Text: Burton R. Pollin, “June 1836 (Notes),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. V: SLM (1997), pp. 222-224 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 222:]

Notes [[for June 1836]]

[column 1:]

June 1836 - 1 Title: [Philip H. Nicklin]. A Pleasant Peregrination through the Prettiest Parts of Pennsylvania. Performed by Peregrine Prolix. Philadelphia: Grigg and Elliot, 1836. SLM text: pp. 445-50. Under his pseudonym, Nicklin (1786-1842) also published Letters Descriptive of the Virginia Springs (1835), which Poe reviewed in the August 1836 SLM. This review is almost entirely quotation or paraphrase, and Poe’s few comments are not remarkable. The fact that it and several other notices in this issue are so largely padded out suggests that he had difficulty in filling up the space allotted him.

a unilocular car] The term in science for “one-celled,” of 18th century origin, is here used by Nicklin for humor, and is borrowed by Poe.

* raid/ rail

b burthen cars] The terms “burden” and “burthen” were almost interchangeable in the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries. See 12 examples of “burthen” and derivatives in Poe’s tales (Pollin, Word Index, p. 46). “Burthen car,” borrowed from “Prolix” by Poe is recorded only by Mitford Mathews for an 1834 instance, in the American Railroad Journal, for a “freight car.” OED and Craigie do not give it.

c City of Furnaces] This appears to be Poe’s own designation for Pittsburgh in lieu of “Prolix“’s commonly used “Smoky City.”

d Poe’s Latin here is borrowed from “Prolix,” who has adapted Horace’s Satire no. 5, 1. 104, with the substitution of the city for “‘Brundisium,’ the end of a long trip-and my paper” (Horace Gregory, tr.).

e utile et dulce] Poe’s version of the familiar tag from Horace, Ars Poetica, 1. 343: “the useful with the agreeable.”

June 1836 - 2 Title: John Armstrong. Notices of the War of 1812. New York: George Dearborn, 1836. SLM text: pp. 450-51. Armstrong served as Secretary of War from 1813 to 1814 and was held responsible [column 2:] for such American disasters as the failure of the expedition to Canada and the capture of the city of Washington. No doubt his experiences account for the bitter and belligerent tone which Poe notes. His two-volume history appeared 1836-40.

June 1836 - 3 Title: [Thomas Allsop]. Letters, Conversations and Recollections of S. T. Coleridge. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1836. SLM text: pp. 451-53. After Coleridge’s death in 1835, his friends and disciples began publication of his literary remains and their own reminiscences. The first of these, as Poe notes, was Specimens of the Table-Talk (1835). Here Poe reiterates his current favorable opinion of Coleridge.

a “myriad-minded man”] Coleridge’s tribute to Shakespeare in Biographia Literaria, Chapter 15.

* villified / vilified Perhaps Poe’s own spelling, but still apparently allowed (OED).

b Narcissi] Le., self-centered critics.

c The compiler was Thomas Allsop, a stockbroker and wealthy silk mercer.

d foot note] Poe reprints here Coleridge’s long letter of 27 November 1820 in which he speaks of the two “influensive [sic] Reviews” remarking that the “Quarterly Review” had totally ignored his “Literary Life” and five other major works of his. The letter occupies pp. 92-100.

e For other comments on Coleridge’s “mysticism,” see April 1835 - 1, note d and April 1835 - 2.

June 1836 - 4 Title: Calvin Colton. Thoughts on the Religious State of the Country. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1836. SLM text: pp. 453-54. Colton, a native of Massachusetts, went to England in 1831 for a four-year stay as correspondent for the New York Observer. [page 223:] His Four Years in Great Britain appeared in 1835. This book was written after he left the Presbyterian church and took orders as an Episcopalian. Poe’s review, typically rehashing some of Colton’s comments, appears to be a duty assignment, aimed at the interest of SLM readers in religion.

a dunder-headed politician] Poe liked to use this term of contempt, as in the November 1838 “Blackwood Article” and the November 1841 “Three Sundays” (q.v. in Mabbott 2: 346, 642) and also in his own coinage of “dunderheadism” for the 1838 [ms.] “Folio Club” Preface and the “Literati” of 1846 (q.v., in Pollin, Creator, p. 26).

b American in England] The first, in 1832, was History and Character of American Revivals of Religion; the second came out in 1833.

June 1836 - 5 Title: [Matthew Fontaine Maury. A New Theoretical and Practical Treatise on Navigation. . . . Philadelphia: Key and Biddle, 1836.] SLM text: pp. 454-55. Maury was just embarking, as U. S. Navy lieutenant, on his long and distinguished career as an oceanographer when he published this manual, later adopted by the U. S. Navy as a textbook. In 1839 he was lamed in a stagecoach accident, and in 1840 White briefly engaged him as an assistant editor. The opening sentence of the review suggests that the primary reason that a technical treatise received a notice was that Maury and White were fellow Virginians by birth. Poe mentioned Maury again in the first paragraph of “Von Kempelen and His Discovery” (see Mabbott 3: 1357 and 1365 n. 1, and Pollin, Discoveries, pp. 175-76, 280-81, nn. 26-32).

