Text: Richard H. Stoddard, “Edgar Allan Poe,” Harper’s Monthly Magazine, September 1872, vol. 45 (whole no. 268), 45: 557-568


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EDGAR ALLAN POE.

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Edgar Allan Poe [thumbnail]

[Illustration on page 557]
 
Edgar Allan Poe

EDGAR ALLAN POE was well-born. The original name of his family, which was an old Norman one, was Le Poor, and it figures prominently in the annals of Ireland. The family was founded in that country by Sir Roger Le Poer, a marshal of Prince John, in the reign of Henry II.; and the pages of Giraldus Cambrensis bear witness to the courage of one of its members, Sir Arnold Le Poer, seneschal of Kilkenny Castle, who withstood the power of the Church as embodied in the person and pretensions of the Bishop of Ossory, from whose holy clutches he rescued the Lady Alice Kyteler, who was accused of and persecuted for the heinous sin of witchcraft.*

Poe’s great-grandfather, John Poe, emigrated to America from Ireland about the middle of the last century, bringing with him his wife, Jane — a daughter of Admiral James M’Bride — and his son, David, who was then in his second or third year. David Poe grew up to manhood, and served during the Revolution as a quartermaster-general in the Maryland line. General Poe must have been a man of some note, for Dr. Griswold states that he was the intimate friend of Lafayette, who called personally on his widow during his last visit to this country, and tendered her acknowledgments for the [column 2:] service rendered him by her husband. The maiden name of this lady was Cairns. She was a native of Pennsylvania, and is said to have been singularly beautiful. To her were born five children, the names of two of whom have reached us, one being David, the father of our Poe, the other Maria, Poe’s aunt, and the mother of his wife, Virginia. Of David Poe, Jun., little is known, except that at the age of eighteen, while a law student in the office of William Gynne [[Gwynn]], of Baltimore he became enamored of Elizabeth Arnold, an English actress, whom he first saw in Norfolk, whither he had been sent on professional business, and whom he soon married. His parents refused to countenance the marriage, but relented after the birth of his first child. As regards Miss Arnold, I find that she was a member of a company of comedians engaged by a Mr. Solee for the City Theatre, Charleston, South Carolina, and that on the 18th of August, 1797, she played the part of Maria, in the farce of, “The Spoiled Child,” at the old John Street Theatre in New York.* She reappeared here, as Mrs. Poe, on the 16th of July, 1806, in the part of Priscilla Tomboy, at the new Vauxhall Garden. Two nights after, Mr. Poe himself appeared as Frank, in “Fortune’s Frolic.” “The lady was young and pretty, and evinced talent both as singer and actress; the gentleman was literally nothing.” The last theatrical trace of the Poes is at the Park Theatre, in 1809.

Mrs. Poe is repeatedly described as young ­[page 557:] and beautiful. Beautiful she may have been, but she could not have been young at the time of her marriage. She was on the New York stage in 1797, as we have seen, and although we are not told in what year she was married, it could not have been much earlier than 1804 or 1805. Now, as her husband had then reached the venerable age of eighteen, he must have been born in 1786 or 1787. As she could not well have taken the part of Maria when she was only ten or eleven, it follows that she was at least six or seven years the senior of her husband; probably more. Paucity of dates and facts concerning this imprudent couple does not enable me to state any details in regard to their theatrical and domestic career. They lived precariously, playing where they could get engagements. Mrs. Poe was a favorite in Richmond, but more, it is said, on account of her beauty than her acting. Both died in Richmond, in 1815, of consumption, and within a few weeks of each other. They left three children — Henry, Edgar, and Rosalie — in utter destitution.

Edgar, who was then four years old — if he was born at Baltimore in 1811, as is generally believed — was adopted by Mr. John Allan, a wealthy and kind-hearted merchant of Richmond, who had been intimate with his parents, and had no children of his own. It was generally understood among Mr. Allan’s acquaintances, Dr. Griswold says, that he intended to make the boy his heir. The same writer relates an anecdote of the child which he professed to have derived from “an eminent and most estimable gentleman of Richmond.” It is to the effect that when Poe was only six or seven he went to a school kept by a widow of excellent character, who instructed the children of some of the first families in the city. “A portion of the grounds was used for the cultivation of vegetables, and its invasion by her pupils strictly forbidden. A trespasser, if discovered, was commonly made to wear, during school-hours, a turnip or carrot, or something of the sort, attached to his neck, as a sign of disgrace. On one occasion Poe, having violated the rules, was decorated with the promised badge, which he wore in sullenness until the dismissal of the boys, when, that the full extent of his wrong might be understood by his patron, of whose sympathy he was confident, he eluded the notice of the school-mistress, who would have relieved him of his esculent, and made the best of his way home with it dangling at his neck. Mr. Allan’s anger was aroused, and he proceeded instantly to the school-room, and after lecturing the astonished dame upon the enormity of such an insult to his son and himself, demanded his account, determined that the child should not again be subjected to such tyranny. Who can estimate the effect of this puerile triumph upon the growth of [column 2:] that morbid self-esteem which characterized the author in after-life?”

Who, indeed? The story is not a remarkable one. Children have always disobeyed teachers, teachers have always punished children, and parents and guardians have always made a fuss about it. What is remarkable, however, is that Dr. Griswold should not have seen that it could not have happened as he relates. He was misled by his “eminent and most estimable gentleman of Richmond,” or he misled himself. His own pages prove that Poe could not have been in school in that city when he was six or seven years old, for he says distinctly that Mr. and Mrs. Allan took him with them to England when he was only five, viz., in 1816! That somebody was wrong is evident. Who was it? Did Dr. Griswold place the date of Poe’s birth too late? I am inclined to think so. Yet he had Poe’s authority, he writes, for so placing it, as he had Poe’s authority for placing it two years later! Both dates can not be right; probably neither is.*

Of Poe at this time (whatever may have been his age) we are told that he was remarkable for a tenacious memory and a musical ear, and that he was accustomed to declaim the finest passages of English poetry to the evening visitors at Mr. Allan’s house with great effect. The most insensible of his audience could not fail to be struck with the justness of his emphasis, and his evident appreciation of the poems he recited, while every heart was won by the ingenious simplicity and agreeable manners of the pretty little elocutionist.

