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bose, the detailed, the voluminous, the inaccessible.
On the other hand, the lightness of the artillery
should not degenerate into popgunnery by which
term we may designate the character of the greater
portion of the newspaper press their sole legitimate
object being the discussion of ephemeral matters in
an ephemeral manner. Whatever talent may be
brought to bear upon our daily journals, and in
many cases this talent is very great, still the impera
tive necessity of catching, currente calamo, each topic
as it flits before the eye of the public, must of course
materially narrow the limits of their power. The
bulk and the period of issue of the monthly maga
zines, seem to be precisely adapted, if not to all the
literary wants of the day, at least to the largest and



72 EDGAR ALLAN POE

most imperative, as well as the most consequential
portion of them.

XXVI.

My friend , can never commence what he

fancies a poem (he is a fanciful man, after all)
without first elaborately "invoking the Muses."
Like so many she-dogs of John of Nivelles, however,
the more he invokes them, the more they decline
obeying the invocation.

XXVII.

The nose of a mob is its imagination. By this,
at any time, it can be quietly led.

XXVIII.

There lies a deep and sealed well

Within yon leafy forest hid,
Whose pent and lonely waters swell

Its confines chill and drear amid.

This putting the adjective after the noun is, merely,
an inexcusable Gallicism ; but the putting the prepo
sition after the noun is alien to all language, and in
opposition to all its principles. Such things, in
general, serve only to betray the versifier s poverty
of resource ; and, when an inversion of this kind occurs,
we say to ourselves, Here the poet lacked the skill
to make out his line without distorting the natural
or colloquial order of the words." Now and then,
however, we must refer the error not to deficiency
of skill, but to something far less defensible to an
idea that such things belong to the essence of poetry
that it needs them to distinguish it from prose
that we are poetical, in a word, very much in the
ratio of our unprosaicalness at these points. Even



MARGINALIA 73

while employing the phrase "poetic license," a
phrase which has to answer for an infinity of sins
people who think in this way seem to have an indis
tinct conviction that the license in question involves
a necessity of being adopted. The true artist will avail
himself of no "license" whatever. The very word
will disgust him; for it says "Since you seem
unable to manage without these peccadillo advan
tages, you must have them, I suppose; and the world,
half-shutting its eyes, will do its best not to see
the awkwardness which they stamp upon your
poem."

Few things have greater tendency than inversion,
to render verse feeble and ineffective. In most
cases where a line is spoken of as "forcible," the
force may be referred to directness of expression.
A vast majority of the passages which have become
household through frequent quotation, owe their
popularity either to this directness, or, in general,
to the scorn of "poetic license." In short, as re
gards verbal construction, the more prosaic a poetical
style is, the better. Through this species of pro-
saicism, Cowper, with scarcely one of the higher po
etical elements, came very near making his age fancy
him the equal of Pope ; and to the same cause are at
tributable three-fourths of that unusual point and
force for which Moore is distinguished. It is the
prosaicism of these two writers to which is owing
their especial quotability.

XXIX.



The Reverend Arthur Coxe s " Saul, a Mystery," having
been condemned in no measured terms by Poe, of "The
Broadway Journal," and Green of "The Emporium," a
writer in the "Hartford Columbian" retorts as follows:



74 EDGAR ALLAN POE

An entertaining history,

Entitled " Saul, a Mystery,"
Has recently been published by the Rev rend Arthur Coxe

The poem is dramatic,

And the wit of it is attic,
And its teachings are emphatic of the doctrines orthodox.

But Mr. Poe, the poet,

Declares he cannot go it
That the book is very stupid, or something of that sort.

And Green, of the Empori-

Um, tells a kindred story,
And swears like any tory that it isn t worth a groat.

But maugre all the croaking
he Raven and the joking

Of the verdant 1 fellow of the used to be review,
. ue People, in derision
Of their impudent decision,

Have declared, without division, that the Mystery wiU d .



The truth, of course, rather injures an epigram than
otherwise; and nobody will think the worse of the
one above, when I say that, at the date of its first
appearance, I had expressed no opinion whatever of
the poem to which it refers. "Give a dog a bad
name," &c. Whenever a book is abused, people
take it for granted that is it / who have been abusing
it.

