Text: Burton R. Pollin, “May 1836 (Notes),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan PoeVol. V: SLM (1997), pp. 202-203 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 202:]

May 1836

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May 1836 - 1 Title: “Lynch’s Law.” SLM text: p. 389. A Dictionary of Americanisms (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951), edited by Mitford M. Mathews, supports the origin of “Lynch’s law” (later “lynch law”) given here and cites this article, crediting Poe with the introductory note. See also the Supplement to the OED (1976). The fact that Poe claimed authorship of the material printed under the heading “Editorial” warrants the attribution. Poe does not explain why there has been “frequent inquiry” about this vigilante practice. The discussion, however, may be seen in the context of recent slave rebellions, including the 1831 Nat Turner insurrection in Southampton, Virginia, and of the violence involved. It should be noted that those charged in the Nat Turner uprising were brought before a state court and that “Lynch’s Law” is here condemned.

May 1836 - 2 Title: [Alexander Slidell]. Spain Revisited. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1836. SLM text: pp. 389-92. For a note on Slidell, see Poe’s earlier review (February 1836 - 6).

a Slidell’s American] In 1837 Slidell legally added his mother’s name, Mackenzie, to his surname, a name sometimes used by cataloguers for his books.

b niaiseries] Poe had used the same French word-“foolishness“-in his previous Slidell review and in the “Drake-Halleck” review in the previous number.

c Poe again attacks dedications. See p. 220 below for the Spectator’s reply.

d Don Puffando] Poe’s coinage, underscoring his attacks on “puffery” in criticism.

d1 circumbendibus] Meaning circumlocution, informally.

e esta indigesta] The quotation and Spanish book title lack accents and misspell “groseras”; it means “This ill-digested production is full of lies and gross calumnies against the King our Lord and his august family.”

* speer /spear

f This sentence] Griswold, in his “Ludwig” obituary notice of Poe in the New York Tribune (October 9, 1849), commented thus about such passages: “[A]s a critic, he was [column 2:] more remarkable as a dissector of sentences than as a commentator upon ideas. He was little better than a carping grammarian. ...

* syntatical / syntactical

May 1836 - 3 Title: Charles Anthon. Sallust’s Jugurthine War. ... New York: Harper and Brothers, 1836. SLM text: pp. 392-93. Anthon, the noted classical scholar, was an early supporter of the SLM and of Poe. Poe, in return, always spoke favorably of him. Here he follows his now frequent practice of both quoting directly from the work reviewed and using it for what appear to be his own remarks. He would later call upon Anthon for scholarly aid in reviewing after he moved to New York. Anthon’s book is Poe’s source for a Sallust quip used in the August 1836 SLM in “Pinakidia 143,” later in “Marginalia No. 60,” and for other material in Marginalia 188” and in “Autography” of 1841 (see a detailed survey in Pollin 2: 89 and notes on 169, 314-15; and Harrison, 15: 180).

a Buffon and Hogarth] In a footnote to “The Literary Life of Thingum Bob, Esq.,” Mabbott points out Poe’s other uses of this reference (3: 1149, n. 47).

* Spencer / Spenser

May 1836 - 4 Title: Frances Trollope. Paris and the Parisians in 1835. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1836. SLM text: pp. 393-96. Mrs. Trollope, mother of the novelist Anthony, had published her Domestic Manners of the Americans in 1832 to the offense of many, as Poe initially indicates. In lieu of actually reviewing this new book — Poe twice brushes off consideration of her “mere political opinions” — he simply summarizes the scenes depicted in the engravings and quotes liberally from the text.

a hyper-patriot] A Poe coinage. See two other instances in Pollin, Creator, pp. 28,90.

b flumflummery] See Pollin, Creator, p. 85 for this Poe coinage, apparently a portmanteau pun on flimflam (to trick) and flummery (nonsense).

* serâi / serai [page 203:]

c émeute] = tumult or uprising. See Poe’s subsequent use in the 1842 “Marie Rogêt” and also an 1842 review in Graham’s (Mabbott 3: 775 n. 6).

* beseiged / besieged

* Soiree / Soirée

* marechale / maréchale

d Tortoni’s] See this used by Poe in the 1838 “Blackwood Article” (Mabbott 2: 345, 361 n. 34).

* revolution / révolution

* Juillet / juillet

* Innocens / Innocents

May 1836 - 5 Title: James K. Paulding. A Life of Washington. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1836. SLM text: pp. 39699. Paulding remained a potential ally in Poe’s project to issue his tales as a collection, and his praise here is fulsome. The Life of Washington was intended as an inspirational tale for young readers; Poe only glancingly mentions this fact and overstates Paulding’s importance as a biographer, especially vis-à-vis the distinguished historian Jared Sparks and Chief Justice Marshall, author of a basic five-volume life of Washington. The first and last paragraphs only of the review were reprinted in the Griswold edition as Marginalia CXCII (for text and commentary notes see Pollin 2: 533-35). We might note Poe’s coinage of two compounds in the first paragraph: “patriot-farmer” and “warriorChristian.” Later in the year, Poe also honored Paulding by printing a long item of filler, “Judgment of Rhadamanthus,” (August, pp. 539-540), moralistically contrasting a slovenly blue-stocking with a neat, prolific, domestic housewife, who enters the realm of the blest (see Pollin 2: 437-38).

* syntatical / syntactical

May 1836 - 6 Title: Robert Walsh. Didactics — Social, Literary, and Political. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea, and Blanchard, 1836. SLM text: pp. 399-401. Walsh was Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania for a decade and from 1827 to 1837 editor of the American Quarterly Review. In May 1829 he gave Poe advice on publishing poetry (Poe Log, p. 93). The Griswold edition reprinted the first two and the final paragraphs of this review in Volume 3 under the heading “Robert [column 2:] Walsh” (pp. 212-15). Poe’s remarks reflect the earnest editorial interest of the SLM in public education. For the further connection between Poe and Walsh, see Pollin, Dictionary, p. 96.

a acting of Kean] The son of an actor himself, Poe showed continued interest in the career of Edmund Kean. Poe later became a reviewer of plays in the Broadway Journal.

b Old Bachelor] Essay collection (1814) by William Wirt, Virginia jurist who served as U. S. Attorney General. John Pendleton Kennedy published a biography of him in 1849. He was an early advisor and friend of Poe. For other references, see Pollin, Dictionary, p. 99; for his importance to Poe see Pollin 2: 11-12.

c subject of Phrenology] Poe again forcefully defends the practice, but it is amazing that in the material that he left for what proved to be his posthumous edition, pre-edited by himself, he preserved this final paragraph defending phrenology long after he had utterly given up his support of the theory, in this newly created “Literati” paper on Walsh, drawn entirely from this 1836 review. It argues the extreme haste in which Poe “collected” his papers before going to the South for his lecturing and courting.

May 1836 - 7 Title: [James Fenimore Cooper]. Sketches of Switzerland. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea, and Blanchard, 1836. SLM text: pp. 401-03. Cooper had won a broad and enthusiastic readership for his historical romances before he and his family left for Europe in 1826. His tours of Western Europe provided material for several travel books, which he began publishing after his return to America in 1833. As Poe notes, he had championed American democracy during his long stay abroad. Back in the U. S., however, he increasingly grew to be critical of his countrymen, suggesting that the nation was changing from a republic to a mobocracy. Poe remarked on the resultant decline in Cooper’s reputation while reviewing his History of the Navy in Burton’s in July 1839: “It cannot be denied that, for many years past, he has been rapidly sinking in the estimation of his countrymen. ... Even his firmest friends were becoming ashamed of the universality of his cynicism. ...






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