Text: George E. Woodberry, “Notes,” The Life of Edgar Allan Poe: Personal and Literary (1909), vol. I, pp. 357-383


­[page 357:]



Page 1. POE’S BIRTH. The statement in the text rests, as regards the place, on the evidence of Poe’s mother (i, 14).and his own statements on enlisting in the army (War Department Records), on the title-page of “Tamerlane” (i, 39), and in the Broadway Journal (Nov. 1, 1845); as regards the date, on the entry in the matriculation book of the University of Virginia; as regards both place and date, corroboration is found in several contemporary Boston notices of which the following is one, — “We congratulate the frequenters of the Theatre on the recovery of Mrs. Poe from her recent confinement. This charming little Actress will make her reappearance To-morrow Evening,” etc. (Boston Gazette, Feb. 9, 1809). The house in which he was born was, probably, 33 Hollis Street, the street address of his father in the Boston Tax Records for 1808, where the entry reads, “33 Poo David 1 [poll-tax] Actor Hollis.” The house was valued at $800, and owned by Henry Haviland; David Poe was rated as having $600 personal estate. The entry is for May 1, 1808; no entry occurs for 1809, owing to the fact that David Poe left Boston late in May of that year. The facts of the record are fully stated and discussed in the Boston Herald, Jan. 14, 1909. The spelling “Poo” is phonetic and represents the Southern pronunciation, which gives point to the pun told in “The Virginia Poe” (i, 312): “On one occasion a friend found him lying on the wayside — intoxicated. As he approached him he exclaimed: “Why, Edgar Poe! when Poe looked at him and replied: No; poor Edgar.” ­[page 358:]

The above evidence is conclusive, but is still challenged. Poe himself gave the year-date as 1811 (memorandum for Griswold, March 29, 1841), and the entire date as Dec. 1813 (Poe to Griswold, June, 1849). Mrs. Weiss (p. n).prints a letter from a daughter of Mrs. MacKenzie in which the writer states that Poe told her he was born Oct. 12, 1808, which date Mrs. Weiss consequently accepts. Neilson Poe, by mis take possibly, as no family record exists, gave the date Jan. 20, 1809; and Stoddard, in his memoir, relying on an in complete examination of the announcements of the theatre in Boston, conjectured and gave the date Feb. 19, 1809. A gentleman of Norfolk, Mr. Forrest, maintains that Poe was born in that city, during the stay of the latter’s parents there, at the Forrest homestead, where the family had been kindly received and had found a temporary home; it is not unlikely that this tradition refers to the birth of Rosalie, in 1810. Lastly, Miss Elisabeth Ellicott Poe (“ Poe, The Weird Genius, An Authentic and Intimate Account of the Personality and Life of the most Tragic Figure in American Literary History, Written by a Member of His Own Family,” Cosmopolitan Magazine, Feb. 1909).states that Poe was born Jan. 19, 1809, in “Baltimore, at No. 9 Front St., then a theatrical boarding-house kept by a Mrs. Beard”; she gives a long list of authorities, including “the better-informed American biographers.”

Page 14. THEATRICAL HISTORY OF THE POES. The outline given in the text is based on the following memoranda, which were made, not with a view to a complete account of the careers involved, but to showing the sequence of engagements and the character of the acting.

1796. BOSTON, Federal Theatre. Feb. 12 (first appearance of Mrs. Arnold); she also played or sang, Feb. 19, 26; March 7, 14, 18, 21, 23, 30; April 1, 13, 15 (benefit), 20, 25; May 4, 11, 13, 16; June 1, Concert (first appearance of Miss Arnold). ­[page 359:]

PORTLAND, Maine. Nov. 21, Concert. “Mrs. Tubbs, Late Mrs. Arnold of the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, who arrived from England last January and now from the Boston Theatre . . . after which Mr. Tubbs intends setting up a Theatre.” (Eastern Herald, Nov. 17, 1796.).Theatre, Dec. 8, 9, 12, 19 (Miss Arnold’s benefit), 30 (Mrs. Tubbs’s benefit).

1797. Jan. 12 (Miss Arnold’s benefit), 13 (Mr. Tubbs’s benefit).

NEW YORK. Old John St. Theatre. Solee’s Company of Boston and Charleston Comedians. Aug. 18, Miss Arnold (Maria).in “The Spoiled Child “; Aug. 20, Mrs. (sic).Arnold (Agnes).and Mrs. Tubbs (Zorayda) in “The Mountaineers.”

CHARLESTON, South Carolina. Nov. 9 (first appearance of Mrs. Tubbs “on this stage”), 13, 14, 18 (first appearance of Miss Arnold), 27, 29 (first appearance of Mr. Tubbs); Dec. 4 (Miss Arnold in “The Adopted Child,” often repeated), 6 (Miss Arnold as Duke of York in “Richard III”), 23 (Miss Arnold as Cupid in “The Magic Chamber, or Harlequin Protected by Cupid.”

1798. Jan. 12, 15, 16 (all “The Adopted Child”); Feb. 5 (Miss Arnold as Child), 9 (as dancing nymph, in “Americania Eleutheria — a Musical and Allegorical Masque”), 13, 24, 26; April 9 (“The Charleston Theatre will be reopened on the 9th inst. with a company entitled the Charleston Comedians,” City Gazette, April 4, 1798); 20 (Miss Arnold sings), April 30 (Miss Arnold, “Farewell Address written by an American gentleman “); April 23, Mrs. Tubbs (benefit). This is the last theatrical mention of Mrs. Tubbs. Mr. J. N. Ireland suggested that she died at Charleston, “where the yellow fever about that period carried off many English performers.” ­[page 360:] (Ireland to the author, June 9, 1883.).Mr. Tubbs also is no more heard of.

1799. PHILADELPHIA. March 14 (first appearance of Mr. Hopkins); April 29 (Miss Arnold’s benefit with Mr. Warral); May 7 (Miss Arnold’s benefit with Mrs. Snowden and Miss Solomons). The season closed about May 20, and opened Dec. 4.

