Text: Arthur Hobson Quinn, “Chapter 11,” Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography (1941), pp. 263-304


[page 263:]

Philadelphia — The Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque

It was probably in February, 1837, that Poe took Mrs. Clemm and Virginia to New York. Although Poe’s attempt to establish himself in New York was not successful, it was natural that he should seek that city. From Richmond with its 20,000 inhabitants to New York with nearly 300,000, an ambitious writer could easily justify his hope for a wider opportunity. He had some prospect of employment on the New York Review, but apart from one, extensive criticism, that of J. L. Stephens’ Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia and the Holy Land, in which he depended on Professor Charles Anthon, of Columbia College, for rather minute textual criticism in Hebrew, he seems not to have printed anything in the Review.

During the first few months in New York, Poe may have decided to take Harpers’ advice and write a long story. Much of the Narrative of A. Gordon Pym must have been written in Richmond, but he had discontinued its publication after two installments had appeared in the Messenger. It was copyrighted by Harpers in June, 1837, but was not published until July, 1838. The title page(1) indicates the hope of the author and publishers that horrors would sell. But the book was not generally popular even though it was reprinted in England in the same year and ran through more than one edition there. [page 264:]

A very unfavorable review in Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine(2) shows that the critic took the book to be an account of a real voyage, and solemnly critized [[criticized]] the author for the improbability of his incidents. In England, too, the story was treated as a narrative of real events.

The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym was well told, but the story is weakest through the very quality that deceived some of the reviewers. This was Poe’s scrupulous attempt to give to every detail the illusion of accuracy. The account of the stowaway grows tiresome even if the suspense of Pym in his hiding place is maintained with skill. The scientific details which Poe gives so generously in his description of the voyages in the South Seas finally clog the narrative. For his background he had drawn upon Benjamin Morell’s Narrative of Four Voyages to the South Seas and the Pacific, 1822-1831 (1832) and the address of Jeremiah N. Reynolds, delivered in the House of Representatives in 1836. Poe called attention to these two sources in his text, and they have been sufficiently analyzed.(3) But the really significant portions of the book are imaginary. Here, however, Poe showed, as he did later in “The Case of M. Valdemar,” that he did not fully recognize the distinction between terror and horror as a motive in art. The butchery of the mutiny on the Grampus is kept within bounds and our sympathy with Pym is maintained skilfully by keeping him from killing anyone during the fight in which he and his companions regain the vessel. But the descriptions of the cannibal feast, in which Pym shares, and of the floating horror of the plague-stricken ship which bears down upon the survivors, lead from interest to disgust.


Title page of Narrative of A. G. Pym [thumbnail]

[Illustration on page 265]
Title page of Arthur Gordon Pym

It is far otherwise with those scenes in which terror is the motive. The growing danger of the Jane Guy, on which Pym and his rescued companion make their voyage to the far South Seas, is a danger from human beings. The savages of the island are, therefore, described with a realistic power which is unhampered by Poe’s dependence upon anyone but himself. There is a remarkable picture of the feeling of Pym when he has to descend the island precipice at whose foot lies safety. The passing from fear lest he fall to the longing to fall and have it over, is drawn with that insight into the springs of terror in which Poe was a master. But even finer and more original is the climax when the canoe on which Pym and Peters have escaped, taking Nu-Nu, the savage, with them, drifts with increasing velocity into the [page 266:] yawning chasm. The fear of the white birds has stunned Nu-Nu. Then the journal of Arthur Gordon Pym comes to an end:

March 21. A sullen darkness now hovered above us — but from out the milky depths of the ocean a luminous glare arose, and stole up along the bulwarks of the boat. We were nearly overwhelmed by the white ashy shower which settled upon us and upon the canoe, but melted into the water as it fell. The summit of the cataract was utterly lost in the dimness and the distance. Yet we were evidently approaching it with a hideous velocity. At intervals there were visible in it wide, yawning, but momentary rents, and from out these rents, within which was a chaos of flitting and indistinct images, there came rushing and mighty, but soundless winds, tearing up the enkindled ocean in their course.

March 22. The darkness had materially increased, relieved only by the glare of the water thrown back from the white curtain before us. Many gigantic and pallidly white birds flew continuously now from beyond the veil, and their scream was the eternal Tekeli-li! as they retreated from our vision. Hereupon Nu-Nu stirred in the bottom of the boat; but upon touching him, we found his spirit departed. And now we rushed into the embraces of the cataract, where a chasm threw itself open to receive us. But there arose in our pathway a shrouded human figure, very far larger in its proportions than any dweller among men. And the hue of the skin of the figure was of the perfect whiteness of the snow.

There have been critics who object to what they are pleased to call an inconclusive ending. But when the details of the voyages have long been forgotten, the picture of the mysterious figure remains, stimulating the imagination of those readers who do not have to have everything explained to them in words of one syllable.

The only short stories published during this stay in New York were “Von Jung, the Mystific”(4) and “Siope — A Fable”(5) (“Silence”), both included in the earlier Tales of the Folio Club. It may be that the editors in New York were taking revenge upon Poe for his earlier attack on Norman Leslie, or perhaps the general uncertainty caused by the panic of 1837 prevented his employment as a critic. In any event, he left New York. The small quantity of his work published [page 267:] during these months is noteworthy. But in time of panic, literature becomes unsalable as quickly as any other form of luxury.

Of Poe’s personal life little has come down from this New York sojourn. The family seem to have lived first at Sixth Avenue and Waverley Place, and later at 113½ Carmine Street. Mrs. Clemm was keeping a boarding house, and from one of her guests, William Gowans, a Scot who later became a prominent bookseller, there is evidence of Poe’s sobriety and hard work. Gowans wrote, it is true, years afterwards, when he was incensed by an article he had read in Fraser’s Magazine, but his tribute is apparently sincere:

I therefore will also show you my opinion of this gifted but unfortunate genius. It may be estimated as worth little, but it has this merit; it comes from an eye and ear witness, and this, it must be remembered is the very highest of legal evidence. For eight months, or more, ‘one house contained us, us one table fed.’ During that time I saw much of him, and had an opportunity of conversing with him often, and I must say I never saw him the least affected with liquor, nor even descend to any known vice, while he was one of the most courteous, gentlemanly, and intelligent companions I have met with during my journeyings and haltings through divers divisions of the globe; besides, he had an extra inducement to be a good man as well as a good husband, for he had a wife of matchless beauty and loveliness, her eye could match that of any houri, and her face defy the genius of a Canova to imitate; a temper and disposition of surpassing sweetness; besides, she seemed as much devoted to him and his every interest as a young mother is to her first born. During this time he wrote his longest prose romance, entitled the Adventures of Arthur Gordon Pym. This was the most unsuccessful of all his writings, although published by the influential house of Harper & Brothers, who have the means of distributing a single edition of any book in one week, still it did not sell. Poe had a remarkably pleasing and prepossessing countenance, what the ladies would call decidedly handsome.(6)

Gowans’ enthusiasm for Poe and Virginia was personal rather than professional, for an examination of his sale catalogues reveals the sad fact that in 1852 he sold a copy of the 1843 edition of Poe’s Prose Romances, now one of the rarest of Poeana, for thirty-eight cents, while Eureka brought only half-a-dollar. [page 268:]

Sometime in the summer of 1838 Poe took his family to Philadelphia. While it had begun to lose its priority among the cities of the United States, it had still its proud traditions, among which it lived perhaps too contentedly. In the census of 1840 it had 220,000 inhabitants, and its seven municipalities were only beginning to fuse their identities. Even in the late thirties it had its distinct characteristics. Visitors who at first thought it was Sunday on account of its quiet, soon after became convinced that it was perpetual washing day, from the habit of scrubbing the pavements. It was only a few years since churches had been permitted to stretch chains across the streets on Sundays to prevent their congregations from being disturbed by noise of traffic. But this peace was broken rudely by the waves of intolerance that were sweeping over the country. Two months before the Poes arrived in Philadelphia, Whittier had stood in disguise to watch the pro-slavery mob burn down the office of his paper, the Pennsylvania Freeman. Historians are prone to dwell upon such disturbances or on the “Native American” riots which destroyed St. Philip’s and St. Augustine’s Churches just after Poe left the city in 1844. It was not all peace and quiet in the Philadelphia of that time.

But there was another Philadelphia that does not get into the histories. It is more pleasant to think of the city of which my grandmother told me, of the quiet unobtrusive kindness of the older families, often Quakers, who sent their children to be taught at the “Seminary” of a young widow from Dublin whose husband had just died in a strange land. It was the same flavor of humanity that Poe met from Dr. John Kearsley Mitchell, a native of Virginia, Professor of Medical Practice at Jefferson Medical College, who had lived in the Almshouse during an epidemic so that he could treat those who had no funds for private physicians. His son, Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, once met Poe in his father’s office.

