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Dialogue of Cultures

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe:
The Lost Soul of America

by Allen Salisbury

Fidelio, Vol. XV, No, 1 -2. 
Spring/Summer 2006
This article is reprinted from the Spring/Summer 2006 issue of FIDELIO Magazine.

For related articles, scroll down or click here.

Edgar Allan Poe: The Lost Soul of America

by Allen Salisbury

This article, intended as a chapter of a book-length study “Edgar Allan Poe and the Whig CIA,” was first published in the July 1981 issue of The Campaigner magazine (Vol. 14, No. 3). A short biography of Allen Salisbury appears at the end of the article. EDGAR ALLAN POE and the Spirit of the American Republic Campaigner magazine, July 1981

Campaigner magazine, July 1981

In Europe it is often said that you can tell the spirit of a region by its wine. If that is true, then you most assuredly must be able to discern the true soul of a nation by the way in which it honors its poets.

In the Federal Republic of Germany, the great poet Friedrich Schiller’s memory and spirit are kept as a living tradition, albeit by a small and aging core of devoted followers. In Italy, despite attempts to purge the Commedia of Dante Alighieri from the public schools, there are still enough who know him that we may band together to prevent such an occurrence. In Greece, there is still great pride among sections of the population that their country was the birthplace of perhaps the greatest poet of them all, Plato.

In Spain, Cervantes is still revered by an admittedly too small elite. I think that even in the Soviet Union some still take pride in the work of the great Russian poet Pushkin. But in America, here in America, which has for the last 200 years been the recipient of the benefits of the best minds the rest of the world has to offer, the nation has allowed its only poet to be treated in such a despicable manner that one can argue that the very soul of the country has disparted.

This statement is not what some may wish to call hyperbole, others poetic license, still others, metaphor. It is a simple statement of fact.

I do not hold you, the reader, responsible in this matter, because you have been lied to on the subject of poetry and art in general to the point that most of you recoil with visions of Andy Warhol’s soup cans or some group of nuts performing a pagan ritual on stage accompanied by electronic grunts, groans, and screams.

To prove that most of you have been lied to, what do you think of when you hear the name Edgar Allan Poe?

The great majority of you have been told, perhaps by an ignorant or misinformed junior high school teacher, that Poe was some sort of alcoholic or opium-eater. A greater majority of you have images of Vincent Price’s

performances on the Late Late Show or Chiller Theater. In fact, your minds have been filled with so much of this garbage that you have forgotten the intense joy and excitement you experienced when you first read a poem or a tale written by Mr. Poe.

It is my purpose in this excerpt to give an accurate account of who Edgar Allan Poe really was, as well as to show you exactly how, by whom, and for what purpose you have been deliberately misled.

Who Was Edgar Allan Poe?

Perhaps a better title for this section would be “How to Smell a Rat While Reading History Books.” The key to unlocking Poe’s identity is rejecting at once the repeated and hysterical denials by most Poe scholars that Poe was not anything like the detective C. Auguste Dupin he created in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Purloined Letter.”

Once the matter of Poe’s philosophical and political outlook is settled by actually reading what the man wrote—his poetry, tales, and critical essays—one can glean through various biographies and history books, actually using the method of Dupin’s search for the purloined letter, to determine the significance of the lie being retailed to find the relevant empirical proofs that remain in letters and archives to satisfy the ordinary reader that it is a lie.

The particular untruth that Poe was unlike Dupin usually goes along with an assertion that Poe never left the United States, despite what Poe says to the contrary. The evidence usually presented for this assertion comes from the French nut Charles Baudelaire, and consists of pointing out that there are no street names in Paris such as the ones given in Poe’s detective stories.

All this is asserted despite the fact that ample evidence exists to the contrary.

The following letter, written by Alexander Dumas to an Italian police official, proves not only that Poe visited France, but also hints at the nature of Poe’s visit and proves conclusively that Poe’s detective stories were, among other things, autobiographical in nature:

It was about the year 1832. One day an American presented himself at my house with an introduction from his fellow American James Fenimore Cooper. Needless to say I welcomed him with open arms. His name was Edgar Poe. From the outset I realized that I had to deal with a remarkable man; Two or three remarks which he made upon my furniture, the things I had about me, the way my articles of everyday use were strewn about the room and on my moral and intellectual characteristics impressed me with their accuracy and truth.

On the very first day of our acquaintance I freely proferred him my friendship and asked for his. He must certainly have entertained for me a sympathy similar to that I felt for him, for held out his hand to me and the understanding between us was instantaneous and complete.

At this time my mother’s ill health . . . required that she enjoy purer air than that afforded by the more central parts of Paris. She was living in the Luxemburg district, while I had a little house all to myself in the Rue de L’Ouest. I offered to let Poe have two rooms in this house for the duration of his stay in Paris.

Edgar Poe accepted my offer confessing that his financial resources amounted to little more than 300 francs a month accruing to him on a credit from M. Lafite . . . Only, he made his acceptance conditional on one essential stipulation which was that in his mode of life under my roof he should be free to do entirely as he wished, and to comport himself as if the house were his and not mine . . . From the very first day of our association I realized why he had laid down the conditions to which I have referred.

Poe had one curious idiosyncracy. He liked the night better than the day. Indeed, his love of darkness amounted to a passion. But the Goddess of Night could not always afford him her shade and remain with him continually, so he contrived a substitute. As soon as day began to break he hermetically sealed up the windows in his room and lit a couple of candles.

In the midst of this pale illumination, he worked or read or suffered his thoughts to wander in the insubstantial regions of reveries, or else he fell asleep not being always able to indulge in waking dreams. But as soon as the clock told him darkness had come, he would come in for me, and take me out with him if I was there or go forth alone if I was not.

As a general rule I must confess I was ready waiting for him, for these nocturnal expeditions in his company were a source of veritable pleasure. In these rambles I could not help remarking with wonder and admiration (though his rich endowment of ideas should have prepared me for it) on the extraordinary facility of analysis exhibited by my friend. He seemed to delight in giving it play and neglected no opportunity to indulge himself in that pleasure. He made no secret of the enjoyment he derived from it, and would remark with a smile of proud satisfaction that for him every man had an open window where his heart was. And as a rule he accompanied that assertion with an immediate demonstration which having me for its object could leave no doubt in my mind concerning Edgar’s power of divination.

Now consider the following description of Poe’s Detective Dupin from “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.”

Residing in Paris during the spring and part of the summer 18, I there became acquainted with a Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin. This young gentleman was of an excellent—indeed of an illustrious family, but, by a variety of untoward 60 events, had been reduced to . . . poverty . . . It was a freak fancy of my friend . . . to be enamoured of the Night for her own sake; and into this bizarrerie, as into all his others, I quietly fell; giving myself up to his wild whims with a perfect abandon. At the first dawn of the morning we closed all the massy shutters of our old building; lighted a couple of tapers which, strongly perfumed, threw out only the ghastliest and feeblest of rays . . . until warned by the clock of the advent of the true Darkness. Then we sallied forth into the streets. . .

At such times I could not help remarking and admiring . . . a peculiar analytic ability in Dupin.

I might add that the Dumas letter was written four years prior to the first publication of Poe’s Dupin series. Despite the fact that such evidence points us in the proper direction to gather biographical data concerning Poe, it is either denied or dismissed out of hand. For example, historian Harvey Allen says on the very first page of the preface to the second edition of his Israfel— The Life and Times of Edgar Allan Poe:

Since the publication of this biography not a great deal of important material about Poe, from a biographical standpoint, has come to light. What of interest has recently been turned up by scholars I have sometimes availed myself of, now and then, incorporating a few minor facts into the text with the necessary acknowledgment and reference. In that connection it is proper to say that I have not felt it incumbent upon me to mention in the body of the text the so-called “letter” from Dumas the elder to an Italian officer of police, which purports to tell of Dumas’s meeting with Poe and Fenimore Cooper in the year 1832 in Paris, although through the courtesy of the present owner I was permitted to examine the “letter” and the material connected with it . . .

This is the kind of stuff meant to intimidate Master’s or Ph.D. candidates from treading too far into an area which has been marked off limits. Scholars like John Ward Ostrum, Daniel Hoffman, and others echo this view that Poe was far less a character than Dupin, that the inventor of the story was less than his invention.

Quite the contrary, the evidence points to the fact that in the early 1830’s Poe was assisting James Fenimore Cooper in the Marquis de Lafayette’s attempts to establish a French republic for the second time. The Marquis de Lafayette headed the European branch intelligence services for the Society of Cincinnatus, which he founded with George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, and which included Quartermaster General David Poe, Poe’s grandfather and close collaborator of Lafayette during the Revolutionary War.

Cooper’s public activities in France at that time consisted of organizing for a republic in France as well as in Poland. He was instrumental, along with Lafayette, in countering a vicious anti-American propaganda campaign being conducted by British magazines and British-influenced journals in France. Cooper also solicited the aid of his, and later Poe’s, American publisher, economist Mathew Carey. Carey was requested to send to France a refutation of the British propaganda line which claimed that it was cheaper to run an aristocracy like Britain than to run a republic like the United States. Carey had been an associate of Lafayette’s since he worked as an Irish emigré é publishing the dispatches of Benjamin Franklin from Franklin’s print shop in Passy.

The Dumas letter also mentions that Poe was receiving a 300-franc-permonth credit from one M. Lafite. This Lafite was a famous French financier and the architect of much of France’s post-1830’s industrial development. Lafite was also part of Lafayette’s political network in France. His family vineyards still produce some of the finest wines in Europe under the name Lafite Rothschild.

That Poe planned to go to France to aid the allies of Lafayette is clear in this letter that he wrote to Commandant Thayer of West Point shortly after his departure from the Academy:

Sir: Having no longer any ties which can bind me to my native country . . . I intend by the first opportunity to proceed to Paris with the view of obtaining through the interest of the Marquis de Lafayette, an appointment (if possible) in the Polish Army. In the event of the interference of France in behalf of Poland this may easily be effected—at all events it will be my only feasible plan of procedure.