Because of the verbiage of the review, Hull, pp. 134-36, thought it was probably the work of the “O.” who commented on Mellen’s poems in the previous issue; he also found it odd that it was not preceded by the usual bibliographical data. But there is no need to deny it to Poe. The commentary is largely a highly strained attempt to say something that sounds intelligent on a topic about which the reviewer clearly knows nothing. Note, [column 2:] for example, this inane sentence: “Much attention to numerical correctness seems to pervade the work.” It shows no more expertise than could be extracted from a glance over the work, and there is no reason why either Poe or White would have looked for an outside reviewer. The omission of the usual publication data is indeed odd, but it may have been no more than an error made during typesetting of the page. The notice begins “This volume . . . ,” words that suggest the information had been present in the copy for the compositor.

Two bits of direct evidence support attribution to Poe. First, there is his usual attention to typography and the quality of the engravings. Second, the final paragraph, with its forecast of American scientific voyages, anticipates his intense interest in J. N. Reynolds and the Exploring Expedition of 1838. For a discussion of this fascination with new discoveries, see the notes on the review headed “South-Sea Expedition,” August 1836 - 4.

* dia gram / diagram

a relatives and friends] Poe’s ideas in the last paragraph may have a subliminal connection with his making Captain Guy, in Narrative of . . . Pym, a collector of strange native fauna at Tsalal, with the consequent dramatic use of the “preserved” body of the white animal with scarlet teeth and claws (Pollin 1: 190).

June 1836 - 6 Title: [William Leete Stone]. Ups and Downs in the Life of a Distressed Gentleman. New York: Leavitt, Lord & Co., 1836. SLM text: pp. 455-57. This is Poe in full cry, gleefully avenging himself on Colonel Stone, who had earlier savaged him in the New York Commercial Advertiser. Poe had quoted the attack in the “Drake-Halleck” review (April 1836 - 3 ) and had only briefly responded. Here, adopting the method of plot summation which he had turned against Theodore Fay (December 1835 - 9), he dismembers Stone in the fashion he had already made notorious.

a ad gradum in artibus] That is, to an arts degree.

b afther clearing them out-the spalpeens] [page 224:] It is likely that Poe acquired his Irishisms from Ups and Downs for his 1839 (or earlier) tale, “Why the Little Frenchman Wears His Hand in a Sling,” which contains “afther” nine times and “spalpeen” and “spalpeeny” eight times (see Pollin, Word Index and Mabbott 2: 462-71).

c quack] Willis Gaylord Clark had called Poe’s criticism “quacky”; see the Drake-Halleck review (April 1836 - 1)

June 1836 - 7 Title: [Charles Dickens]. Watkins Tottle, and Other Sketches. By Boz. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea, and Blanchard, 1836. SLM text: pp. 457-60. Sketches by “Boz” was among the earliest of Dickens’s writings and became highly popular before the public at large knew the author’s identity. Poe again discussed Dickens briefly by name in the November 1836 SLM and at length in two reviews in Graham’s Magazine (May 1841 and February 1842). Here he again hammers Colonel Stone by contrasting him with Dickens.

a re-publication] Poe means issuing a “pirated edition,” a common practice of the period, in the absence of international copyright.

b It is not every one . . . by the reader.] This basic statement by Poe of the superior unity of effect achievable in the short story rather than the novel was used in the 1850 Works as a “new” “Marginalia” (no. 213). For a full commentary note see Pollin 2: 538-39. It was expanded by Poe in his May 1842 Graham’s review of Hawthorne’s tales and in “The Poetic Principle.”

c Hyperion a Satyr] Hamlet 1.2.140.

d Gin Shops] Poe drew on this and other Dickens Sketches for “The Man of the Crowd.” See notes in Mabbott 2: 516-17 and 505. Poe also borrowed ideas and key words from the long second paragraph of the excerpt for his May 1840 Burton’s “Philosophy of Furniture,” objecting to “glare,” “glitter,” plate glass mirrors, “Turkey carpets” and bright gas lights (Mabbott 2: 498-500).

June 1836 - 8 Title: [Anon.]. Flora and Thalia. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea, and Blanchard, 1836. SLM text: p. 460. Such compilations, often enhanced by hand-colored engravings, were generally designed as gift books. This notice was presumably aimed at “fair readers.”

June 1836 - 9 Title: [Untitled Editorial Note]. SLM text: p. 46p. Daniel Kimball Whitaker (the proper spelling of his last name!), Harvard graduate and New Englander, who had gone to the South, was a serious journalist, literary figure, and a planter and lawyer as well, q.v. in the Poe Log article and also F. L. Mott, History of American Magazines, I: 664-65. Poe is alluding to his article, “The Puffing System” in the June 1836 issue (2: 312-315) and unwarrantedly imputing “jealousy” to Whitaker. He replied to Poe’s remarks with dignity and at length in the July issue (2: 396-403). For a good account see Moss, pp. 52-54. Poe does, however, restate the SLM’s commitment to Southern literature, announced in the first issue.






[S:0 - BRP5S, 1997] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe (B. R. Pollin) (June 1836 (Notes))