Text: Burton R. Pollin (and E. A. Poe), “Marginalia - part 02,” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. II: The Brevities (1985), pp. 153-221 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 153:]


United States Magazine, and Democratic Review

December 1844 XV, 580-94


By Edgar A. Poe.

[73 items, nos. 44-116]

  * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  

Marginalia 44

I am not sure that Tennyson is not the greatest of poets.(a) The uncertainty attending the public conception of the term “poet” alone prevents me from demonstrating that he is. Other bards produce effects which are, now and then, otherwise produced than by what we call poems; but Tennyson an effect which only a poem does. His alone are idiosyncratic poems. By the enjoyment or non-enjoyment of the “Morte D‘Arthur,” or of the “Œnone,” I would test any one’s ideal sense.(b)

There are passages in his works which rivet a conviction I had long entertained, that the indefinite is an element in the true ποιησις. Why do some persons fatigue themselves in attempts to unravel such phantasy-pieces as the “Lady of Shalott?”(c) As well unweave the “ventum textilem.”(d) If the author did not deliberately propose to himself a suggestive indefinitiveness of meaning, with the view of bringing about a definitiveness of vague and therefore of spiritual effect — this, at least, arose from the silent analytical promptings of that poetic genius which, in its supreme development, embodies all orders of intellectual capacity.(e)

I know that indefinitiveness is an element of the true music — I mean of the true musical expression. Give to it an undue decision — imbue it with any very determinate tone — and you deprive it, at once, of its ethereal, its ideal, its intrinsic and essential character. You dispel its luxury of dream. You dissolve the atmosphere of the mystic upon which it floats. You exhaust it of its breath of faery.(f) It now becomes a tangible [page 154:] and eas[il]ly appreciable idea — a thing of the earth, earthy.(g) It has not, indeed, lost its power to please, but all which I consider the distinctiveness of that power. And to the uncultivated talent, or to the unimaginative apprehension, this deprivation of its most delicate grace(h) will be, not unfrequently, a recommendation. A determinateness of expression is sought — and often by composers who should know better — is sought as a beauty rather than rejected as a blemish. Thus we have, even from high authorities, attempts at absolute imitation in music. Who can forget the sillinesses of the “Battle of Prague?” What man of taste but must laugh at the interminable drums, trumpets, blunderbusses, and thunder? “Vocal music,” says L‘Abbate Gravina, who would have said the same thing of instrumental, “ought to imitate the natural language of the human feelings and passions, rather than the warblings of Canary birds, which our singers, now-a-days, affect so vastly to mimic with their quaverings and boasted cadences.”(i) This is true only so far as the “rather” is concerned. If any music must imitate anything, it were assuredly better to limit the imitation as Gravina suggests.

Tennyson’s shorter pieces abound in minute rhythmical lapses sufficient to assure me that — in common with all poets living or dead — he has neglected to make precise investigation of the principles of metre; but, on the other hand, so perfect is his rhythmical instinct in general, that, like the present Viscount Canterbury, he seems to see with his ear.(j)


poets) a. The third para. of this important statement of Poe’s views of the indefinite in music and poetry seems to be derived from part of M 202, which, in reality, is almost a transcription of his rev. of G. P. Morris’s National Melodies of America in BGM of 12/39, 5.332-333. It was reprinted by Poe in the SLM of 4/49 (see H 10.41-45). For its effect upon music see MGG article, by Pollin, and upon poetic and literary theory, especially through the symbolists, see Louis Seylaz, Edgar Poe et les premiers symbolistes français (1923). Concerning his opinion of Tennyson as the supreme living poet, see his stronger affirmation at the end of his 1/45 two-part rev. of E. B. Barrett’s Drama of Exile, H 12.1-35, especially 34-35.

ideal sense) b. These two poems by Tennyson were published in his Poems of 1833 (1832) and were followed by a ten-year period of reorientation to which Poe later makes allusion. For the word “ideal” see M 42 b.

Shalott) c. Poe’s word “phantasy-piece,” ostensibly his coinage (see PCW, pp. 60, 90), was used earlier without a hyphen in his 10/39 rev. of Longfellow’s Hyperion (H 10.39), in alluding to the sketches of Callot, and in the 1839 Preface to Tales [[Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque]], where Poe gives it a Germanic tone. Significant was his plan to entitle thus his collection of tales of 1842 (TOM 1398). It is strange that he applied the term to the poem, “Lady of Shalott?” (Poems, 1832) — obviously for the plot.

textilem) d. One of his tags of learning is “ventum textilem” for which he reproves Moore in the source of M 42, although he has borrowed from Disraeli’s CL the wrong author, it being Petronius, Satyricon, 55, not Apuleius (see TOM 917n6 for Poe’s source and several uses of the phrase). Poe may have read, although probably not for this, the Ménagiana of Gilles Ménages, which presents this error (2nd ed. of 1694, Paris), p. 265, perhaps the source of Isaac Disraeli.

capacity) e. Poe links mathematical and poetic ability in both Dupin and Minister D ——— in “Purloined Letter” (TOM 979, 988). See also Poe’s initial text (in TOM 527 variant note to “Murders”) on the link between analysis and creativity, and M 266.

fäery) f. The dieresis on the first vowel of “faery” to show that both vowels are sounded is characteristic of Poe, I believe, rather than of an idiosyncratic typesetter, for even in the BJ, subject directly to his control, Poe followed this practice, as in “Zäire,” “mosäiques” and “Isitsöornot” (see in TOM 195, 197; 345; and seven times in 1151-69, i.e. “Scheherazade”). The general practice then seems to correspond to today’s, namely, to mark the second vowel; see OED citations for Shelley, Willis, and William Morris under “faery,” and see my Introduction.

earthy) g. This is from 1 Corinthians 15:47: “The first man is of the earth, earthy.”

grace) h. Elsewhere Poe used the peculiar term “nare” borrowed from B. Disraeli’s Vivian Grey for “grace” or “essence,” as he did in the BGM rev., source of this passage and of M 202, which contains it. For discussion and instances see TOM 205n17 and 800-81n5 (especially), and PCW 31 and 90. In the 1850 edition Griswold substituted “nare” for “grace” in this text (no. CCXIV), surely through Poe’s instruction.

cadences) i. A favorite, especially in London, was this piece circa 1789 for piano, violin, cello and “drum ad libitum” by Franz Kotzwara (?, Prague; London, 1791, dead of suicide in a brothel). The “blunder busses” are added humorously by Poe (this short musket of wide bore to scatter shot was first called “donderbus” or “thunder gun”), but the report of guns is sometimes added to such battle-pieces, e.g., Beethoven’s “Wellington’s Victory” and Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.” Pym has a routine use (C 147/19), “Hans Pfaall” a humorous one (C 392/2), and “Devil in the Belfry” the whimsical derivative “Blunderbuzzard” (366).

Gian Vincenzo Gravina (1664-1718), poet, critic, philosopher, and jurist, was renowned for his Della Ragion Poetica (2 vols., 1708) or “Rationale of Poetry,” and Della Tragedia, 1715, (see M 8), neither of which was translated into English by Poe’s time. While Poe was supposed to have studied Italian at the University of Virginia, Killis Campbell is uncertain about his knowledge (Mind of Poe, pp. 9-10). Throughout his works the spellings and forms in Italian contain egregious errors; Poe [page 156:] must have taken this passage, used also in the review (10.42) and M 202, from a free rendering by an unknown source of the following in Della Tragedia, included in Opere Italiane (Naples, 1757), ch. 33, p. 98:

Corre per gli Teatri, a di nostri, una Musica sterile di tall effetti, e perciò da quella assai difforme, e si esalta per to piu quell’ Armonia, la quale, quanto alletta gli animi stemperati e dissonanti, tanto lacera coloro, the danno a guiclare il senso alla ragione: perchè in cambio di esprimere ed imitaee, suol più tosto estinguere e cancellare ogni sembianza di verità: se pur non godiamo, the in cambio di esprimere sentimenti e passioni umane, ed imitar le nostre azioni e costumi somigh ed imiti, come fa sovente con quei trilli tanto ammirati, la lecora o ‘1 canario: quantunque a di nostri vada forgenclo qualche destro e ragionevole modulatore, il quale contro la comun corruttela da natural giudizio e proporzion di mente portato, imita anche spesso la natura, a cui più si avvicinarebbe, se 1‘antica arte Musica potesse da si lunghe e solte tenebre alzare il capo.

[There exists these days on the stage a music incapable of producing similar effects and therefore very different from the former (ancient music), and people praise for the most part that harmony which pleases corrupt and discordant minds as much as it tears those which let reason guide the senses: because instead of expressing and imitating, it rather destroys and erases every semblance of truth: unless we enjoy the fact that instead of expressing human sentiments and passions and of imitating our actions and emotions, it resembles and imitates as it often does, with those so much admired warblings, the chaffinch or the canary; though nowadays there can be seen some skillful and reasonable musician who against the common corruption and led by natural wisdom and common sense often imitates nature as well, which he would approach more closely if the ancient musical art could raise its head from such a long and thick darkness.]

Gravina is referring to the bel canto style of singing, which was to prevail through the 19th century, as in Bellini’s works, and was greatly admired elsewhere by Poe, as in M 85 (q.v.). Poe was never able to explain how music can represent the emotions in purely musical terms of interval, pitch, tempo, mode, and the like.

ear) j. Charles Manners-Sutton (1789-1845), who became the first Viscount Canterbury in 1835, was Speaker of the House of Commons, 1817-1835, hence presumably hyper-vigilant, Poe implies. [page 157:]

Marginalia 45

A man of genius, if not permitted to choose his own subject, will do worse, in letters, than if he had talents none at all. And here how imperatively is he controlled! To be sure, he can write to suit himself but in the same manner his publishers print. From the nature of our Copy-Right laws, he has no individual powers. As for his free agency, it is about equal to that of the dean and chapter of the see-cathedral, in a British election of Bishops — an election held by virtue of the king’s writ of congé d‘élire, and specifying the person to be elected.


Note: The OED corrects Poe’s misconception about “congé d‘élire” thus: “royal permission to a monastic body or cathedral chapter, to fill up a vacant see or abbacy by election. Henry VIII assumed by statute the right of adding thereto by ‘Letters Missive,’ nominating the person to be elected. In ordinary parlance, the Congé d‘élire has been taken, but incorrectly, to include the nomination.”

In the Griswold Marginalia of 1850 the last sentence contains one small substantive change: “d‘élire — specifying . . . . . . This may be editorial or compositorial, rather than Poe’s choice.

Marginalia 46

It may well be doubted whether a single paragraph of merit can be found either in the “Koran” of Lawrence Sterne, or in the “Lacon” of Colton, of which paragraph the origin, or at least the germ, may not be traced to Seneca, to Plutarch, (through Machiavelli) to Machiavelli himself, to Bacon, to Burdon, to Burton, to Bolin[g]broke, to Rochefoucault, to Balzac, the author of “La Manière de Bien Penser,” or to Bielfeld, the German, who wrote, in French, “Les Premiers Traits de L‘Erudition Universelle.”


Note: All of these occur in the Preface to Pinakidia (q.v.) except for Robert Burton (1577-1640), author of Anatomy of Melancholy, 1621. Poe also used the same assemblage of names and titles in his 11/39 review of The Canons of Good Breeding, or The Handbook of the Man of Fashion, in BGM (H 10.45-49), in which he reproves the author for following his own practice of borrowing the “wit, wisdom, and the erudition” of all these worthies. This 1839 list omits “Balzac” (probably through oversight) and several more of the books here omitted but listed in Pin. For R. Burton see his punning ref. in para. 4, Preface of M, to “anatomical Burton” and my note. For Jean Louis Guez de Balzac see also Pin. [page 158:] Preface, para. 1, but of course the true author was Father Dominique Bouhours, unknown to Poe. See M 89 for another Poe statement on plagiarism. Here and in Pin Intro, Poe misspells “Laurence.”

Marginalia 47

We might give two plausible derivations of the epithet “weeping” as applied to the willow. We might say that the word has its origin in the pendulous character of the long branches, which suggest the idea of water dripping; or we might assert that the term comes from a fact in the Natural History of the tree. It has a vast insensible perspiration, which, upon sudden cold, condenses, and sometimes is precipitated in a shower. Now, one might very accurately determine the bias and value of a man’s powers of causality, by observing which of these two derivations he would adopt. The former is, beyond question, the true;(a) and, for this reason — that common or vulgar epithets are universally suggested by common or immediately obvious things, without strict regard of any exactitude in application: but the latter would be greedily seized by nine philologists out of ten, for no better cause than its epigrammatism — than the pointedness with which the singular fact seems to touch the occasion.(b)

Here, then, is a subtle source of error which Lord Bacon has neglected. It is an Idol of the Wit.(c)


true) a. Poe’s “fact” about the tree’s “insensible respiration” seems to be unverifiable in any of the scientific accounts of the weeping willow. Where could he have read it? Had Poe reflected upon or perhaps known of the application of the regular term “weeping” to many other trees, all with pendulous or drooping branches, such as the elm, birch, oak, yew, (see OED, weeping, 6), he might not have sought another explanation of the name. The OED thus defines it: The Salix babylonica is “a native of Eastern Asia, having long and pendulous branches, cultivated in Europe as an ornamental tree and regarded as symbolical of mourning.”

occasion) b. Only an 1813 instance by Jane Austen is cited for “epigrammatism” before another underlined instance by Poe (of 1846; H 15.100) in the OED. Poe’s italics usually indicate his belief in his own coinage. It ignored Poe’s use in his 5/42 rev. of Hawthorne’s Twice-Told Tales: “Extreme brevity will degenerate into epigrammatism” (H 11. 107). The connection between a misconceived Natural History fact and a sentimental arboreal name is wide of the mark for imputing this tendency to deprecated “philologists,” unnamed.

Wit) c. For Poe’s admiring use of Bacon’s idols, see M 196, with this same “addition” (also M 19).

Marginalia 48

I believe that odors have an altogether idiosyncratic force, in affecting us through association; a force differing essentially from that of objects addressing the touch, the taste, the sight, or the hearing.


Note: In general Poe avoids the problem of accounting for the growth of cognition in man, from birth to maturity, and in his compartmentalization of the psyche into intellect, moral sense, taste, etc. he tends to adopt the innate capacities of an earlier faculty psychology; his early inclination toward phrenology, later abandoned, indicates this tendency in his thought. Here he seems suddenly struck by one of the basic tenets of David Hartley (1705-1787) whose Observations on Man (1749) developing the principle of association gave direction to the whole of Lockean empiricism. Poe could scarcely be unaware of Hartley, if only through Coleridge’s works (cf. his early naming his son Hartley), although he never mentions him. The coincident development of “sensationalism” in France led to the Traité des sensations (1754) by Etienne Condillac (1714-1780), with its celebrated supposition of a statue’s gradually developing full perception, through the increments first of the sense of smell, then of hearing, then of taste, etc. ending with that of touch, the real link with external reality, he says. Even Condillac grants (X, 3) the greater difficulty of “differentiating between taste and smell” than “smell and sound” (p. 56 in G. Carr’s translation, Univ. of So. Calif., Los Angeles, 1930). Poe might well agree with the primacy of “smell” to judge from his emphasis in creative works: Tamerlane (1827 version), 11. 138-143 (TOM, Poems, pp. 31 and 62-63nn to the lines); “Loss of Breath” (TOM 81); and “Eleonora” (TOM 643). Poe’s insight into the “essential” difference, however, is still being proved correct, to judge from studies now being conducted (see New York Times, 2/22/83, pp. C1, C7, “Sense of Smell Proves to be Surprisingly Subtle”).

Marginalia 49

It would have been becoming, I think, in Bulwer, to have made at least a running acknowledgment of that extensive indebtedness to Arnay’s “Private Life of the Romans”* which he had so little scruple about incurring, during the composition of “The Last Days of Pompeii.” He [page 160:] acknowledges, I believe, what he owes to Sir William Gell’s “Pompeiana.” Why this? — why not that?

* 1764.


Note: Inevitably a best-seller such as The Last Days . . . would arouse charges of plagiarism. For example, the 1/35 SLM carried a long article (1.246-248) accusing Bulwer of borrowing much from Sumner Fair field’s narrative poem, The Last Night of Pompeii, in his novel of 1834 — a widespread American accusation. In a sense Poe is following up the reviewer’s statement: “Mr. Bulwer has read much and skillfully appropriated without acknowledgment, all that has suited his designs.” One wonders whether an historical novelist needs to indicate all sources for the manners and lifestyle of historical characters. Bulwer appears to have been personally escorted, as Scott had been, about the dead city of Pompeii, under excavation since its discovery in 1748, by the foremost archeologist Sir William Gell (1777-1836), living then at Naples, whose Pompeiana (1817-19) and Ms. Topography of Rome (1834) he acknowledges as aids in his dedicatory Preface (see also Bulwer’s notes mentioning Gell in 11, ch. viii and III, vii). It is Pliny, describer of the great eruption of A. D. 79, who appears in many of Bulwer’s notes-a gentleman’s source, one might say. Jean Rodolphe D‘Arnay’s rather school-boyish text, De la Vie privée des Romains (1760, Lausanne), probably received no more attention from Bulwer than a score of guide books issued in England for classically minded visitors of wealth, touring the ruins, or made available in Italian in Naples. Bulwer declares, in the 1834 preface, that his “task was undertaken in the immediate neighborhood of Pompeii.” While not denying the need for scholarship and delving for facts, he objects to “crowding the page with quotations, and the margin with notes.” Perhaps indirectly he meets Poe’s charges through his graceful inversion of the truth in his 1850 preface: “The profound scholarship of German criticism, which has given so minute an attention to the domestic life of the ancients, has sufficiently testified to the general fidelity with which the manners, habits, and customs of the inhabitants of Pompeii have been described in these pages.” Had Poe’s charges of plagiarism been valid, surely he could have cited telling similarities. True it is that D‘Arnay speaks of the baths, the construction of the Roman house, drinking customs, and games of dice, as does Bulwer, but Poe makes no case against a novelist whom he equally detested and admired (see PD, p. 15, for over 35 articles or passages on Bulwer).

Marginalia 50

La Harpe (who was no critic) has, nevertheless, done little more than strict justice to the fine taste and precise finish of Racine, in all that regards the Minor Morals of Literature.(a) In these he as far excels Pope, as Pope the veriest dolt in his own “Dunciad.”(b)


literature) a. Poe seems unaware of the eminence in criticism of Jean-François de La Harpe (1739-1803), esteemed friend of Voltaire, whose public “course in literature begun in 1786 was deservedly popular. . . . He had sure taste, a flowing style, and . . . a complete feeling for 17th century literature” (Larousse Dictionnaire Universelle),10.75. His published Lycée ou Cours de littérature ancienne et moderne (1799) made him a true critical authority. In the five-volume set (Paris, 1817) are numerous references to Racine (indexed in 4.607-609, in double columns). Claude Richard, Poe, p. 282 surmises that Poe derives his phrase, “Minor. . . Literature” from Hugh Blair’s Lectures (1783) and his La Harpe reference from the works of Bielfeld or Disraeli; the former is certainly too early and the second unlikely in this instance. (For “the minor morals of the Muse” see 11.220 of 11/43.)

Dunciad) b. Alexander Pope’s great satire in four books (three in 1728; the fourth in 1742) was a favorite with Poe (see seven other reference-passages, PD 123). Pope memorializes numerous “dolts” as leaders of “Dulness,” such as Colley Cibber.

