Text: Burton R. Pollin (and E. A. Poe), “Literary Small Talk,” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. II: The Brevities (1985), pp. 454-464 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 454:]


American Museum

January-February 1839

[7 items]

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Literary Small Talk 1

I have had no little to do, in my day, with the trade of Aristarchus, and have even been accused of playing the Zoilus.(a) Yet I cannot bring myself to feel any goadings of conscience for undue severity. Indeed my remorse lies somewhat the other way. How often, in commendatory reviews of books, whose purpose, whose precision, or whose piety, rendered them equivocal objects of animadversion, have I longed to close in the pregnant words of St. Austin, when speaking of the books of the Manichxans. “Tam multi,” says he, “tam grandes, tam pretiosi codices” — adding, as if aside, “incendite omnes illas membranes.”(b)


Zoilus) a. Here Poe is alluding to his editorship of the SLM, during which he was often accused of excessive severity, against which see his defense of his judicious and equable critical policy in a letter of 9/2/ 36, sent to the Compiler of Richmond and also his editorial in the 7/36 SLM (2.517); see also Quinn, Poe, pp. 242-48. Aristarchus appears in his Pin 144 (q.v.) as an editor of Homer’s works. He was a celebrated grammarian of Samothrace, who lived chiefly in Alexandria where he wrote hundreds of commentaries on various authors and became noted for his aptness and severity. Poe enjoyed using his name, as in the 11/42 Boston Museum review of Griswold’s PPA (H 11.155), and the 3/46 Godey’s review of Osgood’s Poems (H 13.107), the 9/6/45 BJ review of Wilson’s Burns (12.240), repeated in SM 4. Zoilus was a sophist and grammarian of Amphipolis (259 B. C.), noted for his severe criticisms of the works of Isocrates, Plato, and Homer (hence, “Homeromastix” [page 455:] or chastener of Homer), for which eventually he was cruelly and fatally punished, in rumor. His works have been lost. Poe gave his name to the corpse in “Shadow” (TOM 190) and often used the anecdote about him taken from James Puckle’s The Club, section “The Critic,” p. 13, which deserves quotation: “The famous Boccalini, in his advertisements from Parnassus, tells us, a Critic, presenting Apollo with a very severe censure upon an excellent poem, was asked for the good things in that work; but the wretch answering, he minded only its errors, Apollo ordered a sack of unwinnowed wheat to be brought, and Critic to pick out and take all the chaff for his pains.” For Poe’s use of this, see his Drake-Halleck review in the 4/36 SLM (H 8.279), the review of Barnaby Rudge in the 2/42 Graham’s (H 11.41), the “Autography” in the 12/41 Graham’s (H 15.227), the 1/4/45 BJ review of Barrett’s Exile (H 12.1), the 1/50 essay “About Critics” in Graham’s (H 13.194), and the 8/31/50 “Poetic Principle” (14.281).

membranas) b. See M 86c for a discussion of this alleged passage in St. Augustine’s works. See also M 30b for the subject of book burning.

Literary Small Talk 2

I have seen lately some rambling and nonsensical verses entitled “Political Squibs,” in which it appeared to me the author had blundered upon a title most appropriate, and been guilty, without knowing it, of a bit of erudition. Versus Politici, political, that is to say, city verses, was an appellation applied by way of ridicule to the effusions of certain bards (such as Constantine Manasses, John Tzetzes, &c.) who flourished in the latter end of Rome, then so miscalled. Their verses (styled by Leo Allatius from their easiness of composition “common prostitutes”) usually consisted of fifteen feet, but, like those of Peter Pindar, made laws for themselves as they went along.


Note: This subsection of the entire “installment” which is separated from para. I by a goodly space is the beginning of the material derived from Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, as Poe hints in “the latter end of Rome.” His views of Gibbon and extended use of his works will be given in the notes for para. 5 (Part 11) below. Here we need note for Gibbon (1737-94), whose great book, in six vols., came out from 1776 to 1788, that he had become standard in the library of American gentlemen and, despite Chapters 15 and 16, which denigrated Christianity, in some form, in the schools. Editions in from 4 to 8 vols. were issued in the U. S. A. in the following years by 1839: 1804-5, [page 456:] 1816, 1822, 1829, 1830, 1831, 1833, 1834, 1835, 1836, 1837. It was surely in John Allan’s library. Since the text was final with the first edition of the books, variants in Poe’s quotations (below) may be assumed to be printing changes or Poe’s transcription changes. Poe’s interest in Gibbon’s statements about his fair-copy preparation is shown in LST 5, but he ignores the great significance of his revision of the notorious chapters.