The Allans made a tour with Master Edgar in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and then placed him at school in Stoke Newington, near London, where he remained five years. There is a description of this school and its master, Dr. Bransby, in Poe’s story of “William Wilson” — a story which he declared was autobiographic, at least in these particulars. It was a large, rambling, irregular old Elizabethan building, in a misty-looking village, where there were a vast number of gigantic and gnarled trees, and where all the houses were excessively ancient. ­[page 559:] The grounds were extensive, and a high and solid brick wall, topped with a bed of mortar and broken glass, encompassed the whole. This prison-like rampart formed the limit of the domain; the scholars saw beyond it but thrice a week — once every Saturday afternoon, when, attended by two ushers, they were permitted to take brief walks in a body through some of the neighboring fields, and twice during Sunday, when they were paraded in the same formal manner to the morning and evening service in the one church of the village. Of this church Dr. Bransby was pastor, and his pupils were wont to regard him with wonder and perplexity from their remote pew in the gallery, as, with step solemn and slow, he ascended the pulpit. That reverend man, with countenance so demurely benign, with robes so glossy and so clerically flowing, with wig so minutely powdered, so rigid and so vast — could that be he who of late, with sour visage and in snuffy habiliments, administered, ferule in hand, the Draconian laws of the academy?

If we may credit Mr. William Wilson, such was the school-master and school of Stoke Newington. That both are described with tolerable accuracy I have no doubt, and that they left a vivid impression in Poe’s mind is not to be wondered at. Children with his temperament feel rather than see what surrounds them, and what they have once felt is long remembered. Coleridge never forgot his master, Bowyer, and it was with a painful recollection of his own school-days that he hoped the old man might go, after his death, where there were only cherubs! Poe is said to have received a classical education at this period, but his writings show little traces of it. This fact, to be sure, proves nothing, for he was versed in many pursuits of which he made no literary use, as he knew many persons of whom he seldom or never spoke. For my own part, I believe that his acquirements were rather in the direction of mathematical than of classical learning, and were not remarkable in either. I have no faith in the learning of a boy in his second lustrum, or his third — which, by-the-way, is the one described by the shadowy William Wilson, who adds five years to the age of his alter ego, Edgar Allan Poe.

But whatever his age — ten or fifteen — Poe turned his back on Stoke Newington and its duplicate pedagogue and parson, and returned to the United States, in 1822. He took up his abode with the Allans in Richmond, where he continued his studies under the best masters for two or three years. He was a handsome lad, with bright eyes, soft, clustering hair, and a face alive with expression. Apt and clever, but of a wayward temper, he was noted for his power of extemporaneous story-telling, and for his feats of activity and strength. Like Byron, he [column 2:] was an expert and strong swimmer, and it is related of him that he once, for a wager, on a hot day in June, swam from Richmond to Warwick, a distance of seven miles and a half, against a tide running from two to three miles an hour. The feat fatigued him so little that he walked back to Richmond after having accomplished it. He had the art of making friends, and was profoundly touched by kindness. The extreme tenderness of his feelings was shown one day when he visited the house of one of his school-mates, whose mother, on entering the room where he was, took his hand and spoke some words of welcome, which penetrated his heart so deeply that he lost the power of speech, if not of consciousness itself. To the friend thus formed he was wont to impart all his youthful sorrows. She had a happy influence over him in his darker moods, and after her death it was his habit for months to pay a nightly visit to the cemetery in which she was buried. The drearier the nights, the longer he lingered and the more regretfully he came away. The memory of this lady is said to have suggested the most beautiful of his minor poems, the lines beginning,

“Helen, thy beauty is to me,”

and may have done so, though I am not aware that Poe himself ever countenanced the idea. It is far more likely that she remotely suggested “The Sleeper,” the concluding lines of which reflect what we may suppose to have been his feelings in his long night watches by her grave:

“My love, she sleeps! O, may her sleep,

As it is lasting, so be deep!

Soft may the worms about her creep!

Far in the forest, dim and old,

For her may some tall vault unfold —

Some vault that oft hath flung its black

And wingéd panels fluttering back,

Triumphant, o’er the crested palls

Of her grand family funerals —

Some sepulchre, remote, alone,

Against whose portal she hath thrown,

In childhood, many an idle stone —

Some tomb from out whose sounding door

She ne’er shall force an echo more,

Thrilling to think, poor child of sin!

It was the dead who groaned within.”

Poe entered, in 1825, the University of Virginia. “The university was then a most dissolute place, and Mr. Edgar A. Poe was remarked as the most dissolute and dissipated youth in the university.” So writes one of the most friendly of his biographers, and I suppose we must accept his testimony. We should remember, however (if the learned will pardon me the observation), that universities have never been considered safe institutions in which to place young gentlemen. What Hamlet said to his fellow-student, Horatio, has been, if not the motto, at least the practice of thousands of students since:

“We’ll teach you to drink deep ere you depart.”

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Poe's Cottage at Fordham [thumbnail]

[Illustration on page 560]
 
Poe’s Cottage at Fordham

Not to have drunk deeply, in the situation in which Poe found himself, would have required a stronger will and a less excitable temperament than he possessed. He drank, therefore, and gambled, and was at last expelled from the university.

It should be said, in justice to Poe, that whatever his habits may have been, he was in the first rank for scholarship; and it should be said, in justice to Mr. Allan, that his allowance to Poe had been liberal. He refused, however, to honor some of the drafts with which the reckless youth had paid his gambling debts, and the consequence was an abusive letter from him. There was a rupture between them. Poe quitted his house in a rage.

The period was a turbulent one, and he was a young man of the period. The Greeks were fighting against the Turks; he would go and fight against them too. Byron had done so, and had died at Missolonghi two or three years before, and public honors had been decreed to his memory. Campbell was shouting,

“Again to the battle, Achaians!”

and Halleck, nearer home, was raising a monument to Marco Bozzaris in his martial verse:

“Strike! till the last armed foe expires,

Strike! for your altars and your fires,

Strike! for the green graves of your sires,

God and your native land!”

That is, the native land of the Greeks. [column 2:]

“When a man has no freedom to fight for at home,

Let him combat for that of his neighbors;

Let him think of the glories of Greece and of Rome,

And get knocked on the head for his labors.”