It was natural that Poe, after his disappointment in New York, should turn to a city that divided the honors with New York as a publishing center. Poe had published in Philadelphia his first short story, and his earlier relations with Carey and Lea, while not fruitful, were to lead to the publication of the first collected edition of his stories. The earlier magazines of a patrician and scholarly tone, like Joseph Dennie’s Portfolio and Robert Walsh’s American Quarterly, had died, it is true. Poe would probably have found them more in keeping with his own tastes, for they were willing to print the thorough and analytic reviews which he liked to write. [page 269:]

There were rising in Philadelphia the group of magazines which were planned to appeal to large audiences — The Saturday Evening Post, which Thomas Cottrell Clarke had revived in 1821, the Lady’s Book of Louis A. Godey, which had merged with the Ladies’ Magazine of Boston in 1837, and under the editorship of Mrs. Sarah Hale, whom Poe knew, was to become a great success of its kind. Mrs. Hale came to Philadelphia in 1841, but it is singular that Poe published very little in Godey’s while he was in Philadelphia. Poe was to take his share in this development of Philadelphia magazines through his editorial connection with Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine and Graham’s Magazine, but his ideal for a magazine was not that of the Post or Godey’s. They cost two or three dollars a year; his ideal journal was to cost five dollars and be of another class. This conflict between his own theories of magazine publishing and the tendency of the times to cater to a large, democratic public, must be understood when we analyze the causes of his constant failure to found and keep a journal of his own.

It was not, however, to the Philadelphia magazines that Poe contributed “Ligeia,” one of his greatest short stories, and “The Haunted Palace,” one of his finest poems. They appeared in a Baltimore journal, the American Museum, edited by his friends, Dr. N. C. Brooks, and Dr. J. E. Snodgrass. This short-lived magazine deserved a better fate, for it was well printed and edited. In a letter to Brooks on September 4, 1838, Poe acknowledged the receipt of ten dollars which may have been the payment for “Ligeia.”(7) In the same note, Poe declined writing a general appraisement of Irving’s work because he would not have time to make a thorough study of his writings.(8)

If the quantity of Poe’s creative writing during 1837 and 1838 was small,(9) the quality was high. He took a poetic conception from “Al Aaraaf,” Ligeia, the soul of beauty, and developed it in a prose story.  In “Ligeia” the human will storms the gates of death and holds them open, even if only for a brief moment, at the command of a woman’s love, not only for her husband, but also for life itself. In “Morella” which was a preliminary study for “Ligeia,” the dead wife lives again in her daughter. But Ligeia returns in her own person and the conflict of contending human emotions can hardly have a more dramatic setting. For the soul of Ligeia takes possession of the body of her rival, Rowena, the second wife, shortly after the apprehension of the [page 270:] latter’s death has stiffened into certainty. The two women, therefore, meet for their struggle in the other world, and Ligeia’s triumph over her rival is that of an immortal over an immortal. Skilfully Poe identified the emotions of the husband and watcher by Rowena’s bedside with that struggle. He sees the efforts which Rowena is apparently making to revive; he tries to aid them, but all the time his thoughts are upon Ligeia, and it is as though his own deep passion for her were sending its aid across death’s barrier to help her, unknowing, in her conquest. Even in the supremely imaginative climax, Poe did not forget how the realism of detail secures for a romantic conception the possibility of belief:

Could it, indeed, be the living Rowena who confronted me? Could it indeed be Rowena at all — the fair-haired, the blue-eyed Lady Rowena Trevanion of Tremaine? Why, why should I doubt it? The bandage lay heavily about the mouth — but then might it not be the mouth of the breathing Lady of Tremaine? And the cheeks — there were the roses as in her noon of life — yes, these might indeed be the fair cheeks of the living Lady of Tremaine. And the chin, with its dimples, as in health, might it not be hers? — but had she then grown taller since her malady? What inexpressible madness seized me with that thought? One bound, and I had reached her feet! Shrinking from my touch, she let fall from her head, unloosened, the ghastly cerements which had confined it, and there streamed forth, into the rushing atmosphere of the chamber, huge masses of long and dishevelled hair. It was blacker than the raven wings of midnight! And now slowly opened the eyes of the figure which stood before me. “Here then, at least,” I shrieked aloud, “can I never — can I never be mistaken — these are the full, and the black, and the wild eyes — of my lost love — of the Lady — of the Lady Ligeia.”

The mouth, heavily bound, and the color of the cheeks might be doubtful evidence, but the height, the black hair, and finally the eyes, the queen of all the features — these are unmistakable. And Poe does not spoil the climax by one unnecessary word. He had prepared the reader at the opening of the story by his description, in the same order, of the charms of Ligeia, and he expected them to be remembered. The supernatural ending is prepared for, also, in the very first sentence of the story. “I cannot, for my soul, remember how, when, or even precisely where, I first became acquainted with the Lady Ligeia.” In her beauty, in her knowledge, in her mental power, in the strength of her passion, she is superhuman. Poe a little later agreed with Philip [page 271:] Pendleton Cooke,(10) the Southern poet, who had suggested that a gradual possession of Rowena’s body would have been more artistic. But since Poe had already used this theme in “Morella,” he preferred the more rapid change. He added: “I should have intimated that the will did not perfect its intention — there should have been a relapse —   a final one — and Ligeia (who had only succeeded in so much as to convey an idea of the truth to the narrator) should be at length entombed as Rowena — the bodily alterations having gradually faded away.” But I think we may be glad that Poe left “Ligeia” as it is.

While in “Eleonora” Poe paid a tribute to the natural love of the wife who took care of him with a devotion he returned in full measure, “Ligeia” depicts a marriage based on an intellectual kinship, which Virginia at sixteen, could not yet have given him. Later on he was to seek that comradeship from a number of women. But in 1838 he may have sought it in those day dreams in which he must have spent a considerable portion of his time.”(11) His mental and emotional life, which were his real life, are more important for us than his quarrels and disputes with persons now forgotten. It was an intense life, and at this time it flowered in poetry as in fiction, into one of his greatest achievements. “The Haunted Palace” depicts, under the allegorical disguise of the ruin of a palace, the decay of a human soul. It was first published separately in the Museum for April, 1839, and later was incorporated in “The Fall of the House of Usher,” a prose treatment of a similar theme. With such a family history as Poe’s, even an exceptional writer might have avoided such a topic. But Poe seemed drawn with a fatal fascination to those problems of spiritual integrity which lead to tragedy. The contrast is masterly between the beginning,

“In the greenest of our valleys

By good angels tenanted,

Once a fair and stately palace

Radiant(12) palace — reared its head.”

and the ending when: [page 272:]

“A hideous throng rush out forever

And laugh — but smile no more.”

Poe makes just the right distinction between sanity and insanity.

It is not only the thought, however, but also the form of the poem which has given “The Haunted Palace” its secure position. In the second line, quoted above, Poe defied once more a metrical rule, which in this case forbids a weak syllable in a riming position, and he produced a harmony baffling to lesser poets who have observed all the rules. Poe’s use of the subtler harmonies of tone color, such as the contrast of open and close vowels, his variations in the amount of stress and in the time intervals between the stresses, produced such matchless lines as:

“But evil things, in robes of sorrow,

Assailed the monarch’s high estate.

(Ah, let us mourn! — for never morrow

Shall dawn upon him, desolate!)

And round about his home the glory

That blushed and bloomed,

Is but a dim-remembered story,

Of the old time entombed.”

In November two stories, “The Psyche Zenobia” and “The Scythe of Time,(13) later to become “How to Write a Blackwood Article” and “A Predicament,” appeared, and Poe also contributed “Literary Small Talk,” mostly on classical subjects, to the January and February numbers. “How to Write a Blackwood Article” is interesting now mainly to those who seek Poe’s sources. He speaks of stories called “The Dead Alive”(14) and the “Confessions of an Opium Eater,” which should warn those who base their belief in Poe’s use of opium on his references in “Ligeia” and elsewhere as to the effect of that drug. The instructions to Zenobia how to appear to know languages, and to be familiar with references of which the writer is ignorant, are given with a reality which unfortunately was not based entirely on Poe’s reading of Blackwood’s Magazine.

“The Scythe of Time” is a burlesque, probably of the type of story of which “The Man in the Bell” in Blackwood’s in 1830 is an example. A man [[woman]] goes up into the belfry of a cathedral and is caught with his [[her]] head in the clockface, until the hand of the clock cuts his [[her]] head off. [page 273:]

In the letter to Brooks of September, 1838, already referred to, Poe remarked, “I am just leaving Arch Street for a small house.” The family had apparently spent a short time in temporary quarters on Twelfth Street above Arch Street, or Mulberry Street, as it was still called by old settlers, and then at 127 Arch Street, near Fourth Street, where Lowell and his first wife were later to live. The “small house” was on Sixteenth, or as it was then called, “Schuylkill Seventh” Street, near Locust Street.(15) Philadelphia, lying between the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers, began to number its streets from both streams, the numbers meeting at Broad or Fourteenth Street.

