a very{g} — a very{h} little boon in return?”

“Name it!” I exclaimed with an energy that had nearly drawn upon us the observation of the company, and restrained by their presence alone from throwing myself impetuously at her feet. “Name it, my beloved, my Eugénie, my own! — name it! — but alas, it is already yielded ere named.”

“You shall conquer then, {ii}mon ami,{ii} ” said she,{j} “for the sake of the Eugénie whom you love, this little weakness which you have last confessed — this weakness more{k} moral than physical — {ll}and which, let me assure you, is{ll} so unbecoming the nobility of your real nature — so inconsistent with the candor of your usual character — and which, if permitted farther control, will assuredly involve you, sooner or later, in some very disagreeable scrape. You shall conquer, for my sake, this{m} affectation which leads you, as you yourself acknowledge, to the tacit or implied denial of your infirmity of vision. For, this infirmity you virtually deny, in refusing to employ the customary means for its relief. You will understand me to say, then, that I wish you {nn}to wear spectacles:{nn} — ah, hush! — you have already consented to wear them, for my [page 908:] sake. You shall accept the little toy which I now hold in my hand, and which, though{o} admirable as an aid to vision, is really of no very immense{p} value {qq}as a gem.{qq} You perceive that, by a trifling modification {rr}thus — or thus{rr}{ss}it can be adapted to the eyes in the form of spectacles, or worn in the waistcoat pocket as an eye-glass.{ss} It is in the former mode,{t} however, and habitually, that you have already{u} consented to wear it for my sake.”

This request — must I confess it? — confused{v} me in no little{w} degree. But the condition with which it was coupled rendered hesitation, of course, a matter altogether out of the question.

“It is done!” I cried, with all the enthusiasm that{x} I could muster at the moment. “It is done — it is most cheerfully agreed. I sacrifice{y} every feeling for your sake. To-night I wear this dear eye-glass, as an eye-glass,{z} and upon my heart; but with the earliest dawn of that morning which gives me the pleasure{a} of calling you wife, I will place it upon my — upon my nose — and there wear it ever afterwards, in the less romantic, and less fashionable, but certainly in the more serviceable form which you desire.”

Our{b} conversation now turned upon the details of our arrangements{c} for the morrow. Talbot, I learned from my betrothed, had just arrived in town. I was to see him at once, and procure a carriage. The soirée{d} would scarcely break up before two; and by this hour the vehicle was to be at the door; when, in the confusion occasioned by the departure of the company, Madame L. could easily enter it unobserved. We were then to call at the house of a clergyman who would be in waiting; there be married, drop Talbot, and proceed on a short tour to the East; leaving the fashionable world at home to make whatever comments upon the matter it thought best. [page 909:]

Having planned all this, I immediately took leave, and went in search of Talbot, but, on the way, I could not refrain from stepping into a hotel,{e} for the purpose of inspecting the miniature; and this I did by the powerful aid of the glasses.{f} The countenance was a surpassingly beautiful one! Those large luminous eyes!{g} — that proud Grecian nose! — those dark luxuriant curls! — “Ah!” said I exultingly to myself, “this is indeed the speaking image of my beloved!”(22) I turned the reverse, and discovered the words — “{hh}Eugénie Lalande — aged twenty-seven years and seven months.”{hh}

I found Talbot at home, and proceeded at once to acquaint him with my good fortune. He professed excessive astonishment, of course, but congratulated me most cordially, and proffered every assistance in his power. In a word, we carried out our arrangement{i} to the letter; and, at two in the morning, just ten minutes after the ceremony, I found myself in a close carriage with Madame Lalande — with Mrs. Simpson, I should say — and driving at a great rate out of town, in a direction North-east by{j} North, half-North.

It had been determined for us by Talbot, that, as we were to be up all night, we should make our first stop at C——, a village about twenty miles from the city, and there{k} get an early breakfast and some repose, before proceeding upon our route. At four precisely, therefore, the carriage drew up at the door of the principal inn. I handed my adored wife out, and ordered breakfast forthwith. In the mean time we were shown into a small parlor, and sat{l} down.

It was now nearly if not altogether daylight; and, as I gazed, enraptured, at the angel by my side, the singular idea came, all at once, into my head, that this was really the very first moment since my acquaintance with the celebrated loveliness of Madame Lalande, that I had enjoyed a near inspection of that loveliness by daylight at all.{m}

“And now, mon ami,” said she, taking my hand, and so{n} interrupting [page 910:] {oo}this train of reflection,{oo} “and now, mon cher ami, since we are{p} indissolubly one — since I have yielded to your passionate {qq}entreaties, and{qq} performed my portion of our agreement — I presume you have not forgotten that you{r} also have a little favor to bestow — a little promise which it is your intention to keep. Ah! — let me see! Let me remember! Yes; full easily do I call to mind the precise words of the dear promise you made to Eugénie last night. Listen! You spoke thus:{s} ‘It is done!{t} — it is most cheerfully agreed! I sacrifice{u} every feeling for your sake. Tonight I wear this dear eye-glass {vv}as an eye-glass,{vv} and upon my heart; but with the earliest dawn of that morning which gives me the privilege(23) of calling you wife, I will place it upon my — upon my nose — and there wear it ever afterwards, in the less romantic, and less fashionable, but certainly in the more serviceable form which you desire.’ These were the exact words, my beloved husband, were they not?”

