[Text: Frederick William Thomas, “Recollections of Edgar A. Poe,”
manuscript notes (but apparently lost), 1864-1866]
Recollections of Edgar A. Poe
By Frederick William Thomas
"I was intimate with Poe's brother in Baltimore during the year 1828.
He was a slim, feeble young man, with dark inexpressive eyes, and his
forehead had nothing like the expansion of his brother's. His manners
were fastidious. We visited lady acquaintances together, and he wrote
Byron poetry in albums, which had little originality. He recited in
private and was proud of his oratorical powers. He often deplored the
early death of his mother, but pretended not to know what had become of
his father. I was told by a lawyer intimate with the family that his
father had deserted his mother in New York. Both his parents had
visited Baltimore when he was a child, and they sent money from Boston
to pay for his support."
"Henry Poe visited his brother in Richmond twice, the last time in
1825. He said Edgar had quarrelled with Mr. Allan after coming from
college, about the small allowance of money he was receiving, and left
him. He worked his own passage abroad in a vessel, reaching the
metropolis of England after a rough voyage. There he met with
disappointment in finding employment, and his funds being low proceeded
to Paris, still hoping to find work. What money he had left was taken
from him, with the exception of a sum sufficient to pay his passage
back to London. Thus left without money and without friends he hurried
back to England, where he took passage in a vessel for America, bound
for a New England port."
"I removed to the country in 1829 and lost sight of Poe's brother. In
1831 I emigrated to Cincinnati, and for some years afterwards travelled
through the West, along the Ohio and Mississippi. On one of these trips
of pleasure from Pittsburg to New Orleans in a first-rate steamer, I
made the acquaintance of an interesting character named James Tuhey,
belonging to the steamer's crew. He possessed more than ordinary
musical ability and was especially proficient with the flute. I would
sit with him for hours in a quiet corner and listen to his sailor lore.
He observed my manuscript as I was writing to a Cincinnati newspaper
and wanted to know if I was writing poetry. I told him no. He replied
that so much manuscript reminded him of a Baltimore acquaintance named
Poe. I thought at once that he had reference to Henry Poe, but soon
found that it was Edgar A. Poe he knew. I also learned that Tuhey lived
at Fells Point in Baltimore, when I left there, and had only recently
come out to the West. He was a native of Ireland. In Baltimore he had
an acquaintance with a family named Cairnes. They were some connection
of Poe's. At their house he often met Poe.
"Tuhey spoke of him as stopping alternately with one relative, and then
another, but later on spending all his time with the widow, Mrs. Clemm.
He wrote for the newspapers, but earned small pay. While living with
the Cairnes, Poe made the acquaintance of Miss Deveraux, a dark-eyed
beauty, whose parents came from Ireland. The family lived near the
Cairnes residence and were intimate. They were often seen together and
Poe wanted her to marry him at once. She was young and told her
parents, who, with the Cairnes, interfered and broke off the affair.
Poe became despondent after this and went with Tuhey in a sailing
vessel to the coast of Wexford, Ireland, and back. It was on this trip
that Tuhey had seen Poe's manuscript, which mine had recalled to his
memory. Before leaving Baltimore in 1834, Tuhey said that he often met
Poe at a house on Caroline Street near Wilkes, Fells Point. There Poe
would sit in silence for hours listening to sailor stories of the sea,
the only interruption being now and then a tune from Tuhey's musical
"I met Poe in Philadelphia during September, 1842. He lived in a rural
home on the outskirts of the city. His house was small, but comfortable
inside for one of the kind. The rooms looked neat and orderly, but
everything about the place wore an air of pecuniary want. Although I
arrived late in the morning Mrs. Clemm, Poe's mother-in-law, was busy
preparing for his breakfast. My presence possibly caused some
confusion, but I noticed that there was delay and evident difficulty in
procuring the meal. His wife entertained me. Her manners were agreeable
and graceful. She had well formed, regular features, with the most
expressive and intelligent eyes I ever beheld. Her pale complexion, the
deep lines in her face and a consumptive cough made me regard her as
the victim for an early grave. She and her mother showed much concern
about Eddie, as they called Poe, and were anxious to have him secure
work. I afterwards learned from Poe that he had been to New York in
search of employment and had also made effort to get out an edition of
his tales, but was unsuccessful.
"When Poe appeared his dark hair hung carelessly over his high
forehead, and his dress was a little slovenly. He met me cordially, but
was reserved, and complained of feeling unwell. His pathetic tenderness
and loving manners towards his wife greatly impressed me. I was not
long in observing with deep regret that he had fallen again into habits
of intemperance. I ventured to remonstrate with him. He admitted
yielding to temptation to drink while in New York and turned the
subject off by telling an amusing dialogue of Lucian, the Greek writer.
We visited the city together and had an engagement for the following
day. I left him sober, but he did not keep the engagement and wrote me
that he was ill."
"Poe kept up a continuous warfare upon Griswold in the Museum, poking
fun at him, and alluding to him as Mr. Driswold of Graham's Magazine,
in childish humor."
"Poe sent me the notes for the Museum biography, but I evaded writing
them. I told him afterwards that I knew more of his history than he had
sent me. He was amused, and laughed the matter off by confessing that
the story was intended to help the magazine project. I was confined to
my room by sickness when Poe came to Washington early in 1843. He was
sober when I saw him, but afterward in the company of old friends he
drank to excess. My physician attended him for several days, and he
suffered much from his indiscretion."
"Poe stated that ‘The Raven’ was written in a day. The idea of having
it appear anonymously was a whim of his, like Coleridge's publication
of his ‘Raven.’ He afterwards thought it a mistake, and conceived the
idea of having it introduced in Willis's paper with his name. Poe read
all the older English poets with fondness, and his name of Quarles
merely had reference in his mind to the old English poet."
F. W. Thomas, who was conversant with many of Poe’s as well as Mrs.
Clemm’s affairs, states that “Poe was never paid for the poem [“The
Bells”] by Sartain’s Union Magazine.”
(Intended for a volume of Poe’s poems. Text taken from Whitty, 1911,
pp. xxi, xxxi-xxxii, xxxiii-xxxv, xliii-xliv, xlv, xlvii, xlviii) [see
also pp. 195, 196, 232, 233-234, 243] the notes are presumably from
1864-1866 since Whitty states that Thomas’s death ended the projected
edition and Thomas died in 1866.)
~~~ End of Text ~~~
[S:0 - BM, 1867]