Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Marginalia [Stedman Manuscript],” manuscript (transcript and fragments), about March 1848


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[[fragment A>>]]

MARGINALIA.

By Edgar A. Poe.

Abstruseness is a quality appertaining to no subject of human consideration, per se. To him who approaches them by properly graduated steps, all topics are alike in facility of comprehension. It is merely because a stepping-stone, here and there, is heedlessly left unsupplied in our road to the Differential Calculus, that this latter is not altogether as simple a thing as a sonnet by Mr. Solomon Seesaw. [[<<A]]

——

In a well-written article on Macaulay, Mr. W. A. Jones (one of our best essayists, although overflowing with petty prejudice) cites the following “sharp, epigrammatic paragraph on Southey’s political bias” as so happy in its merely grammatical construction as “to defy improvement”.

“Government is to Mr Southey one of the fine arts. He judges of a theory or a public measure, of a religion, a political party, a peace or a war, as men judge of a picture or a statue, by the effect produced on his imagination. A chain of associations is to him what a chain of reasoning is to other men; and what he calls his opinions are in fact merely his tastes.”

I respect the rhetorical powers of Macaulay quite as highly as Mr Jones can possibly do — but it seems to me that the paragraph quoted is somewhat exceptionable.

In the first sentence, “Mr Southey”, as being the topic, should have precedence of “government”; and “one of the fine arts” is circumlocutory.  

The second sentence is by no means explicit. “He judges of a theory &c &c as men judge of a picture or a statue” — here we pause to ask how men judge of a picture or a statue, when Mr Macaulay adds — “by the effect produced on his imagination.” But they do not; they judge by the effect produced on their own. There is a needless repetition, too, of “judges” with “judge”; and the phrase “as men judge”, used in place of “as other men judge”, leaves Mr. Southey quite out of the category of men. “The men”, also, is too closely followed by “other men” in the next sentence; while “association” comes jingling too immediately with “imagination” just above. The tautological use of “what” is, moreover, uncouth. As for the last half of the last sentence, not only has it the identical tournure of the first half, but it is pleonastic and ungrammatical. The relative, singular pronoun “what”, meaning “that thing which”, is by a gross oversight, used as a nominative to the plural “are.” The whole paragraph is deficient in spirit, and, with all necessary deference, I maintain that we shall improve it in writing it thus:

To Mr Southey, government is a fine art. Of peace or war — of a theory, a religion, or a public measure — he judges by the imaginative effect, as a picture or statue is estimated by other men. To them, what a chain of reasoning is, to him is a chain of association; and, as to his opinions, they are nothing but his tastes.

——

[[fragment B>>]]

Mr Henry B. Hirst, of Philadelphia, has written some minor poems of peculiar merit — a ballad called “Isabelle”, for example and a sonnet entitled “Astarte”.  Here are two sweetly imaginative passages from “The Owl”:

When twilight fades and evening falls

Alike on tree and tower,

And Silence, like a pensive maid,

Walks round each slumbering bower;

When fragrant flowerets fold their leaves

And all is still in sleep,

The hornéd owl, on moonlit wing,

Flies from the donjon keep.

 

And he calls aloud “too-whit! Too-whoo!”

And the nightingale is still,

And the pattering step of the hurrying hare

Is hushed upon the hill;

And he crouches low in the dewy grass

As the lord of the night goes by,

Not with a loudly whirring wing

But like a lady’s sigh.

Every critic will admit that the images in the lines italicized, are such as only a true poet could conceive; at the same time they are embodied with much art.

I am particularly pleased, too, with the concluding quatrain of “The Lament of Adam” — a fine specimen of well-managed dactylic rhythm:

Life hath its pleasures — but perishing they as the flowers;

Sin hath its sorrows; and, sighing, we turned from those bowers;

Bright were the angles behind, with their falchions of heavenly flame;

Dark was the desolate desert before us, but darker the depth of our shame. [[<<B]]

Mr. Hirst’s longer poems fail, in some measure, through want of merely constructive ability in their author, but evince, nevertheless, at numerous points, a rich although extravagant fancy, and a fervid appreciation of Beauty.