Latterly I have read Saul," and agree with the epi
grammatist, that it "will do" whoever attempts
to wade through it. It will do, also, for trunk-
paper. The author is right in calling it " A Mystery
for a most unfathomable mystery it is. When I
got to the end of it, I found it more mysterious than
ever and it was really a mystery how I ever did get
to the end which I half fancied that somebody had
cut off, in a fit of ill-will to the critics. I have heard
not a syllable about the "Mystery," of late days.



MARGINALIA 75

"The People" seem to have forgotten it; and Mr.
Coxe s friends should advertise it under the head of
"Mysterious Disappearance" that is to say, the
disappearance of a Mystery.

XXX.

The vox populi, so much talked about to so little
purpose, is, possibly, that very vox el preterea nihil
which the countrymen, in Catullus, mistook for
a nightingale.

XXXI.

The pure Imagination chooses, from either Beauty
or Deformity, only the most combinable things hith
erto uncombined ; the compound, as a general rule,
partaking, in character, of beauty, or sublimity,
in the ratio of the respective beauty or sublimity of
the things combined which are themselves still to
be considered as atomic that is to say, as previous
combinations. But, as of;cn analogously happens
in physical chemistry, so not unfrequently does it
occur in this chemistry of the intellect, that the
admixture of two elements results in a something
that has nothing of the qualities of one of them, or
even nothing of the qualities of either. . . . Thus,
the range of Imagination is unlimited. Its materials
extend throughout the universe. Even out of de
formities it fabricates that Beauty which is at once
its sole object and its inevitable test. But, in
general, the richness or force of the matters com
bined; the facility of discovering combinable novel
ties worth combining; and, especially, the absolute
"chemical combination" of the completed mass
are the particrlars to be regarded in our estimate



76 EDGAR ALLAN POE

of Imagination. It is this thorough harmony of an
imaginative work which so often causes it to be un
dervalued by the thoughtless, through the character
of obviousness which is superinduced. We are apt
to find ourselves asking why it is that these com
binations have never been imagined before.

XXXII.

In examining trivial details, we are apt to over
look essential generalities. Thus M , in making

a to-do about the "typographical mistakes" in
his book, has permitted the printer to escape a
scolding which he did richly deserve a scolding for
a "typographical mistake" of really vital impor
tance the mistake of having printed the book at all.

XXXIII.

It has been well said of the French orator, Dupin,
that "he spoke, as nobody else, the language of
everybody"; and thus his manner seems to be
exactly conversed in that of the Frogpondian
Euphuists, who, on account of the familiar tone in
which they lisp their outre phrases, may be said to
speak, as everybody, the language of nobody
that is to say, a language emphatically their own.

XXXIV.

He (Bulwer) is the most accomplished writer of the most
accomplished era of English Letters; practising all styles
and classes of composition, and eminent in all novelist,
dramatist, poet, historian, moral philosopher, essayist,
critic, political pamphleteer; in each superior to all others,
and only rivalled in each by himself. Ward author of
" Tremaine."



MARGINALIA 77

The "only rivalled in each by himself," here,
puts me in mind of

None but himself can be his parallel.

But surely Mr. Ward (who, although he did
write "De Vere," is by no means a fool) could never
have put to paper, in his sober senses, anything so
absurd as the paragraph quoted above, without
stopping at every third word to hold his sides, or
thrust his pocket-handkerchief into his mouth.
If the serious intention be insisted upon, however,
I have to remark that the opinion is the mere opinion
of a writer remarkable for no other good trait than
his facility at putting his readers to sleep according
to rules Addisonian, and with the least possible
loss of labor and time. But as the mere opinion of
even a Jeffrey or a Macaulay, I have an inalienable
right to meet it with another.

As a novelist, then, Bulwer is far more than
respectable; although generally inferior to Scott,
Godwin, D Israeli, Miss Burney, Sue, Dumas,
Dickens, the author of "Ellen Wareham," and the
author of "Jane Eyre," and several others. From
the list of foreign novels I could select a hundred
which he could neither have written nor conceived.
As a dramatist, he deserves more credit, although
he receives less. His "Richelieu," "Money," and
"Lady of Lyons," have done much in the way of
opening the public eyes to the true value of what
is superciliously termed "stage effect" in the hands
of one able to manage it. But if commendable at
this point, his dramas fail egregiously in points
more important; so that, upon the whole, he can
be said to have written a good play, only when we
think of him in connexion with the still more con
temptible "old-dramatist" imitators who are his