There was a comical side to all this enthusiasm, and Byron had been sharp-sighted enough to see it; but Poe was not. He believed in

“The glory that was Greece,

And the grandeur that was Rome;”

but he was not destined to see either. There is an old proverb which says, “The farthest way round is the nearest way home,” and experience occasionally proves its truth. At any rate, Poe found it true; for instead of proceeding post-haste to Greece, where he might have added to the number of the slain, he turned up in some unaccountable way at St. Petersburg. He got into difficulties with the authorities there, and, it is hinted, came near adding to his acquirements a knowledge of the knout and Siberia; but Mr. Henry Middleton, of South Carolina, United States minister to Russia, interfered in his behalf, and sent him bach to America, after an absence of about a year. Mr. Allan received him again, but it could not have been with much cordiality. Nevertheless, he was willing to serve him, and on Poe’s expressing a desire to enter West Point, he induced General Scott, Chief Justice Marshall, and others to sign an application, which secured his admission.

The story of Poe’s life at West Point has ­[page 561:] never been clearly told. Dr. Griswold says that for a few weeks the cadet applied himself with much assiduity to his studies, and became at once a favorite with his mess and with the officers and professors of the Academy; but his habits of dissipation were renewed; he neglected his duties and disobeyed orders; and in ten months from his matriculation he was cashiered. According to Dr. Griswold, this episode in the life of Poe occurred in 1829. I find it difficult to accept this date — first, because Poe published in that year, at Baltimore, a collection, of his verses (“Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems”); and second, because he afterward issued an enlarged edition of this little volume in New York, which was dedicated “To the U. S. Corps of Cadets,” and to which he prefixed a prose letter, — addressed to a “Dear B——,” and dated “West Point, ——, 1831.” Did Dr. Griswold blunder, or did Poe purposely misdate?*

Back again to Richmond went the cashiered cadet. Mr. Allan received him again into his house, but it was not what it had been of old. Mrs. Allan was dead, and there was a new wife in her place. It is likely that there was a young Allan also. Mr. Lowell intimates as much in a paper contributed by him to Graham’s Magazine; but as this paper was written at the request of Poe, and evidently from data furnished by him, I can not vouch for its accuracy. It [column 2:] was not long before there was a second breach between Poe and his benefactor. Poe declared it was because he ridiculed the marriage as being an unsuitable one, and had a quarrel with Mrs. Allan. The friends of the family declared it was for other reasons. But whatever the cause, they parted in anger, and Mr. Allan would never again see nor assist him. He died in a few years afterward, leaving a large fortune, and three children to share it: to Poe he left nothing.

Of the career of Poe at this period we have only the most vague accounts. It could not, I think, have been a literary one. It is true that he had published a volume of poetry, or rather two volumes, for his second edition contained enough fresh matter to be considered a new work; but his poetry could not have brought him reputation or profit. It is the fashion with biographers of a certain sort to maintain that the contributions of the young geniuses whom they celebrate were eagerly sought for by publishers; but if these biographers know any thing of literature, they must know better. Genius has always had to struggle, and has often starved — sometimes died — in the struggle. Poe had as much genius, in his way, as any American author of whom I have heard, and he was always poor. I question whether at this time even the newspapers wanted, or paid for, any articles that he may have written. Dr. Griswold relates of Poe that, after he had failed to earn his bread by (supposititious) journalism, he enlisted in the army as a private soldier; that he was recognized by officers who had known him at West Point, and who made efforts privately, but with prospects of success, to obtain a commission for him, and that he absconded before it could be obtained: in short, that he was a deserter. No authority is given for this story, which I, for one, do not credit. It is too much like an adventure of Coleridge’s, which will at once recur to the recollection of his admirers.

The obscurities and discrepancies of Poe’s early life begin now to disappear, and his biographer finds for the first time something like solid ground before him. It is in Baltimore, whither Poe has drifted, and where he is living from hand to mouth — with very little in his hand to put into his mouth. It is the summer or early autumn of 1833, and the proprietors of the Saturday Visitor [[Visiter ]] have offered two prizes to the aspiring literati of America — one for the best tale that may be sent them, the other for the best poem. Among those who competed was Poe, who submitted a poem and six prose sketches. The elegance of his penmanship tempted one of the committee who was to make the award to read several pages of the MS. volume in which these sketches were written. He was interested by them, as were also the others — so much so that they decided to read ­[page 562:] no more of the MSS., but to give the prizes to “the first of geniuses who had written legibly.” When the “confidential envelope” was opened, it was found that the writer’s name was Poe, and Mr. Poe was accordingly notified by advertisement of his success. He waited at once upon the publisher, who was moved by his appearance — a virtue with which the race of publishers is not popularly credited. This gentleman described Poe to one of the committee, Mr. John P. Kennedy, the well-known author of “Horseshoe Robinson,” whose sympathies were excited in his behalf, and who desired that he should call upon him. He came just as he was (the prize-money not having been paid him), thin, pale, with the marks of sickness and destitution in his face. His seedy coat, buttoned up tight to the chin, concealed the absence of a shirt. Less successful were his [column 2:] boots, through whose crevices his lack of hose was seen. Out at elbows as he was, the gentleman was apparent in his bearing, and the man of genius in his conversation. He related his history (though hardly, I imagine, as I have related it), and Mr. Kennedy resolved to befriend him. The pair went to a clothing store, and Poe was rigged out in a respectable suit, with changes of linen and the like. He was on his feet once more, “clothed and in his right mind.”

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Fac-simile of Handwriting of Edgar Allan Poe [thumbnail]

[Illustration on page 562]
 
Fac-simile of Handwriting of Edgar Allan Poe

Of the next year and a half of Poe’s life we know little, except that he was very industrious with his pen. He wrote several stories besides those in the MS. volume we have mentioned, and a few poems of no great account. He preserved the respect of his new friends, who were anxious to be of service to him — none more so than Mr. Kennedy, who indorsed him, in a letter to Mr. T. W. White, editor and proprietor of the Southern Literary Messenger, as being clever, classical, and scholar-like. “He has a volume of very bizarre tales in the hands of ——, in Philadelphia, who for a year past has been promising to publish them. This young fellow is highly imaginative, and a little given to the terrific. He is at work upon a tragedy now, but I have turned him to drudging upon whatever may make money, and I have no doubt you and he will find your account in each other.” This was written in April, 1835, and it resulted in the engagement of Poe, who remained in Baltimore six or seven months longer before he removed to Richmond. There were many reasons why Richmond should have been agreeable to him, and there were many reasons why it should have been disagreeable. The latter outweighed the former, as might have been expected, somewhat to the surprise of his Baltimore friends, who could not understand why he should be invaded by the blue-devils when every body was praising him, and fortune was beginning to smile upon him. He knew, however, as did also Mr. White, who was soon compelled to dismiss him. Poe and his acquaintances made overtures toward reconciliation and reinstatement in his position, and they were kindly received. “If you would make yourself contented with quarters in my house,” wrote Mr. White, “or with any other private family where liquor is not used, I should ­[page 563:] think there was some hope for you. But if you go to a tavern, or to any place where it is used at table, you are not safe. You have fine talents, Edgar, and you ought to have them respected, as well as yourself. Learn to respect yourself, and you will soon find that you are respected. Separate yourself from the bottle and from bottle companions forever.” Poe promised to do this, and no doubt struggled to keep his word. But he failed, as did finally the patience of Mr. White. They separated after a year and a half, which was a season of trial to both, and Poe took leave of the Messenger in the number for January, 1837: “With the best wishes to the magazine, and to its few foes as well as many friends, he is now desirous of bidding all parties a peaceful farewell.”

