Text: Mary E. Phillips, “Section 06,” Edgar Allan Poe: The Man (1926), pp. 1097-1251


[page 1097:]

[[SECTION VI, continued]]

[[LATER LIFE IN NEW YORK CITY, 1844-1848, continued]]

For Feb. 14, 1846,(82) her last St. Valentine’s Day on earth, Virginia wrote to her beloved husband a little acrostic Valentine now yellow with age and stained, where was placed a lock of her hair. Courtesy of Mrs. Josephine Poe January allows its reprint appearance, and of it notes: “The first letters of each line spell his name in full, — the thirteen letters marring the possibility of a sonnet.” Part of the line Virginia wrote, that love shall heal her “weakened lungs,” is pathetic autobiography. Perhaps during all these years they lived in cities Virginia held in mental vision a country cottage home. And it is pleasant to think of “a ‘rich old cypress vine’ covering its bare [page 1098:] porch.” Not another year was left to Edgar Poe and his Virginia together when they found their cottage at Fordham after the long winter of trying days at 85 Amity Street, New York, where was written this Valentine, of exquisite pathos, to the poet by his “Annabel Lee.” Certainly Virginia’s sufferings from her distressing malady and needless troubles, caused by the “tattling tongues,” with Poe’s own wretched nerve-exhaustion, could well account for his “desponding tone” decried by Miss Lynch and others who, under his disabilities, were not driven to keep the wolf from their doors. Of Poe and Virginia Mrs. Elizabeth Oakes Smith said:(83) “I first met him when I was living in Brooklyn. He called on me with his childwife, who was very pretty; she had eyes just like a fawn. She . . . talked very little indeed, but had the greatest admiration for her husband’s genius, and fairly worshipped him. When last I saw her she said ‘I know I, shall die soon; I know I can’t get well; but I want to be as happy as possible, and make Edgar happy.’ Mr. Poe called on me . . . many times and was always the gentleman. His conversation . . . was ready and pointed; he could turn a compliment. . . . Often . . . Poe would converse . . . on literature, metaphysics, poetry . . . but be never talked about his immediate surroundings. When . . . talking and interested he had that far-away look so usual with him.”

Pressing needs sent Poe’s prior Oct. 13th Broadway Journal review of Mrs. Osgood’s “Wreath of Wild Flowers,” poems, to Godey’s March, 1846, issue. His “Marginalia” No. 5, showing the studious [page 1099:] thinker, went to Graham’s for that month; and No. 6, of like scholarship and with caustic touches for some, including Carlyle, and high lights of favor for others, including Addison, went to the April, 1846, Democratic Review. Among the fresh efforts from Poe’s pen was his article on “William Cullen Bryant,” that went to Godey’s for April. Poe noted that the conclusion of “Thanatopsis” was “magnificent”; The Waterfowl,” as “very beautiful,” and “Oh, Fairest of the Rural Maids!” as “the truest poem written by Bryant.” Of him, personally, appeared: “His bearing is quite distinguished. . . . In character, no man stands more lofty. . . . His soul is charity itself, in all respects generous and noble.”

Because General O‘Beirne’s and other records locate Poe and family twice at Mrs. Brennan’s home — and the summer of 1844 found them there; and that of 1845, they were at 195 East Broadway, with that fall and winter at 85 Amity Street, thence they must have gone direct for a brief while, in the early spring of 1846, to Mrs. Brennan’s home at Bloomingdale.

From Athenæum Hotel, New York, April 14th, :Airs. M. E. Hewitt Wrote Poe that she was sorry to hear of his illness in Baltimore. She added: “All Bluedom misses you from its charmed circle, and we often ask when are we to have Mr. Poe . . . again among us. Our charming friend Mrs. Osgood and myself indulge often in talking of you and your dear wife . . . and you know the power of the feminine order of laudation as well as its opposite.” Of this opposite, Poe was soon to learn more.

Concerning obligations Poe could not promptly [page 1100:] meet, he wrote G. W. Eveleth, April 16, 1846: “You seem to take matters very easily, and I . . . wonder at your patience, . . . Your letters, . . . reached me . . . and I attended to them as far as I could. The business . . . was . . . of the person to whom I transferred the journal, and in whose hands it perished. Of course, I feel no less in honor bound to refund you your money, and now do so, with thanks for your promptness and courtesy.”

Answering this letter, G. W. Eveleth wrote Poe:(84) as “I ought . . . to have acknowledged the receipt of your letter enclosing my money. I gladly do so, and still more gladly own you a gentleman throughout the whole business, although . . . I half believed you were playing the rogue.”

To Mr. Duyckinck’s friendship Poe turned, April 28th, for various literary favors and aid, one being this press notice: “EDGAR A. POE, — By a concurrent vote of the Literary Societies of the University of Vermont, Mr. Poe has been elected Poet for their . . . Anniversary in August next — but we are sorry to hear that continued ill-health, with a pressure of engagements, will force him to decline the office.” To Mr. Duyckinck Poe also wrote, he had letters from distinguished Americans that he would exchange with Wiley & Putnam, who wanted them for books, and mentioned autographs he wished to obtain.

One of the fads of those sentimental days was prizing, from eminent people, locks of their hair. On this score, Feb. 23, 1846, Mary, the young daughter of Editor John Neal, of Portland, Me., made such a formal letter request of Mrs. Osgood; she warmly [page 1101:] answered, and with the query if Mary might not care for the same favor from Mr. Poe. Mary, delighted, April 25th wrote:(85)

DEAR SWEET MRS. OSGOOD: I guess I do want a lock of Mr. Poe’s hair! I guess I am an admirer of his “Raven”; I think it is . . . strange, grotesque and very beautiful, — but I also want a line of his writing with a lock of his hair. I will inclose in this letter a note for him, then I shall be sure of having an answer — don’t you think so? . . . Mrs. Osgood, we shall be “tickled to death” to have that book of yours, particularly your sincere admirer


This letter was continued by Mary’s father with:

Yes, do send that book. . . . Say to Mr. Poe, that for old acquaintance sake, . . . I hope he will furnish my girl with a bit of the raven plumage and a word or two in writing. . . . I have advised her to apply confidentially to “my dear fine-hearted friend”; and to such as you, with the earnestness of one who will not take no for answer, . . . It is high time such women were bonded together against beleaguering infidels that war with woman’s nature and question her power.

Your friend,


For fifteen years, covering this period, Francesco NIonteverde, an Italian, presided over a resort(86) that he made attractive to celebrities of the artistic, literary, editorial, theatrical and fashionable circles of men in New York City. Halleck, with his artist friend, Henry Inman; Editor George P. Morris, writer of “Woodman, Spare that Tree,” etc.; Willis Gaylord Clark, of Knickerbocker; Albert Pike, author of “Isadore,” from which Poe was charged with theft of [page 1102:] “The Raven”; Edgar Allan Poe and that delightful and delighting “Tall son of York, six feet, four inches,” William T. Porter, editor of the sporting New York weekly Spirit of the Times, with others met there. Brilliant were those motley crowds of wit, humor, and talent that nightly met at “Frank’s Place,” No. 5 Barclay Street, as this gay intellectual exchange was called, and where were rough arm-chairs about a large table covered with newspapers from all over the world — all dominated by the Spirit of the Times. Undoubtedly this table made one of the strongest fascinations of the place for Poe. Porter was noted as of “that band of brothers, those five brave, gallant. good glorious Porters.” Born at Newbury, Vt., December, 1809, was William T. Porter, “whose mission on earth was to oblige everybody, and the only editor who died without enemies,” records his “Memoir” [page 1103:] by Francis Brinley. But of Poe, Professor Woodberry notes, “In his own home alone, he found happiness, affection, and refuge from contact with the world.” However, shorn of his Broadway Journal as a bread-winner of whatever measure, Poe turned to Mr. Godey ; and from May to October, 1846, appeared from Poe’s pen in The Lady’s Book, “The Literati of New York City,” with sub-title, “Some Honest Opinions at Random respecting their Autorial Merits, with occasional words of Personality.” In Poe’s Introduction was: “In the series of papers which I now propose, my design is, in giving my own unbiased opinion of the literati . . . of New York, to give at the same time, very closely . . . that of conversational society in literary circles. It must be expected, . . . that in innumerable particulars, I shall differ from . . . what appears to be the voice of the public — but this is a matter of no consequence whatever.” Thirty-eight papers were thought to number them, but Mr. Whitty discovered another(87) on “S. Anna Lewis,” in August, 1848, Democratic Review. In his critique of Hawthorne (Godey’s, November, 1847), Poe noted from this Preface of “The Literati of New York,” that he was at some pains in pointing out the distinction between the popular opinion of authors and that held and expressed of them in private literary society. “For example, Mr. Hawthorne, . . . is scarcely recognized by the press or by the public, and when noticed at all, is noticed merely to be damned by faint praise. Now, my own opinion of him is, that although his walk is limited, . . . yet in this walk he evinces extraordinary genius, having no rival in America [page 1104:] or elsewhere.” This strong, clear Poe-dicta is very definite in pointing the fact that “Boston and Bostonians” did not cover Poe’s estimations of all New England writers, but only of a few. As to the mention of the non-important of “The Literati,” it may be well to bear in mind, there were some of such who came into personal touch with Poe, who, in his expressions of them, also expressed a reflex of himself and of his environments at the dates of these papers.

In May, 1846, Godey’s, Poe noted Rev. George Bush, Professor of Hebrew in the University of New York, as distinguished for “the extent and variety of his attainments in Oriental literature,” and personally, as “one of the most amiable men in the world, unusually respected and beloved.” Mr. George H. Colton was of record as “originator and editor of ‘The American Review,’ a Whig magazine . . . the best of its order in this country.” In character its editor “is in the highest degree estimable.” Poe attributed the success of N. P. Willis, “one third to his mental ability, and two thirds to his physical temperament. . . . As a writer of ‘Sketches’ Mr. Willis is unequalled. . . . As a poet Mr. Willis is not entitled . . . to so high a rank. . . . I quote . . . the truest poem ever written by Mr. Willis, ‘Unseen Spirits.’ ” Its first line is:

“The shadows lay along Broadway.”

Poe continued, “There is about this little poem . . . a true imagination.” Willis had enemies and innumerable friends, and was himself “a warm friend.” Willis [page 1105:] never was less to Poe! William M. Gillespie was mentioned as favorably known as “author of a neat volume — ‘Rome as Seen by a New Yorker’ — a good title to a good book.” While Poe’s MS. review of “Charles F. Briggs,” that went to Godey’s for May, 1846, was mildly caustic, Dr. Griswold has edited into his print of it, by innuendo and a straying paragraph or more, of both items and persons — including Lowell — that are not found in the original, by which act, unfortunately, disfavor is cast on both Poe and his editor. William Kirkland, as “husband of the author of ‘A New Home,’ also a magazinist, was reviewed’ by Poe, who noted Kirkland’s paper, in The Columbian, on “the London Foreign Quarterly, for April, 1844,” In Poe’s review was: “The arrogance, . . . self-glorification of the Quarterly, with its gross injustice towards everything un-British, were . . . palpably exposed.” While this shows Poe’s fearless attitude on British methods, to such expression will be credited, perhaps with some truth, the poet’s bitter disappointment in failure, up to then, to obtain British recognition of later generous bestowal. But however fearless as to British critics, Poe was no less merciful to snobbery in their fawning American followers, by: “there is not a more disgusting spectacle under the sun than our subserviency to British criticism. It is disgusting because it is buckling, servile, pusillanimous. We know the British bear us little but ill-will. Now if we must have a nationality let it be a nationality that will throw off this yoke!” Poe closed his review with: “Whatever Mr. Kirkland does is done carefully.” Of Dr. John Wakefield Francis, Poe’s [page 1106:] brief review hives no uncertain opinions in: “As a medical essayist he has . . . commanded the highest respect and attention. . . . I . . . mention his ‘ Anatomy of Drunkenness,’ his views of ‘Asiatic Cholera,’ . . . biography of . . . Livingston, etc., . . . are . . . models of fine writing. . . . Dr. Francis is one of the old spirits of the New York Historical Society. . . . His professional services and his purse are always at the command of the needy.” Undoubtedly both facts were personally known to Poe, who continued of Dr. Francis, — “His person and manner are [page 1107:] richly peculiar. He is . . . stout, . . . five feet five in height, . . . His head is large, massive . . . complexion dark florid; eyes piercingly bright; mouth exceedingly . . . expressive; hair gray, and worn in matted locks about the neck and shoulders-eyebrows . . . jagged and ponderous. His age is about fifty eight. . . . His address is the most genial . . . its bonhomie irresistible. He . . . never waits for an introduction . . . slaps a perfect stranger on the back and calls him ‘Doctor’ or ‘Learned Theban‘; pats every lady on the head and (if she be pretty and petite) designates her . . . as ‘My Pocket Edition of the Lives of the Saints.’ . . . He is very earnest, intense, emphatic; . . . His forte, . . . is humour, the richest conceivable. . . . He is married.” A dim reference record indicates Poe made Dr. Francis a confidant on the score of former’s inheritance of congestive nervous exhaustion. When the poet first became known in New York Dr. Francis invited him to his home. In this connection Henry Theo. Tuckerman noted,(88) that on one occasion “a card was brought to the Doctor, while we were all seated at the tea-table; the expression of his face, as he left the room, betokened the visit of a celebrity; in a few moments he ushered into the room a pale, thin, and most grave looking man, whose dark dress and solemn air, with the Doctor’s own look of ceremonious gravity, produced an ominous silence, where, a moment before, all was hilarity; slowly conducting his guest around the table, and turning to his wife, he waved his hand With an elaborate courtesy and made this unique announcement: ‘Eliza, my dear — “The Raven“! — [page 1108:] and certainly no human physiognomy more resembled that bird than the stranger’s, who, — without a smile or a word, bowed slightly and slowly with a fixed and, it almost seemed, a portentous gaze, as if complacently accepting the character thus thrust upon him. Instantly, the fancy of all present began to conjure up all the ravens they had ever heard of, from those that fed Elijah to the one in ‘Barnaby Rudge‘; and it was not for some minutes that Edgar A. Poe was recognized in the ‘fearful’ guest, to be ’ evermore’ associated in the minds of all present, not with the ‘Lost Lenore’ but with that extraordinary presentation of the [page 1109:] Doctor.” It was added, that Poe appreciated this amusing episode and detected the higher under the more superficial qualities of the man, as is in evidence by the review under the Doctor’s name in Godey’s of May, 1846.

By reason of Virginia’s failing health, also his own, Poe — on his April return from Baltimore — was induced to leave the city’s noise and heat for country air. As of prior noting, because General O‘Bierne definitely stated Poe and family were twice with Mr. and Mrs. Brennan, and ‘Miss Sarah T. Miller noted the poet’s “family of three” were “near neighbors” then to her Turtle Bay home, they must have gone for a while to Mrs. Brennan’s until they could find other roofage. This was discovered for a short pleasant time with Mr. and Mrs. John C. ‘‘filler. Their son, Mr. John LeFevre Miller, now of Ottawa, Kan., kindly sends the following incidents as a tribute to the poet’s memory:

Our home, when we became acquainted with ‘Mr. Poe and his wife and mother, was at the foot of 47th Street, East River, New York City. It was an attractive place at that time, no house within a quarter of a mile of it. We had five acres of ground beautifully laid out with shade and fruit trees in great variety on the river front known as ‘Turtle Bay,’ affording a fine opportunity for boating, fishing, bathing and swimming. All of these Poe enjoyed exceedingly. I may add he was a great swimmer and I well remember some of his antics in the water. In the spring of 1846, Mr. Poe came to our house in search of a desirable place for his invalid wife, and was so taken with the commodious house; large airy rooms; flowering [page 1110:] vines over the porches; fresh fruit, eggs, milk, butter, and river privileges, in the use of our boat, that he prevailed on my parents to accommodate him until he could find a place where they could keep house for themselves. How long they remained I cannot tell, before they found a small cottage in Fordham. I was nine years old and my sister Sarah was some three years older. Mr. Poe took great delight in boating and swimming. He appeared to be a very busy man.

I never liked him. I was afraid of him. But I liked Mrs. Clemm, she was a splendid woman, a great talker and fully aware of ‘Eddie’s failings’ — as she called them. We all loved Mrs. Poe and her mother. I can see Mrs. Poe now; how pale and delicate she was; how patient in her suffering; how gentle and kind to us [page 1111:] children. One little incident I recall, is this. One day when Mrs. Poe was very sick she said to ’ Eddie,’ as she called him, ‘Now, Eddie, when I am gone I will be your guardian angel, and if at any time you feel tempted to do wrong, just put your hands above your head so,’ — she placing her hands in that position — ‘and I will be there to shield you.’ This made a lasting impression upon my mind. The first night at our house when Mrs. Clemm took her lamp to retire for the night, she said, ‘Now, Mrs. Miller, when you can’t think of my name, just think of clam.’ I shall never forget Mrs. Clemm, a tall, slim, old lady with cap and glasses; always bright and cheery and a great talker. After they moved to the little cottage at Fordham I frequently visited them with my two sisters. The Chinese puzzle my dear sister Sarah mentions in her ‘Memoir of Poe,’ I well remember. I have put it together many times and know the pieces so well I think I could make one.”

Of Poe and family, at that time, Mr. Miller’s sister,(89) Miss Sarah F. Miller, wrote in 1909: “One of the most cherished memories of my earliest childhood is the recollection of having so often seen Edgar Allan Poe. When I was a little girl we lived in a house facing Turtle Bay, . . . East River, near . . . 47th St. Amongst our nearest neighbors [perhaps Poe’s hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Brennan] was a charming family trio — Mr. Poe, his wife and . . . Mrs. Clemm. Poor Virginia was very ill at the time and I never saw her leave her home. Poe and Mrs. Clemm would . . . frequently call on us. He would also run over every little while to ask my father to [page 1113:] lend him our row-boat, and then how he would enjoy himself pulling at the oars over to the little islands just south of Blackwells‘, for his afternoon swim.

“Mrs. Clemm and my mother soon became the best of friends, and she found mother a most sympathetic listener to all her sad tales of poverty and want. I would often see her shedding tears as they talked. As I recall her, she always seemed so wonderfully neat and orderly, and invariably wore a pure white collar about her neck. In the midst of their friendship they told us they were going to move to . . . Fordham, where they had rented a little cottage, feeling sure the pure country air would do Mrs. Poe a world of good. Very soon a cordial invitation arrived for us all to come and take luncheon, which was very daintily served in the large room on the first floor. . . . I recall most clearly their bringing me a. small wooden box to sit on at the table instead of a chair. Always kind and smiling and very fond of children, Poe’s handsome face and attractive appearance impressed me. He would come tip to me and, patting me on the shoulder, tell me I was ‘a nice little girl.’ One of my most prized treasures is a small Chinese puzzle of carved ivory, given me by Poe himself.” This puzzle Miss Miller presented to the Bronx Society of Arts and Sciences and by kindness of its Chairman, Mr. Albert D. Davis, its picture appears in these pages.

Of the pleasant Miller home there is a pathetic record that being unable to meet their board bill the Poe family — probably by their own insistence — left their bedstead: which, by special efforts of Mrs. [page 1114:] Archie C. Fisk, Chairman of Fordham Cottage at one time, was placed there among other memorials of the poet.

The very year of Poe’s coming to Fordham Cottage, in 1846, brought into being West Farms Township. It was that part of Westchester County, West of Bronx River, north of Harlem, south of Yonkers and east of the Hudson. Harlem railway named its station Fordham, and placed it a stone’s throw from [page 1115:] the gateway of St. John’s College, which June 24, 1841, was opened for students with Rev. John McClosky as President and Professor of Rhetoric. In 1849, Archbishop Hughes turned St. John’s College over to the Jesuits.

Over its bed of native rock, old Williamsbridge Road Went winding up to the Fordham ledge where stood Poe’s tiny cottage home, on “Only an acre more or less of ground,” later on to be saturated with human misery, anguish and immortality, but then “an acute angle in shape”; so these quoted words are in the record of facts, as paid for with $1000 by John Valentine to Richard Corsa on March 28, 1846. Dr. Henry Noble MacCracken notes:(90) “Acting on good business principles, Valentine let the house for ten per cent of its cost, a hundred dollars a year.” In June, 1846, Poe’s little family of three became the owner’s tenants. To the worn and weary poet, then thirty-seven, his suffering wife of twenty-four, and Mrs. Clemm of fifty-six years, this “sweet sequestered spot” appealed as a refuge of quiet, peace and rest. To a friend Poe wrote: “The place is a beautiful one.” He also gave glimpse-pictures of it in his “Landor’s Cottage”; its dimensions as, “about twenty-four feet long and sixteen broad, certainly not more. Its total height from the ground to apex of roof could not have exceeded eighteen feet.” The whole exterior was of broad square-cornered Dutch shingles and the “pillars of the piazza were enwreathed in jasmine and sweet honeysuckle”; the velvety “green turf was relieved here and there by an occasional showy shrub,” and in their tiny front lawn grew fine old cherry trees. There [page 1116:] was an apple orchard not far away; and a rocky ledge crowned with cedars in the rear of the cottage gave pleasant vistas of distant Long Island hills. This was a nook where the poet and his wife often watched the fading glories of evening-tide. So Poe linked facts, fancies and beauty with this little Fordham home of which more practical Mrs. Clemm later wrote:(91) “It was the sweetest little cottage imaginable. Oh, how [page 1117:] supremely happy we were in our dear cottage home! We three lived only for each other. Eddie rarely left his beautiful home. I attended to his literary business; for he, poor fellow, knew nothing about money transactions.” Their small, west, first-floor room was a bedroom; the larger one east, the sitting-room, two of its windows opened on the porch fronting the entire cottage. From the opposite window, one looked through clusters of lilacs over a wide range of fine north country. Between these lower rooms a steep winding stairway led to the above two rooms; one — Poe’s study — was lighted by two quaint bits of windows shouldered on either side of a deep-throated fireplace. [page 1118:] On a round table before it Poe did much of his work. There he wrote “that swan song on his wife, ’ Annabel Lee,’ with her pet cat purring over his shoulders; ‘Ulalume,’ the requiem of a despairing soul, and parts of ‘Eureka.’ ”(92) Opposite this study was Mrs. Clemm’s room. Of their daily life she wrote: “He passed the greater part of the morning in his study,” where he kept his scanty library, “and, after he had finished his task for the day, he worked in our beautiful flower-garden or read and recited poetry to us. Every one who knew him intimately, loved him.” From their pleasant little porch they could look over their sloping green acre, beneath its shade-trees, to where were the generous grounds of St. John’s College and its meadow-lands beyond. Only now and then Poe went to the city, on the Harlem Railroad, which ran six or more trains daily from Williamsbridge to City Hall.

In early June, 1846, Poe, on some call known to Mrs. Clemm, found himself city stranded one night; and to ease the mind of his frail little wife, he wrote her the 12th:

MY DEAR HEART, — MY DEAR VIRGINIA, — Our mother will explain to you why I stay . . . from you this night. I trust the interview I am promised will result in some substantial good for me — for your dear sake and hers — keep up your heart in all hopefulness, and trust yet a little longer. On my last great disappointment I should have lost my courage but for you — my little darling wife. You are my greatest and only stimulus now, to battle with this uncongenial, unsatisfactory and ungrateful life.

I shall be with you tomorrow . . . P.M., and be assured until I see you I will keep in loving remembrance your [page 1119:] last words, and your fervent prayer! Sleep well, and may God grant you a peaceful summer with your devoted Edgar.

This letter was written on a page of his rough, pocket notebook paper. No known love-letter Poe ever wrote equalled this one, for it intones the depths of a heart’s sincerity.