1800. WASHINGTON. The Philadelphia Company. United States Theatre. Sept 5 (Miss Arnold in dancing and singing parts; Mr. Hopkins (Charles).in “The Village Lawyer”), 6 (Mr. Hopkins (Jacob).in “The Road to Ruin,” and Comic Song in “The Rural Rumpus”; Miss Arnold (Milliner).in latter). Miss Arnold is mentioned in Philadelphia from Oct. 1 to Dec. 8.

1801. PHILADELPHIA. New Theatre, March 2, n, 13 (Mr. Hopkins, the Ushers, and Miss Arnold in very minor parts). NORFOLK, Virginia. May (circa), Mr. Hopkins. PHILADELPHIA, Southwark. Aug. 28, Miss Arnold (Tomboy).in “The Romp”; Sept. 7, 25.

1802. March 22; April 7 (Miss Arnold’s benefit with Mr. Usher and Mrs Snowden); BALTIMORE, Maryland, June 4 (ditto). NORFOLK, Virginia, March 1, 10, 17, 31, until May 9, or later, Mr. Hopkins played. Miss Arnold married Mr. Hopkins between June 4 and Aug. n, and joined the Virginia Comedians. ALEXANDRIA, Virginia, Aug. 11-Sept. (Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins). PETERSBURG, Virginia, Nov. 20-Dec. 7.

1803. NORFOLK, June 8. RICHMOND, July 23 (concert). CHARLESTON, Dec. 1 (first appearance of Mr. Poe), 5, 7, 9, 10, and till end of the season in the following spring, Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins not being in the company.

1804. PETERSBURG, Nov. 3-20 (Mr. and Mrs. Hokpins, Mr. Poe). ­[page 361:]

1805. NORFOLK, March 19- June 12 (ditto).. WASHINGTON, Mr. Green’s Theatre, newly fitted up; Sept. 9 (Mrs. Hopkins), 25 (Mr. Poe), Oct. 2, 4, 7 (Mr. Hopkins’s benefit). Oct. 26, Mr. Hopkins died. Nov. 6 (Mrs. Hopkins’s benefit). The theatre closed about Dec. 25.

1806. RICHMOND, Feb. (Mr. and Mrs. Poe). PETERSBURG, April 19, 27 (Mrs. Poe). PHILADELPHIA, June 20 (Mr. Poe, first appearance at Philadelphia,” and Mrs. Poe, “first appearance for five years, formerly Miss Arnold,” eight performances in comedy). NEW YORK, Vauxhall Garden, July 16 (Mrs. Poe in “The Romp”), 18 (Mr. Poe, Frank, in “Fortune’s Frolic”). BOSTON, Federal Theatre (mainly in comic after-pieces and songs); Oct. 13, 17, 20, 24, 27, 31; Nov. 3, 7, 10, 14, 17, 19, 21, 24; Dec. 1, 5, 8 (bills not full), 26, 29.

1807. Jan. 12; Feb. 22, 25; March(2).(Mrs. Poe, Cordelia to Fennel’s Lear), 13 (Blanche to King John), 20, 23, 26, 30; April 13, 17, 20 (Mrs. Poe’s benefit), 24 (Ariel); May 8, n, 15, 18, 22, 25. The season reopened Sept. 14. Sept. 18 (Mrs. Poe); Oct. 26, 30 (Ophelia to Fennell’s Hamlet); Nov. 5, 27; Dec. 4.

1808. Jan. 1, 4, 8, 29 (Ophelia to Cooper’s Hamlet); Feb. 1 (Cordelia to Cooper’s Lear), 15, 26; March 7, 14, 21 (Mrs. Poe’s benefit in “Virgin of the Sun”), 25, 30 (Mrs. Poe in “The Wood Demon”); April 8, 14, 18 (Mrs. Poe’s benefit in “The Robbers”), 25. The season reopened Sept. 26. Nov. 4 (Mrs. Poe sings), n, 14, 18; Dec. 12, 19, 26.

1809. Jan. 6, 9, 13, 20 (Mrs. Poe in all as peasant in pantomime of “The Brazen Mask”); Feb. 10, 13, 15, 22, 24; March 1, 6, 13, 15, 20, 24; April 3 (Payne’s first appearance at the age of seventeen), 5 (Palmyra to Payne’s Zaphna), 7 (Juliet to his Romeo), 14 (Sigismunda to his Tancred), 17 (Ophelia to his Hamlet), 19 (Mrs. Poe’s ­[page 362:] benefit, Cora in “Pizarro”), 21, 24; May 1, 5, 8, 10, 12. Season closed. May 16, Concert at Exchange Coffee House (Mrs. Poe sings). NEW YORK, Park Theatre, Sept. 6, 8, 27; Nov. 27; Dec. 6.

1810. March 5; April 27; May 16; June 13, 29. The season closed July 4.

1811. CHARLESTON, April (Mrs. Poe’s benefit in “The Wonder”). NORFOLK, July 26 (Mrs. Poe’s benefit, ditto).. RICHMOND, Aug.-Oct. (Mrs. Poe’s benefit); Nov. 29, second benefit for the aid of Mrs. Poe, then suffering her last illness.

Other pieces in which Mrs. Poe acted in Boston, in her last season, besides those mentioned above, were “Abaellino” (Rosamunda), “False Alarms” (Emily), “Two Faces under a Hood” (Antonia), “Gustavus Vasa” (Cristina), “Feudal Times” (Rachcel), “The Miser” (Marianne), “False Delicacy” (Mrs. Marchmont), and “Lover’s Vows” (Amelia). In New York, 1809-10, though but few dates are noted, she played the entire season as a leading actress; she repeated the serious parts, Desdemona, Juliet, and Ophelia, and also played Cora, Angela in the “Castle Spectre,” and Imma in “Adelgitha”; the comic or musical pieces she appeared in were “The Exile” (Catherine), “Beaux Stratagem” (Cherry), “Children in the Wood” (Josephine) , “Little Pickle,” Fontainbleau (Dolly Ball), “No Song, No Supper” (Margaretta), “Morgiana” (forty times), “The Romp” (Priscilla Tomboy),” Foundling of the Forest” (Rosabella), “Rosina, Princess or no Princess” (Elizene), “Merchant of Venice” (Jessica), “Agreeable Surprise” (Laura)..

