Text: John Carl Miller, “Chapter IV,” Building Poe Biography (1977), pp. 65-87 (This material is protected by copyright)


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[page 65, unnumbered:]

IV

William Hand Browne Becomes a Loyal Ally

INGRAM SHOULD have marked the day, March 10, 1874, with a white stone on his calendar, for that was the day he mailed his first letter to George W. Eveleth, asking his help in writing a biography of Poe. Eveleth’s own remarkable and invaluable contributions followed, albeit some four years later, and the publication of the letter in the Southern Magazine brought to Ingram a number of replies, plus the important fact that it enlisted on Ingram’s side in his war against Griswold the vigorous and intelligent help of the editor of the magazine, William Hand Browne.

Long an ardent admirer of Poe’s writings, Browne had also from the first believed that Poe’s reputation as a man had been cruelly wronged by Griswold, and he had hoped that one day someone would appear who was strong enough to right the wrongs done to Poe. Ingram appeared to be the man for the job. Browne promptly joined forces with him, brought other influential and knowledgeable persons into the struggle, and forwarded to Ingram many, many letters and items for Ingram to use as he saw fit. Browne was a far better educated man than was Ingram, and his temper and disposition were certainly more evenly balanced; for the times came when Ingram tried his old gambit of exercising his choler on Browne, but Browne simply turned the incidents aside with quiet reasoning and explanations and continued to help the English author. Browne’s correspondence with Ingram began in mid-1874 and did not cease until 1909, an unmatched period of more than thirty-five years of almost completely amicable relations with Ingram. Ingram never had a more valuable ally than William Hand Browne proved himself to be.

Browne was a Baltimorean through and through. He was born in the [page 66:] city, educated there and at the University of Maryland, and he lived all of his long life in and near the city. Graduated with the degree of M.D. in 1850, he found that he did not like the practice of medicine and he never followed it. He became a translator, an author, editor, historian, lexicographer, and he founded and edited a series of magazines, among the more important being the Southern Review and the New Eclectic Magazine (later called the Southern Magazine, coedited with Lawrence Turnbull).

In 1879, Browne began his life-long association with Johns Hopkins University, first as librarian, then, after serving in a variety of positions, as professor of English literature, and finally as a professor emeritus until his death in 1912.

Browne was mild-mannered, learned, and humorous; his wide range in classical as well as modern literature, his broad scope of information, and his artistic skill made him of great assistance to his colleagues and much admired by the brighter of his students. His most important achievements lie, however, in the fields of colonial American and Maryland history; for at the close of his life he had edited and published thirty-two large quarto volumes of the Archives of Maryland, the first two parts of the “Calvert Papers,” and the first five volumes of the quarterly Maryland Historical Magazine.

Letter 22. William Hand Browne, Baltimore, to John Ingram, London. First printing. [Item 167]

Office “Southern Magazine”

Baltimore, Augt. 24, 1874

Dear Sir:

I have just received from Mr. G. W. Eveleth, a note intended for publication in the Southern Magazine, calling upon all persons who may be in possession of authentic information in regard to the life of Edgar A. Poe, to place themsleves [[themselves]] in communication with you (or with this magazine) that your most praiseworthy intentions of doing justice to that extraordinary genius and most misrepresented man, may be assisted. I shall have especial pleasure in assisting you in this [page 68:] matter in this or any way; for I have long been anxious to see such a work as I am confident yours will be.

I think the whole annals of literature show no baser act than the publication of Griswold’s and Lowell’s calumnies upon the man whom they feared when alive, after his death had made them secure. But especially malignant was the publication of these calumnies as a “Biographical Sketch”, attached to Poe’s works, so as to ensure that every reader of these should have that placed under his eye. We know that a little wine or spirits made Poe drunk, and that when drunk, he did wild, foolish, it may be wicked things; but never, that I know of, a single ungentlemanly act when sober; nor ever, even when drunk, anything so vile as this act of his biographers.

It may be in my power to procure you some reminiscences or unpublished poems of his. I have one called “The Vale of Nis”, which originally appeared in the Southern Literary Messenger, which is much at your service.(1) Have you access to the files of the S.L. Messenger? They are in our libraries here, and I would take pleasure in searching them for you.

My friend, Paul H. Hayne, Esq. was editor of the Messenger for a while, and I think is in possession of interesting material in reference to Poe which I am sure he would take pleasure in communicating.(2) Indeed it was from a communication of his to Appleton’s Journal, that I cut “The Vale of Nis.”

I will send you by this mail a paper on Poe which appeared in the Augt. No. of the Southern Magazine.(3) One point in it, referring to the circumstances of his death, may require explanation. At that time, and for years before and after, there was an infamous custom in this and other cities, at election-time, of “cooping” voters. That is, gangs of men picked up, inveigled, or even carried off by force, men whom they found on the streets (generally the poor, friendless, or strangers) and transported them to cellars in various slums of [page 69:] the city, where they were kept under guard, threatened and maltreated if they attempted to escape, often robbed, and always compelled to drink whiskey (frequently drugged) until they were stupefied and helpless. At the election, these miserable wretches were brought up to the polls in carts or omnibuses, under guard, and voted the tickets placed in their hands. Death from the ill-treatment was not very uncommon. The general belief here is, that Poe was seized by one of these gangs, (his death happening just at election-time; an election for sheriff took place on Oct. 4th), “cooped”, stupefied with liquor, dragged out and voted, and then turned adrift to die. He died in the Washington University Hospital.