Marginalia 51

“That evil predominates over good, becomes evident, when we consider that there can be found no aged person who would be willing to re-live the life he has already lived. ” — Volney.(a)

The idea here, is not distinctly made out; for unless through the context, we cannot be sure whether the author means merely this: — that every aged person fancies he might, in a different course of life, have been happier than in the one actually lived, and, for this reason, would not be willing to live his life over again, but some other life; — or, whether the sentiment intended is this: — that if, upon the grave’s brink, the choice were offered any aged person between the expected death and the reliving the old life, that person would prefer to die.

The first proposition is, perhaps, true; but the last (which is the one designed) is not only doubtful, in point of mere fact, but is of no effect, even if granted to be true, in sustaining the original proposition — that evil predominates over good.

It is assumed that the aged person will not re-live his life, because he knows that its evil predominated over its good. The source of error lies in the word “knows” — in the assumption that we can ever be, really, in possession of the whole knowledge to which allusion is cloudily made. But there is a seeming — a fictitious knowledge; and this very seeming [page 162:] knowledge it is, of what the life has been, which incapacitates the aged person from deciding the question upon its merits. He blindly deduces a notion of the happiness of the original real life — a notion of its preponderating evil or good — from a consideration of the secondary or supposititious one. In his estimate he merely strikes a balance between events, and leaves quite out of the account that elastic Hope which is the Harbinger and the Eos(b) of all. Man’s real life is happy, chiefly because he is ever expecting that it soon will be so. But, in regarding the supposititious life, we paint to ourselves chill certainties for warm expectations, and grievances quadrupled in being foreseen. But because we cannot avoid doing this — strain our imaginative faculties as we will — because it is so very difficult — so nearly impossible a task, to fancy the known unknown — the done unaccomplished — and because (through our inability to fancy all this) we prefer death to a secondary life — does it, in any manner, follow that the evil of the properly — considered real existence does predominate over the good?(c)

In order that a just estimate be made by Mr. Volney’s “aged person,” and from this estimate a judicious choice: — in order, again, that from this estimate and choice, we deduce any clear comparison of good with evil in human existence, it will be necessary that we obtain the opinion or “choice,” upon this point, from an aged person who shall be in condition to appreciate, with precision, the hopes he is naturally led to leave out of question, but which reason tells us he would as strongly experience as ever, in the absolute reliving of the life. On the other hand, too, he must be in condition to dismiss from the estimate the fears which he actually feels, and which show him bodily the ills that are to happen, but which fears, again, reason assures us he would not, in the absolute secondary life, encounter. Now what mortal was ever in condition to make these allowances?-to perform impossibilities in giving these considerations their due weight? What mortal, then, was ever in condition to make a well-grounded choice? How, from an ill-grounded one, are we to make deductions which shall guide us aright? How out of error shall we fabricate truth?


Volney) a. A perusal of all of the works of Count Constantin de Volney (1757-1820), including the celebrated book Les Ruines (1791), has failed to reveal the source of Poe’s epigraph, surely from some unknown intermediary text. The only other refs. by Poe to Volney are in his rev. of Stephens’ Arabia Petraea (of 10/37), which book furnishes his excerpts (H10.2,3,13).

Eos) b. Eos, being the Greek name for dawn or Aurora, seems so similar to Harbinger as to invite the notion that Poe may have intended Ens, meaning existence or essence.

good) c. In the second half of this paragraph, the sentiments, [page 163:] imagery, and phrasing suggest Hamlet’s soliloquy “To be or not to be” and also Shakespeare’s Sonnet (No. 30), “When to the sessions of sweet silent thought,” especially these lines: “Then can I grieve at grievances foregone, / And heavily from woe to woe tell o‘er / The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan, / Which I new pay as if not paid before.” While Poe made over fifty references to Hamlet, the sonnets rarely enter his texts.

Marginalia 52

A remarkable work,* and one which I find much difficulty in admitting to be the composition of a woman. Not that many good and glorious things have not been the composition of women — but, because, here, the severe precision of style, the thoroughness, and the luminousness, are points never observable, in even the most admirable of their writings. Who is Lady Georgiana Fullerton? Who is that Countess of Dacre, who edited “Ellen Wareham,” — the most passionate of fictions — approached, only in some particulars of passion, by this?(a)

The great defect of “Ellen Middleton,” lies in the disgusting sternness, captiousness, and bullet-headedness of her husband. We cannot sympathize with her love for him. And the intense selfishness of the rejected lover precludes that compassion which is designed. Alice is a creation of true genius. The imagination, throughout, is of a lofty order, and the snatches of original verse would do honor to any poet living.(b) But the chief merit, after all, is that of the style — about which it is difficult to say too much in the way of praise, although it has, now and then, an odd Gallicism — such as “she lost her head,” meaning she grew crazy.(c) There is much, in the whole manner of this book, which puts me in mind of “Caleb Williams.”(d)

* “Ellen Middleton.”


by this) a. Ellen Wareham is the third volume and fifth “tale” in Recollections of a Chaperon (London, 1833; New York, 1833), which was edited by Lady Barberina Ogle Brand Dacre (1767-1854) from the MS. of her daughter Mrs. Arabella Jane Sullivan (1797?-1839); likewise the Tales of the Peerage and Peasantry. Lady Dacre was a known translator of Petrarch’s poems and the writer of a produced drama Ina with an epilogue by Thomas Moore, but not a prose-fiction author. Yet for long Poe preferred to consider her “editorship” as a concealment for authorship. Her bearing a title (more properly baroness, not “Countess”), the prominence of her father and her first husband (Valentine Wilmot) and of Lord Dacre, and perhaps the “novelette” unity of each of the five “tales” in the three volumes, plus the melodramatic “passion” of [page 164:] Ellen Wareham (basis for its being “staged” in London, New York and Philadelphia by two adapters, one being William Burton, Poe’s magazine associate) made all of Mrs. Sullivan’s fictions cause for perplexity and admiration to Poe. There are eight passages probing this mystery and fascination in Poe’s works (see discussion of seven in DP, Ch. 8, “Poe and . . . Ellen Wareham,” pp. 128-143; one, not discussed, occurs in BGM, 7/39, 5.60). Poe’s fullest evaluation of “Lady Dacre’s merits” (that is, of her daughter’s) is in his review of the Tales of the Peerage and the Peasantry of 12/35 in the SLM (H 8.74-75), encapsulated in this M entry. Even after he had learned of Lady Dacre’s non-authorship of this appallingly bad fiction, Poe persisted in using Ellen Wareham as a touchstone of fictional quality (see M 221, para. 3).

living) b. Poe links the two noblewomen together as authors, not as editors; Lady Fullerton (1812-1885), daughter of the first Earl Granville (Granville Leveson-Gower of the Duke of Sutherland’s family) was willing to take full credit for this and other novels and historical memoirs. The DNB ascribes to her also Grantley Manor (1847) and Too Strange not to be True (1864) and speaks of her prominent philanthropic efforts. Since her father too was well known, in diplomacy, Poe’s question about her identity seems disingenuous. Ellen Middleton achieved numerous editions; in English: London, 1844, 1884; Paris, twice, 1844; Leipzig, 1845; translated: Paris, 1845 and four more times subsequently. Poe coined the word “bullet-headedness” which he used again in M 171. “Original Verse” occurs in chapters 3, 14, 21 (London, 1884, reprint), pp. 53-54, 187, 193, 279-281. A sample from the author’s “Introduction” will indicate its quality: “My aching heart is breaking, / My burning brain is reeling, / My very soul is riven, / I feel myself foresaken. / And phantom forms of horror, / And shapeless dreams of terror, / About me seem to gather; / And death, and hell, and darkness / Are driving me to madness.”

crazy) c. This sentence occurs in a passage of ch. 22 of Ellen Middleton which undoubtedly contributed greatly to the basic theme of “The Imp of the Perverse” (see the Tauchnitz ed., Leipzig, of 1846, p. 295), as was pointed out by the anonymous author of Rambles and Reveries of an Art-Student in Europe (Phila., 1855), p. 36; see TOM 1218 for full treatment.

Williams) d. There are surprisingly numerous references to the works of Godwin, all laudatory, in Poe’s writings, all treated in DP, ch. 7, pp. 107-127 (see PD, p. 38), and Poe may have derived his ideas about initially determining the dénouement of a tale from his misconception of Godwin’s preface to Fleetwood, as his “Philosophy of Composition” (ad. init.) shows. If any basis for Poe’s comparison of the two works exists, it lies in the melodramaticism which made it a success as Colman’s Iron Chest, a play popular in America and one of the vehicles for Poe’s actress mother (Quinn, p. 713). Moreover, the themes of guilt about a murder [page 165:] and the obsessive and demoralizing fear of being exposed are major components of both plots.

Marginalia 53

The God-abstractions of the modern polytheism are nearly in as sad a state of perplexity and promiscuity as were the more substantial deities of the Greeks. Not a quality named that does not impinge upon some one or other; and Porphyry admits that Vesta, Rhea, Ceres, Themis, Proserpina, Bacchus, Attis, Adonis, Silenus, Priapus, and the Satyrs, were merely different terms for the same thing. Even gender was never precisely settled. Servius on Virgil mentions a Venus with a beard. In Macrobius, too, Calvus talks of her as if she were a man; while Valerius Soranus expressly calls Jupiter “the Mother of the Gods.”


Note: Of these five sentences, only two — those without names and details — are not almost verbatim from Poe’s Pinakidia (nos. 57 and 58), specifically, sentences 1 and 3. For the sources and use of them made by Poe, therefore, see the Pinakidia section. Poe furnishes no clue as to his understanding of “modern” polytheism; could he be referring to the Transcendentalists — his favorite target?

Marginalia 54

Von Raumer says that Enslen, a German optician, conceived the idea of throwing a shadowy figure, by optical means, into the chair of Banquo; and that the thing was readily done. Intense effect was produced; and I do not doubt that an American audience might be electrified by the feat. But our managers not only have no invention of their own, but no energy to avail themselves of that of others.


Note: The substance of this is drawn from Pin 7, q.v. for the source and treatment. The last sentence is “improvised” for this article and shows Poe’s frequent hostility to theatre managers (e.g., see “Achilles’ Wrath” in the 3/19/45 BJ, also in H 12.135-39).

Marginalia 55

It is observable that, in his brief account of the Creation, Moses employs the words, Bara Elohim (the Gods created), no less than thirty [page 166:] times; using the noun in the plural with the verb in the singular. Elsewhere, however — in Deuteronomy, for example — he employs the singular, Eloah.


Note: Poe here refers to Genesis 1:1-31 and Deuteronomy 1:146. The plural form “Elohim” is usually interpreted as “the plural of majesty,” or “pluralis amplitudinis,” roughly akin to the “editorial we,” as in the Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (N. Y., 1962), 2.94 and 414. But Poe seems to be implying that “being plural it echoes ancient polytheism” (p. 413, n3). The same commentary conciliatorily also suggests that the Genesis passage “presupposes the conception of the heavenly council (Hosts) ruled over by God.”

Marginalia 56

Among the moralists who keep themselves erect by the perpetual swallowing of pokers,(a) it is the fashion to decry the “fashionable” novels.(b) These works have their demerits; but a vast influence which they exert for an undeniable good, has never yet been duly considered. “Ingenuos didicisse fideliter libros, emollit mores nec sinit esse feros.”(c) Now, the fashionable novels are just the books which most do circulate among the class unfashionable; and their effect in softening the worst callositiesin smoothing the most disgusting asperities of vulgarism, is prodigious.(d) With the herd, to admire and to attempt imitation are the same thing. What if, in this case, the manners imitated are frippery; better frippery than brutality — and, after all, there is little danger that the intrinsic value of the sturdiest iron will be impaired by a coating of even the most diaphanous gilt.


pokers) a. In the early 19th century “pokerish” was widely used for “stiff, especially in manner” (OED) but it largely lost that signification during the century, perhaps in competition with the word “pokerish” for “eerie” from “poker” for goblin, bugbear, demon (cf. Shakespeare’s Puck), but the 1880 Century Dictionary gives “pokerish: stiff” as does the Webster New International of 1925 (marked ‘colloq.”).

novels) b. The novels discussed in M 52 might be so considered by some, if not by Poe, but he must have had in mind those of Catherine Gore (1799-1861), caricatured by Thackeray in 1836 as Mrs. Armytage (see Poe’s remark on her Cecil in TOM 1051), and others of The Silver Fork School (the 1936 study by M. W. Rosa).

feros) c. This is from Ovid’s Epistulae ex Ponto, II, ix, 47: “To have acquired faithfully meritorious books softens our manners and [page 167:] permits them not to be untamed” (q.v. in Emma Norman, “Poe’s Knowledge of Latin,” AL, 1934, 6.72-77). Hugh Blair (1718-1800) concluded the Intro. of his widely read (a standard text in schools) Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres (1783) with this quotation from Ovid. Knowing this work, as was inevitable (see “Exordium” of 1/42 in Graham’s (H 11.5; and Jacobs, Poe, p. 277), Poe may have noted it there.

prodigious) d. Poe’s attitude toward the “herd,” “mob” or masses occurs in other M items: 226, 232, 267, 275 and in many other works, such as Poems, p. 58, where he coined “rabble-men” in 1831.

Marginalia 57

The ancients had at least half an idea that we travelled on horseback to heaven. See a passage of Passeri, “de animæ transvectione” — quoted by Caylus. See, also, old tombs.


Note: This is the same, in substance, as Pin 115, q.v. for the origin and treatment. The last four words are a semi-humorous rewording of the first sentence of Pin 115. In the 1850 printing “many” is inserted before the word “old“.

Marginalia 58

A corrupt and impious heart — a merely prurient fancy — a Saturnian brain in which invention has only the phosphorescent glimmer of rottenness.* Worthless, body and soul. A foul reproach to the nation that engendered and endures him.(a) A fetid battener upon the garbage of thought.(b) No man. A beast. A pig. Less scrupulous than a carrion-crow, and not very much less filthy than a Wilmer.(c)

* Michel Masson, author of “Le Cœur d‘une jeune Fille.”


endures him) a. The slight irregularities in the citing of title and author and total unprocurability of the book in the U. S. A. suggest that Poe may have been elaborating a ref. in ajournal, perhaps from England, seizing a chance for some colorful rodomontade and a slap at Wilmer. The book-clearly a potboiler by one who wrote many of them-is listed in the catalogues of none of the major libraries here or abroad, but appears in Vicaire’s Manuel de l‘Amateur des Livres du XIX sièle, 1801-1893 (Paris, 1904), 5.599, which also lists dozens of novels, popular stories, vaudevilles and tales of Auguste-Michel-Benoit Gaudichot-Masson, called Masson (1800-1883), this one being written in collaboration with Raymond Bricker, but not indicated as such on the title page: Un [page 168:] coeur de jeune fille: confidence publiée par Michel Masson (Paris: Charles Allardin, 1834; 384 pages).

If Poe is characterizing Masson from his book, named in the footnote, he clearly is relying upon an entirely erroneous report. Since no copy is reported in the U. S. A. now, a second-hand ref. is likely. The copy in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, reveals the story to be a charming history of the developing emotions of a lovely, spirited girl from twelve to sixteen or so. She confronts the advances of an elderly drawing teacher, innocently and purely, and becomes involved with two brothers who duel over her, being about to marry one out of pity, but she realizes in time her error. There is nothing indelicate in the language and most indirectly and remotely in the situations (summary and appraisal through the courtesy of Alice M. Pollin).

The word “Saturnian” here means dull or leaden. For Poe’s not infrequent association of a glow with decay see Pym, Note 2.11 B (p. 232).

thought) b. The OED gives this as the only instance of “battener” which Poe obviously derived from Hamlet (3.4.66-67) wherein the prince scolds Gertrude: “Could you . . . batten on this moor?” The thoughts, phrasing and rhetoric of the whole context suggest this derivation.

Wilmer) c. See Pin 46 for a stream of similar invectives as coming from Luther (and Sup. Pin 29 for his opponents’ invective). Lambert A. Wilmer (ca. 1805-1863), Baltimore journalist and poet, was a former close friend (see H15.228, “Autography” and 10.183) who spoke too truthfully about Poe’s drinking in 1843 (see Ostrom, Letters 236) and incurred condemnation of his “filthy” pamphlet The Quacks of Helicon. Even when on good terms with Wilmer he had condemned “the gross obscenity, the filth . . . which disgraces” that work, in “imitation of the Swift and Rochester school” (10. 184). One might guess that Wilmer, not Masson, is the real object of the whole entry. Despite this attack, Wilmer stoutly defended Poe in Our Press Gang and elsewhere, as shown by Dwight Thomas (pp. 942-944) and TOM (reprint of Merlin, 1941).

Marginalia 59

In reading some books we occupy ourselves chiefly with the thoughts of the author; in perusing others, exclusively with our own. And this is one of the “others” — a suggestive book. But there are two classes of suggestive books — the positively and the negatively suggestive. The former suggest by what they say; the latter by what they might and should have said. It makes little difference, after all. In either case the true book-purpose is answered.

 Mercier’s ‘L‘an deux mille quatre cent quarante.” [page 169:]


Note: Louis Sébastien Mercier (1740-1814), primarily a dramatist (of over sixty plays), to Poe was simply the author of L‘An 2440 (1770), which he cited for its idea on metempsychosis in Pin 89 (q. v.) and in “Metzengerstein” (TOM 18); but he seemed aware of the major doctrine, that science has not produced any real improvement in life, in his 7/36 SLM review of Camperdown with its long tale of the distant future, perhaps a hint to him for “Mellonta Tanta” and “Some Words with a Mummy.” Poe’s word “suggestive” did not seem to have the idea of “risque” in the early 19th century. The compound “book-purpose” appears to be Poe’s coinage, and it parallels similar coinages, such as “book-reputation” and “book-unity” (see PCW 42-43).

Marginalia 60

Sallust, too. He had much the same free-and-easy idea, and Metternich himself could not have quarrelled with his “Impune quæ libet facere, id est esse regem.”


Note: This is a rewording of Pin 143 (q. v.), with the insertion of the name of Klemens von Metternich (1773-1859), the Austrian statesman, whose diplomatic skill and policy of censorship and repression made 1815-48 “The Age of Metternich.”

Marginalia 61

The first periodical moral essay! Mr. Macaulay forgets the “Courtier of Baldazzar Castiglione — 1528.”


Note: Poe’s persistent dislike of the ideas and writings of Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859) may have led him in this entry to add one error or quirk to an earlier one. Poe’s strange phrase about Baldassare Castiglione’s Courtier (1528) as the “first periodical moral essay” is taken from Pin 44 (q. v.). His exclamation point here seems to indicate an error that Poe imputes to Macaulay, probably in his essays collected in 1843 from his regular contributions to the Edinburgh Review. Poe may here be alluding to Macaulay’s review, in the 7/43 issue of Lucy Aikin’s Life and Writings of Addison (1843), although nowhere does Macaulay make this claim for the Tatler or Spectator papers. Two sentences might have lent a slight substance to Poe’s charge: “Of the service which his Essays render to morality it is difficult to speak too highly” and “He is entitled to be considered not only as the greatest of the English essayists, [page 170:] but as the forerunner of the great English novelists” (reprint, London, 1886, Lord Macaulay’s Essays, pp. 756, 760).

Marginalia 62

For my part I agree with Joshua Barnes: — nobody but Solomon could have written the Iliad. The catalogue of ships was the work of Robins.