The least pardonable fault of Mr Hirst is his propensity to imitation. He writes nothing which does not immediately put us in mind of something written by somebody else; and he has the bad habit of pushing his imitations far beyond the verge of caricature. These are trifles, however, which, for the present, his friends over-look; and I have considered myself as one of them. [[fragment C>>]]

In a late number of “The Philadelphia Saturday Courier” Mr Hirst has taken it into his head, anonymously, to accuse me of pilfering from him. He says:

“We have spoken of the mystical appearance of Astarte as a fine touch of art. This is borrowed, and from the first canto of Hirst’s “Endymion”, published years since in ‘The Southern Literary Messenger’ — [[<<C]]

Slowly Endymion bent, the light Elysian

Flooding his figure. Kneeling on one knee,

He loosed his sandals, lea

And lake and woodland glittering on his vision —

A fairy landscape, bright and beautiful,

With Venus at her full.
 

Astarte is another name for Venus; and when we remember that Diana is about to descend to Endymion — that the scene which is about to follow is one of love — that Venus is the star of love, and that Hirst (with whom the writer has no personal acquaintance, of course,) by introducing it as he does, shadows out his story exactly as Mr Poe introduces his Astarte, the plagiarism of idea becomes evident.” [[fragment D>>]]

All this is about a poem published anonymously in “The American Review”, and of which I am by no means sure (although Mr Hirst is) that I am the author. It is called “Ulalume”. The passage about Astarte, which Mr H. says I purloined from the already quoted passage from Endymion, runs thus:

And now, as the night was senescent

And stardials pointed to morn —

As the stardials hinted of morn —

At the end of our path a liquescent

And nebulous lustre was born,

Out of which a miraculous crescent

Arose with a duplicate horn —

Astarte’s bediamonded crescent,

Distinct with its duplicate horn.

The resemblance between the two passages can now be satisfactorily determined by any reader, for himself, without >>any<< assistance from me; and at this point the topic may stand.  Let me add, however, one suggestion to the multitude of literary hints which I have already given Mr Hirst, privately, and of which he has so plentifully availed himself that I sometimes fancy his poems to be merely our conversations done into verse — let me just suggest to him that, in the concluding two lines of his own passage as quoted, there is an identical rhyme — no doubt an oversight — but one which may as well be remedied in a second edition.

In the meantime, here is a passage from a little poem which I really did write — “Lenore”: “How shall the ritual, then, be read? — the requiem how be sung By you — by yours, the evil eye — by yours, the slanderous tongue That did to death the innocence that died and died so young?” And here, again, is a passage from a poem by Mr Hirst, published in the last January number of “Graham’s Magazine”:

“Mine the tongue that wrought this evil — mine the false and slanderous tongue

That DONE to death the Lady Gwineth — O, my soul is sadly wrung!

‘Demon! devil!’ groaned the warrior — ‘devil of the evil eye!

Look upon the awful horror wrought by thy atrocious lie!’ “

Now my objection, in this case, is not to the larceny per se. I have always told Mr Hirst that, provided he stole my poetry in a reputable manner, he might steal just as much of it as he thought proper — and, so far, he has behaved very well, in largely availing himself of the privilege. But what I do object to, is the being robbed in bad grammar. It is not that Mr Hirst did this thing — but that he has went and done did it. [[<<D]]

——

[[fragment E>>]]

John Neal is by no means noticeable for finish. His art is great and of a high character; but is massive rather than detailed. He seems to be either deficient in a sense of completeness, or unstable in temperament; so that he grows wearied with his work before getting it done. He begins well — vigorously — startingly — proceeds by fits — much at random — now prosing, now gossiping, now running away with his subject, now exciting vivid interest; but his conclusions are sure to be hurried and indistinct; so that the reader, perceiving a falling off where he expects a climax, is pained, and, closing the book with dissatisfaction, is in no mood to do the author justice, by giving him credit for the vivid sensations [[<<E]] which have been aroused during the progress of perusal, of all literary foibles the most fatal, perhaps, is that of defective climax.

——
 

“Its branches, long and green, shall hang

My unremembered grave above.”

