Text: Burton R. Pollin, “March 1836 (Notes),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan PoeVol. V: SLM (1997), pp. 148-150 (This material is protected by copyright)


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March 1836

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March 1836 - 1 Title: Francis L. Hawks. Contributions to the Ecclesiastical History of the United States — Virginia. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1835. SLM text: pp. 282-86. Francis L. Hawks, an Episcopal clergyman, may have offered Poe a position on a forthcoming journal, the New-York Review, at about the time Poe was dismissed from the SLM in January 1837 (Poe Log, p. 237). Poe did not receive a job, but he did contribute a long review of J. L. Stephens’s Incidents of Travel in Egypt ... to the second issue of the magazine in October 1837. (See discussion in the Headnote to January 1837). The length of this notice is probably owing to the continuing interest of the SLM in the history of Virginia and in religious matters. Poe’s critical comments on George Bancroft drew a complaint from the historian, who requested in a letter to White an interview with him (Hull, p. 119). In an editorial comment headed “The Loyalty of Virginia” in the April 1836 SLM (see below), Poe apologized to Bancroft for what he called an unintentional injustice.

a annalistic journal] This is an apparent Poe coinage, for the OED gives only 1850, 1860 instances.

a1 “older diocesses”] The OED records diocess as an older form of diocese; it is used throughout this review.

b Tucker] Tucker’s Bancroft review appeared in SLM 1 (January 1835): 587-91. Poe may well have asked Tucker for aid in preparing this review.

c Wirt] William Wirt’s biography of Patrick Henry was published in 1817. Poe had met him in Baltimore in 1829, when he sought his literary advice (Poe Log, p. 94). See Pollin, Dictionary, p. 99, for seven more Wirt passages.

March 1836 - 2 Title: Mrs. L. Miles. Phrenology, and the Moral Influence of Phrenology. ... Philadelphia: Carey, Lea, and Blanchard, 1835. SLM text: pp. 28687. The now totally discredited “science” [column 2:] of phrenology had, as Poe notes, drawn widespread and serious attention following the studies of Franz Joseph Gall and Johann Gaspar Spurzheim. Poe’s own interest in the subject apparently dates from his reading of this work, for the theory is mentioned favorably in his “Drake-Halleck” review (see April 1836 - 1) and in “Walsh’s Didactics” (see May 1836 - 6). Some years later he applied phrenological doctrine to the head of Charles Dickens (Marginalia 20; Pollin 2: 129). In the earlier versions of “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” an opening paragraph suggests his central interest: “It is not improbable that a few farther steps in phrenological science will lead to a belief in the existence, if not to the actual discovery and location of an organ of analysis” (Mabbott 2: 527). Other brief references occur in these tales: “The Black Cat” (Mabbott 3: 852); “The Imp of the Perverse” (Mabbott 3: 1219-21); and “Some Words with a Mummy” (Mabbott 3: 1191). See also references to Combe, Gall, and Spurzheim in Pollin, Dictionary and the Index to Pollin: 2 for Combe and phrenology. Poe later came to distrust the validity of the theory, though he continued to make use of its special terminology, especially “Ideality.” Among American authors, Walt Whitman was notably influenced by phrenological beliefs. A good study of the effect of Mrs. Miles’s book on Poe’s views is in Edward Hungerford, “Poe and Phrenology,” 2 (1930): 209-31, except for his failure to recognize the derisive nature of Poe’s references to the “science” after 1845 (in American Literature).

March 1836 - 3 The correct title for Poe’s “Mahmoud” is: [David Porter]. Constantinople and its Environs. In a Series of Letters, exhibiting the actual State of the Manners, Customs, and Habits of the Turks, Armenians, Jews, [page 149:] and Greeks, as modified by the Policy of Sultan Mahmoud. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1835. SLM text: p. 287. This is a baffling notice. There is no obvious reason why Poe chose the last word of a lengthy title to caption his remarks, since “Constantinople” is obviously the key word. Moreover, he seems to be suggesting, without any evidence (as he admits), that the Harpers had pirated the work. Only the fact that he quotes directly from its “Advertisement” confirms that he had actually seen a copy. There is nothing at all “equivocal” about it; it is listed in contemporary Harper catalogs with its full title and a parenthetical identification of its author as “Commodore Porter.” David Porter, a former commodore in the United States Navy, was minister at Constantinople, a post which he held until his death in 1843. The Dictionary of American Biography records that Porter had originally sent his letters to his close friend James K. Paulding, who helped to arrange for their publication by the Harpers. Poe later indirectly made use of Porter’s Journal of a Cruise made to the Pacific Ocean (1815) for a passage in Pym (Pollin 1: 278-79).

