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time by the native of the old were especially assigned for its
government and protection.

Now, if by the old world be meant the east, and
by the new world the west, I am at a loss to know
what are the stars seen in the one which cannot be
equally seen in the other. Mr. Simms has abundant



MARGINALIA 87

faults or had; among which inaccurate English,
a proneness to revolting images, and pet phrases,
are the most noticeable. Nevertheless, leaving
out of the question Brockden, Brown, and Hawthorne,
(who are each a genius,) he is immeasurably the best
writer of fiction in America. He has more vigor,
more imagination, more movement, and more
general capacity than all our novelists (save Cooper)
combined.

XL VI.

All in a hot a^. . copper sky

The bloody sun at noon
Just up above the mast did stand,

No bigger than the moon. COLERIDGE.

Is it possible that the poet did not know the
apparent diameter of the moon to be greater than
that of the sun?

XLVII.

Here is an edition,* which, so far as microscopical
excellence and absolute accuracy of typography are
concerned, might well be prefaced with the phrase
of the Koran "There is no error in this book.
We cannot call a single inverted o an error can
we? But I am really as glad of having found that
inverted o, as ever was a Columbus or an Archimedes.
What, after all, are continents discovered, or silver
smiths exposed? Give us a good o turned upside-
down, and a whole herd of bibliomanic Arguses
overlooking it for years.

XLVIII.

That sweet smile and serene that smile never seen but
upon the face of the dying and the dead. Earnest Maltra*
vers.

* Camoens Genoa 1798.



88 EDGAR ALLAN POE

Bulwer is not the man to look a stern fact in the
face. He would rather sentimentalize upon a
vulgar although picturesque error. Who ever really
saw anything but horror in the smile of the dead?
We so earnestly desire to fancy it "sweet" that
is the source of the mistake; if, indeed, there ever
was a mistake in the question.

XLIX.

The misapplication of quotations is clever, and
has a capital effect, when well done; but Lord
Brougham has not exactly that kind of capacity
which the thing requires. One of the best hits in
this way is made by Tieck, and I have lately seen
it appropriated, with interesting complacency, in
an English magazine. The author of the "Journey
into the Blue Distance," is giving an account of
some young ladies, not very beautiful, whom he
caught in mediis rebus, at their toilet. "They were
curling their monstrous heads," says he, "as Shak-
speare says of the waves in a storm"

L.

Here are both Dickens and Bulwer perpetually
using the adverb "directly" in the sense of "as soon
as. " " Directly he came I did so and so. Directly
I knew it I said this and that." But observe!
"Grammar is hardly taught," [in the United States,]
"being thought an unnecessary basis for other learn
ing." I quote "America and her Resources" by the
British Counsellor at Law, John Bristed.

LI.

At Ermenonville, too, there is a striking instance
of the Gallic rhythm with which a Frenchman



MARGINALIA 89

regards the English verse. There Gerardin has the
following inscription to the memory of Shenstone :

This plain stone

To William Shenstone.
In his writings he displayed

A mind natural;
At Leasowes he laid

Arcadian greens rural.

There are few Parisians, speaking English, who
would find anything particularly the matter with
this epitaph.

LIL

Upon her was lavished the enthusiastic applause
of the most correct taste, and of the deepest sensi
bility. Human triumph, in all that is most exciting
and delicious, never went beyond that which she
experienced or never but in the case of Taglioni.
For what are the extorted adulations that fall to
the lot of the conqueror? what even are the
extensive honors of the popular author his far-
reaching fame his high influence or the most
devout public appreciation of his works to that
rapturous approbation of the personal woman
that spontaneous, instant, present, and palpable
applause those irrepressible acclamations those
eloquent sighs and tears which the idolized Malibran
at once heard, and saw, and deeply felt that she
deserved? Her brief career was one gorgeous
dream for even the many sad intervals of her
grief were but dust in the balance of her glory. In
this book* I read much about the causes which
curtailed her existence; and there seems to hang

* "Memoirs and Letters of Madame Malibran," by the
Countess of Merlin.



9 o EDGAR ALLAN POE

around them, as here given, an indistinctness which
the fair memorialist tries in vain to illumine. She
seems never to approach the full truth. She seems
never to reflect that the speedy decease was bu. a
condition of the rapturous life. No thinking person,
hearing Malibran sing, could have doubted that
she would die in the spring of her days. She
crowded ages into hours. She left the world at
twenty-five, having existed her thousands of years.

