Text: Burton R. Pollin, “November 1836 (Headnote),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan PoeVol. V: SLM (1997), pp. 315-316 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 315:]

November 1836

[column 1:]

Poe had baited his critics in the preceding issue, and, as expected, the Newbern Spectator for December 2 struck back with a complaint that he had “scalped” The Swiss Heiress. It added: “[W]e are perfectly convinced that the southern literati condemn the substitution of sneer and sarcasm for dignified reasoning and remark ... ” (Poe Log, pp. 234-35). White may not have seen the notice; if he did, it could not have added much to his dissatisfaction with his editor, for things in general were not going well in the Messenger office. Returning from a trip to New York, White wrote back to his friend William Scott: “When I reached home I found my wife very ill in bed, and all my office affairs in great confusion.” He requested payment of some money due him and asked that Scott “send it on as soon as you can get it — for we are all without money in Richmond” (Poe Log, p. 234). Some three weeks later White pressed the urgency of his problems to Scott: “Money is very scarce here — Times very hard ... my Printing is nearly suspended, in consequence of as ruinous as a foolish a strike of the young men Printers, a strike that will in all probability prevent my issuing the [next number] earlier than the 1st February ...” (Poe Log, pp. 235-36). White thus explains why there was no December issue.

Fortunately the November number was ready to go, and it appeared on December 10. Only a hint of his troubles tinges an announcement signed by White (and likely composed with Poe’s editorial assistance) which appeared on the cover. It is addressed: “To the Patrons of the Messenger, and the Public Generally”:

The present number will conclude the second year of the Messenger, and the [column 2:] Publisher returns his sincere thanks to his numerous patrons for their friendly support. He has labored faithfully to create a Southern interest in favor of Literature, and he trusts that his efforts have not been unsuccessful. The generous spirits of the North and East, who have heretofore contributed to his pages, have for the most part pledged their continued support; and he feels assured from the interest awakened on this side ofthe Potomac, that Southern rivals will not be backward in that honorable literary strife which leads to excellence. If the Publisher’s calculations are not oversanguine, the forthcoming Volume will surpass its predecessors. He has the promise of able pens, and pledges his unflinching exertions to accomplish that result. His efforts, however, must be aided by the pecuniary as well as intellectual assistance of his patrons. He earnestly therefore calls upon them to discharge their subscriptions, and if they feel any of the zeal which he does in the cause of the Messenger, he trusts that they will contribute to extend its circulation, so as to place it upon a solid and firm basis. The first Number of the next Volume will be issued in January.

This was not a distinguished issue, and Poe’s contributions were relatively slight. They were:

1. Two fillers: “Walladmor” (p. 773) and “Sir John Hill ... job.” (p. 779). Text and annotations in Pollin 2: 443-44.

2. Several editorial notes:

(a) A footnote to “Friendship, An Essay” (p. 735):

* When New York was in possession of the English during the war ofthe revolution, the officers, to relieve the monotony of a garrison life, established a society in which some subject of a literary character was [page 316:] discussed at every meeting. Before this society was read this essay, by Mr. Gilchrist — which we print from his original MS. Of their author, personally, we know little, except that he was not an officer in either the army or navy, nor a member of either of the learned professions, although a gentleman of literary taste and extensive acquirements. Henry K. White, in a letter to his brother Neville, mentions a Mr. Gilchrist as one of the contributors to the “Monthly Mirror,” with Capel Lofft, Robert Bloomfield and others. If Mr. G. returned to England he was probably the author of most of the articles in the Monthly Mirror over the signature of Octavius. Judge Hoffman and Mr. Dunlap of New York, may be able to give some account of him, as well as of the “Literary Society.”

About this same time there existed, perhaps in opposition to, or in ridicule of the “Literary Society,” a junto formed by the young ladies, together with the students of medicine, and other young men of New York, and called the “Dreaming Society” one or more of whose members were appointed at each meeting to prepare an essay for the next, (either in prose or verse,) which essay was either to be a dream, or to represent the essayist as having obtained it by means of a dream, or to have written it while asleep. The sisters of Lindley Murray; the late Dr. Samuel L. Mitchell; Mr. Dunlap, (we believe,) the author of the “History of the American Theatre;” and Judge Hoffman, were members.

The separate printing of this essay, attributed to “Mr. Gilchrist,” at this early place in the issue betrays the confusion in the SLM office, for it is followed, some pages later, by “Essays of Gilchrist. II.” — to which there is this note: “* See the last Messenger” (p. 770). The last item on [column 2:] the final page of this issue shows that Poe caught the error very late: “ERRATUM. — The Essay on Friendship, in the present number, and to which a footnote of some length is appended, should have been embraced under the general head of the Essays of Gilchrist, also in this number. The mistake occurred by our supposing the Essay on Friendship to have appeared in the last Messenger” (p. 788).

(b) A footnote to Thomas R. Dew’s “Address” (pp. 760-69); already published as a pamphlet by White and noticed by Poe): “*Repeated calls from the friends of William and Mary, as well as our own high estimation of this Address, have induced us to publish it. It will be understood, of course, that the M.S. originally, was solicited of Professor Dew for publication, by a Committee on the part of the Students. We omit the correspondence as of no general interest.”

(c) An explanatory note: “A press of business connected with some necessary arrangements for Volume the Third, has prevented us from paying, in this Messenger, the usual attention to our Critical Department. We have many books now lying by us which we propose to notice fully in our next. With this number we close Volume the Second” (p. 788). There is no mention of the printers’ strike

3. Three critical notices (pp. 784-88), printed and discussed below. All are accepted as Poe’s by Hull (pp. 166-69), Mabbott (MS. Notes, Folder 1), and the Poe Log, p. 235.






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