The criticism of Mr. and Mrs. Poe, in Boston, varied: other passages besides those quoted will be found in The Polyanthus (by Buckingham), Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec., 1806, March, April, June, 1807; in The Emerald, Nov. 8, 1806, Jan. 3, 9, 1807; The (Philadelphia).Theatrical Censor, Boston letter, Nov. 15, 22, ­[page 363:] 1806; Boston Gazette, April 18, 1808. In New York their comparative failure to take the position they aspired to must be inferred from the fact that they were not reengaged. The judgment of Ireland, in a private letter, seems just: “Mrs. Poe undoubtedly both in Boston and New York played some leading tragic characters, but her best efforts, I imagine, were in musical parts and light comedy.” Cf. a curious apocryphal sketch, The New York Mercury, Jan. 26, 1884.

A pendant to the similar notices in the text has lately been found at Norfolk, being a letter of a correspondent, “Floretta,” to the Norfolk Herald, July 26, 1811, on the occasion of Mrs. Poe’s last benefit there. It shows both the dark and the bright side of her stage career: —

“. . . And now, Sir, permit me to call the attention of the public to the benefit of Mrs. Poe and Miss Thomas for this evening, and their claims on the liberality of the Norfolk audience are not small. The former of these ladies, I remember (just as I was going in my teens).on her first appearance here, met with the most unbounded applause. She was said to be one of the handsomest women in America; she was certainly the handsomest I had ever seen. She never came on the stage but a general murmur ran through the house, What an enchanting creature! Heavens, what a form! What an ani mated and expressive Countenance! How well she performs! Her voice, too! Sure never anything was half so sweet! Year after year she continued to extract these involuntary bursts of rapture from the Norfolk audience, and to deserve them too; for never did one of her profession take more pains to please than she. But now, ‘the scene is changed,’ — Misfortunes have pressed heavy on her. Left alone, the only support of herself and several young children — Friendless and unprotected she no longer commands the admiration she formerly did. Shame on the world that can turn its back on the same person in distress that it was wont to cherish in prosperity. And yet she is as ­[page 364:] assiduous to please as ever, and though grief may have stolen a few of the roses from her cheeks, still she retains the same sweetness of expression and symmetry of form and feature. She this evening hazards a benefit, in the pleasing hope that the people of Norfolk will remember past services. And can they remember, and not requite them generously? . . .


Page 29. POE’s RICHMOND CONNECTIONS. The epitaphs of the Allan household are as follows: “John Allan, died March 27, 1834, in the 54th year of his age. A native of Ayrshire, Scotland. Frances Keeling Allan, wife of John Allan, died on the morning of the 28th of February, 1829. Louisa G. Allan, daughter of John W. and Louisa De Hart Patterson and widow of John Allan. Born in New York, March 24, 1800. Died in Richmond, Va., April 24, 1881. Anne Moore Valentine, died 25th January, 1850, in the 636. year of her age.” The same source gives the dates of the Stanard family: “Jane Stith Stanard . . . departed this life on the 28th of April, in the year 1824, in the 31st year of her age. . . . Robert Stanard, born 17th Aug. 1781, died 14th May, 1846. . . . Robert Craig Stanard . . . born on the 7th of May, 1814 and died in Richmond on the 2d of June, 1857.” The last two years of her life Mrs. Stanard led secluded in her family. Poe was therefore about thirteen and his companion eight when he saw her often, as Mrs. Clemm avers, or if he saw her only “once,” as he told Mrs. Whitman, within “a few weeks” of her death, he was fifteen and his companion ten.

Page 34. Poe was not concerned in this gambling episode, much less was he a leader. “The little mountain was a convenient place of rendezvous,” wrote one of the participants to the author (June 2, 1884); “there was no need of leaders, but Poe would have been too light for that post among the Beales and Slaughters and Gholsons of the period.” This incident and Poe’s life at Charlottesville in general are narrated ­[page 365:] fully by John’s. Patton, librarian (“Poe at the University,” New York Times, Dec. 5, 1908). The statement by Hirst gives Poe’s version of his university career, and it seems a reasonable account: “The manners of the Institution, at that time were exceedingly dissolute, and he fell in with the general course. He managed, however, to maintain a position with the Professors. He attended lectures at random, and spent his time, partly in the debating societies, where he soon grew noted as a debater, partly in solitary rambles among the mountains of the Blue Ridge, and partly in covering the walls of his dormitory with crayon drawings, caricaturing the Faculty. This dissipated course of life brought with it, however, a natural disgust, and, toward the close of his University career, arousing himself to better things, he took the first honors of the college, without any difficulty, and returned home.” (Saturday Museum, loc. cit.).What is described as “the first honors” was a record for excellence in Latin and French, shared equally with a few other students.

Page 37. POE’s ALLEGED VOYAGE IN 1827. The manner of Poe’s departure from Richmond briefly narrated in the text is told by Mrs. Weiss (p. 50).more fully. Hirst (“Edgar Allan Poe,” Saturday Museum, March 4, 1843).gave the first printed statement; and as regards his sketch, from which I make several extracts, it should be remembered in each instance that Poe was the sole source of its information, that he corrected the proofs in his own hand, and that he furnished it to Lowell as the original source for the latter’s sketch in 1845. Hirst says, the passage following immediately on that already quoted with regard to Poe’s university life: “His good resolutions, however, had come somewhat too late, for he had already become involved in difficulties, which resulted in his leaving home. With a young friend, Ebenezer Burling (sic), he endeavored to make his way, with scarcely a dollar in his pocket, to Greece, with the wild design of aiding in the Revolution then taking place. ­[page 366:]

Burling soon repented his folly, and gave up the design when he had scarcely entered on the expedition: Mr. Poe persevered, but did not succeed in reaching the scene of action; he proceeded, however, to St. Petersburg!!, where, through deficiency of passport, he became involved in serious difficulties, from which he was finally extricated by the American Consul. He returned to America only in time to learn the severe illness of Mrs. Allan, who, in character, was the reverse of her husband, and whom he sincerely loved. He reached Richmond on the night after her burial.”