This putting the adjective after the noun is merely an inexcusable Gallicism; but the putting the preposition after the noun is alien to all language and in opposition to its principles. Such things, in general, only betray the versifier’s poverty of resource. When an inversion occurs, we say to ourselves:  — “Here the poet lacked the skill to make out his line without distorting the natural or colloquial order of the words.” Now and then, however, we must refer the error, not to deficiency of skill, but to something far less defensible — to an idea that such tortuosities belong to the essence of poetry — that it needs them to distinguish it from prose; and that we are poetical much in the ratio of our unprosaicalness at these points. People who think in this way, while using the phrase “poetic license” — a phrase which has to answer for an infinity of sins — seem to have an indistinct conviction that the license in question involves within itself a necessity of being adopted — of being taken advantage of. The true artist will avail himself of no “license” whatever. The very word will disgust him; for it says: — “Since you seem unable to manage without these pecadillo advantages, you must have them, I suppose; and the world, half-shutting its eyes, will do its best not to see the awkwardness which they stamp upon your poem.”

Few things have greater tendency than inversion, to render verse feeble and ineffective. In most cases where a line is spoken of as “forcible”, the force may be referred to directness of expression. I say “in most cases”, and with perfect deliberation. A vast majority of the [[fragment F>>]] passages which have become household through frequent quotation, owe their popularity either to this directness or, in general, to the scorn of poetic license. In short, as regards verbal construction, the more prosaic a poetical style is, the better. Through this species of prosaicism Cowper, with scarcely one of the higher poetical elements, came very near making his age fancy him the equal of Pope; and to the same cause are attributable three fourths of that unusual point and force for which, in later days, Thomas Moore has become so distinguished. It is the prosaicism of these two writers to which is owing their particular quotability. [[<<F]]

——

[[fragment G>>]]  

I propose to demonstrate, at the first convenient opportunity, that all impressions of both physical and moral Beauty are rigorously mathematical, and have their ultimate source in the simple appreciation of equality. This proposition will not appear so startling when we observe that all conceivable forms are radically and essentially triangular. Mathematics, in fact, are the soul — are the true poetry of the Universe. We recognize the existence of design — of a Creator — solely through our observation of the natural mathematics.

——

In “The Child of the Sea” — of whose author and her exquisitely plaintive “Forsaken” I spoke at length in one of the previous “Marginalia” — there are numerous passages of Byronic fervor — quite different from anything written by an American — if we except, perhaps, Mrs Brooks (Maria Del Occidente) author of “The Bride of Seven”. “The Child of the Sea”, when published, will secure the fame of Mrs. Lewis — but for some reason which I cannot well explain, I prefer, in several respects, her fugitive pieces. Here are some fine quatrains from an admirable little poem “To Una”:

Sere lies my heart — and sere its world:

Since thou wert from its altars hurled

My Spirit’s pinions have been furled

Like sails becalmed.

 

Love on my heart thy form did stamp

Thy beauty, like a vestal lamp,

Within my Soul’s cell dark and damp

Forever burns:

 

And unto thee (as to its goal, —

Gazes athirst the stranded soul —

As points the magnet to the pole) —

My sick heart turns.

 
——

“The Wandering Jew” seems to be the result of Sue’s having become interested in certain narratives where ingenuity was the impression conveyed. The whole idea of the work is trick played against trick. His ingenuity, however, is so wofully overdone — is so miserably caricatured — as to cease being ingenuity in becoming pure fuss and irrelevancy. Ingenuity, with him, gets at last to be the end, not the means. The most distressingly roundabout machinations are set on foot to accomplish objects which every reader sees at a glance might have been accomplished by the most ordinary manœuvres — in fact, without any manœuvring at all. There are some minds, nevertheless, which do receive the intended impression, ingenuity, simply on account of the defect I here point out — the defect of irrelevancy — on account of the unusualness or unexpectedness of the means through which the results are wrought. Of the machinations of Rodin and his crew it may be said, speaking loosely, that the reader would be warranted, at any given point, in betting ten to one that, if resorted to in actual life, they would fail in working out the purposes intended. Where Djalma, for example, is mystified into committing a murder, the chances are at least a hundred to one that his own destruction (the ultimate design and the result so confidently anticipated by the Jesuit) would not be brought to pass; and was it consistent with the Jesuitical character (as represented) to leave anything to chance at all, when, the morrow being the final day of settlement, there was so little opportunity of repairing an error?

But the book abounds in the grossest inconsistencies and inadvertencies — points which might be more easily overlooked were it not that skill — that ingenuity — is so obviously the design of the whole fiction.

