Text: Arthur Hobson Quinn, “Chapter 04,” Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography (1941), pp. 81-96


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[page 81:]

CHAPTER IV
 
Richmond Again, 1820-1826

With this second Richmond period in Poe’s life, he enters a time of emotional stress, complicated by events in the Allan household, by his first ideal passion, and by his first love story. It is necessary, as always, to resist the temptation to read more into Poe’s later references to his early life than the facts justify. Other boys have had similar adventures and hardly any have reached the age of seventeen without a youthful love affair. What makes Poe’s nature more of a problem is his greater capacity for feeling both happiness and unhappiness. To this capacity, of course, we owe his poetry and prose. If the English sojourn gave him the locale for “William Wilson,” this boyhood in Richmond gave him the inspiration for one of the world’s greatest lyrics.

After a voyage of thirty-six days, John Allan and his family arrived in New York City on July 21, 1820. On July 27th Allan writes from New York: “Intended leaving the place today but Mrs. Allan was so unwell yesterday that we were obliged to call in Dr. Horrock — She is better & I intend starting tomorrow in the SteamBoat — by way of Norfolk.”(1) By August 2nd(2) they were in Richmond, and in good health.

Allan and his family lived at the home of his partner, Charles Ellis, at the southwest corner of Franklin and Second streets, for nearly a year.(3) Mordecai speaks of this house in 1856 as “an unpretentious residence [page 82:] now overtopped by those around it. . . . The square opposite to it was Mr. Ellis’s garden embellished by a row of fine linden trees along its front.” It was a two-story frame house, the second story being really a gable roof, with quite a wide front. It was occupied by Charles Ellis until his death in 1840 and was torn down in the early eighties. Here Thomas Ellis’s recollections of Edgar Poe began, and his clear statement in the Richmond Standard is better than any paraphrase:

No boy ever had a greater influence over me than he had. He was, indeed, a leader among boys; but my admiration for him scarcely knew bounds; the consequence was, he led me to do many a forbidden thing, for which I was punished. The only whipping I ever knew Mr. Allan to give him was for carrying me out into the fields and woods beyond Belvidere, one Saturday, and keeping me there all day and until after dark, without anybody at home knowing where we were, and for shooting a lot of domestic fowls, belonging to the proprietor of Belvidere (who was at that time, I think, Judge Bushrod Washington). He taught me to shoot, to swim, and to skate, to play bandy, &c.; and I ought to mention that he once saved me from drowning — for having thrown me into the falls headlong, that I might strike out for myself, he presently found it necessary to come to my help, or it would have been too late.

At the end of the year, Mr. Allan took a long low cottage house on Fifth Street, fronting west, between Marshall and Clay Streets, northwest of the Capitol, but still within its neighborhood.

Edgar had not been forgotten in London. In a letter from Dr. N. Arnott to John Allan, May 15, 1821, there is a curious passage: “You know that I have Master Edgar still inhabiting one of my rooms. Your not asking for him with these other things makes me hope that you do mean to come back again.”(4) This must refer to a sketch or picture of Edgar of some kind, but it shows the impression the boy had made on a mature man.

Shortly after the return to Richmond, Poe was sent to the school of Joseph H. Clarke, which had recently moved to a building on the south side of Broad Street between Fifth and Sixth Streets, over “Dr. Lemosy’s Store.”(5) Five bills for tuition cover the period. The first, June 11 to September 11, 1821, is “To tuition of son Edgar Poe,” $12.50, which again indicates the way in which he was regarded in the town. The second bill is for a period from September 11, 1821, to [page 83:] March 11, 1822, for $26.75. While the first bill had been paid in advance, this second account is for two terms, and on it is written, “By a/c paid the 17th of Decr up to the 11th of that month, $14.” This partial payment reflects Allan’s growing financial difficulties. The next bill is of special interest, for it is one of the few accounts of Poe’s schooling which tell us what he was studying:

Mr. John Allan, Dr.