Mr. J. H. Whitty, of Richmond, gives the following account (Richmond Times -Despatch, Jan. 17, 1909).from his own notes derived from the notes of Judge R. W. Hughes, of Virginia, “who had taken notes from Poe’s own statements [apparently in 1848-49] and in addition had the important sketch of Poe’s close associate, F. W. Thomas.” No sketch by Thomas has ever been known; and the reference is clearly to Hirst’s sketch, owned by Thomas. Mr. Whitty writes: —

(Copyright, J. H. Whitty, 1909.).

“He had talked with the owner of a vessel trading with Ellis & Allan’s firm, and determined to work his way to the Old World in same. His idea was that when he reached London he would soon get literary work and succeed. He boldly stated his intentions to Mr. Allan, who did not raise any objections at first. Poe’s attempt, however, to take leave of Mrs. Allan with tears in his eyes changed matters. She showed the most violent opposition to the project, and would not give her consent. Poe had been away from the Allan home a few nights, and was stopping with a companion, presumed to have been Ebenezer Berling Upon Mrs. Allan’s entreaties his guardian attempted to stop Poe from going away. Judge Hughes had the statement of the vessel owner in which Poe originally intended to sail, but who, upon the demands of Mr. Allan, later on refused to take him. Poe and his companion, who had been drinking, succeeded, ­[page 367:] however, in getting away shortly afterwards on another vessel. When they sobered up his companion relented, deserted at the first place the vessel reached, and returned to Richmond. Poe continued, and finally reached an English port, went to London, to France, and back again to London, in quick succession. His efforts for literary work being unsuccessful, his thoughts turned quickly to his native land. Without means he again obtained a place on a vessel bound for some port about Boston, where he arrived in the summer of 1827. In Boston he looked for his parents friends, and finally fell in with C. F. S. Thomas, the printer who undertook to print his first volume of poems, Tamerlane. The relatives of both Thomas and Poe were said to have been associated in some way years before this, and something about this old connection was not pleasant to Thomas. This was very likely his reason for keeping his know ledge of Poe a secret up to his death in 1876.”

Whatever may have been the facts with regard to the immediate circumstances surrounding the departure, and there is no reason to doubt the truth of Berling’s participation in the expedition, yet with regard to the voyage to Europe the following observations may be made: 1. The identity of the story with that by Hirst is plain, and its sole authority the same, no other being possible, — namely, Poe’s word. 2. The time, from some date in January to May 26 when Poe enlisted, is insufficient for the events, even assuming that Poe was not engaged in preparing “Tamerlane” for the press before May 26. 3. Poe’s relatives in Baltimore did not believe the tale: (“She [Miss Her ring] does not believe in the St. Petersburgh story, and is sure he was only once abroad.” Miss Poe to the author). 4. There is no corroborating evidence, nor has any been alleged except the so-called Inman portrait of Poe published in the Anglo-Saxon Review, 1900, and reproduced in the New York Tribune, April 29, 1900, and said to have been painted in the poet’s nineteenth year, according to the label on the frame. ­[page 368:]

The portrait bears no resemblance to Poe, and Inman did not arrive in London till after Poe’s enlistment. Whatever Poe was doing, he certainly was not having his portrait painted.

With regard to the remark of Mr. Whitty as to some association between the relatives of Thomas and Poe’s parents, of an unpleasant sort, nothing is elsewhere said. Mrs. Martha Thomas Booth wrote to me, June 14, 1884: “My father, Calvin F. S. Thomas, was born in the city of New York, Aug. 5, 1808. His father, who was an Englishman and I think the only member of his family in this country, died when father was a very young child. Grandma removed with her two children, father and an older sister to Norfolk, Va., to reside with relatives, returning after a few years to Boston, her native place, to educate her children.” Mrs. Thomas, with her children, was, perhaps, at Norfolk as early as 1811, the last year the Poes were there; and living with relatives on her own side of the family, not Thomases. The Miss Thomas who shared with Mrs. Poe her last benefit at Norfolk, was not likely to have been the older sister of Calvin. The statement, therefore, seems to me purely hypothetical.

Page 60. POE AND JOHN NEAL. Poe is said to have written to John Neal at the suggestion of George Poe, Neilson Poe’s father; but it is more likely that this advice was given by William Gwynn, to whom he submitted “Al Aaraaf” in 1829. William Gwynn was editor of the Federal Gazette and Baltimore Daily Advertiser from 1812 to its ending in 1837, with the exception of the year 1835. He was an associate and club member with John Neal during the latter’s residence in Baltimore, 1815-1823, and he is frequently mentioned in Neal’s “Wandering Recollections of a Somewhat Busy Life,” Boston, 1869. Poe dedicated “Tamerlane,” in the edition of 1829, to Neal, and on sending him a copy wrote as follows (Portland Daily Advertiser, 1850): — ­[page 369:] I thank you, sir, for the kind interest you express for my worldly as well as poetical welfare — a sermon of prosing would have met with much less attention.

You will see that I have made the alterations you suggest, “ventured out” in place of peer-ed, which is, at best, inapplicable to a statue — and other corrections of the same kind — there is much however (in metre).to be corrected — for I did not observe it till too late.

I wait consciously for your notice of the book — I think the best lines for sound are these in Al Aaraaf.

There Nature speaks and even ideal things

Flap shadowy sounds from visionary wings.