Virginia’s health brought about their further move to Coates Street, near Fairmount Park. This house, later numbered 2502, was removed in consequence of the building of the Parkway. When the family moved to the Fairmount district is also uncertain. The date usually given, September, 1839, rests apparently upon Woodberry’s statement,(16) but that, in turn, is based upon his mistake in dating Poe’s letter to Brooks in September, 1839, and his assumption that “the small house” was the Coates Street home.

An unpublished letter of this period from Poe to H. Haines of Petersburg, Virginia,(17) while it does not settle the matter of their residence, gives by implication a picture of a household not unhappy:

April 24, 1840

My dear Sir:

Having been absent from the city for a fortnight I have only just received your kind letter of March the 24th and hasten to thank you for the “Star” as well as for your offer of the fawn for Mrs. P. She desires me to thank you with all her heart — but unhappily, I cannot point out a mode of conveyance. What can be done?  Perhaps some opportunity may offer itself hereafter — some friend from Petersburg may be about to pay us a visit. In the meantime accept our best acknowledgments, precisely as if the little fellow were already nibbling the grass before our windows in Philadelphia. [page 274:]

I will immediately attend to what you say respecting exchanges. The “Star” has my best wishes, and if you really intend to push it with energy, there cannot be a doubt of its full success. If you can mention anything in the world that I can do here to promote its interests and your own, it will give me a true pleasure. It is not impossible that I may pay you a visit in Petersburg a month or two hence. Till then, believe me

Most sincerely,  
Your friend,  

H. Haines, Esq.,
Office Gentleman’s Magazine

Whether this house was on Sixteenth Street or Coates Street, it had a garden large enough to have held the fawn. Virginia undoubtedly had her flowers there, as we know she had later. It may be that the stay at Sixteenth Street was longer than is usually supposed. McElroy’s Philadelphia Directory does not give Poe’s name until 1843, when it reads, “Editor Coates n. F.M.” In a letter to Thomas, May 25, 1842,(18) Poe says “I have moved from the old place.” This must refer to the Sixteenth Street house, since in a later letter to Thomas, on September 12, 1842, he remarks “Since you were here I have moved out to the neighborhood of Fairmount.”(19) While Anne Clarke’s remembrances, as passed through the memory of John Sartain, cannot be considered authentic, her picture of Poe dropping in to her father’s house at Twelfth and Walnut Streets on his way home to Sixteenth Street, indicates a residence there of some duration, as well as a comradeship with other writers.

According to one tradition, Poe was accustomed to attend meetings of artists, actors, and writers in the old Falstaff Hotel, on Sixth Street above Chestnut Street, Thomas Sully and John Sartain being members of the group. Thomas Sully painted Poe’s portrait, draped in a cloak which, according to the same tradition, was chosen by Sully because it savored of Byron. This portrait, which differs from almost any other of Poe, represents him as Sartain afterwards described him — “Poe’s face was handsome. Although his forehead when seen in profile showed a receding line from the brow up, viewed from the [page 275:] front it presented a broad and noble expanse, very large at and above the temples. His lips were thin and very delicately molded.”(20)

While Poe knew Sartain well and would naturally have known Sully through family associations, and while it would be easy to build up a picture of these meetings at the Falstaff Hotel, we really know little concerning them. Burton probably invited Poe to the dinner parties which he is reputed to have given at his home on North Ninth Street near Race Street. It would also be easy, considering Poe’s relations with Burton during 1839-1840, to picture him as a constant attendant at the Walnut Street Theatre, to which Burton could have secured him admission. Yet Poe does not speak, in his correspondence, of his attendance at the theatre in Philadelphia, nor does he mention his amusements or social life. This omission, however, is no proof that he had none, for he retained the friendship of a man like Colonel William Drayton. After his boyish assurance to John Allan of his favorable reception by men of letters in Baltimore and Philadelphia, Poe rarely, if ever, speaks of his social engagements.

Poe was working during the winter of 1838-1839 on a piece of hack work which later subjected him to a charge of plagiarism. It was The Conchologist’s First Book: or, A System of Testaceous Malacology, Arranged expressly for the use of Schools, etc., published by Haswell, Barrington and Haswell in Philadelphia early in 1839. Poe was accused of preparing his book by the simple process of reprinting The Conchologist’s Text Book by Captain Thomas Brown, published in Glasgow, in 1833, and putting his own name on the title page. Poe’s own statement(21) is only partially correct:


Title page of The Conchologist's First Book [thumbnail]

[Illustration facing page 276]
Title page of The Conchologist’s First Book

In 1840 I published a book with the title — “The Conchologist’s First Book — A System of Testaceous Malacology, arranged expressly for the use of Schools, in which the animals, according to Cuvier, are given with the shells, a great number of new species added, and the whole brought up, as accurately as possible, to the present condition of the science. By Edgar A. Poe. With illustrations of 215 shells, presenting a correct type of each genus.” This, I presume, is the work referred to. I wrote it in conjunction with Professor Thomas Wyatt, and Professor McMurtrie, of [page 277:] Philadelphia — my name being put to the work, as best known and most likely to aid its circulation. I wrote the Preface and Introduction, and translated from Cuvier, the accounts of the animals, etc. All School-books are necessarily made in a similar way. The very title-page acknowledges that the animals are given “according to Cuvier.”

This charge is infamous, and I shall prosecute for it, as soon as I settle my accounts with the “Mirror.”

The curious may find a close parallel between Poe’s Introduction and Brown’s,(22) and the pictures of the shells are also copied. The “Explanation of the Parts of Shells” is verbatim from Brown. The bulk of the book is a paraphrase from Wyatt’s Conchology, with Wyatt’s consent. The best explanation was given by Woodberry.(23) Wyatt had published a Conchology with Harpers in the previous year which proved too expensive. Harpers declined to bring it out in a cheaper form, so Wyatt decided to have a book prepared which he could sell in connection with his lectures and Poe put his name on the title page for a consideration. He did, apparently, translate the description of the animals from Cuvier as he announced on the title-page. It was not entirely a piece of hack work, for Poe had had plenty of opportunity to talk with Dr. Edmund Ravenel, an eminent conchologist who lived during Poe’s army service on Sullivan’s Island. The book remains, however, out of the current of Poe’s creative work. It is grimly ironic, however, that it is probably the only volume by Poe that went into a second edition in the United States during Poe’s lifetime.


Letter from W. E. Burton to E. A. PoeRichmond about 1830 [thumbnail]

[Illustration on page 280]
One of Reverend Mr. Griswold’s forgeries

It was probably Poe’s necessities which made him propose to William E. Burton, an English actor who had recently established the Gentleman’s Magazine, that he share in Burton’s editorial labors. Burton, who was thirty years old when he came to Philadelphia, was a comedian of real ability, who had always desired to be an editor, and had at that time written one successful play, Ellen Wareham. He founded the Gentleman’s Magazine in July, 1837. Although printed in that infinitesimal type with which our ancestors tried their eyes, it was successful enough to survive the depression of that year. Burton wrote or it short stories, usually romantic, reminiscences of the theatre, and brief criticisms. In January, 1839, he added the sub-title of [page 278:] American Monthly Review. His letter to Poe, dated May 11, 1839,(24) indicates the basis on which Poe became associated with him:

Edgar A. Poe, Esq.:

My dear Sir, — I have given your proposal a fair consideration. I wish to form some such engagement as that which you have proposed, and know of no one more likely to suit my views than yourself. The expenses of the Magazine are already wofully heavy; more so than my circulation warrants. I am certain that my expenditure exceeds that of any publication now extant, including the monthlies which are double in price. Competition is high — new claimants are daily rising. I am therefore compelled to give expensive plates, thicker paper, and better printing than my antagonists, or allow them to win the goal. My contributors cost me something handsome, and the losses upon credit, exchange, etc., are becoming frequent and serious. I mention this list of difficulties as some slight reason why I do not close with your offer, which is indubitably liberal, without any delay.

Shall we say ten dollars per week for the remaining portion of this year? Should we remain together, which I see no reason to negative, your proposition shall be in force for 1840. A month’s notice to be given on either side previous to a separation.

Two hours a day, except occasionally, will, I believe, be sufficent for all required, except in the production of any article of your own. At all events you could easily find time for any other light avocation — supposing that you did not exercise your talents in behalf of any publication interfering with the prospects of the G.M.

I shall dine at home today at 3. If you will cut your mutton with me, good. If not, write or see me at your leisure.

I am, my dear Sir, your obedt. Servt.,


On the back wrappers of the magazine for June, 1839, Burton states that he has made arrangements with Edgar A. Poe, Esq., late Editor of the Southern Literary Messenger, to devote his abilities and experience to a portion of the editorial duties of the Gentleman’s Magazine. Edgar A. Poe was always an assistant to Burton.