“They were,” I {ww}said; “you{ww} have an excellent{x} memory; and assuredly, my beautiful Eugénie, there is no disposition on my part to evade the performance of the trivial promise they{y} imply. See! Behold! They are becoming — rather{z} — are they not?” {aa}And here, having arranged the glasses{aa} in the ordinary form of spectacles, I applied them gingerly in their proper position; while Madame{b} Simpson, adjusting her cap, and folding her arms, sat bolt upright in her chair, in a somewhat stiff and prim, and indeed,{c} in a somewhat{d} undignified position.{e}

“Goodness gracious me!” I exclaimed almost at the very instant that the rim of the spectacles had{f} settled upon my nose — My!{g} goodness gracious me! — why what can be the matter with [page 911:] these glasses? and taking them quickly{h} off, I wiped them carefully with a silk handkerchief, and adjusted them again.{i}

But{j} if, in the first instance, there had occurred something which occasioned me surprise, in the second, this surprise became elevated into astonishment; and this astonishment was{k} profound — was extreme — indeed I {ll}may say it was horrific.{ll} What, in the name of everything hideous, did this mean? Could I believe my eyes? — could I? — that was the question. Was that — was that — was that rouge? And were those — and{m} were those — were those wrinkles upon the visage of Eugénie Lalande? And oh, Jupiter! and every one of the gods and goddesses, little and big! — what — what — what — what had become of her teeth? I dashed the spectacles violently{n} to the ground, and, leaping to my feet, stood erect in the middle of the floor, confronting Mrs. Simpson, {oo}with my arms set a-kimbo,{oo} and grinning and foaming, but, at the same time utterly speechless and helpless with terror and with rage.

Now I have already said that Madame Eugénie Lalande — that is to say, Simpson — spoke the English language but very little better{p} than she wrote it: and for this {qq}reason she very properly{qq} never attempted to speak it upon ordinary occasions. But rage will carry a lady to any extreme; and in the present case it carried Mrs. Simpson to the very extraordinary extreme of attempting to hold a conversation in a tongue {rr}that she did not altogether understand.{rr}

“Vell, Monsieur,” said she, after surveying {ss}me, in great apparent astonishment,{ss} for some moments — “vell, Monsieur! — and vat den? — vat de matter now? Is it de dance of de Saint Vitusse dat you ave? If not like me, vat for vy buy de pig in de poke?”

“You wretch!” said I, catching my breath — “you — you — you villainous old hag!” [page 912:]

“Ag? — ole? — me not so ver ole, after all! me not one single{t} day more dan de eighty-doo.”

“Eighty-two!”{u} I ejaculated, staggering to the wall — “eighty-two hundred thousand{v} baboons! The miniature said twenty-seven years and seven months!”

“To be sure! — dat is so! — ver true! but den de portraite has been take for dese{w} fifty-five year. Ven I go marry my segonde usbande, Monsieur Lalande, at dat time I had de portraite take for my daughter by my first usbande, Monsieur Moissart.”{x}

“Moissart!” said I.

“Yes, Moissart;”{y} said she, mimicking my pronunciation, which, to speak the truth, was none of the best; “and vat den? Vat you know bout de Moissart?”

“Nothing, you old fright! — I know nothing about him at all; only I had an ancestor of that name, once upon a time.”

“Dat name! and vat you ave for say to dat name? ’Tis ver goot name; and so is Voissart — dat is ver goot name too. My daughter, Mademoiselle{z} Moissart, she marry von Monsieur Voissart; and de name{a} is bote ver respectaable{b} name.”

“Moissart?” I exclaimed, “and Voissart! why what is it you mean?”

“Vat I {cc}mean? — I{cc} mean Moissart and Voissart; and for de matter of dat, I mean Croissart and Froissart, too, if I only tink proper{d} to mean it. My daughter’s daughter, Mademoiselle{e} Voissart, she marry von Monsieur Croissart, and den agin, my daughter’s grande daughter, Mademoiselle{f} Croissart; she marry von Monsieur Froissart; and I suppose you say dat dat is not von ver respectaable name.”

“Froissart!” said I, beginning to faint, “why surely you don’t say Moissart, and Voissart, and Croissart, and Froissart?” [page 913:]

“Yes,” she replied, {gg}leaning fully back in her chair, and stretching out her lower limbs at great length; “yes, Moissart,{gg} and Voissart, and Croissart, and Froissart. But Monsieur {hh}Froissart, he vas{hh} von ver big vat you call{i} fool — he vas von ver{j} great big donce like yourself{k} — for he lef la belle France for come to dis {ll}stupide Amérique{ll} — and ven he get here he vent and ave von ver stupide,{m} — von ver, ver stupide{n} sonn, so I hear, dough{o} I not yet av{p} ad de plaisir to meet vid him — neither{q} me nor my companion, de Madame Stéphanie{r} Lalande. He is name{s} de Napoleon Bonaparte{t} Froissart, and I suppose{u} you say dat dat, too is not{v} von ver respectaable name.”

Either the length or the nature of this speech, had the effect of working up Mrs. Simpson into a very {ww}extraordinary passion{ww} indeed: and {xx}as she made an end of it, with great labor,{xx} she jumped up from her chair like somebody bewitched, dropping upon the floor an entire universe of bustle as she jumped.(24) Once upon her feet, she gnashed her gums, brandished her arms, rolled up her sleeves, shook her fist in my face, and concluded the performance by tearing the cap from her head, and with it an immense wig of {yy}the most valuable and beautiful{yy} black hair, the whole of which she dashed upon the ground{z} with a {aa}yell, and there trampled and danced{aa} a fandango upon it, in an absolute ecstasy and agony of rage.