How glaringly improbable that Rodin, going to a certain chateau on the sea-coast for the first and only time in his life, should arrive there on the very night, of all others, in which Djalma (the victim especially sought) should happen to be thrown ashore, the sole survivor of a wreck, at that very particular point of the whole coast! Nor is there even an attempt to establish a plausibility —   a sequence of cause and effect; the reader is required to acquiesce in the matter as in a simple and ordinary coincidence! If such mere coincidences do occur, now and then, in Nature, they should at least never be made to occur in any fiction pretending to be natural. [[<<G]] [[fragment H>>]]

Marshall Simon is represented as being aware of deadly intentions toward his daughters, on the part of the Jesuits — of their being in siege of the house to entrap and destroy these two girls — and of the fact that, when three days shall have expired, all danger will cease; and yet some mere matters of business which might readily have been postponed (and which the author does not even think it necessary to say could not have been postponed) are supposed to be sufficient, in spite of his intense anxiety on account of these daughters, to take him away from them before the expiration of three days. The result of his abandonment is their death! [[<<H]] [[fragment I>>]]

The plots of the Jesuits are represented as being thoroughly understood by all the heirs at an early period of the narrative; and yet the heirs take no joint precautions — no united measures. Naturally, considering how brief was the period during which evil was to be apprehended — that their lives were, nevertheless, in extreme danger during this brief period, and that the amount of money at issue was forty or fifty millions of francs — naturally, I say, these heirs would have concerted measures for their mutual protection — would have applied to the police — at all events would have secluded and fortified themselves conjointly. Nothing of the kind is done; and this for no better reason than that it would have interfered with the manœuvring which was the sum total of the novelist’s object.

The intention of the testator was simply that the true heirs, or some of them, should get his money and, especially, that no Jesuit should. Why, then, was not an injunction against any Jesuit’s falling heir to the money, under any circumstances, made a portion of the instrument? This would have precluded the Jesuital [[sic ]] machinations in depriving them of an object, and thus would have ensured the security and tranquility of the true heirs.

At Rodin’s instigation, Hardy, on his deathbed, is made to assign all his claim to Rodin. But, clearly, he assigned what was not his own to assign. The assignment was worthless; and Rodin was only a fool, instead of being a Jesuit, in taking so much pains to no purpose. The will gives the property to those, of seven mentioned, who shall present themselves, in person, on the day of settlement.

The author’s fluctuation of purpose and lapse of memory appear on every page. His original design — I take it upon me to say — was to give the money, finally, to the true heirs, and then, by making them spend this vast fortune in Fourierite factories &c &c, to exemplify the [uncertain reading, the word may be “general”] doctrines of the associationists. As he proceeded with the work, however, M. Sue reflected that he could make more literary capital by pretending that his purpose was to instigate the people against the Jesuits. In pursuance of this latter fancy, he ends his work in permitting the priests to triumph over “injured innocence” and the rest of it. But in all this he missed his in mark — unless, indeed, his mark was not so much really to injure the Jesuits as to get up a belief that he had injured them. If any definite impression is created by “The Wandering Jew”, it is that of admiration for the perseverance and ingenuity of the Rodin clique; and I need not add that, as the world is (unhappily?) constituted, injured innocence, if very stupid, never compares well with that villainy, however outrageous, which is not only especially clever, but particularly crowned with success. Would it be too much to say that, even in America, since the publication of the “Wandering Jew”, there have sprung up one hundred secret societies, through admiration and in imitation — or let us say caricature — of the Society of Jesus?

An ostentatiously impressive point is made of Adrienne’s taking into her carriage a little girl whom she finds begging in the street. We naturally look for the result; some result was intended, we know; but none appears.

Adrienne is repeatedly warned of her approaching poverty. The design was, to test her natural qualities in the fire of the most abject distress; but the design is forgotten; nothing comes of it; the heroine dies rich.

There is a vast deal of preparatory melodramatic mystery about “the chamber” in the shutup house where the will is to be read; and we look for something wonderful to be seen or heard, eventually, in that apartment. Nothing comes of it.

Madame Simon gives Dagobert a packet, the papers contained in which are declared to be absolutely necessary in establishing the claims of the sisters, Rose and Blanche. Nothing comes of it. The papers are never presented, and are seen in the end to be obviously of no use (whatever they were) in establishing the claim.

In the same way Dagobert, particularly describing Djalma to the sisters, impresses upon them the importance of remembering the description. Again, nothing comes of it, although something was evidently intended. The parties never meet.