The object of this letter is respectfully to request that you will give me such assistance as may lie in your power in the furtherance of my views.

A certificate of standing in my class is all that I have any right to expect. Anything further—a letter to a friend in Paris—or to the Marquis—would be a kindness which I should never forget.

The name C. Auguste Dupin has also been the subject of much debate among Poe scholars. I will not bother here with some of the suggested sources for the name Dupin, since Poe could have been referring to one person only: Charles A. Dupin of Paris, a leading figure in the Ecole Polytechnique circles of Gaspard Monge, Lazard Carnot, and their associates. It is the Ecole Polytechnique method of scientific investigation that is the subject of Poe’s detective tales, or “tales of ratiocination,” as Poe more properly termed them.

This is no matter of mere conjecture or guesswork. Poe very early in life came under the influence of Supreme Court Justice John Marshall and General Winfield Scott in his home in Richmond, Virginia. In his early teens, Poe was selected to serve as second in command of the Richmond Junior Volunteers honor guard that accompanied Lafayette during his 1824 visit to the city. Lafayette’s visit to Richmond, part of a months-long tour of the United States, was organized by the Cincinnatus Society to secure the Presidential election of John Quincy Adams and to raise funds for Lafayette’s forces in Europe.

Marshall had been influential in helping to establish the Society of Cincinnatus, and Winfield Scott later became an honorary member of the society, with specific charge over matters of military intelligence. General Scott, together with Commandant Thayer, made several trips to Paris for the specific purpose of acquiring the necessary textbooks and related materials to firmly establish the tradition of the Ecole Polytechnique at West Point.

The military-artillery training acquired directly from the French military genius Carnot was taught to West Point upperclassmen at Fortress Monroe, where Poe had enlisted under the pseudonym Edgar Perry. Poe’s commanding officer at Fortress Monroe was Colonel Worth, an aide de camp to General Scott and the former commandant of cadets at West Point. It was Colonel Worth, along with General Scott, who obtained for Poe his cadetship at West Point after Poe had already completed the advanced training. The following letter from Poe to his foster father should prove the point.

. . . I made the request to obtain a cadet’s appointment partly because I know that . . . the appointment could easily be obtained either by your personal acquaintance with Mr. Wert or by the recommendation of General Scott, or even of the officers residing at Fortress Monroe, and partly because in making the request you would at once see to what direction my future views and expectations were inclined.

. . . [The appointment] would be an unprecedented case in the American Army, and having already passed through the practical part of even the higher portion of the Artillery arm, my cadetship would only be considered as a necessary form which I am positive I could run through in six months.

It is also a matter of note that a good portion of the American intelligence community was in France during Poe’s visit. To name a few, these included General Scott, Colonel Worth, James Fenimore Cooper, and the inventor Samuel Morse. Of course, any biography of these individuals will say that their trips to Paris were for reasons of health. Funny how so many great men seem to get sick all at once.

Poe vs. the Clark Brothers

It is often said by Poe’s critics that Poe chose his victims for literary criticism out of jealousy of their success or because he was prejudiced against their literary style for some reason. Even the best of Poe’s biographers only reach the conclusion that Poe’s wrath was directed against the literary cliques because they sought to control the nation’s literature by “puffing” (advertising) the works of fellow clique members. In the case of Willis and Gaylord Clark, who controlled the New York Knickerbocker clique, Poe’s venom struck at the core of matters vital to the United States and its security.

Both brothers were run from the Edinburgh division of the British Secret Intelligence Services. Their literary affairs, and their other assignments, were controlled directly by Sir Walter Scott’s private secretary and literary agent Gordon Lockhardt.

The Clark brothers were instrumental in conducting a vile slander campaign against the vital assistance James Fenimore Cooper was rendering to Lafayette in France.

By besmirching Cooper’s name in the United States, it was hoped that his role as spokesman in Europe for the American form of government could be drastically undercut. Anyone who has read the correspondence between Cooper and Samuel Morse on this matter knows that a great deal of significance was placed on uncovering the source of these attacks and stopping them. Morse wrote to Cooper on February 21, 1833:

By the way, I have something to tell you in relation to the review in the American about which we had so much conversation; I gave you the name of the writer in Paris, on the authority of Lieutenant Pane; since I have been at home it has been declared to me that the review was written here by an obscure clerk in a counting house and Verplank [Gillian Verplank— the Cincinnatus Society was founded at his home] was cited to me as having assured by informant of the fact. Notwithstanding the authority cited, I think the document itself is proof against such an origin. My informers were silenced by my exposé of the matter, and I have heard nothing of the subject for a long time. There has been some trickery in this business and you may depend on it. This clerk, whoever he is, is made father to it, and he might have been the translator. If you can ferret the truth out, and expose this contemptible meanness by ascertaining, as I think you can, whether Nizard actually wrote it, I should delight to see the authors arraigned at the bar of public opinion for their tricks.

Later in July, Morse wrote:

I send you the Evening Post of the 20th inst. being the last shot, and which I fear has sunk the enemy; everyone I meet says so at least. Here are 5 days passed and no answer; I have sincerely been hoping for one, for I am now confident that the more the subject is agitated, the more you will be appreciated and your opposers humbled.

If the controversy has done no other good it has at least shown you who they are, that have been endeavoring to influence the public mind against you. One is E. S. G. the cidevant Secy. of our Polish comtee, who has proved himself a complete blackguard, and as impertinent as the Billingsgate fish woman; in proof of which besides the evidence you have in the American and in the Traveler I have two impudent letters that the fellow has written me signed with his own proper name, and which I keep to show occasionally to my friends to make them acquainted with the kind and quality of Mr. King’s foreign correspondents. This fellow threatens in his last letter to me to send you all that is published against you, and seems to chuckle mightily that he has wounded you and your family; you were little aware what a viper you were cherishing, I mean in temper, not that he has any power, he is too contemptible to notice in that way.

The coadjutator of the Commercial is a different person altogether, one whom you would little suspect as your own brother, it is William Kent; I have learned this since my last piece was written. His is the Paris correspondent of the Commercial; It is not a pretty piece of business altogether? A young aristocrat, for I learn that his feelings are aristocratic, who has scarcely been out of New York gives to the world his sage opinions on foreign politics and to give them weight commits the pious fraud of dating them from Paris! I want to state this before the public and hope that I shall have the chance yet.

But I fear the Commercial & Co. are too well aware of the ticklish ground on which they stand and that they will be mum.

Gould, by the bye, says he has sent to Paris for the Journal de Bats containing the critique and when he gets it intends translating it from the American to show how true you are in calling his translation of that article. Now this fellow will not stick at anything and as he is mad after fame he will probably make a noise again as soon as he gets it. I apprise you of [this] that you may put me in possession of anything you can collect that may be of service in exposing him. Leave him to me, I will serve him up, and exhibit him in his true colors if he or his protectors at the America open their mouths again on the subject.

The way the literary stringers of British intelligence worked is made clear in this postscript to a letter from Willis Gaylord Clark to James Watson Webb, an editor in the clique:

p.s. Do you want to hit Cooper on the raw? See a note to the article “Change for American Notes” in the last London Quarterly Review of Lockhardt? It is a stinger!

“. . . We the Quarterly Review have a claim on Mr. Cooper as a man of honor which he has not chosen to meet. In Mr. Cooper’s work in England he made two very remarkable assertions. . . . The first was that one of the greatest monsters of the reign of terror [The Jacobin period of the French Revolution—AS] was the tool of England . . . The story we pronounced to be an infamous falsehood, and as Mr. Cooper had volunteered to say that he had proof of having had it from Lafayette, we summoned him to produce his proferred proof; he has never done so . . . The other was that an American of Mr. Cooper’s acquaintance distinctly informed him of the fact that Mr. Gifford, the former editor of this review, had admitted to the said American that articles unfavorable to America—low blackguard abuse—were prepared under the direction of the English government to be inserted in the Quarterly Review.

And William Leete Stone, a member of the Clark clique, a Jesuit, and the editor of the New York Commercial Advertiser (mentioned in the Morse letters) joined the fray against Cooper.

. . . Even the government party in France would have no inclination to attack us, if Americans abroad pursued the same reserve in politics which we enforce against Europeans here.

Later, Stone added:

. . . Americans regretted and I along with them, that Cooper had left the American scene which had been the best inspiration of his work, and that our American author had mingled in the strife of politics—volunteering his services as a sort of Republican propagandist in Europe, when no possible good was to result from such a course either to himself or others.

Stone ended his attack by saying that he preferred the Toryism of Sir Walter Scott to the Republicanism of Cooper.

It is no wonder then that one of Poe’s first editorial announcements concerning the literary cliques who paid homage to British masters was the following:

We know that the British bear us little but ill will—we know that in no case do they utter unbiased opinions of American books—we know that in the few instances in which our writers have been treated with common decency in England these writers have either paid homage to English institutions or have had lurking at the bottom of their hearts a secret principle at war with democracy. We do indeed demand the Nationality of Self-respect. In letters as in Govt. we require a Declaration of Independence— a better thing still would be a Declaration of War—and that war should be carried forthwith into Africa.

And declare war Poe did!

Poe’s first major editorial assignment upon his return to the United States was with the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond, Virginia. He acquired this position through the help of John P. Kennedy, himself an author of note whose works were also published by the Carey firm. Kennedy was also one of the founders of the Whig Party in opposition to Jacksonianism, and during his terms in Congress introduced the bill that guaranteed Federal funding for his friend Samuel Morse’s electrical telegraph to be strung from New York to Washington, D.C. Kennedy also served a term as secretary of the Navy during the Administration of Millard Fillmore.