Mrs. Clemm was described as tall, sprightly, talkative; in a worn dress of rusty black; Virginia was wan, with glossy black hair and great brilliant eyes that “shone too bright to shine long,” and Poe, who seldom smiled, had a pale, intellectual face, dark hair, lustrous eyes; his slender, erect figure was neatly clad in threadbare black, and he had a dignity of presence that could not hide, however, the pinching want endured, that his frail wife might have needed comforts.

Of Poe’s meagre, grey days of 1846 appearance, his friend, the miniature artist, John A. McDougall, then located at 386 Broadway by Mr. V. H. Paltsits, made a seemingly too true reflex, in a water-color sketch painted as a wedding present for the artist’s relative, Jno. A. Crockett, Newark, N. J., who was an ardent admirer of the poet. Reprint of this miniature appears by permission of the owner, J. L. Clawson, Buffalo, N. Y., and the Century Company.

They had few neighbors those days; but from their cottage windows could be seen the Van Cott farm, across Kingsbridge Road, where Virginia and Mrs. Clemm called, and Poe went once. Across the road, to the south, were their nearest neighbors in John Valentine’s white cottage, and further on were others of its ideal Dutch type and neat simplicity. Beneath [page 1120:] the Valentine roofage there lived little Susan A. Cromwell. The first time she saw Poe he was standing on a branch of the great cherry-tree that grew by the roadside paling, and tossing full ripe cherries to Virginia, who, all in white, was seated on the grassy bank beneath, laughing and calling back to him. As the bright twigs were flying towards her, suddenly the bosom of her white gown was dyed to [page 1121:] crimson from a hemorrhage, when Poe sprang from the tree and carried her, fainting, into the cottage.

Susan Cromwell added of them both: “He was a nice looking man and sociable. She soon became ill and never came out until she was buried. They called her mother ‘Muddle‘; Mr. Poe was always ‘Eddie.’ They were awful poor.” Susan A. Cromwell (daughter of Mrs. Rebecca Cromwell) later married Josiah Valentine, nephew of Poe’s landlord.

From another of Poe’s Fordham neighbors (“‘Mr. and Mrs. Busby,’ I think,” writes Thomas O. Mabbott) came:(93) “We all loved him, . . . my father, brother, mother and two sisters. He was my brother’s sponsor at baptism. . . . [Poe named the boy Edgar Albert, instead of Edgar Allan, because the name of Allan had [page 1122:] brought so much sorrow into his own life.] I can show the record written on that day, in our old family Bible.” Poe “was never prejudiced without reason, but was gentleness and generosity combined. He was never a drunkard. But with wine on every sideboard at that time, it was only hospitable to urge it upon guests. One small glass would excite Poe’s brain almost to madness. . . . When we first moved to Fordham, Mrs. Clemm asked my mother never to offer ‘darling Eddie,’ as she called him, ‘a drop of wine.’ . . . His moods were erratic, without stimulants. One day he would romp with us children, play ‘Dr. Bushby’ — a game in vogue then — with most charming and Windsome manners; the next, he would talk to my mother in a dreary, pensive mood, and the would be afraid of him.” The foregoing record pictures Poe normal, also describes him under transformation of congestive depression, perhaps irritated by stimulants. This record continued: “When we lived near Poe at Fordham, he was very poor, but that was never talked of before its children. . . . I can remember my brother and I carrying a basket many a time to Mrs. Clemm. It would be very heavy but we knew nothing of its contents, and our real errand was to loiter at the cottage door in hopes of seeing our friend the poet. We thought he was badly used because all the world did not recognize his genius and esteem it as we did.”

Of these Fordham days Mrs. Clemm wrote: “We had very little society except among the Literati, but this was exceedingly pleasant.” Of these, Poe’s pen gave to Godey’s June, 1846, issue, a generous sketch of Mrs. Anna Cora Mowatt as “a remarkable woman.” [page 1123:] Of her works, the tales were said to be “cleverly written,” but her poems were not favored, and of her comedy, “Fashion,” appeared that much of its “success” was referable to “interest in her as a beautiful woman and an authoress.” Dr. George B. Cheever was scored as editor of “‘The Commonplace Book of American Poetry,’ a work which has at least the merit of not belying its title, and is exceedingly commonplace.” Such items are of interest in their reflex of definite notes in Poe’s wit. He lamented this issue as the only material afforded Europeans for several years to estimate the poetical ability of Americans. Of Professor Charles Anthon, professor of Greek and Latin in Columbia College, Poe noted: “In England, and . . . Europe at large, his scholastic acquirements are more sincerely respected than those of any of our countrymen,” his issues being used as “text-books at Oxford and Cambridge.” Poe added of Dr. Anthon: “His whole air is distingué, . . . he would impress any one at first sight as being no ordinary man.” Commenting on Rev. Ralph Hoyt’s “Chaunt of Life,” Poe stated the limitations of that poem, which “nevertheless abounds in lofty merit and . . . exquisite pathos.” Gillian C. Verplanck’s works Poe classed as addresses, orations and contributions to reviews. His scholarship, legal acquirements, taste and industry, as “very considerable” and his family “influential” and of the old Dutch stock. Freeman Hunt, editor of Merchant’s Magazine, was recorded as “absolute authority in mercantile matters, he evinced many remarkable traits of character . . . [in] its establishment entirely without means.” This, undoubtedly, seemed a [page 1124:] miracle to Poe, who added of Hunt: “His heart is full of . . . sympathies and charities,” possibly of Poe’s personal experience from their “playfellow . . . round-jacket days.” Poe added of Hunt: “he started the ‘Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge.’ ” Piero Maroncelli’s essay on “Classic and Romantic Schools” claimed some scholarship originality and brevity from Poe, who gave more of details to Laughton Osborn as making a sensation “with a nom de plume.” One was noted as “The Adventures of Jeremy Levis, by Himself,” another, “The Confessions of a Poet, by Himself,” which Poe thought no “better book of its kind has been written,” yet it was “not precisely the work to place in the hands of a lady.” Poe gave this book sharp scoring in his Southern Literary Messenger days. Of the author was added: “As poet, painter, and musician” he “has absolutely succeeded as each. Ills scholarship is extensive . . . although he is apt to swear . . . too roundly by Johnson and Pope. Imagination is not Mr. Osborn’s forte.” From Aug. 14, to Nov. 11, 1845, some five or more letters passed between Poe and Laughton Osborn concerning the former’s adverse criticism on latter’s literary effusions, but modified by gracious expressions as to Laughton Osborn, the man.

Among the Literati who came to Fordhacn Cottage was Mrs. Mary Gove Nichols, the mesmerist, homeopathist, etc. Poe’s “Literati” pictured Mrs. Gove as “rather below the medium height, somewhat thin, with dark hair, and keen, intelligent black eyes. She converses well and with enthusiasm. In many respects a very interesting woman.” Mrs. Gove found Poe, his [page 1125:] wife and their mother living in a little cottage at the top of the hill with its greenward as smooth as velvet, and some grand old cherry trees heavily shading it, fenced in about the house with its pleasant piazza, an inviting place to sit in summer. During her first visit she was troubled because Poe had caught and caged a Bobolink, hung the cage under a cherry tree and while the bird flew, frightened from side to side, its captor stood with folded arms in the sublime hope of the impossible training of his prisoner, Mrs. Gove did not know Poe had learned some lessons in bird lore from Henry B. Hirst, a past-master in such craft. Of Poe and his prisoner she wrote: “There he stood, [page 1126:] with his arms crossed before the tormented bird, . . . So handsome, so impassive, in his wonderful, intellectual beauty, so proud and reserved, and yet so confidentially communicative, so entirely a gentleman on all occasions that I ever saw him — so tasteful, so good a talker was Poe, that he impressed himself and his wishes, even without words, upon those with whom he spoke.” But pleading for its liberty, Mrs. Gore was quietly answered: “You are wrong. He is a splendid songster and . . . he will delight our home” when trained. Mrs. Gove noted: “Poe’s voice was melody itself. He always spoke low, even in violent discussion, compelling his hearers to listen if they would know his opinion, his facts, fancies, philosophy or weird imaginings. The last usually flowed from his pen, seldom from his tongue.” Mrs. Gove was introduced to Virginia and Mrs. Clemm. The latter was described as tall, dignified; and her black dress, though old and much worn, with her widow’s cap over her white hair, all seemed in attractive keeping. It also seemed strange how strong a personality could be the mother of her small daughter. Mrs. Poe appeared very young. Her pale face, brilliant eyes and raven hair gave her an unearthly look and when she coughed it was made certain she was rapidly passing away. The mother seemed a sort of unusual Providence for her strange children. The cottage had an air of taste and gentility. “So neat, so poor, so unfurnished and yet so charming” a dwelling I never saw. The floor of the kitchen was as white as wheaten flour; a pine table, chair and little stove seemed to furnish it. The sitting-room floor was laid with a check matting; four chairs, a light [page 1127:] stand, and a hanging book-shelf was its furniture. There were presentation copies of books on the shelves, and the Brownings had posts of honor on the “stand between the windows.” On this stand Poe later did much writing. Mrs. Gove added: “With quiet exultation Poe drew from his side pocket a letter he had recently received from Elizabeth Barrett Browning. He read it to us. It was very flattering. . On the book-shelf there lay a volume of Poe’s poems. He took it down, wrote my name in it and gave it me . . , from a feeling of sympathy, for I could n be of advantage to him, as my two companions could. I had sent him an article when he edited the Broadway Journal, which had pleased him.” Mrs. Gove, at the [page 1128:] date of this visit, noticed that Poe was “greatly depressed. Their extreme poverty, the sickness of his wife, and his own inability to write, . . . accounted for this. We spent half an hour in the house, when . . . more company came, which included ladies, and then we all went to walk . , . into the woods, . . . till some one proposed a game at leaping. I think it must have been Poe, as he was expert in the exercise. Two or three gentlemen agreed to leap with him, and though one . . . was tall, and had been a hunter . . . Poe still distanced them all. But alas! his gaiters, long worn and carefully kept, were both burst in the grand leap that made him victor. I had pitied the poor bob-o‘-link . . . but I pitied Poe more now. I was certain he had no other shoes, . , . Who . . . could offer him money to buy a new pair? . . . When we reached the cottage, . . . all felt that we must not go in, . . . I had left the volume of Poe’s poems — and I entered the house to get it. The poor old mother looked at his feet with a dismay that I shall never for get. ‘O, Eddie !’ said she, ‘how did you burst your gaiters?’ . . . I related the cause of the mishap, and she drew me into the kitchen. ‘ Will you speak to Mr. —— ,’ [Colton] said she, ‘about Eddie’s last poem?’ . . . [‘Ulalume,’ it was said to be.] ‘If he will only take the poem, Eddie can have a pair of shoes. He has it — I carried it last week, and Eddie says it is his best. You will speak to him about it, won’t you?’ . . . ‘Of course they will publish the poem,’ said I, and I will ask C —— to be quick about it.’ The poem was paid for at once, and published soon after . . . then it bought the poet a pair of gaiters, and twelve [page 1129:] shillings over.” During the next call of Mrs. Gove at Fordham Cottage Poe told her: “I write from a mental necessity — to satisfy my taste and my love of art. Fame forms no motive power with me. What care I for the judgment of a multitude, every individual of which I despise?” Mrs. Gove replied: “But, there are individuals whose judgment you respect.” Poe answered: “Certainly, and I would choose to have their esteem unmixed with the mean adulation of the mob.” Mrs. Gove said: “But the multitude may be honestly and legitimately pleased.” “‘That may be possible,’ said Poe, musingly, ‘because they may have an honest and legitimate leader, and not a poor man who has been paid a hundred dollars to manufacture opinions for them and fame for an author.“’ Poe then had in hand and mind his revision of Mrs. S. D. Lewis’ poems, for which work he was paid $100 by Mr. Lewis. Mrs. Gove inquired of Poe: “Do reviewers sell their literary conscience thus unconscionably?” Poe replied: “A literary critic must be 10th to violate his taste, his sense of the fit and the beautiful. To sin against these, and praise an unworthy author, is to him an unpardonable sin. But if he were placed on the rack, or if one he loved better than his own life were writhing there, I can conceive of his forging a note against the Bank of Fame, in favour of some would-be poetess, who is able and willing to buy his poems and opinions.” Turning fiercely, his fine eyes piercing her, Poe added: “Would you blame a man for not allowing his sick wife to starve?” Mrs. Cove changed the subject; he became quiet, and as they walked along, noted beauties of flowers, foliage, hill and dale until they [page 1130:] reached the cottage. These words, with other records, indicate Poe and family were in sad straits at this time. Of her following visit Mrs. Gove noted, that as Poe and she walked to the brow of the hill he said: “I can’t look out on this loveliness ‘til I have made a confession to you. I said. . . . when you were last here, that I despised fame. It is false, I love fame. . . . I would drink to the very dregs the glorious intoxication. . . . Fame! glory! — they are life-giving breath and . . . blood. No man lives unless he is famous. How bitterly I belied my nature, and my aspirations, when I said I did not desire fame, and that I despised it.” Mrs. Gove said Poe’s utterances on both occasions might be true to his moods suggesting them, and she concluded: “I was not as severe with him as he was with himself.” Daring Poe’s dreary November days of sharp suffering came a Nov. 30, 1846, Portland, Me., letter from Editor John Neal to Mrs. Gove, adding to a prior letter in which was stated: “Poe is the very man to write a paper on the Drama.” In ‘Mr. Neal’s later letter was: “How Mr. Poe may feel towards me, I do not know: . . . there was a time he thought highly of my doings and was not prevented from dedicating his [1829 edition] poems to me by my assurance that such dedication would be a positive injury to him and his book. The truth is — I have never been popular. . . . Of Mr. Poe’s talents and genius I have always thought & spoken highly, . . . although of his liability to be influenced, . . . I have spoken in private as a lamentable qualification for the high duties he is otherwise remarkably well qualified to perform in the Court of Literature. In the little he has said of me he has not [page 1131:] been just to himself, — he should bear in mind, he is speaking not for today but for tomorrow.” Poe probably spoke on literary and art critical scores only and thus against his own personal wish. Perhaps Editor Neal had in mind Poe’s 1836 “Autography” note: “Any one, from Mr. Neal’s penmanship, might suppose his mind to be what it really is — excessively flighty and irregular, but active and energetic.”

About 1844, Joseph M. Field and Charles Keemele started the St. Louis Reveille.

In Miss Lilian Whiting’s “Life of Kate Field” is a letter Poe wrote her father, Joseph M. Field, who as editor of the St. Louis Reveille had met Poe. June 15, 1846, he wrote from the New York Mirror office:

DEAR FIELD: I have frequently seen in the “Reveille” notices of myself, evincing a friendly feeling on your part, which, believe me, I reciprocate in the most cordial manner. I enclose an article from the New York “Mirror” of May 26, headed “Mr. Poe, the New York Literati.” The attack is editorial . . . All that I venture to ask of you is to say a few words in condemnation of it, and to do away with the false impression of my personal appearance, that it conveys in those parts of the country where I am not individually known. You have seen me and can describe me as I am. Will you do me this act of justice? I know you will. There is also an incidental service just now which you have it in your power to render me. That is to put the following, editorially, in your paper: “The British literary journals are admitting Mr. Poe’s merit in the most unequivocal manner. . . .. The Raven’ is copied in full in the ‘British Critic’ and the ‘Athenæum.’ [Then came a quotation from Miss Barrett Barrett’s letter, concerning Mr. Browning’s “enthusiastic” admiration of the rhythm of “The Raven,” etc. Of himself, Poe continued, for [page 1132:] Field’s editorial:] After all this, Mr. Poe may possibly . . . endure the disapprobation of the editor of the ‘Mirror: “[Poe added:] If you can oblige me . . . depend upon my most earnest reciprocation when and where and how you please. . . .

P. S. Please cut out anything you may say and send me in a letter. . . . I have been seriously ill for some months, and being thus utterly unable to defend myself, must rely upon the chivalry of my friends.

Concerning the Mirror reference to Poe’s “personal appearance” that he wished refuted by Editor Field, Mr. Thomas O. Mabbott supplies Editor Hiram Fuller’s pen-picture of Poe. It was considered by him a personal attack; and briefed from its print in May 26, 1846, New York Mirror editorial columns it was “To conclude after the fashion of our Theatrical Magazinist, Mr. Poe is about thirty-nine. He may be more or less. If neither more nor less we should say he was decidedly thirty-nine. But of this We are not certain. In height he is about 5 feet 1 or two inches, perhaps 2 inches & a half. His face is pale and rather thin; eyes gray, watery & always dull; nose rather prominent, pointed and sharp, nostrils wide; hair thin & cropped short, mouth not very well chiselled, not very sweet, his tongue shows itself unpleasantly when he speaks earnestly, & seems too large for his mouth; teeth indifferent, forehead rather broad, and in the region of ideality decidedly large, but low, and in that part where phrenology places conscientiousness & the group of moral sentiments it is quite flat; chin narrow & pointed, which gives his head, upon the whole, a balloonish appearance, which may account for his supposed lightheadedness; he generally carries his head [page 1133:] upright like a fugleman on a drill, but sometimes it droops considerably. His address is gentlemanly & agreeable at first but soon wears off & leaves a different [page 1134:] impression after becoming acquainted with him; his walk is quick & jerking, sometimes waving, describing that peculiar figure in geometry denominated by Euclid, we think, but it may be Professor Farrar of Cambridge, Virginia fence. In dress he affects the tailor at times, and at times the cobbler, being in fact excessively nice or excessively something else. His hands are singularly small, resembling bird claws, his person slender; weight about 110 or 115 pounds, perhaps the latter; his study has not many of the Magliabechian characteristics, the shelves being filled mainly with ladies’ magazines; he is supposed to be a contributor to Knickerbocker, but of this nothing certain is known; he is author of Politian, a drama, to which Professor Longfellow is largely indebted, it is said, by Mr. Poe, for many of his ideas. Mr. Poe goes much into society, but what society we cannot positively say; he formerly lived at West Point; his present place of residence is unknown. He is married.”

Poe’s June 15, 1846, letter-appeal to Joseph M. Field’s editorial “chivalry” was promptly answered in his July 6, 1846, issue of St. Louis Reveille. Of Field’s “editorial,” Thomas O. Mabbott writes: “Miss Anna Rubenia Dubach has just found the article. Beyond a great deal of complimentary literary expression, comes this personality of Poe: ‘Instead of being “five feet one, &c., the poet is a figure to compare with any in manliness, while his features are not only intellectual but handsome.“’ ” To Editor Fuller’s raucous, Mirror-personalities on Poe, Mr. Mabbott adds this: “Poe was said to be confined, on account of his great mental labors having turned his brain. It is clearly [page 1135:] just ugliness. The May 22nd number had a versified attack on Poe, signed Mustard place, abusive but dull. The Mirror editor seemed also to have cherished a particular hatred for Willis.” The foregoing, personal abuse stands for a number of such press-treatments bestowed on Poe when their editors knew — or could have known — he was helplessly stranded by illness of himself and his wife, also abject poverty and near starvation in his Fordham Cottage home. Upon the Evening Mirror’s coarse, crude and undignified imitation of Poe’s finished literary style further comments are needless than, however cutting, Poe the critic was never crude or coarse. Concerning this Mirror, personal attack on Poe, Thomas O. Mabbott calls attention to a “Jones Hotel, Philadelphia, July 24th, 1846, letter of Dr. Griswold to Poe’s good friend Evert A. Duyckinck.” Dr. Griswold wrote: “Speaking of Poe reminds me of the brutal article in the Mirror, which it is impossible on any grounds whatever to justify in the slightest degree. I, who have as much cause as any man to quarrel with Poe, would sooner have cut off my hand than used it to write such an ungentlemanly card, though every word were true. But my indignation of this treatment even of an enemy exceeds my power of expression.” Just this treatment of Poe’s character was duplicated in his after-death, 1850 Memoir by R. W. Griswold. But such insinuations, based upon any personal prejudice and affirmed by no found proof-records up to date, made when Poe was very ill in 1846, or very still in 1850, were stabs in the back of one unable to answer either editor, and — as stabs — they give an even sway [page 1136:] to the balance of motives held and publicly expressed by such questionable recorders as Editors Hiram Fuller and Dr. R. W. Griswold, also at times, Dr. Thomas Dunn English. Poe’s illness, noted in this June 15, 1846, letter to Editor Field, brought his strained nerves to stimulant strictures, and to the extent that his unhinged faculties moved him to follow Mrs. Osgood to Providence, R. I. Boston and Lowell, Mass., also to Albany, New York; and no doubt to regrettable subconscious expressions of brain congestion, that were so understood by her, and therefore wisely and kindly dealt with in a way that claimed from both Poe and her “noble husband” lasting admiration and respect, which seemed mutually satisfactory to the three most concerned. The fine souls of these two firm friends also realized Poe’s normal worth, and that no one was responsible under the bondage of nervous congestion delirium effects, upon which the Rev. Henry F. Harrington seemed overwilling to base hearsay — from Mrs. Ellet — charges against Poe. But conscious or unconscious, this disregard of social conventionalities exacted penalties from all parties for what Poe’s at that time antagonist, Dr. Thomas Dunn English, truly termed, and Dr. R. W. Griswold, well acquainted with all phases of this episode, always maintained, was never more than “a Platonic friendship.” Except in limited personal association this never ceased during Poe’s life.

Whatever of the differences occasioned by the non-return of Duane’s Southern Literary Messenger, Vol. III, to him by Poe, or Henry B. Hirst in 1844, both poets came into later and various kindly touches with each [page 1137:] other, And for aid in his differences with Dr. Thomas Dunn English, Poe at New York, June 27, 1846, wrote:

My DEAR HIRST, — I presume you have seen what I said about you in “The New York Literati” and an attack made on me by English, in consequence, vive la Bagatelle!

I write now to ask you if you can oblige me by a fair account of your duel with English. . . . also, if you would get from Sandy Harris a statement of the fracas with him. See Du Solle, also, . . . & ask him if he is willing to give me, for publication, an account of his kicking E. out of his office.

I gave E. a flogging which he will remember to the day of his death — and, luckily, in the presence of witnesses. He thinks to avenge himself by lies . . . I shall be a match for him by means of simple truth.

Is it possible to procure me a copy of E.’s attack on H. A. Wise?

Truly yours,


Upon this requested and obtained information was based “Mr. Poe’s Reply to Mr. English and Others,” printed by J. Stephenson DuSolle, Editor of The Spirit of the Times, Philadelphia, July 10, 1846. See pp. 239-255, Vol. XVII, “Virginia Poe,” by Dr. Jas. A. Harrison.

When Poe was absent in June, 1816, his sister Rosalie came on a visit to Fordham Cottage. It was said that she found Mrs. Clemm keenly disturbed by “Edgar’s being away from home on business” when ill; and she was obliged to send him money for his return. When he came home, he was taken to task by Mrs. Clemm and put to bed. She nursed him through a night of delirium, which was probably in [page 1138:] pursuit of him when he started out. Some days of her care brought her patient to convalescence, which he spent about the cottage and his favorite nook beneath the cedars of its near-by rocky ledge. But rampant needs soon drove Poe, still ill, to the task of looking over his writing table full of waiting papers and letters. Among the latter was one from Hawthorne. At “Salem, June 17, 1846,” in brief, he wrote to Poe:

I presume the publishers will have sent you a copy of “Mosses from an Old Manse” — the latest . . . of my tales and sketches. I have read your . . . notices of my productions with great interest, — not so much because your judgment was, upon the whole, favorable, as because it seemed to be given m earnest. I care for nothing but the truth; . . . I confess, however, that I admire you rather as a writer of tales than as a critic upon them, I . . . often . . . dissent from your opinions in the latter capacity, but could never fail to recognize your force and originality in the former.