It is difficult to comprehend how or why the Princess (Rodin’s coadjutor) who has been a “maker of corpses”, or worse, all her life, should suddenly take it into her head to go raving mad with terror and remorse, merely because she was introduced to a row of corpses arranged, à la spectacle, in the “mysterious chamber”, at the termination of the story.

What necessity is there for making Rodin boast of the unwashed condition of his face and hands?

Where we might expect a display of power, if any real power were possessed by M. Sue, we are somewhat disappointed — as in the description of the mad-house.

The supernaturalism of the work is not only thoroughly a failure in itself, but quite out of keeping with the peculiarly homely, minute, and commonplace character and tone of the general narrative. The Wandering Jew himself aids in no respect the true purposes of the novelist. He accomplishes nothing that could not have been more probably accomplished without his assistance. His carrying with him the cholera wherever he goes, is in some degree a fine melodramatic fancy, although spoilt in the handling; nor does there seem any poetic justice in his wanderings being thus made the source of injury to others — to those who had no portion in his crime. The sister is an absurdity throughout, and seems to have been an afterthought; introduced, no doubt, as a type of the supposititious enslaved condition of womankind.

The author is cruelly given to pet phrases. Whenever one of M. Sue’s heroes gets at all excited or in trouble, he forthwith “loses his head” or his countenance assumes “a heartrending expression.”

The good points of the book are its variety and novelty of incident; the spirit of its occasional scenes; and, especially, the frequent gorgeousness of its descriptions. Nor must I forget to speak of its characterpainting, which is, now and then, of a very high order. Dagobert is admirable, although a little too much in the way of the French comedy. His wife is also good. Rose and Blanche are sweetly unnatural. Rodin is a vivid portrait, exaggerated. Adrienne is, in all particulars, magnificent.

The style of “The Wandering Jew” might have been a little better — but it would have puzzled M. Sue to make it even a very little worse. [[<<I]]

——

[[fragment J>>]]

“The Vision of Rubeta” is, perhaps, our best satire; yet in saying this I mean no very especial commendation. It is bold enough — if we keep out of mind its anonymous issue — and bitter enough, and witty enough, — if we forget its pitiable punning on names — and long enough, Heaven knows, and well constructed and decently versified; but it fails in the principal element of all satire, sarcasm, because the intention to be sarcastic (as in the “British Bards and Scotch Reviewers”, and as in every satire with which I am acquainted) is permitted to render itself manifest. The malevolence appears. The author is never very severe, because he is at no time particularly cool. We laugh, not so much at his victims, as at himself for letting them put him into such a passion; and where a deeper sentiment than mirth is excited  [[<<J]] — where it is pity or contempt that we are made to feel — the feeling is too often reflected, in its object, from the satirized to the satirist, with whom we sympathize in the discomfort of his animosity. Mr Osborn has few superiors in downright invective; but this is the awkward left arm of the satiric Muse. That satire alone is worth talking about which appears to be the genial, good-humored outpouring of irrepressible merriment.

“The Vision” was luxuriously printed, and, owing to the high price necessarily set upon it, no great many copies were sold; but the few circulated made quite a hubbub; and with reason — for the book was not only bitter [[fragment K>>]] but personal in the last degree. There are cases in which such personality is justifiable; but the case of Mr. Osborn was not one of them. He had been assailed, not as Mr Osborn, but as the anonymous author of at least a questionable book, “The Confessions of a Poet.” He retaliated by abusing, personally and in their own names, those who had thus assailed him. He weakly suffered, however, the names of the satirized to be printed merely with initial and terminal letters &c. I say “weakly suffered” this folly to be committed; for, to do him justice, he insisted upon introducing a note, mentioning that he was compelled by his publisher to indicate the names, although [[<<K]] [[fragment L>>]] he himself, the author, had written them in full and wished them so to appear. The publisher, of course, was much in error if he promised himself, through any such small subterfuge, immunity from the consequences of libel; but, without dwelling on this point, Mr Osborn was weak in not withdrawing his book altogether, at any sacrifice, rather than submit to terms which would render his position equivocal. It is not proper (to use a gentle word) nor does it seem courageous, to attack our foe in spirit and in effect — so that all the world shall know whom we mean — while either we say to ourselves or permit others to force us into saying, “I have not attacked this man by name, in the eye, or according to the letter, of the law.” But, admitting Mr Osborn’s intention carried out, and the names printed in full — can any one fail to see the inconsistency of claiming credit for courage and chivalry, on the score of so printing them, while, in publishing his book anonymously, he puts it out of the power of the satirized to retaliate, and thus virtually avows his dread of retaliation? The secret of the authorship was for a long time, indeed, carefully preserved. Had Mr O. thought at all upon these matters, he is the very last man in the world who would have subjected himself to censure respecting them. [[<<L]]