The first major target of Poe’s critical pen was Theodore Sedgewick Fay, who, together with the Clark brothers, owned the New York Mirror and the Knickerbocker magazines. Poe used a review of the widely “puffed” Fay novel Norman Leslie to lob the opening shots of his campaign to destroy this clique literarily as well as politically. Poe wrote the following, mocking the style of the Edinburgh Review, Blackwood’s Magazine, and the Quarterly Review:

Well—here we have it! This is the book—the book par excellence, the book bepuffed, beplastered, and be-Mirrored; the book “attributed to” Mr. Blank, and said to be from the pen of Mr. Asterisk; the book which has been about to appear—“in press”—“in progress”—“in preparation” and “forthcoming;” the book “graphic” in anticipation—“talented” a priori—and God knows what in prospectu. For the sake of everything puffed, puffing, and puffable, let us take a peep at its contents!

Norman Leslie, gentle reader, A Tale of the Present Times, is after all, written by nobody in the world but Theodore S. Fay, and Theodore S. Fay is nobody in the world but “one of the Editors of the New York Mirror. . .”

The review continued in Poe’s typical polemical style. The wrath against Poe delivered by the outraged clique still shows up in slanders in biographies of Poe today.

A Broader View: The Politics of Poetry

Despite the fact that Poe himself spells out his Platonist philosophical and political tradition in his works, legend still has it that Poe was some kind of a mystic. As Poe himself emphasizes at numerous points in his writings, the cultish evil descendants of Aristotle and Sir Francis Bacon were in a conspiracy to wipe out the influence of Platonism. This was not merely some momentary quirk of history, but a fight that extends back, as far as modern knowledge is concerned, to the creation of Plato’s Academy, and whose consequences have shaped the destiny of the human race over centuries, and according to Plato’s own account, back centuries before his own time.

It was the tradition exemplified in the work of Plato and Dante Alighieri which was responsible for the creation of the American republic, and the scientific and literary model for Poe throughout his life. Nearly everything in Dante’s Commedia is Plato viewed through Platonic eyes. The Commedia was not merely a “work of art,” but a political document that played a leading part in shaping the political history of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth centuries. The ideas communicated through the Commedia armed the political intelligence apparatus of the Augustinian networks associated with Petrarch, Chaucer, and others. It is necessary to summarize the argument of the Commedia as has been done by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr. in his A ‘Gaullist’ Solution for Italy’s Monetary Crisis (National Democratic Policy Committee, 1980), and Muriel Mirak in “How Dante Used Poetry to Start the Scientific Renaissance” (The Campaigner, April 1980), so that we understand the point of reference of both Poe and his enemies.

The Commedia is organized in three sections, each containing 33 successive cantos. In each section, the ordering of the cantos reflects an ordering principle. This ordering principle is a transfinite ordering principle, and each of the three differs essentially from the other two. The succession of sections represents a fourth ordering principle, that which is relatively transfinite in respect to the subsumed three as predicates of this higher-order transfinite. The ordering principle (conception) embodied in the 33rd canto of the final section, the Empyreal, is in agreement with the higher-order transfinite ordering of the three sections as a whole. That agreement defines the proper conclusion of the successive development of the entire composition.

The configuration of the Commedia is strictly Platonic in all essential features of organization. In the first section, the “Inferno,” the ordering of the cantos leads us into the pit of hell. This, of course, is an unsatisfactory conclusion for all but the most degraded existentialist Dionysians. The reaching of the pit demonstrates that the characteristic ordering principle of the “Inferno” is not acceptable for the continued existence of mankind. The principle to be superseded is that of heteronomic, irrationalist forms of egoistical sensuality.

Consider the case of Count Ugolino. Ugolino, thrown into prison by persecutors, survives for awhile by eating his children, for which he is condemned to pass eternity gnawing on a skull. Egoistical, heteronomic sensuality superseded all reason or even rational morality in Ugolino. So, like the bronze souls of Plato’s Phoenician myths, Ugolino lives in the hell of being perpetually what he is. It was for this reason that Poe condemned the New England Transcendentalists as “frogpondians,” to sit forever croaking in Dante’s hell.

This first ordering principle must be rejected, negated as a whole. That discovery is embodied in the first canto in the next section of the Commedia, “Purgatory.” In “Purgatory,” this same ordering principle—that of greed, of sensual appetites informed by logical forms of knowledge— proceeds to a second dead end, “Earthly Paradise.” Those in Purgatory’s Earthly Paradise are the silver souls of Plato’s Phoenician myths.

Earthly Paradise is neither hell nor is it the end humanity requires. Purgatory’s ordering principle is superseded when the reader reaches the first canto of the final section of the Commedia, “Paradise.” The achievement of Dante’s Empyreal through that new ordering principle brings us to the desired condition of human existence, the agreement of thought and practice with the higher ordering principle that is demonstrated by the overall course of progress from infantile sensuality to reason. The fact that the conception coincides with the higher ordering principle demonstrates sufficient reason, that we have reached the proper condition of human willful governance of human conduct. We have become the golden souls of Plato’s dialogues.

This was the Platonic tradition of St. Augustine, Dante, John Milton, and the English Commonwealth before the Stuart Restoration. This tradition was the target for destruction by various British and Venetian literary intelligence circles after Great Britain failed to win a military victory during the American Revolution.

The British Secret Intelligence Service branch at Edinburgh had primary responsibility for carrying out this task, but a great deal of the early dirty work was accomplished out of the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Harvard. Edward Tyrell Channing, the teacher of both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, opened the campaign with a tirade against what was called “the tyranny of an Augustan age” in his address before the Phi Beta Kappa Club of Harvard in July 1816.

Let us look at one or two ways in which freedom and originality of mind are assailed or endangered. The first is by inculcating an excessive fondness for the ancient classics and asserting their supremacy in literature. By some means or other the ancients have exerted an enormous influence among literary men, and in nations too that have had hardly anything of real congeniality with them . . .

It may be well too just to hint that it is not foreign models alone which are to be feared. We must also be shy of ourselves. For men of real genius and independence will sometimes introduce dangerous novelties, and make errors and corruptions popular and contagious, however short-lived they may prove. And besides this, there is good reason to fear that every country, as it falls into luxury and refinement, will be doomed to have an Augustan age, a classical era of its own, when fine writers will determine what shall be correct taste, pure language, and legitimate poetry. A domestic master may not be as alarming as a foreigner, and long before a man has ceased to study and love the early literature of his country, he may expect to hear that the old language is barbarous and obsolete and rejected by all chaste authors who wish to keep the national literature uniform and pure. As to all this, a man must judge for himself. And one would think that if there must be models, a writer would do well to go as near to the original as possible, even to the very fathers of poetry. If there is luxury for him in such society, and if his books can find readers, in spite of the old cast about them, let him turn to the rougher and more intrepid ages of his country, before men troubled themselves about elegance or plan and wrote right on as they felt, even though they were uttering a thought for the first time, feeling probably very little concern whether a softer age laughed at or worshipped them—whether theirs was to be called an Augustan era, or merely the plain old English days of Elizabeth.

It was almost as if Channing sensed the importance of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, which had come just seven years before.

Even more vociferous than Channing was his associate, another Phi Beta Kappa member, J.W. Simmons, who wrote: “There is no monopoly of Poetry for certain ages and nations and consequently that despotism in taste by which it is attempted to make those rules universal . . . is a prestige which ought not be allowed.”

The evidence for this conspiracy against culture can go on and on. But to make clear the insidious nature of the conspiracy we shall take a brief look at one John Neal. Neal is little known now, but during his day he was a power broker for the Edinburgh branch of British intelligence in the United States. Neal owned and edited an anti-Augustinian journal called Brother Johnathan, but his most despicable acts were his attacks on the American classicists during a stay in Britain, during which he wrote under a pseudonym for Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine. Neal gloated that the purpose of this publication was to ensure British magazines’ “pre-eminence over Native American Journals.” As Neal put the matter in a letter to Blackwood’s:

They are making prodigious efforts in America now, for the promotion of native literature. Your Maga, I hope and believe, will become a sort of dictator. I wish it for many reasons; for your sake; my own—& for that of America. It will operate a reform there.

After Neal’s stint at Blackwood’s, he moved into the home of Jeremy Bentham, the arch enemy of the American Constitution. In fact, Neal occupied the same rooms only recently vacated by the traitor Aaron Burr. Much of the rest of his life was dedicated to translating the French writings of Bentham and establishing a literary circle in Baltimore called the Delphian Club. The Delphians were exposed by Poe in his “Tales of the Folio Club.”

Neal learned his lessons well from the noted pederast Bentham. Shortly after his return to the United States he was ostracized for attempting to impregnate the nineyear- old daughter of the family which was gracious enough to extend him its hospitality.

The Poetry of Politics

By the time Poe entered on the American literary scene it was infested with a mad variety of sects and cults. Transcendentalists, Carlylists, Knickerbockers, Furriourists, and spiritualists were crawling all over the place. Poe assessed the situation in his very first editorial statement for the Southern Literary Messenger:

When shall the artist assume his proper station in society . . . ? How long shall the veriest vermin of the earth, who crawl around the altar of Mammon, be more esteemed of men than they, the gifted ministers to those exalted emotions which link us to the mysteries of Heaven? To our own query we may venture a reply. Not long. A spirit is already abroad at war with it.

Poe’s proper and most urgent concern, among his other duties, was to reestablish the universal rules of Platonic poetic composition which had earlier been the root of American culture. It was because of his efforts to accomplish this that he incurred the wrath of the literary charlatans, and still angers them today. Poe’s warning that this literary conspiracy was destroying the very soul of America was the subject of many of his tales, including “Mellonta Tauta,” from which I quote a relevant passage.