Amid the collapse of the Philadelphia theatres, Burton was looking forward to a theatre of his own. He therefore needed assistance in the [page 279:] conduct of his magazine. Poe had evidently asked a larger salary and must have replied with some counter-proposition which Burton did not care to consider, for he sent Poe a letter, dated clearly, May 30, 1839. It is of singular importance because, although frequently quoted,(25) it has never been published as it was written by Burton. In Griswold’s “Memoir” of Poe, prefixed to the volume containing The Literati,(26) Griswold inserted a distorted version of the letter, representing it as “undated” but placing it “two or three months” before the final break in June, 1840. I am printing the two letters in parallel columns, italicizing Griswold’s forged insertions. Minor differences in expression are not indicated:

Correct Version

My dear Sir,

I am sorry that you thought necessary to send me such a letter as your last. The troubles of the world have given a morbid tone to your feelings which it is your duty to discourage. I cannot agree to entertain your proposition, either in justice to yourself or to my own interests. The worldly experience of which you speak has not taught me [to?] conciliate authors of whom I know nothing and from whom I can expect nothing. Such a supposition is but a poor comment upon my honesty of opinion, or the principles of expediency which you would insinuate as actuating my conduct. I have been as severely handled in the world as you can possibly have been, but my sufferings have not tinged my mind with a [page 281:] melancholy hue, nor do I allow my views of my fellow creatures to be jaundiced by the fogs of my own creation. You must rouse your energies, and conquer the insidious attacks of the foul fiend, care. We shall agree very well, but you must get rid of your avowed ill-feelings towards your brother authors — you see that I speak plainly — indeed, I cannot speak otherwise. Several of my friends, hearing of our connexion, have warned me of your uncalled for severity in criticism — and I confess that your article on Dawes is not written with that spirit of fairness which, in a more healthy state of mind, you would undoubtedly have used. The independence of my book reviews has been noticed throughout the Union — my remarks upon my friend Bird’s last novel evince my freedom from the trammels of expediency, but there is no necessity for undue severity. I wish particularly to deal leniently with the faults of genius, and feeling satisfied that Dawes possesses a portion of the true fire, I regretted the word-catching tone of your critique.

Let us meet as if we had not exchanged letters. Use more exercise, write only when the feelings prompt, and be assured of my friendship. You will soon regain a wholesome activity of [page 282:] mind, and laugh at your past vagaries.

I am, my dear Sir,

  Your obedient Servant,


Phila May 30, 1839.(27)


Griswold’s Version

I am sorry you have thought it necessary to send me such a letter. Your troubles have given a morbid tone to your feelings which it is your duty to discourage. I myself have been as severely handled by the world as you can possibly have been, but my sufferings have not tinged my mind with melancholy, nor jaundiced my views of society. You must rouse your energies, and if care assail you, conquer it. I will gladly overlook the past. I hope you will as easily fulfil your pledges for the future. We shall agree very well, though I cannot permit the magazine to be made a vehicle for that sort of severity which you think is so “successful with the mob.” I am truly much less anxious about making a monthly “sensation” than I am upon the [page 281:] point of fairness. You must, my dear sir, get rid of your avowed ill-feelings toward your brother authors. You see I speak plainly: I cannot do otherwise upon such a subject. You say the people love havoc. I think they love justice. I think you yourself would not have written the article on Dawes, in a more healthy state of mind. I am not trammelled by any vulgar consideration of expediency; I would rather lose money than by such undue severity wound the feelings of a kind-hearted and honorable man. And I am satisfied that Dawes has something of the true fire in him. I regretted your word-catching spirit. But I wander from my design. I accept your proposition to recommence your interrupted avocations upon the Maga. Let us meet as if we had not exchanged letters. Use more exercise, write when feelings prompt, and be assured of my friendship. You will soon regain a healthy activity of mind, and laugh at your past vagaries. [page 282:]

Resuming his “Memoir,” Griswold says “This letter is kind and judicious. It gives us a glimpse of Poe’s theory of criticism and displays the temper and principles of the literary comedian in an honorable light.”

It is to be noticed that several of the interpolated sentences, which Burton did not write, contain forged quotations from an implied letter from Poe, which he also did not write. To Poe has, in consequence, been attributed a desire “to be successful with the mob,” to “create a monthly sensation” and to “play havoc” unjustly to gain popular applause. Moreover, he is made to say these things, which he never did say, in an article published after he was dead. Notice also that Burton in the real letter says nothing about Poe resuming “interrupted avocations” upon the Magazine. This point is of especial importance, as we shall see later.

Altogether, it is one of the most dastardly, as well as the cleverest bits of literary dishonesty that Griswold perpetrated.(28) It deceived even Woodberry, who quoted Griswold’s version, called it “undated” but placed it in 1840 and followed it with a letter from Poe which is obviously, from its contents, not a reply to Burton’s note.(29) The tenacity of a false quotation when once printed is illustrated by an account of Burton’s in an authoritative history of American magazines. Two [page 283:] of Griswold’s interpolations and only those, are quoted as representing the relations of Burton and Poe!(30)

The Gentleman’s Magazine carried as Editors on the title page of Volume Five the names of William E. Burton and Edgar A. Poe. In this July number of 1839 Poe reprinted under the title of “To lanthe in Heaven” his lyric originally included in his story, “The Visionary.” He signed this poem, but reprinted “Spirits of the Dead” anonymously, and from the spacing it seems that he inserted it to fill in a vacant half page. He wrote all the reviews in the July number and all in the August and September numbers except the first three in each issue, Burton being responsible for them.(31) The leading review in July was on Cooper’s new History of the United States Navy, and while Poe praised that book, his remarks upon the recent work of Cooper as “a flashy succession of ill-conceived and miserably executed literary productions, each more silly than its predecessor, . . . . [which] had taught the public to suspect even a radical taint in the intellect, an absolute and irreparable mental leprosy”(32) must have given the author of “Homeward Bound” and “Home as Found” some reason to dislike Poe. It was Cooper’s weakest period in fiction, but Poe’s strictures were certainly not justified.

In August, Poe printed for the first time “The Man that was Used Up,” a Grotesque that Poe apparently thought of highly, for he selected it to accompany “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” in 1843 in the first volume of that projected series of his tales. There may be some profound meaning in this satire upon a general who is made up of cork legs, false teeth, and other artificial limbs, but it escapes the present writer. “Fairyland” is also reprinted, but merely signed “P” and an attempt is made in a preliminary note to indicate it is by another hand. Poe’s poem “To ——” has lost its attribution to “Eliza” and become temporarily addressed to a “Fair Maiden,” later, however, to be attached to Mrs. Osgood. “To the River,” like the others, is used clearly to fill a page, and Poe made no important changes in these poems.

In his review of Tortesa, the Usurer, reprinted in part from a criticism he had sold to the Pittsburgh Literary Examiner, and for [page 284:] which the Editor of that short-lived paper had probably not paid him, Poe has given us an important contribution toward the understanding of his critical creed. Willis’s play had been given at the Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, on June 20, 1839, and had later been repeated, so Poe could have seen it. It is one of the finest plays of its time, and held the stage for years. But Poe apparently spoke of the printed drama alone. Of that he said: “ ‘Tortesa’ is, we think, by far the best play from the pen of an American author. Its merits lie among the higher and most difficult dramatic qualities, and, although few in number, are extensive in their influence upon the whole work; pervading it, and fully redeeming it from the sin of its multitudinous minor defects. These merits are naturalness, truthfulness, and appropriateness, upon all occasions, of sentiment and language; a manly vigour and breadth in the conception of character; and a fine ideal elevation or exaggeration throughout — a matter forgotten or avoided by those who, with true Flemish perception of truth, wish to copy her peculiarities in disarray. Mr. Willis has not lost sight of the important consideration that the perfection of dramatic, as well as of plastic skill, is found not in the imitation of Nature, but in the artistical adjustment and amplification of her features.”

It was the “ideal” toward which Poe was himself constantly striving, and even those who do not credit him with fidelity to reality must acknowledge that he could create ideal figures of extraordinary power.

In September, Poe presented Burton’s with one of his very greatest stories, “The Fall of the House of Usher.” It continues the treatment of the theme of identity, but this time the fear of Roderick Usher that the building will decay deepens his terror of the loss of identity into his apprehension of racial ruin. At the very outset of the story the atmosphere of tragedy is established with consummate art. Through the eyes of the narrator, that nameless person who is so much more real than he is usually credited with being, the house becomes alive with meaning. The very bareness and desolation are active forces calling up those unusual emotions which only in the hands of a master can spring from the contemplation of ordinary things. The effort of the visitor to rearrange his view of these forbidding objects and thus destroy this effect of desolation is shown to be fruitless. One of the most common errors in Poe criticism lies in the assumption of the absence of heart in his characters. But the narrator has come a long distance simply because the appeal of Roderick Usher has clutched at his friendship through that quality — “It was the apparent heart [page 285:] that went with his request.” Roderick and he are bound with the tie that is next to love and family affection, the friendship that comes only in early youth, before distrust becomes a duty.