78 EDGAR ALLAN POE

contemporaries and friends. As historian, he is
sufficiently dignified, sufficiently ornate, and more
than sufficiently self-sufficient. His Athens would
have received an Etonian prize, and has all the happy
air of an Etonian prize-essay re-vamped. His
political pamphlets are very good as political pam
phlets and very disreputable as anything else. His
essays leave no doubt upon any body s mind that,
with the writer, they have been essays indeed. His
criticism is really beneath contempt. His moral
philosophy is the most ridiculous of all the moral
philosophies that ever have been imagined upon
earth.

"The men of sense," says Helvetius, "those idols
of the unthinking, are very far inferior to the men
of passions. It is the strong passions which,
rescuing us from sloth, can alone impart to us that
continuous and earnest attention necessary td great
intellectual efforts."

When the Swiss philosopher here speaks of
"inferiority," he refers to inferiority in worldly
success: by "men of sense" he intends indolent
men of genius. And Bulwer is, emphatically, one
of the "men of passions" contemplated in the
apothegm. His passions, with opportunities, have
made him what he is. Urged by a rabid ambition
to do much, in doing nothing he would merely have
proved himself an idiot. Something he has done.
In aiming at Crichton, he has hit the target an inch
or two above Harrison Ainsworth. Not to such
intellects belong the honors of universality. His
works bear about them the unmistakable indica
tions of mere talent talent, I grant, of an unusual
order, and nurtured to its extreme of development
with a very tender and elaborate care. Neverthe
less, it is talent still. Genius it is not.



MARGINALIA 79

And the proof is, that while we often fancy our
selves about to be enkindled beneath its influence,
fairly enkindled we never are. That Bulwer is no
poet, follows as a corollary from what has been
already said : for to speak of a poet without genius,
is merely to put forth a flat contradiction in terms.



XXXV.

In the tale proper wheie there is no space for
development of character or for great profusion and
variety of incident mere construction is, of course,
far more imperatively demanded than in the novel.
Defective plot, in this latter, may escape observa
tion, but in the tale, never. Most of our tale-
writers, however, neglect the distinction. They
seem to begin their stories without knowing how
they are to end; and their ends, generally, like
so many governments of Trinculo appea** to have
forgotten their beginnings.

XXXVI.

Quaintness, within reasonable limits, is not only
not to be regarded as affectation, but has its proper
uses, in aiding a fantastic effect. Miss Barrett will
afford me two examples. In some lines to a Dog,
she says:

Leap! thy broad tail waves a light.
Leap, thy slender feet are bright,

Canopied in fringes.
Leap! those tasselled ears of thine
Flicker strangely fair and fine

Down their golden inches.



8o EDGAR ALLAN POE

And again in the "Song of a Tree-Spirit."

The Divine impulsion cleaves

In dim movements to the leaves

Dropt and lifted dropt and lifted

In the sun-light greenly sifted

In the sun-light and the moon-light

Greenly sifted through the trees.

Ever wave the Eden trees

In the night-light and the moon-light,

With a ruffling of green branches

Shaded off to resonances

Never stirred by rain or breeze.

The thoughts here belong to a high order of
poetry, but could not have been wrought into
effective expression, without the aid of those repeti
tions those unusual phrases those quaintnesses,
in a word, which it has been too long the fashion to
censure, indiscriminately, under the one general
head of "affectation." No poet will fail to be
pleased with the two extracts I have here given;
but no dc ubt there are some who will find it hard to
reconcile the psychal impossibility of refraining
from admiration, with the too-hastily attained
mental conviction that, critically, there is nothing
to admire.

XXXVII.

Mozart declared, on his death-bed, that he "began
to see what may be done in music"; and it is to be
hoped that De Meyer and the rest of the spasmodists
will, eventually, begin to understand what may
not be done in this particular branch of the Fine
Arts.

XXXVIII.

For my part I agree with Joshua Barnes : nobody
but Solomon could have written the Iliad. The
catalogue of ships was the work of Robins.



MARGINALIA 81

XXXIX.