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Notes:

History of the Manuscript:

This roll of “Marginalia” was written as part of a series for Graham’s Magazine. The other three installments were published in Graham’s for January , February and March 1848. (Three installments had previously appeared in Graham’s in 1846. Six other installments appeared in the Democratic Review and Godey’s. The five final installments appeared in April - September of 1849 in the Southern Literary Messenger.) Based on the entry discussing H. B. Hirst, this manuscript was written about February or March of 1848.

For whatever reason, Graham’s did not print this particular manuscript. It was preserved by Samuel D. Patterson, who took over as the publisher of Graham’s about August of 1848. After Patterson’s death, it passed to his son, Samuel D. Patterson, Jr., through whom it was sold to E. C. Stedman about 1881. (The younger Patterson wrote a letter to Stedman, giving a slight but not very helpful account of the manuscript’s history, mostly just attesting to its authenticity. He claimed, for example, that his father had told him the reason it was not published, but admitted that he could no longer recall what it was.) From Stedman, the manuscript came into the possession of the Colonial Company in 1902 or 1903. It is possible that after more than fifty years the wafers Poe used to connect the small strips of paper together to form the roll had begun to fall apart, but it is more likely that the Colonial Company intentionally cut the manuscript into segments, for the purpose of tipping the fragments into the first volumes of a special limited edition of Poe’s works, a practice which was fairly popular at the time with the works of various authors. Further evidence supporting this conjecture is provided by American Book Prices Current (1913), which lists an entry for: “Works. Edited by E. C. Stedman and G. E. Woodberry, N. Y., 1903. 10 vols.  . . . . (Bibliophile’s edition, with a leaf of the orig. autograph manuscript of ‘Marginalia’ inserted),” given from a Merwin-Clayton sale (Roberts), January 24, 1913, item 368 (sale price of $175). (The 1903 reprint of the Stedman-Woodberry edition of Poe’s collected works was published by the Colonial Company.) This breaking up of the manuscript accounts for its current fragmentary existence. Examination of the fragments shows that the manuscript was written in brown ink on approximately 4 1/4-inch wide strips of off-white paper, now variably yellowed. Segments of the manuscript range in height from 3 to 6 1/4 inches.

Stedman and Woodberry did not use the manuscript in preparing their ten-volume edition of Poe’s works (New York: Stone and Kimball, 1894-1896). Only a photograph of the first item will be found in that edition (see notes to Item 1). In the notes for “Marginalia, Woodberry wrote, “The editors have omitted from the ‘Marginalia,’ first, all passages printed elsewhere in the critical writings; secondly, all passages from ‘Pinakidia’ . . . .; thirdly, remarks on obscure authors and books, and other matter of like ephemeral nature” (VII, p. 355). Poe, in typical fashion, had indeed reused much of the material, and the item was presumably left out due to the substantial repetition, especially in the May 1849 installment of “Marginalia.” [Anonymously reviewing the seventeen-volume edition of Poe’s works assembled by James A. Harrison in 1902, (The Nation, December 4, 1902, p. 445-447), G. E. Woodberry criticized Harrison for attempting to slavishly record everything Poe wrote.] Although Poe apparently did not have this manuscript from which to quote these items directly, he may have based both sets of entries on material he had accumulated for his abandoned project on Literary America. In his manuscript for The Living Writers of American, for example, Poe reminds himself to “refer briefly to my notes for review of W[andering]. Jew . . . .” (p. 169).

