Text: Burton R. Pollin, “February 1836 (Headnote),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan PoeVol. V: SLM (1997), pp. 104-105 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 104:]

February 1836

[column 1:]

With the Messenger continuing to garner good notices in the periodical press, Poe adopted a confident tone in reporting his situation in a letter to John Pendleton Kennedy of January 22:

[I] am now, in every respect, comfortable and happy. ... My health is better than for years past, my mind is fully occupied, my pecuniary troubles have vanished, I have a fair prospect of future success-in a word all is right. I shall never forget to whom all this happiness is in great degree to be attributed. I know that without your timely aid I should have sunk under my trials.

Mr. White is very liberal, and besides my salary of 520$ pays me liberally for extra work, so that I receive nearly $800. My friends in Richmond have received me with open arms, and my reputation is extending — especially in the South ... [Letters 1: 81].

Kennedy replied on February 9: “I am greatly rejoiced at your success not only in Richmond, but every where. ... Do you easily keep pace with the demands of the magazine? I like the critical notices very well ... [Poe Log, p. 1901. Poe assured Kennedy that he had no difficulty “in keeping pace,” and reported that “Mr W[hite] has increased my salary, since I wrote, 104$. for the present year. ... He is exceedingly kind in every respect” [Letters 1: 84].

Yet it is clear that Poe was still somewhat uneasy about his standing with his employer. Writing to White on January 26, Beverley Tucker reported that he had just received a letter from Poe “by which I learn that you may not feel as much confidence in his capacity for the duties of his station as [column 2:] is necessary for your mutual comfort. This doubt he attributes in part to what must have been a misconstruction in one of my letters. That I have not admired all of Mr. P.'s productions, as much as some others, and that his writings are not so much to my taste as they would be were I (as would to God I were) as young as he, I do not deny. Thus much I expressed, and this so freely as to show that, had I meant more, I would have said more ... ” [Poe Log, p. 189]. White's response shows his own ambivalence. He expresses his satisfaction with the current issue of the SLM and adds that “[m]y right hand man” thinks it superior to previous numbers, but he adds: “I shall on some suitable occasion tell you a great deal about my young friend and editor. It will be [only?] for your private ear” [Poe Log, p. 190].

The February SLM contains the usual mixture of poetry, fiction, and didactic articles, of which the most notable is a report by Lucian Minor on “Liberian Literature” (pp. 15859). Minor's implicit endorsement of the work of the American Colonization Society in Liberia caused White to fear that proslavery readers of the article would be affronted, for on his behalf Poe wrote to Minor on February 5: “It was thought better upon consideration to omit all passages in ‘Liberian Literature’ at which offence could, by any possibility, be taken” [Letters 1: 83]. The caution was insufficient, for at least one Southern periodical found reason to complain. In a follow-up letter of March 10, Poe reported to Minor: “Lauded by all men of sense, [page 105:] [‘Liberian Literature’] has excited animadversion from the Augusta Chronicle. The scoundrel says it is sheer abolitionism” (Letters, 1: 8788). The incident demonstrates that, while Poe had comparative freedom in his literary critiques, White, in deference to his Southern readership, exercised his own control over matters that were politically sensitive.

White's “right hand man” had good reason to be pleased with this issue, for both the range and the length of his own contributions. They include:

1. Two works of fiction: a revised version of “The Duc de L‘Omelette” (pp. 150-51; text and notes in Mab bott 2: 31-41) and Part 1 of the new “Autography” (pp. 205-12; text and notes in Mabbott 2: 205-12).

2. The poem “The Valley Nis” (p. 154; text and notes in Mabbott 1: 189-96 under the title “The Valley of Unrest”).

3. The short article “Palaestine,” signed “P.” and credited to Poe in the volume index; printed and discussed below.

4. Five fillers: “The Gourd of Jonah” (p. 148; text and notes in Pollin 2: 428-29); “The Iliad” (p. 151; text and notes in Pollin 2: 429); “Martorelli” (p. 153; text and notes in Pollin 2: 430); “New Testament” (p. 154; text and notes in Pollin 2: 430-31); [column 2:] and “Statius” (p. 159; text and notes in Pollin 2: 432-33). The brief piece “Gibbon and Fox” (p. 159), is also printed by Pollin (2: 431-32), with “a caveat that a contributor-friend of T. W. White might have submitted it.” Pollin was prescient; the author can now be identified as Beverley Tucker. For the evidence, see Terence Whalen, “Correcting the Poe Canon ... ,” Nineteenth-Century Literature 48 (June 1993): 89-92. Whalen properly calls attention to Tucker's continuing notable assistance to the SLM. The Poe Log erroneously includes “Greece” (pp. 17172) in its list of Poe's contributions. This brief poem is signed “Eliza” and carries the place name “Maine.” David K. Jackson, Contributors, p. 16, credits authorship to Eliza Gookin Thornton.

5. Critical notices: Nine of the eleven reviews are assigned to Poe by the Poe Log, p. 191, and by Mabbott, MS. Notes, Folder 1. The review of Mathew Carey's “Autobiography” is also accepted by Mabbott, but it is not listed by the Poe Log. Hull (pp. 116-17) rejected it, suggesting that it was sent in by a contributor. The notice headed “Chief Justice Marshall” is by Lucian Minor, as is shown by the White-Minor correspondence cited in Hull, pp. 106-10.






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