As a corroboration of what I have said of the “cooping” process, I give an extract from Scharf’s Chronicles of Baltimore, referring to the elections of 1858. The “Reform Association”, he says, was organized “to secure quiet and fairness at the polls, which at this time were scenes of the most disgraceful violence and disorder. In addition to the ordinary acts of riot and intimidation, honest gentlemen as well as unfortunate wretches were frequently seized and ‘cooped’ in vile dens, drugged and stupefied with whiskey, and then carried round and ‘voted’ in ward after ward, the police offering no opposition, and the judges receiving the votes”. (Chron. of Balto. p. 567).

The custom had prevailed for many years; but outrages had grown so flagrant that law-abiding citizens associated to put down ruffianism, armed themselves, and extinguished it effectually. I will add, if I can procure a copy, a paper of my own on Poe’s Eureka, which was published in The New Eclectic Magazine (Baltimore) of Augt.1869.(4)

Wishing you every success in your most worthy undertaking, and renewing my proffer of service, I am

Your very obt. servt.

Wm. Hand Browne

Editor Southern Magazine [page 70:]

Ordinarily, Lowell’s name is not linked with Griswold’s as Poe’s principal defamer. Lowell did, however, allow a note on Poe’s life that he had written at Poe’s own request and had published in Graham’s Magazine, February, 1845, to be used as a prefatory biography of Poe in Griswold’s 1850 edition of Poe’s works. Griswold’s own Memoir of Poe, published in the third volume of the edition in September, 1850, later supplanted it and took first place in succeeding editions.

The importance of this letter is in Browne’‘ calling Ingram’s attention to W. Baird’s article, “Edgar Allan Poe,” which had appeared in the August, 1874, edition of the Southern Magazine, in which Baird flatly states that Poe was almost certainly “cooped” and drugged, and that he had voted on the fourth of October in Baltimore, and died as a result of the treatment he received at the hands of the gang. The quotation from Colonel John Thomas Scharf’s Chronicles of Baltimore authenticates the practice. Ingram repeated the whole story, as he learned it from this letter, in Life, II, 235-36, but he did not credit Baird, Browne, or Scharf as sources of his information.

Letter 23. William Hand Browne, Baltimore, to John Ingram, London. First printing. [Item 235]

June 1875

My dear Ingram:

My letter seems to have been lucky. That frightful Schiller disaster produced much feeling here; but in a few days it was almost forgotten by the public.(5) We live in such an age of hurrying sensations that nothing seems to make a lasting impression: yesterday’s shipwreck is lost in to-day’s murder, as that will be in tomorrow’s “gigantic forgery.”

The review of your book was already out before I sent you the sheet (I think) — I did not suppose it could possibly reach you in time for any corrections, had I had it set up as soon as written. As Gilfillan has apologised for his atrocity, I will [page 71:] mention the fact; but I am strongly inclined to suspect that it was a pure invention of his own.(6)

Before I forget it, let me say that Dr. Maupin of Univy of Va. is named Socrates, not Stephen; and he is not President of the Univy (which has no President) but Chairman of the Faculty. I do not think he is called “Dean,” as in the Univy of Maryland.

I tried to get the facts of Poe’s editorship of the Messenger & White’s letter; but could not find a copy of the 1st vol. of S.L.M. anywhere in the city.

Beauchampe and Greyslaer are out of print; but I may pick up an old copy at some book-stall.(7)

I am sorry that my review seemed to strike you most by its “forebearance.” I had nothing on which to exercise that quality; and the impression I meant to produce (beyond the correction of Griswold’s lies and the vindication of Poe) was that of admiration for, and gratitude toward the stranger whose generous enthusiasm had led him to take so much pains, under great disadvantages, in doing what none of Poe’s countrymen and even kindred, had ever done. If the tone of my review seems “forebearing,” I have utterly failed in my object. By the way, it has been well received — I mean your vindication as therein contained.(8)

I saw old Dr. N. C. Brooks* some time ago. He thinks there were some pieces of Poe’s in the Museum that were not included in Poe’s published works, and promised to hunt over his set, and if he found any, to let me copy them for you. [page 72:]

I have ordered a copy of the review to be sent to Mrs. Whitman.

Valentine* is, I suspect, busy. His grand statue of Lee has been set up and unveiled with appropriate ceremonies. He is a noble fellow — a true genius, with none of the drawbacks under which genius so often labors; modest, unaffected, courteous.

The Public Schools here are going to erect Poe’s monument. I hear that the design has been chosen. I will let you know about it, and send you a photo. If I can get one.

Mrs. Clemm I fancy to have been one of those gentle, childlike, somewhat weak women, whom you can not help loving and losing all patience with. But a Southerner, remembering the war, must lay his hand on his mouth when he speaks of Southern women. What they dared, and what they endured, is simply beyond belief.

John R. Thompson’s word may be implicitly relied upon in all matters within his own knowledge; though in others he may have been misinformed.