To present quarter’s tuition of Master Poe from

June 11th to September 11, 1822   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·    $12.50
1 Horace 3.50 Cicero de Offi. 62½   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·    4.12½
1 copybook — paper, pens & ink   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·    .87½
  ————
  $17.50

These items indicate that for a boy of thirteen, Poe was well advanced in Latin. The bills continue until December 11, 1822.(6)

On this point, however, there is testimony from Clarke himself. In a letter written to E. L. Didier, April 16, 1876,(7) he states that “When I left Richmond . . . Edgar’s class was reading Horace and Cicero’s Orations in Latin and Homer in Greek.” Clarke’s memory for dates was not accurate, for he gives 1818 as the beginning of Poe’s term at his school, but his picture of Poe’s character seems to ring true:

As to Edgar’s disposition and character as a boy, though playful as most boys, his general deportment differed in some respects from others. He was remarkable for self-respect, without haughtiness, strictly just and correct in his demeanor with his fellow playmates, which rendered him a favorite even with those above his years. His natural and predominate passion seemed to me, to be an enthusiastic ardor in everything he undertook; in his difference of opinion with his fellow students, he was very tenacious, and would not yield till his judgment was convinced. As a scholar he was ambitious to excel, and tho’ not conspicuously studious always acquitted himself well in his classes. His imaginative powers seemed to take precedence of all his other faculties, he gave proof of this, in his juvenile compositions addressed to his young female friends. He had a sensitive and tender heart, and would strain every nerve to oblige a friend.

When the annual cost of a little more than sixty dollars is compared with that at Stoke Newington, it is rather startling, but Clarke’s school [page 84:] was apparently as good a one as could be found at that time in Richmond. He was probably carrying on in the British tradition of languages and mathematics. Poe also seems to have received special instruction in elocution. T. H. Ellis tells us again: “Talent for declamation was one of his gifts. I well remember a public exhibition at the close of a course of instruction in elocution which he had attended (in the old frame building that stood high above the present grade of Governor street, at the southwest corner of Governor and Franklin streets,) and my delight when he bore off the prize in competition with Channing Moore, Cary Wickham, Andrew Johnston, Nat Howard, and others who were regarded as among the most promising of the Richmond boys.”(8)

On April 1, 1823, John Allan entered Poe in the school of William Burke, paying $30 in advance.(9) The payments in this school are not recorded with such fullness, though the cash books of the firm charge Allan with $30 again for five months from April 1, 1824. But from testimony of classmates(10) he clearly remained a pupil until the plan to send him to the University of Virginia may have required more special preparation.

Poe at this time was in fine physical condition. The story has often been told of his swimming in the James River from Ludlam’s Wharf six miles to Warwick in a hot June sun, against the tide. He was an able boxer and a swift runner, and was chosen to represent the school in competition with others. His keen mind, disciplined, perhaps, more strictly than his fellows, permitted him to lead his classmates in their studies with ease. The reminiscences from his schoolmates, collected at first hand, especially by Ingram and Harrison, speak eloquently of his ability to “cap” Latin verses with others beginning with the same letter, of his fondness for the odes of Horace, of his unusual knowledge of French. Yet it is also indicated by these accounts that he was not popular in the usual sense of that word. Colonel John T. L. Preston, in one of the most interesting accounts of this period, offers an explanation:

At the time of which I speak, Richmond was one of the most aristocratic cities on this side the Atlantic. I hasten to say that this is not so now. Aristocracy, like capping verses, has fallen into [page 85:] desuetude — perhaps for the same reason: times having changed, other things pay better. Richmond was certainly then very English, and very aristocratic. A school is, of its nature, democratic; but still boys will unconsciously bear about the odour of their fathers’ notions, good or bad. Of Edgar Poe it was known that his parents had been players, and that he was dependent upon the bounty that is bestowed upon an adopted son. All this had the effect of making the boys decline his leadership; and on looking back on it since, I fancy it gave him a fierceness he would otherwise not have had.(11)

There can be little question that Poe’s heritage in the theatre did him little good in his social relations. The prejudice against the people of the stage was quite as strong as it had been in the days when his father felt called upon to sharpen with personal violence his protest against the unfair criticism of a gallant actress. But the extended discussion, pro and con, that has raged among Poe’s biographers concerning his treatment by his schoolmates seems quite unnecessary. There is hardly any cruelty so relentless, even at times so savage, as that of a crowd of adolescents for one among them who is markedly superior in mental attainments, and who at the same time is gifted with a power of satire. Poe must have stung many of his fellows by adroit references to their stupidity or laziness. Helpless to meet him on that ground, they would take the inevitable revenge of the tribe, and make him feel that he was an outsider.