The verses entitled “Political Squibs” have not been discovered under this title, probably because it was not a booktitle. Poe’s “bit of erudition” about “versus politici” and those who wrote them, comes entirely from Gibbon, ch. 53 (Bury ed., 6.108; Dent, 5.486). This verse form was found as early as the 6th century in proverbs and is common in Byzantine and modern Greek poetry, according to the En. Brit., 17.541, in the article on Constantine Manasses. The scansion depends on accent not quantity of syllables, with seven iambic feet and one unaccented syllable left over. Leo Allatius, that is, Leone Allacci (1586-1669), was editor of Manasses’ works (1655) and is cited by Gibbon’s source, Du Cange, for his designation of them as “scorta et meretricens, quod omnibus sunt obsequiosae et peculiares, et servitutem publicam serviunt.” Manasses was a chronicler of the 12th century, who wrote a synopsis of events from the birth of the world to 1081 A. D. in 7,000 lines, a poetical romance and a biography of Oppian. John Tzetzes (12th century), copious, careless, quarrelsome Byzantine polymath, wrote the Biblos Historice quoting 400 authors, in over 12,000 verses (known as Chiliades in the first ed.). Although inaccurate, it preserves valuable information. He left commentaries and Allegories on Homer’s epics.

It was probably through memory of his characteristic satire of London figures that Peter Pindar’s name entered here. John Wolcot (1738-1819), former physician, was a famed satirist, vide The Lousiad (1785) and many pieces mocking George III, Bozzy and Piozzi (on Johnson and Mrs. Thrale; 1786), and many short poems on personalities in politics and art. He was amusing, clever, and vulgar, but he merited burial near the tomb of Samuel Butler, author of Hudibras. Perusal of his collected poems has not revealed any 15-syllable “political verses” but Poe may have had in mind his own claim for himself: “A desultory way of writing, / A hop and step and jump mode of inditing / My great and wise relation Pindar boasted.”

Literary Small Talk 3

Even a good Greek scholar might find himself puzzled by the following sentences. Κωνσερβετ Δεονς ’ημπεριουμ βεστρουμ, βικτωρ σης [page 457:] σεμτερ βηβητε Δομηνι ’Ημπερατορες ηγ μσυλτος αννο [corrected apud Gibbon].

The Greeks of the Eastern empire, in the tenth century, made use of these and similar acclamations upon all occasions of public pomp. As evidence of the unlimited dominion of their emperors, the expressions were repeated in Latin, Gothic, Persian, French, and English. Constantine Porphyrogenitus, who wrote a pompous and silly volume, reducing to form and minutely detailing the ceremonies of the court, gives the above sentences as a specimen of the Latin. If we remember that the want of the v obliged the Greeks to use b as the nearest approach, the words, disregarding quantity, then read — Conservet Deus imperium vestrumvictor sis sempervivite Domini Imperatores in multos annos. Had Constantine preserved also the words of the English acclamation, we should possibly, to-day, think them a droll specimen of our language.


Note: Poe relies on Gibbon for all of this except for the Latin transliteration of the Greek acclamation, which he himself supplies, meaning “God save your rule; be ever victorious; long live our lords the emperors.” Poe omits the accents that Gibbon supplies for the Greek words, in ch. 53 (Dent ed., 5.464-65). After giving the Greek, Gibbon remarks, in his note, “The want of the Latin V obliged the Greeks to employ their beta; nor do they regard quantity. Till he recollected the true language, these strange sentences might puzzle a professor.” Gibbon adds to the text the reason for the melange of languages: “by the mercenaries who sustained the real or fictitious character of those nations.”

