Text: Burton R. Pollin, “June 1836 (Headnote),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan PoeVol. V: SLM (1997), pp. 204-205 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 204:]

June 1836

[column 1:]

During this month Poe, no doubt at the direction of White, was busy in soliciting contributions from a number of prominent writers. Surviving letters show that he wrote to Lydia H. Sigourney, Robert Montgomery Bird, Sarah Josepha Hale, James Fenimore Cooper, Fitz-Greene Halleck, Washington Irving, and John Pendleton Kennedy (Poe Log, p. 209). On his own behalf, he continued to seek publication of his tales in a single volume. Harper and Brothers, however, definitively dashed his hopes. On June 19, responding to his letter of June 3, the firm explained its decision: “The reasons why we declined publishing them were threefold. First, because the greater portion of them had already appeared in print — Secondly, because they consisted of detached tales and pieces; and our long experience has taught us that both these are very serious objections to the success of any publication. ... The third objection was equally cogent. The papers are too learned and mystical. They would be understood and relished only by a very few-not by the multitude. ... ” The letter concluded with qualified praise of Poe’s critiques and a promise to continue sending him books for review (Poe Log, p. 212).

The June issue of the SLM appeared shortly after the sixteenth (Poe Log, p. 211) and contained Poe’s now usual mixture:

1. Two editorial notes: (a) a footnote (p. 405) to the lead essay, “Right of Instruction”: “*Some months ago a number of the ‘Richmond Enquirer,’ containing an argument in favor of the mandatory right of a State Legislature to instruct a Senator of the United [column 2:] States, was forwarded to the author of this article. That argument was supported by the alleged opinions of Messrs. King, Jay and Hamilton, as expressed in the Convention of New York-and we think this reply well deserves publication. It is from the pen of a ripe scholar and a profound jurist.” The article is signed “H.”; Jackson, Contributors, p. 13, assigns it to Joseph Hopkinson. (b) A footnote (p. 411), virtually the same as that on p. 293, to the continuing “MS.S. [sic] of Benjamin Franklin”: “These pieces, from the pen of Dr. Franklin, have never appeared in any edition of his works, and are from the manuscript book which contains the Lecture and Essays published in a former number of the Messenger.” (A second note, to the word “consort,” reads: “Concert was thus spelt in the beginning of the last century. See many examples in the Tatler, etc.” It may have been supplied by the contributor of the manuscript selections, namely, William Duane, Jr.)

The articles of Franklin are on pp. 411-12 plus 445. The first is called “Proposals,” and starts with a statement about various rules governing the minutes, group exercise in clement weather, payment of fines, use of the Junto library books, etc. Another section presents a series of philosophical questions together with provocative and rational answers, concluding with a paragraph on how to succeed in conversation, that finally quotes Horace’s Ars Poetica, line 43 (see Yale ed., 1: 270). Page 445 contains nine lines of verse, “From the MSS. of Franklin,” placed directly above the “Editorial” [page 205:] on “Right of Instruction.” The lines read: “In vain are musty morals taught in schools, / By rigid teachers and as rigid rules, / Where virtue with a frowning aspect stands, / And frights the pupil with her rough commands. / But Woman — / Charming Woman, can true converts make — / We love the precepts for the teacher’s sake: / Virtue in them appears so bright and gay, / We hear with transport, and with pride obey.” The verses speak well for the pro-feminine outlook of inditer Franklin and editor Poe.

2. One filler, “Otto Venius” (p. 427; text and notes in Pollin 2: 436).

3. Under the word “Editorial,” a note headed “Right of Instruction” (p. 445):

The pages of our Magazine are open, and have ever been, to the discussion of all general questions in Political Law, or Economy — never to questions of mere party. The paper on the Right of Instruction, which forms our leading article this month, was addressed, in the form of a letter, to a gentleman of Richmond [column 2:] [T. W. White?]. The letter concluded thus —

“I assure you, my dear sir, that I hesitate about sending these sheets to you under the denomination of a letter. But I began to write without knowing how far the subject might carry me on. No doubt had I time to write it over again, I might avoid repetition and greatly abridge it. But I pray you to take it with a fair allowance for all imperfections of manner; to the opinions and argument I confess my responsibility.

Most truly and respectfully your obedient servant,

— —.”

4. Eight reviews, which are printed and discussed below. One of these, the notice of Matthew F. Maury’s treatise on navigation, was challenged by Hull, p. 134, on stylistic and other grounds. The Poe Log, pp. 211-12, does not list it with Poe’s other contributions to this issue, but does not explain the omission. Mabbott, MS. Notes, Folder 1, accepts it as Poe’s.

5. A note about criticism of the SLM made by the Southern Literary Journal. Printed and discussed below.






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