In Colton s "American Review" for October,
1845, a gentleman, well known for his scholarship,
has a forcible paper on "The Scotch School of
Philosophy and Criticism." But although the paper
is "forcible," it presents the most singular admixture
of error and truth the one dovetailed into the
other, after a fashion which is novel to say the least
of it. Were I to designate in a few words what
the whole article demonstrated, I should say "the
folly of not beginning at the beginning of neglecting
the giant Moulineau s advice to his friend Ram."
Here is a passage from the essay in question:

The Doctors [Campbell and Johnson] both charge Pope
with error and inconsistency: error in supposing that in
English, of metrical lines unequal in the number of syllables
and pronounced in equal times, the longer suggests celerity
(this being the principle of the Alexandrine:) inconsist
ency, in that Pope himself uses the same contrivance to
convey the contrary idea of slowness. But why in English?
It is not and cannot be disputed that, in the hexameter
verse of the Greeks and Latins which is the model in this
matter what is distinguished as the "dactylic line" was
uniformly applied to express velocity. How was it to do
so? Simply from the fact of being pronounced in an equal
time with, while containing a greater number of syllables
or "bars" than the ordinary or average measure; as, on the
other hand, the spondaic line, composed of the minimum
number, was, upon the same principle, used to indicate
slowness. So, too, of the Alexandrine in English versi
fication. No, says Campbell, there is a difference: the
Alexandrine is not in fact, like the dactylic line, pronounced
in the common time. But does this alter the principle?
What is the rationale of Metre, whether the classical hex
ameter or the English heroic? "

I have written an essay on the "Rationale of
Verse," in which the whole topic is surveyed abinitio,
VOL. VII 6



82 EDGAR ALLAN POE

and with reference to general and immutable
principles. To this essay I refer Mr. Bristed. In
the meantime, without troubling myself to ascertain
whether Doctors Johnson and Campbell are wrong,
or whether Pope is wrong, or whether the reviewer
is right or wrong, at this point or at that, let me
succinctly state what is the truth on the topics at
issue. And first; the same principles, in all cases,
govern all verse. What is true in English is true
in Greek. Secondly; in a series of lines, if one line
contains more syllables than the law of the verse
demands, and if, nevertheless, this line is pronounced
in the same time, upon the whole, as the rest of the
lines, then this line suggests celerity on account
of the increased rapidity of enunciation required.
Thus in the Greek hexameter the dactylic lines
those most abounding in dactyls serve best to
convey the idea of rapid motion. The spondaic
lines convey that of slowness. Thirdly; it is a gross
mistake to suppose that the Greek dactylic line is
"the model in this matter" the matter of the
English Alexandrine. The Greek dactylic line is
of the same number of feet bars beats pulsa
tions as the ordinary dactylic-spondaic lines among
which it occurs. But the Alexandrine is longer by
one foot by one pulsation than the pentameters
among which it arises. For its pronunciation it
demands more time, and therefore, ceteris paribus,
it would well serve to convey the impression of length,
or duration, and thus, indirectly, of slowness. I
say ceteris paribus. But, by varying conditions,
we can effect a total change in the impression
conveyed. When the idea of slowness is conveyed
by the Alexandrine, it is not conveyed by any slower
enunciation of syllables that is to say, it is not
directly conveyed but indirectly, through the idea



MARGINALIA 83

of length in the whole line. Now, if we wish to
convey, by means of an Alexandrine, the impression
of velocity, we readily do so by giving rapidity to
our enunciation of the syllables composing the
several feet. To effect this, however, we must have
more syllables, or we shall get through the whole
line too quickly for the intended time. To get
more syllables, all we have to do, is to use, in place
of iambuses, what our prosodies call anapaests.*
Thus in the line,

Flies o er the unbending corn and skims along the main,

the syllables "the unbend" form an anapaest and,
demanding unusual rapidity of enunciation, in
order that we may get them in the ordinary time
of an iambus, serve to suggest celerity. By the
elision of e in the, as is customary, the whole of the
intended effect is lost; for th unbend is nothing more
than the usual iambus. In a word, whenever an
Alexandrine expresses celerity, we shall find it to
contain one or more anapaests the more anapaests,
the more decided the impression. But the tendency
of the Alexandrine consisting merely of the usual
iambuses, is .j convey slowness although it conveys
this idea feebly, on account of conveying it indirectly.
It r ollows, from what I have said, that the common
pentameter, interspersed with anapaests, would bet
ter convey celerity than the Alexandrine interspersed
with them in a similar degree; and it unquestion
ably does.