Poe forces the emperor-author Constantine (VII) Porphyrogenitus into a gross fault which he did not commit in claiming that he gave these short voiced “prayers” as “specimen of the Latin.” Gibbon does not say this, nor is it to be found in Ceremonies of the Court at Constantinople (I, ch. 75, p. 370 of the Bonn ed.). Gibbon is slightly sceptical of the emperor’s authorship of this “pompous and trifling volume” in calling it his “professed work.” Gibbon devotes some space, at the start of ch. 53 (5.442) and in ch. 48 (5.108; both in the Dented.) to the epithet meaning “born in the purple.” This charmed Poe, who used it as a new coinage (porphyrogene) for “The Haunted Palace” (1838; Poems 316) which he would incorporate into “Usher” in 8140; also in Letter 1 of 5/14/44 to the Columbia Spy of Pottsville (Doings of Gotham, p. 23): “You shall know him to be of the Caesar — porphyrogenitus — born in the purple. . .,” later to be used in M 109. [page 458:]

Literary Small Talk 4

Bulwer, in my opinion, wants the true vigor of intellect which would prompt him to seek, and enable him to seize truth upon the surface of things.(a) He imagines her forever in the well.(b) He is perpetually refining to no purpose upon themes which have nothing to gain, and every thing to lose in the process. He even condescends to ape the externals of a deep meaning, and will submit to be low rather than fail in appearing profound. It is this coxcombry which leads him so often into allegory and objectless personification. Does he mention “truth” in the most ordinary phrase? — she is, with a great T, Truth, the divinity. All common qualities of the mind, all immaterial or mental existences, are capitalized into persons. That he has not yet discarded this senseless mannerism, must be considered the greater wonder, as the whole head of his little imitators have already taken it up. His “Last Days of Pompeii” is ridiculously full of it.(c) The same work, in its abundant allusions to Egyptian theology, gives also, sufficient evidence of his love of the “far-fetched.” Is it indeed possible that he seriously believes one half of the abominable rigmarole put into the mouth of his philosopher Arbaces? I mean that rigmarole especially, which asserts the brute-worship of Egypt to have been deliberately intended as typical of certain moral and physical truths. If so, how little of the spirit of wisdom is here, with how vast a solicitude to seem wise.(d) I remember, apropos to this subject, that in the year 1096, there thronged to the first Crusade, in the train of Peter the Hermit, and more immediately in that of the fanatic Godescal, a herd of some two hundred thousand of the most stupid, savage, drunken, and utterly worthless of the people, whose genuine leaders in the expedition were a goat and a goose. These were carried in front, and to these, for no reason whatever, save beyond the mad whim of the mob, was ascribed a miraculous participation in the spirit of the Deity. Had this rabble founded an empire, we should, no doubt, have had them instituting a solemn worship of goat and goose, and Mr. Bulwer, with care, might have discovered in the goat a type of one species of deep wisdom, and in the goose a clear symbol of another.(e)


surface of things) a. In his curious merger in this para. of material from Gibbon and from Edward Bulwer Lytton (1803-73), Poe demonstrates his almost obsessive concern with the fiction, dramas, and long essays of that now outmoded writer. Repeatedly Poe feels called upon to undermine his vaunted qualities, e.g., his false profundity in Pin 1, his involute style and poor phrasing (MM 73, 80), criticism (M 117), his so-called talents (M 221), etc. (see the many loci in PD 15).

well) b. Poe may have derived the idea of this from Rees’s Cyclopaedia (1819), article on “Democritus” (See TOM 332n10). He alludes to it frequently: in the 1831 introductory “Letter to B ——— ,” the 5/41 [page 459:] “Maelström” for the Motto by Joseph Glanville (577), “Murders in the Rue Morgue” of 3/41 (H 545), and the 3/42 Graham’s review of Charles O‘Malley (H 11.89).

full of it) c. Poe’s objection to this common mannerism of age is in line with his hatred of allegory and sensitivity to stylistic flaws. In his review of Bulwer’s Night and Morning in the 4/41 Graham’s (H 10.130) he aptly states: “Pure allegory is at all times an abomination — a remnant of antique barbarism — appealing only to our faculties of comparison . . .Mr. Bulwer is all metaphor or all allegory . . . is kingcoxcomb of figures of speech.” No “commonplace character“. . . will “exclude it from the prosopopoeia.” See M 49 for another objection to Last Days.

wise) d. Poe is slightly misleading here, for Arbaces is presented as a very shrewd trickster and a supreme sensualist, seeking his own abominable ends (see Book 1, chs. 4, 6, 8, and Book 2, ch. 4; in the London, G. J. Howell, ed., n. d., pp. 36-39, 60-63, 83-88, 120-24). In a sense, Poe follows Bulwer’s lead, in that the author debunks the pretensions of Arbaces in his rear note (p. 750), listing some of the Pythagorean and Platonic extravagancies of the Egyptian “magicians” which are not put forward by Arbaces in the text, — nothing about “bruteworship.”