Not to be behind his father in imprudence, Poe married, during his residence in Richmond, his cousin, Virginia Clemm, who was as poor as himself, and whose chief qualifications for being his wife consisted in a sweet face, a gentle temper, and — in loving him!

The young couple flitted from Richmond to Baltimore, and soon after to Philadelphia and New York. Their visit to the latter city seems to have been occasioned by Poe’s desire to publish there “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, of Nantucket,” the opening chapters of which had already appeared in the Messenger. This, the longest of Poe’s fictions, was published by Harper and Brothers in the summer of 1838. It received but little attention in this country, but was more successful in England. Such, at least, is the belief of Mr. G. P. Putnam, to whom, in London, the volume was sent.

“Here is an American contribution to geographical science,” he remarked to the late Daniel Appleton, who was sitting in his office. “This man has reached a higher latitude than any European navigator. Let us reprint this for the benefit of Mr. Bull.” Mr. Appleton assented, and took a half share in the venture. The grave particularity of the title and of the narrative misled many of the critics as well as the unsuspicious publishers, and whole columns of these new “discoveries,” including the hieroglyphics (!) found on the rocks, were copied by many of the English country papers as sober historical truth.

Not long after the publication of the veracious “Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym,” Poe and his young wife flitted back to Philadelphia. His only dependence was literature — a delusive profession, which usually leaves its followers just where it found them. In Poe’s case it meant hard writing for any body that would pay He became a contributor to the Gentleman’s Magazine, which Burton, the comedian, had recently established, and in May of the following year its chief editor. His services were slight, since [column 2:] they occupied only two hours a day; but his salary was still slighter, since it amounted to only ten dollars a week! He devoted himself industriously to fiction, and produced some of his most remarkable stories. A collection of these was published in Philadelphia in 1839, under the title of “Tales of the Grotesque and the Arabesque.” They were not successful, except in escaping attention — a fate they shared in common with Hawthorne’s “Twice-told Tales.” It was this, let us charitably suppose, which sent Poe again to his cups, and caused him to neglect his editorial duties. There was trouble between him and Burton, as there had been trouble between him and Mr. White; but Burton, like Mr. White, treated him with kindness and consideration. “You must rouse your energies,” wrote the sensible actor, “and if care assail you, conquer it. I will gladly overlook the past. I hope you will as easily fulfill your pledges for the future. We shall agree very well, though I can not permit the magazine to be made a vehicle for that sort of severity which you think is so ‘successful with the mob.’ I am truly much less anxious about making a monthly ‘sensation’ than I am upon the point of fairness. You must, my dear Sir, get rid of your avowed ill feelings toward your brother authors. You see I speak plainly: I can not do otherwise upon such a subject. You say the people love havoc; I think they love justice.” This was sensible advice, but Poe was not the man to take it. He could not understand, for example, how literary justice could exist without havoc. Nor can I, either, when mediocrity is so pretentious as it was then. It was not the bad author that he hated; it was the bad book, which, in his eyes, was a flagrant misdemeanor, to punish which he elected himself chief justice of the court of criticism, and head hangman of dunces. This, however, was not the cause which led to his separation from Burton. It was the old failing, aggravated by an attempt on his part to start surreptitiously a magazine of his own.

There were two periodicals in Philadelphia — the Gentleman’s Magazine and the Casket. These were now merged into one, which took the name of Graham’s Magazine. Poe was engaged to edit it, and did so for about a year and a half. The old failing continued to overcome him, but it did not prevent his writing many fine tales and many biting criticisms. He was a politic critic, however, when it suited his interest to be so, as it did in the case of Dr. Griswold, who was about to publish a bulky volume on “The Poets and Poetry of America,” in which Poe desired to appear to advantage. He sent Dr. Griswold a number of his poems, and wrote to him, “I should be proud to see one or two of them in your book.” When the book appeared he wrote further, “It is ­[page 564:] of immense importance as a guide to what we have done, but you have permitted your good nature to influence you to a degree.” The last half of this sentence was as true as the first half was false. Nobody knew this so well as Poe; but he continued, “It is a better book than any other man in the United States could have made out of the materials: this I will say.” It was a pity that he would say this, for it was not long before he unsaid it in a public lecture, wherein Dr. Griswold was sharply reviewed.

It would have been better for the reputation of both if the critical poet and the uncritical compiler had never met. We should not have known so much of Poe, perhaps, but we should certainly have known less of Dr. Griswold. At any rate, we should have been spared the knowledge that Poe was in such straits, after quitting the editorial chair of Graham’s Magazine, as to be obliged to borrow a small sum of money from Dr. Griswold, which would be remembered to his disadvantage years after. “Can you not send me five dollars? — I am sick, and Virginia is almost gone,” were not words to be printed when Poe was in his grave.

How Poe appeared at this time is best stated in the words of his merciless biographer, who seemed, for once, on the point of relenting. “It was while he resided in Philadelphia that I became acquainted with him. His manner, except during his fits of intoxication, was very quiet and gentlemanly. He was usually dressed with simplicity and elegance, and when once he sent for me to visit him, during a period of illness caused by protracted and anxious watching at the side of his sick wife, I was impressed by the singular neatness and the air of refinement in his home. It was in a small house in one of the pleasant and silent neighborhoods far from the centre of the town, and though slightly and cheaply furnished, every thing in it was so tasteful and so fitly disposed that it seemed altogether suitable for a man of genius. For this, and for most of the comforts he enjoyed in his brightest as in his darkest years, he was chiefly indebted to his mother-in-law, who loved him with more than maternal devotion and constancy.”