Note: The first sentence repeats the substance of Pin 148, q. v., taken from Henry Nelson Coleridge’s Introductions to the Study of the Greek Classic Poets. This added sarcastic comment is explicated by Palmer C. Holt, AL,1962, 34.18-19, as referring to Benjamin Robins (1707-1751), English man of science and engineer-general of the East India Company, who was the true narrator of Lord Anson’s Voyage Round the World, published under the name of “Richard Walter” (1748 and often reprinted). Perhaps the bird-like name of the scientist, so renowned for other achievements, amused Poe. Holt gives a list of the complements of the English fleet in ch. 2 and of the Spanish fleet in ch. 3 as being the objects of Poe’s ridicule as a basis for the comparison. The famous catalogue in the Iliad is in 2.484-759, formally starting with “So will I tell the captains of the ships and all the ships in order” (Samuel Butler translation).

Marginalia 63

The à priori reasoners upon government are, of all plausible people, the most preposterous. They only argue too cleverly to permit my thinking them silly enough to be themselves deceived by their own arguments. Yet even this is possible; for there is something in the vanity of logic which addles a man’s brains. Your true logician gets, in time, to be logicalized, and then, so far as regards himself, the universe is one word. A thing, for him, no longer exists. He deposits upon a sheet of paper a certain assemblage of syllables, and fancies that their meaning is riveted by the act of deposition. I am serious in the opinion that some such process of thought passes through the mind of the “practised” logician, as he makes note of the thesis proposed. He is not aware that he thinks in this way — but, unwittingly, he so thinks. The syllables deposited acquire, in his view, a new character. While afloat in his brain, he might have been brought to admit the possibility that these syllables were variable exponents of various phases of thought; but he will not admit this if he once gets them upon the paper.(a) [page 171:]

In a single page of “Mill,” I find the word “force” employed four times; and each employment varies the idea. The fact is that à priori argument is much worse than useless except in the mathematical sciences, where it is possible to obtain precise meanings. If there is any one subject in the world to which it is utterly and radically inapplicable, that subject is Government. The identical arguments used to sustain Mr. Bentham’s positions, might, with little exercise of ingenuity, be made to overthrow them; and, by ringing small changes on the words “leg-of-mutton,” and “turnip” (changes so gradual as to escape detection), I could “demonstrate” that a turnip was, is, and of right ought to be a leg-of-mutton.(b)


paper) a. Despite his extensive reliance upon analysis, both in the detective fiction and in much of his esthetic theory, Poe occasionally protests against a type of rationalism that he presents almost in terms of nominalism, as here. In this article he tends to regard conceptualization as utterly dependent upon, even identical with words, whether spoken, written as in MM 150, 277, or otherwise shaped. In fact, in his tale “The Power of Words” he even predicates the creative primacy of words, saying of “this wild star”: “I spoke it — with a few passionate sentences — into birth” (TOM 1215). However, in this instance, he explains that the impulses “given the air” affect everything in the universe (1214). In this article his effort to express his individual thought leads to the creation of two entirely new words: “logicalize” and “logicalization” (used in M150), two of over 1,000 coinages by Poe (see PCW). Here he is content to allude to nonverbal concepts through metaphor, but in M150 they become “psychal” fancies, an evasion of definition again.

leg-of-mutton) b. Poe does not always distinguish between James Mill (1773-1836), historian, philosopher, and associate of Jeremy Bentham, and his son John Stuart Mill (1806-73), philosopher, libertarian, economist, whose systematic presentation of philosophic radicalism helped shape the course of British liberalism and reform. His high administrative post in India House helped him to shape policy in India and gain keen practical knowledge. Poe objected perhaps to the Mills’ utilitarianism and advocacy of wider franchise and the social employment of great wealth. His growing hostility to both father and son can be seen in Intro. to M (para. 2), MM 124, 150, Eureka (paras. 18-20; H 16.193-95), and “Mellonta Tauta” (TOM 1297n26), in three of which he jokingly speaks of the “millhorse” on Bentham’s back. The “single page” here criticized, in the numerous writings of Mill, would appear to be in a System of Logic (1843; 10th ed. 1879), especially since in Bk. 3, ch. 5, sect. 19, “Theory of the Conservation of Force,” paras. 1-4 show “force” used over four times with slightly different meanings (p. 228, 8th ed.), but unfortunately the first ed of 1843, the only one available to Poe in 1844, lacks part of [page 172:] the text with two of the uses. J. S. Mill wrote extensively in British newspapers and monthlies, such as the Examiner and Westminster, but it is impossible to pinpoint the “page” of Poe’s allusion. In M 124 Poe again attack’s Mill’s assurance in “demonstration.” For Jeremy Bentham see M 42n. d and PD for loci.

Marginalia 64

Has any one observed the excessively close resemblance in subject, thought, general manner and particular point, which this clever composition* bears to the “Hudibras” of Butler?

* The “Satyre Ménippie.”


Note: In substance this is the same as Pin 116 (q. v.), with somewhat different wording of the idea, derived from CL.

Marginalia 65

The concord of sound-and-sense principle was never better exemplified than in these lines:

“Ast amans charæ thalamum puellæ

Deserit flens, et tibi verba dicit

Aspera amplexu teneroe cupito a —

— vulsus amicæ.”

 By M. Anton. Flaminius.


Note: This is almost identical with Pin 117 (q. v.).

Marginalia 66

Miss Gould has much in common with Mary Howitt; the characteristic trait of each being a sportive, quaint, epigrammatic grace, that keeps clear of the absurd by never employing itself upon very exalted topics. The verbal style of the two ladies is identical. Miss Gould has the more talent of the two, but is somewhat the less original. She has occasional flashes of a far higher order of merit than appertains to her ordinary manner. Her “Dying Storm” might have been written by Campbell. [page 173:]


Note: This short article encapsulates ideas that Poe had voiced, at length, in two reviews: the first a long one on three volumes of poetry by three women, included in the 1/36 SLM, 2.115-117 (Miss Sigourney, Miss Gould, and Mrs. Ellet; see H 8.122-42) and an uncol. rev. of Mary Howitt’s Birds and Flowers, in the 9/39 BGM, 5.67. In the first he ascribes Miss Gould’s “appearance of originality” to her simple but effective language and mastery of the fantastic, while objecting to her “prettinesses” and “forced analogy.” He exempts the “Dying Storm,” cited in full, from any censure, and omits any mention of Campbell. The second review finds both Howitt and Gould often alike, and partly suggests imitation. Here is the basis for this entry: “that sportive and quaint grace. . . . never employing itself upon subjects of a very exalted nature. The two styles are nearly identical — the choice of themes is one and the same . . . Miss Gould . . . [has] a polished epigrammatism . . . Occasional bursts of a far higher order. . . than . . . her ordinary manner — flashings forth of a far brighter fire.” It is to be noted that often in praising the poems of Frances Osgood, Poe used the same terms of “grace” and “epigrammatism.”

Marginalia 67

Cornelius Webbe is one of the best of that numerous school of extravaganzists who sprang from the ruins of Lamb. We must be in perfectly good humor, however, with ourselves and all the world, to be much pleased with such works as “The Man about Town,” in which the harum-scarum, hyper-excursive mannerism is carried to an excess which is frequently fatiguing.


Note: This is a modification of an uncol. rev. in the 10139 BGM, 5.230 which is more flattering to Webbe: “C. W. is one of the best of that numerous school of writers who sprang up upon the ruins of Lamb’s intellect. He carries his harum-scarum, hyper-excursive mannerism to an extent which is sometimes fatiguing, but, upon the whole, is an author of merit, and possesses a dash of the ‘true and blissful Hippocrene.’ If a man is in a perfectly good humor with himself and all the world, he will find nothing to ruffle his temper in the ‘Man about Town.’ Some of these vagaries are capital, outrageously so, and all are very readable” (plus two sentences praising three more of his books). Note the use here of “extravaganzists,” a Poe coinage along with “hyper-excursive,” and the dropped misquotation from Keats’ “Ode on a Nightingale” (“Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene”), showing Poe’s awareness of Webbe’s friendship with Keats (see Notes and Queries, 203.40 and Walter J. Bates, John Keats, 1963, pp. 224-25, 369-370); Webbe’s five autobiographical [page 174:] lines about his friendship with Keats had been prefixed to the notorious attack by “Z” (Lockhart) in the 10/17 issue of Blackwood’s Magazine, “The Cockney School of Poetry,” which Poe knew. Despite his numerous books of 1820 through 1845, several reprinted in America, he does not enter the DNB and his name sometimes loses its final “e” (in Bates, above, but not in Hyder Rollins, The Keats Circle, 1948, 2.287, and the British Museum catalogue). The Man about Town is a gushy, silly book of essays in the Lamb style.

Marginalia 68

Nearly, if not quite the best “Essay on a Future State.” The arguments called “Deductions from our Reason,” are, rightly enough, addressed more to the feelings (a vulgar term not to be done without), than to our reason. The arguments deduced from Revelation are (also rightly enough) brief. The pamphlet proves nothing, of course; its theorem is not to be proved.

 A Sermon on a Future State, combating the opinion that “Death is an Eternal Sleep.” By Gilbert Austin. London. 1794.


Note: Almost definitely Poe had his tongue in his cheek in these comments about an obscure and brief tract (36 pages long) which had almost no circulation. It is quite remarkable that he could have seen it at all, as his comments seem to indicate. Poe’s title is almost correct, but there is no article “an” before “Sleep.” The subtitle of the Br. Mus. copy supplies more information: “Preached at the Magdalen Asylum, Leeson Street, Dublin. Gilbert Austin, A. M. Chaplain of the Magdalen Asylum. 36 pp. Dublin, 1794.” Poe’s London attribution is either incorrect or a ref. to a different edition-as is unlikely. The only copy listed by the L. C. as being in the U. S. A. is no longer available, but my view of the copy in London shows it as a standard diatribe against the ideas of the French Revolution-part of the vast anti-Jacobin propaganda against “false Philosophy” and “blind Atheism,” with several pages of preliminary matter and the argument from “Reason” on pp. 6-32 and “Revelation” on 33-36” or “brief” as Poe says. The only London publication listed for the author is Sermons on practical subjects preached in Dublin (1795), 457 pages, with four locations in the U. S. A.

Marginalia 69

Not so: — A gentleman with a pug nose is a contradiction in terms. — “Who can live idly and without manual labour, and will bear the port, [page 175:] charge and countenance of a gentleman, he alone should be called master and be taken for a gentleman.” — Sir Thomas Smith’s “Commonwealth of England.


Note: Poe is almost correct in his citation, probably from an intermediary source. Sir Thomas Smith (1513-77) was a prominent scholar, author, and statesman, serving as ambassador abroad and as secretary of state under Elizabeth. Posthumously published in 1583 was De republics Anglorurn / The Common-Wealth of England, in ch. 20 of which we find: “For. . . who can live idly, and without manual labor, and will bear the port, charge, and countenance of a Gentleman, he shall be called master, for that is the title, which men give to esquires and other gentlemen, and shall be taken for a gentleman” (p. 37, ed. of 1589). However, Smith’s good friend William Harrison, in his Description of England, ch. 5, published in 1577, has a passage very similar, arising from the confusing factors that the two showed drafts to each other and cross-borrowed (q. v. in the 1968 reprint of The Folger Shakespeare Library, ed. by Georges Edelen, pp. 94, 114 and, especially, 152); see also Notes and Queries, 4/11/1931, 160.264.

Marginalia 70

It is the curse of a certain order of mind, that it can never rest satisfied with the consciousness of its ability to do a thing. Still less is it content with doing it. It must both know and show how it was done.


[[no note]]

Marginalia 71

Here is something at which I find it impossible not to laugh; and yet, I laugh without knowing why.§ That incongruity is the principle of all non-convulsive laughter,(a) is to my mind as clearly demonstrated as any problem in the “Principia Mathematica;” but here I cannot trace the incongruous.(b) It is there, I know. Still I do not see it. In the meantime let me laugh.(c)

§ Translation of the Book of Jonah into German Hexameters. By J. G. A. Muller. Contained in the “Memorabilienvon Paulus.


laughter) a. Poe coined the word “non-convulsive.” For another Poe text on laughter at “incongruity” see the 1835 “Loss of Breath” (TOM 80 line 7), the standard explanation for the humorous. [page 176:]

incongruous) b. Poe makes numerous references to Isaac Newton and one other to the Principia (H 11.40), q. v. in PD 67, but none furnishes evidence of his direct reading of the work. In CS 11, is a highly flattering use of a quotation from Newton’s Optics.

laugh) c. The cause of his mirth was Memorabilien by Heinrich G. Paulus (Leipzig, 1793) in eight vols. in which Paulus prints, with his own long introduction and learned footnotes analyzing the language and meaning (6.142-174), the poem by J. G. A. Muffler, “Jon-, eine moralische Erzählung” (174-188). Paulus was professor of literature in Jena.

Marginalia 72

The “British Spy” of Wirt seems an imitation of the “Turkish Spy,” upon which Montesquieu’s “Persian Letters” are also based. Marana’s work was in Italian — Doctor Johnson errs.


Note: This is entirely a condensation of Pin 3 (q. v.).

Marginalia 73

The style is so involute,|| that one cannot help fancying it must be falsely constructed. If the use of language is to convey ideas, then it is nearly as much a demerit that our words seem to be, as that they are indefensible.(a) A man’s grammar, like Caesar’s wife, must not only be pure, but above suspicion of impurity.(b)

|| “Night and Morning.”


indefensible) a. Despite the numerous passages devoted to Bulwer in Poe’s works (see PD 15), including the “Marginalia” (MM 49, 80, 117, 171, 221) Poe is almost always caustic about the writer from whom he borrowed inordinately. These two sentences are based on a para. in his long 4/41 Graham’s rev. of Bulwer’s book (H 10.114-33), specifically, p. 127.

impurity) b. Poe uses the same figure of speech in his 1846 “Literati” paper on Evert A. Duyckinck (H 15.59), having derived it perhaps from Plutarch’s’ Julius Caesar” (Section 10) or “Cicero” (7) or less directly from Colton’s Lacon (London 1820; often reprinted), 1.143-44 (see Pin Intro.). [page 177:]

Marginalia 74

“It was a pile of the oyster, which yielded the precious pearls of the South, and the artist had judiciously painted some with their lips parted, and showing within the large precious fruit in the attainment of which Spanish cupidity had already proved itself capable of every peril, as well as every crime. At once true and poetical, no comment could have been more severe, &c.” Mr. Simms’ “Damsel of Darien.” Body of Bacchus! — only think of poetical beauty in the countenance of a gaping oyster!(a)

“And how natural, in an age so fanciful, to believe that the stars and starry groups beheld in the new world for the first time by the native of the old were especially assigned for its government and protection.” Now, if by the Old World be meant the East, and by the New World the West, I am at a loss to know what are the stars seen in the one which cannot be equally seen in the other.(b)

Mr. Simms has abundant faults — or had; among which inaccurate English, a proneness to revolting images, and pet phrases, are the most noticeable. Nevertheless, leaving out of question Brockden Brown and Hawthorne (who are each a genus), he is immeasurably the best writer of fiction in America. He has more vigor, more imagination, more movement and more general capacity than all our novelists (save Cooper), combined.(c)


oyster) a. In his five reviews and other passages (PD 84) of Simms’ works, Poe often reprehends his stylistic faults, while granting him a forefront position in American fiction, and, later, as a Southern editor. (See also MM 106, 113, 173, 212). This article is adapted from his own 11/39 BGM rev. (H 10.49-56, specifically, 55-56) of the Damsel of Darien by William Gilmore Simms (1806-1870). The quotation (from 1, ch. 8; Poe tells us: “p. 105”) with the last sentence by Poe changed is the conclusion of his review. New, however, is the Italian exclamation “Body of Bacchus” (“corpo di Bacco”), used also in the 9/35 SLM review of Norman Leslie (H 8.52). Poe quotes with praise poetry in the Damsel in MM 106 and 173.

other) b. Unchanged from the review is this para. from ch. 12, 1.160.

combined) c. Poe’s use of “genus” rather than “genius” here perhaps reflects his work with Thomas Wyatt on The Conchologist’s First Book (1839). Poe greatly admired and also showed the influence of Charles Brockden Brown (1771-1810), e.g., Edgar Huntly on “Pit and Pendulum” (TOM 679n, 698 nnl6-17); the same on “Ragged Mountains” (TOM 951-52 nn6, 8, 11,19); and Wieland on “Thou Art” (TOM 1043). In his long rev. of Cooper’s Wyandotté in the 11/43 Graham’s (H 11.205-20), Poe scorns his typical slackness of phrase and merely episodic plot-structure [page 178:] and makes a distinction between Brown and Hawthorne, writers of “artistical fictions,” and Cooper “of the more popular division” (11.206). Poe’s ambiguity about Cooper’s worth demands a thorough survey of the literary relations of the two, not yet available. See also Pin 29 and loci in PD 23.

Marginalia 75

This “species of nothingness” is quite as reasonable, at all events, as any “kind of something-ness.” See Cowley’s “Creation,” where,

An unshaped kind of something first appeared.


Note: Poe here transplants from Pin 48 (q. v.) his quotation from the Davideis, the 1656 epic in couplets on the biblical history of King David (1.792) by Abraham Cowley (1618-67). He here adds a joke about the illogicality of a phrase and contrasts the two substantives; two of the four instances of “somethingness” in the OED also contrast the word with “nothingness.” The Cowley line was used again in 1848, probably through Poe’s agency, in the SLM (see Supplementary Pinakidia no. 30).

Marginalia 76

Here is an edition,* which, so far as microscopical excellence and absolute accuracy of typography are concerned, might well be prefaced with the phrase of the Koran — “There is no error in this book.” We cannot call a single inverted o an error — can we?(a) But I am really as glad of having found that inverted o, as ever was a Columbus or an Archimedes.(b) What, after all, are continents discovered, or silversmiths exposed? Give us a good o turned upside-down, and a whole herd of bibliomanic Arguses overlooking it for years.(c)

* CamöensGenoa — 1798.


can we) a. Poe derived the Camoens material from I. Disraeli’s CL, article on “Errata” (1.138-139). I cite a little more of the text than Poe used here, since the whole entered into a “filler” para. that Poe (probably) inserted later into the 12/48 SLM, given below (SP 33). Disraeli wrote:

Whether such a miracle as an immaculate edition of a classical author does exist, I have never learnt; but an attempt has been made to obtain this glorious singularity — and was as nearly realized as is perhaps possible [page 179:] in the magnificent edition of Os Lusiadas of Camoens, by Dom Joze Souza, in 1817. This amateur spared no prodigality of cost and labour, and flattered himself that by the assistance of Didot, not a single typographical error should be found in that splendid volume. But an error was afterwards discovered in some of the copies, occasioned by one of the letters in the word Lusitano having got misplaced during the working of one of the sheets.

While Poe omits the names “Souza” and “Didot” here, he includes them in the close adaptation that he must have inserted in the SLM, 12148, 14.726 (q. v. in Supplementary Pin):

The magnificent edition of Camoens’ As (sic) Lusiadas printed in 1817 by Dom Jose Souza, assisted by Didot, is perhaps the most immaculate specimen of typography in existence. In a few copies, however, one error was discovered occasioned by one of the letters in the word Lusitano getting misplaced during the working of a sheet.

The L. C. staff has kindly sought to verify the alleged error in Lusitano, but vainly. They note, in a private communication, that in one of their two copies of this work-1817 being the first-in stanza 30 of canto 10, the third word is “pdoer” instead of “poder” and in line 6 of the same stanza the final word, “aprende” should be “apprende.” Their second copy shows both these errors corrected. Disraeli’s copy may have, therefore, shown an unaltered page, which was subsequently altered without remark. In any event, Poe’s “Genoa, 1798” is a mystifying hoax, wrong in place and time, for “Didot” was a famous Paris publisher and no Genoese edition close to 1798 is listed for the great 1580 epic of Luis Vaz de Camoens (1524?-1580).