. . . It appears that long, long ago, in the night of Time there lived a Turkish philosopher (or Hindoo possibly) called Aries Tottle. This person introduced, or at all events propagated what was termed the deductive or a priori mode of investigation. He started with what he maintained to be axioms or “self-evident truths,” and thence proceeded “logically” to results. His greatest disciples were one Nueclid [Euclid—AS] and one Can’t [Kant—AS]. Well, Aries Tottle flourished supreme until advent of one Hog, surnamed “Ettrick Shepherd,” who preached an entirely different system, which he called the a posteriori or inductive. His plan referred altogether to Sensation. [Poe is having a little fun here at the expense of Francis Bacon and James Hogg, a Scottish writer for Blackwood’s Magazine sometimes called the Ettrick Shepherd.—AS] He proceeded by observing, analyzing, and classifying facts—instantiae naturae, as they were affectedly called—into general laws. Aries Tottle’s method, in a word, was based on noumena; Hog’s on phenomena. Well, so great was the admiration excited by this latter system that, at its first introduction, Aires Tottle fell into disrepute; but finally he recovered ground, and was permitted to divide the realm of truth with his more modern rival. The savants now maintained that the Aristotelean and Baconian roads were the sole possible avenues to knowledge. . . .

Now I do not complain of these ancients so much because their logic is, by their own showing, utterly baseless, worthless and fantastic altogether, as because of their pompous and imbecile proscription of all other roads of Truth, of all other means for its attainment than the two preposterous paths—the one of creeping and the one of crawling—to which they have dared to confine the Soul that loves nothing so well as to soar. . . .

It was this Platonic method of “soaring” that Poe correctly identifies as responsible for the discoveries of Kepler and the musical compositions of Mozart and Beethoven. It is the same method that Poe elsewhere identified with Leibniz’s principle of “sufficient reason.” It is the method of Plato’s golden souls of the Phoenician myths, as well as the method of Dante’s Commedia, most emphatically of Dante’s “Paradise.”

The Baconian method of “creeping” sense-certainty is relegated to the lowest regions of Dante’s hell, where dwell Plato’s bronze souls. The Aristotelean method of “crawling,” deduction from an assumed set of “facts,” is at best in the lower regions of Dante’s “Purgatory,” or associated with Plato’s silver souls. Hence, Poe writes: “I am but defending a set of principles which no honest man need be ashamed of defending, and for whose defense no honest man will consider an apology required.”

From this standpoint, all of Poe’s tales and poems ought to be immediately comprehensible to Englishspeaking audiences. Poe’s essays and literary criticisms are the explication of Poe’s method of composition. To this day, what is left of Poe’s book, The History of English Literature, of which his “Philosophy of Composition” and “Rationale of Verse” are chapters, is probably the bestknown text for teaching the principles of poetic composition to English-speaking audiences.

Poe often had a great deal of fun composing tales that mocked the methods employed by the leading British literary journals. One of Poe’s favorite targets in this regard was Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine. Blackwood’s was notorious for its sense-certainty literary style, and this style was the source for two of the most hilarious satires written by Poe, “How to Write a Blackwood Article,” and “A Predicament.”

In the former, our heroine Suky Snobbs receives instructions as to how to write a tale, of course making sure that she has an experience from which it will be worth recording her sensations. In the latter, she has such an experience, and records her sensations as her head is severed by a pendulum and first her eyes, then her head roll into a nearby gutter. Then, of course, she becomes very properly confused as to whether her identity is in her head or her body. Suky Snobbs, of course, is none other than Margaret Fuller, a leading American Transcendentalist.

Poe singled out Margaret Fuller not only because he disliked her writing, but because she was a political tool of the British SIS. During her stay with Thomas Carlyle in England, Fuller, under Carlyle’s direction, had secretly supplied the Italian terrorist Giuseppe Mazzini with an American passport and escorted him through France and safely into Italy. Mazzini was the head of Young Italy, a creation of the same Edinburgh SIS and Venetian oligarchist networks that created Young America, Young France, etc., as post-Jacobin battering rams against the surviving republican currents in those countries.

In another vein, Poe’s tales such as “The Pit and the Pendulum” are often mistaken for mere horror stories. No doubt Vincent Price is responsible for this. But, “The Pit and the Pendulum” is another exposition of the utter futility of sense-certainty methods of investigation. The hero of the story, trapped in a pit (an obvious allusion to Dante), begins investigating his circumstances using his senses of touch and smell to measure the dimensions of the cell. By this method, he comes very near to falling into an abyss while the pendulum swings closer. Driven to the point of despair by this method, our hero finally begins to soar—that is, to reason a solution to his predicament.

In his tale of ratiocination “The Purloined Letter,” Poe presents us with a problem that is unresolvable by methods of “creeping”—sense certainty. Here we have a problem concerning the letter and its whereabouts. Yet the prefect of police, carrying sense-certainty methods to their extremes, cannot locate it. Dupin, using superior methods, does. Poe’s story “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” is a case where reason succeeds, while mere deduction from certain clues fails.

On this point, Edgar Allan Poe drove Arthur Conan Doyle into hysterical fits of defending the deductive method. For example, in his introduction to A Study in Scarlet, Doyle has Sherlock Holmes react the following way when Watson informs him that it is the Earth that revolves around the sun:

“Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it.”

“To forget it!”

“You see,” he [Holmes] explained, “I consider that a man’s brain is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across so that the knowl- edge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now, the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it, there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”

“But the solar system!” I protested.

“What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted impatiently; “you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.”

Later Holmes defends Euclid, the Aristotelean whom Poe attacked. Still later, he attacks Poe’s method directly:

“No doubt you think that you are complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin,” he observed. “Now, in my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow. That trick of his of breaking in on his friends’ thoughts with an a propos remark after a quarter of an hour’s silence is really very showy and superficial. He had some analytical genius, no doubt; but he was by no means such a phenomenon as Poe appeared to imagine.”

On this same point—that of having the ability to look into the very soul of another—Arthur Conan Doyle’s countryman Charles Dickens believed Poe possessed some sort of mystical powers. It was Poe’s habit to guess the ending of the Dickens novels which appeared in serial form in American magazines. Having successfully “guessed” the ending of several novels, Poe proceeded to explain why it was so easy to determine the ending of a novel written by formula. The reader should not be amazed at this ability. It is somewhat akin to the way you are able to predict the outcome of so many of the “made for television” movies that you watch every night, bored but glued to the chair as you await the next jiggle of sensation to flash across the boob tube.

Our present-day police detectives would learn a lot from a comparison of Poe’s tales of ratiocination to Doyle’s detective stories. It would spare them the problem of waiting for a mute dog to show up.

The Case of H. Bruce Franklin

The theme “Edgar Allan Poe was a plagiarist” has been adopted by a large segment of the so-called field of literature. Like the slanders of Poe the “mystic,” the chief aim of the plagiarism smear, whether deliberate or the result of stupidity, is to hide or obscure Poe’s actual method.

I have before me a copy of H. Bruce Franklin’s Future Perfect (New York: Oxford University Press, 1966), in which Franklin deliberately repeats the charges of plagiarism against Poe, Franklin, as of this writing, is employed as a professor of American literature at Rutgers University.

As we shall show, a reasonably attentive junior high school student would consider the charges made by the college professor analogous to charging Ben Franklin with plagiarizing his discoveries concerning electricity from the maker of his kite.

In Future Perfect, Franklin champions a charge of plagiarism first made by W. K. Wimsatt, Jr. in his article “Poe and the Chess Automaton” (American Literature, 1939), in which Wimsatt accuses Poe of stealing the material for his 1835 story “Maelzel’s Chess-Player.” The socalled plagiarism that Franklin alludes to is Poe’s solution to the riddle of a chess-playing automaton. It is charged that Poe plagiarized his solution from that given by Sir David Brewster in his Letters on Natural Magic. Franklin states:

“Maelzel’s Chess-Player” illustrates [Poe’s] method and how it misleads anyone ignorant of his sources. This piece, which has very recently (1963) been called Poe’s “brilliant exposé,” an example of his “superlatively logical mind” operating with nothing to go on except the manner in which the game was conducted,” was actually lifted outright from a readily available publication . . .

Franklin makes this and other charges concerning Poe’s alleged “lifting” from other sources to assert that Poe was not a scientist. He says: “Rarely in Poe’s science fiction does one find science itself as a subject and nowhere does one find any kind of true scientist as a consequential figure . . . ”

We will reproduce here both Brewster’s and Poe’s solution to the automaton riddle, so that the reader may have before him the mere facts of the matter. But first it is necessary to state that far from plagiarizing from Sir David Brewster, Poe considered the man a deadly foe bent on destroying the continental system of science in the United States, and particularly at the West Point Military Academy.

Indeed, at the very time that Poe wrote his “Maelzel’s Chess-Player,” Commandant Thayer and the continental system of the Ecole Polytechnique were being forced out of the curriculum of West Point and replaced by courses designed by the British Association for the Advancement of Science which was headed by none other than Sir David Brewster.

The Letters on Natural Magic were written by Brewster at the request of the feudalist Sir Walter Scott as a part of a project initiated for the purpose of obscuring the scientific method, and investigating the usefulness of updating ancient methods of masking actual science with mysticism for the use of British intelligence. Scott was also a hated enemy of Poe’s.

In a letter to Sir Walter Scott published as a preface to his Letters, Brewster says:

My Dear Sir Walter,

As it was your suggestion that I undertook to draw up a popular account of those prodigies of the material world which have received the appellation of Natural Magic, I have availed myself of the privilege of introducing it under the shelter of your name . . .

The subject of Natural Magic is one of great extent, as well as of deep interest. In its widest range, it embraces the history of the governments and the superstitions of ancient times, of the means by which they maintained their influence over the human mind . . . The Prince, the Priest, and the sage were leagued in a dark conspiracy to deceive and enslave their species; and man, who refused his submission to a being like himself, became the obedient slave of a spiritual despotism, and willingly bound himself in chains when they seemed to have been forged by the gods. . . .