The relation between Roderick and Madeline, his twin sister, is once more an identity of a strange and baffling kind. Her disease threatens that identity; but her death restores it in another world. Poe’s own knowledge of drawing creates an intriguing episode in the painting of the long tunnel, lighted by rays that admit of no explanation. Every sense, therefore, sight and hearing especially, are keyed above the normal, and lead to the poetic fantasy which had earlier been published as “The Haunted Palace,” but which is here ascribed to Roderick and intensifies his mood of terror. Poe transferred to Roderick his own fear of impending mental decay which came at times during his life. The loss of spiritual identity is naturally the final human danger, and Roderick lives in its shadow. The approach to the climax of the story, through the entombment of Madeline, her rising from the coffin and her return to her brother just before her real death, is controlled by Poe with a skill of which his earlier stories of premature burial had given promise. The madness of Roderick, the flight of the visitor, and the rending of the house into ruin are portrayed with that economy of which Poe alone among writers of the short story was at that time possessed.

In October, 1839, Poe reprinted “William Wilson” from the Gift, for 1840, which like all the annuals or gift books, appeared early enough to secure the Christmas business. Carey and Hart published the Gift and its editor, Miss Eliza Leslie, had reprinted Poe’s “Manuscript Found in a Bottle” in that annual for 1836. These literary annuals, or gift books, represent a very significant episode in American Literature. Through their wide popularity some American short-story writers, especially Hawthorne, were given opportunities that might otherwise not have occurred. They were usually well printed and the engravings, often by artists like John Sartain, are of interest today for they represent that perennial desire to look at pictures which is characteristic of Americans.

Poe had contributed “Siope” to the Baltimore Book for 1838, but his principal outlet was the Gift, in which there appeared “Eleonora” (1842), “The Pit and the Pendulum” (1843), and “The Purloined Letter” (1845). Poe was probably quite willing to contribute to others, for they paid usually better than magazines,(33) but if this list is compared [page 286:] with the twenty-seven stories clearly identified as by Hawthorne in the Token, C. S. Goodrich’s Annual, it is seen to be small. In this, as in other matters, Poe was not as fortunate as his chief rival in the short story.

“William Wilson” is a study of the effects of conscience upon a man who is the descendant of a race whose imaginative powers have been abnormally developed. He is rather proud of his evil deeds because they are unusual. Such a theme was not new in literature, but Poe made it his own. He probably took a few hints from an article by Washington Irving in the Gift for 1836, on “An Unwritten Drama of Lord Byron,”(34) in which Irving outlines a drama which Byron planned but never wrote.(35) The relation of Poe’s own career to the story of “William Wilson” has already been discussed.(36) It is significant that in Burton’s for October, 1839, William Wilson remarks “my namesake was born on the nineteenth of January, 1811 — and this is precisely the day of my own nativity.” In the Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque this date has become “1809,” in the Phantasy Pieces “1811” and in the Broadway Journal “1813.” These changes reflect either Poe’s uncertainty concerning his birthdate, or his deliberate attempt to alter it for reasons of his own.

“William Wilson” is a natural development in Poe’s fiction. In “Ligeia” there had been a struggle to preserve physical and mental identity. In “William Wilson” the tragic consequences of a separation of moral and physical identity are portrayed. Every interposition of the second William Wilson, the conscience, is bitterly resented by the first. Poe’s art is revealed through the gradual realization by Wilson that he and his double are the same. At first, it is but a dim feeling, going back to “a time when memory herself was yet unborn.” Then comes [page 287:] the visit of Wilson to his schoolfellow’s room at night, when we are told only by implication of a likeness that sends Wilson away from those halls forever. The episodes grow in concreteness until the climax, when Wilson plunges his sword into the bosom of his namesake. This climax must be given in Poe’s own words:

“Not a thread in all his raiment — not a line in all the marked and singular lineaments of his face which was not, even in the most absolute identity, mine own.

“It was Wilson: but he spoke no longer in a whisper, and I could have fancied that I myself was speaking while he said:

You have conquered, and I yield. Yet henceforward art thou also dead — dead to the World, to Heaven, and to Hope! In me didst thou exist — and in my death, see by this image, which is thine own, how utterly thou hast murdered thyself.’

The moral life has triumphed over the sensual life of Wilson, who has defied the principle of identity, which takes its own revenge.

During 1839 the only other new story in Burton’s was “The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion” laid in the next world. While the destruction of this world, as described by Eiros, is limited as all such episodes must be, there is a certain reality due, perhaps, to Poe’s observation of the feelings of the people in Baltimore in 1833 at the approach of a rain of meteors.(37) He also probably saw Halley’s Comet in 1835.


Title page of Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque [thumbnail]

[Illustration on page 288]
Title page of Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque

When Poe reprinted “Morella” in November, 1839, he announced that it was “Extracted by permission of the publishers, Messrs. Lea and Blanchard, from forthcoming Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque.” Poe had at last secured the publication of his volume of short stories. Lea and Blanchard’s letter to him is hardly enthusiastic; the profit will be small and will be theirs. Poe is to have the copyright and “a few copies” for his friends:

Phila. Sept. 28/39

Dear Sir —

As your wish in having your Tales printed is not immediately pecuniary, we will at our own risque and expense print a Small Ed. say 1750(38) copies. This sum if sold — will pay but a small profit which if realized is to be ours — The copyright will remain with [page 289:] you, and when ready a few copies for distribution among your friends will be at your Service.

If this is agreeable will you have them prepared & Mr. Haswell will be ready to go on, say by Tuesday — (39)

Very Resp’t’  

Edgar A. Poe Esq.

The st. make 2 vols. of a page like Isabel, 240 pages each.

The Tales included twenty-five stories, all that Poe had written up to that time. The only one that had not had previous magazine publication was the Grotesque, “Why the Little Frenchman Wears His Hand in a Sling.” It is one of Poe’s poorest and need not detain us. “The Devil in the Belfry” had been published in the Philadelphia Saturday Chronicle in May, 1839. This is an amusing satire, in the Irving manner, of the small-town mind, an institution which has been the subject of attack by literary artists at least since Chaucer.

In the Preface to the Tales Poe began with the statement, “The epithets ‘Grotesque’ and ‘Arabesque’ will be found to indicate with sufficient precision the prevalent tenor of the tales here published.” He eluded a definition of the terms, which he had derived from an article by Walter Scott, “On the Supernatural in Fictitious Composition,”(40) and he uses them differently at different times, but generally speaking, the Arabesques are the product of powerful imagination and the Grotesques have a burlesque or satirical quality. Poe also meets in this Preface, the charge that his stories were permeated by “Germanism and gloom.” Germanism, he says, is in the vein for the time being, but “If in many of my productions terror has been the thesis, I maintain that terror is not of Germany but of the soul —”

The judgment of time has agreed with Poe. The attempt to derive his work from German sources has not been very successful. The apparent resemblances between “William Wilson” and E. T. A. Hoffman’s “Elixiere des Teufels” can be derived more easily from Irving’s account, already mentioned, and the victory of the monk over his insane double is quite different from the climax of “William Wilson.”

Poe revised the tales extensively for this edition, although usually [page 290:] in matters of expression.(41) It was his bid for fame, and while the volumes were favorably reviewed, they did not sell rapidly. Yet they contained some of the greatest short stories in the literature of the world.

During Poe’s connection with Burton’s, he was constantly in correspondence with friends, usually professional, and in the absence of many trustworthy details concerning his personal or family life in 1838 or 1839, these letters help to build up a picture of his character. Poe was industrious, and evidently the two hours agreed upon was not the limit of his service at Burton’s. His correspondence with Dr. J. E. Snodgrass of Baltimore, who had been one of the editors of the Museum, is especially interesting. On September 11, 1839, Poe asks Snodgrass to write a “rigidly just” notice of the September number of the Gentleman’s Magazine, embodying in it a laudatory notice of Poe which had appeared in the St. Louis Bulletin and which Snodgrass had sent him: “The general tone and character of this work (the ‘S. L. Messenger’) impart lustre to our periodical literature; and we really congratulate its publisher upon the sound and steadfast popularity which it has acquired. Let it never be forgotten, however, that the first impetus to the favor of literary men which it received was given by the glowing pen of Edgar A. Poe, now assistant editor of ‘Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine,’ and, although, since he has left it, has well maintained its claims to respectability, yet there are few writers in this country — take Neal, Irving, and Willis away and we would say none — who can compete successfully, in many respects, with Poe. With an acuteness of observation, a vigorous and effective style, and an independence that defies control, he unites a fervid fancy and a most beautiful enthusiasm. His is a high destiny.”(42) [page 291:]

Poe gives a list of the magazines that had praised “The House of Usher” and states that he has made a profitable engagement with Blackwood’s Magazine. No concrete result has so far been discovered of this “engagement.” It is quite possible that contributions by Poe were made to some English periodicals.(43) Poe had begun the letter with a record of his satisfaction that Snodgrass “has had no share in the feelings of ill will toward me which are somewhat prevalent (God only knows why) in Baltimore.” Judging from a passage in his next letter to Snodgrass, October 7, 1839, he blamed this prejudice upon Neilson Poe, his cousin. This passage has been omitted by biographers generally, in the interest, I presume, of good taste. But since the object of this biography is to paint a picture of Poe as he really was, the letter is given as he wrote it:

Phila: Oct. 7, ‘39.