To imagine that he was without warm friends, however, is absurd. The favor or disfavor of the tribe is constantly shifting, and there is sufficient evidence that with boys like Robert Stanard, or Preston himself, there was a close tie. Robert Sully, nephew of the painter Thomas Sully, was a natural friend, since his father, Matthew, had acted with Poe’s mother in the Virginia Company. Robert may have heard from his father how Matthew Sully and Elizabeth Hopkins kept the Highland Reel from failure in Norfolk in 1803.(12) He could have brought Poe one of the few living memories of his mother’s career.

One friend he certainly did make. Rob Stanard, who was younger than he, took Poe one day to see his mother, Jane Craig Stanard. There [page 86:] seems to have been born between them instantly a bond of sympathy, which produced a deep effect upon the boy. She spoke some gracious words of welcome, she was beautiful, and he was in a mood in which a woman’s sympathy must have been needed. Poe wrote years later to Mrs. Whitman,(13) “The lines I had written, in my passionate boyhood, to the first, purely ideal love of my soul — to the Helen Stannard [sic] of whom I told you, flashed upon my recollection.”

Poe refers here to the lyric “To Helen,” which was published first in 1831, but which he insisted had been written earlier. Helen was always a favorite name with him, and there need be no explanation necessary of his change from Mrs. Stanard’s own first name. How often he saw her has become a matter of dispute. Mrs. Whitman, who took a very natural interest in the matter, since she was the inspiration for the second “To Helen,” of 1848, wrote to Mrs. Clemm more than once to find facts concerning this early friendship. In one of these letters, written March 10, 1859,(14) she quotes Poe as stating that he had only once seen Mrs. Stanard and that she died a few weeks after the meeting. Later, however, Mrs. Whitman in speaking of the interview, says:

“This lady afterwards became the confidant of all his boyish sorrows, and her’s [sic] was the one redeeming influence that saved and guided him in the earlier days of his turbulent and passionate youth. After the visitation of strange and peculiar sorrows she died, and for months after her decease it was his habit to visit nightly the cemetery where the object of his boyish idolatry lay entombed.”(15)

­

Jane Stith Craig Stanard [thumbnail]

[Illustration facing page 86]
 
Mrs. Jane Stith Craig Stanard

Unfortunately, we do not know the date of that first interview. Mrs. Stanard for some time before her death, on April 28, 1824, was mentally unbalanced, and Poe could not have seen her. It seems unlikely that so deep an impression could have been made at one meeting, and yet it is equally improbable, considering her illness, that the intercourse extended over many months. Mrs. Clemm probably gave a partially correct explanation concerning Mrs. Stanard’s relation to Poe when she told Mrs. Whitman — “When Eddie was unhappy at home (which was often the case), he went to her for sympathy, and she always consoled and comforted him, you are mistaken when you say [page 87:] that you believe he saw her but once in her home. He visited there for years, he only saw her once while she was ill. Robert has often told me, of his, and Eddie’s visits to her grave.”(16)  Whatever encouragement this young matron gave Edgar Poe, he repaid in full measure. “To Helen” remains one of the most exquisite tributes ever paid by man to woman.

Poe did not write the poem at once, for he would certainly have realized its worth and included it when he was preparing his volumes of verse in 1827 and 1829, in which it does not appear. Indeed, the many speculations concerning the inspiration at this time for its two oft-quoted lines:

“To the glory that was Greece

And the grandeur that was Rome”

are made in ignorance perhaps that these magnificent phrases appear first, in this form, in The Saturday Museum in 1843. But knowing Poe’s habit of constantly revising his verses, it is quite possible that he began to shape the poem during these early years in Richmond. We know he was writing verse, and that he showed it to those who he thought would appreciate it.