Yours very truly,


This letter must have pleased Poe, but his sheer weakness caused Mrs. Clemm to take his place and write as he dictated. Mr. Whitty notes that Mrs. Clemm could very closely imitate Poe’s handwriting. There is a dim record that when desperately driven with the double illness of Poe and Virginia, and facing grim want, Mrs. Clemm would rescue his discarded MS. scraps from the waste-basket and dispose of them for actual needs, and such infrequent causes and effects were told to Poe on his recovery. In narrative order, as he gained strength and desk command at that time and others, a record runs that he would read his MS. [page 1139:] to her, while she sat at his side mending, replenishing and inking the worn family clothing. Of this, some things came from her own, needle energies paid for at somewhere, of which she knew, wherever they lived. And one story goes, that when able, Virginia’s love of fancy work also added a bit to this fund. When not actually suffering, Virginia “was always laughing, and loved to have children about her. With their dolls and playthings and loving offerings of fruit and flowers the little ones came to her, and she would help them with dolly’s frocks and frills and, at twenty-four, would be as cheery and merry as any child of them all” — as comes from recollections of several of those Fordham neighbor days. In later years Susan Cromwell, one of these little girls, said of Poe: “We lived so near that we exchanged visits almost daily. I used to hold the sheets of his manuscripts until he had finished, when he would paste one sheet on the edge of the other until the scroll would reach across the room, then I would roll it lightly; my greatest pleasure was to have it a symmetrical cylinder. I think no portrait could do justice to those flashing eyes, which fascinated me like a charm and won my heart as a child. He was like one inspired in his best mood, and it was then that he told us wonderful stories of genii and dragons; and his pale, anxious face would light up with a rose glow as if a lamp burned within. He had nervous fever — and depressed moods. When he was absorbed he never noticed us children and we did not presume to speak to him.” Of Virginia was later added: “In fair weather that summer, we would sometimes see her [page 1140:] sitting between her mother, knitting, and Mr. Poe reading his paper; and sometimes he would play ball with us children while his wife laughed and looked on.” A child for tears too, was she, when city missions delayed her mother, “ladened with ‘Eddie’s’ scripts” and errands to editors and publishers, with whom, these days, she frequently failed. By N. P. Willis(94) was brave-hearted Mrs. Clemrn pathetically pictured: “Winter after winter, . . . the most touching sight to us in this whole city, has been that tireless minister to genius, . . . insufficiently clad, going from office to office with a poem, or an article on some literary subject, to sell — sometimes simply pleading in a broken voice that he was ill, and begging for him — mentioning nothing but that “he was ill,” whatever might have been the reason for his writing nothing; and never, amid her tears and recitals of distress, suffering one syllable to escape her lips that could convey a doubt of him. . . . or a lessening of pride in his genius and good intentions.” How well she knew those merciless epochs “when mental exercise was torture” to Poe, and also those fits of “absolute unconsciousness” in which he drank. But there were evenings when her return, with a basket full of provisions, medicines, and candy for Virginia, who loved it, was hailed with delight, for Virginia was said to be “petted like a baby” by Poe and her mother. The records show that “she had a hearty appetite, did not lose her flesh and did not seem to suffer.” Poe was reported as energetic with his pen during these mid-summer days, seldom going to the city, where his keen criticisms of some of its “Literati” would scarcely have offered him welcome. [page 1141:] Of her June visit two records are, that Rosalie thought Poe and Virginia very kind to her, but she felt she was not liked by Mrs. Clemm, who gave her Poe MS. copying to do, of which his sister “understood not a word.”

Rosalie insisted that “Annabel Lee” was understood by her, and was of this time of her brother’s writing, for she had heard him read it again and again then, on a settee outside the kitchen door, when Mrs. Clemm was busy with the family washing. July ended Rosalie’s visit to this Fordharn Cottage home.

While Mrs. Clemm may not have enjoyed Mrs. Osgood’s friendship as did both Poe and Virginia, Mrs. Osgood’s correspondence with Poe was “requested by his wife,” was well known to her mother and could not have been of a character to give anxiety to well-balanced minds; for Poe, with neither thought nor wish for its secrecy, felt none in leaving one of Mrs. Osgood’s kindly letters one day on his table when chance callers, some ladies “Literati,” came, and among them was Mrs. Elizabeth Fries Ellet. As daughter of Dr. Wm. M. Lummis, of Woodbury, N. J., she married Dr. Wm. H, Ellet of Columbia College, N. Y., whence they went to South Carolina. Mrs. Ellet’s literary career began in 1833, and her writings had claimed passing, critical attention from Poe during his Southern Literary Messenger days, and later, not more favorable comments from Dr, Griswold. From Mrs. Osgood it came that Mrs. Ellet asked for an introduction to Poe; “followed him everywhere, Miss Lynch begged me to bring him there, and called upon him at his lodgings, . . .” This [page 1142:] last noting may account for the late R. H. Stoddard’s mention of Miss Lynch as, “shy of personal gossip and chary in speaking of Poe.” However, his genuine praise of Mrs. Osgood’s poems and her warm appreciation, also their mutual “poetical episodes” in the Broadway Journal and other open public prints, were not approved by Mrs. Ellet, whose share and quality of Poe’s press notices were short by comparison. But just why Mrs. Ellet felt herself entitled to read a letter, not addressed to herself, that happened to lie on a table in a friend’s home, is not so easy to understand (and notwithstanding its writer had a husband fully as [page 1143:] capable of adjusting such matters as Mrs. Ellet) without the flashlight turned on this lady’s motive by Mrs. Elizabeth Oakes Smith. Very clear is this reason given by Mrs. Smith(95) in: “A certain lady of my acquaintance fell in love with Poe and wrote a love letter to him. Every letter he received he showed to his little wife. This lady went to his house one day; she heard Fanny Osgood and Mrs. Poe having a hearty laugh, they were fairly shouting, as they read over a letter. The lady listened, and found it was [page 1144:] hers, when she walked into the room and snatched it from their hands. There would have been a scene with any other women, but they were sweet and gentle and there the matter ended.” Mrs. Smith was wrong in her conclusion, for resulting troubles just began. Nothwithstanding Mrs. Osgood later stated that she wondered why she should be “singled out” from “others who wrote poetry and letters” to Poe for troubles in such associations: she well knew that her hilarity with Virginia over Mrs. Ellet’s love-letter to Poe (and this “hilarity” was never mentioned by him, or them) was the real reason that both were “singled out” for trouble that too keenly entangled Poe. Mrs. Osgood also well knew that to this incident was due — among other venomous outcomes — Mrs. Ellet’s anonymous letters, that pursued Virginia to her deathbed.

As to Mrs. Osgood’s part in these broils: Later on Mrs. Ellet had reason to learn Mr. Osgood’s attitude on this subject, and to the extent of her writing an apology for her various indiscretions on these scores. This apology was held by Dr. R. W. Griswold, as his MSS. Collection in Boston Public Library will disclose to those interested to make research for this purpose. However, for the time being this episode of finding and reading of Mrs. Osgood’s letter (to Poe) in his home, created commotion amongst these ladies “Literati.” It moved them to wait upon Mrs. Osgood, who, diplomatically wise, for all concerned, deputized Margaret Fuller and Miss Lynch to ask Poe for the return of these friendly, perhaps over-cordial, letters. In this act Mrs. Osgood did certainly prove she had no fears. By this committee of two, armed with their [page 1145:] credentials, the poet’s sanctum was invaded to his utter astonishment and dismay, and himself surprised into the unwitting utterance that Mrs. Ellet’s emissaries were “busy-bodies,” and that “she had better come and look after her own letters ”; but this was no sooner said than keenly regretted, on the score of chivalry, by Poe, who thus more than blanked about ten years of literary service to this lady, forever after his unfair foe. As she, in this capacity, served Dr. Griswold later on, he, in self-defense, was obliged to use her letter of apology, sent to Mrs. Osgood, when legal proceedings by Mr. Osgood seemed promising as an alternative issue. Jan. 6, 1848, Mr. E. P. Whipple wrote Dr. Griswold concerning Mrs. Ellet: “I have no patience with the New York literati.” That Mrs. Ellet was far-reaching appears that, on the score of her review of “Female Poets of America,” Dr. Griswold wrote Mr. Whipple: “Mrs. Ellet knows nothing of any department of American literature, . . . knows little of any. . . . she has quarrels with [Mrs.] Osgood, Oaksmith and others of our female poets which disqualify her for discussion of their merits. She is a vain, silly, conceited woman; with mere phrensy in bad writing.” It appears Mrs. Ellet called at Dr. Griswold’s hotel for personal advice, aid and introductions for her “Women of the American Revolution.” He offered all services in his power. The following winter and summer she was, he noted, “in the habit of occupying my study in the University; on suspecting — she had, in my absence, opened private drawers and read confidential papers, I placed my key in the hands of the librarian so she could enter only when I [page 1146:] was there. Mentioning her age in ‘Poets and Poetry,’ and prior act, ended amiable intercourse with her.” Concerning Mrs. Osgood and Mrs, Ellet, Dr. Griswold added: “Mrs. Ellet was filling all ears to which she had access with the foulest calumnies respecting her. [Mrs. Osgood.] I availed myself of the opportunity to call on her, [Mrs. Ellet] received her admission that she had related actionable things of Mrs. Osgood and E. A. Poe. I reminded her of the terror into which she had been thrown by Mr. Osgood’s threats to prosecute her for the same tales when first uttered and of her humble retraction then made; and declared that if she ever repeated these falsehoods I would print her letter of confession then in my possession. Mrs. E. was humbled — though not until she had vainly endeavored to snatch that letter to Mrs. Osgood from my hands.” Mrs. Ellet seems to have been “accomplished,” but only half successful, in the fine art of snatchery. This letter refers to Mrs. Poe’s letter to Mrs. Osgood in which the writer “entirely vindicates” Mrs. Osgood in regard to Poe. Mrs. Poe’s letter was given to Dr. Griswold by Mrs. Osgood, but has not been found up to date. When asked to give her recollections of Poe after his death Mrs. Osgood, near to her own passing on, May, 1850, wrote Dr. Griswold: “For you, who knew and understood my affectionate interest in him, and my frank acknowledgment of that interest to all who had a claim on my confidence, I willingly do so. I think no one could know him . . . has known him personally — certainly no woman — without feeling the same interest. I can sincerely say, . . . although I have frequently heard of aberrations on his part from ‘the straight and narrow [page 1147:] path,’ I have never seen him otherwise than gentle, generous, well-bred, and fastidiously refined. To a sensitive and delicately nurtured woman, there was a peculiar and irresistible charm in the chivalric, graceful and almost tender reverence with which he invariably approached all women who won his respect. It was this which first commanded, and retained my regard for him. I have been told that when his sorrows and pecuniary embarrassments had driven him to the use of stimulants, which a less delicate organization might have borne without injury, he was in the habit of speaking disrespectfully of the ladies of his acquaintance. It is difficult for me to believe this; for to me, to whom he came during the year of our acquaintance for counsel and kindness in all his many anxieties and griefs, he never spoke irreverently of any woman save one, and then only in my defence; and though I rebuked him for his momentary forgetfulness of the respect due to himself and to me, I could not but forgive the offence for the sake of the generous impulse which prompted it. Yet, even were these sad rumours true of him, the wise and well-informed knew how to regard, as they would the impetuous anger of a spoiled infant, baulked of its capricious will, the equally harmless and unmeaning phrensy of that stray child of Poetry and Passion.” More than likely this last sentence entirely covered Poe’s will-o‘-the-wisp flight to Albany — so blightingly described from hearsay by the Rev. Henry F. Harrington, and which subconsciousness ended in congestive delirium of early June, 1846, through which Mrs. Clemm nursed Poe at Fordham Cottage. Certainly both Mr. and Mrs. [page 1148:] Osgood took a rare friendship’s care of the “divinely beautiful” letters Poe wrote to her. From the late Mr. John H. Ingram came of Poe: “Besieged by women writers to obtain literary favor, by Poe’s wish, Mrs. Clemm, after his death, destroyed hundreds of letters” on all scores from such writers. Later on, to Mrs. Whitman, Poe wrote of this Mrs. Ellet-Osgood letter episode: “When, in the heat of passion — stung to madness by her inconceivable perfidy and . . . injury which her jealousy prompted her to inflict upon . . . both families — I permitted myself to say what I should not have said — I had no sooner uttered the words than I felt their dishonor. I felt too, that, although she must be damningly conscious of her own baseness, she would still have a right to reproach me for having betrayed, under any circumstances, her confidence, . . . and terrified almost to death lest I should again, in a moment of madness, be similarly tempted, I went immediately to my secretary (when these two ladies went away) — [Misses Fuller and Lynch] made a package of her [Mrs. Ellet’s] letters, addressed them to her, and with my own hands left them at her door. . . . Instead of feeling that I had done all I could to repair an unpremeditated wrong . . . that almost any other person would have retained the letters to make good . . . the assertion that I had possessed them — instead of this, she urged her brothers and brother-in-law to demand of me the letters. . . . Is it any wonder I was driven mad [Mrs. Osgood and Virginia knew Poe had these letters] by the intolerable sense of wrong? . . . You will now comprehend what I mean in saying that the only thing . . . I found it impossible [page 1149:] to forgive Mrs. Osgood was her reception of Mrs. [Ellet] E.”

In time these two ladies’ differences culminated in the letter of apology of prior mention. In the meantime gossip, distorted by the poet’s foes and increased by his castigations of a few “Literati,” made a double tax on Poe’s already depleted nerve-force, and resulted in the usual turn to stimulants with their increasing adverse results — which now, at times, included fear, wholly unknown to normal Poe. Helpless, in lacking her letters he returned, and overcome with a fear-nightmare of Mrs. Ellet’s influence on her brother, Colonel Lummis, it appears Poe went in this dazed condition to Dr. Thomas Dunn English, who stated Poe requested the loan of a pistol and duel service aid. When asked for what purpose, the reply was, that Colonel Lummis had threatened his life unless shown Mrs. Ellet’s imprudent letters. When English inquired, “Why not show them?” Poe said he wouldn’t under compulsion. English, already under the sway of Mrs. Ellet, plainly asserted Poe had “no such letters.” One word led to another, and all into personal encounter, ending in Poe, bearing marks of English’s ring, being led away by a mutual friend, Professor Thomas Wyatt, from a fray of which both parties claimed victory, with legal aspects, at least, seemingly in Poe’s favor. From out this stormy interview — their last — came the Poe — English New York Mirror lawsuit climax, fostered by Poe’s “Literati” strokes and the press counter-strokes from which Poe finally obtained damages. Dr. English was a physician, and perfectly aware why Poe was violently, and as unconsciously, [page 1150:] not himself at times, and with special reference to conditions of nervous shocks, such as truly was this Ellet-letters episode. Dr. English’s honest, later record was: “Poe’s failing was most damaging to himself. It has been said Poe was an habitual drunkard. This is not true. His offenses were at irregular intervals. He had not the physical constitution that would permit him to be a regular drinker, . . . one glass would affect him visibly, the second or third would produce intoxication. He was always sick, after each excess, from one to several days, then repented full of promises.” Concerning the Poe and Mrs. Osgood friendship, Dr. English noted that Mrs. Clemm, asked his influence to sever it, and no doubt in connection with reflex of the incident — of Mrs. Ellet’s reading Mrs. Osgood’s letter — on Virginia as well as on Poe. Dr, English stated: “I told her to say to Mrs. Poe the connection was purely Platonic. Poe admired her ability as she admired his.” Concerning the stirring, last Poe-English meeting and another cause their mutual friend, Thomas H. Lane, at Elizabeth, N. J., July 23, 1896, wrote English: “For a long time . . . during our New York experience, you had the capacity of being a perfect irritant to Mr. Poe, especially . . . when lost in the inebriate. When entirely himself and free from the grip of his enemy, he was gentle and respectful to you as to his other acquaintances and friends. . . . His animosity was a spicy criticism you published on something he had written. . . . You remember how our warm-haired poetic friend of Philadelphia, Henry B. Hirst, gave Mr. Poe . . . offense by his parody on ‘The Haunted Palace,’ — [page 1151:]

‘Never seraph spread a pinion

Over fabric half so fair!’

by changing it to —

‘Never nigger spool; a shin-bone

In a dance house half so fair.’

Hirst never regained the regard of Poe after this flippant use of one of his poetic gems. . . . [Mr. Lane did not seem to know that Poe and Hirst later became more friendly.] It is not difficult to be decently gentle and agreeable in prosperity, but to face smilingly the aggravations of want is not possible to many natures.” In 1896 Dr. English noted: “Poe never received one half he deserved for his productions.” As to his critiques of the 38 “Literati” in Godey’s, none — not even Mrs. Osgood’s — was of unreserved commendation. They were written in the spirit of frankness on literary scores mostly, and totally indifferent to worldly opinions and persons. Only in a few appeared sharp and unfortunate personalities; but these no doubt were no small factors in creating the sensations of that day. Extra editions of The Lady’s Book were in demand and Poe’s “Literati” papers were copied far and wide. Many were the threats and anathemas, from the few who fell under Poe’s rod, that reached the magazine office, Mr. Whitty notes: “Poe’s original MSS. differ from Godey’s print. I think Godey had Poe make changes, in the proofs, he did not like.” Mr. Godey’s print reply to the “much offended” was: “We are not to be intimidated by a threat of loss of friends, or turned from our purpose by honeyed words. . . . Many attempts [page 1152:] have been made, . . . by various persons to forestall public opinion. We have the name of one person, — others are busy with reports of Mr. Poe’s illness. Mr. Poe has been ill, but we have letters from him of very recent [June, 1846] dates, also a new batch of The Literati, which show anything but feebleness either of body or mind. [These last words referred to an ugly mendacious report that Poe’s liberty was then restrained on mental scores.] Almost every paper we exchange with has praised our new enterprise and spoken in high terms of Mr. Poe’s opinions.” Godey’s gains — financial — could well afford the [page 1153:] prompt payments made to Poe, whose receipts therefor are now eagerly sought by autograph collectors. But in his turn Poe, as usual, lost by this venture, in non-acceptance of his writings by other periodicals. However, to Godey’s July, 1846, issue Poe gave eight papers. The pages on Fitz-Greene Halleck ranked him third, after Longfellow and Bryant, in the order of American poets. After technical details Poe noted the fourth stanza of “Alnwick Castle” as “gloriously imaginative,” and remarked the “simplicity and delicacy” of the lines on Joseph Rodman Drake. As to Halleck, his friend, Poe added: “Personally, he is a man to be admired, respected, but more especially beloved.” Mrs. Ann S. Stephens was given as a magazinist, connected with The Portland Magazine, The Ladies’ Companion, Graham’s Magazine and Peterson’s National Magazine. [page 1154:] Of his good friend, Mrs. Mary Gove (Nichols), Poe wrote of her style as luminous and precise, “two rare qualities with her sex,” and of herself as “a very interesting woman.” Poe’s fine review of Mr. Evert A. Duyckinck, of this printing, is of prior noting, but on Mr. James Aldrich, one-time aid to Park Benjamin in conduct of The New World, Poe levied a mild charge of plagiarism. But burning, in this July, 1846, Godey’s was Poe’s scathing article, that scored Dr. Thomas Dunn English as plagiarizing “from a Philadelphia poet whose high merits have not been properly appreciated — Mr. Henry B. Hirst.” Poe noted that The Aristidean, edited by English for a few months “with the aid of numerous collaborators,” listed him among The Literati of New York City: that “deficiencies in English grammar” lamented as “typographical blunders,” such as writing “lay” for “lie” and “coupling” singular nouns with plural verbs, etc., were suggested as causing the early death of The Aristidean. Of its editor Poe wrote: “No one . . . would think the worse of him for getting private instruction.” Poe mentioned the callings of English as medicine, law and politics, and concluded with: “I cannot say whether he is married or not.” Perhaps Poe was then uncertain as to the charm progress of the accomplished Mrs. Ellet.” However this cutting critique, as Poe wrote it under the sway of their last meeting, in natural prejudice and unstrung nerves, seems but a pitiful reflex of his state of mind then, sand little else that a physician might not have passed into oblivion had it not contained some stinging truths. Dr. English promptly secured space, June 23, 1846, [page 1155:] in The Daily Telegraph, and to make a bad matter worse, related from his point of view his entire acquaintance with Poe; his failings, including their last stormy encounter, nameless reference to the Osgood-Ellet letters, etc., and to all this was added various attacks later proved wide of their marks, misty inferences and definite charges as to Poe’s obtaining money under false pretenses, also a forgery circulated by a respectable New York merchant, unnamed. “‘No mortal ever held a pen who would not resent” either Poe’s part or that of English in this duello of quill-threats. The fact that Poe’s nerve-congestion [page 1156:] spells left him no memory whatever of his words or actions while under their sway made denial on some such scores useless. Of these attacks, aggravated by stimulants and not understood by himself, pathetically appears in his reply:(96) “The errors and frailties which I deplore, it cannot at least be asserted that I have been the coward to deny. Never, even, have I made attempt at extenuating a weakness which is (or, by the blessing of God was) a calamity, although those who did not know me intimately had little reason to regard it otherwise than a crime. For, indeed, had my pride, or that of my family, permitted, there was much, . . . everything — to be offered in extenuation. Perhaps, . . . there was an epoch at which it might not have been wrong in me to hint — what, by the testimony of Dr. Francis and other medical men, I might have demonstrated, that the irregularities so profoundly lamented were the effect of a terrible evil rather than its cause. And now let me thank God that in redemption from the physical ill I have forever got rid of the moral.” Poe’s closing sentence, alas, clearly indicates he did not understand the physical conditions of his own case of nervous-exhaustion inheritance. Under no such pressure Dr. English, as a physician, was far less excusable. Poe submitted his “Reply” to “the animadversions of the pensive Fuller, [whose Mirror copy reflected the charges of Dr. English on Poe] the cultivated Clark, the indignant Briggs,” and English, to Mr. Duyckinck, and requested it to be shown to his colleague, Cornelius Mathews. Monday, June 29, 1846, dated this letter into which Poe placed, “I am about to send the ‘Reply to English’ (accompanying this note) to Mr. Godey, — [page 1157:] but feel anxious that some friend should read it before it goes. Will you be kind enough to look it over and show it to Mathews? Mrs. C. will then take it to Harnden. [Philadelphia Express.] The particulars of the reply I would not wish mentioned to any one.” Poe closed this letter by mentioning that number “106,” of Living Age contained a notice (from the Literary Gazette, under the title of “American Romance”) of the poet’s Tales being reviewed, on the suggestion by Martin F. Tripper, that the Literary Gazette had “neglected a volume of very considerable talent and imagination.” No doubt this gleam of foreign recognition was some solace to Poe during his nightmare of ills at this time. Briefed, the start of “MR. POE’s REPLY TO MR. ENGLISH AND OTHERS,” dates and reads:

New York, June 27.

TO THE PUBLIC. — A long and serious illness of such a character as to render quiet and perfect seclusion in the country of vital importance, has . . . prevented me from seeing . . . The War of the Literati,” . . , published in “The New York Mirror” of June 23d. . . . Mr. Godey, . . . enclosed it to me with a suggestion that certain portions of it might be thought on my part to demand a reply. . . . Of the series of papers [“The Literati”] which have called down upon me, while supposed defenceless, the animadversions of the pensive Fuller, the cultivated Clark, the “indignant Briggs,” and . . . “Thomas Dunn English” . . . have been long since written, and three have been . . . given to the public.