My dear Sir,

I recd your kind letter and now write a few hasty words in reply, merely to thank you for your exertions in my behalf, and to say that I send today, the Octo. No. We have been delayed with it, for various reasons.

I felt that N. Poe would not insert the article editorially. In your private ear, I believe him to be the bitterest enemy I have in the world. He is the more despicable in this, since he makes loud professions of friendship. Was it “relationship &c” which prevented him saying anything at all of the 2 or 3 last Nos. of the Gent’s Mag? I can not account for his hostility except in being vain enough to imagine him jealous of the little literary reputation I have of late years obtained. But enough of the little dog.

I sincerely thank you for the interest you have taken in my well-doing. The friendship of a man of talent, who is at the same time a man of honorable feeling, is especially valuable in these days of double-dealing. I hope I shall always deserve your good opinion. [page 292:]

In the Octo. no: all the criticisms are mine — also the gymnastic article.

My book will be out in the begg. of Nov.

In haste, your most truly


Dr. J. E. Snodgrass.

The “gymnastic article” or rather, the “Chapter on Field Sports and Manly Pastimes, by an Experienced Practitioner”(45) which Poe states in this letter is his, is of interest because it indicates that Poe may have been attending a gymnasium and endeavoring to keep himself in good physical condition. A picture is given of Barrett’s gymnasium on Walnut Street, Philadelphia, and the articles, while, of course, hack work, are nevertheless clearly written.

Poe was one of those oversensitive persons to whom any unwillingness to help him was a sign of jealousy or envy. Of course, he did not expect the description of Neilson Poe to be published. In a letter of November 11, 1839(46) to Snodgrass, Poe speaks of two letters from Irving, abounding in high praises, which his publishers desire to use. In one of these(47) Irving speaks of “William Wilson” as superior to “The Fall of the House of Usher,” on account of its greater simplicity. He also suggests “relieving the style of some of the epithets.” It is, perhaps, fortunate that the founder of the American Short Story did not influence Poe as definitely as he did others, who could profit more. Snodgrass was evidently sending Poe his own essays in competition for premiums offered by Burton, and Poe makes it clear that he is not responsible for their offer. He also remarks on December 19th, that “we only put in poetry in the odds and ends of our pages — that is to fill out a vacancy left at the foot of a prose article.” In a letter of January 20, 1840, Poe regrets that he cannot say anything about the Baltimore Museum in the Gentleman’s Magazine, because “Burton is a warm friend of N. C. Brooks, verb. sap. sat.(48) Brooks and Snodgrass evidently had a disagreement. In more than one way Poe was [page 293:] made to feel that Burton, not he, controlled the magazine. With Volume VI, beginning in January, 1840, Burton began to feature his own name on the front wrappers with larger display type.(49) Yet Poe was acting as Editor during Burton’s absences on the road. On December 9th he wrote to Carey and Hart asking for an advance chapter of Captain Marryat’s new book for the January number, and his letter(50) is probably only one of many which he had to write.

Poe was undoubtedly cheered by the discriminating comment given by the Virginia poet, Philip Pendleton Cooke. In a letter of December 19, 1839,(51) Cooke, in speaking of Poe’s stories said, “You do not make your sentences pictures — but you mould them into an artful excellence — bestow a care which is pleasantly perceptible and accomplish an effect which I can only characterize as the visible presentation of your ideas instead of the mere expression of them.”

To judge from the increase in the number of pages Poe contributed to Burton’s in 1840, he gave the publisher full value. In January he commenced his long narrative, “The Journal of Julius Rodman, being an Account of the First Passage across the Rocky Mountains of North America ever achieved by Civilized Man.” It was annotated “Eds. G. M.,” but it has been attributed to Poe on the basis of his statement(52) to Burton. Poe called attention early in the narrative to the expeditions of Lewis and Clarke and of Captain Bonneville, and his use of these sources has been made clear by comparative studies.(53) At the beginning, Poe evidently intended to build up a character in Julius Rodman, for he establishes Rodman’s emotional, even at times rhapsodic, nature, but he did not carry out this intention. “Julius Rodman,” was continued until the June number of 1840, then with Poe’s departure from the magazine it ceased, unfinished, leaving the pioneers stranded on the banks of the Missouri River. There were fairly good descriptions of the defence against the attacks of the Sioux, and of the hopeless [page 294:] struggle of the drowning bears [[buffalo]], but there was nothing even approaching the final scenes of Arthur Gordon Pym. Poe and Burton probably thought the narrative would catch the interest in the West. But there is too much detail, and any analysis of it here is unnecessary. Poe never completed it or published it in book form. The only significant result of his experiments in the long story was to prove to him that his ability lay in the writing of shorter fiction.

Poe’s only short story in Burton’s for 1840, “Peter Pendulum, the Business Man” was an amusing if unimportant satire on methods of obtaining money on false pretences. In it, however, he expressed one fundamental principle, “In biography the truth is everything.” It is as though he were sounding a warning to the many, including himself, who have written about his life without apparently being aware of this principle!

Poe contributed no new poems to Burton’s, but reprinted his fine “Sonnet — Silence” in April, 1840. It had first appeared on January 4, 1840 in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier:

“There are some qualities — some incorporate things,

That have a double life, which thus is made

A type of that twin entity which springs

From matter and light, evinced in solid and shade.

There is a two-fold Silence — sea and shore —

Body and soul. One dwells in lonely places,

Newly with grass o’ergrown; some solemn graces,

Some human memories and tearful lore,

Render him terrorless: his name’s “No More.”

He is the corporate Silence: dread him not!

No power hath he of evil in himself;

But should some urgent fate (untimely lot!)

Bring thee to meet his shadow (nameless elf,

That haunteth the lone regions where hath trod

No foot of man,) commend thyself to God!”

It is not strictly a sonnet since it contains fifteen lines, but here again Poe showed his disregard of stanzaic structure: Poe had for some time been a student of the effect of silence upon human beings, his short story “Silence” dating in its inception as early as 1833. In the sonnet he draws a striking contrast between the merely passive silence that hovers over those resting places of human souls we have [page 295:] loved, and that shadow cast by silence upon the soul, which is an active breeder of terror. Poe suggests, rather than states, the nature of this terror — proceeding by negations as usual. Thus he leaves to the imaginative reader a frame into which he may fit any fear he desires. The harmless silence is called “no more” — but the evil silence is nameless.

This was the only poem published by Poe in 1840. He was, however, constantly publishing in Burton’s verse by others, among them Dr. Thomas Dunn English, who had just graduated from the School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania, and who was at first Poe’s friend and later his enemy. English at this time was only twenty, and it may have been Poe’s desire to help a young poet that prompted him to publish English’s galloping narrative verse.

Poe’s reviews in Burton’s were usually mere paragraphs of a perfunctory nature. In February, 1840, however, he wrote a more elaborate criticism of Longfellow’s Voices of the Night. He had already shown his complete failure to understand Longfellow’s prose romance Hyperion, and while he praised Longfellow’s “Hymn to the Night” and “Beleaguered City,” he insisted that Longfellow was lacking “in combining or binding force,” and added, “He has absolutely nothing of unity.” These are, of course, two of the qualities which Longfellow possessed in large measure, even if he had not yet attained to the serene unity of his later sonnets. Poe also attacked Longfellow for plagiarizing Tennyson in his “Midnight Mass for the Dying Year,” which was as absurd as any of the many similar charges he levelled later at Longfellow.

Poe was using some earlier material even in his criticisms, for his account of Bryant in Burton’s for May includes a portion of his review of Bryant’s poems in the Southern Literary Messenger. He is quite frank, however, about this insertion. He certainly did not give the same care to his reviews as he had done in the Messenger days. To do him justice, however, he probably did most of the editing and there are unsigned articles which may perhaps be his. It is impossible to reconcile the articles he signed with his later statement to Burton of the number of pages he had contributed each month. A series of short paragraphs which appeared under the general title of “A Chapter on Science and Art,” in March, April and May, 1840, are probably by Poe. They deal with balloons, steam engines, new methods in daguerreotyping, new steam frigates, the recommendations for the establishment of a scientific foundation in Washington on the basis of the Smithson bequest, and kindred topics. The style of these paragraphs [page 296:] resembles Poe somewhat, and since one issue is signed “Eds. G. M.,” he probably had at least some share in them. If this supposition is correct, his interests were wide, and his comments apt. He may be the author, also, of “Omniana,” a collection of paragraphs appearing in April, May, and June, on things in general. In this column for May appeared some verses under the general head of “Palindromes,” which had first been published in the Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post, March 15, 1827. If these verses are by Poe, they are his earliest to be found in print, but they are of no especial merit.