In the autumn of 1844 Poe flitted back to New York. His reputation had largely increased since his previous residence here six years before, and he was in a fair way of becoming a popular author. His stories had been translated in France, where they were much admired for their singular analytical power. One of them — “The Murders of [[in]] the Rue Morgue” — was served up as a feuilleton in two French journals, and occasioned a lawsuit, in the course of which it came out that, so far from being the property of either, the tale was a direct theft from “un romancier Americain” named Poe. The publicity [column 2:] of this fact, and the appearance shortly afterward of a paper on Poe’s writings in the Revue des Deux Mondes, resulted in the translation of quite a number of his best stories. He was a notability, as what American author was not twenty-five or thirty years ago if he was fortunate enough to obtain recognition abroad?

Poe’s first literary work in New York, so far as I can discover, was on the Mirror, an evening paper conducted by Mr. N. P. Willis and General George P. Morris. He was sub-editor in general and critic in particular, and was much liked by his fellow-poets, as I suppose I should call them. They had been led by common report to expect a very capricious attention to his duties, and were very agreeably disappointed in this respect; for there could have been no more punctual editor in New York than Poe. He was at his desk in the editorial room from nine in the morning till the Mirror went to press, an industrious, affable gentleman. “With his pale, beautiful, and intellectual face as a reminder of what genius was in him, it was impossible, of course, not to treat him always with deferential courtesy; and to our occasional request that he would not probe too deep in a criticism, or that he would erase a passage colored too highly with his resentments against society and mankind, he readily and courteously assented, far more yielding than most men, we thought, on points so excusably sensitive. With a prospect of taking the lead in another periodical, he at last voluntarily gave up his employment with us.”

The periodical to which Mr. Willis referred was probably the Broadway Journal, which was started in January, 1845, and edited by Mr. H. C. Watson and Mr. C. F. Briggs. The Broadway Journal lived a year, which was rather a long time for a paper of the kind twenty-five years ago. It was clever, and, like Iago, “nothing if not critical.” Poe made it the medium for reintroducing his old productions to the public — a habit of his in periodicals over which he had control. It was an easy way of supplying “copy,” and it kept him before his countrymen.

It was while he was one of the editors of the Broadway Journal that I became acquainted with Poe, and my reminiscences of him, slight as they are, must be the excuse, if any is needed, for the apparent egotism of what follows. I was then, if not a boy, a very young man, and I had a weakness not wholly confined to very young men — I wrote verse, and thought it poetry. Something that I had written assumed that pleasing form to my deluded imagination. It was an “Ode on a Grecian Flute.” I have a strong suspicion now that I was fresh from the reading of Keats, and that I particularly admired his “Ode on a Grecian ­[page 565:] Urn.” Be this as it may, I sent my ode to the Broadway Journal, I presume, with a letter addressed to Edgar A. Poe, Esq., and waited with fear and trembling. One week, two weeks passed, and it did not appear. Evidently the demand for odes was slack. When I could bear my disappointment no longer I made time to take a long walk to the office of the Broadway Journal, in Clinton Hall, and asked for Mr. Poe. He was not in. Might I inquire where he lived? I was directed to a street and a number that I have forgotten, but it was in the eastern part of the city, I think in East Broadway, near Clinton Street — a neighborhood now given up to sundry of the tribes of Israel. I knocked at the street-door, and was presently shown up to Poe’s apartments on the second or third floor. He received me kindly. I told my errand, and he promised that my ode should be printed next week. I was struck with his polite manner toward me, and with the elegance of his appearance. He was slight and pale, I saw, with large, luminous eyes, and was dressed in black. When I quitted the room I could not but see Mrs. Poe, who was lying on a bed, apparently asleep. She too was dressed in black, and was pale and wasted. “Poor lady,” I thought; “she is dying of consumption.” I was sad on her account, but glad on my own; for had I not seen a real live author, the great Edgar Allan Poe, and was not my ode to be published at once in his paper

I bought the next issue of the Broadway Journal, but the ode was not in it. It was mentioned, however, somewhat in this style: “We decline to publish the ‘Ode on a Grecian Flute’ unless we can be assured of its authenticity.” I was astounded, as almost any young gentleman in his teens would have been. I was indignant also. I made time to take another long walk to the office of the Broadway Journal, and asked again for Mr. Poe. I was told that he was out, but would probably be in in half an hour. I sauntered about the Park, heating myself in the hot sun, and went back at the end of an hour. Poe had returned, and was in the inner office. He was sitting in a chair asleep, but the publisher awoke him. He was in a morose mood. “Mr. Poe,” I said, “I have called to assure you of the authenticity of the ‘Ode on a Grecian Flute.’ ” He gave me the lie direct, declared that I never wrote it, and threatened to chastise me unless I left him at once. I was more indignant and astounded than before; but I left him, as he desired, and walked slowly home, “chewing the cud of sweet and bitter fancies.” I could not understand then why I had been subjected to such an indignity. I think I can now. When I came to think the matter over I was rather flattered than otherwise; for had not the great Poe declared [column 2:] that I did not write the poem, when I knew that I did? What a genius I must be!

I had glimpses of Poe afterward in the streets, but we never spoke. The last time that I remember to have seen him was in the afternoon of a dreary autumn day. A heavy shower had come up suddenly, and he was standing under an awning. I had an umbrella, and my impulse was to share it with him on his way home, but something — certainly not unkindness — withheld me. I went on and left him there in the rain, pale, shivering, miserable, the embodiment of his own

“unhappy master,

Whom unmerciful disaster

Followed fast, and followed faster.”

