Text: Burton R. Pollin, “August 1836 (Headnote),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. V: SLM (1997), pp. 268-??? (This material is protected by copyright)


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[page 268:]

Notes [[for August 1836]]

[column 1:]

August 1836 - 1 Title: Orville Dewey. The Old World and the New. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1836. SLM text: pp. 582-83. Born in Massachusetts, Dewey was a Unitarian minister who published several works on religious topics.

a Mrs. Hemans] Another reference to Felicia Dorothea Hemans, prolific British poet.

August 1836 - 2 Title: Charles Richardson. A New Dictionary of the English Language. New York: William Jackson, 1836. SLM text: pp. 583-84. Richardson, an English lexicographer, published his dictionary in two volumes, 1836-37. It was noted for its illustrative examples of word usage. As Poe says, his review is little more than a paraphrase of Richardson’s prospectus.

a Horne Tooke] John Horne Tooke, author of the philosophical treatise known as Diversions of Purley. Poe respectfully referred to him several times in these reviews and elsewhere (see Pollin 2: 544, note h.)

b We conclude] Despite his hearty endorsement of the Richardson dictionary, he omits mention of it in his long 1845 review of William Bolles’s “pronouncing dictionary,” perhaps indicating his lower opinion of Horne Tooke’s contribution to lexicography (see Pollin 3: 148-49, 4: 11012).

August 1836 - 3 Title: S. C. Hall, ed. The Book of Gems. London and New York: Saunders and Otley, 1836. SLM text: pp. 584-87. The compiler of this anthology, Samuel Carter Hall, edited the British Art Journal and other periodicals. Poe, after copying a long critical passage from the American Monthly, returns to his own topic of Ideality in art. He again criticizes “moral truth” as the aim in poetry and praises Coleridge for his infusion of the “poetic sentiment.” His strictures on the metaphysical school reflect the stock [column 2:] negative opinion of his time, and Poe exposes his own taste for sentimental romanticism in his comments on the poems he chooses for discussion. Poe must have valued highly this review, for he repeated it in the 17 May 1845 Broadway Journal, shorn of its first three paragraphs and one long excerpt, although he had no new edition to warrant this reprint (see Pollin 3: 113-15; 4: 86-88). In his last year, Poe then made two excerpts to be added to his collected “Marginalia” which were posthumously published in September 1850 (see “Supplementary Marginalia” nos. 3 and 9 in Pollin 2: 516-17, 523-25, which collate and annotate the excerpted texts). We must note that from Hall’s anthology Poe derived the motto for two of his later tales, a stanza by Giles Fletcher (Mabbott 3: 1283).

a all are excellent] More grammatically it should read: “each by a different artist.” Of the 52 names of the poets anthologized by Samuel Carter Hall almost all are still well known. For convenience a few first names are here supplied: Stephen Hawes, William Habington, Edward De Vere, Christopher Brooke, William Browne, Charles Sedley, and, for the two illustrators, Silvester Harding and Edmund T. Parris. It is a curious coincidence that this very issue of the SLM bore Poe’s “Autography” article (Part II), showing the topical interest for both Poe and his readership in writers’ signatures, as the penultimate sentence indicates. For the background to Poe’s series, see Mabbott 2: 259-60.

b Great Britain] Poe is here adapting 2 Corinthians 3.13-15. To correct the “obscurity” perhaps, Poe modernizes all the spelling and names in his quotations, save for Tytan” in the Wither excerpt, below. Hall had proudly “retained the peculiar orthography” of the originals (p. ix). [page 269:]

c intention] Slightly altered, the paragraph above became “Supplementary Marginalia 3” (see Pollin 2: 516-17). Its importance, when expanded into Poe’s theory of the necessary indefinitiveness of true music and poetry, would be well stated in “Marginalia 44” of 1844 (Pollin 2: 153-56).

