Text: Burton R. Pollin, “May 1835 (Headnote),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan PoeVol. V: SLM (1997), pp. 12-13 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 12:]

May 1835

[column 1:]

The May issue, which appeared June 11, opened with an announcement by White of the change in editorship. He had, he said, “made an arrangement with a gentleman of approved literary taste and attainments, to whose especial management the editorial department of the ‘Messenger’ has been confided. ... ” This unnamed gentleman was Edward V. Sparhawk, and he had not been White’s first choice. As early as February 1835 he had written to Lucian Minor, a lawyer in the northern part of the state, that Heath had been importuning him to select a successor-“and no other name always assails me more than yours. ... I will hand you a compensation of $800 per annum” (Poe Log, p. 147). Minor soon consulted Heath about the offer; Heath replied that he had strongly seconded the proposition, but he raised the question as to whether the proposed salary would offset what Minor was making from his law practice. White pressed Minor again in March and, presumably to assure him that his salary would be paid, commented that the SLM now had no fewer than 750 paying subscribers (Poe Log, p. 148). But Minor finally decided not to serve, though he would continue to act as a ready advisor and contributor. White clearly was disappointed, but there is no note of his feelings in his farewell to Heath in the May notice: “It is due to the gentleman who has acted as editor up to the present period, that the publisher should, in parting with him, express that deep feeling of gratitude which his disinterested friendship could not fail to inspire” (p. 461).

Sparhawk would serve as editor for only the May, June, and July issues; as David K. Jackson notes, his reasons [column 2:] for leaving the SLM were never satisfactorily explained in the columns of the magazine (Poe and The SLM, p. 57). The May number, unlike its predecessor, contained only original articles. Featured were the beginning installment of “Visit to the Virginia Springs,” an essay on “Recent American Novels,” “Letters on the United States of America,” and a now startling “Dissertation on the Characteristic Differences between the Sexes and on the Position and Influence of Woman in Society” (signed “Z.X.W.” but by Thomas R. Dew, later a prominent supporter of slavery in the South). There were also several pieces of fiction, which included Poe’s third signed contribution, the satirical “Lion-izing” (notes and texts in Mabbott 2: 169-87).

A few lines taken from a letter from Poe to White of April 30, 1835 (Letters 1: 57) were quoted in a brief editorial note headed “Swimming” (p. 468). Poe referred to a story, “The Doom,” which had appeared in the January 1835 issue (pp. 235-40). Its unidentified Baltimore writer had alluded to a boyhood swimming feat by Poe in the James River. In a rather bragging tone, Poe here gave his version of the event.

In his editorial remarks at the close of the number, Sparhawk attested to the fact that the SLM was now drawing more contributions than it could print, though he was somewhat acerbic about the quality of some of the items he had chosen. He added that “the Messenger is a new enterprise, in a section of country where such a work has never before been sustained for any considerable length of time,” and [page 13:] he excused himself on the grounds that “we should display a greater degree of forbearance with inexperienced aspirants to literary honors.” About Poe’s “Lion-izing,” he had no qualms: it is “an inimitable piece of wit and satire” (p. 531).

The review section contained long essays rather than brief notices. The first of the three, on a new translation of Alessandro Manzoni’s I Promessi Sposi, is by Beverley Tucker, as is shown by a letter from White to Tucker dated June 13: “The Review of the Italian novel assuming an editorial appearance did not call for eulogy from us. ... It is, in my opinion, as good a Review as you have penned for the Messenger” (Poe Log, p. 157). The second review, of Kennedy’s Horse-Shoe Robinson, is by Poe. The third, a notice of the Journal of Frances Anne Butler (the former Fanny Kemble) which runs for nearly thirteen columns, presents a problem. An editorial note at the end of the April SLM had announced its appearance but “at so late a period that we are unable to present our readers with our opinions at large of its merits. ... It will be reviewed in our next.” This note could be by either Heath or Sparhawk-more likely the latter. Since it clearly suggests a review by an in-house writer, it is a reasonable surmise that Sparhawk also prepared this long discussion. (Harrison erroneously attributed the first and third reviews to Poe; the Manzoni review is printed in 8: 1219 and the Butler notice in 8: 19-31.)

Meanwhile, Poe was composing two reviews of the May issue. In the Baltimore Republican of June 13 he praised [column 2:] the critical notices: “We have read with interest the remarks on the Promessi Sposi of Manuoni [sic]; on Mrs. Butler’s Journal; and on our townsman Mr. Kennedy’s new novel, Horse-Shoe Robinson. ... ” And, again, he could not resist the opportunity to indulge in a bit of self-puffery: “Lionizing, a tale by Edgar A. Poe, is an admirable piece of burlesque, which displays much reading, a lively humor, and an ability to afford amusement or instruction, according to the direction he may choose to give to his pen, which should not be suffered to lie unemployed, and will not, we trust, be neglected.” The Baltimore American notice of June 15 is equally blatant: “We are pleased to note a spirited contribution from our townsman Edgar A. Poe, Esq. It is an extravaganza called ‘‘Lionizing,’ and gives evidence of high powers of fancy and humor” (texts in David K. Jackson, “Four of Poe’s Critiques in the Baltimore Newspapers,” Modern Language Notes 50 [April 1935]: 251-56). To White Poe wrote on June 12 that he would send copies of the notices as soon as they appeared. He added: “What I can do farther to aid the circulation of your Magazine I will gladly do-but I must insist on your not sending me any remuneration for services of this nature. They are a pleasure to me & no trouble whatever” (Letters 1: 61-62). Earlier, on May 30, Poe had acknowledged the receipt from White of “$5: and an order for $4.94” (Letters 1: 59). Since his certain contributions to the May SLM add up to about seven columns, the total of nearly $10 seems high payment; perhaps White had added something more “for services of this nature.”






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