another) e. Poe here, as though conscious of the intrusion of Bulwer into an article drawn from Gibbon, finds a slender, far from “apropos” link in this episode for 1096. Poe used the text almost mosaic fashion: “The example and footsteps of Peter were closely pursued by another fanatic, the monk Godescal. . . . Their rear was again pressed by a herd of two hundred thousand, the most stupid and savage refuse of the people, who mingled with their devotion a brutal licence of rapine, prostitution, and drunkenness. . . . Their genuine leaders . . . were a goose and a goat, who were carried in the front, and to whom these worthy Christians ascribed an infusion of the divine spirit” (Dented. 6.47, ch. 53). For Poe’s use of the “goose” as symbol of stupidity, see MM 34 (para. 3) and 256.

Literary Small Talk 5

GIBBON’S “splendid and stately but artificial style,” is often discussed; yet its details have never, to my knowledge, been satisfactorily pointed out. The peculiar construction of his sentences, being since adopted by his imitators without that just reason which, perhaps, influenced the historian, has greatly vitiated our language. For in these imitations the body is copied, without the soul, of his phraseology. It will be easy to show wherein his chief peculiarity lies — yet this, I believe, has [page 460:] never been shown.(a) In his autobiography he says — “Many experiments were made before I could hit the middle tone between a dull chronicle, and a rhetorical declamation.” The immense theme of the decline and fall required precisely the kind of sentence which he habitually employed.(b) A world of essential, or at least of valuable, information or remark, had either to be omitted altogether, or collaterally introduced. In his endeavours thus to crowd in his vast stores of research, much of the artificial will, of course, be apparent; yet I cannot see that any other method would have answered as well. For example, take a passage at random:

“The proximity of its situation to that of Gaul, seemed to invite their arms; the pleasing, although doubtful, intelligence of a pearl-fishery, attracted their avarice; and, as Britain was viewed in the light of a distant and insulated world, the conquest scarcely formed any exception to the general system of continental measures; after a war of about forty years, undertaken by the most stupid, maintained by the most dissolute, and terminated by the most timid of all the emperors, the far greater part of the island submitted to the Roman yoke.”

The facts and allusions here indirectly given might have been easily dilated into a page. It is this indirectness of observation, then, which forms the soul of the style of Gibbon, of which the apparently pompous phraseology is the body.(c)

Another peculiarity, somewhat akin to this, has less reason to recommend it, and grows out of an ill-concealed admiration and imitation of Johnson, whom he styles “a bigoted, yet vigorous mind.” I mean the coupling in one sentence matters that have but a very shadow of connexion.(d) For instance —

“The Life of Julian, by the Abbé de la Breterie, first introduced me to the man and to the times, and I should be glad to recover my first essay on the truth of the miracle which stopped the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem.” This laughable Gibbonism is still a great favourite with the stellæ minores(e) of our literature.(f)

In the historian’s statements regarding the composition of his work, there occurs a contradiction worthy of notice. “I will add a fact” — he in one place says — “which has seldom occurred in the composition of six quartos; my rough MS. without any intermediate copy, has been sent to press.” In other passages he speaks of “frequent experiments,” and states distinctly, that “three times did he compose the first chapter, twice the second and third” — and that “the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters have been reduced, by successive revisals, from a large volume to their present size;” upon every page of the work, indeed, there is most ample evidence of the limæ labor.(g)