d learned without art] Poe was here extensively depending upon the American Monthly Magazine (NS 2: 92-98). He was obviously short of time but not of space, and cleverly met both needs by his long quotation from the journal, excused by his desire “not to duplicate” in his own words the same opinion and yet, in this very long paragraph he chiefly repeats much of the quotation with a great deal of his misconception of “metaphysical verse” mixed with ambiguous presentation of “poetic sentiment,” “grotesqueness,” “power,” and “abandon.” This last word, with a slightly French significance of “unconstraint, lack of rules” to Poe bulked ever larger in his poetical criticism and theory: see Pollin 2: 357-59, where it is traced into the 1845 Broadway Journal and essays of the late 1840’s although usually associated with Shelley, Tennyson, and Keats, not the “early English poets.” Here he borrows the citation, in the journal, of Henry Wotton but avoids parallelism by taking issue with the praise of the phrase taken from Hall’s headnote (unstated by Poe) and uses his censure as an opening for citing four stanzas negatively. To round it all off, he adopts the journal’s final exemplar of excellence, Marvell’s poem, but adds eight more lines to the beginning — to signalize a difference between the two reviews.

e Auncient] Poe again revives an obsolete form but not in the Broadway Journal version.

f singleheartedness] This appears to be an indirect revival of a 1642 singleinstance form, which anticipates by one year, the first and only modern instance in the OED.

* to day / today

f 1 humor and sarcasm] Poe seems to have derived this from Hall’s headnote on Corbet: “His poems are full of feeling [column 2:] and humour. . . consisting chiefly of elegy, satire and song” (p. 142).

g Fawn] Poe had further trouble with Marvell’s title, for in the 1850 “Supplementary Marginalia 9” he made a footnote change to “The Maiden Hunting for her Fawn.” Andrew Marvell named it: “The Nymph Complaining for the Death of her Fawn” (see Miscellaneous Poems of 1681) as did Hall. For notes on this section, as excerpted, see Pollin 2: 524-25.

h half-playful, half-petulant air] The OED does not give either the whole phrase of the two separate elements as separately coined (see Pollin, Creator, p. 51) but Poe’s addiction to coining such phrases is manifest in 16 more combinations, such as “half sentimental, half allegorical; half explanatory, half apologetic; half plausible, half bantering; half night-mare, half asphyxia; half-profound, half-silly,” et al. (pp. 50-51).

August 1836 - 4 Title: Report of the Committee on Naval Affairs. . . . Senate Document No. 262, 24th Congress, 1st session; Vol. 3, 88 pp. Washington, D. C., 1836. SLM text: pp. 587-89. On the face of it, this is an odd notice — a summation of a congressional document dealing with a proposed U. S. exploring expedition and recounting the lobbying campaign of J. N. Reynolds. Poe had, of course, already reviewed two works by Reynolds: The Voyage of the Potomac (June 1835 - 3 ) and his edition of Glass’s Latin life of Washington (December 1835 - 8 ); see the notes to both for a biographical sketch. Moreover, in the final paragraph of his notice of M. F. Maury’s treatise on navigation (June 1836 - 5 ) he had foreseen just such a voyage of exploration. But what led to Poe’s enthusiasm both for the expedition and for Reynolds’s long-sought post in connection with it? There is evidence that both Poe and White had met and talked with Reynolds, who no doubt was persuasive about his goal. In his review of Reynolds’s later Address (see January 1837 - 4 ), Poe would defend him thus: “Gentlemen have impugned his motives-have these gentlemen ever seen him or conversed with him half an hour?” [page 270:] And White, in a letter to Beverley Tucker, recalled: “I formed an acquaintance with him in this city about 10 years ago, and absolutely became almost devotedly attached to the fellow. . . . — To me he owes the favor he has received in the Messenger. . .” [No other Reynolds was noticed in the SLM.] (Poe Log, p. 239). This remark suggests that it was White who first made reporting of Reynolds’s cause editorial policy. Poe, however, continued to speak favorably of him in later years, and his writings would be directly echoed in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. (See Pollin 1: Index, p. 664.) The SLM later carried an article about Reynolds (5: 413-15) and two contributions from him (5: 40813; 9: 705-15). Reynolds has assumed a probably fallacious prominence in “calls” of his name by the dying Poe through the self-promoting report of Dr. Moran, altered in different versions as published over the years (see Pollin, Discoveries, pp. 200, 288 nn. 20-21). In tacit contradiction, Neilson Poe asserted that he never regained consciousness in the hospital.

a dominion from sea to sea] From Zechariah 9.10.

b signs of the times] From Matthew 16.3.

c we had never sown] From John 4.3738.