Beginning in the 1970s, some portions of the manuscript have been printed, most notably the long entry on Sue’s The Wandering Jew. That text, however, was not quite complete, and along with the few other items that have managed to see the light of day, was given out of context. Conveniently, this manuscript accounts for all of the fragments noted, but not actually published, in Pollin’s edition of The Brevities (p. xlv, entries C, D and E). In the introduction to that edition, pp. xvi-xvii, Pollin mistakenly connects these fragments to John R. Thompson and the Southern Literary Messenger, although a footnote mentions a report “that the poet Ridgely Torrence, on the staff of the NYPL, spoke of having seen a roll of Marginalia owned by Edmund C. Stedman,” p. xvii, n. 23. The three fragments referred to in the notes of The Brevities for M 216-218 (and pp. xvi-xvii), all at the University of Texas, are actually part of this manuscript rather than whatever Poe may have given to J. R. Thompson in 1849.

Location of Manuscript Fragments:

Fragments, each with its own letter code, are indicated in the text with delimiters as follows:

[[fragment-A>>]] text … text [[<<A]]. Discrepancies in the typescript from surviving fragments are minor, with only a few obvious typographical errors (such as “these” for “three”), the presence or absence of periods following “Mr.” and some italics. Only one word, in the notice of The Wandering Jew, defies conclusive reading. The manuscript appears to contain no corrections except the addition of the word “any” (here delimited by “>>” and “<<”) marked as an insertion in the notice about H. B. Hirst.

Fragment A:

The current location of this fragment is unknown, but it is nicely recorded by the photograph shown at the beginning of this article. The photograph is taken from the Stedman and Woodberry edition of Poe’s works, volume VII, p. 208.

Fragments B, G and I:

These substantial fragments (respectively HM 1218 and 1183) are in the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. Fragments G and I are considered one item by the Huntington, although the text of the typescript clearly requires that fragment H (see below) falls in the middle and that G, H and I should, therefore, be treated as three connected fragments. (For permission to publish this text, I acknowledge David S. Zeidberg, and also Susan Hodson.)

Fragment C:

This small fragment is in the Berg Collection of English and American Literature of the New York Public Library.  (For permission to publish this text, I acknowledge Wayne Furman, Isaac Gewirtz, and also Stephen Crook.)

Fragments D, E , F, H and L:

These fragments are at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin (formerly in the collection of William H. Koester of Baltimore).  Three are printed by Moldenhauer: D (pp. 21-23, item 11), H (pp. 25-26, item 16) and L (pp. 26-27, item 17). For the remaining two items, Moldenhauer only lists variations from other printings: E (pp. 27-28, item 18) and F (p. 28, item 19). Fragment E is cut off in the middle of “sensa-.” The same collection also contains the letter from S. D. Patterson, Jr. to E. C. Stedman, November 26, 1881 (cited by Moldenhauer, p. 23). Fragment D was first listed in American Book Prices Current as part of an Anderson Sale (Stedman), Jan. 24, 1911, item 2282 (sale price of $365), described as “64 lines, written on a roll and wafered for publication,” and accompanied by S. D. Patterson, Jr.’s letter. It appeared again a few years later, at another Anderson sale (Gooch & Fowler), April 26, 1915, item 470 (sale price $175). At one time, the fragment belonged to A. Edward Newton, whose collection was sold on October 29, 1941. (A facsimile of that portion of the manuscript appears in the auction catalog, item 71, described as “4 by 22 3-4 inches.” The sale price was $1,800.) Fragment H was sold from the Willet collection, November 12, 1937, item 331 (sale price of $230). Based on the similarity of the paper and ink of the fragments, Moldenhauer astutely surmises that fragment H is associated with the “Wandering Jew” critique at the Huntington, but he erroneously suggests that it “may be a rejected portion” of that manuscript (p. 26). Fragment L was sold by Parke-Bernet Galleries, April 5, 1939, item 365 (with a partial facsimile and transcript, sale price of $100). Discussing fragment L, Moldenhauer repeats the incorrect conjecture from the catalog description that “Osborn’s first book, Sixty Years of the Life of Jeremy Levis (New York, 1831), is the work Poe alludes to” (p. 27). (For permission to publish the text of these fragments, I acknowledge Tara Wenger.) Other fragments of Marginalia in this collection are unrelated to the current manuscript.

Fragments J and K:

These two fragments are in the Philadelphia Free Public Library, Gimble Collection. (For permission to publish this text, and for assistance in examining the fragments, I acknowledge Mr. Jöel Sartorius.) Another fragment from Marginalia in the Gimble collection (M 210) is unrelated to the current manuscript.]]


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[S:1 - transcript and MSS (photocopy of fragments), 1848] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Misc - Marginalia [Stedman Manuscript]