shown) a. Poe promises much more than he delivers, either here or in his projected analysis in M 29 of 11/44, probably because of his [page 461:] basic dislike of Gibbon’s so highly reputed style. He offers the three key principles in M 29 of “Dignity,” “Modulation” and “Laconism” (q.v.) It is the third which Poe here somewhat vaguely anticipates in his “collateral” or “indirect” presentation of large stores of material in summary fashion. Surely Poe is incorrect in assuming that the rhetorical qualities of this 18th century master of prose had never been analyzed. Probably Poe, still powerfully influenced by Coleridge, whose “metaphysicianism” he grew to scorn, was reflecting his famous evaluation of Gibbon in the 1835 Specimens of the Table Talk (N. Y. pirated ed., 1835), article for 8/ 15/33: “Gibbon’s style is detestable, but his style is not the worst thing about him . . .[his] rhetorical sketches; he skips from eminence to eminence without ever taking you through the valleys between . . . a collection of all the splendid anecdotes. . . all is scenical . . . [not] a single philosophical attempt . . . to fathom the ultimate causes of the decline and fall of that empire . . . dramatic ordonnance of the parts” (2.11819). A brief survey of modern opinions support some of Poe’s dicta but reveal the many elements that he ignores: George Saintsbury, History of English Prose Rhythms (1912) finds his “monotonous harmony” superior to the style of Burke and Johnson, his irony assisted by his rhythm, and his antithetic balance and telescopic arrangement outstanding (pp. 281, 283, 285). Baugh in LHE admires his noble diction, aphorism and antithesis, suave irony, beautiful design, and lucid order (1087-88). Leo Braudy, Narrative Form in History and Fiction (1970) admires his device of the “epistemological doublet” and ironic tensions (p. 216). D. M. Low, Gibbon (1937) finds his prose to be oratorical, like that of the Latin orators, essentially “personal and dramatic” and full of “roguish wit” and “unflagging gusto” (pp. 325, 328, 330). Geoffrey Carnall, in the new Oxford History of English Literature, ed. John Butt (1979), adds to these his pictorial effects and polysyllabic language (pp. 237-241). A review of Poe’s refs. to Gibbon would show his equivocal but generally negative view of his work: In the 2/36 SLM rev. of Bulwer’s Rienzi, he contrasts their views of the Roman tribune. (H 8.224). In his 10/37 rev. of Arabia Petraea he notes Gibbon’s precise use of biblical language and details for descriptions (H 10.2). In his 4142 Graham’s rev. of Longfellow’s Ballads he sneeringly speaks of the “Gibbonish” (his coinage) “pedantry of Byron” (11.80), just as he coins “Gibbonism” with “laughable” attached in this article infra. In M 29 (already mentioned) Poe is convinced that his “burlesque style” will eventually appear “laughable”; yet in M 178 he notes that I. Disraeli lacks Gibbon’s precision, and in 1849 he will speak of his “erudition” in FS 33. (See also the unflattering content of the uncertain SP 12).

employed) b. Poe had numerous editions of the “autobiography” or “memoirs” published in England or the U. S. A. in which to see the fragmentary remains pieced together by Lord Sheffield (1796), for whose unedited condition he made no allowances in the last para. of this article. [page 462:] See the Autobiography, Oliphant Smeaton, ed. (Dent ed.), p. 141, for this sentence. Significantly Gibbon himself underscored the oratorical here.

body) c. The passage is from ch. 1 (Dented., 1.3-4), printed with these substantive changes (Poe’s wording given before the slash): to that of Gaul / to the coast of Gaul; although / though; distant / distinct; fifty years / forty years. Poe justifies his remark about “indirectness” by omitting all mention of the footnotes which he extensively uses in the LST. This brief excerpt, for example, involves two, the first citing Suetonius and Tacitus and the second, furnishing names matching the three djectives of the text and citing Pomponius Mela.

connexion) d. Poe’s mixed feelings about Johnson’s style surely had more to do with this remark than the reality of Gibbon’s relationship with the lexicographer; while grateful for his pioneer lexicography, Poe detested his heaviness; see the 1831 “Letter to B ——— ” (H 7.xliii) and his scornful coinage of “Johnsonism” used in 1836 (H9.159), in 1841 (15.180) and in 1846 (M 168), as well as “Johnsonese” in 1846 (15.35). There was little “ill-concealed admiration” of the Great Chain, who was a conversational competitor to Gibbon in their encounters in “The Club” to the highly selective domain of which both belonged (see Ch. 15, pp. 220-24, in Low’s Gibbon and J. B. Bury’s Intro., pp. vii-xii of the O. U. P. Autobiography, 1907). In ch. 68, Gibbon corrects a misstatement about the Pleiads in Johnson’s Irene (n. 74, 7.196 of the Bury ed.) and earlier (n. 31, 7.179) praises Johnson’s play for properly presenting the self-destructive avarice of the rich, about to be destroyed by the Turks. In his Autobiography Johnson’s name leads the “luminous constellation of British stars” of “The Club” (p. 141). But Johnson’s distaste for the scepticism of chs. 15 and 16 was well known. We must note that the phrase Poe quotes is from ch. 53 (1788) which appeared after Johnson’s death (1784). It reads thus: “If the reader will turn to the . . .[1 Henry IV, scene 1] he will see. . . the natural feelings of enthusiasm; and in the notes of Dr. Johnson the workings of a bigoted, though vigorous mind, greedy of every pretence to hate and persecute those who dissent from his creed” (Dent ed., 6.40). Concerning 1.1.18-29, in the play, Johnson noted: “The lawfulness of the holy wars [Crusades] have [sic] been much disputed; but perhaps there is a principle on which the question may be easily determined. If it be part of the religion of the Mahometans to extirpate by the sword all other religions, it is, by the law of self-defence, lawful for men of every other religion. . . to make war upon Mahometans” etc. (The Plays . . ., 1773, 5.226).