August 1836 - 5 Title: James S. French. Elkswatawa; or, The Prophet of the West. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1836. SLM text: 589-92. This is another provocative Poe performance: a sly demolition by plot dissection. Readers familiar with Cooper and Scott could hardly have found much new in this forest romance about a captive maiden, but Poe appears to delight in undercutting all narrative interest.

a pennyless] This old spelling was still used by Johnson in the 1751 Rambler and Byron in his published dramatic fragment of 1824 The Deformed Transformed.

b credat Judaeus!] See February 1836 - 2 a.

* bonâ / bona [column 2:]

August 1836 - 6 Title: [Philip H. Nicklin] Letters Descriptive of the Virginia Springs. . . . Collected, Corrected, Annotated and Edited by Peregrine Prolix. With a Map of Virginia. Philadelphia: H. S. Tanner, 1835. SLM: pp. 592-93. For the earlier notice, see June 1836 - 1 The SLM itself frequently carried promotional pieces about Virginia, including its popular springs, and Poe quotes passages about well-known proprietors of these increasingly visited sites. For the view that descriptions of the springs influenced Poe’s concept of the water on Tsalal in Pym, see L. Moffitt Cecil, “Poe’s Tsalal and the Virginia Springs,” Notes and Queries 19 (March 1965): 398-402.

* sulphurietted / sulphuretted (see last paragraph of excerpts)

August 1836 - 7 [Alexander Slidell]. A Year in Spain. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1836. SLM text: p. 593. Poe had reviewed Slidell in February 1836 - 6 and May 1836 - 2. A selection from his work appears in this issue (540-41), a fact that may account for Poe’s more favorable treatment of Slidell here.

a Sancho Panza. . .unimpairable] Sancho Panza is a main character in Cervantes’s Don Quixote; Dr. Sangrado appears in Le Sage’s Gil Blas; an Alcalde is a mayor. “Pallazzo” is a misspelling of the Italian palazzo; the correct Spanish word is palacio. Poe’s “Kaleidescopal” should be “kaleidoscopal” or “kaleidoscopical.” It is Poe’s unique (misspelled) variant.

August 1836 - 8 Title: [Sir George Stephen]. The Adventures of a Gentle man in Search of a Horse. By Caveat Emptor, Gent. One, Etc. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea and Blanchard, 1836. SLM text: p. 593. Stephen was an English barrister, who later became a prominent opponent of slavery. This was a popular book which went through a number of editions.

a Coke] Sir Edward Coke, Francis Bacon’s long-standing rival, provided Poe with erudite and/or humorous allusions, as here, derived probably from material on Bacon or other secondary sources. In [page 271:] his famous review of Hawthorne’s tales in Godey’s (Harrison 13: 143) is one, derived from H. B. Wallace’s novel Stanley (1: 241) and in the SLM of February 1848 another (a “filler”) against Bacon’s Instauratio (Pollin 2: 444-45). Finally, Poe left a self-designed title page of 1848 for his unpublished work “Literary America” which ironically shows two mottoes, one by Bacon and the other by Coke (on truth). (See Pollin, “The Living Writers of America: A MS. by . . . Poe,” Studies in the American Renaissance 1991, pp. 151-211, specifically, 156, 161 n. 16.)