Poe perhaps derived his Koran quotation from an intermediary source, Bulwer’s Paul Clifford of 1840; at the end of which “Maxims” No. ix says: “Volney saith well” that Mahomet “begins his extraordinary tissue of lies by these words, ‘there is no doubt in this book‘!” This gave Poe the wrong idea of the location for his second use in M 289 (q. v.), for in Al Koran, ch. 2, “The Cow,” para. 2 reads: “This is the Scripture whereof there is no doubt, a guidance unto those who ward off [evil].”

Archimedes) b. Poe’s ref. to Christopher Columbus involves his discovery of the New World. Poe refers to Archimedes (287-212 B. C.), Greek mathematician and inventor of Syracuse, because of his reported discovery about the way to determine any admixture of silver in the king’s gold crown, that is, through displacement of water for given amounts of gold and silver needed for the crown. His exclamation of “Eureka, I have found it,” as he ran naked through the streets, became the title of Poe’s cosmological treatise in 1848. [page 180:]

years) c. Poe here refers to the monster in Greek mythology called Argos (Argos in Latin) endowed with enormous strength and numerous eyes, usually given as 100. Poe’s “herd” recalls the prominence of cattle in stories of him: his killing the bull that was devastating Arcadia and his being lulled to sleep while watching over Juno’s priestess lo, changed into a heifer by the enamored Jupiter, who sent Hermes to slay the guardian. Juno afterwards put his eyes into the peacock’s tail.

Marginalia 77

“That sweet smile and serene — that smile never seen but upon the face of the dying and the dead.” — Ernest Maltravers. Bulwer is not the man to look a stern fact in the face. He would rather sentimentalize upon a vulgar although picturesque error. Who ever really saw anything but horror in the smile of the dead? We so earnestly desire to fancy it “sweet” — that is the source of the mistake; if, indeed, there ever was a mistake in the question.


Note: Poe is not accurate in his quotation from Bk. 9, ch. 7 of Ernest Maltravers (Paris, 1837, p. 345; N. Y., Collier, 6.194): “A smile sweet and serene-that smile never seen but on the faces of the dying and the dead-borrowed from a light that is not of this world.” Poe might have added from Bulwer’s earlier “The Ambitious Student” (see Pin 1), first serialized in the New Monthly, 1/32, 34.240: “I was struck — appalled, by the exceeding beauty of the smile that rested on the lips” (of the corpse). But Poe used this very reprehended notion at least twice: in “Usher”: “that suspiciously lingering smile upon the lip which is so terrible in death” (TOM 410), and, less definitely, in “Shadow”: “our mirth. . . merriment of those who are to die” (TOM 190). It may also explain lines 50-51 of “Lenore”: “Lest her sweet soul, / Amid its hallow‘d mirth.”

Marginalia 78

This misapplication of quotations is clever, and has a capital effect when well done; but Lord Brougham has not exactly that kind of capacity which the thing requires. a One of the best hits in this way is made by Tieck, and I have lately seen it appropriated, with interesting complacency, in an English Magazine. The author of the “Journey into the Blue Distance,” is giving an account of some young ladies, not very beautiful, whom he caught in mediis rebus, at their toilet. “They were curling their monstrous heads,” says he, “as Shakspeare says of the waves in a storm.”(b) [page 181:]


requires) a. Poe’s animus against Lord Brougham is displayed also in M 37, q. v. for fuller treatment. The ref. here is undetectible [[undetectable]]. The 1850 printing changes the first word to “The“.

storm) b. Poe has his own joke here in that Tieck has nothing to do with the alleged source of the misapplied quotation, as would appear obvious in itself. This comes from Bulwer’s novel Pelham, the end of ch. 7: “The attics were thronged with rubicond damsels, who were already, as Shakespeare says of waves in a storm, ‘curling their monstrous heads.“’ Poe derived numerous quips and bits of “erudition” from this work, in addition to this one from 2 Henry IV, 3.122-23: “Who take the ruffian billows by the top, / Curling their monstrous heads.” The novella by Johann Ludwig Tieck, “Das alte Buch and die Reise ins Blaue hinein,” appearing in 1834, was not translated in Poe’s day, but was noticed briefly in the 2/35 Blackwood’s and again, with the title translated, in the 9/37 Blackwood’s so that Poe could give it to Roderick Usher to read in 9/39 (TOM 409, 420n21; see also Claude Richard, Poe, p. 219 n691). Poe’s pitiful efforts at using German (see his handling of “Leiden”) (TOM 1360, 1.23) and “Suard and Andre” (Pin Intro. para. 2) reveal his unlikely acquaintance with this tale, or the rest of Tieck’s works, despite his charges against Hawthorne of cribbing from Tieck (in the 11/47 Godey’s, H 13.144); this represents Poe as cribbing from the Democratic Review article of 9/45, p. 212. For a negative view of Poe’s Germanic culture, see Edwin H. Zeydel, Univ. of North Carolina Studies in the Germanic Language and Literatures, 1970, 67.47-54, countered (weakly, I think) by Gustav Gruener, Modern Philology, 1904, 2.125-40. A few of Poe’s many borrowings from Pelham are noted by G. R. Thompson in AL, 1969, 41.251-55, who omits the non-use of this Shakespeare phrase by Tieck.

Marginalia 79

Mr. Hawthorne is one of the very few American story-tellers whom the critic can commend with the hand upon the heart. He is not always original in his entire theme — (I am not quite sure, even, that he has not borrowed an idea or two from a gentleman whom I know very well, and who is honored in the loan) — but, then, his handling is always thoroughly original. His style, although never vigorous, is purity itself. His imagination is rich. His sense of art is exquisite, and his executive ability great. He has little or no variety of tone. He handles all subjects in the same subdued, misty, dreamy, suggestive, in[n]uendo way, and although I think him the truest genius, upon the whole, which our literature possesses. I cannot help regarding him as the most desperate mannerist of his day.(b)

P. S. The chief — not the leading idea in this story (“Drowne’s Wooden [page 182:] Image”), is precisely that of Michael Angelo’s couplet, borrowed from Socrates:

Non ha I’ ottimo artista alcun concetto

Che un marmo solo in se non circunscriva.


loan) a. Poe here alludes to his charge previously expressed in his 5/42 Graham’s rev. of Twice-Told Tales that “Howe’s Masquerade” depended upon material from “William Wilson,” although Hawthorne’s tale dated from the 5/38 Democratic Review and indeed shared in the account of a Calder6n play that Poe himself used for his 1839 tale. This is well-handled in Robert Regan’s “Hawthorne’s ‘Plagiary‘; Poe’s Duplicity,” Nineteenth Century Fiction, 1970, 25.181-98. Add to his evidence Poe’s letter of 10/12/39 to Washington Irving (see Ostrom’s “Supplement,” p. 689), underscoring his reliance upon Irving’s article on the matter in “the first Gift” — that for 1836 which contained his “MS . . . in a Bottle.” To repeat the charge against Hawthorne now in 12/44 argues real “duplicity,” especially in view of his increasing respect for the New England writer.

day) b. The phrases and ideas of this paragraph come from the 4-5/42 Graham’s reviews of Twice-Told Tales (H 11.102-13), especially the concluding paragraphs of each. However, in 1842 Poe granted him a variety of “tone”: “singularly effective-wild, plaintive, thoughtful, and in full accordance with his themes” (p. 103), but in the 11/47 collective essay on two of Hawthorne’s works, in Godey’s (H 13.141-55), he repeats a para. from his Intro. to the “Literati” in Godey’s of 5/46, limiting his “tone” and adulcerating slightly the “most desperate mannerist” charge of this entry: “Although his walk is limited and he is fairly to be charged with mannerism, treating all subjects in a similar tone of dreamy innuendo, yet . . . he evinces extraordinary genius, having no rival either in America or elsewhere,” (13.141). Since we tend today to restrict “mannerism” to a style of art and literature between Renaissance and baroque in period, we might justly wonder about Poe’s understanding of that term and “mannerist,” did we not surmise his borrowing the latter from Southey (see SM 2, para. 3). The OED gives “excessive or affected addiction to a distinctive manner or method of treatment, especially in art and literature” with citations of 1803, 1823 (Disraeli’s CL: “art sinks into mannerism and wantons into affectation”) and Coleridge’s of 1839: “a trick of manner.” Several citations starting with 1695 show “mannerist” as “one addicted to mannerism.” The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, noting the tendency to apply an art-history term to literary history, implies its becoming a more neutral word than in the early 19th century, when it still retained its 17th century signification of “affected style” (see biblio. in Lowry Nelson’s article). By “executive ability” Poe must mean “the ability to execute something,” and the OED notes “chiefly U. S. A.” for the meaning “apt or skilful in execution.” [page 183:]

circunscriva) c. Poe’s addendum to his capsule-appraisal of Hawthorne uses a “learned” borrowing with which he embellished his letter of 8/18/44 to Lowell (Ostrom, p. 261) alluding to “Drowne’s Wooden Image,” recently published in Godey’s, which he calls “delicious,” but follows with: “The leading idea, however, is suggested by Michael [sic] Angelo’s couplet: (as above) To be sure Angelo half-stole the thought from Socrates.” Poe “precisely” misreads the narrative theme of the story of Hawthorne which concerns not the innate form or the inspiration of the materials of the statue but rather the inspiration only once provided to the merely competent woodcarver Drowne by the Portuguese refugee maiden visiting at the home of Captain Hunnewell. Here in secret Drowne studies her for the effigy. Never again is Drowne thus inspired, unlike the sculptor of Michelangelo’s sonnet. Poe took this from Isaac Disraeli’s The Literary Character, which was often included in CL or Miscellanies of Literature (e.g., “By the Author of ‘C. of L.“’) It probably antedates 1834, for Poe included the distich of Michelangelo in the first (1834) version of “The Assignation,” TOM 161 and 169 nn 23, 24, the first helping to explain “Socrates.” (I have reason to ascribe it to the 1807 ed., p. 85, or the 1822 ed. in 2 volumes, 2.85.) TOM gives J. A. Symond’s rather flat translation of Sonnet XV (Rime 83 in the Rizzoli ed.): “The best of artists does not have a concept, that the marble block does not circumscribe.” TOM is unaware of the aid of Disraeli in the matter. Poe seems to have added the link to Socrates, on the basis of the rather obvious Platonism of a poem which Robert Clements calls “the most compact statement of his basic view of art as God-implanted form to be discerned by chosen intellects and released by trained hands” (Michelangelo: A Self Portrait, N. Y.,1963, p. 11). He cites Longfellow’s translation: “Nothing the greatest artist can conceive / That every marble block cloth not confine / Within itself; and only its design / The hand that follows intellect can achieve.” The problem of locating the possible edition used by Poe is great because of the numerous revised editions that Disraeli put out, often mergers of various of his books; in addition, the American book-pirates made further mixtures, some of which went back to the pre-1820 editions of the “Literary Character” which made a brief ref. to the poem, without the cited two lines. Here is the passage from the 1840 edition of Miscellanies of Literature (London, Moxon), pp. 399-400 (but the Moxon 1838 ed. of CL with an appended “Literary Character” does not contain the revised text).

At Florence may still be viewed the many works begun and abandoned by the genius of MICHAEL ANGELO; they are preserved inviolate“so sacred is the terror of Michael Angelo’s genius!” exclaims Forsyth. These works are not always to be considered as failures of the chisel; they appear rather to have been rejected for coming short of the artist’s first conceptions: yet, in a strain of sublime poetry, he has preserved his [page 184:] sentiments on the force of intellectual labour; he thought that there was nothing which the imagination conceived, that could not be made visible in marble, if the hand were made to obey the mind: —

Non ha l’ ottimo artista alcun concetto,

Ch’ un marmo solo in se non circoscriva

Col suo soverchio, e solo a quello arriva

La man the obbedisce all’ intelletto.


The sculptor never yet conceived a thought

That yielding marble has refused to aid;

But never with a mastery he wrought

Save when the hand the intellect obeyed.

The word “circunscriva” poses a problem. Poe, whose Italian was weak, preserved this form through six versions of “the Assignation.” In tribute to this persistence, I leave the form which clearly should be altered to “circoscriva,” and the line should begin with “Ch’ un” as in Disraeli’s.

A terse suggestion is made by Claude Richard, in his Préfaces et Marginalia (Aix-en Provence: Alinea, 1983), p. 153n52, referring to Pope’s Dunciad, 4.270: “And hew the Block off, and get out the Man” with the note of Pope and Warburton: “A notion of Aristotle, that there was originally in every block of marble a Statue, which would appear on the removal of the superfluous parts.” Poe knew this poem well and may have substituted Socrates for Aristotle in his memory.

Marginalia 80

Here are both Dickens and Bulwer perpetually using the adverb “directly” in the sense of “as soon as.” “Directly he came I did so and so” — “Directly I knew it I said this and that. “a But observe! — “Grammar is hardly taught” [in the United States], “being thought an unnecessary basis for other learning.” I quote “America and her Resources,” by the British Counsellor at law, John Bristed.(b)


and that) a. the germ of this entry may have been owed to a paragraph on the misuse of “directly,” which David K. Jackson ascribes to William J. Duane in the 5/36 SLM, 2.388-89, starting: “Many of the English writers of the present day, use this word in a manner inelegant and unsanctioned, I am convinced, by any standard author.” Poe has, characteristically, sought and found instances of the fault in the works of the two most popular English authors. See his 2/42 rev. of Barnaby Rudge in Graham’s (H 11.60): “Mr. Dickens’ English is usually pure. His most remarkable error is that of employing the adverb ‘directly’ in the [page 185:] sense of ‘as soon as’ . . . Bulwer is uniformly guilty of the same blunder.” Poe, as “editor” of the SLM, knew this contribution well, especially coming from the eminent former Secretary of the Treasury, now back in Philadelphia, with whom he had just engaged in a contretemps over the preceding vol. of SLM, borrowed from Duane and inadvertently sold, before the Poes’ departure for New York (see the demeaning account in Quinn, pp. 407-410). Duane had also, earlier, contributed “The Wissahiccon” to the 12/35 SLM, which helped Poe to shape “The Elk” (see Pollin, AL, 1968, 40.164-178).

Bristed) b. John Bristed (1778-1855), former Englishman and now an Episcopal clergyman in America, had had a richly varied career in both countries (see DAB), as literary historian, travel-memoirs writer (of radical persuasion), novelist, student of medicine, lawyer, editor of the New York Monthly Register (see MM 83-100), economist, and finally, 1820, as husband of Magdalen, widowed daughter of John Jacob Astor, and father of Charles Astor Bristed ( q. v. in M 191). Poe’s quotation is from memory as is the title: “The use of grammar is either exploded altogether, or very superficially taught, or translated into English” (The Resources of the United States of America, 1818, pp. 322-23).

Marginalia 81

At Ermenonville,(a) too, there is a striking instance of the Gallic rhythm with which a Frenchman regards the English verse. There Gerardin has the following inscription to the memory of Shenstone:

This plain stone

To William Shenstone.

In his writings he displayed

A mind natural;

At Leasowes he laid

Arcadian greens rural.

There are few Parisians, speaking English, who would find anything particularly the matter with this epitaph.(b)


Ermonville) a. Poe derived this item (with “Girardin” misspelled) from the New York Weekly Inspector, which had also provided him with “overzezet” in the Introduction to M (q. v.). In no. 41, 2:228 of 6/6/1807, the column “Scraps” begins: “Shenstone used to thank God that his name was not liable to a pun. It proved, however, obnoxious to a Frenchman’s rhyme, which is something worse. M. Gerardin has placed this inscription to his memory at Ermonville” (followed by the verses with slightly different accidentals). [page 186:]

epitaph) b. Stanislas-Cecile-Xavier-Louis Girardin, Vicomte d‘Ermenonville, wrote Promenade, Itinéaire des Jardins d Ermenonville (Paris, Merigot pere, 1788 2nd ed., 1811); on pages 34-35 the poem is given in full: “This plain stone / To William Shenstone / In his verses he display‘d / His mind natural / At Leasowes he lay‘d / Arcadian greens rural. / Venus fresh rising from the foamy tide, / She ev‘ry bosom warms, / While half withdrawn she seems to hide / And half reveals, her charms. / Learn hence, ye boastful sons of taste! / Who plan the rural shade, / Learn hence to shun the vicious waste / of pomp, at large display‘d.”

In footnotes, Girardin gives a French translation and explains that “Leasowes” was “a very poetic and delicious garden, designed by Shenstone, the owner. William Shenstone (1714-1763), author of The Schoolmistress and the man who suggested to Bishop Percy his Reliques, retired in 1745 to his family’s Leasowes estate, which he elaborately and extravagantly beautified and displayed the rest of his life. Poe had recently (3/44) used, for humor, a Frenchman’s mishandling of English in “The Spectacles” (TOM 911-14).

Marginalia 82

Here is a plot which, with all its complexity, has no adaptationno dependency; it is involute and nothing more(a) — having all the air of G———’s wig,(b) or the cycles and epicycles in Ptolemy’s “Almagest.”(c)


nothing more) a. Poe’s terms are drawn from his theories of the artistical plot, which he had been developing for almost ten years, often by reference to the drama. For example, see his review of Willis’s Tortesa in the 8/39 BGM (H 10.27-30), which argues for the dramatist’s “adjusting” and “amplifying” the “features” of Nature. Likewise, in his long review of Bulwer’s novel Night and Morning, in the 4/41 GM (H. 10.114133), he reprehends the lack of overall design and the excessive “involution of circumstances” as here. See M 18 for a fuller statement of plot “construction” or “adaptation.”

wig) b. Poe would probably assume his readers’ inference that the initial referred either to Horace Greeley (1811-1872) or Rufus Wilmot Griswold (1815-1857). The first, prominent editor of the New Yorker and currently the New York Tribune, although a follower of Fourierism and an egalitarian, generally was neutrally or commendatorily mentioned by Poe. But Griswold invariably invited his scorn for pretense, hypocrisy, venality, and small talent (see numerous passages in PD 40), so that he must claim the pseudo-wig here, with its slight implication of undeserved authority, especially after the issue of his Poets and Poetry of [page 187:] America (q. v. for Poe’s references in PD 159).

Almagest) c. Claudius Ptolemaeus (fl. A. D. 127-48) was a Greek astronomer, mathematician, and geographer whose major work, He Megiste Syntaxis in thirteen books was translated as Almagest in Arabic, in which form it became the dominant astronomical treatise in the Islamic and European worlds. In Book 4, in order to explain inequalities in the calculations of the length of the lunar month, he supposed the moon to move on an “epicycle” or “a small circle, the center of which moves on the circumference of a larger circle at whose center is the earth” (American Heritage Dictionary and Enc. Brit., 22.621). The care and supremacy in objective scientific observation and analysis for the world, shown by Ptolemy, have recently been challenged by Robert Newton in The Crime of Claudius Ptolemy and defended by Owen Gingerich, astronomer and historian of Harvard (see International Herald Tribune, 11/21/1977, p. 16). In M 2 Poe speaks of “the epicyclic lines of Shelley,” perhaps referring to Prometheus Unbound.

Marginalia 83

“Accursed be the heart that does not wildly throb, and palsied be the eye that will not weep over the woes of the wanderer of Switzerland.” — Monthly Register, 1807.