LIII.

"Accursed be the heart that does not wildly throb, and
palsied be the eye that will not weep over the woes of the
wanderer of Switzerland." Monthly Register, 1807.



is "dealing damnation round the land" to
some purpose; upon the reader, and not upon the
author, as usual. For my part I shall be one of the
damned; for I hare in vain endeavored to see even
a shadow of merit in anything ever written by
either of the Montgomeries.

LIV.

Strange that I should here* find the only non-
execrable barbarian attempts at imitation of the
Greek and Roman measures !



LV.

In my reply to the letter signed "Outis," and
defending Mr. Longfellow from certain charges
supposed to have been made against him by myself,
I took occasion to assert that "of the class of wilful

* Forelaesninger over det Danske Sprog, eller resonneret
Dansk Grammatik, ved Jacob Buden.



MARGINALIA 91

plagiarists nine out of ten are authors of established
reputation who plunder recondite, neglected, or
forgotten books." I came to this conclusion a
priori; but experience has confirmed me in it. Here
is a plagiarism from Charming; and as it is per
petrated by an anonymous writer in a monthly
magazine, the theft seems at war with my assertion
until it is sc~n that the magazine in question is
Campbell s "New Monthly" for August, 1828.
Charming, at that time, was comparatively unknown ;
and, besides, the plagiarism appeared in a foreign
country, where there was little probability of
detection. Channing, in his essay on Buonap- te,
says:

We would observe that military talent, even of the highest
order, is far from holding the first place among intellectual
endowments. It is one of the lower forms of genius, for
it is not conversant with the highest and richest objects

of thought Still the chief work of a general is to

apply physical force to remove physical obstructions
to avail himself of physical aids and advantages to act om
matter to overcome rivers, ramparts, mountains, and
human muscles; and these are not the highest objects of
mind, nor do they demand intelligence of the highest order:
and accordingly nothing is more common than to find
men, eminent in this department, who are almost wholly
wanting in the noblest energies of the soul in imagination
and taste in th< capacity of enjoying works of genius
in large views of iruman nature in the moral sciences im
the application of analysis and generalization to the humaa
mind and to society, and in original conceptions on the
great subjects which have absorbed the most glorious under
standings.

The thief in "The New Monthly," says:

Military talent, even of the highest grade, is very far from
holding the first place among intellectual endowments.
It is one of the lower forms of genius, for it is never made
conversant with the more delicate and abstruse of



92 EDGAR ALLAN POE

operations. It is used to apply physical force; to remove
physical force; to remove physical obstructions; to avail
itself of physical aids and advantages; and all these are not
the highest objects of mind, nor do they demand intelligence
of the highest and rarest order. Nothing is more common
than to find men eminent in the science and practice of war,
wholly wanting in the nobler energies of the soul ; in imagina
tion, in taste, in enlarged views of human nature, in the
moral sciences, in the application of analysis and generaliza
tion to the human mind and to society; or in original con
ceptions on the great subjects which have occupied and
absorbed the most glorious of human understandings.

The article in "The New Monthly" is on "The
State of Parties." The italics are mine.

Apparent plagiarisms frequently arise from an
author s self-repetition. He finds that something
he has already published has fallen dead been
overlooked or that it is peculiarly apropos to
another subject now under discussion. He there
fore introduces the passage; often without allusion
to his having printed it before ; and sometimes he
introduces it into an anonymous article. An
anonymous writer is thus, now and then, unjustly
accused of plagiarism when the sin is merely that
of self -repetition. In the present case, however,
there has been a deliberate plagiarism of the silliest
as well as meanest species. Trusting to the obscurity
of his original, the plagiarist has fallen upon the
idea of killing two birds with one stone of dis
pensing with all disguise but that of decoration.
Channing says "order" the writer in the New
Monthly says "grade." The former says that this
order is "far from holding," etc. the latter says
it is "very far from holding." The one says that
military talent is "not conversant," and so on -
the other says "it is never made conversant." The
one speaks of "the highest and richest objects"