In some of his [Poe’s] Marginalia (which I trust you have sifted over, as they were in great part mere commonplacebook notes, many of which he has worked up)-in some, I say, he says some odd things. Sophocles’s giving “immortality to a sore toe,” is of course an allusion to Philoktetes; but what does he mean by “dignifying tragedy with a chorus of turkeys”? The turkey was not known in Europe until the 16th century; and I have not seen anything in Sophocles (including the Fragments) that could be twisted into an allusion to it, unless he got into some confusion about Meleager and Meleagris, the scientific name of the species to which the turkey belongs.(9)

I have picked up a copy of Greyslaer at a book-stall, and it is at your service if you want it. Beauchampe I may pick up any day. I think I am on the trail of the facts in the Beauchampe tragedy; & if I get them, will send them to you. [page 73:]

I have not heard from Dr. Morison (of Peabody Institute) yet; but no doubt the vols. consigned to him will reach me safely.

Very sincerely yours, Wm. Hand Browne

Ingram’s complaint of Browne’s “forebearance” in his reprint of the memoir in his magazine illustrates very well the cast of Ingram’s mind; he was himself emotional, burning with indignation against Griswold, and he expected all who joined with him to be equally impetuous if not fiery. Browne’s level-headed handling of this matter of getting the memoir before the American public, and the quality of his reply to Ingram about his objections gave even Ingram pause. Browne was proving to be too valuable an ally for him to lose, and the depth and breadth of his perceptions, plus his position in Baltimore and his friendships with Neilson Poe and N. H. Morison, provost of the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, made Ingram temper his future remarks when he disapproved of Browne’s actions or inactions.

Dr. Nathan C. Brooks was editor of the American Museum of Science, Literature and the Arts in Baltimore, a magazine to which Poe contributed; “Valentine” was E. V. Valentine, the Richmond sculptor who proved to be another of Ingram’s valuable helpers in searching out Poe materials, especially in Richmond, because he was on friendly terms with both Mrs. Shelton and Mrs. John Allan. John Reuben Thompson did not live up to Browne’s recommendation in this letter, for he proved to be an unreliable witness and reporter of Poe’s activities, after Poe had died.

From this letter Ingram did learn of the increased tempo of the Poe monument committee’s actions, which were to culminate in the exhumation of Poe’s and Mrs. Clemm’s bodies and the reburial of them in the front of the Presbyterian churchyard cemetery with the monument over them. Unveiling ceremonies were held on November 17, 1875.

Letter 24. William Hand Browne, Baltimore, to John Ingram, London. First printing. [Item 243]

Augt.17, 1875

My dear Ingram:

I deeply sympathise with the trouble to which your letter adverts; beyond all doubt the most terrible calamity that can befall or threaten anyone. [page 74:]

The committee that have the Poe monument in charge, have determined, I learn, to have no inscription beyond name, birth, and death. On the whole, I think this is in the best taste; though I thank you for your suggestion about Tennyson, of which I should certainly avail myself if any epitaph were proposed. Would he write a poem (or a few verses) do you think, to be read at the celebration, or ceremony, of placing the monument?(10))

I have, as a literary man, published various carefullyprepared papers on Tennyson’s poems, but I have never taken the liberty of sending him copies, much less writing to him. The Yankee itch for writing to persons of eminence, merely because they are eminent, seems to me infinitely impertinent; and I should no more think of writing to Tennyson merely because I have been a student of his poems, than I should think of marching into his house and sitting down to dinner, uninvited. Of course, any specific business (like that of the epitaph) would justify correspondence.

I went with Valentine* the other day to Poe’s grave, and he gathered some mementos for you. It is a quiet old graveyard, with many quaint old monuments, and full of shrubs and trees-mimosas, fig trees, spiraea, and especially peaches. A large peach tree, laden with fruit, partly overhangs the poet’s grave, which is a grassy mound. By his side, (the sexton said) lies his mother-in-law, Mrs. Clemm.

Neilson Poe tells me that John P[rentiss Poe] has written you a long and full letter.(11) He says (Neilson) that no man has a more thorough knowledge of Poe’s merits and faults, than he has. One of the grossest scandals, he says, was that Poe was unfaithful to his wife. He avers that never was there a more [page 75:] genuine love-match, and that Poe never swerved from his fidelity during his wife’s life, though he was exposed to extraordinary temptations. His remarkable personal beauty, the fascination of his manners and conversation, and his chivalrous deference and devotion to women, gave him a dangerous power over the sex.

He told me something about Griswold which I was very glad to hear. That malignant scoundrel went to So. Carolina, and there married a lady for her wealth. Almost immediately after the marriage, he found that her property was not of the extent, or in the position, he supposed, so he applied for a divorce to a New York court. The decree was granted, and he re-married straightway. The lady appealed, the former decree was reversed, and a suit for bigamy instituted against the Rev. Rufus, who, luckily for him, died before it came to trial. This was Poe’s defamer! I suppose Griswold’s biographers will keep that little incident in the dark.

I shall be very glad indeed to be allowed to publish your paper on Politian.(12) Could I get an electro-plate of the facsimile-paying for it, of course?

I wish I knew Horne. His Orion is a favorite book in my library. I squeezed a slender purse and had my favorites — the books which I study — bound in full calf and Russia; and Orion is in calf, and stands with Shelley and Tennyson. It is a most noble poem, and in flashes of splendid imagination is unsurpassed. Poe’s criticism of it was careless and had errors, unless his edition differed from mine. I shall take great pleasure in reviewing Cosmo d. M., as I particularly admire Horne’s poetry.(13)

I send Greyslaer by this mail; please accept it; also my thanks for your kind sympathy with my bereavement.

