Text: Burton R. Pollin, “August 1836 (Headnote),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. V: SLM (1997), pp. 247-248 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 247:]

August 1836

[column 1:]

Poe’s scornful treatment of the editorial rebukes of the Newbern Spectator elicited the expected riposte. In mid-July the North Carolina paper, citing other criticism of him, saw his days as numbered: “We think that Mr. Poe will soon see the necessity of resigning his chair, or of conforming to the rules of modern criticism. The Proprietor should look to this” (Poe Log, p. 219). By the end of July its tone was even sharper: “If this [Supplement] is not a precious treat for the readers of a dignified Monthly, we know not what it is! Revelling in puffs, even ad nauseam, which the Messenger has the unexampled meanness to extract from every source, and to republish, yet it cannot permit a single voice to be raised against its errors without descending to scurrility and invective; thus showing conclusively the unfitness of its conductor for the task he has undertaken ...” (Poe Log, p. 219).

On the national scene the Spectator was an unimportant provincial sheet, and its contempt for Poe could hardly have mattered much to him. But its steady drumming, which continued for the rest of the year, may have concerned White more than the available evidence records. The SLM proudly carried the word “Southern” in its title, and it was to his regional subscribers that White owed primary allegiance. Always beset financially, he must have had qualms that the unfavorable publicity generated by his editor could lose him support among those whom he most desired to please.

Poe gave no outward sign that he [column 2:] feared any chastening by White, and his editorial work was exemplary. The August issue, appearing on the twenty-second, carried contributions by Lydia H. Sigourney, William Gilmore Simms, James K. Paulding, Robert Montgomery Bird, Mathew Carey, and Sarah J. Hale — prominent names which would have graced any American periodical of the day. Poe was himself proud of the issue; on August 19 he wrote to Hiram Haines, editor of the Petersburg (Va.) American Constellation: “[It is] the best number, by far, yet issued. ... And, emphasizing his own role, he added: “All after the word Editorial is my own” (Letters 1: 99). In toto, he supplied these items:

1. Three fillers: “In ‘Dodsley’s Collection‘ ...” (p. 535; text and notes in Pollin 2: 437-38); “Wherever the Inquisition ...” (p. 557; text and notes in Pollin 2: 438); “Swift’s ‘Liliputian Ode‘ ...” (p. 572; text and notes in Pollin 2: 438-39).

2. Three editorial notes:

a. to Alexander Slidell’s “Scenes in Campillo” (p. 540): “These hitherto unpublished Scenes in Campillo are from a new edition (now in press) of the ‘Year in Spain.’ We are indebted for them to the kindness of the author and of the Messrs. Harpers.”

b. to Major Henry Lee’s “The Battle of Lodi” (p. 541): “We are pleased at an opportunity afforded us of presenting our readers in anticipation with an extract of great [page 248:] beauty from the second volume of Major Lee’s Life of Napoleon. This volume will not be published for some time — many laborious investigations operating to delay the work much longer than was anticipated by its author. We are indebted to Major Lee himself for the MS, — who sends it to us from Paris.”

c. to “MSS. of John Randolph” (p. 568): “We are indebted for the letters now published, to the same personal friend of Mr. Randolph, who furnished us those for the July number of the Messenger. We hope to procure others for September.”

3. Two poems: “Israfel” (p. 539; texts and notes in Mabbott 1: 171-79); and “The City of Sin” (i. e., “The City in the Sea”; p. 552; texts and notes in Mabbott 1: 196-204).

4. Under the heading “Editorial,” an introduction to “Right of Instruction” (p. 573): [column 2:]

In the article published by us this month, on the Right of Instruction, Judge Hopkinson has alluded to some opinions of Edmund Burke. It may perhaps be as well to copy here one or two of the paragraphs to which we suppose allusion is made.

In his speech in 1780, at the Guildhall in Bristol, upon certain points relative to his parliamentary conduct, we have what follows. [A column and a half of direct quotation]

5. “Pinakidia” (pp. 573-82). This is a long set of brief articles on literary, historical, and general cultural topics. They are drawn from a number of sources and are designed to produce the effect of wide and critical learning. The text and notes are given in Pollin 2: 1-106.

6. The second installment of “Autography” (pp. 601-04; text and notes in Mabbott 2: 259-291).

7. Thirteen critical notices, 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) (August 1836 (Headnote))