But the best thing (in every other respect).is the small piece headed “Preface.”

I am certain that these lines have never been surpassed.

Of late eternal condor years

So shake the very air on high.

With tumult as they thunder by

I hardly have had time for cares

Through gazing on the unquiet sky.

“It is well to think well of one’s self” so says somebody. You will do me justice, however.

Most truly yours,


BALTIMORE, Dec. 29, 1829.

Page 73. POE AT WEST POINT. The account given by Poe’s classmates (i, 69).is sustained by the reminiscences of another of them in advanced age, Timothy Pickering Jones, appointed to the Academy from Tennessee in 1830. They are given in an interview, dated Seguin, Texas, May 8, and published in the New York Sun, May 10, 1903, as follows:

“Poe and I were classmates, roommates, and tentmates. From the first time we met he took a fancy to me, and owing to his older years and extraordinary literary merits, I thought he was the greatest fellow on earth. From much that he told me of ­[page 370:] his previous life, he was dissipated before he ever entered for the West Point cadetship. He was certainly given to extreme dissipation within a very short time after he entered school. At first he studied hard and his ambition seemed to be to lead the class in all studies. He was an extraordinary scholar in all branches except mathematics, for which he seemed to have an aversion. In that branch he fell short and that seemed to have a tendency to discourage him, and it was only a few weeks after the beginning of his career at West Point that he seemed to lose interest in his studies and to be disheartened and discouraged. I think when he discovered he could not lead his classes that it had a tendency to dampen his ordinarily genial disposition.

“However, he would at times become a victim to the blues, and for many days he would hardly speak to any one, and his disposition seemed suddenly to be changed from life, energy, congeniality, and pleasure to abruptness, revenge, spitefulness, and even viciousness. He was invariably pleasant to me when in these despondent moods and would generally get me to go with him down to ‘Old Benny’s,’ a place some distance from the buildings that the Government has since purchased and made a part of the reserve, but which at that time was a rendezvous for the boys when they could escape the guards. Old Benny — I forget his other name — had intoxicants, and Poe would risk any chances in evading the officers when in one of his moods to go down, and he would invariably drink until he became raving drunk. It was not more than four weeks after we entered West Point that Poe, accompanied by me, made his first venture to this joint This was the first time I had ever seen him under the influence of liquor, and he was soon more like a demon than a man. He was fearless at all times, and when under the influence of liquor was desperate, and the boys at West Point always had a high regard for him both through! a respect for his extraordinary talents and through fear.

“Poe would form a dislike to a man and his hatred was deep ­[page 371:] and unreconcilable. There was one of the teachers there, Prof. Locke, who hated Poe, and the spirit of uncongeniality was mutual. It was Locke whom Poe on one occasion attempted to throw down a sixty-foot embankment in the dead hours of the night into the Hudson River. This was when he was returning from Old Benny’s late one night, thoroughly intoxicated and imbued with the idea that Locke had done him some injustice. It was one of the most trying efforts of my life to prevent Poe from doing this terrible deed. Poe would drink to a most thorough state of intoxication every time he could get where there was anything to drink. It was quite frequent that long after taps were sounded at night Poe would awaken me and ask me to go down to Old Benny’s with him. Due to my younger years and the influence of an older head, I would invariably accompany him.

“Many a time I have seen Poe in the guardhouse as a raving maniac from the result of drink after these escapades. He, when under the influence of drink, knew no such thing as obedience to his superiors and could only be handled by force, but I have never seen him subdued until after the effects of drink had worn off. He finally became so intolerable from his excessive drink that he was dismissed for disobedience to his superiors. I left West Point shortly after his dismissal, but never from that time saw him.

“Poe had evidenced considerable literary genius before he left West Point, and probably before he came there. He would often write some of the most forcible and vicious doggerel, have me copy it with my left hand in order that it might be disguised, and post it around the building. Locke was ordinarily one of the victims of his stinging pen. He would often play the rough est jokes on those he disliked. I have never seen a man whose hatred was so intense as that of Poe. I believe that I am the only living West Point associate of Poe.”

An interview from the same source appeared in The Sun, ­[page 372:] May 29, 1904, copied from the Richmond Times-Despatch, but it appears much colored by the channel through which it passed and betrays a precision of dates and an exact knowledge of Poe’s biographies that seem incompatible with the age of Colonel Jones. In this version the following is added: —

“On the morning of the 6th of March, when Poe was ready to leave West Point, we were in our room together, and he told me I was one of the few true friends he had ever known, and as we talked the tears rolled down his cheeks. I say candidly that I thought a great deal of the talented young man. I had grown to love him, and I know that he would have risked his life for me. He told me much of his past life, one part of which he said he had confided to no other living soul. This was that while it was generally believed that he had gone to Greece in 1827 to offer his services to assist in putting down the Turkish oppressors, he had done no such thing, that about as near Europe as he ever got was Fort Independence, Boston Harbor, where he enlisted, and was assigned to Battery H, First Artillery, which was afterward transferred to Fortress Monroe, Va. Poe told me that for nearly two years he let his kindred and friends believe that he was fighting with the Greeks, but all the while he was wearing the uniform of Uncle Sam’s soldiers, and leading a sober and moral life.”

The weight to be given to this evidence seems to me slight, owing to its errors of fact regarding Poe’s dismissal, the advanced age of Colonel Jones, and the signs of remaking in the Times-Despatch version. It, however, contains genuine elements.

