Margaret Fuller, Critic: Writings from the New-York Tribune, 1844-1846

By Judith Mattson Bean; Joel Myerson | Go to book overview

[Review of Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven and Other Poems]

Mr. Poe throws down the gauntlet in his preface, by what he says of “the paltry compensations or more paltry commendations of mankind.” Some champion might be expected to start up from the “somewhat sizeable” class embraced, or more properly speaking, boxed on the ear, by this defiance, who might try whether the sting of Criticism was as indifferent to this knight of the pen as he professes its honey to be.

Were there such a champion, gifted with acumen to dissect, and a swift glancing wit to enliven the operation, he could find no more legitimate subject, no fairer game than Mr. Poe, who has wielded the weapons of criticism, without relenting, whether with the dagger he rent and tore the garment in which some favored Joseph had pranked himself,1 secure of honor in the sight of all men, or whether with uplifted tomahawk he rushed upon the newborn children of some hapless genius, who had fancied and persuaded his friends to fancy that they were beautiful and worthy a long and honored life.2 A large band of these offended dignitaries and aggrieved parents must be on the watch for a volume of “Poems by Edgar A. Poe,” ready to cut, rend and slash in turn, and hoping to see his own Raven left alone to prey upon the slaughter of which it is the herald.

Such joust and tournament we look to see, and, indeed, have some stake in the matter so far as we have friends whose wrongs cry aloud for the avenger. Natheless we could not take part in the melée, except to join the crowd of lookers-on in the cry—Heaven speed the right!

____________________
1
In the Bible, Joseph's coat of many colors set him off from his brothers and made them turn against him.
2
Fuller may have had in mind Poe's review of the Poems of her brother-in-law, William Ellery Channing the Younger (1817–1901), which began by complaining, “Were we to quote specimens under the general head of ‘utter and irredeemable nonsense,’ we should quote nine tenths of the book.” Indeed, wrote Poe, the main mistake of Channing's poems was “that of their having been printed at all” (Graham's Magazine, 23 [August 1843]: 113–17).

-271-

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