Meantime I sank aghast into the chair, which she had{b} vacated. “Moissart and Voissart!” I repeated, thoughtfully,{c} as she cut one of her pigeon-wings, and “Croissart and Froissart!” as she completed another — “Moissart and Voissart and Croissart and Napolean{d} [page 914:] Bonaparte{e} Froissart! — why, you ineffable old serpent,{f} that’s {gg}me — that’s me — d’ye{gg} hear? — that {hh}me” — here I screamed at the top of my voice — “that’s me e e!{hh} I am Napoleon Bonaparte{i} Froissart! and if I haven’t{j} married my great, great, grandmother, I wish I may be everlastingly confounded!”(25)

Madame Eugénie Lalande, quasi Simpson — formerly Moissart — was, in sober fact, my great, great, grandmother. In her youth she had been beautiful, and even at eighty-two, retained the majestic height, the sculptural contour of head, the fine eyes and the Grecian nose of her girlhood. By the aid of {kk}these, of pearl-powder, of rouge,{kk} of false hair, false teeth, and false tournure, as well as of the most skilful modistes{l} of Paris, she{m} contrived to hold a respectable footing among the beauties un{m’} peu passées of the French metropolis. In this respect, indeed, she might have been regarded as little less than the equal of the celebrated Ninon De l’Enclos.

She was immensely wealthy, and being left, for the second time, a {nn}widow without{nn} children, she bethought herself of my existence in America, {oo}and, for the purpose of making{oo} me her heir,{p} paid a visit to the United States, in company with a {qq}distant and exceedingly lovely{qq} relative of her second husband’s{r} — a Madame Stéphanie{s} Lalande.

At the opera, my great, great, grandmother’s attention was arrested by my notice; and, upon surveying me through her eye-glass, she was struck with a certain family resemblance to herself. Thus interested and knowing that the heir she sought was actually in the city, she made inquiries of her party respecting me. The gentleman who attended her knew my person, and told her who I was. The information thus obtained induced her to renew her [page 915:] scrutiny; and {tt}this scrutiny it was which so emboldened me that I behaved{tt} in the absurd manner already detailed. She returned my bow, however, under the impression that, by some odd accident, I had discovered her identity. When, deceived by my weakness of vision, and the arts of the toilet, in respect to the age and charms of the strange lady, I demanded so enthusiastically of Talbot who she was, he {uu}concluded that I meant the younger beauty, as a matter of course, and so informed me, with perfect truth,{uu} that she was “the celebrated widow, Madame Lalande.”

In the street, next morning, my great, great, grandmother encountered Talbot, an old Parisian acquaintance; and{v} the conversation, very naturally, turned upon myself. My deficiencies of vision were then explained; for these were notorious, although I was entirely ignorant of their {ww}notoriety; and my{ww} good old relative{x} discovered much to her chagrin, that she had been deceived in supposing me aware of her identity, and that I had been merely making a fool of myself, in making open love, in a theatre, to an old woman unknown.{y} By way of punishing me for this imprudence, she concocted with Talbot a plot.{z} He purposely kept out of my way, to avoid giving me the introduction. My street inquiries about “the lovely widow, Madame Lalande,” were supposed to refer to the younger lady, of course; and thus the{a} conversation with the three gentlemen whom I encountered shortly after{b} leaving Talbot’s hotel, will be easily explained, as also their allusion{c} to Ninon De l’Enclos.{d} I had no opportunity of seeing Madame Lalande closely during daylight and, at her{e} musical soirée, my silly weakness in refusing the aid of glasses, effectually prevented me from making a discovery of her age. When “Madame Lalande” was called upon to sing, {ff}the younger lady{ff} was intended; and it was she who arose to obey the call; my [page 916:] great, great, grandmother, to further the deception, arising at the same moment, and accompanying her to the piano in the main drawing-room. Had I decided upon escorting her thither, it had been her design to suggest the propriety of my remaining where I was; but{g} my own prudential views{h} rendered this unnecessary. The songs which I so much admired, and which so confirmed my impression{i} of the youth of my mistress, were executed{j} by Madame Stéphanie{k} Lalande.{l} The eye-glass was presented by way of adding a reproof to the hoax — a sting to the epigram of the deception. Its presentation afforded an opportunity for the lecture upon affectation with which I was so especially edified. It is almost superfluous to add that the glasses{m} of the instrument, as worn by the old lady, had been exchanged by her for a pair better adapted to my years. They suited me, in fact to a T.

The clergyman,{n} who merely pretended to tie the fatal knot, was a boon companion of Talbot’s, and no priest. He was an excellent “whip,”(26) however; and having doffed{o} his cassock to put on a great coat, he drove the hack which conveyed the “happy couple” out of town. Talbot took a seat at his side. The two scoundrels were thus “in at the death,” and through a half open window of the back parlor of the inn, amused themselves in grinning at the dénouement of the drama. I believe I shall be forced{p} to call them both out.