Any conception of Poe, however, as an abstracted and moody young poet would be quite incorrect. There is definite evidence that Poe was a natural leader in those activities in which a normal boy takes pleasure. T. H. Ellis gives a brief first-hand account of two of these interests:

I knew also of his Thespian performances, when he and William F. Ritchie and James Greenhow and Creed Thomas and Richard Cary Ambler and other schoolmates appeared in dramatic character under a tent erected on a vacant lot one or two squares beyond what is now St. James’ Church on Fifth Street — admittance fee, one cent! But never was I prouder of him than when, dressed in the uniform of the ‘Junior Morgan Riflemen’ (a volunteer company composed of boys, and which General Lafayette, in his memorable visit to Richmond, selected as his bodyguard), he walked up and down in front of the marquee erected on the Capitol Square, under which the old general held a grand reception in October, 1824.(17) [page 88:]

Having the theatre in his blood, it was natural that Poe should try to act, but unfortunately we do not know what plays this boyish troupe selected.

The visit of LaFayette in the fall of 1824 was made a great occasion in Richmond.(18) The city had not forgotten his leadership in the Virginia campaign during the Revolution, and Richmond outdid itself to prove its gratitude.

The Junior Volunteers became for a time, at least, an organization of some importance, and the young officer of fifteen was naturally proud to join in this petition:

John Lyle (Capt.), Edgar A. Poe (Lt.) to the Governor:

At the request of the members of the Richmond Junior Volunteers, we beg leave to solicit your permission for them to retain the arms which they lately were permitted to draw from the Armory. We are authorized to say that each individual will not only pledge himself to take proper care of them, but we ourselves will promise to attend strictly to the order in which they are kept by the Company.

We are, etc.
Nov. 17, 1824,
Richmond.(19)

There was, however, trouble brewing in the Allan household for Edgar Poe. Allan’s business affairs came to a crisis in 1822 when he made a personal assignment with permission to retain his property. In 1824 the firm of Ellis and Allan was dissolved by mutual consent.(20)

In the meantime, the family had moved again, this time to “a house on the northwest corner of Fourteenth Street and Tobacco Alley, where a very tall and attenuated house now stands fronting the west side of the Exchange Hotel.”(21) This property belonged to William [page 89:] Galt and seems to have been given to John Allan, perhaps to help him in a time of stress. Amid the many strange documents that becloud the relations of Poe and John Allan, a letter from Allan to Henry Poe in Baltimore, dated November 1, 1824, is one of the most peculiar:

Dear Henry,

I have just seen your letter of the 25th ult. to Edgar and am much afflicted, that he has not written you. He has had little else to do for me he does nothing & seems quite miserable, sulky & ill-tempered to all the Family. How we have acted to produce this is beyond my conception — why I have put up so long with his conduct is little less wonderful. The boy possesses not a Spark of affection for us not a particle of gratitude for all my care and kindness towards him. I have given a much superior Education than ever I received myself. If Rosalie has to relie on any affection from him God in his mercy preserve her — I fear his associates have led him to adopt a line of thinking & acting very contrary to what he possessed when in England. I feel proudly the difference between your principles & his & have my desire to Stand as I ought to do in your Estimation. Had I done my duty as faithfully to my God as I have to Edgar, then had Death come when he will had no terrors for me, but I must end this with a devout wish that God may yet bless him & you & that Success may crown all your endeavors & between you your poor Sister Rosalie may not suffer.