August 1836 - 9 Title: [Joseph H. Ingraham]. Lafitte: the Pirate of the Gulf. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1836. SLM: pp. 593-96. The popular success of this historical romance encouraged Ingraham to become one of the most popular and prolific novelists of his day. He had early taught in a Mississippi school, which is why Poe calls him “Professor.” Once again Poe fills columns with a plot recapitulation — and once again spoils the story for a potential reader. (See also June 1836 - 4)

a It is based . . . Latour.] Poe takes all the names and titles from textual references.

b Red Rover] pirate-protagonist of Cooper’s The Red Rover (1827).

b 1 But . . . character] Apparently “not” belongs before “is.”

c chiaro ’scuro] The OED records chiar-oscuro but not this form, which may be Poe’s own pedantic error.

d vos plaudite] In full, Vos valete et plaudite: Farewell, and give your applause. Tag used by Terence at the conclusion of many comedies.

August 1836 - 10 Title: John W. Draper. Introductory Lecture to a Course of Chemistry and Natural Philosophy. Richmond: T. W. White, 1836. SLM text: p. 596. Draper taught chemistry at the University of the City of New York (now New York University). The fact that this volume was published by White no doubt accounts for this notice. Poe later, in Eureka and “Von Kempelen and His Discovery,” satirized Draper. See Mabbott 3: 1365 n. 7 and Pollin, Discoveries, pp. 180-84. [column 2:]

August 1836 - 11 Title: Memorial of Francis Lieber. Senate Document. Washington, D. C., 1836. SLM text: pp. 596-97. For the distinguished political scientist, see January 1836 - 7. His “A Reminiscence” appears in this issue, pp. 535-38, and he is discussed in “Autography,” p. 603.

a various information] The sentence needs a plural noun such as “items of between “various” and “information.”

August 1836 - 12 Title: David B. Edward. The History of Texas. . . . Cincinnati: J. A. James & Co., 1836. SLM text: p. 597. Texas was much in the news in 1836, when American settlers, combatting Mexican forces, set up the Republic of Texas.

a Texian] This is a variant for “Texan,” then popular (and for a decade more), which was recorded by Mathews for 1892 and 1950. Poe may have derived it from Edward’s book (45, 74).

August 1836 - 13 Title: [Nathaniel P. Willis]. Inklings of Adventure. New York: Saunders and Otley, 1836. SLM text: pp. 597-600. Poe had taken sly digs at Willis in “Lion-izing” and in the Norman Leslie review. Here, referring to criticism of his sometimes foppish affectations, Poe promises not to decide “upon the literary merits of this gentleman by a reference to his private character and manners.” Yet he goes on to find this narrative “utterly ruined, by the grievous sin of affectation,” in its striving for elegance and cleverness. Moreover, he judges it lacking in “totality of effect,” the esthetic principle which he had put forward in his Dickens review (June 1836 - 7 ). Despite Poe’s fault-finding, he and Willis remained on good terms after they met in New York in 1844. Mabbott 3: 998-99 cites passages from Willis’s “Mad-House of Patterns” (see it listed in paragraph two) which Poe used later in “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether” (1845).

* literateur / litterateur

a Rembrandtities] Poe’s coinage; the OED does not list this form.

* Is‘nt / Isn‘t [page 272:]

b We have jumped . . . Niagara.] Poe bragged of his athletic prowess, particularly his swimming feat in the James River. See Headnote, May 1835.

c Io Pean] Properly Io pæan, Greek and Latin exclamation of triumph.

c 1soubriquet”] In the OED both spellings are given, with the “u” form instanced through Lady Morgan (1818), T. Michell, translator of Aristophanes (1835), and Trollope (1867). While the OED calls it of French origin, uncertain, the American Heritage Dictionary (1994) ascribes it to Old French soubriquet, [column 2:] “chuck under the chin,” while Paul Robert’s French dictionary traces it to the same word, 14th century, for a “blow under the chin.” The “sou” of course appears to be a trace of “sous” or under. In this Poe is too hard on Willis.

d totality of effect] Another reference to Poe’s key esthetic principle.

e Rosa-Matilda-ism] Charlotte Dacre published sensational fiction under the pseudonym “Rosa Matilda.” See Pollin, “Poe, Byron, and Miss Matilda,” Names 16 (1968): 390-414. The term is a Poe coinage.

 


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Notes:

None.


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