Godey’s suggested “reply” related to charge of (alleged) forgery English made in public print against Poe. Aside from foregoing items, Poe added of Dr. Thomas [page 1158:] Dunn English, this hot-touch: “I remained under the impression that his real name was Thomas Done Brown.” Other items of Poe’s “Reply” are given in order of their bearing on this narrative. Poe sent this “Reply” with a letter to Mr. Godey for print issue. But more willing to accept gains than disagreements from Poe’s pen, Mr. Godey passed this print’s service over to Editor John Stephenson DuSolle, of Philadelphia Spirit of the Times. This later Private Secretary, DuSolle, to P. T. Barnum, loved Dr. English not at all, nor Poe enough to charge him less than $10 for printing his “Reply” in July 10th issue of this paper. Poe’s 1836 “Autography” noted DuSolle as “forcible and often excellent in other respects.” The “New York merchant” that English saddled with the charge of forgery against Poe proved to be Edward J. Thomas, of, Broad Street, to whom, on this score, Poe wrote:

SIR: As I have not had the pleasure of hearing from you since our interview at your office, may I ask of you to state to me distinctly, whether I am to consider. the charge of forgery urged by you against myself in the presence of a common friend as originating with yourself or Mr. Benjamin? Your ob. Serv‘t


In Mr. Thomas’ answer of July 5th was:

I had hoped ere this to have seen you, but . . . I desire to say to you that, after repeated effort, I saw the person . . . from whom the report originated to which you referred in your call at my office, . . . He denies it in toto — says he does not know it and never said so — and it undoubtedly arose from the misunderstanding of [page 1159:] some word used. It gives me pleasure thus to trace it, and still more to find it destitute of . . . truth, as I thought would be the case. I have told Mr. Benjamin the result of my inquiries, and shall do so to —— (the lady referred to as the common friend) by a very early opportunity — the only two persons who know anything of the matter, so far as I know, . . .

Your friend and obd‘t St.


This letter was appended to Poe’s “Reply,” and the lady of the letter’s mention proved to be Mrs, Osgood. For fair judgment, this entire controversy should be read on pages 233 to a58, inclusive, of Vol. XVII, “Virginia Poe,” by Dr. J. A. Harrison. Poe claimed in his “Reply” that he showed this E. J. Thomas’ letter to Dr. English, in the presence of witnesses. And to the request for his opinion, he advised, Poe wrote: “I should deny having received such a letter and urge prosecution to extremity. I promptly ordered him to quit the house . . . he obeyed.”

July 16, 1846, Poe wrote Mr. Godey:(97)

MY DEAR SIR: I regret that you published my Reply in “The Times.” I should have found no difficulty in getting it printed here, . . . and gratis, . . . I am rather ashamed that, knowing me to be as poor as I am, you should have thought it advisable to make the demand on me of the $10. I confess that I thought better of you — but . . . it is the way of the world. . . . I have never written an article upon which I more confidently depend for literary reputation than that Reply. [It might be well for scholars to review it from this standpoint.] . . . You should have done as I requested — publish[ed] it in the “Book.” . . . I have put this matter in the hands of a competent attorney, [Enoch L. [page 1160:] Fancher] and you shall see the result. Your charge, $10, will . . . be brought before the court, . . . when I speak of damages. . . . I enclose the “Reveille” article. I presume . . . you have seen the highly flattering notices of the “Picayune” and the “Charleston Courier.” In perfect good feeling,

Yours truly,


Poe asked Godey to distribute copies of his “Reply” in Philadelphia; send balance to him and inquired as to the various press-prints of Dr. English’s attack. He wrote his address as at “West Farms”; asked that his Miss Lynch’s script might go in the next number of Godey’s, which indicated Poe held no ill-will for her part in asking for Mrs. Osgood’s letters.

It was unfortunate for the Hiram Fuller Co., of The New York Mirror, of that time, that it gave reprint space in its July 13, 1846, issue for the libel rejoinder of Dr. Thomas Dunn English to “Mr. Poe’s Reply.” In the Mirror of prior June 23rd appeared:


We publish the following terrific rejoinder of one of Mr. Poe’s abused Literati, with a twinge of pity for the object of its severity. [In Poe’s respects, on this “twinge of pity” point, paid to Editor Fuller appeared: “Mr. Fuller is a pitiful man. . . . Mr. Fuller has fine eyes. . . . He should turn them inwardly. . . . He needs self-study, . . . and for this end, he will not think me officious if I recommend to his perusal Heinsius’ admirable treatise ‘On the Ass.‘”] But as Mr. Godey, “for consideration,” lends the use of his battery for attack on one side, it is but fair we allow friends — to exercise “self-defense” on the other. [page 1161:]

It later transpired that the “friends” included the thereby cloaked, “ladylike Mrs. Ellet” — so styled by Dr. English — as prime aide of himself and Editor Fuller. Mrs. Ellet figured also as the “well-known and esteemed authoress of the South” in Dr. English’s “Rejoinder” to Mr. Poe’s “Reply.’ ” To a friend Poe wrote of this English-Fuller episode: “not to have answered him [English] at all — was precluded on account . . . of some of his accusations — forgery, for in stance. . . . There he had me. Answer him I must.” In this letter, Poe added, that English “ran off to Washington”; and “The Mirror could not get a single witness to testify one word against my character. . . . My suit . . . terminated by a verdict of $225 in my favor. The costs . . . will make . . . a bill of $492. Pretty well — considering there was no actual ‘damage’ done to me.” Poe’s lawsuit against the Evening Mirror, involving Editor Hiram Fuller and Dr. Thomas Dunn English, both inspired by Mrs. Elizabeth F. Ellet, ended February 22nd, 1847. Through Counselor at Law D. H. Droege, New York City, Mrs. Alberta Gallatin Childe, President of the New York Poe Society, ascertained that this action for libel was brought by “Edgar A. Poe vs. Hiram Fuller and Augustus W. Clason, Jr.” Clason was thought to be of the Clason Point, Bronx family. The case was tried before the Hon. Samuel Jones, Chief Judge of the Superior Court, on February 22nd, 1847; and resulted in a verdict that awarded $225 damages and costs to Poe — a total amount of 326.48. ‘Mr. Poe’s attorney was Enoch L. Fancher, whose law office, in 1847, Mr. Victor H. Paltsits locates at 33 John Street, and his home at 97 [page 1162:] Chambers Street. The attorney for the defendants was William H. Paine. These damages Poe obtained despite of — as Willis intimated — “subconconscious,” unfortunate, heated expression Poe made, orally and in print, concerning Dr. Thomas Dunn English touched to the turn of “Mr. Thomas Done Brown.” March 15, 1847, Edward J. Thomas wrote Mr. S. S. Osgood the result of Poe’s suit vs. Fuller: “It went as I thought it would, for I believed the article a libel. I had apprehension your name would come out under English’s affidavit in a way I would not like, for I believed Poe told him things (when they were friends), English would swear to: but they left the names blank so that a ‘Mrs. —— ,’ and a ‘merchant in Broad St.?’ were all the jury knew, except on latter point, which I made clear on the stand I was the ‘merchant in Broad St.’ I got fifty cents, for which I swore Poe frequently ‘got drunk’ and that was all I could afford to swear to for fifty cents. . . . Poor Poe, he has lost his wife, his home, may he live to be what he can be if he has but the will.” Had Poe himself, as well as his contemporaries — excepting the Osgoods, Mrs. Clemm and a few rare more — only have realized that his was a case of physical disability beyond mortal power to control, in its depression sub-conscious effects, life would have been far less embittered for him. But now and here it is well to recall that under such nervous strain no records have been found up to date that. Poe ever spoke, or wrote, one word of law-actional significance — notwithstanding his tomahawk, critical tactics as to men, and several vampire treatments from women. His literary standards were high, [page 1163:] as was his chivalry, concerning all women. But ill or well, Poe was something of a lawyer. He mentioned Henry Carey, in No. 7 of Iris July, 1846, “Literati,” of Godey’s, as “under the nom de plume of ‘John Waters,’ has acquired . . . note by ‘essays in the New York American and The Knickerbocker.’ ” In No. 8 “Literati” the Rev. Christopher P. Cranch was given long comments and short shrift.

It was during these harassing months of 1846 that the water-color miniature of Poe was painted by his artist friend John A. McDougall. Truly he gave a reflex of the poet’s many distressing disasters of these trying days. “McDougall was a well-known artist at that time; and his studios, at 11 Park Place and 386 Broadway, were haunts for fellow artists and writers. Poe was a special friend of McDougall, who was popular in the South, where many of his portraits of old Southerners are still to be found,” notes Mr. Victor Hugo Paltsits.

To William Gilmore Simms, voted “the best American novelist after Cooper,” Poe wrote of his 1846 summer troubles on the score of Dr. English and others; also, of his own literary hopes. New York, July 30th, dated Mr. Simms’ answer, in which was his regrets for the delay caused by the non-arrival of the Southern paper enclosed, which bore on Poe’s genius. As to the tone of his last letter, Mr. Simms wrote: “I surely need not tell you how deeply and sincerely I deplore the misfortunes which attend you, . . . You are still a very young man, and one too largely and too variously endowed, not to entertain the conviction . . . of a long and manful struggle with, and a final victory [page 1164:] over, fortune. . . . Suffer me to tell you frankly, taking the privilege of a true friend, that you are now . . . in the most perilous period of your career . . . just . . . when a false step . . . is fatal in its consequences. . . . Do not suppose yourself abandoned by . . . your friends. . . . I know their feelings and hear their language. . . . You have a young wife — I am told a suffering & an interesting one, . . . cherish her, and . . . trample those temptations under foot, which degrade your person, and make it familiar to the mouth of vulgar jest. . . . It is . . . within your power. . . . I have never been regardless of your genius, . . . It is some years since I counselled Mr. Godey to obtain the contributions of your pen. . . . I hear that you reproach him. [Probably for not printing Poe’s “Reply” to English in “the Book.”] But how can you expect a magazine proprietor to encourage contributions which embroil him with all his neighbors? . , . Change your tactics and begin a new series of papers with your publisher. . . , I submit to frequent injuries . . . content, though annoyed . . . that the viper should amuse himself upon the file, at the expense of his own teeth. As a man, as a writer, I shall always be solicitous of your reputation & success. You have but to resolve on taking and asserting your position, . . , in the social and the literary world, and your way is clear, . . . and you will find true friends enough to sympathize in your triumphs. . . . P. S. If I could, I should have been to see your. But . . . my arrangements are to hurry back to the South, where I have a sick family,” etc. Because, “social and literary,” also the press positions, especially, required [page 1165:] wine indulgence those days, the physical disability to withstand its influence snapped these doors closed, in Poe’s face, in touch with such well-intended advice.

Mr. Whitty calls attention to Poe’s “Marginalia” installments in the Democratic Review, July, 1846, as being overlooked by most of his editors. Also that these installments treated of a French translation of Lady Morgan’s Letters on Italy; Decline of the Drama; The Alphadelphia Tocsin; Simms’ Areytos; Goethe’s Sorrows of Werther; and Cranch’s poems. Mr. Whitty adds,(98) as of prior mention, as to the discussion of Poe’s knowledge of German, “in his notice of The Sorrows of Werther, he said ‘The title is mistranslated; Leiden does not mean Sorrows, but Sufferings.’ ”

Poe’s August “Literati” for Godey’s began with “Sarah Margaret Fuller,” one time associate editor of The Dial, assistant editor or salaried contributor of the New York Tribune. Poe noted her review of Longfellow “did her infinite credit” as “frank, candid and independent,” but added, “Mr. Longfellow is entitled to a certain and very distinguished rank among the poets of his country,” etc. Poe noted Miss Fuller’s defense of Harro Herring, as “one of the most eloquent, well-put articles I have ever yet seen in a news paper.” He paid glowing tribute to her “Women in the Nineteenth Century,” commented on the “high genius she unquestionably” possessed, and added, her “style . . . is one of the very best. . . . It is singularly piquant, vivid, terse, bold, luminous, , . . it is everything a style need be.” Poe pictured Miss Fuller as of medium height; profusion of light hair; eyes, bluish [page 1166:] gray, full of fire; capacious forehead; mouth, in repose, indicated profound sensibility, capacity for affection, love. When moved by a slight smile, it becomes even beautiful in the intensty [[intensity]] of this expression. Her voice was of high key, but musical, with delicious distinctness of enunciation. He concluded: “imagine all this, and we have both the woman and the authoress before us.” In an Aug. 9, 1845, note from Margaret Fuller to Editor Poe of the Broadway Journal(99) was: “I was obliged for your ready acceptance of my article, ‘A Peep Behind the Curtain.’ The object of the present communication . . . is to ridicule a style of writing common in your sex, when discoursing of ours, . . . I am aware Long fellow is a popular poet & deservedly [page 1167:] so, but, . . . sure he will not be offended at a mere piece of pleasantry from one of the party to whom such soft nonsense is addressed. I also wished to make some slight acknowledgment to the writer in the Whig Review for the very flattering view he takes of the weaker sex. X.” This note was directed” For The Broadway Journal. Care of John Bisco, Esq., 136 Nassau Street, New York.” Mr. Whitty writes: “‘A Peep Behind the Curtain’ was issued about May, 1845; the review refers to ‘The Whole Duty of Women,’ printed Aug. 23rd, and Poe’s footnote does not agree with Miss Fuller’s arguments.” In Miss Fuller’s article on “American Literature,” like Poe, she deplored the lack of an able, leading literary Review by these words: “There is none which occupies a truly great and commanding position, a beacon light to all who sail that way.” All this Poe yearned to make of The Stylus.

Poe’s August, 1846, critique, in Godey’s, of Mr. James Lawson as a scholarly Scotsman ardently interested in American letters, has had prior mention. Mrs. Caroline M. Kirkland claimed generous noting from Poe as to her many works, — that her style was “admirable” and her “countenance beams with benevolence and intellect.” General P. M. Wetmore was mentioned as a Naval Officer of the Port of New York, member of the Board of Trade and of the Art Union Council, Corresponding Secretary of the Historical Society, etc., with an “only book, ‘The Battle of Lexington and Other Poems’ . . . of considerable merit.” Of Mrs. Emma C. Embury, Poe wrote as “one of the most meritorious of our female littérateurs. . . . She has . . . imagination and sensibility, . . . her style is [page 1168:] pure, earnest, and devoid of verbiage and exaggeration. I make a point of reading all tales to which I see the name of Mrs. Embury appended.” Poe added, that “Constance, the Blind Girl,” was “the most popular.” The last of Poe’s August “Literati” was Mr, Epes Sargent, author of “Velasco, a Tragedy,” “The Light of the Lighthouse and Other Poems,” also Editor of Sargent’s Magazine, that met an early death “through lack of foes“as well “as of friends.” This expression is “delicious” after Poe’s own magazine experience; truly his mind was vibrant with ready wit rarely accredited to him!

Way back in the year, April 16, 1846, Poe had written Philip Pendleton Cooke, Millwood, Va., as to his continuance of Poe’s biography by Lowell. In Mr, Cooke’s answer of Aug. 4th was: “I will do so, if my long delay has not thrown the work into the hands of some other friend, with entire pleasure. 1, however, have not Graham’s Mag. for February, 1845, . . . you must send that number to me. I . . . procured your Tales & Poems, and have read them collectively with great pleasure.” Cooke thought “The City in the Sea” was “a wonderful poem” and “Lenore” a “great” one; that the closing stanza of “To One in Paradise” was “the perfection of melody.” He added, “The Raven is your best poem. John Kennedey [[Kennedy]], talking with me about your stories, old & recent, said, ‘the man’s imagination is as truthlike and minutely accurate as De Foe’s . . . The ‘Valdemar Case’ I read . . . last winter — as I lay in a Turkey blind, muffled to the eyes in overcoats, &c., and pronounce it . . . the most damnable, vraisemblable, horrible, hair-lifting, [page 1169:] shocking, ingenious chapter of fiction that any brain ever conceived, or hands traced. . . , That story scared me in broad day, armed with double-barrel Tryon Turkey gun. . . . I have always found some one remarkable thing in your stories to haunt me long after reading them. The teeth in Berenice — the changing eyes of Morella — that red & glaring crack in the House of Usher — the pores of the deck in the MS. Found in a Bottle — the visible drops falling into the goblet in Ligeia, &c. . . . I bespeak a review of my Book at your hands when I get it out. . . , I am grateful . . . for the literary prop you afford me; . . . I talked with a little Lady who heard a lecture of yours in which you praised my poetry. . . . What do you design as to The Stylus? Write me without delay.” In Poe’s prompt reply of August 9th was: “Never think of excusing yourself (to me) . , . I know too well the unconquerable procrastination which besets the poet. I will place it all to the account of the turkeys. . . . Thank you for the compliments. . . . I would tell you frankly how your words of appreciation make my nerves thrill , . . because I feel that you comprehend and discriminate. . . . These tales of ratiocination owe most of their popularity to being something in a new key . . . on account of their . . . air of method. In the ‘ Murders in the Rue Morgue,’ . . . is the ingenuity of unravelling a ‘web which you yourself (the author) have woven for the express purpose of unravelling?’ The reader is made to confound the ingenuity of the supposititious Dupin with that of the writer of the story. Not for the world would I have had any one else to continue Lowell’s Memoir until I [page 1170:] had heard from you. I wish you to do it. . . . The last selection of my Tales was made from about 70, by Duyckinck. He has . . . made up the boot: mostly of analytic stories. But this is not representing my mind in its various phases. . . . In writing these Tales one by one, at long intervals, I have kept the book-unity always in mind . . . each has been composed with reference to its effect as a part of a TuItiole . . . one of my chief aims has been the widest diversity of subject, thought, & especially tone and manner of handling. Were all lily tales now before me in a large volume, and as the composition of another — the merit which would principally arrest my attention would be the wide diversity and variety. . . . I do not consider any one of my stories better than another, . . . each tale is equally good of its kind. The loftiest kind is that of the highest imagination — and for this reason only ‘Ligeia’ may be called my best tale.” Poe called (Cooke’s) attention to the British papers paying him “some high compliments” through Martin F. Tupper, author of “Proverbial Philosophy.” This review of Poe’s Tales, under the title of “American Romance,” in the Literary Gazette, was written because Martin Farquhar Tupper suggested this Gazette had “neglected a volume of very considerable talent and imagination.” Poe added: “Indeed I have been treated more than well. There is one ‘British opinion,’ . . . which I value highly — Miss Barrett’s. . . . She says: ‘This vivid writing! — this power which is felt!’ ” etc. With apologies Poe continued quotations from Miss Barrett and Robert Browning, already mentioned. Of The Stylus, Poe wrote as “the one great purpose of my [page 1171:] literary life. . . . I cannot say yet when or how I shall get to work — but when the time comes, I will write you. . . . But, apart from this, I have magnificent objects in view — may I but live to accomplish them!” This letter serves as a reflex of Poe’s literary meditations during these 1846 summer mouths when assailed by a bevy of gossips, vexations of the English-Fuller libel suit, also with the failing of Virginia’s health and his own. Driven, too, in his daily battle for bread, also poorly nourished — no wonder that now and then nerve tension struck its snapping point, “that turned Poe’s torments to relief for him in . . . unconsciousness of stimulant indulgences.”

As to Philip P. Cooke’s biography of Poe, Mr. Whitty notes its print in Southern Literary Messenger, January, 1848, issue, and entitled “‘Edgar A. Poe. An estimate of his literary Merits.’ By P. P. Cooke.” Mr. Whiny adds that this paper was a sequel to the Lowell “Memoir of Poe” in Graham’s, February, 184; and as Poe had “edited the Messenger its pages would seem a proper place for observations made on his writings and genius.”

Mrs. Osgood led the “Literati” for Godey’s September, 1846, issue. After critical and personal comments with various excerpts from her poems Poe added to other comments of one, — “yet, I cannot forbear making another. Its music, simplicity and genuine earnestness, will find their way to the hearts of all who read it.” It was “A Mother’s Prayer in Illness,” and concerned its writer’s frail health and her two little daughters. Poe concluded this review with: “Her husband is still occupied with his profession. They have two children, [page 1172:] Ellen and May of the poem.” In Dr. Griswold’s editing of this review not a few differences from the original text print occur — and nothing of Poe’s mention of Mr. Osgood and their children appears. Following this review of Mrs. Osgood was that of Mrs. Lydia Maria Child, who, Poe stated, “has acquired a just celebrity by many compositions of high merit. . . . I need scarcely add that she has always been distinguished for her energetic and active philanthropy.” Poe noted Miss Elizabeth Bogart as for many years a writer of poems and tales of dignity and finish; he added, with Poesque logic, “She converses with fluency and spirit, . . . and exhibits interest in whatever is addressed to her — a rare quality in good talkers.” Poe voted Miss Catherine M. Sedgwick “not only one of our most . . . meritorious writers, but [she] attained reputation . . . when American reputation in letters was regarded as a phenomenon”; this seems another instance of Poe’s quiet, vibrant wit; he continued of her stories, that he was best pleased with “The Linwoods.” Her family was “distinguished”; her home was at Stockbridge, ‘Mass. ; and her “manners are those of a highborn woman.” So Poe, the gentleman, thought of Miss Sedgwick the gentlewoman, aside from literary scores. But for Poe, Lewis Gaylord Clark was “known principally as the twin brother of the late Willis Gaylord Clark, the poet, of Philadelphia.” Mr. Lewis G. Clark was also known in a more limited circle as one of The Knickerbocker editors, in which capacity he once reviewed Poe’s Poems, and for this service Poe elsewhere wrote, “He abused me in criticism, but so feebly I forgive him.” Caustic comments follow of that magazine [page 1173:] and this special writer evidently not sympatico with Poe. Of Miss Anne Charlotte Lynch, Poe noted her “Farewell to Ole Bull,” touching lines on the death of Mrs. Willis, and “two noble poems, ‘The Ideal’ and ’ The Ideal Found,’ ” considered as one. “In character Miss Lynch is enthusiastic, chivalric, self-sacrificing, . . . a most exemplary daughter. . . . She goes much into literary society,” Poe concluded.

Godey’s for October, 1846,gave its last issue of Poe’s “Literati.” It began With the original and brilliant editor of The Knickerbocker Magazine, Charles Fenno Hoffman, who launched his literary career by writing for the press. His first book, “A Winter in the West,” of 1834 issue, “conveys the natural enthusiasm of a true idealist,” thought Poe. Of “Vigil of Faith and Other Poems,” the leading one was happy, but the song, “‘Sparkling and Bright,’ . . . is full of lyric feeling.” Poe’s estimate is verified by one verse:

“Sparkling and bright in liquid light,

Does the wine our goblets gleam in,

With a hue as red as the rosy bed

Which a bee would choose to dream in.”