At least She is half your Sister & God forbid my dear Henry that We should visit upon the living the Errors & frailties of the dead. Beleive [[sic]] me Dear Henry we take an affectionate interest in your destinies and our United Prayers will be that the God of Heaven will bless & protect you. rely [[sic]] on him my Brave & excellent Boy who is willing & ready to save to the uttermost. May he keep you in Danger preserve you always is the prayer of your Friend & Servant.(22)

JOHN ALLAN [page 90:]

In the light of the universal esteem in which Mrs. David Poe was held through her courageous struggle to support her children and, possibly, her dying husband, the implicit accusation merits no consideration. It reflects only upon the character of the man who made it. Allan’s flattery of Henry, whose career, little known as it is, certainly provides no basis for Allan’s praise, is only another false note in the letter. The echo of Wolsey’s parting speech to Cromwell in Henry VIII shows that Allan’s fondness for Shakespeare, or what he thought was Shakespeare, is a still more artificial quality in a message sent for some purpose not apparent on the surface. In the light of these insincerities, Allan’s picture of Edgar Poe loses what validity it otherwise might possess.

Whether Henry Poe sent the letter to Edgar it is impossible now to find out, but he probably brought it with him in 1825 when he seems to have visited his brother. Neither is it possible for us to know whether by this time Mrs. Allan had become aware of her husband’s infidelities. Rumor would certainly have dealt with them before 1824, and it is hard to see how Poe could have remained ignorant of them. Was it the natural indignation of a lad of fifteen at the treatment his foster-mother had received, that made him appear the “miserable, sulky and ill-tempered” boy that Allan describes? Was John Allan preparing a counter attack in case Edgar Poe should call him to account? Allan’s letter is not like his usual epistles — there is a sanctimonious, hypocritical tone which, to do him justice, occurs infrequently in his letters, but shows most definitely in his will, and in the fragments of his Journal or Note Book.

Edgar Poe naturally was not perfect. He was on an insecure foundation in the Allan household, and probably was just beginning to realize it. There may have been another reason for the disturbance of Poe’s serenity. Just when he fell in love with Elmira Royster is, of course, not known. In view of the romance that has grown up concerning Poe and the “Enchanted Garden,” on Second Street,(23) it is best to let her speak for herself.

There is in the Valentine Collection a manuscript in the handwriting [page 91:] of Edward V. Valentine(24) which records a conversation with Mrs. Sarah Elmira Royster Shelton in 1875, long after she had become a widow. Since it is at second hand, it has only partial validity, and she is not responsible for the style, for it was evidently a series of answers to questions by Mr. Valentine. But the conversation has a directness and an informality which bear a flavor of truth:

He was a beautiful boy — Not very talkative. When he did talk though he was pleasant but his general manner was sad — He was devoted to the first Mrs. Allan and she to him. We lived opposite to Poe on 5th. I made his acquaintance so. Our acquaintance was kept up until he left to go to the University, and during the time he was at the University he wrote to me frequently, but my father intercepted the letters because we were too young — no other reason. He never addressed any poems to me. It distresses me to see anything written in a scurrulous manner in regard to him — don’t believe one tenth part of what they say. A great part caused by jealousy and envy. I have the greatest respect for his memory. He was very generous. On Churchill [Church Hill] a female (acquaintance?) called to see [me?] and made a coarse remark and Poe said I am surprized you should associate with anyone who would make such a remark. He had strong prejudices. Hated anything coarse and unrefined. Never spoke of his parents. He was kind to his sister as far as in his power. He was as warm and zealous in any cause he was interested in, very enthusiastic and impulsive, I was about 15 or 16 when he first addressed me and I engaged myself to him, and I was not aware that he wrote to me until I was married to Mr. Shelton when I was 17.

If she is correct in her statement that she met Poe when he lived on Fifth Street, she may refer to the house on Fifth Street between Marshall and Clay Streets, and again the romance of “the enchanted garden” on Second Street, seems to disappear. Poe was not more than thirteen or fourteen when he left this house, but he seems not to have gone through the stage of boyhood in which so many men are shy and bashful in their approach to women. Perhaps it was the essential purity which shines through his poetry that attracted them, and made him unaware of any reason why their friendship might not be sought. [page 92:]

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Moldavia [thumbnail]

[Illustration at the top of page 92]
 