Nevertheless, I am not the husband of my great, great, grandmother; and this is a reflection which affords me infinite relief; — but I am the husband of Madame Lalande — of Madame Stéphanie{q} Lalande — with whom my good old relative, besides making me her sole heir when she dies — if she ever does — has been at the trouble of concocting me a match.{r} In conclusion: I am done forever{s} with billets doux, and am never to be met{t} without SPECTACLES.



[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 886:]

In printed letters beneath the title: By Edgar Allan Poe (B)

aa . . . aa  Some persons (B)

b  think clearly, (B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 887:]

cc . . . cc  most real and the (B)

d  at (B)

ee . . . ee  numerous (B)

f  this (B)

gg . . . gg  It is necessary (B)

h  Omitted (B)

i  Omitted (B)

jj . . . jj  twenty-two. (B)

k  a large / an (B)

l  Esquire. (A)

mm . . . mm  or baptismal names are Napoleon Buonaparte. I am now Napoleon Buonaparte Simpson. (B)

n  Not a paragraph (B)

oo . . . oo  “Simpson” with much reluctance; for (B)

p  may as well (B)

qq . . . qq  Monsieur George Froissart, (B)

r  Croissart, (B)

ss . . . ss  banker. His (B)

t  Omitted (B)

uu . . . uu  Monsieur Voissart; and this gentleman, (B)

v  wedded (A, B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 888:]

w  Moissart. (B)

xx . . . xx  But what I speak of now is the coincidence. Observe! Here are Moissart, Voissart, Croissart, and Froissart — all (B)

yy . . . yy  Act of the Pennsylvania Legislature; but (B)

zz . . . zz  annoying and useless (B)

aa . . . aa  so, so. (B)

b  and that I (B)

cc . . . cc  Omitted (B)

dd . . . dd  short of wearing spectacles. (B)

e  or which (B)

f  exactly (B)

gg . . . gg  sanctimoniousness. (B)

h  devout (B)

i  gentle sex. (B)

j  C — (A);(B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 889:]

kk . . . kk  night; the (B)

ll . . . ll  attraction; and thus (B)

m  preserved (A, B)

n  gazed at (B)

oo . . . oo  imaginable. (B)

p  stage, (D) comma deleted to follow A, B, C

q  “divine,” (D) comma deleted to follow A, B, C

rr . . . rr  construction of the box permitted nearly all of the person to be seen. It was (B)

s  nearly (A)

t  Omitted (A)

u  äerienne, (A, B, C, D)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 890:]

v  delicious (B)

w  gossamer (B)

xx . . . xx  not to be misunderstood, (B)

y  and of the (B)

z  and truth omitted (B)

a  about (B)

b  irrecoverably (A, B)

c  one (B)

d  seem (B)

e  Omitted (A, B)

f  enchanting (B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 891:]

g  New paragraph (B)

h  exalted (B)

i  subdued. (B)

j  of a (B)

k  of an (B)

l  — from the (B)

m  entirely (B)

n  behind (B)

o  Omitted (B)

p  Omitted (B)

q  Omitted (A, B)

r  my (B) Poe’s error

ss . . . ss  this. But even if this had not been so, I had no glass with me, (B)

t  companion, whose very existence I had for some time forgotten. (B)

uu . . . uu  a lorgnette — let (B)

vv . . . vv  “A lorgnette! (B)

w  I (A, B, C)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 892:]

xx . . . xx  opera-glass? — low! — very.” (A); a lorgnette?(B)

y  resumed, (B)

z  so (B)

aa . . . aa  “No doubt she is very beautiful,” (B)

b  be!” (A, C); be.” (B)

c  Yes — omitted (B)

d  present (B)

ee . . . ee  “Assuredly. When (B)

ff . . . ff  oblige me by just holding (B)

gg . . . gg  put Talbot under the obligation desired; (B)

h  upon (A, B)

i  supremely (B)

j  still there was (B)

k  something which (B)

ll . . . ll  imagination was (B)

m  of sadness, (B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 893:]

n  of course, omitted (B)

o  Omitted (B)

p  Nevertheless, (B)

qq . . . qq  averted (B)

r  round, (A, B)

s  turn aside (B)

tt . . . tt  eye-glass, elevated it, and (B)

u  sure (B)

v  or to (B)

w  in short, with (B)

xx . . . xx  breeding (B)

y  was (A) misprint

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 894:]

zz . . . zz  Omitted (B)

a  The (A, B)

bb . . . bb  universal (B)

c  now being / being now (B)

d  towards (A, B)

ee . . . ee  She scrutinized me thus (B)

ff . . . ff  and then suddenly (B)

gg . . . gg  her. While (B)

h  Not a new paragraph (B)

ii . . . ii  she (B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 895:]

j  bow. (B)

k  to (B)

l  flitted (B)

mm . . . mm  Omitted (B)

n  profound (A, B, C)

o  of my (B)

pp . . . pp  nods. (B)

q  of heart omitted (B)

r  New paragraph (B)

s  first (B)

tt . . . tt  “love at first sight.” At (B)

u  and was (B)

v  breeding — so refined (B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 896:]

ww . . . ww  uncalculating, as uncompromising, as (B)

x  New paragraph (B)

y  Omitted (B)

z  endeavor (A); endeavour (B)

a  Omitted (B)

b  this attempt, (B)

cc . . . cc  Omitted (B)

d  with (B)

ee . . . ee  dreary, snail-paced, (B)

ff . . . ff  “even Stamboul,” (B)

gg . . . gg  “shall have an end,” (B)

h  its (B)

i  a (B)

jj . . . jj  paces, “out! — let (B)

k  should (A, B)

l  say something, (B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 897:]

mm . . . mm  myself; perhaps, indeed, he had (B)

n  was he / had he been (B)

o  Omitted (B)

pp . . . pp  I found, she was known (B)

qq . . . qq  by sight to many (B)

rr . . . rr  days, and thus there were not more than one or two who professed a personal knowledge. (B)

s  few, omitted (B)

t  with (B)

u  stood thus, / stood, however, (B)

v  surpassingly (B)

w  the (B)

x  the (A, B)

y  as it passed (B)

z  sate (A, B)

a  “has still (B)

b  lovely (B)