The statement by Hirst is as follows: —

“Mr. Allan’s house now became doubly displeasing to him; deprived of her who had, in all cases, endeavored to make it a happy home. Mr. Allan’s manners, however, had become somewhat softened, and he professed, if he did not feel, an ­[page 373:] entire reconciliation. Mr. Poe now resolved to enter the West Point Academy, and, as his application was backed by Chief Justice Marshall, Andrew Stevenson, Gen. Scott, and many other gentlemen of the highest distinction, to say nothing of Mr. Allan, he found no difficulty in obtaining a letter of appointment. At West Point his stay was brief. At first he was delighted with everything, busied himself in study, and headed every class; but after the lapse of some ten months, he heard of Mr. Allan’s marriage with Miss Patterson, of Richmond, a lady young enough to be his grand-daughter. She was a relative of Gen. Scott’s, and lived at Belleville, the residence of Mrs. Mayo, the General’s mother-in-law. Upon the birth of the first child Mr. Poe made up his mind that the heirship was at an end, and as he considered the army no place for a poor man, he determined to resign. At West Point it is necessary, in order to achieve such a step, to obtain permission from the parent or guardian. For this permission he wrote to Mr. Allan, who flatly refused it; this refusal Mr. Poe represented to Col. Thayer, the Superintendent of the post, who declined interfering with the rules, or to accept the resignation. It was about this period that Poland made the desperate and unfortunate struggle for independence, against the combined powers of Russia, Austria, and Prussia, which terminated in the capitulation of Warsaw, and the annihilation of the kingdom. — All our cadet’s former chivalric ardor had now returned, and with tenfold vigor. He burned to be a participant in the affray. But to do this, it was doubly necessary to leave West Point. There was one resource yet left him: he positively refused to do duty of any kind, disobeyed all orders, and, keeping closely to his quarters, amused himself with his old tricks caricaturing and Pasquinading the Professors. There was a gentleman named Joseph Locke, who had made himself especially obnoxious, through his pertinacity in reporting the pranks of the cadets. At West Point a report is no every-day matter, but ­[page 374:] a very serious thing. Each report counts a certain number against the offender — is charged to his account — and when the whole exceeds a stated sum, he is liable to dismissal. Mr. Poe, it appears, wrote a long lampoon against this Mr. Locke, of which the following are the only stanzas preserved: —

“As for Locke, he is all in my eye,

May the d——l right soon for his soul call.

He never was known to lie

In bed at a reveillé roll-call.


“John Locke was a notable name;

Joe Locke is a greater: in short

The former was well known to fame,

But the latter’s well known “to report.”

The result of all this was just what he intended. For some time Col. Thayer, to whose good offices the young cadet had been personally recommended by General Scott, overlooked these misdemeanors. But at length, the matter becoming too serious, charges were instituted against him for Neglect of duty and disobedience of orders; (nothing was said about the lampoons).and he was tried by a Court Martial. There were specifications innumerable, to all which, by way of saving time, he pleaded guilty, although some of them were monstrously absurd. In a word, he was cashiered nem. con. and went on his way rejoicing.

“But not to Poland. The capitulation had been effected, and that unfortunate country was no more. He repaired to Baltimore, where, shortly afterwards, he learned the death of Mr. Allan, who had left him nothing. His widow even refused him possession of his private library — a valuable one. To be sure he had never treated the lady with a whit more respect than that to which he thought her, as a woman, entitled.” (Saturday Museum, loc. cit.).

Page 87. POE’s RELATIVES. John Poe, the Scotch-Irish emigrant, married Jane McBride, said to have been the daughter (or sister).of Admiral McBride, and settled in Pennsylvania, with two sons, David and William, and had a son George, and ­[page 375:] seven other children. David married Elizabeth Carnes, of Lancaster, Pa., and removed to Cecil County, Maryland, and later to Baltimore. Of seven children by this marriage, three only — David, Maria, and Eliza — had issue. David, the eldest son, married Mrs. Hopkins (born Arnold).and had William Henry Leonard, Edgar Allan, and Rosalie MacKenzie. Maria married William Clemm, a widower (July 12, 1817), and had children, Henry (Sept. 10, 1818), Virginia Maria (Aug. 22, 1820), Virginia Eliza (Aug. 15, 1822), who married Edgar Allan Poe. Eliza married Henry Herring, and had by him five children.

William Poe, brother of David, senior, removed to Georgia, and died at Augusta, Sept. 25, 1804. He left two sons, William and Robert.

George Poe, brother of David, senior, and William, senior, had three children, Jacob, George, and a daughter. Jacob, of Frederick County, Maryland, had issue, Neilson, George, and Amelia. George, brother of Jacob, removed to Mobile, Alabama. The unnamed daughter married William Clemm aforesaid and had by him five children, one of whom married Neilson Poe. The two wives of William Clemm were first cousins; both Edgar and Neilson Poe married first cousins, and they were second cousins to each other.

Of these relatives Poe had direct relations with his grand mother, who died in 1834 (“about a year ago” — Poe to William Poe, August 20, 1835, “The Virginia Poe,” xvii, 13; but the words quoted, marked there illegible, are given in a copy of the letter, The Book-Lover, no date).at the age of seventy-nine, being nursed by Mrs. Clemm, and it is notice able that this was at the time of Poe’s distress and relief by Kennedy; he lived with Mrs. Clemm, in 1831, at Mechanics Row, Milk Street, now known as Eastern Avenue, and in 1833 at 3 Amity Street, between Saratoga and Lexington Streets; and he associated with Neilson Poe and his first cousins, the ­[page 376:] Herrings, whose mother, his aunt Eliza, had died about 1824. He also corresponded with William and Robert Poe, of Augusta, his father’s first cousins, and with George Poe of Mo bile, also his father’s first cousin and brother-in-law of Mr. Clemm by his first marriage; his letters to them were invariably an appeal for money, first upon Mrs. Clemm’s account and latterly upon his own.