One of Poe’s Richmond Homes

If, as seems probable, Elmira refers to the Allan’s new home on the southeast corner of Main and Fifth Streets, the real romance was of short duration. This house had been built by David Meade Randolph, the United States Marshal, sold by him to Joseph Gallego, the rich flour merchant, and left by Mr. Gallego to the care of Peter J. Chevallie, his executor. When the death of Allan’s uncle, William Galt, in March, 1825, made his nephew a rich man, he purchased this house for $14,950. He took, or resumed, that prominent place in Richmond social life which his own and Mrs. Allan’s fondness for entertainment prompted. By 1825 the neighborhood of Fifth and Main Streets had become fully established as a fashionable quarter of town. The house, torn down in the nineties, had two lofty stories, with wide porches and high ceilings. When John Allan purchased the house, June 28, 1825, there were not many buildings in the neighborhood, and the lot was an ample one. Poe’s room, on the second floor, northeast corner, therefore gave him a charming view of the river and the surrounding [page 93:] country. On the wide porch stood a telescope, brought from England by John Allan, from which Poe learned his first lessons in star-gazing.(25)

If Poe did enjoy the comparative luxury of his surroundings, it was only for a few months, for in February, 1826, he entered the University of Virginia.

One of the most significant sentences in Elmira Shelton’s reminiscences is that in which she denies that Poe “addressed” any poems to her. Considering the claims of other women, made early or late in their lives, concerning the dedication by Poe of his verses to them, and knowing Poe’s habit of writing the same poem to his different feminine inspirations, her modesty seems at least authentic. The absence of poetic tributes may argue indeed for a brief courtship, which certainly ended in an engagement to be married. Much speculation has been indulged in concerning the cause for her father’s objection to Poe as her fiancé. Mrs. Shelton insists that their youth was the only reason. But since Poe had no profession as yet, and was just entering a course at the University, Mr. Royster may have had other and very natural objections. Since Elmira Royster married Shelton when she was seventeen, her heart was evidently not broken, and, in all probability, neither was Edgar Poe’s. If such early poems as

“I saw thee on thy bridal day,

When a burning blush came o’er thee”

were inspired by this early disappointment, it was probably a dramatized sorrow. Yet Elmira revealed in her letter to Mrs. Clemm, of September 22, 1849, how strong her feelings had been when she saw Poe and Virginia together, soon after their marriage.(26)

Poe apparently had a visit from his brother, Henry, in 1825, and learned of the latter’s ambitions and dreams of foreign adventure. Henry is a rather shadowy figure who was never of any real help to his brother, but was the cause of at least one calamity. Rosalie, who followed Edgar around Richmond more than he seemed to desire, was also a handicap. She was always a pathetic figure, and failed to develop mentally after she was about twelve years of age.

Poe was almost eighteen when his second Richmond period was over. He was educated not only by regular schooling, and by reading, but also by intercourse with the guests and friends of John and Frances Allan. In a glowing tribute to Ann Valentine, Thomas Ellis [page 94:] speaks of her being a member of “that prominent and well esteemed old merchant set, to which Richmond owes so much of her present name and character.[[“]](27) He then gives a list of forty-six families, headed by William Galt, John Allan, and Charles Ellis. He speaks, also, of the family physicians, among them Dr. Foushee and Dr. Cabell; the judiciary, with Chief Justice Marshall at their head; and the bar, including John Wickham, James Innes, and Edmund Randolph, a total of about seventy leaders of public and social life. Although this testimony concerning the circle in which the Allans moved is discounted somewhat by T. H. Ellis’s placing of his own family at its head, there can be no doubt that Poe had an opportunity to meet at his home men and women of breeding, whose professional and personal character was high. There can be little question concerning the effect this upbringing had upon him. He was never a democrat in any sense. His reference in Tamerlane to “the rabble-men” is characteristic. In “Some Words with a Mummy” Poe made his opinion of democracy even clearer. The Egyptian Mummy has been revived in Poe’s day and is being questioned by the group of scientists who have brought him to life, concerning his opinion of modern ideas:

We then spoke of the great beauty and importance of Democracy, and were at much trouble in impressing the Count with a due sense of the advantages we enjoyed in living where there was suffrage ad libitum, and no king.