a Mr. Hope] Thomas Hope published his Anastasius, or Memoirs of a Modern Greek, a work of fiction, in 1819. Some contemporary reviewers called it licentious and attributed it to Byron. Poe had recently mentioned Hope in his Rienzi review (February 1836 - 9). Here he pads out his non-review with a nonsensical comparison of Hope’s romance, set in the eighteenth century, with Porter’s factual, informative letters to Paulding about matters which he knew by personal experience. It may be noted that on the third of this month of March Paulding wrote to White that the Harpers had declined to publish Poe’s collection of tales (Poe Log, pp. 192-93). It is not known if Poe was aware of this fact when he penned this notice, but it is at least curious that Poe is here uncharacteristically derisive about the Harpers’ publishing practices. Whatever the case, Poe did not hold their decision against Paulding, who had offered the collection to them. See his review two months later of [column 2:] Paulding’s Life of Washington (May 1836 -5).

March 1836 - 4 Title: [Augustus Baldwin Longstreet]. Georgia Scenes. Augusta: Published at the S. R. Sentinel Office, 1835. SLM text: 287-92. As a circuit-riding lawyer in Richmond County, Georgia, Augustus Baldwin Longstreet gathered much of the local-color material which he first published as sketches in local newspapers. In 1835 the press of the Augusta States Rights Sentinel, of which he was owner-editor, gathered these pieces as Georgia Scenes. The book, immediately popular, is considered the first literary classic of Southern regionalism. Harper and Brothers gave it national prominence in its “Second Edition” of 1840, which carried the author’s name. Longstreet (or an associate) sent the book directly to the SLM for review, for Poe notes that it “has reached us per mail, and without a cover.” Though it is padded out with lengthy quotations, Poe’s notice is genuinely appreciative of the book’s recording of frontier humor, and he pays it proper tribute as “a sure omen of better days for the literature of the South.”

a biped without feathers] Plato, Politicus, Sec. 266 (changed in wording). See Mabbott, 3: 880 n. 4 for the 1843 “Diddling,” which repeats this jest, probably derived by Poe, at second-hand, from Diogenes Laertius (see Pollin, Poe Studies, 1980, 13: 8-9).

b Theophrastus] Greek author (c. 370 - c. 288 B.C.) of a book of “Characters“concise and vivid descriptions of human types.

c La Bruyere] author of Les caractères ou les moeurs de ce siècle (1688).

d Rochefoucault] François La Rochefoucauld was author of Maximes (1665). For Poe’s frequent spelling of the surname, see Mabbott 3: 995, n. 13.

e Cockaigne] Humorous term for London, home of the Cockneys (OED).

f Christopher North] pseudonym of John Wilson, a prolific contributor to Blackwood’s Magazine. Poe frequently referred to him. See Pollin 2: 508-12; 521-22, also Letters, p. 77, and Michael Allen, [page 150:] Poe and the British Magazine Tradition (London: Oxford UP, 1969), pp. 47-50.

* resonnation / resonation

* raggamuffins / ragamuffins

g my eye’s out] See the 1839 “Man ... Used up” for the cruelty of the Kickapoo Indians, in gouging out Gen. Smith’s eye, Mabbott 2: 388 at n. 28; also at n. 20 of “Gold-Bug” (3: 824).

* he replied; you need‘nt kick / he replied, “you needn‘t kick] This and other minor errors in the quotations are compositor’s slips. Poe undoubtedly marked passages in the text to give to the typesetter.

* “The character / “The Character

h Miss Edgeworth] Maria Edgeworth, [column 2:] popular English author of Moral Tales, is now best known for her novel Castle Rackrent (1800). See Pollin 2: 304; also, Harrison 15: 109.

i Diary of a Physician] see December 1835 - l, note i.

March 1836 - 5 Title: [Benjamin B. Thatcher]. Traits of the Tea Party; being a Memoir of George R. T. Hewes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1835. SLM text: p. 292. Probably because of patriotic associations, the SLM frequently referred to the Revolution.

a Hewes] George R. T. Hewes left a memoir of his role as an “Indian” in the Boston Tea Party.






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