Page 90. The Green Mountain Gem (circa 1850), in an article, “Annabel Lee,” announces the death at the age of nine months and two weeks, on February 24, of “Annabel Lee, only daughter of Mary J. and T. C. Leland,” and states that the child was born shortly before Poe’s death. The writer says: “This Annabel Lee Leland was the daughter of parents who had always the warmest affection for the late gifted and unfortunate Edgar A. Poe. Their house had been a refuge for him when all others were shut against him, and in the bitterest hours of trial and suffering he had found in them warm and steady friends. Often had they taken him in a state of inebriation from the streets in winter, when he must have perished from the cold, and provided him shelter, comfort, and sympathy. So in their company was spent some of the most calm and cheerful hours of the latter part of his life. The attachment between them was the result of a sincere affection he had cherished for the Mary Leland, mentioned in the announcement, in her youth. He had known her when she was but twelve years old.” The writer represents the two as schoolmates, and Poe as thinking her dead soon after their separation; this, he says, was the legend of “Annabel Lee” of the poem. He found her married: “she cherished a sympathy for the miserable child of genius; her husband befriended, and afterwards loved him for his talents, his warm heart, and the dazzling attractions of his conversation.” This is an interesting example of a “Poe legend,” and illustrates the contemporary conception of Poe at the time of his death. ­[page 377:]

Page 94. It seems likely that Wilmer knew Poe at an earlier date. He was born in Baltimore, and had not wandered further than Elk ton, Md., when he joined Atkinson, publisher of the Saturday Evening Post and The Casket in Philadelphia. Poe’s sonnet, “To Science,” appeared in The Casket, Oct. 1830, and it is natural to suppose that this was through Wilmer, especially as the Wilmer MS. of the poems of Poe, representing a state anterior to the 1829 edition, was handed down in his family. Wilmer, moreover, speaks of his acquaint ance with Poe as beginning “soon after his return from St. Petersburgh.” Their meeting in 1833 was, probably, the renewal of earlier companionship in 1829 before the issue of Poe’s poems of that date.

Page 114. The “unnamed editor” is identified by Mr. J. H. Whitty as Mr. Sparhawk, from Maine, author of “Hours of Childhood, and other Poems,” 1820.

Page 131. The best collection of books open to Poe was the Baltimore Athenaeum Library, of which he may have made as good use as Hawthorne was then doing of the Salem Athenaeum Library. On inquiry, I was told that the old records were destroyed. Kennedy’s collection was, no doubt, open to him after 1834, but there is no indication that he used it.

Page 141. The date of the arrival of Poe with Mrs. Clemm and Virginia in Richmond was Oct. 1, 1836 (Mrs. Clemm to William Poe, “The Virginia Poe,” xvii, 379).

Page 163. Poe also applied to William Poe and received a contribution for Mrs. Clemm, which he acknowledged in the following letter (New York Times, Feb. 15, 1908): —

RICHMOND, VA., April n, 1836.

MY DEAR SIR, — A press of business has hitherto prevented my replying to your kind letter of the 29th March, enclosing $50 to Mrs. Clemm. Your prompt and generous assistance, so frequently manifested, is, I assure you, deeply felt and appreciated ­[page 378:] by myself as well as by her. I trust that she is now so circumstanced, or that she soon will be so, as to render it unnecessary to tax the kindness of yourself and brothers any further.

On the day before receiving your letter I wrote to Washing ton Poe, Macon, in reply to a favor of his offering his own assistance. He has become a subscriber to the Messenger.

I hope you have received our March number. That for April will follow, I hope, soon.

It is probable that at some future time I may avail myself of your friendly invitation and pay you a visit in Augusta. In the mean time, should business or inclination lead you, or any of our friends, to Virginia, it would afford me the greatest pleasure to show you every attention in my power.

With my best respects to Mrs. Poe and your brother, I remain, dear William,

Yours most sincerely,


DEAR COUSIN, — Edgar, a few days since, handed me a note for $50, for which, I learn, I am indebted to your kindness. Accept my sincere gratitude. Will you have the goodness to present to your lady my respects, and believe me, Yours sincerely,


Page 178. “Maelzel’s Chess-Player” is said to have appeared previously in a Baltimore newspaper.

Page(1).86. It has been denied that any invitation was sent by Dr. Hawks. Hirst, however (loc. cit.), quotes from the letter: “I wish you to fall in with your broad-axe amidst this miserable literary trash which surrounds us. I believe you have the will, and I know well you have the ability.”

Page 208. A sketch of James Heath is given in “The Southern Literary Messenger, 1834-1864,” by B. B. Minor, 1905; ­[page 379:] and a picturesque account of P. P. Cooke in Griswold’s “Poets and Poetry of America,” 1855, which may be supplemented by a charming letter from John Esten Cooke, his brother, to Griswold, in the latter’s correspondence, edited by his son, 1900. The passages are a chapter of old Virginia life.

Page 217. Cf. with the paragraph beginning, “I could add,” etc., the quotation as given by Hirst (loc. cit.).as follows: “‘In point of mere style it is, perhaps, even superior to “The House of Usher.” It is simpler. In the latter composition he seems to have been distrustful of his effects, or, rather, too solicitous of bringing them forth fully to the eye, and thus, perhaps, has laid on too much coloring. He has erred, however, on the safe side, that of exuberance, and the evil might easily be remedied by relieving the style of some of its epithets [since done]. There would be no fear of injuring the graphic effect, which is powerful.’ The italics are Mr. Irving’s own.” The passage in brackets is so printed in Hirst. The original is precisely as printed in the text.

Page 217. Dr. Snodgrass, it is also worth noticing, had been the last editor of the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, succeeding T.’s. Arthur in that post.

Page 219. Neilson Poe was editor of the Baltimore Commercial Chronicle and Daily Marylander in 1839.