[the following variants appear at the bottom of page 898:]

cc . . . cc  “Still!” said I, “and why not?” (B)

d  Omitted (A, B)

e  Here the whole trio laughed. added as a new paragraph (B)

ff . . . ff  ha!” said the third, “why, (B)

g  here, as (B)

hh . . . hh  he commenced (B)

i  Couplet italicized (B)

jj . . . jj  Omitted (B)

k  forced (B)

l  New paragraph (B)

m  until after (A, B)

n  be thus / thus be (B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 899:]

o  her (B)

p  Omitted (B)

q  folly. (B)

r  leave (B)

s  presentation. (B)

tt . . . tt  hand, as of my heart. (B)

u  of a (A, B)

vv . . . vv  Yes; — came. (B)

w  from the (B)

x  Omitted (B)

y  proposal. (B)

z  will (A)

a  well (A)

b  only of (B)

c  have (A)

d  opportunite (A)

e  to — l’etudier. (A); to learn. (B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 900:]

f  Wid (A)

g  the manière, / de maniere, (A); de maniére of dis leettle note, (B); de manière, (C)

h  Vat is need (B)

i  Hélas? (D) changed to follow A, B, C

j  EUGÉNIE (B) unaccented in A, C, D

k  letter (B)

l  which (B)

m  New paragraph And still (B)

n  instantly (B)

o  not. (B)

p  would now (A, B)

q  fool! I had acquainted him with the exigencies of the case, and, (B)

rr . . . rr  enclose me an introduction? (B)

ss . . . ss  pencil: (B)

t  Mr Talbot left (B)

uu . . . uu  unknown. Didn’t (B)

v  Omitted (B)

w  left me, however, (B)

x  Omitted (B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 901:]

y  custom (B)

z  twilight every fine evening, (B)

a  practice (B)

bb . . . bb  certain one of our public squares (B)

cc . . . cc  the windows of her residence. (B)

dd . . . dd  overshadowing grove, (B)

e  uncertainty (B)

ff . . . ff  Midsum-[sic] gloaming — here, at length, watching my opportunity, I (B)

g  welcome (B)

h  diminutive (B)

i  valêt (C)

j  even much (B)

k  to all (A, B)

l  union. (B)

m  gone by. / departed. What would the world say? (B)

n  thus, of course, (B)

o  date (B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 902:]

p  a charming / an (B)

q  näiveté (A, B, C, D)

rr . . . rr  phantasy (B)

ss . . . ss  fabric of argumentation (B)

tt . . . tt  best I / I best (A, B)

uu . . . uu  passion — of my devotion (B)

v  adoration. (B)

w  of true (B)

x  Omitted (B)

y  resistance. (B)

z  sufficiently (B)

aa . . . aa  delicate. In touching upon (B)

bb . . . bb  feelings — of the finest sensibilities of her nature; — still, (B)

c  and would be willingly (B)

d  very (B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 903:]

ee . . . ee  should, under no circumstances, (B)

f  Eugénie (A, B); Eugènie (C, D) throughout

g  and (B)

hh . . . hh  “Dearest,” (B)

ii . . . ii  age surpasses, (B)

j  But what / What (B)

kk . . . kk  — what are they, after all, but so many conventional impertinences? (B)

l  we do, (B)

m  sweetest (B)

n  than — omitted (B)

o  a brief (A)

p  question, (B)

q  presented to her. / presented. (A, B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 904:]

r  Omitted (B)

s  seem just now (B)

tt . . . tt  growing rather dark, to be sure, (B)

u  friends here (A, B)

v  you, too, / you (B)

w  mansion, which belonged to one of her relatives, (B)

x  twenty-four hours. (B)

yy . . . yy  Not long (B)

z  suite, (B)

a  the individual members of a (B)

b  and one / — a custom (B)

c  of (A, B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 905:]

d  been sitting (B)

e  friend of / companion at (B)

f  her thither (B)

g  the peculiar (A, B)

hh . . . hh  it might be more agreeable to Madame Lalande that I should (B)

i  was (B)

j  Omitted (B)

k  are (A, B)

l  Carlos, it (B)

m  fiorituri (A, B, C, D)

n  finale (B)

o  brought about / wrought (B)

p  guinge (A, B, C, D)

q  Couplet italicized (B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 906:]

r  imagine (B)

s  while she (B)

t  more acceptable (B)

u  New paragraph (B)

vv . . . vv  flirtations — even upon my personal defects. (B)

w  Omitted (B)

x  been surely / surely been (B)

yy . . . yy  I take it for granted that, without the confession, you would never have been suspected (B)

z  remembrance” (B)

a  assistant — of this little aid to vision, (B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 907:]