* I use the prosodial word "anapaest," merely because here I
have no space to show what the reviewer will admit I have
distinctly shown in the essay referred to viz. : that the addi
tional syllable introduced, does not make the foot an anapaest,
or the equivalent of an anapaest, and that, if it did, it would
spoil the line. On this topic, and on all topics connected with
yerce, there is not a prosody in existence which is not a mere
jumble of the grossest error.



84 EDGAR ALLAN POE

XL.

This "species of nothingness" is quite as reason
able, at all events, as any "kind of something-
ness." See Cowley s "Creation," where,

An unshaped kind of something first appeared.
XLI.

If any ambitious man have a fancy to revolution
ize, at one effort, the universal world of human
thought, human opinion, and human sentiment,
the opportunity is his own the road to immortal
renown lies straight, open, and unencumbered before
him. All that he has to do is to write and publish
a very little book. Its title should be simple a
few plain words "My Heart Laid Bare." But
this little book must be true to its title.

Now, is it not very singular that, with the rabid
thirst for notoriety which distinguishes so many
of mankind so many, too, who care not a fig what
is thought of them after death, there should not be
found one man having sufficient hardihood to write
this little book? To write, I say. There are ten
thousand men who, if the book were once written,
would laugh at the notion of being disturbed by its
publication during their life, and who could not
even conceive why they should object to its being
published after their death. But to write it there
is the rub. No man dare write it. No man ever
will dare write it. No man could write it, even if
he dared. The paper would shrivel and blaze at
every touch of the fiery pen.

XLII.

All that the man of genius demands for his exalta
tion is moral matter in motion. It makes no dif-



MARGINALIA 85

ference whither tends the motion whether for him
or against him and it is absolutely of no consequence
"what is the matter."

XLIII.

To converse well, we need the cool tact of talent^
to talk well, the glowing abandon of genius. Men
of very high genius, however, talk at one time very
well, at another very ill: well, when they have full
time, full scope, and a sympathetic listener : ill , when
they fear interruption and are annoyed by the impos
sibility of exhausting the topic during that particular
talk. The partial genius is flashy scrappy. The true
genius shudders at incompleteness imperfection
and usually prefers silence to saying the something
which is not everything that should be said. He
is so filled with his theme that he is dumb, first
from not knowing how to begin, where there seems
eternally beginning behind beginning, and secondly
from preceiving his true end at so infinite a distance.
Sometimes, dashing into a subject, he blunders,
hesitates, stops short, sticks fast, and because he
has been overwhelmed by the rush and multiplicity
of his thoughts, his hearers sneer at his inability
to think. Such a man finds his proper element in
those "great occasions" which confound and pros
trate the general intellect.

Nevertheless, by his conversation, the influence
of the conversationist upon mankind in general,
is more decided than that of the talker by his talk :
the latter invariably talks to best purpose with his
pen. And good conversationists are more rare
than respectable talkers. I know many of the
latter; and of the former only five or six: among
whom I can call to mind, just now, Mr. Willis, Mr.



86 EDGAR ALLAN POE

J. T. S. Sullivan, of Philadelphia, Mr. W. M. R., of

Petersburg, Va., and Mrs. S d, formerly of New

York. Most people, in conversing, force us to curse
our stars that our lot was not cast among the African
nation mentioned by Eudoxus the savages who
having no mouths, never opened them, as a matter
of course. And yet, if denied mouth, some persons
whom I have in my eye would contrive to chatter
on still as they do now through the nose.

XLIV.

I cannot tell how it happens, but, unless, now
and then, in a case of portrait-painting, very few
f our artists can justly be held guilty of the crime
imputed by Apelles to Portogenes that of "being
too natural."

XLV.

It was a pile of the oyster, which yielded the precious
pearls of the South, and the artist had judiciously painted
some with their lips parted, and showing within the large
precious fruit in the attainment of which Spanish cupidity
had already proved itself capable of every peril, as well as
every crime. At once true and poetical, no comment could
kave been more severe, &c. Mr. Simms Damsel of Darien.

Body of Bacchus! only think of poetical beauty
in the countenance of a gaping oyster !

And how natural, in an age so fanciful, to believe that the
stars and starry groups beheld in the new world for the first


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