This is “dealing damnation round the land” to some purpose; upon the reader, and not upon the author as usual. For my part I shall be one of the damned; for I have in vain endeavored to see even a shadow of merit in anything ever written by either of the Montgomeries.


Note: See M 19 for another item of contempt for an utterance by James Montgomery. This comes from a review of The Wanderer of Switzerland and Other Poems (1st Am. from the 2nd London ed.) in John Bristed’s Monthly Register (see MM 100-103), of 2/1807, 2.252-253. For Poe’s many unflattering references to James (1771-1854) and Robert (1807-1855) Montgomery (unrelated despite Poe’s misconception) see “Loss of Breath” (TOM, at n15, pp. 68 and 76), “Angel of the Odd” (1106, 1111, at n11) and “Never Bet” (634n20). The Wanderer. . ., said by the DNB to be feeble, quickly went into three editions. (See my treatment in “Poe, Henry King, and the Two Writers Called Montgomery,” in SAF, 1980, 8.234-237.) “And deal damnation round the land” is from Pope’s “Universal Prayer” (1738) (1.27). [page 188:]

Marginalia 84

Strange — that I should here* find the only non-execrable barbarian attempts at imitation of the Greek and Roman measures!

* Forelaesninger over det Danske Sprog, eller resonneret Danske Grammatik, ved Jacob Baden.


Note: It is unlikely that Poe himself saw or could read this “Introduction to the Danish Language” by Professor Baden, published in Copenhagen in 1792 (2nd ed. 1801), of which only seven copies are listed by the LC. There is a comparative discussion of Latin and Greek meters with very brief examples on pp. 259, 286-289, taken from the works of Johannes Ewald (1743-1781), Hans Bull (1739-?) and Ludvig Stoud (1649-1705). (J. Ridgely courteously provided page-copies from the 1801 ed. at Johns Hopkins.) Longfellow translated Ewald’s “King Christian stood by the lofty mast,” which became “A National Song of Denmark.” Poe’s judgment could never have been made via the scraps quoted. His “barbarian” clearly shows an intermediary source.

Marginalia 85

Upon her was lavished the enthusiastic applause of the most correct taste, and of the deepest sensibility.(a) Human triumph, in all that is most exciting and delicious, never went beyond that which she experienced or never but in the case of Tagliom.(b) For what are the extorted adulations that fall to the lot of the conqueror? — what even are the extensive honors of the popular author — his far-reaching fame — his high influence — or the most devout public appreciation of his works-to that rapturous approbation of the personal woman — that spontaneous, instant, present, and palpable applause — those irrepressible acclamations — those eloquent sighs and tears which the idolized Malibran at once heard, and saw, and deeply felt that she deserved? Her brief career was one gorgeous dream — for even the many sad intervals of her grief were but dust in the balance of her glory.(c) In this book I read much about the causes which curtailed her existence; and there seems to hang around them, as here given, an indistinctness which the fair memorialist tries in vain to illumine. She seems never to approach the full truth. She seems never to reflect that the speedy decease was but a condition of the rapturous life. No thinking person, hearing Malibran sing, could have doubted that she would die in the spring of her days. She crowded ages into hours. She left the world at twenty-five, having existed her thousands of years.

 “Memoirs and Letters of Madame Malibran,” by the Countess of Merlin. [page 189:]


sensibility) a. This is taken from the first paragraph of Poe’s review, in BGM, 5140, 6.248, of the Carey and Hart reprint of 1840 London ed., a translation of the 1838 Paris publication. Poe made minor changes in the wording for this item (see H 10.91-92) for the sake of style. A later section of the review, concerning Malibran’s singing of arias in the Capuletti and the Somnambula, derived almost verbatim from the book, provides a passage in “The Spectacles” (TOM 905) and perhaps contributes to M 287. Maria Felicita Malibran (later, de Bériot; 1808-1836), was celebrated for her wide range of voice, her ornaments, her charm on the stage, and her colorful personality, although Poe’s major source of information by the Countess de Merlin is termed by Grove “little better than a romance” (see my study of “The Spectacles” in AL, 5165, 38.185-190).

Taglioni) b. Maria Taglioni (1804-1884), Italian ballet dancer born in Sweden, owed her premier position throughout Europe until retirement in 1847, to her father’s severe dance discipline. Poe never saw her, but adopted the adulation of the press (and especially contemporary novelists), as in his 1835 ref. in “Loss of Breath” (TOM 79 at n8; Poe here cites Disraeli’s Vivian Grey) and, especially, FS 27 (q. v.). For Poe’s keen interest in the dance, see Pollin, SAR 1980, pp. 169-182. His praise of both women reflects his love of the stage, q. v. in H. B. Fagin’s The Histrionic Mr. Poe.

glory) c. See Isaiah 40:15: “The nations . . . are counted as the small dust of the balance.” Note in this item two of Poe’s favorite themes: “Life as a dream” and “the beauty of the death of a youthful woman.” The artificial, rhapsodic style of this article should be compared with that of the Memoirs, especially 1.261-62 and 2.65-71 (London: Colburn, 1844, 2nd ed.).

Marginalia 86

Were I to consign these volumes,* — altogether, to the hands of any very young friend of mine, I could not, in conscience, describe them otherwise than as “tam multi, tam grandes, tam pretiosi codices;” and it would grieve me much to add the “incendite omnes illas membranas.“ (b)

* Voltaire.

 St. Austin de libris Manichais.


volumes) a. Poe is invariably hostile to Voltaire (see MM 9, 120, 137, 159, 181; Poems, 16, 62, 90, 121, 464; and many refs. in TOM, indexed), despite many borrowings and the importance of Zadig to the development of Dupin (TOM 521-22). Certainly he read Voltaire as a [page 190:] “very young” man himself, owing to him some of his own skepticism and spirit of analysis.

membranas) b. Poe had used “the pregnant words” of St. Augustine first in LSM par-. 1, 1/39, with no more accurate an indication of source than here. Augustine’s alleged injunction, “Of the volumes so numerous, so large, so precious — burn all those pages,” has not appeared in my search of all the writings of the Bishop of Hippo (354430). Poe’s reference, “De Libris Manichaeis” (but in 1839 “Manichoeis”), does not exist as such although after Augustine’s withdrawal from Manichaeism he devoted many writings to attacks on the sect and their doctrines; e.g., Contra Faustum Manichaeum, De Genesi contra manichaeos, and “Two Books” (Libri duo) De moribus . . . Manichaeorum. Poe’s real, i.e., intermediary source, is Bielfeld, I, vi (Leyden French ed.). Poe’s joining the bookburners here (and LST 1) does not match his more tolerant acceptance in FS 19 and his general anti-didacticism.

Marginalia 87

This reasoning is about as convincing as would be that of a traveller who, going from Maryland to New York without entering Pennsylvania, should advance this feat as an argument against Leibnitz’ Law of Continuity — according to which nothing passes from one state to another without passing through all the intermediate states.


Note: Concerning the pun on “state,” Poe devotes several passages of the MM to justifying the pun (see the end of Intro. and M 291) and to giving humorous examples (MM 253, 257, 259). Despite several refs. in his works (see PD 55 and M 38) Poe probably did not read Leibniz’s works. As with many items, he derived this from Rees’s Cyclopaedia (1819), article on “Leibnitzian Philosophy” with changes for the sake of the pun on “state”: “This system also requires the utter exclusion of atoms, or of any perfectly hard and inflexible bodies; the advocates of it allege, that, according to the law of continuity, as they call a law of nature invented for the sake of the theory, all changes in nature are produced by insensible and infinitely small degrees; so that no body can, in any case, pass from motion to rest, or from rest to motion, without passing through all possible intermediate degrees of motion; whence they conclude that atoms or perfectly hard bodies are impossible: because if two of them should meet with equal motions, in contrary directions, they would necessarily stop at once, in violation of the law of continuity.” The literature on Leibniz does not commonly use the phrase “Law of Continuity” — contrary to Poe’s assumption. Poe’s readers must bear in mind that all three states mentioned by Poe are on the Atlantic seaboard [page 191:] with Pennsylvania projecting so far to the west as to render it impossible for a traveler to perform the trajectory without leaving the country.

Marginalia 88

Not so: — The first number of the “Gentleman’s Magazine” was published on the first of January, 1731; but long before this — in 1681 — there appeared the “Monthly Recorder” with all the Magazine features.

I have a number of the “London Magazine,” dated 1760; — commenced 1732, at least, but I have reason to think much earlier.


Note: Poe, with his keen interest in magazines, seems here to be contradicting or correcting a recently published statement, probably in a journal, concerning the first English journals. His stimulus was in a sense correct, for traditionally the “magazine — a storehouse for fugitive reprints from weekly newspapers” — is ascribed to the Gentleman’s Magazine of 1/1731. The LC lists the Monthly Recorder as appearing first in 1/1682 and it does not confirm Poe’s assumption of a date earlier than 4/1732 for the London Magazine. Poe overlooks journals with literary notices of an earlier date, such as the Mercurius Librarius of 1668, with another of 1680 (see Walter Graham, Beginnings of English Literary Periodicals, 1926, pp. 6-7). For Poe’s collecting habits, see M 102.

Marginalia 89

Stolen, body and soul (and spoilt in the stealing), from a paper of the same title in the “European Magazine” for December, 1817. Blunderingly done throughout, and must have cost more trouble than an original thing. This makes paragraph 33 of my “Chapter on American Cribbage.” The beauty of these exposés must lie in the precision and unanswerability with which they are given — in day and date — in chapter and verse — and, above all, in an unveiling of the minute trickeries by which the thieves hope to disguise their stolen wares.(a)

I must soon a tale unfold, and an astonishing tale it will be. The C—— bears away the bell. The ladies, however, should positively not be guilty of these tricks; — for one has never the heart to unmask or deplume them.(b)

After all, there is this advantage in purloining one’s Magazine papers; — we are never forced to dispose of them under prime cost. [page 192:]


wares) a. Poe does not enable us to identify the article plagiarized presumably in a contemporary journal. (The only possibilities in the issue of the European mentioned are “Extracts from a Lawyer’s Portfolio” [pp. 489-93] and “The Age of Time” [two paras. on p. 514].) His word “Cribbage” in his apocryphal paper is listed as “rare colloquial” in the OED, implying perhaps an origin from the “stealing” of cards in the standard game of “cribbage.” Poe uses the verb punningly in “ThingumBob” for Mlle. Cribalittle (TOM 1138-39), repeating the subject of this item the same month (12/44). (See also M 46.) Nelson F. Adkins borrows Poe’s “Chapter” title for his analysis of “Poe and Plagiarism,” in PBSA, 1948, 42.169-210, for one of the surprisingly few serious treatments of this important topic. Surely no one was more adept than Poe at disguise of such “wares.”

them) b. Poe is echoing the ghost in Hamlet (1.5.15): “I could a tale unfold,” one of his favorite phrases — and plays. In “The Cat bears away the bell,” he somewhat obscurely alludes to the old fable of Aesop of the mice whose plan for security required a volunteer to hang a warning bell on the cat’s neck, q. v. in K. M. Briggs, Dictionary of British Folk-Tales (London, 1970), p. 104, and no. 67 in Aesop’s Fables (New York, 1894). Poe seems to be pointing to a lady as plagiarist, possibly Mrs. Elizabeth Fries Ellet (1818-77), who was later to give Poe much anguish concerning his rumored affair with Mrs. Osgood. Even earlier, however, Poe seemed to think her versatility and skill in languages apt to tempt her into unsavory borrowings (see DP, 59-62). It is true that Poe’s chivalry toward women made his suspicion of and attacks upon Mrs. Ellet an exception to his prevailing practice (see M 23 para. 2). The word “deplume” seems to mean “to strip of honor” or “respect,” probably from the crest on the knight’s helmet. In “The Haunted Palace” Poe used “plumed” to mean “gay, adorned” and perhaps “proud”: “ramparts plumed” (1. 15).

Marginalia 90

“ ‘Amare et sapere vix Deo conceditur,’ as the acute Seneca well observes.”

However acute might be Seneca, still he was not sufficiently acute to say this. The sentence is often attributed to him, but is not to be found in his works. “Semel insanavimus omnes,” a phrase often quoted, is in variably placed to the account of Horace, and with equal error. It is from the “De Honesto Amore” of the Italian Mantuanus, who has

Id commune malum; semel insanavimus omnes.

In the title, “De Honesto Amore,” by the way, Mantuanus misconceives [page 193:]

the force of honestus — just as Dryden does in his translation of Virgil’s

Et quocunque Deus circum caput egit honestum;

which he renders

On whate‘er side he turns his honest face.


Note: The substance of this article is taken entirely from the Pinakidia, using the following items respectively: 132, 95, 41 (q. v.). Poe adds stylistic flourishes, however, such as making the Seneca item into an implied dialogue. He attempts a transition between the second and third in terms of the word “honestus,” thereby making a false charge against Mantuanus, whose title did not “misconstrue” the word, since there was no translation, as with Dryden. His Latin title for the Eclogue was “De honesto amore,” that is, “About Honorable Love” and not “Honest Love.” H. T. Riley, Dictionary of Latin Quotations (1909), p.159, renders it thus: “It is a common ill, that we have all been mad once.”

Marginalia 91

“Jehovah” is not Hebrew.


Note: This comes from Pin 51, which is slightly expanded by comparison (q. v.).

Marginalia 92

Macaulay, in his just admiration of Addison, over-rates Tickell, and does not seem to be aware how much the author of the “Elegy” is indebted to French models. Boileau, especially, he robbed without mercy, and without measure. A flagrant example is here. Boileau has the lines:

En vain contre “Le Cid” un ministre se ligue;

Tout Paris pour ChimMe a les yeux de Rodrigue.

Tickell thus appropriates them:

While the charm’d reader with thy thought complies,

And views thy Rosamond with Henry’s eyes.


Note: This is essentially repeated from Pin 97, where it was derived from Disraeli’s CL. The new element here is the ref. to T. B. Macaulay’s Ed. Review 8143 review of Lucy Aikin’s Life of Joseph Addison. Trenchantly Poe indicates his careful reading of this article which points [page 194:] out the favor shown by Addison to Thomas Tickell (1686-1740), who early lauded his mentor’s opera Rosamond, source of this couplet, and finally wrote the widely praised “Elegy” from which Poe elsewhere quotes (see Index for “Gray”). But Macaulay is judicious in his refs. to Tickell (Essays collected, 1876, pp. 753, 767-68, 773-74) and could certainly not have deplored a debt to “French models,” noted by no one save Disraeli — and only for the most nugatory of parallels. Poe’s “flagrant example” was probably a solitary instance, and one doubts that he knew anything else by Tickell save, possibly, the popular ballad of “Colin and Mary.”

Marginalia 93

No; — he fell by his own Fame. Like Richmann, he was blasted by the fires himself had sought, and obtained, from the Heavens.


Note: A clue to the identity of the subject here may lie in the verbal similarity to the opening of “The Assignation”: “Ill-fated and mysterious man! — bewildered in the brilliancy of thine own imagination, and fallen in the flames of thine own youth!” — generally imputed to Byron. TOM traces this to “Falling in the flames of her own youth,” a reading from Measure for Measure, 2.3.11, which Poe had previously copied out (TOM, 167n 1). The allusion was to Georg Wilhelm Richmann (1711-1753), a Russian (Livonian) scientist, killed in 1753 while verifying Franklin’s experiments with lightning.

Marginalia 94

I have at length attained the last page, which is a thing to thank God for; and all this may be logic, but I am sure it is nothing more. Until I get the means of refutation, however, I must be content to say, with the Jesuits, Le Seur and Jacquier, that “I acknowledge myself obedient to the decrees of the Pope against the motion of the Earth.”


Note: Thomas Le Seur (1703-1770) and François Jacquier (1711-1788) were Franciscans who edited Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687; Newton’s final ed., 1726) in a published version of 1739, often republished and known as the “Jesuit” editions — hence, Poe’s designation.

Marginalia 95

How overpowering a style is that of Curran! I use “overpowering” in the sense of the English exquisite. I can imagine nothing more distressing than the extent of his eloquence.


Note: Poe’s reference to “exquisite” seems puzzling, save for the further implication of “distressing.” The OED for “exquisite” (under 3b) says “Of torture: Elaborately devised; hence, excruciating, intensely painful” and (under 3c) “Of qualities . . . consummate, extreme.” Yet “extent” scarcely warrants this application. John Philpot Curran (17501817) was a celebrated lawyer, political figure and orator who, though Protestant, defended the Irish radicals and progressive movements, and was always ready in sarcastic wit and quick to duel. See Poe’s ref. in his derisive rev. of Headley’s book (H 13.203).

Marginalia 96

“With all his faults, however, this author is a man of respectable powers.”

Thus discourses, of William Godwin, the “London Monthly Magazine”: May, 1818.


Note: This rather bland statement is but one of fourteen passages on William Godwin (1756-1836) by Poe (see PD 38 and Ostrom, Letters); the number and nature of these indicate Poe’s unusual respect for the influential, yet ineffective spokesman for philosophical anarchism in Enquiry concerning Political justice, novelist (Caleb Williams, St. Leon, Fleetwood, Mandeville, et al.), a playwright, essayist, educator, juvenile Library publisher, husband of Mary Wollstonecraft and father of Mary Shelley. In DP, Ch. 7 (“Godwin and Poe“, pp. 107-127) is the full account of Poe’s admiration for his ideas on unity, on backward plotting of a novel, on the frequent contest between reason and passion, on superstition, etc. Poe largely ignored Godwin’s political and social liberalism, but frequently praised his style and plot development of Things as they are, or, Adventures of Caleb Williams (1794), which he discussed with Dickens. The incorrect magazine title reveals a secondary source for this sentence, first appearing as the next to the last in the Monthly Magazine, Number VI of its “Contemporary Authors” series (15.299-302). This liberal journal, published by Godwin’s old “Jacobin” friend, Sir Richard Phillips, praises his originality and “intrepidity” but not his style, which occasions the word “faults” here. Poe derived it from the popular American reprint magazine, the Atheneum, or the Spirit of the English Magazines of Boston, [page 196:] 8/1818, 3.349-52. See MM 52, 142, 157, CS para. 6 for other Poe refs. to Godwin.

Marginalia 97

“Rhododaphne” is brim-full of music: — e.g.

By living streams, in sylvan shades,

Where wind and wave symphonious make

Rich melody, the youths and maids

No more with choral music wake

Lone Echo from her tangled brake.


Note: This is Canto III, lines 1-5, of Thomas Love Peacock’s long anonymously published poem, Rhododaphne, or, The Thessalian Spell (London, 1818). In 1818 Matthew Carey and Son of Philadelphia re published the poem without the author’s name and from this book the SLM reprinted portions in June and July 1843, with a prefatory note in the first part ascribing it to Richard Dabney (1787-1825), a poet of Louisa County, Virginia, about whose Poems (1812, 1815) the DAB says that they “reveal more intellectual vigor than metrical talent.” The confusion about authorship was an old one, going back to Richmonders’ pride in the assumed capacity of Dabney, the Virginia poet, in 1818 (see Agnes M. Bondurant, Poe’s Richmond, rep. 1978, p. 111). Manfully, however, the SLM editor “H.” (that is, James E. Heath) recorded his doubts about Dabney’s authorship in 7143 (9.390-91) and October (639). Poe, who may have been doing anonymous reviews for the SLM in 1843 (according to a note left by TOM) and who certainly regularly read this journal, was puzzled by all this. Hence he left an inserted parenthesis right after the title, which Griswold printed in his set: ”(who wrote it?)“. Seeing only the SLM reprint, Poe uses its changes from Peacock’s text: “winds and waves; sweet melody; maids” (with no comma).