He listened with marked interest, and in fact seemed not a little amused. When we had done, he said that, a great while ago, there had occurred something of a very similar sort. Thirteen Egyptian provinces determined all at once to be free, and so set a magnificent example to the rest of mankind. They assembled their wise men, and concocted the most ingenious constitution it is possible to conceive. For a while they managed remarkably well; only their habit of bragging was prodigious. The thing ended, however, in the consolidation of the thirteen states, with some fifteen or twenty others, in the most odious and insupportable despotism that ever was heard of upon the face of the Earth.

I asked what was the name of the usurping tyrant.

As well as the Count could recollect, it was Mob.

Poe’s own natural tendency toward that reserve which holds others at a certain distance was already in these boyhood days being fed by the surroundings of a Southern city. Virginia was a State which cherished [page 95:] the traditions of established caste inherited from England, and which had, in comparatively recent times, given up the system of primo-geniture. It must be remembered, however, that Virginia developed two forms of thinking — that based on the planter’s ownership of land, which could not disappear, and the possession of which carried with it the sense of responsibility for human life, including slaves, which was dependent upon that land. There was another South, which rested upon financial success in dealing in the products of the land, such as tobacco, but which did not associate its wealth, as the planter did, with the human beings who had produced it. This form of wealth might vanish at any time, as Poe had seen John Allan’s vanish. In between, linking these two societies, were the professional men, the lawyers, doctors, and clergymen. While there was intermingling of all groups, Poe saw less of the planter group than of the others. The old Cavalier tradition of “the King and the Commons against the rest,” which, though it may have been overstressed, was powerful in the early South, and had not expired, seems not to have been the dominant force in Richmond. The other tradition, which represented financial solidity and commercial integrity, the rights of property rather than broad humanity, apparently set the tone of the city. In other words, it was the South of John Marshall rather than of Thomas Jefferson, that shaped Poe’s boyhood’s thinking, and his later adoption of the Whig party may not have been as accidental as it has appeared to be. Though he went to the University founded by Thomas Jefferson, he mentions him only once in his writings.

Poe never loved money for its own sake, but except in those desperate days at the University of Virginia, he was not extravagant. The scrupulous sense of financial honesty, of which George Graham spoke after Poe’s death, may have come from his rearing in a house where John Allan recorded even the few cents for postage that Edgar and Rosalie cost him. On the other hand, Poe had seen John Allan prosper, become bankrupt, and rise again to wealth. While there could hardly have been a temptation for Edgar Poe at any time to enter John Allan’s business house, his determination to pursue his own course as a creative artist may well have justified itself to him by his memory of the disturbed days between 1822 and 1825, when the Allan household must have been a good illustration of the transitory nature of the dollar.

If he had really been John Allan’s son, he would probably have proceeded to the study of law or to some other orderly profession. But he [page 96:] knew by this time that his position was not secure in the Allan household, and the pride which was certainly one of Poe’s most active traits grew with the very circumstances that threatened his tenure. There can only be sympathy for the boy who in this unsettled state of mind and heart was sent to a new environment whose very foundation was independence from guidance and restraint.


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 81:]

(1)  Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C., Vol. 225.

(2)  The July 21st date and that of August 2nd are based on the statement of T. H. Ellis, quoted by Woodberry, II, 361. This checks approximately with letters of Charles Ellis on July 31st and August 10th, Vol. 225, L. of C., and with a letter from John Allan to London, August 5th, Letter Books, L. of C.

(3)  Statements concerning the houses are based on the T. H. Ellis Manuscript and a later article by him entitled “Edgar Allan Poe,” Richmond Standard, May 7, 1881, both in the E. V. Valentine Collection. He afterward repeated some of this information in letters to Woodberry and Harrison. His statements have been checked with Mary Wingfield Scott’s “Notes on Poe’s Houses in Richmond” in Ms. in the Valentine Museum.

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

(4)  Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C., Vol. 230

(5)  Advertisement, Virginia Patriot, October 2, 1818.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 83:]

(6)  These bills are in the Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C., Poe Volume.

(7)  Autograph Ms., now in Harvard College Library.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 84:]

(8)  Richmond Standard, May 7, 1881.