b  opera, while she had employed it with so magnificent a nonchalance. (B)

c  too well do (A, B)

d  glass, or rather glasses, (B)

ee . . . ee  gorgeous and complex (B)

f  somewhat (B)

g  little (B)

h  very (B)

ii . . . ii  Omitted (B); mon amie, (D) misprint

i  said she, / she said, (A, B, C)

k  rather (B)

ll . . . ll  this weakness (B)

m  this paltry (B)

nn . . . nn  to wear spectacles: (B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 908:]

o  although (A, B)

p  great (B)

qq . . . qq  intrinsically. (B)

rr . . . rr  — thus (B)

ss . . . ss  the jewels with which it is set, disappear, and it assumes the form of ordinary spectacles; by sliding it thus, again, it re-appears in the more gaudy dress, and the more tonnish shape, of an eye-glass. (B)

t  arrangement, (B)

u  Omitted (B)

v  confused and annoyed (B)

w  small (B)

x  Omitted (A, B)

y  sacrifise (C)

z  eye-glass, in my waist-coat pocket, (B)

a  privilege (A, B)

b  The (B)

c  arrangement (A, B)

d  soirèe (C, D)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 909:]

e  a hotel, / an Hotel, (B)

f  New paragraph (B)

g  eyes! — those resplendent teeth! (B)

hh . . . hh  Italicized (B)

i  arrangements (B)

j  and by (A, B)

k  and there / there to (B)

l  sate (A, B, C)

m  daylight at all. / daylight. (B)

n  thus (B)

[the following variants appear at the bottom of page 910:]

oo . . . oo  my reflections, (B)

p  are, at length, (B)

qq . . . qq  entreaties — since I have (B)

r  you (B)

s  New paragraph (B)

t  done,’ you said, (B)

u  sacrifise (C)

vv . . . vv  in my waist coat-pocket, (B)

ww . . . ww  replied — “by the bye, you (B)

x  an excellent / a capital (B)

y  these words (B)

z  rather (B)

aa . . . aa  In a new paragraph Here, taking the glasses from my waistcoat-pocket, and arranging them (B)

b  Mrs (B)

c  indeed, I am sorry to say, (B)

d  rather (B)

e  posture. (B)

f  Omitted (B)

g  “My! (B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 911:]

h  hurriedly (B)

i  While I was doing all this, Mrs Simpson said not a word, and moved not a muscle, but looked very serious and very solemn, and continued to sit bolt upright, as before. added (B)

j  Well, I adjusted the glasses and put them on again; but (B)

k  was immense — was (B)

ll . . . ll  may as well say, at once, it was horrific. (B)

m  Omitted (A, B, C)

n  Omitted (B)

oo . . . oo  Omitted (B)

p  better, if not a great deal worse, (B)

qq . . . qq  reason, very properly, she (B)

rr . . . rr  she knew nothing about. (B)

ss . . . ss  me, with great disdain, (B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 912:]

t  one single / von (B)

u  “Eighty-two!(B)

v  thousand of she (A, B)

w  dis (B)

x  Moissart?” (D) changed to period as in A, B, C

y  Moissart, Moissart,” (A, B, C)

z  Ma’mselle (B); Madamoiselle (C, D)

a  names (A)

b  respectable (A)

cc . . . cc  mean?” said she, putting her arms akimbo — “vy, I (B)

d  proper for (B)

e  Ma’mselle (B); Madamoiselle (C)

f  Ma’mselle (B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 913:]

gg . . . gg  shaking her head up and down, as some people do when very much in a passion, — “Yes! Yes! — Moissart, (B)

hh . . . hh  Froissart, who married my grande-daughter, he was (B)

i  call de (B)

j  ver (B)

k  youself (B)

ll . . . ll  stoopide Amerique (B)

m  stoopide, (B)

n  stoopide (B)

o  for (B)

p  Omitted (B)

q  neider (B)

r  Accent omitted (A, C, D)

s  name, dough, (B)

t  Buonaparte (B)

u  sooppose (B)

v  not de (B)

ww . . . ww  stupendous excitement, (B)

xx . . . xx  as, with great labor, she made an end of it, (B)

yy . . . yy  valuable (B)

z  floor (B)

aa . . . aa  yell — there trampling and dancing (B)

b  Omitted (A)

c  musingly, (B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 914:]

d  Napolean (D) misprint

e  Buonaparte (B)

f  wretch, (B)

gg . . . gg  me. D’ye (B)

hh . . . hh  me — that’s mee” [Here I shouted at the top of my voice] — “that’s me-e-e-e! (B)

i  Buonaparte (B)

j  havn’t (A, B, C); hav’nt. (D)

kk . . . kk  these — of rouge, of pearl-powder, (B)

l  modistes (B)

m  she easily (A, B)

m’  en (D) misprint

nn . . . nn  I widow, with no surviving (B)

oo . . . oo  and resolved, in a freak of fancy, to make (B)

p  heir. For this purpose she (B)

qq . . . qq  very lovely and accomplished friend — a distant (B)

r  husband (B)

s  Stéphanie (B); Stephanie (A, C, D)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 915:]

tt . . . tt  it was this scrutiny which emboldened me to behave (B)

uu . . . uu  concluded, as a matter of course, that it was the younger beauty whom I meant. He therefore told me, with perfect sincerity, (B)

v  when (B)

ww . . . ww  notoriety. My (B)

x  relative thus (B)

y  New paragraph (B)

z  Clauses transposed (B)

a  will be understood my (B)

b  shortly after / upon (B)

cc . . . cc  Hotel. Thus, also, is explained the allusion of one of them (B)

d  New paragraph (B)

e  the (B)

ff . . . ff  Madame Stéphanie Lalande (B)