Marginalia 98

How thoroughly — how radically — how wonderfully has “Undine” been misunderstood! Beneath its obvious meaning there runs an undercurrent, simple, quite intelligible, artistically managed, and richly philosophical. [page 197:]

From internal evidence afforded by the book itself, I gather that the author suffered from the ills of a mal-arranged marriage — the bitter reflections thus engendered inducing the fable.

In the contrast between the artless, thoughtless, and careless character of Undine before possessing a soul, and her serious, enwrapt, and anxious yet happy condition after possessing it, — a condition which, with all its multiform disquietudes, she still feels to be preferable to her original state, — Fouque has beautifully painted the difference between the heart unused to love, and the heart which has received its inspiration.

The jealousies which follow the marriage, arising from the conduct of Bertalda, are but the natural troubles of love; but the persecutions of Kuhleborn and the other water-spirits who take umbrage at Huld brand’s treatment of his wife, are meant to picture certain difficulties from the interference of relations in conjugal matters — difficulties which the author has himself experienced. The warning of Undine to Huldbrand — “Reproach me not upon the waters, or we part for ever” — is intended to embody the truth that quarrels between man and wife are seldom or never irremediable unless when taking place in the presence of third parties. The second wedding of the knight with his gradual forgetfulness of Undine, and Undine’s intense grief beneath the watersare dwelt upon so pathetically — so passionately — that there can be no doubt of the author’s personal opinions on the subject of second marriages — no doubt of his deep personal interest in the question. How thrillingly are these few and simple words made to convey his belief that the mere death of a beloved wife does not imply a separation so final or so complete as to justify an union with another! — “The fisherman had loved Undine with exceeding tenderness, and it was a doubtful conclusion to his mind that the mere disappearance of his beloved child could be properly viewed as her death.” — This is where the old man is endeavoring to dissuade the knight from wedding Bertalda.

I cannot say whether the novelty of the conception of “Undine,” or the loftiness and purity of its ideality, or the intensity of its pathos, or the rigor of its simplicity, or the high artistical ability with which all are combined into a well-kept, well-motivirt whole of absolute unity of effect — is the particular chiefly to be admired.

How delicate and graceful are the transitions from subject to subject! — a point severely testing the autorial power — as, when, for the purposes of the story, it becomes necessary that the knight, with Undine and Bertalda, shall proceed down the Danube. An ordinary novelist would have here tormented both himself and his readers, in his search for a sufficient motive for the voyage. But, in a fable such as “Undine,” how all-sufficient — how well in keeping — appears the simple motive assigned! — “In this grateful union of friendship and affection winter came and passed away; and spring, with its foliage of tender green, and [page 198:] its heaven of softest blue, succeeded to gladden the hearts of the three inmates of the castle. What wonder, then, that its storks and swallows inspired them also with a disposition to travel?

How exquisitely artistic is the management of imagination, so visible in the passages where the brooks are water-spirits and the water-spirits brooks — neither distinctly either! What can be more ethereally ideal than the frequent indeterminate glimpses caught of Kuhleborn? — or than his wild lapses into shower and foam? — or than the evanishing of the white wagoner and his white horses into the shrieking and devouring flood? — or than the gentle melting of the passionately weeping bride into the crystal waters of the Danube? What can be more divine than the character of the soul-less Undine? — what more august than the transition into the soul-possessing wife? What can be more purely beautiful than the whole book? Fictitious literature has nothing superior, in loftiness of conception, or in felicity of execution, to those final passages which embody the uplifting of the stone from the fount by the order of Bertalda — the silent and sorrowful re-advent of Undine — and the rapturous death of Sir Huldbrand in the embraces of his spiritual wife.


Note: The whole article is fairly closely adapted from the BGM of 9/39, the rev. of a reprint of Fouqués Undine, a short novel evoking the highest praise from Poe and central to much of his critical expression (q. v. in my study in Studies in Romanticism, “Undine in the Works of Poe,” Winter 1975, 14.59-74). For the early form, see H 10.35-39. The most significant changes, para. by para., are these: para.1: In 1839 Poe wrote: “. . . the story . . . is crowded with incident. Beneath all, there runs a mystic or under current of meaning, of the simplest and most easily intelligible, yet of the most richly philosophical character.” Para. 2: “ill-assorted marriage.” Para. 4: This short para. represents two long ones more or less epitomized, save for the omitted diatribe against “Allegory,” and the use of the pseudo-German “well-motivirt” (for “motiviert”), q. v. under “well-” and “ill-motivirt” in PCW (see also TOM 1220) as well as Poe’s coinage of “autorial” (treated by Pollin, PS, 10.15-18). Save for changes in a word here and there (e.g., “evanishing” becomes “vanishing”), the rest is close to the 1839 version. Note the narrative themes developed in Poe’s fiction (e.g., in para. 4, the theme of “Eleonora” concerning the second marriage of the widower and, at the end, the “Usher” theme of the ascent of the vengeful woman who embraces the man to death — both treated in my S in R article above, which also discusses Poe’s numerous treatments of Fouqué’s book). Perhaps the selection shows Poe’s anticipation of his own predicament after Virginia’s inevitable youthful death.

In the material that Poe left to Griswold for his collected works [page 199:] (1850) we find a change in the opening sentence, to “How radically has. . .” — indicating the care that he took for this tribute to Fouqué.

Marginalia 99

These twelve Letters* are occupied, in part, with minute details of such atrocities on the part of the British, during their sojourn in Charleston, as the quizzing of Mrs. Wilkinson and the pilfering of her shoe-buckles — the remainder being made up of the indignant comments of Mrs. Wilkinson herself.(a)

It is very true, as the Preface assures us, that “few records exist of American women either before or during the war of the Revolution, and that those perpetuated by History want the charm of personal narration,” — but then we are well delivered from such charms of personal narration as we find here. The only supposable merit in the compilation is that dogged air of truth with which the fair authoress relates the lamentable story of her misadventures. I look in vain for that “useful information” about which I have heard — unless, indeed, it is in the passage where we are told that the letter-writer “was a young and beautiful widow; that her hand-writing is clear and feminine; and that the letters were copied by herself into a blank quarto book, on which the extravagant sale-price marks one of the features of the times:” — there are other extravagant sale-prices, however, besides that; it was seventyfive cents that I paid for these “Letters.” Besides, they are silly, and I cannot conceive why Miss Gilman thought the public wished to read them. It is really too bad for her to talk at a body, in this style, about “gathering relics of past history,” and “floating down streams of time.”(b)

As for Mrs. Wilkinson, I am really rejoiced that she lost her shoe-buckles.

* “Letters of Eliza Wilkinson, during the invasion and possession of Charleston, S. C., by the British, in the Revolutionary War.” Arranged by Caroline Gilman.


Wilkinson herself) a. This whole article reprints, with very slight changes, the review in BGM, 9/39, 5.167. Eliza Wilkinson (1757-?) was far less popular and important than the editor, Caroline Howard Gilman (1794-1888) whose literary career was based on this sort of diary-froth: Recollections of a Housekeeper (1834) and Recollections of a Southern Matron (1836), and on many works for children.

time) b. The earlier set of quotations is from Preface, p. v, para. 2; the latter, from the first para. on p. v. This set does not appear in the original review. [page 200:]

Marginalia 100

A rather bold and quite unnecessary plagiarism — from a book too well known to promise impunity.

“It is now full time to begin to brush away the insects of literature, whether creeping or fluttering, which have too long crawled over and soiled the intellectual ground of this country. It is high time to shake the little sickly stems of many a puny plant, and make its fading flowerets fall.” — Monthly Register” — p. 243 — Vol. 2 — N. York, 1807.

On the other hand — “I have brushed away the insects of Literature, whether fluttering or creeping; I have shaken the little stems of many a puny plant, and the flowerets have fallen.” — Preface to the “Pursuits of Literature.


Note: The Pursuits of Literature, first issued in three parts (1794-97) by Thomas James Mathias (1754-1835), was one of the many satires, in this case a set of dialogues modeled on Pope and thick with notes, that derided sympathizers with the French Revolution or anyone tainted with liberal ideas. Very popular at the time, it reached an 11th ed. by 1801, and was being reprinted in the years 1807-1808 (16th ed.,1812), but certainly had lost its popularity by Poe’s day. He was relying on his own copy of the Weekly Inspector (see M 102) for hints, since No. 30, Vol. 2, 3121/1807, pp. 51-54 (the two vols. are bound in one), presents an expose of the plagiarisms of the Monthly Register from Pursuits of Literature with parallel passages. Strangely enough, the one given by Poe does not occur amongst the ten cited, implying his own search through the satire, as was recommended at the end of “Martin Mar-Pedant’s Letter.” The subject is also treated in No. 41 of 6/6/1807, p. 289, and No. 46, 7/11/ 1807, pp. 305-307, with a ref. by “Mar-Pedant” to the “insects” that “infest us” and which “must be blown away.” This may have led Poe to Mathias’ passage. In addition, in No. 50, 8/8/1807 (p. 380) the editor attacked the editor of the Monthly Register, John Bristed (see M 81), for his daring literary variety. Bristed became son-in-law of John Jacob Astor and father of Charles Astor, whose scholarly work Poe discussed (see M 191 and see Mott, History of Am. Magazines, 1.260-61).

Poe found the passage in a review of The Mental Flower Garden by D. Fraser (N. Y., 1807), probably by the then-associate editor Bristed. Poe cites a passage in “Introductory Letter” from one of the American reprints of the Pursuits of the 3rd. rev. ed., (missing from the 1st ed.). His only substantive change is to add “puny“. See M 103 for Poe’s unacknowledged borrowing; also M 83 for a ref.

Marginalia 101

Had John Bernouilli lived to have experience of G ——— ’s occiput and sinciput, he would have abandoned, in dismay, his theory of the non-existence of hard bodies.


Note: The name, spelled in Poe’s style or as “Bernoulli,” is that of a Protestant family which had fled from Spanish-held Antwerp eventually to Basel where it became outstanding in science and mathematics throughout Europe for two centuries. In the accounts of studies, prizes, chairs, and activities of the many scholars named Bernouilli no reference to the alleged theory can be found. I suspect Poe borrowed an idea from the passage that he had taken from the article on Leibnitz’s “Law of Continuity” for M 87 (q. v.), the original remarking “that atoms or perfectly hard bodies are impossible.” Of members of the family answering to the name ‘John” we find Jean B. (1667-1748), Jean B. (his son; 1710-1790), Jean B. (grandson; 1744-1807), Jacques B. (1654-1705) and Jacques B. (1759-1789). Poe may be alluding to the first in the list whose treatise L‘Effervescence et Fermentation dealt with the expansion of elastic fluids.

The terms “occiput” and “sinciput” refer to the front or forehead of the brain and the back of the head, as in “Mummy” (TOM 1190). Presumably Poe signifies the totality of the intellect of “G ——— ” or, probably, Rufus Wilmot Griswold, rather than any other “G ——— ” character, such as “Greeley.” My inference is based on Poe’s changing this to the name “Fuller’s” in “Marginalia CLI” as published by Griswold, a change arguing that he did not wish to antagonize Griswold needlessly. Toward the end of his life he was on better terms with him and, possibly, may have contemplated the executor editorship of his papers which were arranged by Maria Clemm soon after Poe’s death. Hiram Fuller (1814-1880), editor of the New York Mirror after Willis and Morris, became Poe’s inveterate enemy in 1846 (along with Thomas Dunn English, Poe’s former friend). Poe technically won his court suit for libel against Fuller in 1847, but suffered greatly in his own reputation (see Quinn, pp. 502-505 and Sidney P. Moss, Poe’s Literary Battles, 1963, pp. 224-248).

Marginalia 102

As to this last term (“high-binder”) which is so confidently quoted as modern (“not in use, certainly, before 1819”), I can refute all that is said by referring to a journal in my own possession — “The Weekly Inspector,” for December 27, 1806 — published in New York:(a)

“On Christmas Eve, a party of banditti, amounting, it is stated, to [page 202:] forty or fifty members of an association, calling themselves ‘High-Binders,” assembled in front of St. Peter’s Church, in Barclay-street, expecting that the Catholic ritual would be performed with a degree of pomp and splendor which has usually been omitted in this city. These ceremonies, however, not taking place, the High-Binders manifested great displeasure.”

In a subsequent number the association are called “Hide-Binders.” They were Irish.(b)


New York) a. Poe seems to be quoting from a contemporary dictionary, but those of Noah Webster for the 1830s and 1840s do not list the word. Craigie’s AED cites the 12/26/1806 New York Evening Post for “a desperate association of lawless and unprincipled vagabonds calling themselves Highbinders” noting its use often in the 1840s for “ruffian or rowdy” (with or without the hyphen). Later the word was associated with Tammany and applied to “a grandiloquent speechmaker” (see Mathews and Century Dictionary). Poe’s item is on 1.184.

Irish) b. Here Poe refers to the Weekly Inspector of 5/1807, 2.208: “An American bull. — An American, speaking of the turbulent conduct of the ‘hide-binders,’ observed that these low Irishmen were so used to being hung, that they could not live without it.” This idea is similar to the jocose plot of “Loss of Breath.”

Marginalia 103

Perhaps Mr. Barrow is right after all, and the dearth of genius in America is owing to the continual teasing of the musquitoes. See “Voyage to Cochin-China.”


Note: This too comes from the volume of the Weekly Inspector (see M 102), specifically, No. 42 in vol. 2 of 6/13/1807, p. 248: “’Scraps.’ / Whimsical cause assigned for the dearth of literature in America. (para.) Mr. Barrow, a celebrated traveller, in a late publication entitled A Voyage to Cochin-China, declares he is persuaded that it is owing to the continual teasing of musquitoes that America has produced so few works of genius. It is inconceivable, he observes, how any man can think to the purpose, with such an odious creature eternally humming in his ear!”

In reality this is slightly adapted from refs. in Barrow, p. 88, to “the torments. . . produced by the stings of the musquitoes of Rio de Janeiro” and p. 125: “The myriads of insects . . . are a constant torment. . . . Man. . .has little time or inclination to exert his faculties. . . . It is not a matter of surprize that men of genius have hitherto rarely appeared in America. . . . How [can] any man think to the purpose even [page 203:] while a little mosquito . . . shall be humming in his ear.” This comes from Sir John Barrow, A Voyage to Cochinchina in 1792 and 1793 (London, 1806).

Marginalia 104

Mrs. Amelia Welby(a) has all the imagination of Maria del Occidente, with more refined taste;(b) and all the passion of Mrs. Norton, with a nicer ear, and (what is surprising) equal art.(c) Very few American poets are at all comparable with her in the true poetic qualities. As for our poetesses (an absurd but necessary word), none of them approach her.

With some modifications, this little poem would do honor to any one living or dead.(d)

The moon within our casement beams,

Our blue-eyed babe hath dropped to sleep,

And I have left it to its dreams

Amid the shadows deep,

To muse beside the silver tide

Whose waves are rippling at thy side.


It is a still and lovely spot

Where they have laid thee down to rest;

The white-rose and forget-me-not

Bloom sweetly on thy breast,

And birds and streams with liquid lull

Have made the stillness beautiful.


And softly thro’ the forest bars

Light lovely shapes, on glossy plumes,

Float ever in, like winged stars,

Amid the purpling glooms:

Their sweet songs, borne from tree to tree,

Thrill the light leaves with melody.


Alas! the very path I trace,

In happier hours thy footsteps made;

This spot was once thy resting-place;

Within the silent shade

Thy white hand trained the fragrant bough

That drops its blossoms o‘er me now.


’Twas here at eve we used to rove;

‘Twas here I breathed my whispered vows,

And sealed them on thy lips, my love,

Beneath the apple-boughs. [page 204:]

Our hearts had melted into one,

But Death undid what Love had done.


Alas! too deep a weight of thought

Had fill‘d thy heart in youth’s sweet hour;

It seem‘d with love and bliss o‘erfraught;

As fleeting passion-flower

Unfolding ‘neath a southern sky,

To blossom soon and soon to die.


Yet in these calm and blooming bowers,

I seem to see thee still,

Thy breath seems floating o‘er the flowers,

Thy whisper on the hill;

The clear faint star-light and the sea

Are whispering to my heart of thee.


No more thy smiles my heart rejoice —

Yet still I start to meet thine eye,

And call upon the low sweet voice

That gives me no reply-

And list within my silent door

For the light feet that come no more.

In a critical mood I would speak of these stanzas thus: — The subject has nothing of originality: — A widower muses by the grave of his wife. Here then is a great demerit; for originality of theme, if not absolutely first sought, should be sought among the first. Nothing is more clear than this proposition — although denied by the chlorine critics (the grass-green).(e) The desire of the new is an element of the soul. The most exquisite pleasures grow dull in repetition. A strain of music enchants. Heard a second time it pleases. Heard a tenth, it does not displease. We hear it a twentieth, and ask ourselves why we admired. At the fiftieth it enduces ennui — at the hundredth disgust.

Mrs. Welby’s theme is, therefore, radically faulty so far as originality is concerned; — but of common themes, it is one of the very best among the class passionate. True passion is prosaic — homely. Any strong mental emotion stimulates all the mental faculties; thus grief the imagination: — but in proportion as the effect is strengthened, the cause surceases. The excited fancy triumphs — the grief is subdued — chastened — is no longer grief. In this mood we are poetic, and it is clear that a poem now written will be poetic in the exact ratio of its dispassion. A passionate poem is a contradiction in terms. When I say, then, that Mrs. Welby’s stanzas are good among the class passionate (using the term commonly and falsely applied), I mean that her tone is properly subdued, and is not so much the tone of passion, as of a gentle and melancholy regret, inter-woven with a pleasant sense of the natural loveliness surrounding the lost in the tomb, and a memory of her human beauty while alive. — Elegiac [page 205:] poems should either assume this character, or dwell purely on the beauty (moral or physical) of the departed — or, better still, utter the notes of triumph. I have endeavored to carry out this latter idea in some verses which I have called “Lenore.”(f)

Those who object to the proposition — that poetry and passion are discordant — would, thus, cite Mrs. Welby’s poem as an instance of a passionate one. It is precisely similar to the hundred others which have been cited for like purpose. But it is not passionate; and for this reason (with others having regard to her fine genius) it is poetical. The critics upon this topic display an amusing ignoratio elenchi.(g)

Dismissing originality and tone, I pass to the general handling, than which nothing could be more pure, more natural, or more judicious. The perfect keepingh of the various points is admirable-and the result is entire unity of impression, or effect. The time, a moonlight night; the locality of the grave; the passing thither from the cottage, and the conclusion of the theme with the return to “the silent door;” the babe left, meanwhile, “to its dreams;” the “white rose and forget-me-not” upon the breast of the entombed; the “birds and streams, with liquid lull, that make the stillness beautiful;” the birds whose songs “thrill the light leaves with melody;” — all these are appropriate and lovely conceptions: — only quite unoriginal; and (be it observed), the higher order of genius should, and will, combine the original with that which is natural — not in the vulgar sense, (ordinary) — but in the artistic sense, which has reference to the general intention of Nature. — We have this combination well effected in the lines:

And softly, through the forest bars

Light lovely shapes, on glossy plumes,

Float ever in, like winged stars,

Amid the purpling glooms —

which are, unquestionably, the finest in the poem.

The reflections suggested by the scene — commencing:

Alas! the very path I trace,

are, also, something more than merely natural, and are richly ideal; especially the cause assigned for the early death; and “the fragrant bough”

That drops its blossoms o‘er me now.