If I have emphasized, perhaps unduly, Poe’s minor contributions to Burton’s during these later months, it was to show his continued and uninterrupted appearances in the Magazine. These do not agree with the persistent legend of his quarrel and reconciliation with Burton some months before the final break came. If there were an earlier quarrel, there arises, of course, the question whether Poe’s habits were responsible. But this legend rests upon the so-called “undated” letter of Burton to Poe, which has proved to be dated May 30, 1839, only twenty days after Burton made his first offer to Poe. When the sentences, “I will gladly overlook the past. I hope you will as easily fulfil your pledges for the future” and later, “I accept your proposition to recommence your interrupted avocations upon the Maga,” which have been shown to be forgeries of Griswold’s, are eliminated, there is no good evidence to support the story of any cessation of Poe’s work as editor of Burton’s from July, 1839, to June, 1840. In the light of these forgeries, Griswold’s account of the parting of Burton and Poe also disappears from consideration. The story of Mr. Rosenbach concerning Poe’s neglect of his duties(54) and consequent discharge, is also apocryphal.

The testimony of Charles W. Alexander, who published the Gentleman’s Magazine until Burton purchased it, when he still continued to print the journal, is convincing:

Philadelphia, Oct. 20th, 1850.

My dear Sir, — I very cheerfully reply to your request made in reference to our friend Edgar Allan Poe.

I well remember his connection with the “Gentleman’s Magazine,” [page 297:] of which Mr. Burton was editor, and myself the publisher, at the period referred to in connection with Mr. Poe.

The absence of the principal editor on professional duties left the matter frequently in the hands of Mr. Poe, whose unfortunate failing may have occasioned some disappointment in the preparation of a particular article expected from him, but never interfering with the regular publication of the “Gentleman’s Magazine,” as its monthly issue was never interrupted upon any occasion, either from Mr. Poe’s deficiency, or from any other cause, during my publication of it, embracing the whole time of Mr. Poe’s connection with it. That Mr. Poe had faults seriously detrimental to his own interests, none, of course, will deny. They were unfortunately, too well known in the literary circles of Philadelphia, were there any disposition to conceal them. But he alone was the sufferer, and not those who received the benefit of his pre-eminent talents, however irregular his habits or uncertain his contributions may occasionally have been.

I had long and familiar intercourse with him, and very cheerfully embrace the opportunity which you now offer of bearing testimony to the uniform gentleness of disposition and kindness of heart which distinguished Mr. Poe in all my intercourse with him. With all his faults, he was a gentleman; which is more than can be said of some who have undertaken the ungracious task of blacking the reputation which Mr. Poe, of all others, esteemed “the precious jewel of his soul.”

Yours truly,


To Mr. T. C. Clarke.

Burton evidently wrote a letter to Poe on May 30, 1840, which has unfortunately disappeared. It must have had quite a different tone from that of May 30, 1839. In reply Poe sent the following:

Sir, — I find myself at leisure this Monday morning, June 1, to notice your very singular letter of Saturday, and you shall now hear what I have to say. In the first place, your attempts to bully me excite in my mind scarcely any other sentiment than mirth. When you address me again, preserve, if you can, the dignity of a gentleman. If by accident you have taken it into your head that I am to be insulted with impunity I can only assume that you are an ass. This one point being distinctly understood I shall feel myself more at liberty to be explicit. As for the rest, you do me [page 298:] gross injustice; and you know it. As usual you have wrought yourself into a passion with me on account of some imaginary wrong; for no real injury, or attempt at injury, have you ever received at my hands. As I live, I am utterly unable to say why you are angry, or what true grounds of complaint you have against me. You are a man of impulses; have made yourself, in consequence, some enemies; have been in many respects ill treated by those whom you had looked upon as friends — and these things have rendered you suspicious. You once wrote in your magazine a sharp critique upon a book of mine — a very silly book — Pym. Had I written a similar critici[sm] upon a book of yours, you feel that you would have been my enemy for life, and you therefore imagine in my bosom a latent hostility towards yourself. This has been a mainspring in your whole conduct towards me since our first acquaintance. It has acted to prevent all cordiality. In a general view of human nature your idea is just — but you will find yourself puzzled in judging me by ordinary motives. Your criticism was essentially correct and therefore, although severe, it did not occasion in me one solitary emotion either of anger or dislike. But even while I write these words, I am sure you will not believe them. Did I not still think you, in spite of the exceeding bitterness of some of your hurried actions, a man of many honorable impulses, I should not now take the trouble to send you this letter. I cannot permit myself to suppose that you would say to me in cold blood what you said in your letter of yesterday. You are, of course, only mistaken, in asserting that I owe you a hundred dollars, and you will rectify the mistake at once when you come to look at your accounts. Soon after I joined you, you made me an offer of money, and I accepted $20. Upon another occasion, at my request, you sent me enclosed in a letter $30. Of this 30, I repaid 20 within the next fortnight (drawing no salary for that period.) I was thus still in your debt $30, when not long ago I again asked a loan of $30, which you promptly handed to me at your own house. Within the last 3 weeks, 3 $ each week have been retained from my salary, an indignity which I have felt deeply but did not resent. You state the sum retained as $8, but this I believe is through a mistake of Mr. Morrell. My postage bill at a guess, might be 9 or 10$ — and I therefore am indebted to you, upon the whole, in the amount of about $60. More than this sum I shall not pay. You state that you can no longer afford to pay $50 per month for 2 or 3 pp. of M.S. Your error here can be [page 299:] shown by reference to the magazine. During my year with you I have written

July —   5 pp

August   9

Sept   16

Octo.   4

Nov.   5

Dec.   12

Jan.   9

Feb.   12

Mar.   11

April   17

May   14   5 copied — Miss McMichael’s M.S.

June   9   3     Chandlers


132 (56)

Dividing this sum by 12 we have an average of 11 pp per month — not 2 or 3. And this estimate leaves out of question every thing in the way of extract or compilation. Nothing is counted but bonâ fiede composition. 11 pp at $3 per p. would be $33, at the usual Magazine prices. Deduct this from $50, my monthly salary, and we have left 17$ per month, or $4 25/100 per week, for the services of proof-reading; general superintendence at the printing-office; reading, alteration, & preparation of M.S.S., with compilation of various articles, such as Plate articles, Field Sports &c. Neither has anything been said of my name upon your title page, a small item you will say — but still something as you know. Snowden pays his editresses $2 per week each for their names solely. Upon the whole I am not willing to admit that you have greatly overpaid me. That I did not do 4 times as much as I did for the Magazine, was your own fault. At first I wrote long articles which you deemed inadmissable, [sic] & never did I suggest any to which you had not some immediate and decided objection. Of course I grew discouraged & could feel no interest in the Journal. I am at a loss to know why you call me selfish. If you mean that I borrowed money of you — you know that you offered it — and you know that I am poor. In what instance has any one ever found [page 300:] me selfish? Was there selfishness in the affront I offered Benjamin (whom I respect, and who spoke well of me.) because I deemed it a duty not to receive from any one commendation at your expense? I had no hesitation in making him my enemy (which he now must be) through a sense of my obligations as your coadjutor. I have said that I could not tell why you were angry. Place yourself in my situation & see whether you would not have acted as I have done. You first “enforced,” as you say, a deduction of salary: giving me to understand thereby that you thought of parting company — You next spoke disrespectfully of me behind my back — this as an habitual thing — to those whom you supposed your friends, and who punctually retailed me, as a matter of course, every ill-natured word which you uttered. Lastly, you advertised your magazine for sale without saying a word to me about it. I felt no anger at what you did — none in the world. Had I not firmly believed it your design to give up your journal, with a view of attending to [the] theatre, I should [never] have dreamed of attempting one of my own. The opportunity of doing something for myself seemed a good one — (I was about to be thrown out of business) — and I embraced it. Now I ask you, as a man of honor and as a man of sense — what is there wrong in all this? What have I done at which you have any right to take offense? I can give you no definitive answer (respecting the continuation [of] “Rodman’s Journal”) until I hear from you again. The charge of $100 I shall not admit for an instant. If you persist in it our intercourse is at an end, and we can each adopt our own measures.

In the meantime, I am,

Yr. Obt. St.,


Wm. E. Burton, Esqr.(57) [page 301:]

This letter seems to ring true, although Poe’s statement concerning his projected magazine is hardly correct. He had had that project in mind for a long time.