New York has never been remarkable, I believe, for its love of literary men — remarkable, that is, as Weimar was in Goethe’s day, and as Boston is supposed to be in our own; but when Poe resided in New York there was a perceptible flavor of literature in its society. Its Mrs. Leo Hunters were at home on stated evenings during the winter months, and among the celebrities whom they enticed to their parlors came Poe and his wife. These evenings are said to have been delightful, but, like many other delightful things, they have left very shadowy recollections in the minds of those who shared them. What is chiefly remembered about Poe is that his manners were refined and pleasing, and his style and scope of conversation that of a gentleman and a scholar. His conversational powers are much dwelt upon by his admirers. Mrs. Poe played the part of a silent and admiring listener on these occasions, winning all hearts with her sweet, pale, girlish face. It was evident to those whose perceptions were sharpened by experience in sick-rooms that she had not long to live, and it was equally evident that her husband was deeply attached to her. Friends and foes alike bore testimony to this bright spot in his character. The natural refinement of his nature drew him toward women, of whom he was a gentle student, and in whose society he delighted. He was lenient to literary women; more lenient in some cases than strict justice demanded; so lenient, indeed, in general, that his criticisms upon them had but little critical value. He especially admired the graceful genius of Mrs. Osgood, who recorded her recollections of him in a tender, womanly fashion. “It was in his own simple yet poetical home that to me the character of Edgar Poe appeared in its most beautiful light. Playful, affectionate, witty — alternately docile and wayward as a petted child — for his young, gentle, idolized wife, and for all who came, he had, even in the midst of his most harassing literary duties, a kind word, a pleasant smile, a graceful and courteous attention. At his desk, beneath the romantic picture of his ­[page 566:] loved and lost Lenore, he would sit hour after hour, patient, assiduous, and uncomplaining, tracing in an exquisitely clear chirography, and with almost superhuman swiftness, the lightning thoughts, the ‘rare and radiant’ fancies, as they flashed through his wonderful and ever-wakeful brain. I recollect one morning toward the close of his residence in this city, when he seemed unusually gay and light-hearted. Virginia, his sweet wife, had written me a pressing invitation to come to them; and I, who could never resist her affectionate summons, and who enjoyed his society far more in his own home than elsewhere, hastened to Amity Street. I found him just completing his series of papers entitled ‘The Literati of New York. “See,’ said he, displaying in laughing triumph several little rolls of narrow paper (he always wrote thus for the press), ‘I’m going to show you, by the difference of length in these, the different degrees of estimation in which I hold all you literary people. In each of these one of you is rolled up and fully discussed. Come, Virginia, help me!’ And one by one they unfolded them. At last they came to one which seemed interminable. Virginia laughingly ran to one corner of the room with one end, and her husband to the opposite with the other. ‘And whose lengthened sweetness long drawn out is that?’ said I. ‘Hear her,’ he cried, ‘just as if her vain little heart didn’t tell her it’s herself!’”

“The Literati of New York” would not have struck an ordinary writer as a promising subject for a series of papers. But Poe was not an ordinary writer. “The Dean,” said Stella, “could write beautifully about a broomstick.” So could Poe when he chose, although few of the literati saw any beauty in his writing as far as they were concerned personally. A could relish Poe’s smartness at the expense of B, and B could relish it at the expense of A; but each was indignant with him for what he wrote about him. It may have been fun to Poe, this stoning of frogs in the literary pond, but it was death to many of the poor little froglings. Not being among the number of these, I enjoyed his critical dissections, in which it was difficult to say what element predominated, they were at once so urbane and so brutal. Whether they expressed Poe’s “honest opinions,” as he professed, may be doubted; there can be no doubt that they contained “occasional words of personality.”

In the summer or autumn of 1846 Poe removed to Fordham. The cottage he occupied was buried in fruit trees. There was a flower garden on the premises, and near the door an old cherry-tree, in which birds used to build their nests and rear their young. Poe was fond of birds, flowers, and the “little people of nature” generally, and among his pets was a cat, which loved to seat itself on [column 2:] his shoulder and pur [[purr]] to him as he wrote. A walk from his residence to High Bridge was one of his recreations, and in the last years of his life he might often have been seen sauntering there at all hours of the day and night. A favorite haunt was a ledge of rocky ground crowned with pines and cedars, under which he delighted to sit, feasting his eyes on the quiet beauty of the landscape around him, and dreaming dreams which were soon to put on the imperishable form of verse. He was alone on these occasions, as poets love to be, though in his case he was alone of necessity, for his wife was failing, and the services of Mrs. Clemm were needed at her bedside, as were frequently his own, in the long, still watches of the night. Dr. Griswold says that his old failing increased, and that it was this which reduced him to the destitution in which he soon found himself. But as Dr. Griswold does not substantiate his assertion, I prefer to think it was the gloom which rested over Poe’s spirit and palsied his hand — the shadow of the approaching death of his wife. It was not long before he was ill himself, and then the family were in want. Mrs. Clemm proved herself their good angel, as she had always done. “It was a hard fate she was watching over,” Mr. Willis wrote, when the tragedy of Poe’s life was ended. “Mr. Poe wrote with fastidious difficulty, and in a style too much above the popular level to be well paid.* He was always in pecuniary difficulty, and, with his sick wife, frequently in want of the merest necessaries of life. Winter after winter, for years, the most touching sight to us in this whole city has been that tireless minister to genius, thinly and insufficiently clad, going from office to office with a poem or an article on some literary subject to sell, sometimes simply pleading in a broken voice that he was ill, and begging for him — mentioning nothing but that ‘he was ill,’ whatever might be the reason for his writing nothing — and never, amidst all her tears and recitals of distress, suffering one syllable to escape her lips that could convey a doubt of him, or a lessening of pride in his genius and good intentions.”

Attention was drawn to the illness and poverty of Poe and his wife in one of the ­[page 567:] New York journals, and by the manly comments made upon the circumstance by Mr. Willis in the Home Journal. Poe’s friends and admirers came promptly forward with their contributions, which relieved him from his immediate embarrassments. This was in December, 1846. A few weeks later his wife was no longer with him.

She died in January, 1847; and all that was mortal of her was buried one cold winter day in a cemetery at Fordham.

“What parting words were said,

What burning tears were shed,

The angels know, not I:

Enough that she was flown,

And he was left alone,

To live, to strive, to die.”

We are left to conjecture the life of the bereaved husband and his “more than mother” in their lonesome little cottage. Whatever he may have planned, he published but little during the next twelve months. We know, however, that he busied himself with the grandest problem that the intellect of man has ever set itself to solve — the Problem of the Universe. This he solved to his own satisfaction, not like a man of science, which he was not, though he claimed to be, but like the imaginative poet that he was. His work “haunted him like a passion.” He was incessantly dwelling upon it to Mrs. Clemm, who told me, after his death, how he often used to talk with her about it while it was in progress, and how one winter night in particular they passed hours together under the glittering starlight, walking up and down the little piazza of their cottage, he explaining the “Cosmos” to her, and she, I gathered, shivering with cold, though she would not for worlds have owned the fact. She also told me that she had frequently heard her “dear Eddie” speak of me, which I fancied was a slip of memory on her part; and further, as if there was ever present in her mind the necessity of saying something kind and motherly about him, that a single cup of coffee would intoxicate him, so sensitive was his nervous organization.