MARGINALIA 93

the other of "the more delicate and abstruse."
Channing speaks of "thought " the thief of "mental
operations." Channing mentions "intelligence of
the highest order" the thief will have it of "the
highest and rarest." Channing observes that mili
tary talent is often "almost wholly wanting," etc.
the thief maintains it to be "wholly wanting."
Channing alludes to "large views of human nature"
the thief can be content with nothing less than
"enlarged" ones. Finally, the American having
been satisfied with a reference to "subjects which
have absorbed the most glorious understandings,"
the Cockney puts him to shame at once by dis
coursing about "subjects which have occupied and
absorbed the most glorious of human understand
ings" as if one could be absorbed, without being
occupied, by a subject as if "o/" were here any
thing more than two superfluous letters and as
if there were any chance of the reader s supposing
that the understandings in question were the under
standings of frogs, or jackasses, or Johnny Bulls.

By the way, in a case of this kind, whenever there
is a question as to who is the original and who the
plagiarist, the point may be determined, almost
invariably, by observing which passage is amplified,
or exaggerated, in tone. To disguise his stolen
horse, the uneducated thief cuts off the tail; but the
educated thief prefers tying on a new tail at the
end of the old one, and painting them both sky blue.

LVI.

When I consider the true talent the real force of Mr.
Emerson, I am lost in amazement at finding in him
little more than a respectful imitation of Carlyle. Is
it possible that Mr. E. has ever seen a copy of Seneca?



94 EDGAR ALLAN POE

Scarcely or he would long ago have abandoned
his model in utter confusion at the parallel between
his own worship of the author of "Sartor Resartus"
and the aping of Sallust by Aruntius, as described
in the ii4th Epistle. In the writer of the "History
of the Punic Wars" Emerson is portrayed to the
life. The parallel is close; for not only is the imita
tion of the same character, but the things imi
tated are identical. Undoubtedly it is to be said
of Sallust, far more plausibly than of Carlyle, that
his obscurity, his unusuality of expression, and his
Laconism (which had the effect of diffuseness,
since the time gained in the mere perusal of his
pithinesses is trebly lost in the necessity of cogitating
them out) it may be said of Sallust, more truly
than of Carlyle, that these qualities bore the impress
of his genius, and were but a portion of his unaffected
thought. If there is any difference between Aruntius
and Emerson, this difference is clearly in favor of
the former, who was in some measure excusable,
on the ground that he was as great a fool as the
latter is not.

LVII.

I believe that odors have an altogether peculiar
force, in affecting us through association; a force
differing essentially from that of objects addressing
the touch, the taste, the sight, or the hearing.

LVIII.

It would have been becoming, I think, in Bulwer,
to have made at least a running acknowledgment
of that extensive indebtedness to Arnay s "Private
Life of the Romans,"* which he had so little scruple

* 1764-



MARGINALIA 95

about incurring, during the composition of "The
Last days of Pompeii." He acknowledges, I believe,
what he owes to Sir William Cell s "Pompeiana."
Why this? why not that?

LIX.

One of our truest poets is Thomas Buchanan
Read. His most distinctive features are, first,
"tenderness," or subdued passion, and secondly,
fancy. His sin is imitativeness. At present, al
though evincing high capacity, he is but a copyist
of Longfellow that is to say, but the echo of an
echo. Here is a beautiful thought which is not
the property of Mr. Read:

And, where the spring-time sun had longer shone,
A violet looked up and found itself alone.

Here again: a spirit

Slowly through the lake descended,
Till from her hidden form below
The waters took a golden glow,
As if the star which made her forehead bright
Had burst and filled the lake with light.
Lowell has some lines very similar, ending with.
As if a star had burst within his brain.



LX.

I cannot say that I ever fairly comprehended the
force of the term "insult," until I was given to
understand, one day, by a member of the "North
American Review" clique, that this journal was
"not only willing but anxious to render me that
justice which had been already rendered me by the



96 EDGAR ALLAN POE

Revue Francaise and the Revue des Deux Mmides* "
but was "restrained from so doing" by my
"invincible spirit of antagonism." I wish the
"North American Review" to express no opinion
of me whatever for I have none of it. In the
meantime, as I see no motto on its title-page, let
me recommend it one from Sterne s "Letter from
France." Here it is: "As we rode along the
valley we saw a herd of asses on the top of one of
the mountains how they viewed and reviewed us!"

LXI.