The music of its measure caught Poe’s keen ear for this wine song, but never one did he ever write himself. The review added that Mr. Hoffman once owned and edited “‘The American Monthly Magazine,’ one of the best journals we ever had. . . . also, for one year he conducted ‘The New York Mirror.’ . . , The character of no man is more universally esteemed and admired than that of the subject of this memoir. . . . His manners are graceful and winning, . . . He converses [page 1174:] much, earnestly, accurately and well. In person he is remarkably handsome. . . . His countenance is a noble one — a full index of the character. . . . He is a gentleman of the best school.” His family came from Holland before the time of Peter Stuyvesant. Concerning Mr. Hoffman, Poe and “The Raven” Mrs. E. Oakes Smith wrote:(100) “ ‘The Raven’ was first published in the New York Review. I had not seen it, when one evening Charles Fenno Hoffman called with the Review, and read . . . the poem with great feeling. His reading affected me so much I arose and walked the [page 1175:] floor, and said to him, ‘It is Edgar Poe himself.’ He had not told me who the author was; . . . it was published anonymously. ‘Well,’ said I, ‘every production of genius has an internal life, as well as external. Now, how do you interpret this, Mr. Hoffman?’ The latter, who had had many . . . griefs, . . . replied, ‘It is despair brooding over wisdom.’ The next evening who should call but Mr. Poe. I told him what Mr. Hoffman had said. Poe folded his arms and looked down, saying, ‘That is recognition. . . . One afternoon Poe called . . . and said, ‘I find my Raven is really being talked about a great deal. I was at the theatre last night, and the actor interpolated the word “Nevermore” and it did add force to the sentiment, . . . (he looked so pleased as he said this), ‘ the audience immediately . . . took the allusion.’ ” Mrs. Smith’s next note — of unspeakable anguish — as to brilliant Mr. Hoffman was written in 1849, and of that date mention. Editor Hoffman voted Poe in his time, on critical lines, as “Warwick, the setter up and putter down of kings.” Poe’s estimate of Richard Adams Locke began with the creation of The New York Sun, a daily, penny paper, started by Day & Wisner, about 1834. It was not started by Moses Y. Beach,(101) as Poe stated. Benjamin H. Day, when sole owner, bought “The Moon Hoax” and engaged its writer, Mr. Locke, as editor. His “unusual sagacity,” claimed special credit from Poe, who stated that three weeks after “Hans Phaal” appeared in the Messenger the first of “Moon Hoax” made its appearance in The Sun. Poe noted a New York journal’s issue of “Moon Hoax” and “Hans Phaal” side by side, thinking [page 1176:] the author of one had been detected in the author of the other. Both were hoaxes and both on the moon — one following on the heels of the other. Having stated his case, Poe added: “I am bound to do Mr. Locke the justice to say that he denies having seen my article prior to the publication of his own; I am bound to add, also, that I believe him.” He touched on the scientific details in connection with both hoaxes. Poe was often and more mightily moved by the spirit of hoaxing than is generally known; and it dominated many more than he admitted of his writings, for he was a master of such craft, and more also than the literary elect seem willing to admit. Poe continued that Mr. Locke conducted with distinguished ability The New Era, and that there was about his whole person the air noble of genius; “. . . the forehead is [page 1177:] truly beautiful in its intellectuality. . . . He is a lineal descendant from the . . . author of . . . ‘Essays on the Human Understanding.“’ So Poe closed Godey’s Lady’s Book series of his “Literati,” of which one record is that “foe’s censorship of them excited more hostility and provoked more violent slander against him than did any of his personal errors.” Perhaps it is fair to add, that this “hostility and slander,” with or without reason, against Poe, conferred on most of his victims about all the immortality they now enjoy. So the poet’s genius again and again — even in adverse comments — paid his dues. While to Poe students his opinions of the unimportant “Literati” may prove dull reading, yet to each of these he gave a human touch which seems an indivisible part of Poe the man in various phases of his unique nature as it came from frequent contact with that of those of whom he thought, as he wrote of them. Such expressions, condensed, give not only glimpses of individualities of his projected “American Parnassus” of prior mention, but these comments, to some degree, were a true reflex of the inner shrine of Poe’s self in all of its variety of tone and color. And surely, on all points, Poe’s best personal records are self-script. A present-day brilliant scholar states(102) that the test of Poe’s critical ability “is the quickness and certainty of his recognition of unknown genius. To Tennyson, Dickens and Longfellow he brought early applause; Mrs. Browning, Lowell and Hawthorne were fore-known by him, and he was the first to submit criticism to laws of literary art.”

Poe’s “Autography” recorded that Dr. Oliver [page 1178:] Wendell Holmes(103) “has written many productions of merit and has been pronounced by . . . high authority the best humorous poet of the day. His chirography is remarkably fine, and a quick fancy might easily detect in its graceful yet picturesque quaintness, an analogy with the vivid drollery of his style.” Some one has said, that in Dr. Holmes’ Boston home was a yellow time-stained copy of “The Last Leaf,” by Dr. Holmes, made in Poe’s hand-writing. Of all Bostonians, only Longfellow, Dr. Holmes, James T. Fields, and a few rare others, really understood Edgar Allan Poe. Dec. 29, 1846, Dr. Holmes wrote Fields “I hope you will do whatever you can to favor Mr. Poe in the matter of which he spoke to you in his letter. . . . I have always thought Mr. Poe entertained a favorable opinion of me since he taught me to scan one of my own poems. . . . [March, 1843, Pioneer printed Poe’s article on “English Verse,” which contained “The Last Leaf” scanned in full] . . . I am not ashamed . . . to be grateful for his good opinion, and even venture to hope that he may find something to approve in one or two of my last poems.” Likewise spoke the noble soul of Longfellow as to Poe, that he “was destined to stand amongst the first romance writers of the country.” Poe’s hypercritical troubles came from characters of smaller dimensions. Dr. Henry E. Shepherd, Baltimore, Md., notes that London Quarterly Review called Poe “one of the most consummate artists of our era, possessing perhaps the finest ear for rhythm that was ever formed and potentially the greatest critic that ever lived.” French recognition of Poe was also very definite [page 1179:] at this time by reason of P. E. D. .Forgues’ critical notice in Oct. 15, 1846, issue of Revue des Deux Mondes, etc. In the approving review of Poe’s 1845 edition of “Tales” this “Old Nick” wrote: “Il sera opportun de les composer quand le temps aura consolidé la reputation naissante du conteur étranger et — qui sait? ébranle quelque peu celles de vos féconds.” Then began the translation of Poe’s tales, by Isabelle Munier, in the Démocrate Pacifique, This was the periodical seeding of Poe’s stories in France. July 9, 1848, George W. Eveleth wrote to Poe: “I have seen in some papers that your Tales are being, or have been, translated into French by an American lady residing in Paris. Do you know who ‘F. E. F.’ is?”

Mr. Whitty states that Poe’s MS. memoranda for the “Prospectus” for and of the “Living Writers of America, some honest opinions about their literary merits with occasional Words of Personality by Edgar A. Poe, with Notices of the Author by James Russell Lowell and P. P. Cooke,” 8 pp., 40, and folio, were in the Library of the late Bishop John Henry Hurst. As item “99,” in Bangs & Co’s April 11, 1896, New York Catalogue, this MS. was noted, “with many corrections,” and Poe quoted therefrom by,“tempted by high prices men of genius contribute articles which are rejected [for] instance myself, [by the] ‘Gold Bug,’ ‘Raven,’ ‘Vald. Case.’ ” In connection with Dr. English’s attack, Poe wrote: “Success induced me to extend the plan — discard petty animosities and — repair wrong, even at the expense of consistency.” This indicated normal Poe realized his [page 1180:] limitations. Mr. Whitty believes this plan an outcome of Poe’s “American Parnassus” he mentioned to L. A. Duyckinck, in November, 184. Only an echo of this intention was caught in March, 1847, Home Journal, which announced Poe would soon print “The Authors of American Prose and Verse.”

Pursued by illness from February, 1846, ill again at Baltimore in April, and again in June — and still “dreadfully ill” in October, to say not a word of Virginia’s failing life, — thus October found Poe in dire need and driving his pen through Section VII of “Marginalia” for Graham’s November, 1846, issue. How he could give any quality of intellectual treatment to Eugene Sue, his “Mysteries of Paris” and, “Gringoulet et Coupe en Deux,” of which similarity to “Murders in the Rue Morgue” surprised Poe, and seems surprising of him. Of Eugène Sue’s work Poe wrote: “On first seeing this, I felt apprehensive that some . . . friends would accuse me of plagiarizing from it my ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue.’ But I soon called to mind that this latter was in Graham’s, . . . for April, 1841. Some years ago, ‘The Paris Charivari’ copied my story with complimentary comments; objecting, however, to the Rue Morgue on the ground that no such street (to the Charivari’s knowledge) ex-existed [[existed]] in Paris. I do not wish, of course, to look upon M. Sue’s adaptation of my property in any other light than than [[that]] of a compliment. The similarity may have been entirely accidental.” In Poe’s critique of Bulwer’s “Lady of Lyons,” it was noted as “one of the most successful dramatic efforts of modern times.” Also essays on poetry, mesmerism, etc., made up their [page 1181:] share of “mental torture” in the strain on Poe’s unhinged health conditions. For Godey’s of November, he had finished “The Cask of Amontillado,” a story of Venice, where a scion of a noble house, seeking revenge for insult, lures into his wine cellar his enemy, renders him senseless with Amontillado’s rare vintage and walls him up alive to enjoy his victim’s intense sufferings, which seem keenly real enough to be those which Poe’s nerve-wreckage imposed as his own personal experience. This story, dramatized as “Fortunate and I,” was not long ago presented at The Little Theatre, Philadelphia. “The Diagnosis,” by Samuel Rogers, is said to be another version of “Fortunato and I.” December, 1846, Graham’s gave Poe’s No. VIII “Marginalia.” It gave critical essay treatment of German letters, in an able way, difficult to account for, in one “not knowing a word of German,” as Charles F. Briggs wrote of Poe to Lowell. Other essays followed, on “Magazine Literature”; the name of our country; the Greek drama and other subjects that vouch for the versatility of their writer’s mind and command of each, when of himself he was supposed to have none.

Through Miss Harriet Brice, New York City, it comes, that Augustus van Courtland and Robert Morris used to go to see Poe and would “keep him sober long enough for him to write a story or a poem and they would take it and sell it and give the money to his poor wife.” More than likely the money was given to Mrs. Clemm with this explanation; then Virginia was far too ill for attention to money matters, and Poe did not write his verse or prose in that way. “I [page 1182:] remember the fragile wife,” said a Fordham neighbor. “We never saw her save on the cottage porch, and then with Poe invariably beside her or hovering about her lovingly. These glimpses were easy to be had when passing the Kingsbridge road, for the end of the porch about touched the lane, — and we knew the sadness of their lives. I recall the dying wife as a pallid brunette, slight, delicate stature, dark hair and eyes and most ethereal presence. Poe’s devotion to her was never-ending. His very hopelessness and his material inability to do for her countless things the supersensitive spirit and alert love a man of his mold prompted, must have been maddening to him.” Another neighbor said: “We knew they were poor, but by Mrs. Clemm’s cheeriness you a‘most thought them better off than any of us. She used to scrimp and pinch along with Poe, so the sick wife would n’t know [page 1183:] they were so poor. There was n’t anything upstairs but an old cot in the front room, where Mrs. Clemm slept. and an old table and chair in the back chamber where Poe shut himself up. There was n’t any grocery nearer than West Farms, and many a time I have seen her trudging over there for scrimpings of things you could have carried in your pocket. They would get out of food; then, time and again, you would see Mrs. Clemm with a basket and shining case-knife digging greens. ‘ Greens can be took too often,’ I‘d say to her. ‘Oh, no,’ she would answer, smiling, ‘greens are cooling for the blood. Eddie’s fond of them! “’ But realizing he was broken in health and spirit, with Virginia daily fading away, caused anxious Mrs. Clemm to write deressing letters to Rosalie, who probably, in her turn, wrote their Herring cousins; for Elizabeth — Mrs. Edmund M. Smith — was at Fordham Cottage during Virginia’s last days. Eliza White, of Richmond, Va., was also twice a visitor at Poe’s Fordham home. There, once, also came their Baltimore cousin Neilson Poe, who married Virginia’s half-sister, as of prior noting. Of Eliza White one record is, she became a well-known Shakespearian reader, and April, 1917, Mr. Whitty wrote: “I have just heard today that Eliza White died, in 1888, aged 76, at Richmond. She was recalled as a ‘quiet lovely old lady,’ by her niece, who ‘never saw nor heard of her [Poe] album.“’

Concerning Poe and Virginia, there appears: “She loved to sit close to him when he wrote, — keep his pens in order, fold and address his MS. It was all she could do to help him in his work. Nor was she jealous of the many women who made fools of themselves [page 1184:] over him.”(104) After her death Poe wrote a friend: “I see no one among the living as beautiful as my little wife.” But the mid-autumn nights were too chill at their nook beneath the cedars of the rocky ledge — about 100 feet from the cottage rear — where Poe and Virginia held summer-tide trysts overlooking vistas, far and near, of which St. John’s College was the heart. But the dreary days of late autumn dragged on; illness serious and fatal within, while starvation stalked at their outer door, until heaven-sent Mrs. Mary S. Gove called at Fordham Cottage. She found Virginia in her bed-room downstairs, and noted: “Everything here was so neat, so purely clean, so scant and poverty-stricken, that I saw the poor sufferer with such a heartache as the poor feel for the poor. There was no clothing on the bed, which was straw, but a snow-white counterpane and sheets. The weather was cold, and the sick lady had the dreadful chills that accompany the hectic fever of consumption. She lay on the straw bed, wrapped in her husband’s great coat, with a large tortoise-shell cat on her bosom. The wonderful cat seemed conscious of her great usefulness. The coat and cat were the sufferer’s only means of warmth, except as her husband held her hands and her mother her feet.” Concerning Poe and this overcoat, Mr. Chauncey L. C. Ditmars, Mrs. Shew-Houghton’s grand-son-in-lawn, notes that the late Rev. Washington Rodman, rector of the Episcopal Church of West Farms and Fordham in Poe’s day, knew him well: personally, from an introduction given by the country physician of both places. Mr. Ditmars writes: “Rodman Place in Bronx [page 1183:] is named for this man, who founded the Home for Incurables. I interviewed Dr. Rodman one afternoon in 1896, at the old Blackwell homestead on the shore of East River, at Astoria, L. I. He married a Blackwell — of the historic family after whom Blackwell’s Island was named. His retired years were spent at Astoria, where he died. Dr. Rodman stated that West Farms Post Office also served Fordham. Thence Poe often walked the mile or two, to get and deposit mail. He and Dr. Rodman often chatted at West Farms Post Office. Dr. Rodman knew Justice Jacob Lorillard and his home in Fordham where Poe frequently visited, and once recited ‘The Raven.’ Lorillard’s home is now in the grounds of and occupied by the Supt. of the Home of the Incurables; and Lorillard’s factory, of tobacco products, was [page 1186:] on the shore of Bronx River. Incidentally he was justice of the Peace. The story of the stolen West Point overcoat is, that Poe was in a tavern, near Fordham, N. Y. & Harlem R. R. Station, and laid this coat over a chair. While his back was turned the coat disappeared. Poe, highly incensed over its loss, got wind of the culprit, but not his name, and went to Justice Lorillard, from whom was obtained a warrant, duly signed, with a blank space for the thief’s name when ascertained. Poe eventually found both the thief and the coat.” As the weather was cold enough for Poe to wear this coat, it must have been sadly needed by himself and family.

From the New York Sun, Oct. 3, 1915, comes:

At a house party given in this house of many gables one winter’s night Poe was a guest, and shortly before the gathering dispersed the author of “The Raven” was asked to recite the poem. . . . The poet complied and read the poem with an elocutionary effect that captivated all who heard it. Snow was lying deep on the ground, the moon was shining brightly and the wind blew fitfully. Nature seemed to have staged the setting. After receiving warm congratulations Poe bade everybody present good-night and wended his way to the little Dutch cottage on Kingsbridge road, about a mile distant, the same cottage that is now in Poe Park.

The picture of the Lorillard home, on the original site, where Poe was a welcome guest, has been supplied by the courtesy of Mr. Ditmars.

Mrs. Gove’s story of the Poe-family added: “Mrs. Clemm leas passionately fond of her daughter, and her distress, on account of her illness and poverty and misery, was dreadful to see. As soon as I was made [page 1187:] aware of these . . . facts, I came to New York and enlisted the sympathies and services of a lady, whose heart and hand were ever open to the poor and miserable. A feather bed and abundance of bed-clothing and other comforts were the first fruits of my labor of love. The lady headed a private subscription, and carried them $60 the next week.” From late October, 1846, this benefactress hovered over Poe’s suffering family. “She watched over them as a mother watches over her babe.” Personally and often she ministered to the comfort of the dying and living. Her name was Mrs. Marie Louise Shew, daughter and grand-daughter of well-known physicians and a physician herself, who — November, 1850, married Dr. Roland S. Houghton. Mrs. Shew lived at 47 Bond Street, when first known to Poe and family. From Mr. V. H. Paltsits comes a Feb. 9, 1920, New York Sun and Herald clipping noting, over the signature “J. H. McCreery,” that he was told over fifty years ago by Charles W. Bathgate, that when they lived on his father’s stud-estate, at West Farms, Poe and family were at the little Fordham Cottage in want, misery and sickness; and during one winter the Bathgates often sent them baskets full of provisions and loads of cut firewood. These items were probably some of many results of Willis’ Home Journal appeal, and thus were Virginia and family kept warm during some of those later wintry days of her waning life.

Nov. 30, 1846, Archibald Ramsay, Stonehaven, Scotland, “as a believer in Mesmerism,” inquired of Poe “if a Pamphlet lately published (by Short & Co., [page 1188:] Bloomsbury) under authority of your name & entitled Mesmerism, In Articulo-Mortis, is genuine. It details . . . most extraordinary circumstances, connected with the Death of a M. M. Valdemar. . . . Hoax has been . . . pronounced upon the pamphlet . . . here, & for the sake of . . . Science & of truth a note from you . . . would truly oblige. . . .”

Some days out of narrative date order, it comes that Poe opened his Pandora box to let out another of his endless hoax efforts, which was authenticated as such in his reply to Mr. Rantsay, dated New York, December, 1846. Poe wrote:(105)

DEAR SIR, — “Hoax” is precisely the word suited to M. Valdemar Case. The story appeared originally in “The American Review,” . . . published in this city. The London papers, commencing with the “Morning Post” and the “Popular Record of Science,” tool: up the theme. The article was generally copied in England and is now circulating in France. Some few persons believe it — but I do not — and don’t you.

Very Resp‘y yr. Ob. St.


P. S. I have some relatives, I think, in Stonehaven of the name of Allan, who . . . are connected with the Allans and Galts of Kilmarnock. My name is Edgar Allan Poe. Do you know of them? If so, and . . . not . . . too much trouble, I would take it as a favor if you could give me some account of the family. . . .

Mr. Whitty notes that Poe’s mind was then dwelling upon the injustice of Mr. Allan’s treatment of an only child, given Poe until the age of fifteen, then its sharp turn to that of a menial. This, Poe could forgive, but at no age could he endure or forget it. [page 1189:]

Concerning the “Case of M. Valdemar”: As a student of medicine young George W. Eveleth, of Phillips, Me., was much interested. Jan. 19, 1847, he wrote Poe: “Tell me the truth about your ‘Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar.’ ’ With some scientific observations Eveleth added: “I have strenuously held that it was true. But I tell you that I strongly suspect it for a hoax.” Eveleth seems to have held Poe’s character as writer and man very high; and Poe’s tender touches led hint to urge this sincere admirer “to write more frequently.” This request moved Eveleth to begin this January 19th letter with: “Pursuing your Tales, Poems, Criticisms, etc., I set you down a man of mighty intellect, and possessed of a soul which might almost claim kindred with the disembodied spirits of heaven.” Near this was added of Poe: “I could call you my friend as well as my favorite author . . . because you have come down so far from your lofty place as to address me in my humble estate, me a poor, unlettered, unknown backwoods youngster. I had never hoped to be so favorably noticed by you.” Instinctively, Eveleth was a mild form of mental Poe.

Dec. 15, 1846, Poe wrote a long, interesting letter, answering one of June 16, and another of October 13, from young Eveleth. In this answer was:

By . . . this letter, let me say a word . . . of apology for not having sooner replied to your letters of June 9th and October 13th. For more than six months I have been ill . . , the greater part of that time, dangerously so, and quite unable to write even an ordinary letter. My magazine papers appearing in this interval were all in the [page 1190:] publishers’ hands before I was taken sick. It . . . gives me true pleasure to hear from you, . . . I am gratified by your good opinion of my writings, because what you say evinces the keenest discrimination. . . . Let me now advert to the points of your . . . letters: The criticism on Rogers is not mine . . . The notice of Lowell’s “Brittany” is mine. . . . The criticism on Shelley . . . is the work of Park Godwin. . . . The critic alluded to by Willis . . . as having found a parallel between Hood and Aldrich, is myself. See my reply to “Outis,” in the early . . . Broadway Journal. My reference to L. G. Clark, in spirit but not in letter, is what you suppose. He abased me in his criticism — but so feebly . . . that I — forgave him: . . . I have discontinued the “Literati” in Godey’s Mag. . . . because . . . people insisted on considering them elaborate criticisms, when I had no other design than critical gossip. The unexpected circulation of the series, also, suggested to me that I might make a hit and some profit, . . . by extending the plan into that of a book on American Letters. . . . I am now at this — body and soul. . . . The book will be true — according to the best of my abilities. [Poe’s American Parnassus, never finished in book form, was to be entitled” THE LITERATI: | Some honest opinions about | AUTORIAL MERITS AND DEMERITS, | with | OCCASIONAL WORDS OF PERSONALITY. | Together with | MARGINALIA, SUGGESTIONS, AND ESSAYS, | by EDGAR A. POE.]” . . . As regards “The Stylus” — that is the grand purpose of my life, from which I have never swerved for a moment. . . . I can afford to wait . . . until I finish the book. When that is out, I will start the Mag. . . . In the meantime let me thank you heartily for your name as a subscriber. . . . Truly, your friend,


Mr. Whitty thinks “the book” MS. was used under another title. But Poe’s letter definitely noted that his “Literati” work was finished and in the publisher’s [page 1191:] hands before its writer’s April illness; he also mentioned the “book,” as his present, or intervening, occupation; and no doubt with much fugitive writing, on other lines, to sell. Of “the book,” Thomas O. Mabbott states: “It was the MS. mentioned above.”