Early in 1848 Poe announced his intention to lecture, for the purpose of obtaining means to start a periodical of his own, a scheme which was always in his mind. His first lecture was delivered in New York in February, at the Society Library, and was attended by a scanty audience, who were probably weary before it was over, since it occupied more than two hours in the delivery. It was what was published, not long afterward, under the title of “Eureka: a Prose Poem.” Its publication was brought about rather oddly, as Mr. Putnam, the original publisher, has lately stated in print. He was in his office in Broadway, when a gentleman entered, and with a somewhat nervous and excited manner claimed attention on a subject which he said was of the highest importance. “Seated [column 2:] at my desk, and looking at me a full minute with his ‘glittering eye,’ he at length said, ‘I am Mr. Poe.’ I was ‘all ear,’ of course, and sincerely interested. It was the author of ‘The Raven,’ and of ‘The Gold Bug!’ ‘I hardly know,’ said the poet, after a pause, ‘how to begin what I have to say. It is a matter of profound importance.’ After another pause, the poet seeming to be in a tremor of excitement, he at length went on to say that the publication he had to propose was of momentous interest. Newton’s discovery of gravitation was a mere incident compared with the discoveries revealed in this book. It would at once command such universal and intense interest that the publisher might give up all other enterprises, and make this one book the business of his lifetime. An edition of fifty thousand copies might be sufficient to begin with; but it would be but a small beginning. No other scientific event in the history of the world approached in importance the original developments of this book. All this and more, not in irony or in jest, but in intense earnest — for he held me with his eye like the Ancient Mariner. I was really impressed, but not overcome. Promising a decision on Monday (it was late Saturday P. M.), the poet had to rest so long in uncertainty upon the extent of the edition — partly reconciled, by a small loan, meanwhile. We did venture, not upon fifty thousand, but five hundred. Even after this small edition was in type,” Mr. Putnam adds, in a note, “the poet proposed to punish us by giving a duplicate of the MS. to another publisher because a third little advance was deemed inexpedient.”

Poe’s own copy of “Eureka” is before me as I write — a shabby little duodecimo from the library of Dr. Griswold, whose autograph it contains, as well as many corrections in the handwriting of Poe himself, made with a view to a second edition, which was never called for. They are curious as showing the extreme fastidiousness of his taste as regards style, and one is especially interesting as embodying what was probably the summum bonum of Poe’s theology. It is written in pencil on the last page of the volume, to the last paragraph of which it is appended. Here it is: “Note. — The pain of the consideration that we shall lose our individual identity ceases at once when we further reflect that the process, as above described, is neither more nor less than that of the absorption, by each individual intelligence, of all other intelligences (that is, of the Universe) into its own. That God may be all in all, each must become God.”

In the latter part of the summer of 1849 Poe left Fordham for Virginia. When he got as far as Philadelphia he fell in with some of his old boon companions, and was overcome by his old temptation. It was “hail-fellow well met” with him while his ­[page 568:] money lasted. When it was all gone he was obliged to solicit charity for the means of reaching Richmond. So Dr. Griswold says, and, from what occurred after Poe’s arrival in Richmond, I feel sure that he was not misinformed. When Poe was first heard of by his Richmond friends he had been for several days at a sort of common tavern in a part of the city known as Rockets. One of these friends — a man of letters — took a carriage and drove thither with the intention of fetching him away, but he had disappeared. The tavern-keeper, a man named Jacob Mull, knew nothing of his whereabouts or who he was, except that he said his name was Poe, and that he had slept for a number of nights on the sanded floor of the bar-room. At the end of a week or ten days Poe appeared one morning at the office of his literary friend, whom he knew only by correspondence, and introduced himself. His garments were old and seedy, but brushed with scrupulous care, and there were no signs of dissipation in his clean and fresh-shaved face. He asked permission to have his letters directed to his friend’s box, and room enough in his office to write in, both of which requests were, of course, cordially granted. A desk was given him, and he was soon at his literary work, a portion of which consisted of the sharp paragraphs entitled “Marginalia,” which were published from time to time in the first magazine that he had ever edited — the Southern Literary Messenger. What Mr. Kennedy had done for him about fifteen years before was done now — he was rejuvenated as regards his clothing, and made presentable in society by the tailor of his friend. For a time all went well with him, but at last he disappeared. At the end of several days he returned with a damaged eye. He had been mistaken for some one else by a ruffian in a bar-room, and knocked down without a word. He returned to his work, to disappear again. He was next heard of at a fashionable drinking saloon called “The Alhambra,” where he was found explaining “Eureka” to a motley crowd of bar-room loungers. He returned to his work again, and seemed in a fair way to reform. He joined a temperance society, and gave a lecture, which was attended by the best people in Richmond. He renewed acquaintance with a lady whom he had loved in youth, and who was now a widow, and became engaged to her. He had but two things to do before they were married — one was to go to Philadelphia and write a preface for a volume of poems by a lady, the other was to go to Fordham and fetch Mrs. Clemm to the wedding.

He started from Richmond on the 2d or 3d of October. What happened during the next four or five days is involved in considerable obscurity, but the facts, as far as they can be ascertained, appear to be these: He arrived at Baltimore safely, but between trains unfortunately [column 2:] took a drink with a friend, the consequence of which was that he was brought back from Havre de Grace, by the conductor of the Philadelphia train, in a state of delirium. It was the eve of an exciting municipal election, and as he wandered up and down the streets of Baltimore he was seized by the lawless agents of some political club, and shut up all night in a cellar. The next morning he was taken out in a state of frenzy, drugged, and made to vote in eleven different wards. The following day he was found in the back-room of a “headquarters,” and removed to a hospital on Broadway, north of Baltimore Street. He was insensible when found, and remained so until Sunday morning, October 7. A doctor and nurse were with him when he first showed consciousness. “Where am I?” he asked. The doctor answered, “You are cared for by your best friends.” After a pause, in which he appeared to recall what had occurred, and to realize his situation, Poe replied, “My best friend would be the man who would blow out my brains.” Within ten minutes he was dead!

“O let him pass! he hates him

That would upon the rack of this rough world

Stretch him out longer.”

He was buried on the 8th of October in the burial-ground of the Westminster Church, at the corner of Fayette and Greene streets. The funeral was attended by a cousin, a member of the Baltimore bar, a class-mate, who was afterward Judge of the Baltimore Superior Court, and a Methodist minister, a relative by his marriage. The spot selected for his grave was near the grave of his grandfather, General David Poe.* There was a vacant place left, but it was filled several months since by the body of Mrs. Clemm, who died, upward of eighty years old, in the same hospital where her “dear Eddie” expired some twenty-two years before, and was buried, at her own request by his side.