Page 232. POE AND HOFFMANN. Mr. Palmer Cobb, in his study of the influence of Hoffmann on Poe, examines thoroughly the literature of the subject, but I must own that I remain un convinced that Poe had any acquaintance with Hoffmann in the original, or any effective knowledge of German at all. Briggs’s testimony is direct, in 1845, — “He makes quotations from the German, but he can t read a word of the language”; and English says likewise, in 1846, — “his frequent quotations from languages of which he is entirely ignorant.” The quotation from Novalis, used as a motto for “The Mystery of Marie Roget,” occurs in “Fragments from German Prose Writers,” ­[page 380:] translated by Sarah Austin, with biographical sketches of the authors, New York, 1841, together with other Novalis quotations used by him, and he reviewed the volume (Graham’s, Dec. 1841). He derived his knowledge of Korner from Burton’s papers on that poet in the Gentleman’s, Aug.-Sept. 1838. He knew no more of Tieck than he might have derived from Carlyle, or of Schelling than was told in Coleridge, and Schlegel he had read in an early American translation, as already noted. The special discrimination between Dichtkunst and dichten is plainly from some footnote in a translation or similar source. In respect to Hoffmann, it is admitted that so much indebtedness as is found in “The House of Usher” and “Metzengerstein” is amply accounted for by Poe’s acquaintance with Scott’s article, Foreign Quarterly, July, 1827; and so much as is found in “William Wilson,” similarly, by Blackwood’s “Devil’s Elixir,” 1824. In brief, wherever the trail is hunted down, it ends in an English source, generally in magazine literature.

The other tales in which Hoffmann’s influence is traced are, 1. “Introduction to the Folio Club,” assigned to the Serapions brĂ¼der. 2. “The Assignation,” assigned to Doge und Dogaressa. 3. “The Oval Portrait,” assigned to Die Jesuiterkirche in G ——. 4. “A Tale of the Ragged Mountains,” as signed to Der Magnetiseur. Of these four, no English translation earlier than Poe’s tale in each instance has been mentioned by writers on the subject. It is to be observed, however, that in the first two the obligation is of the slightest, if it exists at all in the case of the Folio Club, the idea of which is common to literature; and in the third and fourth, likewise, the idea, as also in the case of “William Wilson,” is a universal theme, and obligation can exist only in similarity of handling. Such knowledge as Poe had of the tales in question, it is most reasonable to think, he derived from translations, or other notices, in magazines, and that he dealt with such sources in ­[page 381:] these tales as he is known to have done with similar sources in other tales. His affinity with Hoffmann is mainly a coincidence in the use of universal themes and the handling of their natural incidents, which may have been suggested to Poe, in these instances, indirectly from Hoffmann; but in fundamental treatment he differs from Hoffmann by a world’s breadth, as has been pointed out by W. C. Brownell (Scribner’s, Jan. 1909), who says, — “He had vastly more affinity with Cagliostro than with Hoffmann, from whom — inexplicably — he is so often said to derive.” Poe, so far from being mis-born in America, a German romanticist wandered from the fatherland, represented in his tales the climax in America of that inferior romanticism whose best and widely varying exponents were Mrs. Radcliffe, Godwin, Brockden Brown, Disraeli, and Bulwer.

Page 257. English (The Independent, Oct. 22, 1896).tells the same story as Rosenbach, and seems to me to be relying wholly on Rosenbach for the capital facts. He describes his acquaintance with Poe before this time and speaks of his manner as “easy and refined, and his tone and conversation winning.” He then details a story of finding Poe intoxicated on the street and taking him home, and assigns it to 1841; the house is that described by Mayne Reid, as supported against an adjoining brick wall, evidently the earlier residence of Poe; and he affirms his knowledge by report, not observation, of other occasions on which Poe was taken home before the quarrel with Burton. The quarrel itself he describes from Graham’s account, who was present, as including “foul and abusive” language on Poe’s part, as Poe himself had represented it. “He [Graham] described it rather minutely, and, when he had done, I said to him: You have told me before how disgraceful were the causes which severed your connection with Poe, and how, with that and this, can you defend the man? Graham’s answer was: Oh, that’s all right; but I hate Griswold.” This evidence is, therefore, ten years after the fact. English says he ­[page 382:] heard both Burton’s and Poe’s statements, whether directly or indirectly is not quite clear. On the whole, English’s observation of Poe in Philadelphia seems to have been no more than occasional, and his reminiscences of him at that time to be mixed with second-hand knowledge.

Page 297. The source of the article in Hearth and Home is told by the author (Amanda B. Harris to W. M. Griswold, Jan. 22, 1896): “The incidents concerning Poe were told me in 1852. My informant was a lady who lived in Philadelphia when Poe had a little cottage on the outskirts; she was in some way connected with an association intended to assist in a delicate manner those in reduced circumstances who had been accustomed to a life of refinement and perhaps luxury. She became personally acquainted with the little family, and befriended them. This lady is dead.”

Page 330. An admirable notice of Charles J. Peterson from the Philadelphia Inquirer, March 7, 1887, is reprinted in Smyth’s “Philadelphia Magazines and their Contributors,” 1892.

Page 343. The alleged sources of “The Pit and the Pendulum” are: 1. “The Man in the Bell,” Blackwood’s, Nov. 1821, reprinted in William Maginn’s “Oderherty Papers,” 1855. 2. “The Iron Shroud,” Blackwood’s, Aug. 1830, reprinted, just before Poe’s tale, in The Visitor and Lady’s Parlor Magazine, i,(2).(n.’s.), Aug. 1840. 3. Cf. Knickerbocker’s, Feb. 1850. This is an excellent example of the genesis of some of Poe’s tales.

A curious and Poesque pendant to “The Mystery of Marie Roget” was the fact that the employer of Mary Rogers, Mr. Anderson, afterwards conceived himself to be in communication with her, “seeing her face to face in the flesh and taking advice from her in respect to business matters,” and in a certain sense to be haunted by her visibly. This was during 1870-1880. The account came into court, Appleton vs. N. Y. Life ­[page 383:] Insurance Company in re Mary Cecilia Rogers, Trial in Trial Term Supreme Court, New York County, before Mr. Justice Patterson, Dec. 8, 1901. The evidence was that he said she told him the names of the murderers as a “spiritual secret.”

Page 354. The review was apparently the same that appeared over Poe’s name in the Boston Miscellany, Oct. 1842; but it contained no unfavorable comment.






[S:0 - LEAPPL, 1909] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - The Life of EAP (G. E. Woodberry) (Notes).