Faithfully yours, Wm. Hand Browne [page 76:]

One cannot be positive as to the nature of Ingram’s “trouble,” which drew deep sympathy from Browne, but it is possible that he bad confided to Browne, as he had to Mrs. Whitman early in 1874, that he lived under the threat of hereditary insanity, to which two of his aunts, his father, and one of his two sisters had already succumbed. Some of his rival American biographers of Poe were to be of the decided opinion that he had joined them.

Griswold’s biographers could not keep his three marriages in the dark, but at least his latest biographer, Joy Bayless, in Rufus Wilmot Griswold (Vanderbilt University Press, 1943), tells the story somewhat differently than Browne does in this letter.

This letter added to Ingram’s knowledge of Poe’s burial place; and he actually had a portion of it, for the “mementos” gathered for him by E. V. Valentine were bits of grass from the grave itself. Then too, he found here material to strengthen his oft-proclaimed belief that Poe had indeed been perfectly faithful to his wife, and that theirs was a true love match. From the letter sent him by John Prentiss Poe, he quoted verbatim for nearly a half page in his Appendix A on Poe’s ancestry. (See Life, II, 248-49.)

Letter 25. William Hand Browne, Baltimore, to John Ingram, London. First printing. [Item 254]

Octo. 28, 1875

My dear Ingram:

By the tenor of yours of 14th inst., I see that you had not yet received my last. “Politian” is out in our Nov. No. I have ordered the S.M. sent to you regularly: if it fails to reach you, drop me a card. We do not appear as early as the Northern monthlies; generally coming out from 20th to 25th.

Thanks for Cosmo de Medici, which I have received with, I think, just appreciation. Mr. Horne’s poetical work has been very appreciatively noticed by Edmund Clarence Stedman (of N. York) in a book just outm called The Victorian Poets, the only real work of real criticism that this generation has produced, so far as I have seen — I mean on this side of the Atlantic. It is at once analytic, discriminating, and thoroughly sympathetic, with unusual breadth and catholicity, and with the most delicate appreciation of excellence, or even merit, of every kind.

Col. Scharf promises to send you a copy of his Chronicles of Baltimore.(14) It is a rather undigested work, but you will find matters of interest in it here and there. I have promised him, in your name, that you would notice it in some one of the London literary journals.

I am glad Valentine sent you that photo., which, however, does not do his grand work justice. It should be seen from all sides to make its full impression.(15) He is a noble fellow-a real prince.

I will certainly send you a photograph of the Poe monument if any are taken, as I suppose they will be. Also an account of the inauguration.

I enclose Mrs. Whitman’s reply to some foolish Yankee scribbler.(16)

I see in a recent paper by Proctor — “Severrier s Balance,” I think, was the title, the very ground Poe presents in Eureka, viz: — that induction does not lead to discovery, nor has ever done so: that all great discoveries have been made by theory — that is, deduction, helped by sudden flashes of intuition — the sudden recognition of consistency between facts and a mode of explaining the facts; or an intuition that if there be A, B, and C, there ought be, and must be D and E, though we cannot yet show them. This intuition of Poe’s, I consider only a swift deduction of which the separate links pass so swiftly through the consciousness that they are not recognised as links. It is often so in guessing a riddle: the answer flashes on you, you can’t tell how, yet a regular series of processes has led to it. The more science, and especially study of the laws of thought, progresses, the more clearly will the truth of Poe’s views be shown; though he will get no credit — “what porridge had John Keats”?(17) [page 78:]

The unveiling of Jackson’s statue at Richmond — from the hand of your Foley — was a grand affair. The Southern heart beat once more. It was a graceful gift, and draws us nearer to our noble old mother, England.(18) By the way, did I ever tell you I am of pure English blood? My mother came from Warwickshire (Wilnecote, I think); and my father’s family is English, intermarried with English, for 200 years.

Trusting that we may meet next year, I am

Faithfully yours, Wm. Hand Browne

Ingram was able to quote extensively from Colonel Scharf’s Chronicles of Baltimore, both directly and indirectly. From these records, he could establish the facts that Poe’s grandfather, David Poe, had been a staunch patriot, a wealthy man who contributed largely to help finance the American cause in the revolutionary war, thus earning for himself the title of General Poe, as well as the lasting regard of General Lafayette, who on his last visit to Baltimore in 1824 paid visits of respect to General Poe’s widow and to his grave. From this same source Ingram was also able to retell the incident of Poe’s grandmother’s personally helping to cut out and sew five hundred garments for the patriot soldiers, in response to Lafayette’s bemoaning their need on his first visit to Baltimore in 1781. (See Life, II, 250-51.)

Letter 26. William Hand Browne, Baltimore, to John Ingram, London. First printing. [Item 268]

[December 3, 1875]

My dear Ingram:

I have sent you a day or two ago, a copy of the N.Y. Herald, giving an account of Poe’s last moments by Dr. Moran, at the time one of the physicians at the Washington Hospital.(19) I do [page 79:] not know Dr. M., nor how far his statements are [to be] received; but I should be inclined to take them with a considerable modicum of salt. His memory is by far too circumstantial; unless we should attribute a good part of the details to the imagination and dramatic gifts of the reporter. With the Herald, truth is but a secondary matter compared with effect. I happened to be speaking of the subject this morning with an old friend of twenty years or more (who I did not know knew anything about Poe) and he said that he knew all about the facts at the time: that Poe was undoubtedly cooped, drugged and voted, and then turned adrift to die. He gave me many details, which I will not now write. When you come over, you must see him: it is James W. Alnutt, Prest. of the Bank of Commerce of this city. W. H. Carpenter, editor of the Gazette, tells me he knew Poe intimately. They were associated in some literary work: the Baltimore Book, a collection of light literature (not an annual) to which Poe contributed, and another similar work.(20) C. promised to hunt them up for me; but said he thought that Poe’s contributions were included in the published works. Carpenter said that the last time he met Poe, the latter, with a sort of supercilious way he sometimes assumed, stretched out one finger, and C. extended his forefinger and laid it on Poe’s, upon which P. laughed and shook hands. When I was a very small boy, there was a Poe in Balto., a young fellow, famous for his vagaries and practical jokes. I never knew him, and only recollect the stories told of him. I have only quite recently learned that this was the eccentric brother of the poet. One famous joke of his was this: — At that time the Germans in Balto. who were not many in number, and rather despised, raised a volunteer company, which they called Die Jager, generally referred to as “the Dutch Yagers”. These honest Dutchmen Poe selected as his especial butts. When they would go out parading, Poe would muster a lot of mischievous gamins, and march in their rear, sometimes giving orders in broken English, and sometimes chanting a doggerel canticle of his own composition, of which I remember two couplets: [page 80:]

“Ven you hears to great pig trum Den you sees to Yagers come; Ven tey turns to corner apout, Den you shmells to sauerkraut”. &c, &c.

This doggerel the boys used to sing in chorus, Poe strutting at their head like a drum-major, to the great mirth of the public. When they reached the place of parade, Poe would halt his troop (followed by hundreds of spectators) and would burlesque the call of the roll, with the answers or excuses for absence; would inspect the company, would command manoeuvers, &c., all in the wildest burlesque, to the infinite delight of his boys and a malicious public, but to the inexpressible anguish of the poor Dutchmen. At last they could stand it no longer, and had Poe up to Court. The charge was preferred, and the Court asked Poe what he had to say. He, with the greatest gravity, said he was only indulging in a little innocent mirth that harmed nobody and did not disturb the peace; that the boys liked to see the Yagers parade, and he put himself at their head to infuse a little of the military spirit into them. That as for his song, it was quite inoffensive, as his Honor could judge for himself when he repeated it. And he then began intoning his famous chant, at which the Court fairly broke down in laughter, and dismissed the case [. . . .](21)

Balto. Dec. 3, 1875

The above letter I thought I had sent you long ago, when to my surprise I found it, unfinished, in my portfolio. A later letter from me has corrected the mistake about the eccentric Poe, who was the poet’s uncle.

I have anticipated your wish, and already forwarded you, by the hands of Mr. Boyd, a good photograph of the Poe monument. I think you will like the design.

The photo. of Valentine’s* grand figure of Lee, only gives half its beauty. It is intended to be viewed all round; and [page 81:] while the figure is probably best from the side shown in the photo., perhaps the face is best from the other side. It is a noble tribute to one of the most flawless types of manhood the world has ever known. Your countrymen’s gift to Virginia in Foley’s statue of Jackson, is another noble tribute to another hero, and a princely gift to the grand old mutilated State[. . . .]

I hate parodies in general; but I saw one the other day of “The Raven,” so happy and humorous, that if I can get a copy I will send it to you.

Faithfully yours, Wm Hand Browne

Ingram quoted a long paragraph from Dr. John J. Moran’s Herald article about Poe’s last hours and death in Life, II, 236-37, thus adding another myth to Poe biography; for subsequent biographers immediately picked it up from Ingram, and it has never been proved or disproved. Moran had written that the conductor of the train from Baltimore to Philadelphia had recognized Poe’s desperate condition and had transferred him at either Harve de Grace, Maryland, or Wilmington, Delaware, to another train returning to Baltimore. As Dr. Moran grew older and became increasingly conscious of his role at the death of one of America’s greatest writers, his imagination grew correspondingly stronger; he finally published in 1885 a whole book made up of Poe’s last words, which curiously enough he entitled his Defense of Poe.

From this letter and from Colonel Scharf’s book, Ingram reprinted the whole of this incident of the Baltimore boys, led by Samuel Poe, ridiculing the Germans in Baltimore, even including the four lines of doggerel verse. (See Life, II, 251-52).

The Poe monument had been unveiled in the Presbyterian churchyard cemetery on November 17, 1875, with elaborate ceremonies amounting to fanfare, and the newspapers from Boston to Mobile were filled with accounts of the ceremonies and pictures of the monument.

Ingram was to publish an entire book about “The Raven” in 1885; included therein were literary and historical commentaries and many parodies of the poem (George Redway: London). [page 82:]

Letter 27. William Hand Browne, Baltimore, to John Ingram, London. First printing. [Item 287]

March 17, 1876

My dear Ingram:

I have lighted on a trouvaille. I heard of an original daguerreotype of Poe in the possession of a Virginia gentleman, so I wrote to him, and he has kindly lent it to me to have copied. I propose to use it for the frontispiece to the memorial volume which I am helping Miss Rice to prepare. This picture is incomparably superior to any of the poet that I have seen. It is not perceptibly faded, and gives the relief and solidity of the head, the texture and lines of the face, so that now for the first time I have a clear idea of Poe as a living man. The other pictures are like phantoms compared to it. I am really delighted at getting hold of this picture (which was taken from life in Richmond) and which, I think, will be one of the most telling features in the “Memorial.” I need not say that you shall have a copy, besides your copy of the book.