Mrs. Gove, being a very busy woman herself, spoke to various friends of her last visit to Poe’s Fordham Cottage home and its pathetic family needs. In sequence thereof, Dec. 20, 1846, Mrs. Mary E. Hewitt wrote to Mrs. Osgood: “The Poes are in the same state of physical and pecuniary suffering — indeed worse than they were last summer, for now the cold weather is added to their accumulation of ills. I went to inquire of Mr, Post [publisher of Colombian Magazine] about them. He confirmed all that I had . . . heard. . . . Although . . . Mrs. Clemm has never told him that they were in want, yet she borrows a shilling often, to get a letter from the office — [Few, with today’s reasonable post-rates, realize what an expense this high postage tax in Poe’s day was to him, at a shilling more or less a letter,] but Mrs. Gove had been to see the Poes and found them living in . . . wretchedness. I am endeavoring to get up a contribution for them among the editors, and the matter has got into print — very much to my regret, as I fear it will hurt Poe’s pride to have his affairs made so public.” The public print, of questionable intention, that did hurt Poe’s pride, “first appeared in Dec. 15, 1846, New York Express,” notes Mr. Thomas O. Mabbott. It was copied ad libitum by the Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post, which gave this item: “It is said that Edgar A. Poe is lying [page 1192:] dangerously ill with the brain fever, and that his wife is in the last stages of consumption — they are without money, and without friends,” etc. Poe, keenly hurt by being press-noted as “without friends,” deeply resented these words in his reply to Willis’ kindly Home Journal print. Of these two words George W. Eveleth later wrote Poe of “this very sagacious and very uprightPost’s “misrepresentations and excommunications of you. . . . No doubt the Post wished the report might be true.” The Post was edited by Henry Peterson and published by Samuel D. Patterson & Co., Philadelphia, during these 1846-47 touches of Poe. The Express notice, of more kindly intent, on this subject, was: “We regret to learn that Edgar A. Poe and his wife are both dangerously ill with the consumption, and that the hand of misfortune lies heavy upon their temporal affairs. We are sorry to mention the fact that they are so far reduced as to be barely able to obtain the necessaries of life. This is indeed a hard lot, and we hope that friends and admirers of Mr. Poe will come promptly to his assistance in his bitterest hour of need.” The friendship of N. P. Willis was of shining quality for Poe during this trying ordeal. The Express notice was sent to Willis in an anonymous letter enclosing money to forward to Poe. This letter and its enclosure he later learned came from a sister-in-law of Mrs. S. S. Osgood — a Mrs. Jane Ermine Locke, of Lowell, Mass., who later on caused Poe some very disturbing experiences. At that time, with other and stronger reasons, it moved the fine-hearted editor of the Home Journal to cover Poe’s predicament with a [page 1193:] plea for an author’s home of refuge, in which this incidenteal [[incidental]] reference to Poe appeared: “Here is one of the finest scholars, one of the most original men of genius, and one of the most industrious of the literary profession of our country, whose temporary suspension of labour, from bodily illness, drops him immediately to a level with common objects of public charity. . . . In connection with this public mention of Mr. Poe’s personal matters, perhaps it will not be thought inopportune if we put on its proper footing a public impression which does him injustice. We have not seen nor corresponded with Mr. Poe for two years, and we hazard this delicate service without his leave, . . . simply because we have seen him suffer from the lack of such vindication, when his name has been brought injuriously before the public, and have then wished for some such occasion to speak for him. We refer to conduct and language charged against him, which, were he at the time in sane mind, were an undeniable forfeiture of character and good feeling. To blame, in some degree, still, perhaps he is. . . . Mr. Poe was engaged with us in the editorship of a daily paper, . . . for about six months. A more considerate, quiet, talented, and gentlemanlike associate than he was for the whole of that time, we could not have wished . . . however, he left us, by his own wish alone, and it was one day soon after that we first saw him in the state to which we refer. He came into our office with his usual gait and manner, and, with no symptoms of ordinary intoxication, he talked like a man insane. Perfectly self-possessed in all other respects, his brain and tongue were evidently beyond his control. We learned afterwards [page 1194:] that the least stimulus — a single glass of wine — would produce this effect upon Mr. Poe, and that rarely as these instances of easy aberration of caution and mind occurred, he was liable to them, and while under their influence, voluble and personally self-possessed, but neither sane nor responsible. . . . He has little or no memory of them afterwards, . . . But public opinion unqualifiedly holds him blamable for what he has said and done under such excitements, and while a call is made in a public paper for aid, it looks like doing him a timely service to, at least, partially exonerate him.” N. P. Willis hereby gave an almost scientific summing up of Poe’s physical ailment and its mental reflex. Just this, Mr. and Mrs. Osgood and all the fine-hearted of Poe’s friends believed. Dec. 30, 1846, Willis wrote:

MY DEAR POE: The enclosed speaks for itself. . . . Have I clone right or wrong in the enclosed editorial? It was a kind of thing I could only do without asking you, & you may express anger about it if you like in print. It will have a good bearing, I think, on your law case. Please write me whether you are suffering or not, & if so, let me do something systematically for you. In haste

Yours faithfully,


Kindest remembrance to Mrs. Clemm.

Concerning this press-print Dr. Griswold noted that Colonel Webb obtained in a few moments at the Metropolitan Club fifty or sixty dollars, and S. D. Lewis, of Brooklyn, a similar sum from one of the courts in which he was engaged, also others followed in kind, to answer this appeal to the popular heart. [page 1195:] Of this drastic situation at Fordham Cottage, Father John Tabb graphically wrote:

“Here, where to pinching poverty the gloom

Of Death was wedded, came immortal Love,

And Genius, with all the pomp thereof

To consecrate a temple and a tomb.”

The day before Christmas, 1846, Poe wrote a business note to Mr. Duyckinck, assuring him care was being taken of his “Irving” and “Arcturus” in writer’s “constant reference” use. These concluding quoted words disclose that Poe’s borrowing access to Mr. Duyckinck’s library values was both favored and appreciated. In Poe’s letter appeared: “You remember showing me about a year ago, at your house, some English stanzas — by a lady I think — from the rhythm of which Longfellow had imitated the rhythm of the Proem of his ‘Waif.’ I wish very much to see the poem — do you think you could loan me the book, . . . [Because no other noting of this item has been found up to date, the imitation seems not to have been convincing to Poe.] I am much in need, also, of Gilfillan’s ‘Sketches of Modern Literature,’ — 2 vols., — published by Appleton. If you could loan me . . . ( . . . the vol. containing the sketch of Emerson) I would take it as a great favor. . . .” Poe’s Christmas, 1846, request for Gilfillan’s sketch of Emerson, will recall this date as too late for December, 1846, Graham’s “Marginalia” by Poe, wherein he mentioned Emerson as an “imitation” of Carlyle, and “obscure.” Also Poe’s “Autography” (Graham’s, January, 1842), and “About Critics and Criticism” (Graham’s, January, 1850), seem to cast morning and evening [page 1196:] shadows from this 1846, “Marginalia” estimate of Emerson. Throughout the essay on “Emerson,” pages 643-657 of Blackwood’s, December, 1847, gleam with this estimate and not a few most Poesque expressions on various scores. Of the critic appears: “The task of the critic, on a writer of this class, becomes more than usually ungracious and irksome. He meets with a work . . . of genius, and conspicuous also for its faults and imperfections . . . he must note defects and blemishes, . . . When we accuse Mr. Emerson of obscurity, it is not obscurity of style that we mean. . . . But there is an obscurity of thought — in the very matter of his writings — . . . produced . . . by . . . mysticism . . . and, . . . sweeping together into one paragraph a number of unsorted ideas, but scantily related to each other. . . . We call him mystical, and he calls us blind, or sense beclouded. . . . Whenever a man begins by telling us that he cannot find language to express his meaning, we may be pretty sure that he has no intelligible meaning to express. [From Emerson’s writings, various instances of “painful obscurity” were cited.] With some who have heard his name coupled with that of Carlyle, he passes for a sort of echo . . . of the English writer.” In the closing of this article on Emerson appears: “It is remarkable that Mr. Griswold, in his prefactory essay which he entitles The Intellectual History, Conditions, and Prospects of the Country, although he has introduced a host of writers of all grades, some of whom will be heard of in England for the first time, never once mentions the name of Emerson! Yet, up to this moment, America has not given to the world [page 1197:] anything which, in point of original genius, is comparable to his writings.” Thus the ghost of Poe’s pen seems ever fluttering for recognition over many a page of Blackwood’s Magazine. Thomas Ollive Mabbott calls attention to an only found Poe reference to Dr. Gilfillan. Broadway Journal, Dec. 27, 1845, noted:

“Appleton’s Literary Miscellany, Nos. 6 & 7, Sketches of Modern Literature & Eminent Literary Men, being a Gallery of Portraits by Geo. Gilfillan. This is in all respects a valuable work — containing some of the most discriminative criticism we have read. We refer especially to a parallel between Shelley & Byron. The Portraits are those of Shelley . . . and Lockhart. Perhaps the most original & judicious of these sketches is that of Godwin — a very remarkable man, not even yet [page 1198:] thoroughly understood.” After his death, Poe the menu obtained harsh words from Dr. Gilfillan. “On Fordham Cottage narrow porch Poe spent his Christmas Eve, of 1846, pacing back and forth,” records another of his many heartaches. December 3oth, he wrote:

MY DEAR WILLIS, — The paragraph . . . in circulation respecting my wife’s illness, my own, my poverty, etc., is . . . before me; . . . with the beautiful lines by Mrs. Locke and those by Mrs. —— , [Osgood] to which the paragraph has given rise, as well as your kind and manly comments in “The Home Journal.” The motive of the paragraph I leave to the conscience of him or her who wrote or suggested it. Since the . . . concerns of my family are thus pitilessly thrust before the public, I perceive no . . . escape from a public statement of what is true and what erroneous in the report. . . . That my wife is ill, then, is true; and you may imagine with what feelings I add that this illness, hopeless from the first, has been heightened . . . by her reception at two different periods, of anonymous letters, — one enclosing the paragraph now in question; the other, those published calumnies of Messrs. —— , [English and Fuller, and sent by their aide Mrs. E. F. Ellet. It is not difficult to realize what effect that alleged “forgery charge” would have on a dying woman, and the reflex of such a fiend-like act upon Poe himself at that time] for which I yet hope to find redress in a court of justice. Of the facts, that I myself have been long and dangerously ill, . . . has been a well understood thing among my brethren of the press, the best evidence is afforded by the innumerable paragraphs of personal and of literary abuse with which I have been latterly assailed. This matter, . . . will remedy itself. At the very first blush of my new prosperity, the gentlemen who toadied me in the old, will . . . toady me again. You, who know me, will comprehend that T speak of these things only as having served, . . . to lighten the gloom [page 1199:] of unhappiness, by a . . . not unpleasant sentiment of mingled pity, merriment and contempt. That, as the inevitable consequence of so long an illness, I have been in want of money, it would be folly in me to deny — but that I have . . . suffered from privation, beyond the extent of my capacity for suffering, is not altogether true. That I am “without friends” is a gross calumny, . . . which a thousand noble-hearted men would have good right never to forgive me for permitting to pass undenied. Even in the city of New York I could have no difficulty in naming a hundred persons, to each of whom — when the hour . . . had arrived — I could and would have applied for aid . . . with absolutely no sense of humiliation. I do not think, my dear Willis, that there is any need of my saying more. I am getting better, and may add — if it be any comfort to my enemies — that I have little fear of getting worse. The truth is, I have a great deal to do; and I have made up my mind not to die ‘til it is done.

Sincerely yours,


Of this closing sentence Poe’s friend, George W. Eveleth, wrote him, Feb. 22, 1847: “I received . . . the Home Journal containing your letter to Willis. I like the spirit manifested at the close of your letter. . . . I glory in your spunk!”

Within a week, through his Home Journal, Willis gave this letter public light. And it was a burning light on these disrupting physical and mental conditions of Poe’s family and himself at that time, and in this world for all time. That same day, December 30, Poe wrote again to:

DEAR DUYCKINCK, — Mrs. Clemm mentioned to me, this morning, that some of the Parisian papers had been speaking about my “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” She [page 1200:] could not give . . . details — merely saying that you had told her the “Murders in the R. M.” was spoken of in the Paris “Charivari,” soon after the first issue . . . in Graham’s Mag: — April, 1841. By the enclosed letter from Stonehaven, Scotland, you will see that the “Valdemar Case” still makes a talk, . . . a pamphlet edition of it has been published by Short & Co., of Loudon, under the title of “Mesmerism in Articulo Mortis.” It has fairly gone the rounds of the London Press, commencing with “The Morning Post.” “The Monthly Record of Science,” &c., gives it with the title “The Last Days of M. Valdemar. By the author of the Last Conversation of a Somnambule” — (Mesmeric Revelation).

My object in enclosing the Scotch letter and the one from Miss Barrett, is to ask . . . a favor which (just at this moment) may be of great importance. It is, to make a paragraph or two for some one of the city papers, stating the facts here given, in connection with what you know about the “Murders in the Rue Morgue.” If . . . not . . . too much trouble, I will be deeply obliged . . . as “The Home journal” has already said a good deal about me, some other paper would be preferable. Truly yours,


These items of foreign recognition gleaming through the darkness of these desperate days must have renewed Poe’s courage, of heroic measure, to combat his merciless foes on home shores of that time.

Then the Death Angel was hovering over Poe’s threshold for the fluttering soul of his “Annabel Lee.” She was said to have had no fears of that awesome presence but grieved only for the lover of her sweet young life, that she must leave him and that he might forget her. Records show the sympathy of many; but of more than sisterly affection was one who soothed and sustained Virginia’s closing days. “Mrs. [page 1201:] Shew was so good to her,” said Mrs. Clemm, who added: “She tended her while she lived, as if she had been her own dear sister.” Indeed Mrs. Shew was watch-guard over the whole hapless household. Poe, benumbed with coming loss that all her skill and tenderness could not avert, wrote the keen sorrow of his heart and gratitude into a note to Mrs. Shew, Jan. 29, 1847:

KINDEST — DEAREST FRIEND — My poor Virginia still lives, although failing fast and now suffering much pain. May God grant her life until she sees you and thanks you once again! Her bosom is full to overflowing — like my own — with boundless — inexpressible gratitude to you. Lest she may never see you more — she bids me say that she sends you her sweetest kiss of love and will die blessing you. But come — oh come tomorrow! Yes, I will be calm — everything you so nobly wish to see me. My mother sends you, also, her “warmest love and thanks.” She begs me to ask you, if possible, to make arrangements at home so that you may stay with us tomorrow night. I enclose the order to the Postmaster. Heaven bless you and farewell


That same day Mrs. Shew brought comfort with herself to Fordham Cottage in a short call, leaving to look after the needs of Virginia, who, when bidding her clear friend good-bye, took from under her pillows a picture of her beloved husband, and with his own mother’s jewel case, long treasured by him, gave them to Mrs. Shew. She was then asked to read to the frail invalid two old, worn letters that, Mr. Whitty notes, were from the first Mrs. Allan to Poe. These letters Virginia had guarded for years because they [page 1202:] begged Poe to return to their writer, also freed him from all blame in the dissensions then of occurrence in the Allan home.

Mrs. Edmund Morton Smith — Poe’s and Virginia’s “Cousin Elizabeth” Herring, of the old Baltimore days, was also at Fordham Cottage during this pathetic period, and Mr. Whitty notes, “she told Miss Eliza White afterwards,” that she had “these important letters.” Mrs. Smith died Oct. 17, 1889; and so far, all efforts have failed to locate them, Poe’s Baltimore Mary, too, “came to Fordham Cottage,” which she thought “very humble, but with an air of refinement about everything.” In summer days, “vines were growing all over the house and Virginia loved flowers. There was a bed in front of the porch,” and “over the parlor door, on a bracket, was a plaster-cast of a raven.” Mary noted, “when Eddie was composing a poem he would walk up and down the floor with one hand behind his back, and when he got what he wished he would sit down and write the lines. The day before Virginia died I found her in the parlor. I said to her, ‘Do you feel any better today?’ and sat down by the big arm-chair in which she was placed. Mr. Poe sat on the other side of her. I had my hand in hers, and she took it and placed it in Mr. Poe’s, saying, ‘Mary, be a friend to Eddie, don’t forsake him: he always loved you — did n’t you, Eddie?’ We were alone, Mrs. Clemm being in the kitchen. The day Virginia died [Jan. 30, 1847] I came down from the cottage to the city in the stage with Mrs. Dr. Shew, their great friend, and we talked of Virginia.” From Mrs. Shew it comes, that Virginia passed from earth [page 1203:] in the little down-stairs bedroom. At her Fordham Cottage funeral Mary saw Mrs. Ann Stephens, Mrs. Shew, N. P. Willis and George P. Morris among others. Of a later time, Mary said: “Mrs. Clemm wished me to buy Virginia’s gold thimble for $10, for my daughter’s wedding present. I could not afford it, but she sold the thimble.” Doubtless she had to, for daily bread.

It is said Poe could not be urged to look upon the face of Virginia, after her death, for he wished to recall her as in life. Mrs. Clemm’s record of her daughter’s passing on was: “When she was dead” Mrs. Shew “dressed her for the grave in beautiful linen.” The only existing picture of Virginia, owned by descendants of her half-sister, Mrs. Neilson Poe, Sr., shows Poe’s “Annabel Lee,” arrayed in this “beautiful linen,” as she appeared in the beauty of her eternal rest. To a copy of this water-color portrait some artistic touches of mortal life have been given by Mr. A. G. Learned, New York City. It was also of record(106) that Mrs. Mary Briggs, adopted daughter of Mr. Valentine, Poe’s landlord, and then a young girl, said she helped to lay Virginia out for burial; that she was a frail beautiful woman and Poe was a devoted husband. Virginia’s casket was placed upon the poet’s writing-stand between the living-room windows for the funeral service. All records agree that the skies were ashen and sober” on Virginia’s dwsolate funeral day; and Poe. sorrow-stricken, was forced to wear his old West Point military cloak which had been hidden by Mrs. Shew, fearing its service in covering Virginia’s bed might move the poet to intolerable [page 1204:] memories. So, silently, Virginia led her slender following, of few friends but true, from Fordham Cottage past “the alley” and over the Landing Road with its great bare trees, that bleak January day, to the Reformed Dutch Church, where, by permission of its owners, all that was mortal of Edgar Poe’s sweet [page 1205:] young wife was left in the old family vault of the Valentines. There she rested many years until, when the graveyard of the Old Dutch Church was levelled in 1875, Mr. William Fearing Gill(107) rescued Virginia’s remains; and writing to judge Neilson Poe, Baltimore, of the incident, they both had all that was left of Virginia placed beside her husband in Westminster Churchyard, of her native city, Jan, 19, 1885.

Mr. Edward V. Valentine, Richmond, Va., notes the press of that city, dated Feb. 5, 1847, mentioned: “Death of Mrs. Poe. Virginia E. Poe, wife of Edgar A. Poe, died on Sunday last, of pulmonary consumption, at the residence of her husband at Fordham, Westchester County. New York.” [page 1206:]

Stunned with his loss, years of nervous strain and bodily ills, Poe, after all was over, fell for some days into a state of apathetic stupor, wholly oblivious of persons and things about him. From his firm friend Charles Chauncey Burr, Philadelphia, comes of Poe in those days: “Many times, after the death of his beloved wife, was he found at the dead hour of a winter night, sitting beside her tomb almost frozen in the snow, where he had wandered from his bed, weeping and wailing.”(108) But fine, and faithful to her pledge given Virginia, Mrs. Shew continued her ministrations to the forlorn poet under the solicitous watch and ward of Mrs. Clemm. Concerning their united devotion to “prostrate genius” appeared in a “Friday evening” letter of Mrs. Clemm:

MY DEAR SWEET FRIEND, — I write to say that the medicines arrived . . . to-day, . . . The cooling application was very grateful to my poor Eddie’s head, and the flowers were lovely. . , . I very much fear this illness is to be a serious one. The fever came on at the same time to-day (as you said it would), and I am giving the sedative mixture. He did not rouse up to talk to Mr. C——, [H. D. Chapin?] as he would naturally do to so kind a friend. . . . Eddie made me promise . . . to return the last box of wine you sent my sweet Virginia. . . . But for your timely aid, my dear Mrs. S., we should have had no last words . . . no sweet farewells, for she ceased to speak (from weakness) but with her beautiful eyes! . . . God bless you, my sweet child, and come soon to your sorrowing and desolate friend,


P. S. Eddie says you promised Virginia to come every other day . . . until he was able to go to work again. . . . and, until we see you, farewell. [page 1207:]

Poe’s shattered nerves at that time precluded sleep, unless induced by the presence of some friend at his bedside, which he found in devoted, patient Mrs. Clemm. After retiring he would summon her, and while she stroked his broad, heated brow, he would never speak or move unless her hand was withdrawn; then he would say, “No, no, not yet!” Under several days of the double devotion of Mrs. Shew and Mrs. Clemm, Poe seemed to recover, and during this interval his gratitude to Mrs. Shew found expression, Feb. 14, 1847, in his lines “To M. L. S.” Mrs. Shew owned an unsigned Poe MS. of them, and Mr. Whitty writes that they appeared in the March 13, 1847, issue of Willis’ Home Journal and were preceded by: “The following seems said over a hand clasped in the speaker’s two. It is by Edgar A. Poe, and is evidently the pouring out of a very deep feeling of gratitude.” Some of these lines are:

“Of all who hail thy presence as the morning —

Of all to whom thine absence is the night —

. . . . . . .

Of all who owe thee most, whose gratitude

Nearest resembles worship, — oh, remember

. . . . . . .

And think that these weak lines are written by him —

By him, who, as he pens them, thrills to think

His spirit is communing with an angel’s.”

In frail convalescence, looking over waiting letters, Poe found various worries. One was in a letter from his firm friend George W. Eveleth, of Phillips, Me., and advised Poe of the Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post, March 14, 1846, charge as to plagiarism in connection [page 1208:] with the “Conchologist’s First Book” of prior mention. To Eveleth, Feb. 16, 1847, Poe wrote of its details and added: “This charge is infamous, and I shall prosecute for it, as soon as I settle my account with ‘The Mirror.’ ” Feb. 22, 1847, Eveleth replied: ‘I fully believe you when you tell me the accusation by ‘The Post’ is ‘totally false’ . . . attentively of late — it has taken every opportunity to heap odium upon you — it grossly misrepresented . . . [your] ‘Opinions’ in ‘Godey’s Mag.’ . . . I saw a notice of your wife’s death in a Boston paper of last Thursday. . . . I deeply sympathize with you in this loss.”

Another trouble, Poe found in an unfavorable editorial print in the New York Tribune. Concerning this attack, Feb. 21, 1847, Poe wrote to Mr. Greely(109): “In the printed matter [enclosed] I have underscored two passages. As regards the first: — it alone would have sufficed to assure me that eoit did not write the article. I owe you money — I have been ill, unfortunate, no doubt weak, and as yet unable to refund the money — but on this ground you, Mr. Greeley, could never have accused me of being habitually ‘unscrupalous in fulfillment of pecuniary engagements’ : The charge is horrible false — I have a hundred times left myself destitute of bread for myself and family that I might discharge debts which the very writer of this infamous accusation (Fuller) would have left undischarged to the day of his death.

“The second passage underscored embodies a falsehood — and therefore you did not write it. I did not ‘throw away the quill.’ I arose from a sick-bed (although scarcely able to stand or see) and wrote a reply [page 1209:] which teas published in the Philadelphia ‘Sp. of the Times,’ and a copy of which reply I enclose you. The columns of ‘The Mirror’ were tendered to the — with a proviso that I should forego a suit and omit this passage and that passage, to suit the purpose of Mr. Fuller.”

Poe’s lawsuit against The Mirror involved Editor Hiram Fuller and Dr. Thomas Dunn English — both inspired by Mrs. E. F. Ellet — ended Feb. 22, 1847, by the jury awarding $492 costs, inclusive of $225 damages to Poe; and this, despite his unfortunate use of, as Willis intimated, “subconcious,” heated expressions of Dr. English, in print. However, his retorts proved more objectional than Poe“s, according to the jury’s thinking, and that of some others. But Dr. English realized he went too far in the forgery charge and, as a physician, how things stood as to Poe’s illness, etc. — so English just left for Washington with the possible intention of making no personal defense.

The wild talk that Poe bought “a brand new rag carpet,” furniture, and for Mrs. Clemm “a gaudy gown,” gave a party and “made desperate love to one of the female guests,”(110) from the payment of this claim, was as fantastic as it was false. But when the payment was made, Poe did have about him a few friends. One record was, that Mr. Cornelius Mathews also sate Poe as “a widower, settled in a little cottage on the rocks at Fordham. . . . ‘there was quite a little party gathered to take tea with Poe and . . . Mrs. Clemm. When we were summoned into the supper-room we found to the open-eyed wonder of the company, [page 1210:] the floor laid with a ‘brand-new’ rag carpet, an ample table, . . . with delicacies, and Mrs. Clemm at the head, . . . decanting from a new silver-plated urn, amber coffee, which glowed as it fell in the light of the setting sun. All this . . . represented in part the proceeds of a libel suit collected by the poet in the previous week from Hiram Fuller, editor of The Evening Mirror. We walked about the roads after supper, discoursing on one subject and another, in which the poet took part, confining himself as usual to abstract subjects and analytical disquisitions.”(111) These themes seem very far from making “desperate love” to any one. Among Poe’s friends of this time was the marine artist James Hamilton,(112) to whom the poet gave a London, 1845, issue of J. D. Harding’s self-illustrated “Principles and Practices of Art.” Autographs on the fly-leaf appear: “To my friend Mr. Hamilton, E. A. POE, 1847,” and “James Hamilton,” who was thought to have presented it to his fellow-artist Edmund D. Lewis. And, one personal expenditure covered, about this time, by proceeds of this lawsuit was having the wedding-rings of Mrs. Clenun and Virginia, “the two, made into one,” and so connected worn by Poe until his death.