“Out are the lights — out all!

And over each quivering form

The curtain — a funeral pall —

Comes down with the rush of a storm.

And the angels, all pallid and wan,

Uprising, unveiling, affirm

That the play is the tragedy ‘Man,’

And its hero the conqueror Worm.”


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 557, column 1:]

*  The incident may be found in Wright’s “Narratives of Sorcery and Magic,” and in Ennemoser’s “History of Magic,” London, 1854, vol. ii, page 464 et supra.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 557, column 2:]

*  “In the summer of 1767 a new theatre was built on the northerly side of John Street, near Broadway. It stood much longer than any of its predecessors, and was used for the purpose for which it was erected for more than thirty years. Long after, its site, and perhaps the original building, was occupied by a carriage factory, and is now covered with store-houses, adjoining Thorburn’s seed and agricultural establishment, and in the rear of lots Nos. 17, 19, and 21. By a renumbering of the street, the entrance lot, which is but a wide alley-way leading to the rear, is now known as 17; but half a century ago it was No. 15.” — Ireland’s Records of the New York Stage, New York, 1866, vol. i, page 42.

  Vauxhall Garden, mentioned as being new in 1806, was on what is now Fourth Avenue, between Astor Place and Fourth Street. I remember visiting it in my early years, and witnessing a very miscellaneous performance. There was a sort of garden attached to the theatre; and it was a joke of the period that the Bowery “bhoy” was in the habit of eloping over the fence of this garden, forgetting to pay for the ice-creams he had eaten, but remembering to pocket the spoons!

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 558, column 2:]

*  Since the above was in type I have learned that Poe was really born in 1809. The place of his birth is uncertain. It was not Baltimore, however, but some city or town in which his mother was playing a theatrical engagement. (Could it have been New York?) The full name of Poe’s brother (I may as well mention here) was William Henry Leonard. He grew up to manhood, and was possessed of singular beauty. He is said to have been remarkable for cleverness, and to have left in the hands of some one unpublished effusions which indicated a genius equal to that of his famous brother. He died about ten years before Edgar. The portrait of Poe engraved for this paper is from a daguerreotype taken in Richmond about ten days before his death. It is considered by those who knew him an excellent “counterfeit presentment” of his nervous, handsome features.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 561, column 1:]

*  Poe entered West Point in June, 1830, and left sometime in 1831. My authority for this statement is General George W. Cullum, who adds, in answer to some inquiries with which I troubled him: “As Poe was of the succeeding class to mine at West Point, I remember him very well as a cadet. He was a slovenly, heedless boy, very eccentric, inclined to dissipation, and, of course, preferred making verses to solving equations. While at the Academy he published a small volume of poems, dedicated to Bulwer in a long, rambling letter. These verses were the source of great merriment with us boys, who considered the author cracked, and the verses ridiculous doggerel. Even after the lapse of forty years I can now recall these absurd lines from ‘Isabel:’

“ ‘Was not that a fairy ray, Isabel?

How fantastically it fell,

With a spiral twist and a swell,

And over the wet grass rippled away

Like the tinkling of a bell!’ ”

Whether Poe resigned from West Point, as he claimed, or whether he was expelled, as Dr. Griswold declared, I am enabled to settle at the last moment by the following note from Brevet Major and Adjutant Edward C. Boynton, dated West Point, May 15, 1871:

“The records of the Military Academy show that Edgar A. Poe was brought before a general court-martial at West Point on the 7th of January, 1831, under the following charges:

“ ‘Charge I. Gross neglect of all duty. [[’]]

“ ‘Charge II. Disobedience of orders.

“The specifications set forth time, place, etc., etc. To both charges the accused pleaded ‘guilty’ and so the court found, and sentenced him ‘to be dismissed the service of the United States,’ which sentence was afterward approved at the War Department, and carried into effect March 6,1831.”

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 566, column 2:]

*  To give an idea of the honorarium, as our English cousins call it, received by Poe for his literary work, I state here that it is the impression of my friend Mr. John Priestley, the whilom proprietor of the Whig Review, in which periodical “The Raven” was originally published, that Poe received for this, his most celebrated poem, the munificent sum of ten dollars! Three or four years later, viz., in 1848, he was desirous of contributing to the Southern Literary Messenger, and was content with two dollars per page! What Dr. Johnson says of Butler has occurred to me more than once while writing this paper, viz., “The date of his birth is doubtful, the mode and place of his education are unknown, the events of his life are variously related, and all that can be told with certainty is that he was poor.”

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 568, column 2:]

*  Wesley’s epigrammatic summing up of the fate of Butler, “He asked for bread, and he received a stone,” does not apply to Poe; for however he may have asked for bread, he certainly received no stone. There was some talk a few years since of raising a monument to him, and a stone with a suitable inscription was prepared, but the day before it was to have been placed over his grave it was destroyed in a singular manner. A train on the city entrance of the Northern Central Railroad ran off the track, and crashing into the marble-yard of Hugh Lisson [[Sisson]], where it was, ground it to fragments. The grave of General Poe is now the only landmark by which the last resting-place of his famous grandson can be determined.


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Notes:

The poem cited as “Isabel” is actually “Fairy-land,” and the lines quoted are different enough from the version printed in the Poems of 1831 that it is plausible that it was indeed repeated from memory. Poe, of course, did not actually write the letter quoted at the bottom of page 563 to the top of page 564 — it is one of several forgeries created and printed by Griswold in his memoir of Poe in 1850 (see SP-055 in the Check List of Poe’s Correspondence). It should, perhaps, also be noted that John Allan did not provide Poe with a liberal alloance. Instead, he sent him to the University of Virginia with only a portion of the money to cover actual costs, which Poe had no means of dictating or controlling. As for Poe’s mother, she was born in 1789 and was actually 3 years younger than her husband, David Poe, Jr. (see the well-documented biography of Poe by Arthur Hobson Quinn, and The Poe Log. It is particularly curious to see Stoddard, over and over again, attempt to rob Poe of any special credit or ability, and that in his eagerness to deny Poe any attributes of greatness, Stoddard must also tar Poe’s family.

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[S:1 - HMM, 1872] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - Edgar Allan Poe (R. H. Stoddard, 1872)