In Letter Four, Brewster actually blames scientific progress for the practices of the ancient priest:

It was fortunate for the human race that the scanty knowledge of former ages afforded so few elements of deception. What a tremendous engine would have worked against our species by the varied and powerful machinery of modern science: Man would still have worn the shackles which it forged, and his noble spirit would still have groaned beneath its fatal pressure.

To be sure, in the published version of his book Brewster takes great care to pretend that he is exposing an ancient evil. But in his actual life, Brewster was a member of and served the same cult he pretended to expose.

In addition to Sir Walter Scott, Brewster’s collaborators included Edward Sir Bulwer-Lytton, head of the Rosacrucian Society, who I will discuss in another chapter. Brewster himself was a member of the Scottish Freemasons and his chief literary accomplishment was the tracing of the Scottish Rite back to the same pagan cult of Isis he pretends to criticize. For example, in his History of Free Masonry and the Grand Lodge of Scotland, Brewster says:

In Egypt and those countries of Asia which lie contiguous to that favored kingdom, the arts and sciences were cultivated with success, while other nations were involved in ignorance; it is here, therefore, that Free Masonry would flourish, and here only can we discover marks of its existence in the remotest ages. . . .

They would naturally desire to participate in that scientific knowledge which was possessed by the architects they employed; and as the sacerdotal order seldom failed among a superstitious people, to gain the objects of their ambition.

. . . We may safely affirm that in their internal as well as external procedures the Society of Free Masons resembles the Dionysiacs of Asia Minor.

Poe exposed Brewster in his brilliant critique of Hegel, the “Philosophy of Furniture”:

As for those antique floor-cloths still occasionally seen in the dwellings of the rabble—cloths of huge, sprawling, and radiating devices, stripe-interspersed, and glorious with all hues, among which no ground is intelligible—these are but the wicked invention of a race of time-servers and moneylovers— children of Baal and worshippers of Mammon— Benthams, who, to spare thought and economize fancy, first cruelly invented the Kaleidoscope, and then established joint-stock companies to twirl it by steam.

It was Sir David Brewster who took credit for inventing the kaleidoscope, and together with Sir Walter Scott formed a stock company to finance the making of a steam engine to twirl it—all for the purpose of enhancing its effectiveness in performing rites of necromancy!

In other words, Brewster was attempting to utilize what he had learned from his study of the ancient cults, a time-honored practice that the British continue up to this day.

What is important about the controversy surrounding the charges of plagiarism is that, with his “Maelzel’s Chess-Player,” Poe took the opportunity created by a national tour of the sensational automaton chess machine to demonstrate to a wide popular audience the scientific incompetence of Brewster and his accomplices.

The Automaton Chess Player was invented in 1769 by Baron Kempelen, a nobleman of Presburg, Hungary. Kempelen disposed of the device and the secret of its operations to one M. Maelzel, the inventor of the metronome, as well as a hearing device for Ludwig van Beethoven.

During various exhibitions, the automaton excited much controversy over whether or not it was an actual machine that played chess or whether it was in fact operated by some human agency. Those who took the point of view that it was a human agency which actually played the game of chess had to decide whether Maelzel himself operated it from afar, or whether some means were used to conceal someone inside of the apparatus. Some speculated that Maelzel somehow operated the automaton by means of electromagnetism; other treatises were written proclaiming that an expert dwarf chess player was hidden inside the apparatus.

The former solution, however, was easily ruled out, because during exhibitions the spectators were allowed to carry lodestones. Spectators were also allowed to have the apparatus moved to any section of the room during the course of a chess game.

The excitement created by the exhibition of the automaton is roughly analogous to the interest generated by today’s attempts to design a computer that can defeat a human being at the game of chess. In his solution to the automaton mystery, in fact, Poe anticipates and answers the question of whether or not a computer will ever be able to replicate human intelligence.

First let us look at the solution of the chess-player riddle as we find it in the following excerpt from Sir David Brewster’s Letters on Natural Magic:

When the automaton was exhibited in Great Britain in 1819 and 1820, by M. Maelzel, it excited as intense an interest as when it was first produced in Germany. There can be little doubt, however, that the secret has been discovered; and an anonymous writer has shown in a pamphlet entitled “An Attempt to Analyze the Automaton Chess-Player of M. Kempelen,” that it is capable of accommodating an ordinarily sized man; and he has explained in the clearest manner how the enclosed player takes all the different positions and performs all the motions where are necessary to produce the effects actually observed. The following is the substance of his observations;

The drawer GG when closed does not extend to the back of the chest, but leaves a space O behind it (see Fig. 69, 70, 71 on following page) fourteen inches broad, eight inches high, and three feet eleven inches long. This space is never exposed to the view of spectators. The small cupboard seen at A is divided into two parts by a door or screen I (Fig. 68), which is movable upon a hinge, and is so constructed that it closes at the same instant that B is closed. The whole front of the compartment as far as I is occupied with the machinery H. The other compartment behind I is empty, and communicates with the space O behind the drawer, the floor of this division being removed. The back of the great cupboard CC, is double, and the part PQ to which the quadrants are attached, moves on a joint Q, at the upper part, and forms when raised an opening S, between the two cupboards, by carrying with it part of the partition R, which consists of cloth tightly stretched. The false back is shown closed in Fig. 69, while Fig. 70 shows the same back raised, so as to form the opening S between the chambers.

When the spectator is allowed to look into the trunk of the figure by lifting up the dress, as in Fig. 70, it will be observed that a great part of the space is occupied by the inner trunk N, Fig. 70, 71, which passes off to the back in the form of an arch, and conceals from the spectators a portion of the interior. This inner trunk N, opens and communicates with the chest by an aperture T, Fig. 72, about twelve inches broad and fifteen high. When the false back is raised, the two cupboards, the trunk N, and the space O behind the drawer are all connected together.

The construction of the interior being thus understood, the chess-player may be introduced into the chest through the sliding panel U, Fig. 69. He will then raise the false back of the large cupboard, and assume the position represented by the shaded figure in Fig. 63 and 64. Things being in this state, the exhibiter is ready to begin his process of deception. He first opens the door A of the small cupboard, and from the crowded and very ingenious disposition of the machinery within it, the eye is unable to penetrate far beyond the opening, and the spectator concludes without any hesitation that the whole of the cupboard is filled, as it appears to be with similar machinery. This false conclusion is greatly corroborated by observing the glimmering light which plays among the wheel work when the door B is opened, and a candle held at the opening. This mode of exhibiting the interior of the cupboard satisfies the spectator also that no opaque body capable of holding or concealing any of the parts of a hidden agent is interposed between the light and the observer. The door B is now locked and the screen I closed; and as this is done at the time that the light is withdrawn, it will wholly escape observation.

The door B is so constructed as to close by its own weight, but as the head of the chess-player will soon be placed very near it, the secret would be disclosed if, in turning round, the chest door should by any accident fly open. The accident is prevented by turning the key, and lest this little circumstance should excite notice, it would probably be regarded as accidental, as the keys were immediately wanted for other locks.

As soon as the door B is locked, and the screen I closed, the secret is no longer exposed to hazard, and the exhibiter proceeds to lead the minds of the spectators still further from the real state of things. The door A is left open to confirm the opinion that no person is concealed within, and that nothing can take place in the interior without being observed.

The drawer GG is now opened, apparently for the purpose of looking at the chess-men, cushion, and counters which it contains; but the real object of it is to give time to the player to change his position as shown in Fig. 65, and to replace the false back and partition preparatory to the opening of the great cupboard. The chess-player, as the figure shows, occupied with his body the back compartment of the small cupboard, while his legs and thighs are contained in the space O behind the drawer GG, his body being concealed by the screen I, and his limbs by the drawer GG.

The great cupboard, CC, is now opened, and there is so little machinery in it that the eye instantly discovers that no person is concealed there. To make this more certain, however, a door is opened at the back and a lighted candle held to it, to allow the spectators to explore every corner and recess.

The front doors of the great and small cupboard being left open, the chest is wheeled round to show the trunk of the figure, and the bunch of keys is allowed to remain in the door D, as the apparent carelessness of such a proceeding will help to remove any suspicion which may have been excited by the locking of the door B.

When the drapery of the figure has been raised, and doors E and F in trunk and thigh opened, the chest is wheeled round again into its original position, and doors E and F closed. In the meantime the player withdraws his legs from behind the drawer, as he cannot so easily do this when the drawer GG is pushed in.

In all these operations, the spectator flatters himself that he has seen in succession every part of the chest, while in reality some parts have been wholly concealed from his view, and others but imperfectly shown, while at the present time nearly half of the chest is excluded from view.

When the drawer GG is pushed in and the doors A and C closed, the exhibiter adjusts the machinery at the back, in order to give time to the player to take the position shown in a front view in Fig. 66, and in profile in Fig. 67. In this position he will experience no difficulty in executing every movement made by the automaton. As his head is above the chess-board, and he can easily take up and put down a chess-man without any other mechanism than that of a string communicating with the finger of the figure. His right hand, being within the chest, may be employed to keep in motion the wheel-work for producing the noise which is heard during the moves, and to perform the other movements of the figure, such as that of moving the head, tapping on the chest, etc.

A very ingenious contrivance is adopted to facilitate the introduction of the player’s left arm into the arm of the figure. To per- mit this, the arm of the figure requires to be drawn backwards; and for the purpose of concealing, and at the same time explaining this strained attitude, a pipe is ingeniously placed in the automaton’s hand. For this reason the pipe is not removed till all the other arrangements are completed. When everything has been thus prepared, the pipe is taken from the figure, and the exhibiter winds up, as it were, the enclosed machinery, for the double purpose of impressing upon the company the belief that the effect is produced by machinery, and of giving a signal to the player to put in motion the head of the automaton.

This ingenious explanation of the chess automaton is, our author states, greatly confirmed by the regular and undeviating mode of disclosing the interior of the chest; and he also shows that the facts which have been observed respecting the winding up of the machine “afford positive proof that the axis turned up by the key is quite free and unconnected either with a spring or weight, or any system of machinery.”