Von Raumer says that Enslen, a German optician,
conceived the idea of throwing a shadowy figure,
by optical means, into the chair of Banquo; and
that the thing was readily done. Intense effect
was produced ; and I do not doubt that an American
audience might be electrified by the feat. But our
managers not only have no invention of their own,
but no energy to avail themselves of that of others.

LXII.

A capital book, generally speaking;* but Mr.
Grattan has a bad habit that of loitering in the
road of dallying and toying with his subjects, as
a kitten with a mouse instead of grasping it firmly
at once and eating it up without more ado. He
takes up too much time in the ante-room. He has
never done with his introductions. Occasionally,
one introduction is but the vestibule to another;
so that by the time he arrives at his main incidents,
there is nothing more to tell. He seems afflicted
with that curious yet common perversity observed

* "High-ways and By-ways."



MARGINALIA 97

in garrulous old women the desire of tantalizing
by circumlocution. Mr. G. s circumlocution, how
ever, is by no means like that which Albany Fon-
blanque describes as "a style of about and about
and all the way round to nothing and nonsense."
... If the greasy-looking lithograph here given
as a frontispiece, be meant for Mr. Grattan, then
is Mr. Grattan like nobody else: for the fact is,
I never yet knew an individual with a wire wig,
or the countenance of an under-done apple dump
ling. ... As a general rule, no man should put his
own face in his own book. In looking at the
author s countenance the reader is seldom in con
dition to keep his own.

LXIII.

Here is a good idea for a Magazine paper: let
somebody "work it up ? : A flippant pretender
to universal acquirement a would-be Crichton
engrosses, for an hour or two, perhaps, the attention
of a large company most of whom are profoundly
impressed by his knowledge. He is very witty,
in especial, at the expense of a modest young gentle
man, who ventures to make no reply, and who,
finally, leaves the room as if overwhelmed with
confusion; the Crichton greeting his exit with a
laugh. Presently he returns, followed by a foot
man carrying an armful of books. These are
deposited on the table. The young gentleman,
now, referring to some penciled notes which he had
been secretly taking during the Crichton s display
of erudition, pins the latter to his statements, each
by each, and refutes them all in turn, by reference
to the very authorities cited by the egotist himself
whose ignorance at all points is thus made apparent.
VOL. VII 7



98 EDGAR ALLAN POE

LXIV.

A long time ago twenty-three or four years at
least Edward C. Pinckney, of Baltimore, pub
lished an exquisite poem entitled "A Health."
It was profoundly admired by the critical fev, but
had little circulation: this for no better . ison
than that the author was born too far South. I
quote a few lines :

Affections are as thoughts to her,

The measures of her hours
Her feelings have the fragrancy,

The freshness of young flowers.
To her the better elements

And kindlier stars have given
A form so fair, that, like the air,

Tis less of Earth than Heaven.

Now, in 1842, Mr. George Hill published "The
Ruins of Athens and Other Poems," and from
one of the "Other Poems" I quote what follows:

And thoughts go sporting through her mind

Like children among flowers;
And deeds of gentle goodness are

The measures of her hours.

In soul or face she bears no trace

Of one from Eden driven,
But like the rainbow seems, though born

Of Earth, a part of Heaven.

Is this- plagiarism or is it not? I merely ask for
information.

LXV.

Had the "George Balcombe" of Professor Beverley
Tucker been the work of any one born North of
Mason and Dixon s line, it would have been long
ago recognised as one of the very noblest fictions



MARGINALIA 99

ever written by an American. It is almost as good
as "Caleb Williams." The manner in which the
cabal of the "North American Review" first write
all our books and then review them, puts me in
mind of the fable about the Lion and the Painter.
It is high time that the literary South took its own
interests into its own charge.

LXVI.

Here is a plot which, with all its complexity, has
no adaptation no dependency; it is involute and

nothing more laving all the air of G s wig, or

the cycles and epicycles in Ptolemy s "Almagest."

LXVII.

We might givr cwo plausible derivations of the
epithet "weeping" as applied to the willow. We
might say that the word has its origin in the pendu
lous character of the long branches, which suggest
the idea of water dripping; or we might assert that
the term comes from a fact in the natural history
of the tree. It has a vast insensible perspiration,
which, upon sudden cold, condenses, and sometimes
is precipitated in a shower. Now, one might very
accurately determine the bias and value of a man s
powers of causality, by observing which of these
two derivations he would adopt. The former is,
beyond question, the true; and, for this reason that
common or vulgar epithets are universally suggested
by common or immediately obvious things,without
strict regard of any exactitude in application : but
the latter would be greedily seized by nine phil
ologists out of ten, for no better cause than its
epigrammatism than the pointedness with which



ioo EDGAR ALLAN POE

the singular fact seems to touch the occasion. Here,
then, is a subtle source of error which Lord Bacon
has neglected. It is an Idol of the Wit.

