Text: John H. Ingram, “The Poe Wrangle: The Independent and Mr. Ingram,” New York, Home Journal, August 4, 1880






Eds. Home Journal, — In i s [[the]] issue for the twenty-fourth of June last the Independent devoted two articles to me and my writings. The personalities of those articles need no reply, but some of the utterly fabulous assertions about my sketches of Poe’s life call for public refutation.

1. Neither verbally nor in writing have I ever called Griswold “critical ghoul, pedagogue, vampire, and the like,” as asserted by the Independent, any more that I have disbelieved his countrymen who have styled him “a liar, a bigamist, and a forger.”

2. I never stated “that Poe was without reputation in his own country,” nor asserted “that henceforth he would have an immortal one, now that I had taken him in hand.”

3. That “Scribner’s Magazine has from time to time published articles depreciatory of Poe” is well known, as also that some of them, “The Madman of Letters,” for instance, have called forth indignant protests in the columns of your leading publications.

4. It is true that the late Mr. Briggs published disgraceful allegations against Poe, and that he had to pay for it: if the conductors of the Independent will refer to the New York Evening Mirror for June 23, 1846, they will find a card, which, although signed “Thomas Dunn English,” was published by Briggs and two others, and on the seventeenth of February, 1847, the happy trio — Briggs and his comrades — were cast in heavy damages for that card. If the editor of the Independent will refer to my new “Life of Poe,” he will find full particulars.

As regards the other article on my Poe data in the Independent of the above date, and signed by Mr. Stoddard, I may justly characterize it as utterly devoid of fact as that put forth under editorial responsibility. “Some Myths in the Life of Poe” are by no means the first articles of that description Mr. Stoddard has furnished the public with: he believes that I have had to correct his previous mistakes and may not, therefore, prove ungrateful for my doing so agin.

1. I state that Poe was born in Boston, on the authority of the poet himself, repeatedly given; on the written authority of his aunt, Mrs. Clemm, and because on the title page of his first boyish publication now before me he styles himself a “Bostononian.”

2. I give nineteenth of January as his birthday because Mrs. Clemm, in three different letters — two in my possession — gives that day, and because Poe, when only seventeen, distinctly wrote that date as the date of his birth in the matriculation book of the University of Virginia. Mr. Stoddard says Poe was born on the nineteenth of February, and that he could not have been born on the nineteenth of January, as I assert, because his mother acted at the Boston Theatre on the twentieth of January. I repeat my assertion, and say that Mrs. Poe did not appear at the theatre between January 17 and February 10, 1809, and that he will have to adduce contemporary printed evidence before the public will accept this myth of his. He says that he forgets how he came to the conclusion that Poe was born in February. I will refresh his erratic memory. He copied the date from an incorrect copy which passed through my [column ??:] ] hands of Mr. W. Wertenbaker’s affidavit. I obtained the original from that gentleman, and found that January 19 was the date given by Poe.

3. Mr. Stoddard accuses Poe of lying; first, in giving Griswold two different dates of his birth, and, secondly, in claiming to be a Virginian. Griswold is the sole witness for the former and Mrs. Stoddard for the latter assertion. It is well-known that Griswold could cite fabricated letters of Poe as easily as some people can of Shelley; less tainted evidence must, therefore, be produced. As regards Poe not knowing where he was born, why did he pt “by a Bostonian” on his 1874 book?

4. Mr. Stoddard says he has not seen Poe’s first volume, and yet he has the audacity to assert that its author’s assertions about it are false; he even questions its suppression because, is his remark, “I do not quite see, if it was (sic) , how it could have figured in Kettell’s ‘specimens,’ published in 1829.” Will he question the publication of Griswold’s “Memoir of Poe” because it is now suppressed and consigned to that limbo whither all “myths in the life of Poe” are now being consigned?

Mr. Stoddard’s other assertions are equally incorrect, but as he proffers no evidence in support of them I shall not waste my own or the public’s time in refuting them.


London, England.





[S:0 - HJ, 1880] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - The Poe Wrangle (John H. Ingram, 1880)