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The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Raven Edition Volume 4

HOW TO WRITE A BLACKWOOD ARTICLE.

page 5 of 5 | page 1 | Table of Contents

Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

"In Greek we must have some thing pretty -- from Demosthenes, for example. !<,D@ N,LT8 "4 B"84< :"P,F,J"4

[Anerh o pheugoen kai palin makesetai] There is a tolerably good translation of it in Hudibras

'For he that flies may fight again,
Which he can never do that's slain.'

In a Blackwood article nothing makes so fine a show as your Greek. The very letters have an air of profundity about them. Only observe, madam, the astute look of that Epsilon! That Phi ought certainly to be a bishop! Was ever there a smarter fellow than that Omicron? Just twig that Tau! In short, there is nothing like Greek for a genuine sensation-paper. In the present case your application is the most obvious thing in the world. Rap out the sentence, with a huge oath, and by way of ultimatum at the good-for-nothing dunder-headed villain who couldn't understand your plain English in relation to the chicken-bone. He'll take the hint and be off, you may depend upon it."

These were all the instructions Mr. B. could afford me upon the topic in question, but I felt they would be entirely sufficient. I was, at length, able to write a genuine Blackwood article, and determined to do it forthwith. In taking leave of me, Mr. B. made a proposition for the purchase of the paper when written; but as he could offer me only fifty guineas a sheet, I thought it better to let our society have it, than sacrifice it for so paltry a sum. Notwithstanding this niggardly spirit, however, the gentleman showed his consideration for me in all other respects, and indeed treated me with the greatest civility. His parting words made a deep impression upon my heart, and I hope I shall always remember them with gratitude.

"My dear Miss Zenobia," he said, while the tears stood in his eyes, "is there anything else I can do to promote the success of your laudable undertaking? Let me reflect! It is just possible that you may not be able, so soon as convenient, to -- to -- get yourself drowned, or -- choked with a chicken-bone, or -- or hung, -- or -- bitten by a -- but stay! Now I think me of it, there are a couple of very excellent bull-dogs in the yard -- fine fellows, I assure you -- savage, and all that -- indeed just the thing for your money -- they'll have you eaten up, auricula and all, in less than five minutes (here's my watch!) -- and then only think of the sensations! Here! I say -- Tom! -- Peter! -- Dick, you villain! -- let out those" -- but as I was really in a great hurry, and had not another moment to spare, I was reluctantly forced to expedite my departure, and accordingly took leave at once -- somewhat more abruptly, I admit, than strict courtesy would have otherwise allowed.

It was my primary object upon quitting Mr. Blackwood, to get into some immediate difficulty, pursuant to his advice, and with this view I spent the greater part of the day in wandering about Edinburgh, seeking for desperate adventures -- adventures adequate to the intensity of my feelings, and adapted to the vast character of the article I intended to write. In this excursion I was attended by one negro -- servant, Pompey, and my little lap-dog Diana, whom I had brought with me from Philadelphia. It was not, however, until late in the afternoon that I fully succeeded in my arduous undertaking. An important event then happened of which the following Blackwood article, in the tone heterogeneous, is the substance and result.

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