(9)  Ms. Note Book or Journal of John Allan, two fragments of which are in the William H. Koester Collection.

(10)  See Harrison, Life, Vol. I, p. 27.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 85:]

(11)  Edgar Allan Poe, A Memorial Volume, edited by Sara S. Rice (Baltimore, 1877), pp. 40-41.

(12)  Norfolk Herald, April 14, 1803, quoted on page 18. Sully played Robin Roughhead to Mrs. Hopkins’ Nancy in Fortune’s Frolic, and they danced together as Shelty and Jenny in The Fruitless Precaution.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 86:]

(13)  Sunday night, October 1, 1848. Original Autograph Ms., Lilly Collection.

(14)  Original Autograph Ms., Pratt Library.

(15)  Edgar Poe and his Critics, p. 49. The nightly visitations seem doubtful, but they are among the romantic traditions concerning Poe which can neither be proved nor disproved.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 87:]

(16)  Mrs. Clemm to Mrs. Whitman, Alexandria, April 14, 1859. Original Autograph Ms., Lilly Collection.

(17)  Statement of Ellis incorporated in “New Glimpses of Poe” by J. A. Harrison, Independent, September 6, 1900.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 88:]

(18)  See Mary N. Stanard, Richmond, Its People and Its Story (Philadelphia, 1923), Chap. XVI.

(19)  Calendar of Virginia State Papers, January 1, 1808, to December 31, 1835, preserved in the Capitol, at Richmond, X (Richmond, 1892), 518.

(20)  T. H. Ellis, Richmond Standard, May 7, 1881. On January 23, 1824, John Allan wrote in his “Note Book,” “My uncle said he was establishing his business for all our interests, that I was so hobbled that I could not be known; — but that Wm. [Galt] should have a third — when James [Galt] became a citizen he should — when I was at liberty I should have his third.”

The elder William Galt was preparing for his death, which was soon to enrich John Allan.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 88, running to the bottom of page 89:]

(21)  T. H. Ellis, Ms., Valentine Collection, 1875. This house was still standing in 1941, and according to the Land Books of Richmond, it was [page 89:] not until 1822 that the value placed on this and the adjoining lot with improvements reached $9,000, which indicates that the houses were built at that time. The first insurance policy on the corner house is dated April 5, 1825, when it is described by John Allan as a three-story dwelling, “occupied by myself.” It was valued at $3,000. William Galt took out a policy in 1825 on the adjoining house, farther north. Richard Jeffries was the tenant, and there seems no evidence that John Allan ever lived in the second house. See “Notes on Richmond Houses,” by M. W. Scott, Valentine Museum.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 89:]

(22)  Ellis-Allan Papers, L. of C., Poe Volume. The letter is, of course, a copy, but is written and signed by John Allan.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 90:]

(23)  Elmira Royster did not live in a house at or near Second and Main Streets, and no one named Royster is given in any Richmond Directory as living there. The house was built after Poe’s day. Miss Mary W. Scott has traced the records of that piece of property. (See her Notes on Old Richmond Houses, Valentine Museum.) Of course Poe and Elmira may have visited the garden, with linden trees in front, which was the property of Charles Ellis, but they evidently met after Poe left the neighborhood.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 91:]

(24)  It is entitled “Conversation with Mrs. Shelton at Mr. Smith’s corner 8th and Leigh Streets, Nov. 19, 1875.” I prefer this original form to later versions of the same conversation, sent by Valentine to Ingram, and referred to incorrectly by later biographers as “Mrs. Shelton’s Letters.” They are found first in Appleton’s Journal, New Series, IV (1878), 428-429, and are used later in Ingram’s Life.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 93:]

(25)  T. H. Ellis’s description of the house, written for Woodberry (see his Life, II, 361-364), has been followed by all later biographers.

(26)  See Chap. XIX. This sentence is omitted as the letter is usually printed.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 94:]

(27)  T. H. Ellis Manuscript, Valentine Collection, writing in 1875.


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Notes:

None.


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[S:1 - EAP:ACB, 1941] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - E. A. P.: A Critical Biography (A. H. Quinn) (Chapter 04)