Shortly after settlement of Poe’s lawsuit, the prior struggle with money and other troubles made his convalescence a brief one, as he soon sank back into a serious relapse; but patient Mrs. Clemm and good Mrs. Shew came to Poe’s rescue. Because financial needs then led beyond their command, Mrs. Shew wrote a friend in the Union Club, New York City, stating the case. It was brought to the notice of the members — many known to Poe — and General Scott, as of prior mention, was present, gave $5, and said: “I wish I could make it $500,” and added his belief that “Poe was much belied; that he had noble and generous traits which belonged to the old and better school; and true-hearted Americans ought to take care of their poets as well as their soldiers.” This, from General Scott, was significant by reason of his marriage connection with the second Mrs. Allan’s family giving him access to the truth and facts of that inner shrine of things. About $100 was obtained, which, with further tributes from Mr. S. D. Lewis and literary friends, old debts were paid and present calls supplied. Faithfully did Dr. Shew share with Mrs. Clemm her watch, and professional guard of this desperate illness. From her diary of that time comes: “I made my diagnosis, and went to the great Dr. [Valentine] Mott,” professor in New York University, Medical College, and one of the most eminent physicians of his time. Mrs. Shew continued: “I told him . . . when Mr. Poe was well, his pulse beat only ten regular beats, after which it . . . intermitted. . . . I decided that in his best health he had lesion of one side of the brain, and as he could not bear stimulants or tonics, without producing insanity, I did not feel much hope that he could be raised tip from brain fever brought on by extreme suffering of mind and body, — actual leant, and hunger and cold, having been borne by this heroic husband in order to supply food, medicine, and comforts to his dying wife — until exhaustion and lifelessness were so near at every reaction [page 1212:] of the fever, that even sedatives had to be adininistered with extreme caution. . . . From the time the fever came on, until I could reduce his pulse to eighty beats, he talked incessantly of the past, . . . all . . . new to me, . . . begged me to write his fancies . . . for he said he had promised . . . greedy publishers his next efforts, that they would . . . say he did not keen his word, . . . also revenge themselves by saying all sorts of evil against him if he should die.” It is said that from this delirium also came something of Poe’s voyage to France, all imaginary duel and a French novel. However, brave Mrs. Clemm’s and fine Dr. Shew’s guard and night-watch won that day for Poe, for by middle-March he had left his bed. Dr. Shew also won the poet’s endless gratitude in several poems. In one, “The Beautiful Physician,” by her jotting down from his fevered brain appears:

“The pulse beats ten and intermits

God nerve the soul that ne‘er forgets,

In calm or storm, by night or day,

Its steady toil, its loyalty.”

Showing this poem to his benefactress Poe told her a publisher had offered him $20 for it. Fearing so personal a tribute would be recognized in print and near marriage with a man — “who had old-fashioned notions of woman and her sphere” — Mrs. Shew gave Poe $25 for his MS. This poem was of nine stanzas, and in each was the first, of prior four lines. In the refrain of the last verse, where he describes her holding her watch, counting, occurs, “So tired, so weary”; and, after his pulse was brought to “the [page 1213:] desired 80 beats (as low as I dared give sedatives),” she rested, as did he, trying to sleep for her sake. Of that moment was added:

“The soft head bows, the sweet eyes close,

The faithful heart yields to repose.”

This MS. was lost for some time, but later was said to be found by Mrs. Shew’s son Henry. Of Mrs. Clemm’s noble-hearted selfless service to the stranded genius of her nephew, N. P. Willis noted “it pure, disinterested and holy as the watch of an invisible spirit.”

Not knowing of Virginia’s death, Poe’s warm-hearted friend Dr. Chivers wrote from Washington, Ga., Feb. 21, 1847: “I am sorry for your wife, because she suffers pain — but am sorrier for you, because, . . . she is nigh to the Angels, . . . If you will come to the South to live, I will take care of you as long as you live. . . . By the bye, have you ever seen a little Poem of mine entitled ‘Song to the River Po,’ anywhere? If you have, you have seen a better notice of you than you ever took of me.” Chivers asked corrections of his MS. in Poe’s keeping; noted favorable mention of him to the Editor of the Atlanta Luminary, Ga., also the belief that the writer was “a true friend of Edgar A. Poe,” and closed with, — “Yours forever — Come to the South.” All, including the editorial service requested, perhaps paid for, made pleasant reading for Poe, who now spent much of this convalescing time out of doors, through the woods, over to West Farms Hotel for his letters; and gradually these letters, pleasing or otherwise, [page 1214:] commanded his time and attention. The first one known to claim both was his March 10, 1847, answer to that of February 20, from Mrs. Jane E. Locke, of Lowell, Mass. Poe made mention of aid she sent with verses, etc., in connection with Willis’ Home Journal appeal. After noting his reasons for delayed thanks, he referred to her beautiful lines sent to him by kindness of Mr. Willis — also writer’s letter to Willis, in the Home Journal — of which Poe added, “a natural pride which . . . impelled me to shrink from public charity even at the cost of those necessities which were but too real — and an illness which I then expected would soon terminate in death. . . . In a word, venturing to judge your noble nature by my own, I felt grieved lest my published denial may cause you to regret what you had clone. . . . While I was hesitating, . . . I was overwhelmed by a sorrow so poignant as to deprive me for several weeks of all power of thought or action . , . but believe me, dear Mrs. Locke, that I am already ceasing to regard those difficulties as misfortunes which have led me to even this partial correspondence with yourself.” The original draft of this letter so perfectly portrays Poe’s physical and mental congestion of this time that it is given in full from a photostat of it. The letter itself led to later personal acquaintance, which, in turn, brought others; and all of them brought much turmoil into the poet’s brief later life. The draft shows the effects of Poe’s physical congestion on his handwriting, at all times; and this is a fact of utmost importance because such records are so few, and cover only 2% of all his known MSS. [page 1220:]

Poe, being advised by the Philosophical Society, of Wittenberg College, Springfield, Ohio, of his election to honorary membership, Feb. 9, 1847, wrote that body, that serious illness prevented all earlier reply, and added: “May I now beg you to express to your Society my grateful acceptance and appreciation of the honour they have conferred on me?” If his Alma Mater could only have known it then; with what rare pleasure would Poe have welcomed some such expression from the University of Virginia!

Thomas Ollive Mabboth notes that Longfellow wrote four elegiac stanzas in his “Diary,” Feb. 24, 1847. In the last stanza appears:

“In Hexameter sings serenely a Harvard Professor,

In Pentameter him damns censorious Poe.”(113)

While Poe was generally considered an enemy of Longfellow — but this was not true — the latter poet’s strong, introspective dicta of such seems most fitting to this period of Poe’s pathetic experiences by: “if we could read the secret history of our enemies we should find in each man’s life, sorrow and suffering enough to disarm criticism.” Dr. H. W. L. Dana added to these brave-hearted words, that he found — placed in most distinguished photographic company — in one of his grandfather’s albums a picture upon the reverse of which appeared in “Longfellow’s pencil handwriting, ‘Edgar A. Poe 1847.“’ Also their fine, mutual friend, N. P. Willis, faithful, strong and true, stood Poe’s defender on all scores during these days of depression, with glimmerings, only now and then, of the health he never regained. It was Willis who [page 1221:] printed Poe’s verses, noticed his plans, and in March 20th Home Journal mentioned the soon issue of “The Authors of America in Prose and Verse,” of which Mr. Whitty adds, “but nothing more was heard of this.” Yet Willis never lost a chance to laud Poe’s genius; and no wonder, when wisely choosing Dr. Griswold to edit his works, Poe was very definite in naming N. P. Willis as the final biographer of their writer. In late March, 1847, Poe wrote George W Eveleth : “I am still quite sick, and overwhelmed with business . . . I cannot tell why the review of Hawthorne does not appear . . . (Mr. Godey) paid me for it, when I sent it, — so I have no business to ask about it.” This review of “Twice Told Tales” appeared in Godey’s November, 1847, issue.

April 4th dated another long letter from Dr. Chivers to Poe. The writer lamented no answer to the one prior, and noted reprint of the Home Journal article in Dr. William H. Fouerden’s Atlanta Enterprise, and this editor’s wish to know Poe, for whom Chivers had made “an ocean of friends”; noted his coming to New York May 1st, and signed himself, “Yours forever.”

Prior December 30th dated Poe’s answer to the letter of Mr. A. Ramsay, Stonehaven, Scotland, of whom Poe made inquiries of his distant Poe-Allan relatives there. Concerning various items, April 14, 1847, Mr. Ramsay wrote, that there were a good many “of the name here & hereabout,” but inquiries could find none connected with the families or places Poe mentioned. Writer added: “The Pamphlet on Valdemar is published in your name as the sole conductor & operator in the Case, so that I thought you could at [page 1222:] once affirm or deny it, but from the tenor of your letter to me this appears not to be the fact.”

During this spring and early sumiuer of 1847, Poe led a quiet student’s life with Mrs. Clemm. Now and then callers and visitors came to their cottage home. One of the latter was their Richmond friend Eliza White. When home duties allowed, Mrs. Shew, too, came to see them, and Poe occasionally went to her New York home. In her diary of this time is: “Mr. Poe came to town to go to a midnight service with a lady friend and myself. He . . . followed the service like a churchman, looking directly towards the chancel, and holding one side of my prayer-book; sang the Psalms with us, and to my astonishment struck up a tenor to our soprano: and got along . . . during the first part of the service, which was on . . . the sympathies of our soul with our ‘rants. The passage . . . often repeated, ‘ He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,’ he [Poe] begged me to remain, . . . saying he ‘could wait for its outside, he rushed out, too excited to stay. I knew he would not leave its to return . . . alone . . . so, after the sermon, as I began to feel anxious . . . I looked back and saw his pale face. As the congregation rose to sing . . . ‘Jesus, Saviour of my Soul,’ he appeared at my side, and sang the hymn without looking at the hook, in a fine, clear tenor. He looked inspired. . . . I did not dare ask him why he left, but he mentioned after we got home that the subject ‘was marvelously handled.’ ”

During those days Poe was much absorbed with his metaphysical rhapsody “Eureka,” of which he had cherished glowing expectations not shared by Mrs. [page 1223:] Shew. She said: “I did not expect him to live long; I knew that organic disease had been Gaining upon his physical frame through the many trials and privations of his eventful life. I told him in all candour that nothing could or would save him from sudden death but a prudent life of calm, with a woman fond enough and strong enough to manage his affairs for him,” Poe’s lady “Literati” experiences had left their scars, and led him to meet such suggestions with quiet sarcasm; but later on, unfortunately for him, they met several marks. He told Mrs. Shew that she never troubled to read his works. This, she said, “was true,” and added, “but I was a rest for his spirit for this very reason.”

However, to their little Dutch cottage during this 1847 summer came an English writer, Miss Anna Blackwell (probably visiting Dr. Rodman, whose wife was a Blackwell), who was a friend of Mrs. Sarah Helen Whitman, of Providence, R. I. Miss Blackwell described Fordham Cottage(114) as “half buried in fruit trees. . . . Round an old cherry-tree near the door was a broad bank of greenest turf,” Whereon Mrs. Clemm had placed an old well-scrubbed settee left by a former tenant. The near “beds of mignonette and heliotrope, and the pleasant shade above, made this a favorite seat.” Poe and his mother were found standing beneath this old tree eagerly watching the movements of two beautiful birds contemplating a settlement in its branches, and he had some rare tropical birds in cages which he cherished and petted with assiduous care. This guest noted the “unrivalled neatness and the quaint simplicity” of the cottage interior and gave later record [page 1224:] of the flower-garden border with clumps of rare dahlias and brilliant autumn blooms that showed the culture and taste of the inmates. Poe was mentioned as giving his birds and flowers delighted attention, so different from the gloomy and grotesque tenor of his writings — and a favorite cat, too, enjoyed his friendly patronage and often, when he was engaged in writing, it seated itself on his shoulder, purring as if in approval of the work progressing under its supervision. He would rise at four in the morning for a walk to aqueduct bridge. From the cottage, strolling westward past orchards and graveyards, brought Poe to his goal — High Bridge, with its great granite arches [page 1225:] uplifting the aqueduct 145 feet above high-tide reach of Harlem River. Over its turfed footpath Poe passed many an hour of the day, also many, in his early sorrow-stricken nights, without meeting a human soul. Alone, with unconscious weariness he would lean on its low parapet and dream, with the river beneath and the stars above him, spiritualizing visions of this world’s creation and end, as included in “Eureka.” This prose poem resounds with this clarion note; “In the meantime bear in mind that all is Life — Life within Life — the less with the greater, and all within the Spirit Divine.” Benjamin DeCasseres notes “Eureka” as Poe’s “confession of faith, his spiritual testament to posterity, his Apologia pro vita sua.” Several records note Poe during these days, as on the cottage porch, many a silent hour of their nights, studying the stars, wrestling with his sorrows, [page 1226:] sombre idealities and interlinking fancies that bore on the eternal secret of life and nature. It was said that Poe later regarded “Eureka” only as a means by which he could obtain a safe and sure start for a magazine of his own. Some strongly seeming, foreign writings of this Poe-period will be duly noted.

Kindly friends broke into this early grief solitude and convalescence of Poe’s cottage home; also others did likewise in tedious quest of literary aid. When to give such assistance was beyond his strength and wishes he fled to the pines and cedars of the Rocky Ledge, not far around from the cottage door. Mrs. Shew noted that she often found these applicants “sitting in Mrs. Clemm’s little room, waiting to see the man of genius who had rushed out, to escape” anywhere, or to the College grounds of St. John’s. “I remember Mrs. Clemm one day sending me after him, in great secrecy, and I found him sitting on a favorite rock, muttering his desire to die and get rid of literary bores.” It was mentioned that the visitor of this occasion was Mrs. S. D. Lewis, whose husband had been most generous to Poe; had given him $100 to revise one of her books. When his long delay caused her to reproach him, Poe owned his fault, but is quoted as privately saying, that if he reviewed her rubbish it would kill him. For him favorably to review these poems, their revision was imperative, as noted on pp. 210-211 of “Complete Poems of Poe,” by James H. Whitty, 1918 and later editions. Thomas Ollive Mabbott found that the Democratic Review, August, 1848, gave Poe’s review — in the “Literati” — of Mrs. Lewis’ “Child of the Sea and Other [page 1227:] Poems.” From Poe’s review Mr. Mabbott quoted: The Broken Heart,’ a tale of Hispania, is especially characteristic of its author, — fervent vet ornate and [page 1228:] gracefully controlled. It is a poem of intense and Byronic passion. We quote a passage of singular beauty.” A reprint of Poe’s own handscript scoring of these lines appear in these pages by the courtesy of the owner, Oliver R, Barrett, Esq., Chicago, Ill. Mr. Mabbott adds: “I find this passage in ’ Isabelle, or the broken Heart,’ — on page 115 of Mrs. Lewis’ ‘Poems’ (Putnam’s, 1848).” Poe, in time, fairly paid these double dues to Mr. and Mrs. Lewis by revision, and reviews in September, 1848, Southern Literary Messenger; sent notes to Bayard Taylor — when nominal editor of Graham’s — requesting their insert as his own; another review went to F. W. Thomas, at Louisville, Icy., February, 1849; one went to Western Quarterly Review, Vol. II, and one to Dr. Griswold, June 28, 1849. However, Mrs. Shew modestly concluded this noting of Poe by: “He liked me for my ignoranceand lamented, in sincere sorrow, when I grew like the rest of the world — by my duties and position.”(115)

Aug. 6, 1847, at Philadelphia, Mr. Godey wrote Poe’s Maine friend, George W. Eveleth: “Mr. Poe has been on here . . . he called on me quite sober — but I have heard from him elsewhere, when he was not so.” Perhaps this hearsay gossip, caused by his congestion spell, was transmitted by Poe’s non-lovers on the Saturday Evening Post. An unaddressed Poe MS. letter to Hon. Robert T. Conrad — well-known writer, a judge, and later Mayor of Philadelphia, owned by the University of Virginia, and dated Aug. 10, 1847 — noted its writer’s prior trip to Philadelphia, his thanks for the considerate kindness received from Mr. Conrad there, and lacking which Poe might not at writing date [page 1229:] have been alive — being so ill in Philadelphia, with no hope of getting home: Mr. Graham was mentioned as “more friendly than ever before,” . . . He was seen for “a moment,” and requested Poe’s continuous writing for the Magazine. He obtained “$10 advance from Mr. G.,” to return home at once, leaving articles for perusal, and Poe would be glad for an answer concerning them. At the old price, $4 per page, they would be $190. He owed Mr. Graham $50; and if the articles were accepted, Poe wished to draw $50. He had settled with Arbuckle at Philadelphia, and wished to know, he wrote, “how much I owe yourself. . . . Very gratefully your friend, Edgar A. Poe.” It appears that money needs drove Poe to Philadelphia in early August, 1847, as illness there drove him back again to Mrs. Clemm, in their Fordham Cottage home. Miss Emma Toedteberg, Librarian of L. I. Historical Society, Brooklyn, N. Y., owns another Poe letter to the Hon. Robert T. Conrad. Its date was “New York, Aug. 31, 1847,” and in it Poe stated:

It is now a month since I wrote you about the two articles I left with you — but as I have heard nothing from you, I . . . suppose . . . that, in the press of other business, you have forgotten it and me. In it, after thanking you (as I do most sincerely) for your late kindness to me in Phila, I begged an answer in respect to the articles — mentioning $40 as the sum in which the Magazine would be indebted to me in case of their acceptance, and asking permission to draw for that amount. — I owed Mr. Graham $50 . . . and the papers, at the old price, would come to $90. May I beg of you to reply, as soon as convenient, and oblige,

Yours very cordially,

EDGAR A. POE. [page 1230:]

At Baltimore, Aug. 11, 1917, Mr. William J. McClellan wrote: “More than 43 years ago Mr. Richard Muckle, of the Philadelphia Ledger (who occasionally came in contact with Poe ), referred to ‘a faithful and just’ sketch of him by the Hon. R. T. Conrad (former Mayor of Philadelphia), in the 2nd or 3rd volume of the Dollar Newspaper.” By reason of its failure in complete files, this Poe-sketch has not been found up to date.

The eleven letters of George W. Eveleth to Poe, found by Thomas F. ‘Madigan, New York Citv, reported by Mr, Victor H. Paltsits, and presented to the New York Public Library by Thomas Ollive Mabbott, contain several clues strongly pointing to Poe as writing, about this time, for at least one foreign periodical, his much beloved Blackwood’s! But, alas, as Poe himself stated, his non-identity seemed exacted, as a “secret” contributor. New York, August, 1847, dated an unsigned letter from — evidently — Poe’s hoaxed self to “Godfrey Godfrey of Godfrey Hall, in the county of Kent, Esquire.” The strongly Poesdue subjects, phrases and words in Blackwood’s October, November and December, 1847, of these several prints were: “Maga in America,” page 422 of Blackwood’s October issue. It noted the “blue and yellow” gear that “Messrs. Reprint & Co.” gave that Old World print. “The fresh number from your coat-skirts, and the suspicious importation from America, are set together like the two Dromios before the duke. ‘Look on this picture, and on that.’ ” Edinburgh print seems hailed by Poe, in: “Everyone ,rants old Ebony in its own gentlemanly wear: . . . ‘Long live King Christopher!’ [page 1231:] . . . in spite of . . . what is . . . vulgar and vexatious, —

‘Maga still sitteth on Edina’s crags,

And from her throne of beauty rules the world!’

. . . With railway speed, and thunder step, the Express of Harnden [that so frequently served Poe between New York and Philadelphia] brings to his hand almost the only emigrant original of Blackwood that ever touches these occidental shores. . . . For him . . . [Poe] Mr. North inspects boxes of Balaam, with the patience of a proof-reader, and deciphers pages of wit and pathos with the perseverance of a Champollin. [Jean François Champollion (1790-1882), French Orientalist, discovered the key to Egyptian hieroglyphic MSS. in 1822. His “key” more than likely aided Poe in his cryptographic solutions, worked out in Philadelphia.] For him, [Poe] with each new moon, and punctual to the day, comes forth the Maga of the month, . . . For him the foreign purveyor of all he lives by pays down the golden honorarium, fifty guineas for the sheet, that he may have the whole for less than fifty pence. For him — the same benevolent provider [North] takes pains to silence, [italics not in original print] by the same metallic spell, ten thousand other claims and clamours, continent to each lunation of Maga. . . . the testy . . . may . . . rail for a season at ‘the ca,vm, cauld, clear, glitterin’ cruelty in the expression of his een,’ — but who can keep up a quarrel with North’ . . . [Sept. 11, 1839, Poe wrote Dr. Snodgrass : “I have made a profitable engagement with ‘ Blackwood’s Maga’ and [page 1232:] my forthcoming Tales are promised a very commendatory Review in that journal from the pen of Prof. Wilson. Keep this a secret, if you please, for the present.” In March 29, 1841, Poe-data (given to Dr. Griswold) appears: “Lately I have written articles continuously for two British journals whose names I am not permitted to mention.” July 4, 1841, to F. W. Thomas, Poe wrote: “To coin one’s brain into silver, at the nod of a master, is, to my thinking, the hardest task in the world.” It is a well-known fact that Poe’s scripts, from lack of International Copyright (bewailed by Dickens and others), were as literary salt, pepper, spice and yeast; also bodily filched, for foreign prints. No wonder Poe prefaced his 1845 “Poems” with: “I am naturally anxious that if what I have written is to circulate at all, it should circulate as I wrote it.”]

“Ah! my dear Godfrey. . . . I know what you are thinking of. . . . ‘Old Ebony for the month,‘’ Kit North again in the field,‘. — ‘A racy new number of Blackwood,’ — such are the . . ..bawlings of hawkers on the steps of Astor House [so well-known to Poe] they . . . follow you . . . to Niagara; . . . Detroit and Chicago, and . . . on the debatable grounds of Oregon!” Thus arise apparitions of Poe’s pen over this farce-essay on his obsession, International Copyright, and some other verl, Personal subjects. On page 574 of November, 1847, Blackwood’s began “The American Library” as a review of Messrs. Wiley & Putnam’s 1847 issue, “Library of American Rooks,” which included the works of Irving, Cooper, Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, Poe and others. [page 1233:] Strongly suggestive on this score of Poe’s script, is George W. Eveleth’s letter dated Phillips, Me., July 9, 1848, in which he wrote: “I have . . . ‘Blackwood’ for Nov. — / 47, containing ‘The American Library.’ In answer to your question — I can hardly tell what I think of it. I should gather that the writer had a generally correct idea of what he is talking about: still there seems . . . a disposition in him to twist this idea awry. . . . Especially . . . noticeable in the comment upon your Tales . . . he often finds fault, in words, where his manner and tone show that he would applaud — and . . . takes . . . pains to remove objections, to reconcile things, which . . . [objections] would not be raised . . . by any other than the shallow-headed. Will you believe it? — I . . . am, half inclined to put down the article as written by none other than one Edgar A. Poe. I can find nothing . . . in its manner that should do away with the belief. . . . Indeed, I could present many circumstances which . . . would . . . confirm such an idea. . . . In the same number of ‘Blackwood,’ . . . Did you do the ‘lashing’ therein of the ‘North American Review’ [detested by Poe, as will later appear] for its astounding ignorance of the most celebrated letters of Junius, etc. — Who was the ignorant reviewer?” What follows on these Blackwood’s prints seems Poe-hoax, pure and simple, in this letter to “MY DEAR GODFREY.”