We hope to get for the “Memorial” a picture of Mrs. Poe (Virginia) and one of Miss Royster (Mrs. Shelton).

I think the Memorial will be a very creditable thing, and will at all events, sell enough to cover all expenses, with which Miss Rice will be quite content. We shall use the Memoir from the International, the publisher agreeing for a douceur of $10.00 (this is entre nous), making the changes noted in your letter.(22)

And now I have a favor to ask of you. Will you ask, or empower, Messrs. Black of Edinburgh to let me have an electroplate from the wood-engraving of the cottage at Fordham (headpiece to your Memoir) to use in the Memorial? I shall write them today making the request, and saying that I have applied to you.

I enclose you (for your private eye only, and for your collection of Poeana) copy of a touching letter of Mrs. Clemm’s, the original of which is in my hands. There never was greater devotion, nor greater fidelity than those of these two ladies (Mrs. Clemm and Virginia) to Poe, or than his to them.(23) [page 83:]

You have certainly achieved success with your defence of the poet. All over this country it is spoken of as “Ingram’s Memoir,” “the Ingram vindication,” &c. I enclose a handbill from Widdleton (mark that, Master Brook!) in which he speaks not of “the Gill,” but “the Ingram Memoir.” Gill has been put where he belongs.

Very truly yours, Wm. Hand Browne

Miss Sara Sigourney Rice, the Baltimore school teacher who had been the moving spirit behind the efforts to erect a suitable monument over Poe’s remains, was at this time editing Edgar Allan Poe: A Memorial Volume, and apparently was fortunate enough to have Browne’s assistance, even though his name does not appear as her coeditor. The pictures of Virginia Poe and Mrs. Shelton do not appear in the volume, but the wood engraving of the Fordham cottage does. For once, Ingram respected his correspondent’s injunction that an item was for his private eye only, for he did not publish any portion of Letter 8 in this volume.

The memoir of Poe which prefaced Sara Rice’s Memorial Volume was a condensation of Ingram’s memoir which had prefaced his four-volume edition of Poe’s works, published by A. & C. Black, Edinburg, 1874/75, and by W. J.Widdleton in New York, 1876. Ingram had made a few corrections and had added a few more facts to it before offering it to the International Review, where it appeared in abridged form in April, 1875.

William Fearing Gill had published an article called “Some New Facts About Edgar A. Poe,” in Laurel Leaves, published by his father’s firm in Boston, 1876. Subsequently, a violent quarrel erupted between him and Ingram over the duplicate use of materials they both had received from Mrs. Whitman.

Letter 28. William Hand Browne, Baltimore, to John Ingram, London. First printing. [Item 293]

June 6, 1876

My dear Ingram: —

Your letter of 25 May and the proofs arrived safely. Many thanks. I have written to the Librarian of Congress to know: 1., if we can copyright, and failing this: 2., if we can keep [page 84:] others from copyrighting. It would be disagreeable to have the door slammed in our faces by burglarious intruders.

I dropped you a card to tell you that I had picked up a vol. for you containing Burton’s Gentms. Magazine, Jany. to July 1840, with Poe’s name as editor; and the last semester, without Poe’s name, & with Graham as publisher. There are various reviews & other pieces by Poe in it. It is not in very good order, but may fill a hiatus in your library.

I have been shown today in the liby. of Maryland Histl. Socy. an 8 pp. pamphlet containing a satirical poem, called “The Musiad or Ninead.” By Diabolus. Published by Me. Baltimore, 1830. It seems to be complete, and there are reference figures apparently referring to notes that are lost. I rather suspect it may be by Poe. There is a humorous prose preface, much in Poe’s style; and Poe is mentioned by name in the poem as a young man of some merit, but at a disadvantage. The versification is extremely good, and a test word in it shows the writer to have been a scholar. Hast ever heard of it? The librarian is anxious to get a perfect copy.(24)

Thanks for promised attention to the electro. which I am desirous of getting hold of. “My” portrait of Poe — that is, Mr. Davidson’s — I think you will admit when you see it, beats all the others[. . . . ]

Truly yours,

Wm. Hand Browne

Letter 29. William Hand Browne, Baltimore, to John Ingram, London. First printing. [Item 360]

Oct. 16, 1880

My dear Ingram:

I have been so busy, partly with the reopening of the Univy., and partly with things connected with the great [page 85:] holiday which Baltimore has been treating herself to all this week, that I could not write you: and even now I don’t know when this letter will go off; but when it does go, it will carry the copies of Poe’s letters. These I have made with the exactest care, scrupulously following even the punctuation. You will find them interesting. They were given to my friend, W. H. Carpenter, Ed. of Balto. “Sun,” by the widow of Dr. Snodgrass. They have not been shown to anyone else; & indeed Mr. C. does not like to have them handled, as two are badly damaged by fire, & one by damp, and are really dropping to pieces. Mr. Carpenter first offered to lend them to me, thinking I might like to work them into a magazine paper. I declined to do this, but asked and obtained permission to take copies for you. Mr. Carpenter only stipulates that the copies should be shown to our common friend & his associate, E. Spencer, who may wish to refer to them in some article on Poe. He may, or may not, make some use of them: but in any case will not stale [sic] them to any great extent. Snodgrass’s sketch of Poe in S[aturday] V[isiter] I will copy for you when I have time.(25)

I will enclose also some reminiscences of P[oe] obtained from persons who knew him by my friend John B. Tabb of St. Charles Coll. Md. [. . . .]

