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EDGAR ALLAN POE - Part 19


The pendulum has swung back and forth, and, in spite of Mr. George E. Woodberry's attempt more than twenty years ago to stop it on centre, it continues to swing up to the present day.

Poe says in one of his letters that Graham made him a good offer to return to the magazine. It is not likely that White or Burton or Graham ever willingly gave up Poe's services. Difficult as he was to get along with, he was the best editor in the country and put money in the pockets of his employers. Perhaps the reason he did not return to Graham, who remained friendly to him, is that he still had hopes of getting a clerkship in Washington and was out again with a prospectus of his will-o'-the-wisp magazine. This time he went so far as to find a partner and make a contract with Darley for illustrations. The scheme came to naught, and he did not get the appointment to the sinecure under the government. When he went to Washington to see about it, he fell by the wayside and caused his friends embarrassment and anxiety. An attempt to issue his prose romances in a series of volumes failed with the first number. His only good luck about this time was to win a hundred dollars for " The Gold Bug, 7 ' which was published in the Philadelphia Dollar Newspaper in June, 1843. The other publications of this year include "The Conqueror Worm," "Lenore," and the stories "The Tell tale Heart" and "The Black Cat,"- gloomy parables on the theme that murder will out. Toward the end of the year he gave his lecture on poetry, which contained the substance of the "Notes on English Verse" and the offensive remarks, whatever they were, about Griswold.

The essay on "Mr. Griswold and the Poets," as it remains in Poe's work, will repay the reading of it to which one is led by its peculiar biographical interest. It is cool, discerning, and just, and it shows the larger philosophical principles with which Poe surrounded his remarks about now forgotten books. In an age when many things are being written about America, the opening paragraphs of Poe's essay are fresh after sixty years. The first tells the truth about Poe's mind, the second the truth about American literature, although the faith which Poe then expressed has been delayed in fulfillment. The passage serves, too, to show the point, balance, and ease of Poe's writing.

"That we are not a poetical people has been asserted so often and so roundly, both at home and abroad, that the slander, through mere dint of repetition, has come to be received as truth. Yet nothing can be farther removed from it. The mistake is but a portion, or corollary, of the old dogma, that the calculating faculties are at war with the ideal; while, in fact, it may be demonstrated that the two divisions of mental power are never to be found in perfection apart. The highest order of the imaginative intellect is always pre-eminently mathematical; and the converse.

"The idiosyncrasy of our political position has stimulated into early action whatever practical talent we possessed. Even in our national infancy we evinced a degree of utilitarian ability which put to shame the mature skill of our forefathers. While yet in leading-strings, we proved ourselves adepts in all the arts and sciences which promote the comfort of the animal man. But the arena of exertion, and of consequent distinction, into which our first and most obvious wants impelled us has been regarded as the field of our deliberate choice. Our necessities have been mistaken for our propensities. Having been forced to make railroads, it has been deemed impossible that we should make verse. Because it suited


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