The two concluding stanzas are remarkable examples of common fancies rejuvenated, and etherealised by grace of expression, and melody of rhythm.

The “light lovely shapes” in the third stanza (however beautiful in themselves), are defective, when viewed in reference to the “birds” of the stanza preceding. The topic “birds” is dismissed in the one paragraph, to be resumed in the other. [page 206:]

“Drops,” in the last line of the fourth stanza, is improperly used in an active sense. To drop is a neuter verb. An apple drops; we let the apple fall.(i)

The repetition (“seemed,” “seem,” “seems,”) in the sixth and seventh stanzas, is ungraceful; so also that of “heart,” in the last line of the seventh, and the first of the eighth. The words “breathed” and “whispered,” in the second line of the fifth stanza, have a force too nearly identical. “Neath,” just below, is an awkward contraction. All contractions are awkward. It is no paradox, that the more prosaic the construction of verse, the better. Inversions should be dismissed. The most forcible lines are the most direct. Mrs. Welby owes three-fourths of her power (so far as style is concerned), to her freedom from these vulgar, and particularly English errors — elision and inversion. O‘er is, however, too often used by her in place of over, and ‘twas for it was. We see instances here. The only inversions, strictly speaking, are

The moon within our casement beams,

and — “Amid the shadows deep.”(j)

The versification throughout, is unusually good, Nothing can excel

And birds and streams with liquid lull

Have made the stillness beautiful;

or —

And sealed them on thy lips, my love,

Beneath the apple-boughs;

or the whole of the concluding stanza, if we leave out of view the unpleasant repetition of “And,” at the commencement of the third and fifth lines. “Thy white hand trained” (see stanza the fourth) involves four consonants, that unite with difficulty — ndtr — and the harshness is rendered more apparent, by the employment of the spondee, “hand trained,” in place of an iambus. “Melody,” is a feeble termination of the third stanza’s last line. The syllable dy is not full enough to sustain the rhyme. All these endings, liberty, property, happily, and the like, however justified by authority, are grossly objectionable. Upon the whole, there are some poets in America (Bryant and Sprague,(k) for example) who equal Mrs. Welby in the negative merits of that limited versification which they chiefly affect — the iambic pentameter — but none equal her in the richer and positive merits of rhythmical variety, conception — invention. They, in the old routine, rarely err. She often surprises, and always delights, by novel, rich and accurate combination of the ancient musical expressions.


Welby) a. Apparently Poe regarded this analysis of one of Mrs. Welby’s poems as highly important, worthy of being taken out of the [page 207:] “Marginalia” and printed as a separate essay. Twice, he cited its major theme (BJ of 3122145 and the 4/46 Godey’s: H 12.73-74 and 13.131). Hence, he surely left directions-followed by Griswold-for his posthumous Works to include this as a separate “Literati” paper on Mrs. Welby, to be placed between “Elizabeth Fries Ellet” and “Bayard Taylor” (Works, 1850, 3.203-207). Moreover, two small changes in the text (para. 1) betoken Poe’s direct hand: “With a more refined taste” and “few of them approach her.” Other issues discussed are favorites of Poe: originality and tone, unity of impression, accuracy of diction and poeticisms, such as contractions, word melody, and the beauty of the well-treated death of a lovely young wife. Clearly, this piece belongs with his essays on poetics for important insights.

Mrs. Welby (née Amelia B. Coppuck; 1819-1852), born in Maryland and living chiefly in Louisville, became known for her contributions to the Louisville Daily Journal under the name of “Amelia,” which served also for her 1844 (dated 1845) Poems (enlarged ed., 1846). Popular then (6th ed., 1849; 14th ed., 1855), her poems surely ill deserved Poe’s high praise. Correctly Griswold, in The Female Poets of America (1848 ed., p. 325) said: “few indications of creative power” and the DAB: “echoes of her greater contemporaries.” In citing another poem “of great beauty” by “Amelia,” “The Little Step-Son” in “The Rationale of Verse” Poe changed the stanza: “I have a little step-son, / The lovliest thing alive: / A noble, sturdy boy is he, / And yet he’s only five” (Female Poets, p. 331) into “I have a little step son of only three years old” (H 14.240-41). We find Poe insisting on her poetic virtues in reviews of Mrs. Osgood (H 13.18, 13.125). Was he perhaps charmed by her being Southern?

taste) b. In both the Frances Osgood contexts Mrs. Welby is also paralleled with that paragon of “female poets,” Maria Gowen Brooks (1794-1845), given by Southey the flattering name “Maria del Occidente” (Maria of the West; see Poe’s ref. in H 11.159), in part because of her long stay (1824-29) on her brother’s estate in Cuba, after the death of her Boston merchant husband. Southey saw through the press in England, which she had visited, her lengthy narrative poem Zóphiël, or The Bride of Seven (1833), which Poe highly praised as surpassing even Elizabeth O. Smith’s Sinless Child (H 13.97). Elsewhere he lauded her “abandon” and her “sustained ideality” (13.156 and 192).

art) c. In his 8/41 Graham’s review of Letitia Landon Poe had assigned the highest place to Landon, Felicia Hemans, and the Hon. Caroline Norton (1808-1877), Sheridan’s grand-daughter, among “female poets” — witness of his estimate of “Amelia.” Mrs. Norton, who had promoted Poe’s favorite Frances Osgood in London (Poe linked them in H 13.187 and 15.97), was famous for her beauty, wit, literary and social leadership, editing of annuals, magazine contributions, and poetry collections.

dead) d. Poe undoubtedly quotes here “The Bereaved. By Amelia,” [page 208:] from the 9/44 Graham’s (25.121), identical in M 104 save for a few accidentals (given also in Poems of 1846, p. 233). Poe always read Graham’s closely and even contributed to it during the year 1844 (revs. of Ned Myers and Orion in 1/44 issue; a sketch of Judge Conrad and “Dream-Land” in 6/44).

grass-green) e. Humphry Davy in 1806 named chlorine after the Greek for yellow-green. Poe’s witticism for “raw or immature” is cited by OED as the only such use.

“Lenore”) f. Poe’s almost paradoxical phrase, “the notes of triumph” for “elegiac poems,” has a long history in his development, beginning with the 1831 or earliest form of “Lenore,” called significantly “A Paean” (TOM, Poems, 204-207). This form Poe thoroughly revised for the 2/43 Pioneer and then recast completely in the fall of 1844 (334). A major change was the merging of the ending of 1831 into the new long-line version, with its emphasis on “triumph”; “No dirge will I upraise, / But waft the angel on her flight with a Paean of old days!” (337). Again he was to refer to this passage in M 214.

elenchi) g. In logic, “elenchus” (from the Greek for “refutation”) refers to a refutation of an opponent’s conclusion or establishing a proposition contrary to his or merely to “syllogistic refutation.” Poe had punningly used the phrase in “A Blackwood Article” (TOM 345 and 353), where it had become “ignoramus e-clench-eye.”

keeping) h. Poe is fond of applying to literary analysis the term “keeping” borrowed from art criticism, given by the OED as, originally, “the proper subserviency of tone and colour in every part of a picture, so that the general effect is harmonious to the eye.” For another application of the term see M 98, paras. 5-6, in the same installment of M and see “The Assignation”: “the decora of what is technically called keeping” (TOM 157; see also 321/11, 49717, 8, et al.).

fall) i. Poe here and elsewhere in his writings wishes to impose a rule that had been abrogated if, indeed, it ever had wide acceptance. The OED gives numerous transitive senses for “drop” such as drop anchor, a word, a line, a curtsey and the oar (Tennyson’s of 1830).

deep) j. Most critics would regard Poe as carping in these two “inversions,” especially the first, but Poe omits one truly blameworthy, at the start of the last stanza: “No more thy smiles my heart rejoice.” Poe, if objective, might well tax himself mildly for deriving something from lines 1 and 3 of “Amelia’s” poem for line 34 in “Annabel Lee”: “For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams,” and something also from 11.5 and 6 for “And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side” (1.38).

Sprague) k. Charles Sprague (1791-1875) of Boston showed all the standard 18th century influences, as Poe acknowledged when reviewing his collected writings in the 5/41 Graham’s (10.139-42). Deprecating his prize-winning occasional poems, Poe consistently (see PD, p. [page 209:] 81 for loci) praised his technically excellent versification, as in “The Shakespeare Ode,” save in M 290 (q. v.).

For his skill “in versification” Poe even considered ranking Sprague ahead of William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878), whom he generally placed at the height of American poetry (see PD 14 for about three dozen passages, articles, and references).

Marginalia 105

How thoroughly comprehensive is the account of Adam, as given at the bottom of the old picture in the Vatican! — “Adam, divinitus edoctus, primus scientiarum et literarum inventor.”


Note: This repeats, with a slight variation of Poe’s introductory words, Pin 53 (q. v.), coming from Antediluvian Antiquities. See the picture, reproduced, on p. 235 below.

Marginalia 106

A ballad entitled “Indian Serenade,” and put into the mouth of the hero, Vasco Nunez, is, perhaps, the most really meritorious portion of Mr. Simms’ “Damsel of Darien.” This stanza is full of music:

And their wild and mellow voices

Still to hear along the deep

Every brooding star rejoices,

While the billow, on its pillow,

Lulled to silence seems to sleep.

And also this:

’Tis the wail for life they waken

By Samana’s yielding shore

With the tempest it is shaken;

The wild ocean is in motion,

And the song is heard no more.


Note: In M 74 Poe had derided the “faults” of William Gilmore Simms’ novel The Damsel of Darien (q. v.) and now (especially in M 173) he is balancing his adverse criticism. In the 11/39 BGM rev. (H 10.49-56) Poe had cited all eight stanzas of “Indian Serenade” (these are 2 and 4) thus: “Perhaps the following beautiful ballad . . . is the most really meritorious portion of the book.” Poe may have been enchanted by the medial rhyme in the fourth line of each stanza (Vol. l, ch. 9). It is Simms, [page 210:] not Poe, who omits the tilde in “Nuñez.” For an interesting variant in the second stanza, see M 173.

Marginalia 107

Talking of conundrums: — Why will a geologist put no faith in the Fable of the Fox that lost his tail? Because he knows that no animal remains have ever been found in trap.


Note: Poe was fond of conundrums, including 25 in an article, called “Enigmatical and Conundrum-ical” in Alexander’s Weekly Messenger of 12/18/39 (Brigham 12-16), devising at least some of them himself. Hence this is probably original. Poe alludes to Aesop’s fable of the fox who, having left his tail in a trap, vainly tries to persuade the other animals to take off theirs, as a new fashion. The word “trap” occurs at the beginning of almost every version in English; e.g., Sir Brooke Boothbey, Fables and Satires (Edinburgh, 1809), 2.16 (Fable 15): “A fox who in a trap was taken, / Resign‘d his brush to save his bacon.” The joke lies in a pun on “trap” which is used for “trap rock” or dark-colored, igneous rock, somewhat columnar in structure or “stair-like” (from the Swedish trappa for step or stair). Perhaps Poe’s awareness of paleontology is the most interesting feature of this trifle.

Marginalia 108

Twenty years ago credulity was the characteristic trait of the mob, incredulity the distinctive feature of the philosophic; now the case is conversed. The wise are wisely averse from disbelief. To be sceptical is no longer evidence either of information or of wit.


Note: This repeats, in large measure, a passage in the second letter, 5/21/1844 contributed to the Columbia Spy (Spannuth and TOM, 33-34): “Twenty years ago . . . The wise are disinclined to disbelief — and justly so, etc.” Poe is here discussing the difference between Locke’s “Moon-Story” in the Sun and his own “Balloon-Hoax.” The origin of this is in a short article by Poe on the advantages of cultivating the sugarbeet-root, a cause being promoted by Poe’s friend James Pedden. The short passage occurs in one of Poe’s contributions to Alexander’s Weekly Messenger of 12/18/39, p. 2 (C. S. Brigham, p. 18). The similarity to this M item first led TOM to identify the whole as Poe’s (see Notes and Queries, 12/15/34, 167.420): “Time was, when credulity, and a blind adoption of raw schemes, were the distinguished traits of the rabble; [page 211:] but the rapid march of invention has altered all this, and incredulity, and a dogged refusal to see or understand, are now more properly the popular features. The simple truths which science unfolds, day after day, are in fact, far stranger, apparently, than the wildest dreams in which imagination used to indulge of old.” This is also a source of Poe’s tale “Scheherazade.” For other opinions on “the mob” see M 226 and M 232; also, M 155, para. 3.

Marginalia 109

The title of this book* deceives us.(a) It is by no means “talk” as men understand it — not that true talk of which Boswell has been the best historiographer.(b) In a word it is not gossip which has been never better defined than by Basil, who calls it “talk for talk’s sake,” nor more thoroughly comprehended than by Horace Walpole and Mary Wortley Montague, who made it a profession and a purpose.(c) Embracing all things, it has neither beginning, middle, nor end. Thus of the gossiper it was not properly said that “he commences his discourse by jumping in medias res.” For, clearly, your gossiper commences not at all. He is begun. He is already begun. He is always begun. In the matter of end he is indeterminate.(d) And by these extremes shall ye know him to be of the Cæsars — porphyrogenitus — of the right vein — of the true blood — of the blue blood — of the sangre azula(e) [sic] As for laws, he is cognizant of but one, the invariable absence of all. And for his road, were it as straight as the Appia and as broad as that “which leadeth to destruction,” nevertheless would he be malcontent without a frequent hop-skip-and-jump, over the hedges, into the tempting pastures of digression beyond.(f) Such is the gossiper, and of such alone is the true talk. But when Coleridge asked Lamb if he had ever heard him preach, the answer was quite happy — “I have never heard you do anything else.”(g) The truth is that “Table Discourse” might have answered as a title to this book; but its character can be fully conveyed only in “Post-Prandian Sub-Sermons,” or “Three-Bottle Sermonoids.”(h)

* “Coleridge’s Table-Talk.”


deceives us) a. A great deal of this article is drawn from the first para. of Letter I to the Columbia Spy of 5/14/44 (Spannuth pp. 23-24), which contains no ref. to Coleridge, Lamb, Boswell, or Walpole, but virtually everything else. The book is Specimens of the Table-Talk of Samuel Taylor Coleridge compiled and edited by his nephew and son-in-law Henry Nelson Coleridge. (London, 1835; rev. ed., 1836; 3rd. ed. 1851; N. Y., 1835; Boston, 1854). Obviously, no recent reprint had caused Poe to [page 212:] adapt this material on “gossip” into an attack or deprecation of Coleridge. Poe had previously shown some acquaintance with the work, starting his 6/36 SLM rev. of Coleridge’s Letters, Conversations and Recollections (N. Y., 1836) thus: “We feel even a deeper interest in this book than in the late Table-Talk” (H 9.51). But by 1840 (actually, 1839) in the “Blackwood Article” tale he replaced a ref. to Goethe’s Werther: “A little reading of Coleridge’s Table-Talk will carry you a great way” (“The ‘Dial“’ was inserted in 1845; TOM 342).

historiographer) b. Poe somewhat admired the extraordinary detail and fidelity of Boswell’s reports on Johnson, using his own coinage of “Boswellism in both his other refs. (see H 12.218 and 13.194); note also an uncollected rev. of 1/40 in BGM, important for the Lamb anecdote used later in this article: “the mass of Boswell-like detail” (6.57). H. N. Coleridge’s preface may have suggested his inclusion of Boswell: “his vol. lays no claim to be ranked with those of Boswell in point of dramatic interest. . . . Coleridge did not. . . possess the precise gladiatorial power of Johnson.” (para. 3). (See below for other hints for this article from the Pref.)

purpose) c. This sentence begins Poe’s text in “Doings of Gotham” (p. 23). “Concerning gossip” says Poe, “it has been never better defined than by Basil, who calls it ‘talk for talk’s sake,’ nor more thoroughly comprehended than by Lady Mary Wortley who makes it a profession and a purpose.” Poe was interested in Lady Mary (1689-1763) as a prominent letter writer, antagonist of Alexander Pope, prominent bluestocking, and therefore eminent “talker.” Likewise Horace Walpole (1717-1797), eminent letter writer, Gothic novelist, collector, and publisher of elegant books, fully justifies Poe’s insertion here. (See his refs. in H. 10.47 and in MM 209 and 259.) Poe cleverly alters “acutely” in the “Letter” to “properly” and omits a ref. to Jeremy Taylor which still occurs, however, in para. 4 of the Intro. to M.

Both in Letter I and here (but not in the Intro. to M) Poe falsely ascribes “talk for talk’s sake” to Saint Basil, Greek bishop of Caesarea, instead of to the “Laches” by Plato, in which Socrates says: “But perhaps Nicias is serious, and not merely talking for the sake of talking”; q. v. in Plato: Collected Dialogues (Bollingen Series XXI, 1963), p. 139.

indeterminate) d. The Latin phrase, “into the midst of things” (that is, the narrative) is from Horace’s Ars Poetica, 1. 148, concerning Homer’s beginning of the Odyssey. The quotation marks are a relic of the original text, giving the words of “Jeremy Taylor who deceived himself.” This may also have suggested the “new” first sentence for the article.

azula) e. The Latin word for “born to the purple” reflects Poe’s reading of The Decline and Fall (ch. 48). See the full gloss on “The Haunted Palace,” line l. 21-24, with Poe’s coinage of “porphyrogene” (TOM, 318, n to 22). See also LST (especially para. 3) of 1/39, of the same period [page 213:] as the Am. Museum pub. of the poem and subsequently of its insertion into “Usher.” Poe is punningly associating the “vein” of the marble or porphyry, used for the birth chamber, with “vein” of blood. Poe humorously rhymes “of the true blood — ” and “of the blue blood.” His next association, with Spanish grandees proud of their lineage, led him astray with a nonexistent form “azula” exposing his tenuous grasp on the language.

beyond) f. The Via Appia, or Appian Way, begun under Appius Claudius, the decemvir, in 313 B.C., leading from Rome to Brundisium, was the oldest and best of all the Roman roads. The quotation is from Matt. vii. 13. The tone, language, and figure here much resemble a passage in Pilgrim’s Progress, Ch. 15, when Christian and Hopeful, wishing for “a better way,” climb over a stile into the “By-path Meadow.” In three passages Poe shows knowledge of Bunyan’s work (and admiration too in the first two: H 10.120, 12.174, 13.148).

else) g. Poe must have read this anecdote in Memoirs and Diary of Charles Mathews (by Mrs. Anne Mathews), 2 vols. (London, 1839), 2.12425 (for 1821): “Coleridge: ‘I believe you never heard me preach.’ Lamb: ‘I ne-ever heard you do any thing else!“’ Charles Mathews (1776-1835), celebrated comedian who twice toured America, was friendly with the London literati and, especially, with Coleridge and Lamb (locus of quotation courtesy of Winifred Courtney). In an uncollected rev. of A Continuation of the Memoirs of Charles Mathews, Comedian. . . . (rep. ed., Phila.: Lea and Blanchard, 1839), in the 1/40 BGM, 6.57, Poe clearly shows familiarity with the precursor volume: “This continuation is undoubtedly a good thing. . . . In addition to the first series, we have now two closely printed volumes. . . . This extensive amount of memorandum would be amply sufficient.. .. Much and varied amusement is to be picked out from the mass of Boswell-like detail. . . .”

