Text: Burton R. Pollin, “July 1835 (Headnote),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. V: SLM (1997), pp. 25-26 (This material is protected by copyright)


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July 1835

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For reasons that remain obscure, Edward V. Sparhawk was dismissed as editor by T. W. White shortly after this issue made its appearance early in August. Nothing in its pages suggests that he was anticipating his removal. More active than usual, he wrote all the reviews, a full page of “Editorial Remarks,” and-under his pseudonym-a piece called “My First Night in a Watchhouse.” This latter item, which runs to over eight columns, is headed Extracts from the Autobiography of Pertinax Placid . . . CHAP. I.; its conclusion informs the reader that a continuation “must be deferred to another chapter” (p. 621). A second chapter did appear in the August issue, but after that nothing more from his pen is known to have been printed in the SLM. After losing his post in Richmond, Sparhawk went on to become editor of a newspaper in the nearby city of Petersburg; he died unexpectedly on January 6, 1838, and was publicly eulogized. (See Jackson, Poe and The SLM, pp. 50-51; 55-57.)

The Messenger took no immediate notice of Sparhawk’s departure. His name did appear on the inside cover of the August issue in a reprint of a review of the July number (see Poe Log, p. 169), but it was not until a December 1835 publisher’s notice that the readership was informed of a change of editors. (See Headnote to that date.) In private, White was tantalizingly terse about their break. To Lucian Minor he wrote on August 18, 1835: “I have, my dear Sir, been compelled to part with Mr. Sparhawk — I [column 2:] have run too fast. He will however continue to assist me.” Apparently, Sparhawk did not. Less than a month later (September 8), White wrote again to Minor: “I am now as it were my own editor-No. 12 [August 1835] is made out of my own wits. When we meet, I will tell you why I was obliged to part with Sparhawk.” And then, surprisingly, he added, “Poe is now in my employnot as Editor” (Jackson, Poe and The SLM, p. 98).

Like Sparhawk, Poe could not have anticipated so sudden a change of fortune. To this issue he contributed only the poem “To Mary” (later reprinted and renamed; texts and notes in Mabbott 1: 236-37) and his previously published tale “The Visionary” (later retitled “The Assignation”; texts and notes in Mabbott 2: 14869). The tale also includes the poem later called “To One in Paradise” (texts and notes in Mabbott 1: 21116). Moreover, his recent relationship with White had been discouraging. On June 12, 1835, he had written in response to a letter from White: “I will do my best to please you in relation to Marshall’s Washington [John Marshall, Life of George Washington] if you will send it on. By what time would you wish the M.S. of the Review?” (Letters 1: 61). But on July 6 the Chief Justice died, and, in a baffling decision, White declined to run Poe’s notice. An aggrieved Poe responded on July 20, 1835: “It gives me the greatest pain to hear that my Review will not appear in No. 11 [i.e., July]. I cannot imagine [page 26:] what circumstances y[ou] allude to as preventing you from publishing. The Death of the Chief Justice, so far from rendering the Review useless <wa> is the very thing to attract public notice to the Article. I really wish you would consider the matter more maturely and if possible insert it in No. 11” (Letters 1: 65-66).

But, even though White’s refusal of a solicited manuscript did not seem to bode well for a closer relationship with the SLM, the possibility of Poe’s moving to Richmond had been raised as early as June 22, 1835. On that date, Poe wrote to White: “You ask me if I would be willing to come on to Richmond if you should have occasion for my services during the coming winter. I have been anxious for some time past, of paying a visit to Richmond, and would be glad of any reasonable excuse for so doing. Indeed I am anxious to settle myself in that city, and if, by any chance, you hear of a situation likely to suit me, I should indeed feel myself greatly indebted to you, if through your means, I could accomplish this object. What you say, in the conclusion of your letter, in relation to the supervision [column 2:] of proof-sheets, gives me reason to hope that possibly you might find something for me to do in your office” (Letters 1: 63). Sometime in early August Poe achieved the hoped-for move; by the fourteenth he was in Richmond and had taken up residence in a boarding house. (Poe Log, pp. 164-65). For a further discussion of Poe’s movements during this hectic month, see the next Headnote.

Two other comments about this issue should be added here. First, White paid a fitting tribute to his old friend and frequent contributor to the SLM, Beverley Tucker, by publishing on the first five and one-quarter pages his “Valedictory Address to his Class” at William and Mary College. Second, Harrison in his edition erroneously reprinted two of the July reviews as Poe’s: Theodore Irving’s The Conquest of Florida (8: 37-39) and Washington Irving’s The Crayon Miscellany No. II (8: 40-41); he also credited to Poe the notice of American Republications of Foreign Quarterlies. White’s letter to Minor of August 18, however, is definitive: “Reviews, all by Sparhawk” (Jackson, Poe and The SLM, p. 97).






[S:0 - BRP5S, 1997] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe (B. R. Pollin) (July 1835 (Headnote))