This is the piece that H. Bruce Franklin accuses Poe of plagiarizing. Franklin and others, but especially Franklin, use the claim of plagiarism to prove that Poe was no scientist and merely copied scientific details from others.

We now give Poe’s solution to the same puzzle, with his critique of Brewster included, as excerpted from Poe’s “Maelzel’s Chess-Player”:

Of late years, however, an anonymous writer, by a course of reasoning exceedingly unphilosophical, has contrived to blunder upon a plausible solution—although we cannot consider it altogether the true one. His Essay was first published in a Baltimore weekly paper, was illustrated by cuts, and was entitled “An Attempt to Analyze the Automaton Chess-Player of M. Maelzel,” This Essay we suppose to have been the original of the pamphlet to which Sir David Brewster alludes in his Letters on Natural Magic, and which he has no hesitation in declaring a thorough and satisfactory explanation. The results of the analysis are undoubtedly, in the main, just; but we can only account for Brewster’s pronouncing the Essay a thorough and satisfactory explanation, by supposing him to have bestowed upon it a very cursory and inattentive perusal. In the compendium of the Essay, made use of in the Letters on Natural Magic, it is quite impossible to arrive at any distinct conclusion as to the adequacy or inadequacy of the analysis, on account of the gross misarrangement and deficiency of the letters of reference employed. The same fault is to be found in the “Attempt,” &c., as we originally saw it. The solution consists in a series of minute explanations, (accompanied by woodcuts, the whole occupying many pages) in which the object is to show the possibility of so shifting the partitions of the box, as to allow a human being, concealed in the interior, to move portions of his body from one part of the box to another, during the exhibition of the mechanism — thus eluding the scrutiny of the spectators. There can be no doubt, as we have before observed and as we will presently endeavor to show, that the principle, or rather the result of this solution is the true one. Some person is concealed in the box during the whole time of exhibiting the interior. We object however, to the whole verbose description of the manner in which the partitions are shifted, to accommodate the movements of the person concealed. We object to it as a mere theory assumed in the first place, and to which circumstances are afterwards made to adapt themselves. [emphasis added]. It was not, and could not have been arrived at by any inductive reasoning. In whatever way the shifting is managed, it is of course concealed at every step from observation. To show that certain movements might possibly be effected in a certain way, is very far from showing that they are actually so effected. There may be an infinity of other methods by which the same results may be obtained. The probability of the one assumed proving the correct one is then as unity to infinity. But in reality, this particular point, the shifting of the partitions, is of no consequence whatever. It was altogether unnecessary to devote seven or eight pages for the purpose of proving what no one in his senses would deny—viz., that the wonderful mechanical genius of Baron Kempelen could invent the necessary means for shutting a door or slipping aside a panel, with a human agent too at his service in actual contact with the panel or the door, and the whole operation carried on, as the author of the Essay himself shows, and as we shall attempt to show more fully hereafter, entirely out of reach of the observation of the spectators.

In attempting ourselves an explanation of the Automaton, we will, in the first place, endeavor to show how its operations are effected, and afterwards describe, as briefly as possible, the nature of the observations from which we have deduced our result. It will be necessary for a proper understanding of the subject, that we repeat here, in a few words, the routine adopted by the exhibiter in disclosing the interior of the box—a routine form which he never deviates in any material particular. In the first place he opens the door No. 1. Leaving this open, he goes round to the rear of the box, and opens a door precisely at the back of door No. I. To this back door he holds a lighted candle. He then closes the back door, locks it, and, coming round to the front, opens the drawer to its full extent. This done, he opens the doors No. 2 and 3, (the folding doors) and displays the interior of the main compartment. Leaving open the main compartment, the drawer, and the front door of the cupboard No. I, he now goes to the rear again, and throws open the back door of the main compartment. In shutting up the box no particular order is observed, except that the folding doors are always closed before the drawer.

Illustration from “Maelzel’s Chess-Player”

Now, let us suppose that when the machine is first rolled into the presence of the spectators, a man is already within it. His body is situated behind the dense machinery in cupboard No. I, (the rear portion of which machinery is so contrived as to slip en masse, from the main compartment to the cupboard No. I, as occasion may require,) and his legs lie at full length in the main compartment. When Maelzel opens the door No. I, the man within is not in any danger of discovery, for the keenest eye cannot penetrate more than about two inches into the darkness within. But the case is otherwise when the back door of the cupboard, No. I, is opened. A bright light then pervades the cupboard, and the body of the man would be discovered if it were there. But it is not. The putting the key in the lock of the back door was a signal on hearing which the person concealed brought his body forward to an angle as acute as possible—throwing it altogether or nearly so, into the main compartment. This however, is a painful position, and cannot be long maintained. Accordingly we find Maelzel closes the back door. This being done, there is no reason why the body of the man may not resume its former situation—for the cupboard is again so dark as to defy scrutiny. The drawer is now opened, and the legs of the person within drop down behind it in the space it formerly occupied.

(Sir David Brewster supposes that there is always a large space behind this drawer even when shut—in other words that the drawer is a “false drawer” and does not extend to the back of the box. But the idea is altogether untenable. So common-place a trick would be immediately discovered—especially as the drawer is always opened to its fullest extent, and an opportunity thus offered of comparing its depth with that of the base.) There is, consequently, now no longer any part of the man in the main compartment— his body being behind the machinery in cupboard No. I, and his legs in the space occupied by the drawer. The exhibiter, therefore, finds himself at liberty to display the main compartment. This he does—opening both its back and front doors—and no person is discovered. The spectators are now satisfied that the whole of the box is exposed to view—and exposed too, all portions of it at one and the same time. But of course this is not the case. They neither see the space behind the drawer, nor the interior of cupboard No. I—the front door of which latter the exhibiter virtually shuts in shutting its back door. Maelzel, having now rolled the machine around, lifted the drapery of the Turk, opened the doors in back and thigh, and shown his trunk to be full of machinery, brings the whole back into its original position, and closes the doors. The man within is now at liberty to move about. He gets up into the body of the Turk just as high as to bring his eyes above the level of the chess board. It is very probably that he seats himself upon the little square block or protuberance which is seen in a corner of the main compartment when the doors are open. In this position he sees the chess-board through the bosom of the Turk which is of gauze. Bringing his right arm across his breast he actuates the little machinery necessary to guide the left arm and the fingers of the figure. This machinery is situated just beneath the left shoulder of the Turk, and is consequently easily reached by the right hand of the man concealed, if we suppose his right arm is brought across his breast. The motions of the head and eyes, and of the right arm of the figure, as well as the sound echec are produced by other mechanism in the interior, and actuated at will by the man within. The whole of this mechanism— that is to say all of the mechanism essential to the machine—is most probably contained within the little cupboard (of about six inches in breadth) partitioned off at the right (the spectators’ right) of the main compartment.

In this analysis of the operations of the Automaton, we have purposely avoided any allusion to the manner in which the partitions are shifted, and it will now be readily comprehended that this point is a matter of no importance, since, by mechanism within the ability of any common carpenter, it might be effected in an infinity of different ways, and since we have shown that, however performed, it is performed out of the view of the spectators. Our result is founded upon the following observations taken during frequent visits to the exhibition of Maelzel. (Some of the observations are intended merely to prove that the machine must be regulated by mind, and it may be thought a work of supererogation to advance further arguments in support of what has been already fully decided. But our object is to convince, in especial, certain of our friends upon whom a train of suggestive reasoning will have more influence than the most positive a priori demonstration.)

1. The moves of the Turk are not made at regular intervals of time, but accommodate themselves to the moves of the antagonist— although this might have been readily brought about by limiting the time allowed for the moves of the antagonist. For example, if this limit were three minutes, the moves of the Automaton might be made at given intervals longer than three minutes. The fact then of irregularity, when regularity might have been so easily attained, goes to prove that regularity is unimportant to the action of the Automaton—in other words, that the Automaton is not a pure machine.

2. When the Automaton is about to move a piece, a distinct motion is observable just beneath the left shoulder, and which motion agitates in a light degree, the drapery covering the front of the left shoulder. This motion invariably precedes, by about two seconds, the movement of the arm itself—and the arm never, in any instance, moves without this preparatory motion in the shoulder. Now let the antagonist move a piece, and let the corresponding move be made by Maelzel, as usual, upon the board of the Automaton. Then let the antagonist narrowly watch the Automaton, until he detect the preparatory motion in the shoulder. Immediately upon detecting this motion, and before the arm itself beings to move, let him withdraw his piece, as if perceiving an error in his manoeuvre. It will then be seen that the movement of the arm, which, in all other cases, immediately succeeds the motion in the shoulder, is withheld—is not made—although Maelzel has not yet performed, on the board of the Automaton, any move corresponding to the withdrawal of the antagonist. In this case, that the Automaton was about to move is evident—and that he did not move, was an effect plainly produced by the withdrawal of the antagonist, and without any intervention of Maelzel. This fact full proves, 1) that the intervention of Maelzel, in performing the moves of the antagonist on the board of the Automaton, is not essential to the movements of the Automaton, 2) that its movements are regulated by mind—by some person who sees the board of the antagonist, 3) that its movements are not regulated by the mind of Maelzel, whose back was turned towards the antagonist at the withdrawal of his move.

3. The Automaton does not invariably win the game. Were the machine a pure machine this would not be the case—it would always win. The principle being discovered by which a machine can be made to play a game of chess, an extension of the same principle would enable it to win a game—a farther extension would enable it to win all games—that is to beat any possible game of an antagonist. A little consideration will convince anyone that the difficulty of making a machine beat all games, is not in the least degree greater, as regards the principle of the operations necessary, than that of making it beat a single game. If then we regard the Chess-Player as a machine, we must suppose, (what is highly improbable) that its inventor preferred leaving it incomplete to perfecting it—a supposition rendered still more absurd, when we reflect that the leaving it incomplete would afford an argument against the possibility of its being a pure machine—the very argument we now adduce.