LXVIII.

In a "Hymn for Christmas," by Mrs. Hemans,
ive find the following stanza:

Oh, lovely voices of the sky

Which hymned the Savior s birth,
Are ye not singing still on high,

Ye that sang " Peace on Earth?"
To us yet speak the strains

Wherewith, in times gone by,
Ye blessed the Syrian swains,

Oh, voices of the sky!

And at page 305 of "The Christian Keepsake and
Missionary Annual for 1840" a Philadelphia An
nual we find "A Christmas Carol," by Richard
W. Dodson: the first stanza running thus:

Angel voices of the sky!

Ye that hymned Messiah s birth,
Sweetly singing from on high

" Peace Goodwill to all on earth!"
Oh, to us impart those strains!

Bid our doubts and fears to cease f
Ye that cheered the Syrians,
Cheer us with that song of peace I

LXIX.

The more there are great excellences in a work, the less
am I surprised at finding great demerits. When a book is
said to have many faults, nothing is decided, and I cannot
tell, by this, whether it is excellent or execrable. It is
said of another that it is without fault; if the account be
just, the work cannot be excellent. Trublet.



MARGINALIA 101

The "cannot" here is much too positive. The
opinions of Trublet are wonderfully prevalent, but
they are none the less demonstrably false. It is
merely the indolence of genius which hac given them
currency. The truth seems to be that genius of
the highest order lives in a state of perpetual vacilla
tion between ambition and the scorn of it. The
ambition of a great intellect is at best negative.
It struggles it labors it creates not because
excellence is desirable, but because to be excelled
where there exists a sense of the power to excel, is
unendurable. Indeed I cannot help thinking that
the greatest intellects (since these most clearly
perceive the laughable absurdity of human ambition)
remain contentedly "mute and inglorious." At all
events, the vacillation of which I speak is the promi
nent feature of genius. Alternately inspired and
depressed, its inequalities of mood are stamped upon
its labors. This is the truth, generally but it is
a truth very different from the assertion involved
in the "cannot" of Trublet. Give to genius a
sufficiently enduring motive, and the result will be
harmony, proportion, beauty, perfection all, in
this case, synonymous terms. Its supposed "inevi
table" irregularities shall not be found: for it is
clear that the susceptibility to impressions of beauty
that susceptibility which is the most important
element of genius implies an equally exquisite
sensitiveness and aversion to deformity. The motive
the enduring motive has indeed, hitherto, fallen
rarely to the lot of genius; but I could point to
several compositions which, "without any fault,"
are yet "excellent " supremely so. The world, too,
is on the threshold of an epoch, wherein, with the
aid of a calm philosophy, such compositions shall be
ordinarily the work of that genius which is true.



102 EDGAR ALLAN POE

One of the first and most essential steps, in over
passing this threshold, will serve to kick out of the
world s way this very idea of Trublet this untenable
and paradoxical idea of the incompatibility of
genius with art.

LXX.

It may well be doubted whether a single paragraph
of merit can be found either in the "Koran" of
Lawrence Sterne, or in the "Lacon" of Colton, of
which paragraph the origin, or at least the germ,
may not be traced to Seneca, to Plutarch, (through
Machiavelli) to Machiavelli himself, to Bacon, to
Burdon, to Burton, to Bolinbroke, to Rochefoucault,
to Blazac, the author of "La Maniere de Bien
Penser," or to Bielfeld, the German, who wrote,
in French, "Les Premiers Traits de L Erudition
Universelle."

LXXI.

A man of genius, if not permitted to choose his
own subject, will do worse, in letters, than if he had
talents none at all. And here how imperatively is
he controlled! To be sure, he can write to suit
himself but in the same manner his publishers
print. From the nature of our copyright laws, he
has no individual powers. As for his free agency,
it is about equal to that of the dean and chapter
of the see-cathedral, in a British election of Bishops
an election held by virtue of the king s writ of
congi d elire specifying the person to be elected.


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