Baltimore, 25 Oct., 1880

Since writing the other leaf, a new and very important Poeannal has turned up among Dr. Snodgrass’s papers. It is the letter from the election-coop asking Snodgrass to come to Poe’s help — thus putting the “cooping” incident beyond a doubt. I have copied it from the original, & this is the text —

Baltimore City, Oct. 3d 1849

Dear Sir, —

There is a gentleman, rather the worse for wear, at Ryan’s 4th ward polls, who goes under the cognomen of Edgar A. [page 86:] Poe, and who appears in great distress, & he says he is acquainted with you, and I assure you, he is in need of immediate assistance,

Yours, in haste,  
Jos. W. Walker

To Dr. J. E. Snodgrass.

Spencer is hunting up all about Ryan’s place, & will try to see if any of Poe’s fellow-prisoners in that den can be now found. Walker was a printer, & is now dead. S[pencer] will then prepare a paper for one of the magazines, in which he will refer to these letters, as I wrote you before, & will doubtless make some extracts from them. I was wrong in saying that these letters were given to Mr. Carpenter: they were only lent to him by Mrs. Snodgrass with permission to make what use of them he chose; & has since returned them to her. Some of the old vindictiveness against Poe still crops up occasionally in the Northern papers — partly because they hate the South and everything Southern, and partly because some of the old “mutual-admiration” set still survive, and have never yet forgiven the man who told them the truth about themselves.

I have N. P. Willis’ letter to Morris about Poe, cut from the Home Journal of Oct. 30, 1858. Have you it?(26)

Truly yours,
Wm. Hand Browne

Dr. Joseph Evans Snodgrass, a Baltimore physician and minor literary figure who edited with Nathan C. Brooks the American Museum of Science in 1839 and became the proprietor of the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, had probably known Poe since Poe’s first real association with Baltimore, 1831-1835. Almost immediately after Dr. Snodgrass died in 1880, his widow released nine unpublished letters from Poe to her husband, plus the note Joseph W. Walker had written to Dr. Snodgrass after finding Poe in his sad condition at Ryan’s Fourth Ward polls. W. H. Carpenter allowed Browne to make the copies for Ingram, plus a set of copies for himself, which he lent to Edward Spencer, his associate on the Sun. [page 87:]

These letters are long and detailed accounts of Poe’s plans and literary affairs, and there is in them more than a suggestion that Poe was playing the role of sycophant to Dr. Snodgrass. Ingram recognized the importance of these revealing letters, but they had arrived too late to be included in his 1880 Life, and for some unknown reason he did not follow his usual custom of rushing into print somewhere with new Poe material of this magnitude. He could have been too busy with other matters; he could have recognized that the letters, including Walker’s note, put Poe in an unflattering light. Whatever the cause for his delay, he missed an important “first” publication about Poe, for to Ingram’s surprise and anger, Edward Spencer published all of these letters in the New York Herald for March 27, 1881.(27) Ingram had felt that these letters were his alone, to publish when he pleased, and now that he bad been anticipated in their publication, he reacted with his usual rage.

Browne had assured Ingram that he had made the copies “with exactest care,” but a collation of the copies shows that he did make a number of errors, chiefly in punctuation. The press copies he made for Carpenter have disappeared, as have many of the originals; the copies Ingram received in 1880 and kept for inclusion in his last biography of Poe, finished in 1916, now serve as texts for the letters. For a detailed discussion of this Poe-Snodgrass correspondence, see John W. Ostrom’s “A Poe Correspondence Re-edited,” Americana, XXIV (July, 1940), 409-446.

Despite the trouble caused by Spencer’s editing the Poe-Snodgrass correspondence, Browne’s correspondence with Ingram continued for almost thirty more years. From time to time he sent Ingram important letters and items of interest in Poe affairs, among them a letter Poe had written to Messrs. J. H. Reinman & J. H. Walker accepting membership in the Philosophian Society of Wittenberg College, Springfield, Ohio. This letter was dated from New York, March 11, 1847. [Item 36] Ingram printed this letter first, in Life, II, 118, adding contemptuously that it was a “fair specimen of autograph hunters’ success in ‘drawing out’ a distinguished contemporary.” The original of this letter is apparently lost; Browne’s copy and Ingram’s printing of it remain the sources of its text. Ingram was able to achieve another first printing when Browne copied for him Mrs. Clemm’s letter to Neilson Poe, November 1, 1849, reproduced in this volume as Letter 8, noted above.


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 68:]

1.  “The Valley Nis” originally appeared in Poe’s Poems (New York: Elam Bliss, 1831). It was reprinted in the Southern Literary Messenger, February, 1836.

2.  Browne is mistaken. Hayne never edited the Southern Literary Messenger; he did edit a short-lived magazine named the Southern Literary Gazette.

3.  W. Baird, “Edgar Allan Poe,” Southern Magazine (XV), 190-203.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 69:]

4.  William Hand Browne, “Poe’s ‘Eureka,’ and Recent Speculation,” New Eclectic Magazine, V (August, 1869), 190-99.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 70:]

5.  Two hundred lives were lost on May 7, 1875, when the Schiller, a steamboat en route from New York to Hamburg, went aground on the Scilly Islands, southwest of England, off Land’s End.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 71:]

6.  George Gilfillan, a British clergyman, had asserted in the London Critic in 1854 that “Poe” heart was as rotten as his conduct was infamous,” and that he broke his wife’s heart, hurrying her to a premature grave, that “he might write ‘Annabel Lee’ and ‘The Raven’.” Gilfillan withdrew these statements when he was furnished proof that Poe had written “The Raven” two years before his wife died.