4. When the situation of the game is difficult or complex, we never perceive the Turk either to shake his head or roll his eyes. It is only when his next move is obvious, or when the game is so circumstanced that to a man in the Automaton’s place there would be no necessity for reflection. Now these peculiar movements of the head and eyes are movements customary with persons engaged in meditation, and the ingenious Baron Kempelen would have adapted these movements (were the machine a pure machine) to occasions proper for their display—that is, to occasions of complexity. But the reverse is seen to be the case, and this reverse applies precisely to our supposition of a man in the interior. When engaged in meditation about the game he has no time to think of setting in motion the mechanism of the Automaton by which are moved the head and the eyes. When the game however, is obvious, he has time to look about him and, accordingly, we see the head shake and the eyes roll.

5. When the machine is rolled round to allow the spectators an examination of the back of the Turk, and when his drapery is lifted up and the doors in the trunk and thigh thrown open, the interior of the trunk is seen to be crowded with machinery. In scrutinizing this machinery while the Automaton was in motion, that is to say, while the whole machine was moving on the castors, it appeared to us that certain portions of the mechanism changed their shape and position in a degree too great to be accounted for by the simple laws of perspective; and subsequent examinations convinced us that these undue alterations were attributable to mirrors in the interior of the trunk. The introduction of mirrors among the machinery could not have been intended to influence, in any degree, the machinery itself. Their operation whatever that operation should prove to be, must necessarily have reference to the eye of the spectator. We at once concluded that these mirrors were so placed to multiply to the vision some few pieces of machinery within the trunk so as to give it the appearance of being crowded with mechanism. Now the direct inference from this is that the machine is not a pure machine. For it it were, the inventor, so far from wishing its mechanism to appear so complex, and using deception for the purpose of giving it this appearance, would have been especially desirous of convincing those who witnessed his exhibition, of the simplicity of the means by which results so wonderful were brought about.

6. The external appearance, and especially, the deportment of the Turk, are, when we consider them as imitations of life, but very indifferent imitations. The countenance evinces no ingenuity, and is surpassed, in its resemblance to the human face, by the very commonest of wax-works. The eyes roll unnaturally in the head, without any corresponding motions of the lids or brows. The arm particularly, performs its operations in an exceedingly stiff, awkward, jerking and rectangular manner. Now, all this is the result either of inability in Maelzel to do better, or of intentional neglect—accidental neglect being out of the question, when we consider that the whole time of the ingenious proprietor is occupied in the improvement of his machines. Most assuredly we must not refer the unlife-like appearances to inability—for all the rest of Maelzel’s automata are evidence of his full ability to copy the motions and peculiarities of life with the most wonderful exactitude. . . . We cannot, therefore, doubt Mr. Maelzel’s ability, and we must necessarily suppose that he intentionally suffered his Chess-Player to remain the same artificial and unnatural figure which Baron Kempelen (no doubt also through design) originally made it. What this design was it is not difficult to conceive. Were the Automaton life-like in its motions, the spectator would be more apt to attribute its operations to their true cause, (that is to human agency within) than he is now, when the awkward and rectangular manoeuvres convey the idea of pure and unaided mechanism.

7. When, a short time previous to the commencement of the game, the Automaton is wound up by the exhibiter as usual, an ear in any degree accustomed to the sounds produced in winding up a system of machinery, will not fail to discover, instantaneous- ly, that the axis turned by the key in the box of the Chess-Player, cannot possibly be connected with either a weight, a spring, or a system of machinery whatever. The inference here is the same as in our last observation. The winding up is inessential to the operations of the Automaton, and is performed with the design of exciting in the spectators the false idea of mechanism.

8. When the question is demanded explicitly of Maelzel—“Is the Automaton a pure machine or not?” his reply is invariably the same—“I will say nothing about it.” Now the notoriety of the Automaton, and the great curiosity it has everywhere excited, are owing more especially to the prevalent opinion that it is a pure machine, than to any other circumstance. Of course, then, it is the interest of the proprietor to represent it as a pure machine. And what more obvious, and more effectual method could there be of impressing the spectators with this idea, than a positive and explicit declaration to that effect? On the other hand, what more obvious and effectual method could there be of exciting a disbelief in the Automaton’s being a pure machine, than by withholding such explicit declaration? For people will naturally reason thus—It is Maelzel’s interest to represent this thing as pure machine—he refuses to do so, directly in words, although he does not scruple and is evidently anxious to do so, indirectly by actions—were it actually what he wishes to represent it by actions, he would gladly avail himself of the more direct testimony of words—the inference is, that a consciousness of its not being a pure machine, is the reason of his silence—his actions cannot implicate him in a falsehood— his words may.

9. When, in exhibiting the interior of the box, Maelzel has thrown open the door No. 1, and also the door immediately behind it, he holds a lighted candle at the back door (as mentioned above), and moves the entire machine to and fro with a view of convincing the company that the Cupboard No. 1 is entirely filled with machinery. When the machine is thus moved about, it will be apparent to any careful observer, that whereas that portion of the machinery near the front door No. I, is perfectly steady and unwavering, the portion farther within fluctuates, in a very slight degree, with the movements of the machine. This circumstance first aroused in us the suspicion that the more remote portion of the machinery was so arranged as to be easily slipped en masse, from its position when occasion should require it. This occasion we have already stated to occur when the man concealed within brings his body into an erect position upon closing of the back door.

10. Sir David Brewster states the figure of the Turk to be the size of life but in fact it is far above the ordinary size. Nothing is more easy than to err in our notions of magnitude. The body of the Automaton is generally insulated, and, having no means of immediately comparing it with any human form, we suffer ourselves to consider it as of ordinary dimensions. This mistake may, however, be corrected by observing the Chess-Player when as is sometimes the case, the exhibiter approaches it. Mr. Maelzel, to be sure, is not very tall, but upon drawing near the machine, his head will be found at least eighteen inches below the head of the Turk, although the latter, it will be remembered, is in a sitting position.

11. The box behind which the Automaton is placed is precisely three feet six inches long, two feet four inches deep, and two feet six inches high. These dimensions are fully sufficient for the accommodation of a man very much above the common size— and the main compartment alone is capable of holding any ordinary man in the position we have mentioned as assumed by the person concealed. As these are facts, which any one who doubts them may prove by actual calculation, we deem it unnecessary to dwell upon them. We will only suggest that, although the top of the box is apparently a board about three inches in thickness, the spectator may satisfy himself by stooping and looking up at it when the main compartment is open, that it is in reality very thin. The height of the drawer also will be misconceived by those who examine it in a cursory manner. There is a space of about three inches between the top of the drawer as seen from the exterior, and the bottom of the cupboard—a space which must be included in the height of the drawer. These contrivances to make the room within the box appear less than it actually is, are referrable to a design on the part of the inventor, to impress the company again with a false idea, viz., that no human being can be accommodated within the box.

12. The interior of the main compartment is lined throughout with cloth. This cloth we suppose to have a twofold object. A portion of it may form, when tightly stretched, the only partitions which there is any necessity for removing during the changes of the man’s position, viz.: the partition between the rear of cupboard No. I, and the partition between the main compartment, and the space behind the drawer when open. If we imagine this to be the case, the difficulty of shifting the partitions vanishes at once, if indeed any such difficulty could be supposed under any circumstances to exist. The second object of the cloth is to deaden and render indistinct all sounds occasioned by the movements of the person within.

13. The antagonist (as we have before observed) is not suffered to play at the board of the Automaton, but is seated at some distance from the machine. The reason which, most probably, would be assigned for this circumstance, if the question were demanded, is that were the antagonist otherwise situated, his person would intervene between the machine and the spectators, and preclude the latter from a distinct view. But this difficulty might be easily obviated, either by elevating the seats of the company, or by turning the end of the box towards them during the game. The true cause of the restriction is, perhaps, very different. Were the antagonist seated in contact with the box, the secret would be liable to discovery, by his detecting, with the aid of a quick ear, the breathings of the man concealed.

14. Although M. Maelzel, in disclosing the interior of the machine, sometimes slightly deviates from the routine which we have pointed out, yet never in any instance does he so deviate from it as to interfere with our solution. For example, he has been known to open, first of all the drawer—but he never opens the main compartment without first closing the back door of cupboard No. I—he never opens the back door of cupboard No. I while the main compartment is open—and the game of chess is never commenced until the whole machine is closed. Now, if it were observed that never, in any single instance, did M. Maelzel differ from the routine we have pointed out as necessary to our solutions, it would be one of the strongest possible arguments in corroboration of it—but the argument becomes infinitely strengthened if we duly consider the circumstance that he does occasionally deviate from the routine, but never does so deviate as to falsify the solution.

15. There are six candles on the board of the Automaton during exhibition. The question naturally arises “Why are so many employed, when a single candle, or, at farthest, two, would have been amply sufficient to afford the spectators a clear view of the board, in a room otherwise so well lit up as the exhibition room always it—when, moreover, if we suppose the machine a pure machine there can be no necessity for so much light, or indeed any light at all, to enable it to perform its operations and when, especially, only a single candle is placed upon the table of the antagonist? The first and most obvious inference is, that so strong a light is requisite to enable the man within to see through the transparent material (probably fine gauze) of which the breast of the Turk is composed. But when we consider the arrangement of the candles, another reason immediately presents itself. There are six lights (as we have said before) in all. Three of these are on each side of the figure. Those most remote from the spectators are the longest—those in the middle are about two inches shorter—and those nearest the company about two inches shorter still—and the candles on one side differ in height from the candles respectively opposite on the other, by ratio different from two inches—that is to say, the longest candle on one side is about three inches shorter than the longest candle on the other, and so on. Thus it will be seen that no two of the candles are of the same height, and thus also the difficulty of ascertaining the material of the breast of the figure (against which the light is especially directed) is greatly augmented by the dazzling effect of the complicated crossings of the rays—crossings which are brought about by placing the centers of radiation all upon different levels.