[The following variants appear at the bottom of page 916:]

g  Omitted (B)

h  views, however, (B)

i  impressions (A, B)

j  executed, of course, (B)

k  Stéphanie (B); Stephanie (A, C, D)

l  New paragraph (B)

m  glasses (B)

n  “clergyman,” (B)

o  donned (A, B)

p  be forced / have (B)

q  Stéphanie (B); Stephanie (A, C, D)

r  New paragraph (B)

s  Omitted (B)

t  seen (B)


[page 917:]


1.  “Love at first sight” seems to be first recorded from Marlowe’s Hero and Leander (1598), I, 176.

2.  The absurdity of the term “Christian” for a name like Buonaparte is obvious; Napoleon is, however, as the Emperor remarked, the name of a Corsican saint. In reviewing William Ellery Channing’s poems in Graham’s for August 1843, Poe has a concluding paragraph making humorous comparison of Socrates Smith and Napoleon Bonaparte Jones with their famous namesakes.

It may be noted that Alexander Slidell, whose signature Poe had reproduced with letter 31 of “Autography,” added MacKenzie to his name by authority of the New York legislature. The name was much in the news in 1843 and 1844 while he was being tried and vindicated for his action as commander of the brig Somers in ordering the execution at sea of young Philip Spencer, son of the Secretary of War, and another member of the crew for attempted mutiny in December 1842.

3.  Poe may have had in mind his later friend Richard Adams Locke’s collateral descent from John Locke. There also may be a subtle joke in that Jean Froissart (1388-1410) almost certainly never married.

Compare other lists of rhyming names in “Diddling” at n. 23 and “Thou Art the Man,” paragraph 23. Haldeen Braddy (in Glorious Incense, p. 44) contrasts the set of rhyming names here with an anagrammatic series in Voltaire’s Zadig: Nabussan, Nabussab, Nabassun, and Sanbusna.

4.  The Park Theatre was the leading playhouse of New York.

5.  The Psyche par excellence is the head and torso at Naples.

6.  Ventum textilem is really from Petronius, Satyricon, 55, but the ascription to Apuleius is in Ménagiana (2nd ed., Paris, 1694), p. 265; Poe might have found it also under “Some Ingenious Thoughts” in D’Israeli’s Curiosities of Literature: “Apuleius calls these neck-kerchiefs so glassy fine, (may I so express myself?) which in veiling, discover the beautiful bosom of a woman, ventum textilem; which may be translated as woven air. It is an expression beautifully fanciful.” Poe alluded to ventum textilem also in the review of Drake and Halleck in the Southern Literary Messenger, April 1836; in a review of Moore’s Alciphron in Burton’s, January 1840; and again in “Marginalia,” number 44 (Democratic Review, December 1844, p. 580). See also “aerial silk” in the first version of “The Duc De l’Omelette” (variants, at n. 18).

7.  The hero of “The Business Man,” in his Day-Book, under January 3, recounts how he rudely quizzed a theater party through an opera glass hoping to provoke assault and battery as grounds for a suit.

8.  Paradise Lost, IV, 830, “Not to know me argues yourselves unknown,” is slightly misquoted.

9.  The name Lalande is from the celebrated opera singer, Mme. Henriette Clementine Lalande (1797-1867) who married M. Méric (but used her maiden name). She is mentioned in the Countess de Merlin’s Memoirs and Letters of [page 918:] Madame Malibran (Philadelphia, 1840). Poe reviewed the book in Burton’s, May 1840. See n. 18 below for another use of this book in the present tale.

10.  See St. Matthew 14:36 for touching the hem of a garment.

11.  Poe used the proverbial expression about “Stamboul” (Constantinople) also in “Letter to Mr. ——— ” in 1831.

12.  Erebus is Hades.

13.  Antares, alpha of the southern constellation Scorpio, is a red star of the first magnitude. For other comparisons of great and small things see “Diddling” at n. 9, and that note.

14.  Ninon de Lenclos, or l’Enclos, a seventeenth century French “woman of pleasure” celebrated for her wit and charm, was famous also for her beauty even in old age; she is said to have had lovers mad about her in her ninth decade.

15.  Hock is a common term for Rhine wine and is the Anglicized form of Hochheimer, the label under which most Rhine wine was shipped to England in the eighteenth century.

16.  Compare Poe’s dedication of The Raven and Other Poems (1845): “. . . To Miss Elizabeth Barrett Barrett . . . with the most enthusiastic admiration.” (See Mabbott, I, 578.) “The course of true love never did run smooth” is from Midsummer Night’s Dream, I, i, 134.

17.  This is the Argand lamp, of which in “Philosophy of Furniture” at n. 10 the author says, “Never was a more lovely thought than that of the astral lamp.”

18.  The description of Madame Lalande’s singing comes from the account given of Malibran’s practice in the Countess de Merlin’s Memoirs and Letters of Madame Malibran (cited in n. 9 above), II, 110, “Notes, Anecdotes — Style of Singing.”