7.  Poe’s one drama, “Politian,” was based on the “Kentucky Tragedy,” which took place in Frankfort, Kentucky, in the 1820’; a number of other American writers used the same events in various ways: Charles Fenno Hoffman wrote a novel, Greyslaer (1840) touching upon the theme; William Gilmore Simms based his novel Beauchampe (1842) upon the actual deeds of the characters and used their real names. See Quinn, 231-32, for a brief but full treatment of this matter.

8.  Browne had reviewed Ingram’s memoir of Poe which prefaced Volume I of his four-volume Edinburgh edition of Poe’s works in the Southern Magazine, XVI, 640-50, reprinting the memoir almost completely. At this time the American copyright on Poe’s works prevented the Edinburgh edition from being republished or offered for sale in the United States. Ingram’s edition was brought out, however, by W. J. Widdleton, New York, 1876.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 72:]

9.  According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the American and Canadian colloquial phrase “to talk turkey” means to use high-flown language. Perhaps Poe meant no more than this.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 74:]

10.  The plans for the inscription on Poe’s monument were enlarged to include an epitaph, and a number of important American, British, and European poets were asked to suggest an appropriate one. Tennyson repaid Poe’s two highly laudatory reviews of his poetry by suggesting an epitaph not exactly original: In pace requiescat. See Sara Sigourney Rice (ed.), Edgar Allan Poe: A Memorial Volume, (Baltimore: Turnbull Brothers, 1877).

11.  Neilson Poe’s son, John Prentiss, had written to Ingram telling him much about the genealogy of the Poe family, on May 1, 1875. J. P. Poe had also stated in his letter that Edgar’s brother, William Henry Leonard, was, or gave promise of being, as great a genius as Edgar. Nothing that survives by W. H. L. Poe bears this out, but it made its way into Poe biography by way of this letter.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 75:]

12.  Browne printed Ingram’s long paper on “Poe’s ‘Politian”’ in the Southern Magazine, XVII (November, 1875), 588-94. Ingram had been able to get the entire manuscript of Poe’s drama from Mrs. Stella Lewis, and this paper was one of Ingram’s major additions to Poe literature.

13.  Browne did review Richard Hengist Horne’s Cosmo de’ Medici, an Historical Tragedy; and other Poems (London: George Rivers, 1875) in the Southern Magazine, XVII (1875), 630-34. His review was in keeping with his expressed opinion of Horne’s writings in this letter.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 77:]

14.  John Thomas Scharf, Chronicles of Baltimore (Baltimore: Turnbull Brothers, 1874).

15.  There is a 7 x 9 photograph of Valentine’s statue of Thomas Jefferson in the Ingram Poe Collection. [Item 4841

16.  Francis Gerry Fairfield had called Poe an epileptic, among other things, in an article in Scribner’s, October, 1875. Mrs. Whitman’s “A Reply to Mr. Fairfield” was published as a long letter in the New York Tribune, October 13, 1875, in which she cuttingly refuted Fairfield’s argument. Mrs. Whitman herself felt this article to be the sharpest she ever wrote about anyone, including Griswold.

17.  The last line of a poem called “Popularity,” by Robert Browning.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 78:]

18.  The inscription on this statue reads: “Presented by English Gentlemen / as a tribute of admiration for / the Soldier and Patriot / THOMAS J. JACKSON, / and gratefully accepted by Virginia / in the name of the Southern People. / Done A.D. 1875 / in the hundredth year of the Commonwealth. / “Look! there is Jackson standing like a stonewall.” John Henry Foley (1818-1874), sculptor, was a member of the Royal Academy.

19.  New York Herald, October 28, 1875. [Item 625]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 79:]

20.  Poe contributed “Siope: a Fable” to the Baltimore Book for 1838. Later, he changed the name of this prose poem to “Silence — a Fable.”

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 80:]

21.  It was Samuel Poe, Edgar’s eccentric uncle, not his brother, who perpetrated this joke at the expense of the Baltimore Germans.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 82:]

22.  Ingram’s article, “Edgar Allan Poe,” had been printed in the International Review, II (March-April, 1875), 145-72.

23.  Mrs. Clemm’s letter, dated November 1, 1849, written from Lowell, Mass., where she was a guest in Annie Richmond’s home, to Neilson Poe, in Baltimore, is printed as Letter 8 in this volume.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 84:]

24.  The late Thomas O. Mabbott thought it highly unlikely that Poe was the author of “The Musiad or Ninead.” See T. O. Mabbott (ed.), Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969), 1, 541.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 85:]

25.  Dr. J. E. Snodgrass’ biographical sketch of Poe occupied four columns in the Baltimore Saturday Visiter for July 29, 1843. [Item 494]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 86:]

26.  A letter from N. P. Willis to George P. Morris, the coeditors of the New York Mirror when Poe joined their staff in late 1844, describes Poe’s looks and manner at that time. [Item 526]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 87:]

27.  [Item 802]

 


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - JCMBPB, 1977] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Building Poe Biography (J. C. Miller) (Chapter IV)