Sermonoids) h. While relatively few of the “articles” in Table Talk are homiletic in subject matter, their rhetoric and manner may begin to justify Poe’s objection. Even Henry Nelson Coleridge, the compiler, mentions “his long arrow-flights of thoughts,” and “exhaustive, cyclical mode of discoursing,” their being “unfit for a dinner-table and too long-breathed,” “long-drawn subtle discoursing,” “some whom he sent to sleep,” and “seldom much dialogue to give” (Preface: pp. 6, 8, 10, in OUP ed., 1917). In similar vein, Poe’s 6/37 tale “Von Jung, the Mystific,” later “Mystification,” speaks of a character’s “discourse”: “It bore resemblance to the fervid, chanting, monotonous, yet musical, sermonic manner of Coleridge” (TOM 297). The date of the revised Table Talk (1836) marks a shift from adulation and profound respect to increasing derogation of “the guiding genius of” his “intellectual life,” perhaps merely adventitiously. Still the best and only thorough treatment of “Poe’s Debt to Coleridge” is in Floyd Stovall’s Edgar Poe the Poet (Charlottesville, 1969), pp. 126-174. Both words “sub-sermons” and “sermonoids” are Poe coinages [page 214:] — a trifle deprecatory. See M 197 for “A sarcasm is converted into a sermonoid” and an uncollected rev., in BJ, 2.152: The essays of Studies in Religion “from their brevity and characters we may as well denominate sub-sermons or sermonoids.”

The word “postprandial” is ascribed to Coleridge for 1820, but only in a letter first published 1895. The second instance of 1846 therefore postdates Poe’s 1844 “Post-Prandian” which, in any event, is a unique form in “-an.” One suspects Poe’s borrowing it from a published text by Coleridge not culled by the OED. The humorous “Three-Bottle” adjective may have been inspired by the very common three-decker novels of the period — almost 200 being published each year (see S. NowellSmith, The House of Cassell, ch. 8).

Marginalia 110

Dickens is a man of higher genius than Bulwer. The latter is thoughtful, industrious, patient, pains-taking, educated, analytic, artistical (using the three last epithets with much mental reserve); and therefore will write the better book upon the whole; — but the former rises, at times, to an unpremeditated elevation altogether beyond the flight, and even beyond the appreciation of his cotemporary. Dickens, with care and culture, might have produced “The Last of the Barons,” but nothing short of moral Voltaism could have spirited Bulwer into the conception of the concluding passages of the “Curiosity-Shop.”


Note: The basic elements for this comparison can be found in Poe’s rev. of two of Dickens’ works in the 5/41 Graham’s (specifically H 10.150), but it is almost a verbatim transcription of the end of Letter 3 of 5/27/44 to the Columbia Spy (Spannuth 43), in which Poe introduces the topic of a project to invite Bulwer to America, as Dickens had been. The only significant changes are in the last sentence: education / culture; a miracle / moral Voltaism; galvanized / spirited; portion / passages. The very extensive literary relationship between Dickens and Poe, indicated by Poe’s numerous passages on the English writer (PD 28), needs an updating of the only attempt to cover basic elements, that of Gerald C. Grubb in NCF of 1950, 5.1-22, 101-20, 209-21. Poe’s passages on Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-73) are even more extensive (PD 15); likewise in the Brevities, as in Pin 1, M 49, et al. This is Poe’s only ref. to the 1843 novel, his latest.

Poe greatly admired the spirituality of Dickens’ conclusion and knew well Bulwer’s reputation for sophistication verging on indecency, as in Pelham, hence the “moral Voltaism,” the second word used as a [page 215:] synonym for “galvanism” which he had used earlier in the verb of the sentence. Count Alessandro Volta (1745-1827) had developed the electric battery or pile (called after him), whereas the physiologist Aloisio Galvani (1737-98) had extensively investigated the effect of electricity upon animal muscles. Little distinction is made between galvanism and voltaism in the many passages involving awakening or reviving the comatose or dead, as in a half dozen tales; see, e.g., TOM 59 at n21 and 67 at n13; 959 at n9; 1167 at n37; and numerous forms of “galvan-” in Word Index, p. 145.

Marginalia 111

“Advancing briskly with a rapier, he did the business for him at a blow.” — Smollett. This vulgar colloquialism had its type among the Romans. Et ferro subitus grassatus, agit rem. — Juvenal.


Note: Through three refs. to Smollett elsewhere in his works Poe shows enough familiarity with Smollett to warrant his fording this sentence directly in the texts (H 15.20, 10.168, 11.14, 90). The expression is cited in the OED as early as 15th and 16th centuries, with no adverse label. The Latin, slightly misquoted, is from Juvenal’s third Satire, 1. 305: “Interdum et ferro subitus grassator agit rem” (Sometimes too an unexpected footpad does your business with his knife). This item appears to stem directly from the 4th of the short items in “Omniana“-a twopage set of “scraps” in the 7140 BGM, the month after Poe formally ceased any connection with thejournal. It is the fourth set of “Omniana,” the others dating from April, May, and June 1840 and being tentatively ascribed to Poe by Quinn (p. 296) and definitely by Heartman and Canny (pp. 296-97). This item, in an installment presumably left to Burton by Poe after his departure (7.51-52), slightly argues for Poe’s responsibility for all of them:


That is to kill him. This metaphorical expression is older than many people suppose; for Juvenal, among the dangers of the town, mentions foot-pads, who, he says — “Interdum, et ferro subitus grassator, agit rem.”

Marginalia 112

We may safely grant that the effects of the oratory of Demosthenes were vaster than those wrought by the eloquence of any modern, and [page 216:] yet not controvert the idea that the modern eloquence, itself, is superior to that of the Greek. The Greeks were an excitable, unread race, for they had no printed books. Vivâ voce exhortations carried with them, to their quick apprehensions, all the gigantic force of the new. They had much of that vivid interest which the first fable has upon the dawning intellect of the child — an interest which is worn away by the frequent perusal of similar things — by the frequent inception of similar fancies. The suggestions, the arguments, the incitements of the ancient rhetorician were, when compared with those of the modern, absolutely novel; possessing thus an immense adventitious force — a force which has been, oddly enough, left out of sight in all estimates of the eloquence of the two eras.

The finest Philippic of the Greek would have been hooted at in the British House of Peers, while an impromptu of Sheridan, or of Brougham, would have carried by storm all the hearts and all the intellects of Athens.


Note: This entire article is the last part (less than half) of Poe’s rev. of J. O. Chandler’s Address to two learned societies at Marshall College, of 9124139, printed in the 12/39 BGM (H 10.57-59). Several fairly minor changes are made here by Poe — a good example of Poe’s honing his style when republishing his texts. The significant ones are these: “apprehensions and passions”; “a force which should be taken into consideration in a conservative estimate of the eloquence”; the next two sentences omitted; The final sentence ended: “. . . House of Commons, but it may well be doubted whether one of Brougham’s admirable efforts would not have had its weight, even in Athens.”

Normally Poe confines his admiration of Sheridan to his plays or repartee (H 9.178, 12.117,125, Pin 50). Lord Brougham is brought together with Demosthenes later in “Tarr and Fether” (TOM 1013 at n17). Rarely is Brougham lauded by Poe (see MM 37, 178 and many refs. in PD 13). This is the most extensive of several rather conventional refs. by Poe to Demosthenes (Pin 94, 264; TOM 75n10, 361n38).

Marginalia 113

The author of “Miserrimusmight have been W. G. Simms (whose “Martin Faber” is just such a work) — but is G. M. W. Reynolds, an Englishman, who wrote, also, “Albert de Rosann,” and “Pickwick Abroad“both excellent things in their way.


Note: This short article is a complicated tangle of errors, in part derived from a short review of Albert de Rosann by William Burton, [page 217:] proprietor and editor of BGM,12/39, 5.328-329, stating that the author, George William MacArthur Reynolds (1814-1879) was “son of the old dramatist” and also “the anonymous author of the celebrated novel of ‘Miserrimus.“’ Both these statements are wrong, for that novel was the work of Frederick Mansel Reynolds (d. 1850), whose morbid Godwiman novel had borrowed its theme of perverse criminality from a misconstrued sonnet by Wordsworth about an epitaph in Worcester cathedral (1832). There are five references to Miserrimus in Poe’s writings (see PD 148) and definite traces in several of his major works (q. v. in my chapter on “Poe as ‘Miserrimus“’ in DP, pp. 190-205). In his review of Simms’ The Wigwam, 1/46 Godey’s (H 13.93) and in M 205 his use solely of the last name of Reynolds saves him from this error. It is amusing that Griswold appended a note to his M (No. 155) containing a new error: “Mr. Poe was wrong. ‘Miserrimus’ was written by W. M. Reynolds, who died at Fontainebleau in 1850.” The “W.” should have been “F.” for Frederick.

Poe is quite right about the consanguinity of Miserrimus and Martin Faber, both dark, crime-ridden, obsessive stories. Poe seemed to admire the works of George Reynolds, and especially Pickwick Abroad see 1/42 Graham’s rev. (H 11.14, as well as 13.93, above). G. Reynolds was editor, politician, and very prolific author of sensational and historical novels of great popularity in his day, now quite forgotten. The Br. Museum catalogue gives the title as Alfred de Rosanne; for Pickwick Abroad; or, The Tour in France. A Series of Papers. . . of Samuel Pickwick, Esquire; we note eds. of Phila. (1838) and two of London (1839) after the first. See M. Dalziel, Popular fiction a hundred years ago (1958) for the Reynolds vogue.

Marginalia 114

Mr. Grattan, who, in general, writes well, has a bad habit of loitering — of toying with his subject, as a cat with a mouse, instead of grasping it firmly at once, and devouring it without ado. He takes up too much time in the ante-room. He has never done with his introductions. Sometimes one introduction is merely the vestibule to another; so that by the time he arrives at his main theme, there is none of it left. He is afflicted with a perversity common enough even among otherwise good talkers — an irrepressible desire of tantalizing by circumlocution.

If the greasy print here* exhibited is, indeed, like Mr. Grattan, then is Mr. Grattan like nobody else — for who else ever thrust forth, from beneath a wig of wire, the countenance of an over-done apple-dumpling?

* “High-Ways and By-Ways.” [page 218:]


Note: This is almost identical with M 203, and comes from Poe’s uncollected rev. in the 6140 BGM, 6.294. The few changes from the rev., as in M 112, represent Poe’s honing the style for the Marginalia. The original title of what was to become a series of volumes was High-ways and by-ways; or, Tales of the roadside, picked up in the French provinces. By a walking gentleman (London, 1823); 4th ed., 1823-24; Boston, 1824; 2nd series, London, 1825, in 3 vols., Paris, 1825; Phila., 1825; 3rd series, London, 1827; col. ed., in 6 vols., 1831; Boston, 1840). Thomas Colley Grattan (1792-1864) served as British consul in Boston, 1839-46; hence, Poe’s allusion in the rev. to his “large circle of friends” and also the devotion of so much space to this unimportant work. The “walking gentleman” phrase may have led Poe to designate thus his villain in “Thou Art the Man” (TOM 1045 at n4 and 1060); it designates an actor who plays “well-dressed parts of small importance.”

Marginalia 115

It is said in Isaiah, respecting Idumea, that “none shall pass through thee for ever and ever.”(a) Dr. Keith here insists, as usual, upon understanding the passage in its most strictly literal sense. He attempts to prove that neither Burckhardt nor Irby passed through the country — merely penetrating to Petra, and returning. And our Mr. John Stephens entered Idumea with the deliberate design of putting the question to test. He wished to see whether it was meant that Idumea should not be passed through, and “accordingly,” says he, “I passed through it from one end to the other.” Here is error on all sides. In the first place, he was not sufficiently informed in the Ancient Geography to know that the Idumea which he certainly did pass through, is not the Idumea, or Edom, intended in the prophecy — the latter lying much farther eastward. In the next place, whether he did or did not pass through the true Idumea — or whether anybody, of late days, did or did not pass through it — is a point of no consequence either to the proof or to the disproof of the literal fulfilment of the Prophecies. For it is quite a mistake on the part of Dr. Keith — his supposition that travelling through Idumea is prohibited at all.(b)

The words conceived to embrace the prohibition, are found in Isaiah 34-10, and are Lenetsach netsachim ēin over bah: — literally — Lenetsach, for an eternity; netsachim, of eternities; ēin, not; over, moving about; bah, in it. That is to say; for an eternity of eternities, (there shall) not (be any one) moving about in it — not through it. The participle over refers to one moving to and fro, or up and down, and is the same term which is translated “current” as an epithet of money, in Genesis 23, 16. The prophet means only that there shall be no mark of life in the land — no [page 219:] living being there — no one moving up and down in it. He refers merely to its general abandonment and desolation.

In the same way we have received an erroneous idea of the meaning of Ezekiel 35, 7, where the same region is mentioned. The common version runs; “Thus will I make Mount Seir most desolate, and cut off from it him that passeth out and him that returneth” — a sentence which Dr. Keith views as he does the one from Isaiah; that is, he supposes it to forbid any travelling in Idumea under penalty of death; instancing Burckhardt’s death shortly after his return, as confirming this supposition, on the ground that he died in consequence of the rash attempt.

Now the words of Ezekiel are: — Venathatt eth-har Seir leshimmanah(c) ushemamah, vehichrati mimmennu over vasal: — literally — Venathati, and I will give; eth-har, the mountain; Sēir, Seir; leshimmamah, for a desolation; ushemamah, and a desolation; vehichrati, and I will cut off; mimmennu, from it; over, him that goeth; vasal, and him that returneth: — And I will give Mount Seir for an utter desolation, and I will cut off from it him that passeth and repasseth therein. The reference here is as in the preceding passage; allusion is made to the inhabitants of the land, as moving about in it, and actively employed in the business of life. I am sustained in the translation of over vasal by Gesenius S. 5-vol. 2-p. 570, Leo’s Trans.:(d) Compare, also Zachariah 7, 14 and 9, 8.(e) There is something analogous in the Hebrew-Greek phrase, at Acts, 9, 28 — και ην μετ’ αυτων εισπορευομενος και ’εισπορευομενος εν ’Ιερουσαλημ — And he was with them in Jerusalem, coming in and going out. The Latin versatus est is precisely paraphrastic. The meaning is that Saul, the new convert, was on intimate terms with the true believers in Jerusalem; moving about among them to and fro, or in and out.

 “Literal Fulfilment of the Prophecies.”


ever) a. The learned Hebraic material in this article, used repeatedly by Poe without acknowledgment, was sent him by Charles Anthon (1797-1867) classics professor at Columbia University and head of Columbia Grammar School, whose influence over classical studies was paramount through dozens of well edited texts, revisions of Lempriere, scholarly articles, and forceful teaching. For his important rev. of John Stephens’ book in the 10/37 New York Review (H 10.1-25) Poe begged Anthon for an exact translation of the two prophecies from the Old Testament. The specific reply has been included by Harrison, who unwarrantedly filled in the Hebrew above the transliterated words, 17.4243; likewise do the editors of the New York Review, a theologically oriented journal. This is poor evidence to ascribe a knowledge of Hebrew to Poe, as does W. M. Forrest in Biblical Allusions in Poe (1928), pp. 205-8, in view of his initial request to Anthon. Poe sought a reputation for erudition, as Harrison says, through including the same material in his 3/40 [page 220:] BGM review of Duncan’s Sacred Philosophy of the Seasons (where it is most tangentially brought in-H 10.83-84); also in his 8/41 Graham’s review of Stephens’ Incidents of Travel in Central America (H 10.179-81). It is the Sacred Philosophy review that provides the text for M 115, almost verbatim.

at all) b. Poe’s title is not quite accurate; the Rev. Alexander Keith wrote Evidence of the Truth of the Christian Religion derived from the literal fulfillment of Prophecy; particularly as illustrated by the history of the Jews, and by the discoveries of recent travellers (1830). Poe seems to have studied the 1832 New York reprint in preparation both for Pym (written 1837-38) and for his 10/37 rev. of Stephens’ Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petraea and the Holy Land. Both books exercised an important influence upon Poe’s novel (q. v., Imaginary Voyages, pp. 21-26 and Index refs.). Two of the numerous travelers cited by Keith and Stephens, hence available for Poe’s authoritative use, were John Lewis Burckhardt (17841817) whose travels in north Africa and the Near East, 1812-1816, were published, and Charles L. Irby (1789-1845), captain in the navy, whose 1817-18 travels up the Nile and through the Holy Land came out in 1823 (reissued 1844).

leshimmanah) c. This first instance of the two given is misspelled (“n” for “m”), whether by Poe or the typesetter is unknown. Anthon gives the correct form, as below, in his one instance (for he uses nine numbers over the sentence of text simply to designate a list of the translated meanings (this being “for a desolation”). The error may be further proof of Poe’s weak or nonexistent Hebrew.

Trans.) d. Poe takes this from Anthon’s letter with one unfortunate difference (see below). Poe never consulted “Leo” but luckily found a new English translation of the German-Latin Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament . . . of William Gesenius by Edward Robinson (Boston, 1836) which gave him the brilliant “invention” of the “shady” gorges (Pym, 23.10A on p. 343). Harrison correctly shows Anthon as writing “Gesenius, s. v.” (17.43), but Poe has converted it into “S. 5” assuming, apparently, the “S.” to be a subsection of vol. 2 and the “v.” to mean “5” whereas Anthon is writing “sub verbo” to indicate the need for looking “under the word” in the lexicon.

9, 8) e. Both of these references in Zechariah (like all the others) come from Anthon’s letter. The first reads: “Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned; for they laid the pleasant land desolate”; the second: “Because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth; and no oppressor shall pass through them any more.” [page 221:]

Marginalia 116

The author of “Cromwell” does better as a writer of ballads than of prose. He has fancy, and a fine conception of rhythm. But his romantico-histories have all the effervescence of his verse, without its flavor. Nothing worse than his tone can be invented: — turgid sententiousness, involute, spasmodically straining after effect.(a) And to render matters worse, he is as thorough an unistylist as Cardinal Chigi, who boasted that he wrote with the same pen for half a century.(b)


effect) a. The novel Cromwell (1837) was written by Henry William Herbert (London, 1807 — New York, 1858 by suicide), who came to America 1830 to become coeditor of the American Monthly Magazine (1833-36), a novelist who began to exploit the field of sports, as “Frank Forester”; his magazine verses were collected only in 1887. In 1843 Poe’s (jointly-written) article in the Philadelphia Museum speaks of his profuse “trash” (H 11.223). In the 11/44 Graham’s “Autography” series, the sketch of Herbert speaks of “much ability” impaired by “neglect and hurry” and his being “turgid” as in this. Since his verse was inconsiderable by contrast with his prose (note Poe’s deprecatory coinage of romanticohistories), Poe seems to be undercutting him in this respect. Poe assigns a strange assortment of elements to “tone” — belonging rather to theme and to rhetoric. An “involute” “style” is severely reprehended in Bulwer (MM 73 and 117) and “spasmodic straining” leads Poe apparently to coin a designating name in M 271.

century) b. Poe here borrows, for his ending, a sentence from Letter VI, 6/18/44 in the Columbia Spy (Spannuth, p. 68). Poe there is applying it to “Mr. Landor,” who is really H. B. Wallace. The play on “style” and “stylus” occurred readily to Poe who wished, for years, to name his dream-magazine “The Stylus.” See also M 256 for a fuller use of the stylus-figure (and DP, 222-225). Poe, of course, is coining a word for the man of one pen, “unistylist” — probably Fabio Chigi of Siena who (as Alexander VI) was Pope from 1655-to 1667 but preferred literature and philosophy. The famous Chigi Library was purchased by the Italian government in 1918 and ceded to the Vatican in 1923.






[S:0 - BRP2B, 1985] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe (B. R. Pollin) (Marginalia - part 02)