Through both articles Poe’s critical battle-axe seemed to hew its way into: “The late constitution of this State was in many respects a noble one; but its successor plays the mischief with everything, . . . [on [page 1234:] the score of “American Copyright.”] Why should you not court a ‘boundless continuity of shade,’ and issue your immortal works from the depth of a Pennsylvanian forest.” With such a locality Poe made personal acquaintance during his heritage quest of 1839, and thus seems hoax writing, to himself. The references to Dickens, Boston, the “provincial blue and yellow” notings of North American Review, and its Poesque “lashing” in Blackwood’s for the former’s “astounding ignorance concerning the most celebrated letters of Junius,” all bear impress of Poe’s glittering literary tomahawk. From this letter-writer’s familiar, political touches on American national measures not originating with the people, but were closet begotten, “dictated to time-servers and . . . forced on the people . . . in the names of democracy and freedom.” Surely a prophetic experience, for this phase of United States history repeated itself in 1917! Poe shared with Hawthorne’s favored use of the word “humbug,” these prints reveal: also, a reference to — Martin F. Tupper — author of “Proverbial Philosophy” recalls that in 1845 he suggested “making Poe famous” in a letter to Mr. Putnam, by a notice of the poet’s 1845 tales, in the Literary Gazette. The noting of Sen. Preston, of South Carolina, seems to come from his friend Poe. To him the mention of “cheap postage” meant much; and he persistently deplored salable “mawkish” literature. Still more pointedly personal comes a reflex of Poe’s pathetic experiences: “Thus does America nip young genius in the bud. . . . I have in . . . mind . . . a man of learning — whom I should rejoice to name — of whom this country [page 1235:] might well be proud, but . . . hardly knows; . . . had he been born an Englishman, he would have bequeathed his country another immortal name. He would have clone . . . much to ennoble his native land, had she known how to foster instead of depressing his early enthusiasm, . . . traversing the ocean to perfect his acquirements in foreign libraries, [as Poe did in 1827] he . . . laid before competent judges the results. These were pronounced of richest intrinsic value, . . . in letters. . . . his one great object, . . . [but “results”] deprived him of a popular reputation . . . his overtures here were repulsed with a rudeness of negative which would have shocked the sensibilities of a footman. . . . [This 1827 “negative” experience would illuminate Poe’s very human and continued dislike of North American Review, then anchored at 72 Washington Street, Boston.] . . . Who cared for him with his parcel of manuscript, . . . Can it be wondered at that Harpy & Co. [Harpers, New York] refused to treat with him, when a new treatise on the inside of the moon, for which lunatics were gaping, and for which twenty guineas had . . . been paid to the learned Dr. Snooks of North Britain, was . . . waiting its turn for immediate reproduction.” Poe twice paid his critical complimentary respects to this brilliant journalist, James F. Dalton, as “Peter Snook.” Concerning British recognition and its servile American following,(116) Poe noted : it is astonishing to see how a magazine article like a traveler, spruces up after crossing the sea. . . . We have written paper after paper which attracted no notice at all until it appeared as original in Bentley’s Miscellany [page 1236:] or the Paris Charivari. The Boston Notion [when edited by Dr. R. W. Griswold] once abused us very lustily for having written ‘The House of Usher.’ Not long afterwards [September, 1839] Bentley published it anonymously, as original with itself, — whereupon the Notion, having forgotten that we wrote it, not only lauded it ad nauseum, but copied it in toto.”

Surely the two foregoing paragraphs seem equally Poe soliloquies! The Blackwood’s print paid fine tributes to Mr. Pitt, and closed with, “my letter which began with a song should conclude with a sermon. . . . To Godfrey Godfrey, Esq.,” etc.

On page 643 of December, 1847, Blackwood’s issue was given “Emerson, in General Features of American Literature.” These Poesque items only point the way for pursuing research of Blackwood’s for more, from “Sept. 11, 1839,” as mentioned by Poe to Dr. Snodgrass by: “I have made a profitable engagement with Blackwood’s Magazine, . . . Keep this a secret if you please for the present.” It seems this “silence” was exacted for all time.

Aug. 17, 1847, to George W. Eveleth, Phillips, Me., Editors Wilkinson & Burns, of the New York Weekly Universe, wrote: “Edgar A. Poe . . . holds a high rank, regarded either as an elegant tale-writer, a poet or a critic. He will be more fairly judged after his death than during his life. His habits have been shockingly irregular, but what amendment they have undergone within the past six months, we cannot say, for Mr. Poe, during that time, has been in the country — we know him personally — he is a gentleman — a man of fine taste and of warm impulses, with a generous heart. [page 1237:] . . . A Magazine conducted as he is capable of conducting a Magazine, could hardly fail of success.” Eveleth wrote this to Poe, who, February, 1848, answered: “The editor of the Weekly Universe speaks kindly, and I find no fault with his representing my habits as ‘shockingly irregular.’ He could not have had the ‘personal acquaintance’ with me, of which he writes, . . , The fact is thus: My habits are rigorously abstemious, and I omit nothing . . . requisite for health. . , . I rise early, eat moderately, drink nothing but water, and take abundant and regular exercise in the open air. But this is my private life — my studious and literary life — and of course escapes the eye of the world. The desire for society comes upon me only when I have become excited by drink. Then only I go . . . among my friends; who seldom, or, in fact, never having seen me unless excited, take it for granted that I am always so. Those who really know me, know better. . . . But . . . the causes which maddened me to the drinking point are no more, and I am done with drinking for ever. I do not know the editors . . . of the Universe, and was not aware of the existence of such a paper. Who are they? or is it a secret?”

March 9, 1848, Poe’s queries were answered by Eveleth as follows: “The ‘Weekly Universe’ . .,. now in its third year . . . was originally . . . the ‘Weekly Dispatch,’ but changed a few months ago . . . It is . . . as large as most two dollar papers, and the price but one dollar. . . , I have noticed that articles . . . published in it as original were copied into other papers, and credited to the ‘ Sunday Dispatch,’ . . . [page 1238:] which I have never seen . . . published by Williamson St Burns. They, . . . tell me the names of their editors. . . . ‘. All this is communicated in the strictest confidence’ . . . are William Burns, Thos. L. Nichols, James 1:. Legare, and Chas. I‘. Stenman,” etc.

Of Poe in these late, 1847, autumn days(117) came through R. E. Shapley by a Philadelphia press item upon Mrs. Clemm: “He never liked to be alone, and I used to sit up with him, often until four in the morning, he at his desk writing, and I dozing in my chair. When he was composing ’ Eureka,’ we used to walk up and down the garden, his arm around me, mine around him, until I was so tired I could not ‘Walk. He would stop every few minutes and explain his ideas to me, and ask if I understood him. I always sat up with him when he was writing, and gave him a cup of hot coffee every hour or two. At home he was simple and affectionate as a child, and during all the years he lived with me I do not remember a single night that he failed to come and kiss his ‘mother,’ as he called me, before going to bed.” Concerning Mrs. Clemm, ex-Congressman Haskins said: “Mrs. Clemm, good, practical, motherly Mrs. Clemm! I used to meet her on my way uptown, with a huge market basket on her arm journeying to Vesey St., where she would dispose of her erratic son-in-law’s latest wares to the Dem. Rev., Mirror, or Knickerbocker, and with the beggarly proceeds fill her basket for her half-started protégés.” Of the poet was added: “As for Poe personally, one could not help being strongly impressed by his marked individuality. He was a genius straight through, with an indefinable quality [page 1239:] about him that appealed to one’s deepest feelings for love and sympathy, besides the inevitable tribute of admiration which his bright intellect as shown in conversation would naturally call forth. Physically, his eyes were large, dark and soft as a woman’s, although bright sometimes with masculine fire that seemed half human, half divine. Once seen, no one could forget this remarkable, unfortunate man, who seemed to be endowed with a mixture of curses worthy of a witch’s cauldron. It was only at certain periods his enemy got the better of him. I can positively assert he was at no time a continuous drinker. I have come home from the city and found him ‘half seas over’ in the public house and sadly in need of some strong hand to rescue him. I can remember well, on these occasions, leaving my horse and guiding the unsteady, silent poet to his house, at the door of which he would dismiss me with a most courtly bow, for even though intoxicated, Poe was a gentleman to the very core. While he lived here, he suffered the most abject poverty. Without his mother-in-law it is hard to imagine how Poe and his child-wife could have lived at all. But Mrs. Clemm was a practical, warmhearted old lady, and did her best to protect these two, who were little more than children in her care. You remember the lines from ‘Annabel Lee‘:

‘I was a child and she was a child

In this kingdom by the sea.’

Poe wrote that lovely little poem in Fordham soon after his wife’s death, — weird and imaginative though it is, it bears the impress of actuality in every line — [page 1240:] even to the ‘tomb by the sounding sea.’ Mrs. Poe was buried in sight of Harlem River, and there, many a night, the agonized poet would spend a weary vigil recalling the fragile being whose short existence his own actions had at times grieved. I met him frequently. He was a modest, unassuming gentleman, — engrossed in his fervent, poetic fancies, — laboring with conscientious care over his writings, about which he was never at ease until, by continued polishing and many alterations they fulfilled his own fastidious literary taste. He used to come up from the city on the Harlem R. R., but I don’t doubt he walked out here often when out of funds. He generally used to stop at the Old Fordham Hotel by the station and have a drink, and get his letters. Once I was in the bar-room with friends and Poe came in from the city. He had been drinking and wanted more. I invited him to have a milk punch — then got him into conversation concerning his tales; finally I got him to go home and had to help him up the hill.” Another Fordham resident records Poe, lantern in hand, plowing his way through the deep snow from this railway station up the hill to his cottage home.

Concerning Poe and St. John’s College, there are several records. One, owned by the Rev. Clarence S. McClellan, New York, is a yellow, nameless, dateless press-print of Father Doucet’s death in 1889. Through Father Scully, then president, recourse was had to a college paper from which some pleasing side-lights fell on the association of Poe with Father Doucet and others of St. John’s. In this press-print was, — “rarely a day passed after Virginia’s death that Poe [page 1241:] paid no visit there, and they were usually in the afternoon or evening, when the Faculty were at leisure and could entertain him. Poe was a familiar figure at the College forty years ago. Of a retiring disposition as regards the people at Fordham, he felt perfectly at home with regard to St. John’s. There seemed to be something congenial in the atmosphere of the place that drew him to it, and though he often went with no express purpose of seeing any of the Faculty or students, it seemed to soothe his mind to wander at will about the lawn and beautiful grounds back of the College buildings. He was often depressed in spirits. ’ Poe’s morbidness was neither of liquor nor opium, but from the burden of isolation, loneliness, [page 1242:] the most hopeless of all,’ ” and imposed by his physical disability to withstand any measure of stimulants. Thus it happened, seldom enough, he could meet congenial souls, and the scholars of St. John’s must have been a beneficial intellectual relief to Poe’s speculative mind since a sympathetic listener was a delight to one of his brilliant conversational powers. Seeming to crave sympathy, he usually would go away feeling brighter for these unrestrained conversations. He had three special friends at St. John’s, — Fathers Thebaud and Doucet, of the Faculty, and Gus Thebaud, one of the students — alive in 1889. Poe was allowed the prized privilege of the College Library and sometimes would linger about, dreading to return to his death-stricken home, then the hospitable fathers would provide him a bed and the grateful poet would spend the night with them. Many a night in the winter of 1848 and ‘49 Poe passed at St. John’s, discussing [page 1243:] themes in French with scholarly Father Doucet. It was one of Poe’s greatest gifts — he could make friends wherever he went. To see him was to love him. But it was to Father Doucet that Poe poured out his utmost thoughts. He seemed to crave sympathy, and found it in that cultured Parisian’s scholarship and personal congeniality, for they generally conversed in French; and into the keeping of Father Doucet, Poe passed all he felt and thought and dreamed. He had a charming presence, a most intelligent countenance, brilliant dark eyes, high forehead with the temples well developed, and a pale, sad expressive face, its features a trifle sharp. It was a pleasure to see him and still more to listen to him. The foregoing lines are a condensed reflex of Poe’s personality as it appeared to the Fathers of St. John’s.

Through the kindness of Dr. Appleton Morgan, New York City, comes another Poe-Fordham record of St. Johns: “‘Poe’s struggles with starvation were superhuman,’ says a priest of St. John’s College, who knew him, ‘and it is a crime that this is not universally recognized, and also a crime that his trite achievement over his curse is not counted to his honor. I remember distinctly the hard work be did in his last years here. I have repeatedly seen him returning careworn from his toil in New York, or with a startling pallor that told not only of his great labor but of his continual discouragements, of the agony of his fears for the flickering of life in the little home on the hill; and also of intolerable conflicts with, and victories over, the temptations to drink, ceaselessly raging within him, and as ceaselessly outwardly besetting [page 1244:] him. It is true, that rarely and infrequently he did give way while here. At these times he was not the wild man that has been so persistently pictured. A gentle word invariably controlled him. The offer of one’s arm, or, “Come, Poe, we will go home now,” was quite sufficient. He was the embodiment of gentleness and sweetness.’ ” Dr. Morgan adds: “It was the age of sideboards. But there was no trace in Poe’s case of the convivial habits of his contemporaries. On the contrary he had few acquaintances and no intimates. He never wrote a bacchanal, or drinking song. Indeed there is no English writer whose work is not of pure mathematics or physical science, so absolutely deficient in exploitation of appetite or passions.” But in these fearsome few years it was at Fordham that Poe found that “peace in the world but not of it” which hovers over the vistas of St. John’s College. And whatever of his drinking, Poe rarely failed to place “the best words in the best order,” by which Coleridge defined Poetry. Poe’s only deviations from this code were caused by nervous congestion.

Oct. 15, 1847, to George W. Eveleth, Phillips, Me., Editor George H. Colton of the American Review wrote: “I hope Mr. Poe has done drinking. — I don’t think he has drank anything this long time. He is living in a quiet way out in the beautiful county of Westchester.”

Godey’s November, 1847, issue gave Poe’s review on Hawthorne’s “Mosses from an Old Manse,” and it included critical mention of “Twice Told Tales” that Poe first reviewed in Graham’s for April and May, 1842. Poe, who first press-marked Hawthorne’s [page 1245:] genius, remarked of other such review of his works, that Hawthorne, “when noticed at all, is noticed merely to be damned by faint praise.” But, for designating the author of “Twice Told Tales” as “not original “ — which their title verifies — in Poe’s critique of them, he was censured, notwithstanding he wrote of Hawthorne: “He has the purest style, the finest taste, the most available scholarship, the most delicate humor, the most touching pathos, the most radiant imagination, the most consummate ingenuity, and . . . has done well as a mystic . . . in dreamy innuendo, . . . he evinces extraordinary genius, having no rival in America or elsewhere”; all in all Poe, the mastercritic, said of few so much as this. In this Hawthorne review Poe’s literary lancet slipped into that of Simms, in North American Review: “Full of its bulky ideas, [it] ‘honestly avows it has little opinions of the mere tale‘; and the honesty of the avowal is . . . guaranteed by the fact this Review has never yet been known to put forth an opinion which was not a very little one indeed.”

The months moved on and brought to the poet memories of the last year’s heartaches — in illness and its New Year’s loss, both of which he crystallized into “Ulalume,” that Dr. Woodberry votes, “Autobiography translated into imagination, and speaking a new language.” Some of its lines are:

“The skies they were ashen and sober:

The leaves they were crisped and sere —

It was night, in the lonesome October

Of my most immemorial year.” [page 1246:]

Mr. Whitty notes, that Mrs. Whitman’s claim, “the last stanza was suppressed by Poe,” at her suggestion, induced Dr. Griswold to omit it from his 1850 issue of Poe’s “Poems”; but “because all its writer’s prints included this stanza it appeared in the later, Dr. Griswold editions.”(118) Dr. Killis Campbell notes that this tenth stanza was omitted in Nov. 22, 1848, Providence Journal print of “Ulalume,” which was preceded by Home Journal comments by N. P. Willis.

When young R. H. Stoddard was calling on Mrs. Kirkland, she showed to him the MS. of Poe’s “Ulalame”;(119) asked him to read it and to give his opinion of it. She said it had been offered the Union Magazine for issue; but as Stoddard told her that he could “not understand it,” she added, that it would be “returned to the author.” Thus for that time and at any price failed a MS. now held as priceless, in Mr. Morgan’s Library. Edwin Markham names “Ulalume” verses, — “a deep drama of temptation and memory — a momentous memory in its grey obscurity.” Its power, Swinburne wrote of as Poe’s “strong and delicate genius.” It first found anonymous print in the American Whig Review, of early December, 1847, as (‘To —— Ulalume: A Ballad‘).” Concerning it, Poe, at Fordham, December 8th, wrote:

MY DEAR MR. WILLIS, — Many thanks for the kind expressions in your note of three or four weeks ago. I send you an “American Review” . . . just issued — in which is a ballad . . . published anonymously. It is called “Ulalume.” . . . I do not care to be known as its author just now; but I would take it as a great favor if you would copy it in the H. J. [Home Journal] with a word of inquiry as to who wrote it: — provided always [page 1247:] that you think the poem worth the room it would occupy in your paper — a matter about which I am by no means sure.

Always yours gratefully,


“Ulalume” appeared in the January 1, 1848, Home Journal, preceded by: “We do not know how many readers we have who will enjoy, as we do . . . a poem which we find in the American Review, full of beauty and oddity in sentiment and versification, but a curiosity (and a delicious one, we think) in philologic flavor. Who is the author?”

Jan. 11, 1848, George W. Eveleth, of Phillips, Me., wrote the author of this poem: “‘Ulalume’ is the only piece of poetry I have read for some time — ’t is a beauty. Before I had read two verses of it in the Am. Rev. I stopped, went back again, read it over, and vowed that Edgar A. Poe was its author.”

Feb. 16, 1849, Poe wrote Editor E. A. Duyckinck,(120) of the Literary World. “Perhaps in conversation I had with you . . . about ‘Ulalume,’ I did not make you comprehend precisely what was the request I made: so, to save trouble, I send now the enclosed from the Providence Daily Journal. If you will oblige me by copying the slip . . . prefacing it by . . . ‘ from the Providence journal,’ it will make everything straight.”

In March 3, 1849, Literary World appeared: “The following fascinating poem, [“Ulalume”] which is from the pen of EDGAR A. POE, has been driftingabout the newspapers under anonymous or mistaken . . . authorship — having been attributed to N. P. WILLIS. We now restore it to its proper owner. . . . In peculiarity [page 1248:] of versification, and a certain cold moonlight witchery, it has much of the power of the author’s ‘Raven.’ ” From Mr. Duyckinck came: “Quoting from ‘Ulalume’ the London Critic stated [by the pen of Poe’s harsh Scotch critic, Dr. George Gilfillan] ‘These, to many, will appear only words; but what wondrous words! What a spell they wield! What a weird unity is in them! The instant they are uttered, a misty picture, with a tarn, dark as a murderer’s eye, below, and the thin yellow leaves of October fluttering above, exponents of a misery which scorns the name of sorrow, is hung up in the chambers of your soul forever.’ ” Perhaps a more realistic explanation of Poe’s soul-soliloquy might be, that he was pondering over Mrs. Shew’s “candid” caution — that “nothing could save him from sudden death but a calm life with a woman strong, and fond enough of him to manage his affairs,” — and when taking his lonely October midnight stroll “past orchards and graveyards,” he was startled from his absorbing meditations by finding himself face to face with the vault of the Valentines where his Virginia — who so fearing he would forget her — was entombed. Haunting memories would instantly and forcefully appeal to Poe. Of him and his “Ulalume” Edwin Markham has written: “It is commonly thought Poe’s poetry is never touched by moral passion; yet ‘Ulalume’ and ‘The Haunted Palace’ are denials of this tradition.” Poe’s “sermons are strictly subordinated to mystic demands of art. Fach poem has a basis in life, even his ‘Ulalume’ — frailest of cloud-structures, is not all pillared in air. ‘Ulalume’ symbolizes collision between ignoble passion and [page 1249:] memory of an ideal love. The Poet wanders under the moon with Psyche — his soul, or obscure voice of conscience — and meets Astarte or mortal love; his soul protests, urges flight from temptation, but he persists, passes on ‘til he comes to the tomb of his lost ‘Ulalume’ — there he sees temptation as a demon in the chaste memory of a lost love for one wild hour forgotten. Love, Beauty and Death were Poe’s inspirations.” This eleventh-hour pondering no doubt reconciled Poe to the later passing of several fair ones beyond the horizon of his earthly hopes. Yet to those who befriended him and his, in the hour of need, he was moved to gratitude, and at times farther than his wish and wits approved, one instance being the generous financial remuneration given Poe by Mr. S. D. Lewis for revision of his wife’s verses and for Poe’s far more favorable than truthful many reviews of them. Concerning his special gratitude to Mr. Lewis for easing Virginia’s last days on earth, Poe, Nov. 27, 1847, wrote Mrs. Lewis:

A thousand thanks for your repeated kindness, and above all, for the comforting and cheering words of vour note. Your advice I feel as a command which neither my heart nor my reason would venture to disobey. May Heaven forever bless you and yours!

A day or two ago I sent to one of the Magazines the sonnet enclosed. Its tone is somewhat too light; but it embodies a riddle which I wish to put you to the trouble of expounding. Will you try?

My best regards, with those of Mrs. Clemm, to Mr. Lewis, and believe me, with all the affection of a brother,

Yours always,

EDGAR A. POE. [page 1250:]

This “Sonnet” appeared is the following March, 1848, Union Magazine, and by the first letter of first line; second, of the second line and so on to the end, was revealed the name of Sarah Anna Lewis as appended in print to some of her verses — but that was “not the baptismal name” of his wife, Mr. S. D. Lewis later wrote Dr. Griswold. However, in this “Sonnet” acrostic, by its other better title “An Enigma,” Poe incidentally, if not intentionally, fell into the truth concerning this lady as will later appear: she also stumbled into his real estimate of her verses, and was not over-pleased with the Sarah Anna of his “riddle,” which should have been Estelle Anna: and her keen-witted vanity fathomed to the, at least instinctive, truth depth of Poe’s lines, revealed by the italicised words in the following copy of this


‘SELDOM we find,’ says Solomon Don Dunce,

‘Half an idea in the profoundest sonnet.

Through all the flimsy things we see at once

As easily as through a Naples bonnet —

Trash of all trash! — how CAN a lady don it? [this lady’s rhyming]

Yet heavier far than your Petrarchan stuff —

Owl-downy nonsense that the faintest puff

Twirls into trunk-paper the while you con it.’

And, veritably, Sol is right enough.

The general tuckermanities are arrant [imitations]

Bubbles — ephemeral and so transparent —

But this is now, — you may depend upon it —

Staple, opaque, immortal — [?] all by dint

Of the dear names that lie concealed within ‘t.” [page 1251:]

Dr. Killis Campbell (on page 276 of his edited “Poe Poems”) states that the word “tuckermanities” refers to Henry Theodore Tuckerman’s literary style, with a special touch for his article on “Petrarch,” in May, 1845, American Whig Review. Dr. Campbell also mentions a Poe letter giving another keen, double-edged thrust which included both Tuckerman (biographer of Poe’s good friend, John P. Kennedy) and Lewis [[Louis]] A. Godey. In Poe’s letter, this literary dicta appeared: “I cannot write any more for the Milliner’s Book [Godey’s Lady’s Book] where T———n prints his feeble and very quietly made dilutions of other people’s reviews.” The word “quietly” was a hit back for Tuckerman’s long-ago suggestion that such literary tactics would secure Poe’s periodical “success.” However, Poe’s adverse critics would say that he was peevish because he was then out of Godey’s issues and Tuckerman was in them.






[S:0 - EAPTM, 1926] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - E. A. Poe: The Man (M. E. Phillips) (Section 06)