16. While the Chess-Player was in possession of Baron Kempelen, it was more than once observed, first, that an Italian in the suite of the Baron was never visible during the playing of a game at chess by the Turk, and, secondly, that the Italian being taken seriously ill, the exhibition was suspended until his recovery. This Italian professed a total ignorance of the game of chess, although all others of the suite played well. Similar observations have been made since the Automaton was purchased by Maelzel. There is a man, Schlumberger, who attends him wherever he goes, but who has no ostensible occupation other than that of assisting in packing and unpacking of the Automaton. This man is about the medium size, and has a remarkable stoop in the shoulders. Whether he professes to play chess or not, we are not informed. It is quite certain however, that he is never to be seen during the exhibitions of the Chess-Player, although frequently visible just before and after the exhibition. Moreover, some years ago Maelzel visited Richmond with his automata, and exhibited them, we believe, in the house now occupied by M. Bossieux as a Dancing Academy. Schlumberger was suddenly taken ill, and during his illness there was no exhibition of the Chess-Player. These facts are well known to many of our citizens. The reason assigned for the suspension of the Chess-Player’s performances, was not the illness of Schlumberger. The inferences from all this we leave, without further comment, to the reader.

17. The Turk plays with his left arm. A circumstance so remarkable cannot be accidental. Brewster takes no notice of it whatever, beyond a mere statement, we believe, that such is the fact. The early writers of treatises on the Automaton, seem not to have observed the matter at all, and have no reference to it. The author of the pamphlet alluded to by Brewster, mentions it, but acknowledges his inability to account for it. Yet it is obviously from such prominent discrepancies as this that deductions are to be made (if made at all) which shall lead us to the truth.

The circumstance of the Automaton’s playing with his left hand cannot have connection with the operations of the machine, considered merely as such. Any mechanical arrangement which would cause the figure to move, in any given manner, the left arm, could, if reversed, cause it to move, in the same manner, the right. But these principles cannot be extended to the human organization, wherein there is a marked and radical difference in the construction, and, at all events, in the powers of the right and left arms. Reflecting upon this latter fact, we naturally refer the incongruity noticeable in the Chess-Player to this peculiarity in the human organization. If so, we must imagine some reversion—for the Chess-Player plays precisely as a man would not. These ideas, once entertained, are sufficient of themselves, to suggest the notion of a man in the interior. A few more imperceptible steps lead us, finally, to the result. The Automaton plays with his left arm, because under no other circumstances could the man within play with his right—a desideratum of course. Let us, for example, imagine the Automaton to play with his right arm. To reach the machinery which moves the arm, and which we have before explained to lie just beneath the shoulder, it would be necessary for the man within either to use his right arm in an exceedingly painful and awkward position, (viz. brought up close to the body and tightly compressed between his body and the side of the Automaton) or else to use his left arm brought across his breast. In neither case could he act with the requisite ease or precision. On the contrary, the Automaton, playing, as it actually does, with the left arm, all difficulties vanish. The right arm of the man within is brought across his breast, upon the machinery in the shoulder of the figure. We do not believe that any reasonable objections can be urged against this solution of the Automaton Chess-Player.

Far from H. Bruce Franklin’s assertion that Poe’s science was really science fiction, Poe’s critique of Brewster in “Maelzel’s Chess-Player” proves that Poe was a scientific thinker of outstanding merit. Sir David Brewster was considered one of the leading British scientists of his day, which only proves that British science was an incompetent as H. Bruce Franklin’s literary criticism.

It is the discovery of the principle of the operation of the automaton under all circumstances, and not merely how it might be made to operate by forcing the circum- stances to fit a solution, that puts Poe at odds with Sir David Brewster.

And I am at odds with H. Bruce Franklin for being a bald-faced liar when he makes charges of plagiarism against Poe. Having made that last statement, I can hear all of liberal academia screaming: “How crude! How vulgar! What a malicious thing to say! After all, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion.” To these pathetic cries, I answer that one is not entitled to spread bull manure throughout our nation’s classrooms and call it food for thought. Furthermore, Mr. Franklin is not merely mistaken in this matter; he lies deliberately and with a purpose. It is true that we do not consider Mr. Franklin very intelligent, but we know he lies for political purposes which we shall demonstrate below, and he lies with the sort of cunning associated with the linguistic school of Noam Chomsky.

H. Bruce Franklin cannot be unaware that he is of the exact-same pedigree of literary figure that Poe sought to destroy in his lifetime: a terrorist associate protected by the cloak of academic respectability. Franklin’s own career is the paradigm for the sort of cynical agent who manipulates the rabble (as Poe would call it) against the forces identified with and committed to technological and economic progress.

It was H. Bruce Franklin, formerly a captain of Air Force Intelligence in the Strategic Air Command (specializing in irregular warfare) who created the Maoistterrorist group the Revolutionary Union. After leaving the Armed Services in 1959, Franklin received his Ph.D. in English literature, concentrating on science fiction with a heavy emphasis on the British intelligence agent and New Dark Ages proponent H.G. Wells. The study of the policies and methods of especially Wells, Aldous Huxley, and Bertrand Russell is a must for any truly cunning British intelligence operative.

Before helping to found the Revolutionary Union, Franklin’s conversion to Maoism occurred during a stint in Paris (he was sent there for a year by Stanford University), where he became involved in the G.I. deserters’ movement, along with Robert “Bo” Burlingham of Weatherman fame, and Andrew Kopkind, who is now a leading agent for the terrorist-controlling Cambridge Institute for Policy Studies in the Boston area.

One of the main features of the deliberate prolongation of the Vietnam War was the creation of the counterculture movement of the 1960’s and the proliferation of terrorist sects, of which the Revolutionary Union is one. During the late 1960’s, Franklin is reported to have conducted weapons maneuvers with RU’ers while they were under the influence of drugs (part of his irregular warfare training). And, writing under the pseudonym William B. Outlaw, Franklin provided articles detailing the use of weapons to several Bay-area underground newspapers. During the early 1970’s, Franklin led an already preconditioned split-off from the RU known as the Venceremos Brigade, as a prelude to the deployment of a filthier sort of terrorist operation, the Symbionese Liberation Army. In fact, both Joseph Ramiro and Thero Wheeler of the Symbionese Liberation Army, were first members of the Venceremos Brigade under Franklin’s direction.

This terrorist activity Franklin carried out and still carries out from behind his cover as a professor of literature.*

It is also interesting to note that of all the misconstructions of Edgar Allan Poe Franklin incorporated into his book Future Perfect, there is one joke of Poe’s that the present author cannot understand Franklin having missed. In Poe’s “Mellonta Tauta,” a great republic is destroyed by a dictator named Mob.


As I have stated throughout, America owes a profound debt to Edgar Allan Poe, and the author owes a profound personal debt to Poe. Few Americans are even aware of the debt they owe Poe. But the last great President this nation ever had acknowledged his personal debt to Poe.

Abraham Lincoln not only used Poe in his campaign literature for the 1860 election campaign, but Lincoln is recorded as saying that he owed a profound debt to the poet for his own philosophical outlook.

America has been living off the wellsprings of Lincoln’s four years in office for more than a century. It is past time to replenish those wellsprings, lest the soul of this country becomes lost beyond redemption.

During the last years of Poe’s life before he was murdered, Poe gave lectures on the principles of poetry and music before audiences that numbered as many as three thousand. I don’t think such events have been replicated since. If you, the reader, have learned anything from reading this excerpt, I request that you join with me and my collaborators in organizing a series of Poe celebrations in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Richmond, Virginia. We need musicians, elocutionists, teachers and students, and just plain interested citizens to join in redeeming Poe’s good name and our country’s soul once and for all time.

* H. Bruce Franklin remains a fixture on the radical left to this day. His latest article is scheduled to appear in the April-May 2006 issue of Mother Jones magazine. He is currently the John Cotton Dana Professor of English and American Studies at Rutgers University’s Newark, N.J. campus—Ed.

Allen Salisbury, A Trailblazer in the World of Ideas

EIRNS/Philip Ulanowsky
In-studio consulation with Lyndon LaRouche during TV show taping, Boston, 1988.
When Allen Salisbury passed away on Sept. 14, 1992, at the young age of 43, he had already bequeathed an enduring contribution to his friends in the LaRouche movement, and to posterity. Allen, who was known for his sense of humor and his fighting spirit, was a trailblazer in the world of ideas.In 1978, Allen authored The Civil War and the American System: America’s Battle with Britain, 1860- 1876, a book which was dedicated to reintroducing the nearly forgotten American System of political economy to this nation and the world. What Allen established in this groundbreaking work is, that the American Civil War was essentially a global war between the oligarchical British System of “free trade,” advanced by the British East India Company’s Adam Smith, and the republican American System, espoused by Alexander Hamilton, Mathew Carey, and his son Henry C. Carey, who was an adviser to President Abraham Lincoln.

Allen Salisbury displays a gift presented to him during a 1979 lecture tour.
Building on that foundation, in 1981 Allen published an article in our predecessor magazine, The Campaigner, on the American patriot Edgar Allan Poe, which we have reprinted in this issue of Fidelio. Allen defended Poe against his slanderers, and appealed to the American people to redeem Poe’s good name, lest the soul of the nation be lost beyond redemption. This issue of Fidelio represents our commitment to “keep fighting” the fight launched by Allen to save our nation’s soul.Not only did Allen fight to rediscover the historical roots of our nation, he was also a visionary with a sense of poetic irony. This quality of his beautiful soul led to his being Lyndon LaRouche’s leading collaborator in the direction and production of La- Rouche’s televison broadcasts, of which perhaps the most memorable was entitled “The Woman on Mars.”

—William F. Wertz, Jr.

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