minores) e. This is a misquotation of Horace’s poem, Carmina, Bk. 1, Carmen no. 12, 11. 47-48: “. . .velut inter ignes luna minores” (as when the moon [shines out] among the minor glows).

literature) f. This is an excerpt from the Autobiography which forms part of a list of three books which “remotely contributed to form the [page 463:] historian of the Roman empire”; it is not really part of a discursive prose passage and the reminiscent context justifies the added “irrelevancy.” Moreover, by changing the connecting punctuation and italicizing the “and” Poe underscores his own point. These are Poe’s changes (placed first): to the times, and / the times; and; temple at / Temple of.

labor) g. In presenting this attack, Poe changes the wording of Gibbon’s first statement and overlooks much of the evidence for a protracted period of composition for the full work which certainly implies the “limae labor et mora” (toil and delay of the file), which is taken from Horace’s Ars Poetica, 1.291. Gibbon wrote (p. 167): “I will add two facts, which have seldom occurred in the composition of six, or at least of five, quartos. 1. My first rough manuscript, without any intermediate copy, has been sent to the press. 2. Not a sheet has been seen by any human eyes, excepting those of the author and the printer: the faults and the merits are exclusively my own.” Poe omits noting that “Nearly two years had elapsed between the publication of my first and the commencement of my second volume” (p. 149), that “In this interval of my senatorial [parliamentary] life I published the second and third volumes” (155), that “excepting the last chapter, I had finished the fourth volume before I sought a retreat. . . [at] Leman Lake” (p. 159) where “more than seven years have elapsed” (at the time of this note in his journal). For the last two items in Poe’s list, see pp. 141-142. Gibbon does not claim to have done no revisions or discarding of preliminary drafts or first sketches, but rather alludes to the absence of a series of fair copy texts, subjected to the revisionary observations of critical friends and experts.

Literary Small Talk 6

Voltaire betrays, on many occasions, an almost incredible ignorance of antiquity and its affairs. One of his saddest blunders is that of assigning the Canary Islands to the Roman empire.


Note: Poe’s redaction of Gibbon’s deft irony anent Voltaire’s error displays a not uncommon exaggeration: “M. de Voltaire . . . unsupported by either fact or probability has generously bestowed the Canary Islands on the Roman empire” (Bury ed., 1.26n95; Dent ed., 1.27n). See Voltaire, Essai sur les moeurs (ed. Beuchot, 17.355; Gibbon cites, in his source, 14.297). Poe, invariably hostile to Voltaire (see Index for numerous loci), is pleased to use Gibbon’s authority against his credit. [page 464:]

Literary Small Talk 7

There is something of naivete, if not much of logic, in these words of the Germans to the Ubii of Cologne, commanding them to cast off the Roman yoke. “Postulamus a vobis” — say they — “muros colonix, munimenta servitii, detrahatis; etiam fera animalia, si clausa teneas, virtutis obliviscuntur.”


Note: Gibbon is much more detailed in his full note of which this forms a part: “When the Germans commanded the Ubii of Cologne to cast off the Roman yoke, and with their new freedom to resume their ancient manners, they insisted on the immediate demolition of the walls of the colony” (“We demand that you tear down the walls of the colonial town — guardians of slavery, for even wild animals, if kept inclosed, forget their virtue”) — from Tacitus, Historia, 4.6. The text of Gibbon states that the Germans then had “no cities” and despised “the works of Roman industry as places of confinement.” (Dented., 1.214; Bury, 1.237n 19).






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