19.  The references must be to the canzone sung by Desdemona in Gioachino Antonio Rossini’s Otello (1816), Act III, Scene 1; and to Vincenzo Bellini, Montecchi e Capuletti (1830), Act IV, Scene 1 (information by courtesy of H. Mott Brennan).

20.  San Carlo is the opera house at Naples.

21.  See Bellini’s Sonnambula (1831), Act III, Scene x.

22.  “Speaking image” is a commonplace; compare note on the motto of “Life in Death,” the earliest version of “The Oval Portrait,” p. 666.

23.  Evidence of Poe’s haste in revising the Broadway Journal text of the story is his failure to make the repeated speech conform to its first occurrence.

24.  Poe also ridiculed bustles in “The Thousand-and-Second Tale” and in “Mellonta Tauta.”

25.  Compare Poe’s letter to his friends F. W. Thomas and Jesse E. Dow, March 16, 1843: “I never saw a man . . . more surprised to see another. He . . . would as soon have thought of seeing his great-great-great-grandmother.” [page 919:]

26.  The OED quotes Pickwick Papers in illustration of the word “whip” used as Poe uses it here: “You‘re a wery good whip, and can do what you like with your horses.”



[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 883:]

*  Poe (1885), p. 246.

  Chivers to Poe, February 21, 1847, in The Complete Works of Thomas Holley Chivers, edited by E. L. Chase and L. F. Parks, I (1957), 70.

  See American Literature, May 1965.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 884:]

§  See George C. D. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage, IV (1928), 314. Bayly’s farce was performed in several American cities in 1839 and subsequent years, and copies of many London issues during the next few decades are to be found in American libraries.

*  See Poe’s letter to Cornelius Mathews, March 15, 1844. Poe had reviewed Horne’s epic Orion enthusiastically in Graham’s for that month.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 885:]

  Horne’s reminiscences of Poe, in a letter of April 8, 1876, were published by Sara Sigourney Rice in Edgar Allan Poe: A Memorial Volume (1877), pp. 81-84. Poe’s manuscript came into the hands of Horne’s literary executor, H. Buxton Forman; I saw it at the auction of his collection in New York, March 16, 1920 (item 551). It was sold again in the Frank J. Hogan sale, January 24, 1945 (lot 562). It is now at the University of Texas. A complete photostat of the manuscript (which is not in roll form) was sent me by William H. Koester.

  My attention was called to this reprinting by Miss Harriet MacPherson, who told me the item was discovered by R. M. Hogg. The copy of the magazine in the Yale University Library shows that Poe’s name as author is carried under the title.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 885, running to the bottom of page 886:]

§  The article in Liberty introducing the tale is credited to one Edward Doherty. It ascribes the discovery of the text to the noted collector Richard Gimbel who found it, unsigned, in “a bound volume of an American magazine” and “has convinced himself and the editors of Liberty that it is a genuine Poe story.” The article concludes with the statement that “The name of the magazine in which the story was found is being withheld for a short time to permit of additional research and of copyright protection.” [Mr. Howell J. Heaney Rare Book Librarian of the Free Library of Philadelphia where the Richard Gimbel Collection now is, in a letter of March 25, 1976, states: “We have no evidence that Colonel Gimbel ever said where he found the story, or left a note citing its publication in any of the magazines in his very large collection of those of the period at which the story was supposed to have been published.”]

The text of the tale as given in Liberty is the same as that “Uncovered and Published by Richard Gimbel, Philadelphia, July 1938” in an edition limited to 100 copies of a tiny sixteen-page brochure with stiff purple paper covers. Heartman and Canny (A Bibliography of . . . Poe, 1943, pp. 30-31) describe the little brochure and quote Mr. Gimbel as saying that he published the text “in three forms besides that in Liberty, all using the same printing of the text” — 100 copies in the stiff purple paper covers, a later issue of 1000 copies in thin pink paper covers, then a number of copies “bound up for presentation purposes in heavy white paper with a rough edge in purple.”

The same text as that in Mr. Gimbel’s pamphlet appears on the second, third, and fourth pages — two columns to a page — of a square (12 mo) four-page pamphlet entitled “THE SPECTACLES / Short Story By / EDGAR ALLEN [sic] POE” with [page 886:] the imprint “CAREY & LEA / Philadelphia / 1830.” This item, in the collection of the American Antiquarian Society, is described and discussed by Heartman and Canny (pp. 29-32), and firmly rejected as a “wretched piece of printing, apparently done in the last couple of years.” It is obviously a fraud. [Professor J. J. Moldenhauer writes us that at the University of Texas there is a pamphlet imprinted “CAREY & LEA / Philadelphia / 1842” which presents on seven pages 3 5/16 by 4 5/8 inches a text identical with that in Liberty. This item is noted as a “Printed Pamphlet, THE SPECTACLES . . . text unrelated to the manuscript and authentic published forms, and apparently a forgery” on page 7 of Professor Moldenhauer’s Descriptive Catalog cited below.]




Gimbel’s unnamed source has at last been discovered as the Lady’s Book (later Godey’s), April 1836, pp. 168-169. The story was reprinted, without acknowledgment, from the Court Journal (London), August 1, 1835 (no. 327), pp. 482-83. As the story “found” by Gimbel is not by Poe, the two pamphlets are clearly modern forgeries. See Savoye, “Focusing on a Pair of False ‘Spectacles’,” E. A. Poe Review, Spring 2009, pp. 98-102 — JAS.


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