The break with Burton was, in fact, inevitable. Burton had been forced to suspend payments for contributions,(58) and was interested in his new theatrical project, the National Theatre on Chestnut Street, east of Ninth Street, which opened on August 31, 1840. Francis C. Wemyss, the manager of the Walnut Street Theatre, by whom Burton was engaged as a star during 1839, has given an interesting picture of his character. “As an actor, Mr. W. E. Burton has no superior on the American Stage — but as a manager, his faults are, first, want of nerve to fight a losing battle; in success he is a great general, but in any sudden reverse, his first thought is not to maintain his position, but to retreat.”(59)

Poe, knowing his own ability, could hardly have been satisfied with the secondary position he occupied. His own statement to Snodgrass on June 17, 1840, concerning an essay of the latter that had disappeared, shows this clearly: “Were I in your place I would take some summary method of dealing with the scoundrel, whose infamous line of conduct in regard to this whole Premium scheme merits, and shall receive exposure. I am firmly convinced that it was never his intention to pay one dollar of the money offered; and indeed his plain intimations to that effect, made to me personally and directly were the immediate reason of my cutting the connexion so abruptly as I did.”

Burton must have circulated rumors concerning Poe’s drinking habits for in another letter to Snodgrass April 1, 1841, Poe wrote with apparent sincerity:

Philadelphia, April 1, 1841.

My dear Snodgrass — I fear you have been thinking it was not my design to answer your kind letter at all. It is now April Fool’s Day, and yours is dated March 8th; but believe me, although, for good reason, I may occasionally postpone my reply to your favors, I am never in danger of forgetting them. . . . [page 302:]

[Omitted portion refers to unimportant details connected with Graham’s Magazine, which are out of place here.]

In regard to Burton, I feel indebted to you for the kind interest you express; but scarcely know how to reply. My situation is embarrassing. It is impossible, as you say, to notice a buffoon and a felon, as one gentleman would notice another. The law, then, is my only resource. Now, if the truth of a scandal could be admitted in justification — I mean of what the law terms a scandal — I would have matters all my own way. I would institute a suit, forthwith, for his personal defamation of myself. He would be unable to prove the truth of his allegations. I could prove their falsity and their malicious intent by witnesses who, seeing me at all hours of every day, would have the best right to speak — I mean Burton’s own clerk, Morrell, and the compositors of the printing office. In fact, I could prove the scandal almost by acclamation. I should obtain damages. But, on the other hand, I have never been scrupulous in regard to what I have said of him. I have always told him to his face, and everybody else, that I looked upon him as a blackguard and a villain. This is notorious. He would meet me with a cross action. The truth of the allegation — which I could easily prove as he would find it difficult to prove the truth of his own respecting me — would not avail me. The law will not admit, as justification of my calling Billy Burton a scoundrel, that Billy Burton is really such. What then can I do? If I sue, he sues: you see how it is.

At the same time — as I may, after further reflection, be induced to sue, I would take it as an act of kindness — not to say justice — on your part, if you would see the gentleman of whom you spoke, and ascertain with accuracy all that may legally avail me; that is to say, what and when were the words used, and whether your friend would be willing for your sake, for my sake, and for the sake of truth, to give evidence if called upon. Will you do this for me?

So far for the matter inasmuch as it concerns Burton. I have now to thank you for your defence of myself, as stated. You are a physician, and I presume no physician can have difficulty in detecting the drunkard at a glance. You are, moreover, a literary man, well read in morals. You will never be brought to believe that I could write what I daily write, as I write it, were I as this villain would induce those who know me not, to believe. In fine, I pledge you, before God, the solemn word of a gentleman, that [page 303:] I am temperate even to rigor. From the hour in which I first saw this basest of calumniators to the hour in which I retired from his office in uncontrollable disgust at his chicanery, arrogance, ignorance and brutality, nothing stronger than water ever passed my lips.

It is, however, due to candor that I inform you upon what foundation he has erected his slanders. At no period of my life was I ever what men call intemperate. I never was in the habit of intoxication. I never drunk drams, &c. But, for a brief period, while I resided in Richmond, and edited the Messenger I certainly did give way, at long intervals, to the temptation held out on all sides by the spirit of Southern conviviality. My sensitive temperament could not stand an excitement which was an everyday matter to my companions. In short, it sometimes happened that I was completely intoxicated. For some days after each excess I was invariably confined to bed. But it is now quite four years since I have abandoned every kind of alcoholic drink — four years, with the exception of a single deviation, which occurred shortly after my leaving Burton, and when I was induced to resort to the occasional use of cider, with the hope of relieving a nervous attack.

You will thus see, frankly stated, the whole amount of my sin. You will also see the blackness of that heart which could revive a slander of this nature. Neither can you fail to perceive how desperate the malignity of the slanderer must be — how resolute he must be to slander, and how slight the grounds upon which he would build up a defamation — since he can find nothing better with which to charge me than an accusation which can be disproved by each and every man with whom I am in habit of daily intercourse.

I have now only to repeat to you, in general, my solemn assurance that my habits are as far removed from intemperance as the day from the night. My sole drink is water.

Will you do me the kindness to repeat this assurance to such of your own friends as happen to speak of me in your hearing?

I feel that nothing more is requisite, and you will agree with me upon reflection.

Hoping soon to hear from you, I am,

Yours most cordially,


Dr. J. E. Snodgrass.(60) [page 304:]

In any event, Poe’s connection with the Gentleman’s Magazine terminated with the June number for 1840. He had published in it one of the greatest of his short stories, but no new poetry. He had given a promise of development in a new direction, in his essay in May, 1840, on the “Philosophy of Furniture.” Poe might have had a career as an interior decorator had there been such a profession then in the United States. On the whole, his association with Burton’s had been an interruption to his creative work, made necessary by the earning of his living.

Of all the reasons for the break, the most potent, however, was his desire to have a magazine of his own.


[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 263:]

(1)  The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, of Nantucket; comprising the Details of a Mutiny and Atrocious Butchery on board the American Brig Grampus, on her Way to the South Seas in the Month of June, 1827. — With an Account of the Recapture of the Vessel by the Survivors; their Shipwreck, and subsequent Horrible Sufferings from Famine; their Deliverance by means of the British Schooner Jane Guy; the brief Cruise of this latter Vessel in the Antarctic Ocean; her Capture, and the Massacre of her Crew among a Group of Islands in the 84th parallel of Southern latitude; together with the incredible Adventures and Discoveries still farther South, to which that distressing Calamity gave rise. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1838. [[Full tale text]]

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 264:]

(2)  III (September, 1838), 210-211.

(3)  See R. L. Rhea, “Some Observations on Poe’s Origins,” University of Texas Bulletin, V (1930), 135-145.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 266:]

(4)  American Monthly Magazine, June, 1837.

(5)  Baltimore Book for 1838, which issued its first edition in the fall of 1837.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 267:]

(6)  Gowans, Catalogue of American Books, No. 28 (1870), p. 11. Further accounts of Gowans may be found in The Old Booksellers of New York, by William Loring Andrews (New York, 1895); in the D.A.B. , etc.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 269:]

(7)  American Museum, I (September, 1838), 25-37.

(8)  Ingram, Life, I, 154-155.

(9)  See Appendix [[XII]] for a possible new Poe item.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 271:]

(10)  Poe to Cooke, September 16, 1839. Original Autograph Ms., Griswold Collection, Boston Public Library.

(11)  In the copy of the Broadway Journal which he sent to Mrs. Whitman, and which is now in the Huntington Library, Poe wrote on the issue of September 27, 1845 — “The poem [To Helen — of 1848] which I sent you contained all the events of a dream which occurred to me soon after I knew you. Ligeia was also suggested by a dream — observe the eyes in both tale and poem.”

(12)  “Snow white” in the American Museum.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 272:]

(13)  American Museum, I (November, 1838), 301-310, 310-317. [[It should, perhaps, be specifically noted that “How to Write a Blackwoods Article” serves as an kind of introduction to “A Scythe of Time.” Indeed, the humor of one often depends in great measure upon material established or executed in the other.]]

(14)  Not in Blackwood’s. In Fraser’s Magazine, April, 1834.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 273:]

(15)  John Sartain, Reminiscences of a Very Old Man (New York, 1900), p. 217, quoting Anne E. Clarke, daughter of Thomas Cottrell Clarke. Poe does not give the location of this house.

(16)  Life, II, 35n.

(17)  Original Autograph Ms., Poe Shrine. Courtesy of Mr. Granville Valentine.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 274:]

(18)  Virginia Edition, XVII, 110-111.

(19)  Autograph Ms., Anthony Collection, New York Public Library.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 275:]

(20)  John Sartain, Reminiscences of a Very Old Man, p. 215. The Falstaff Hotel tradition is based on a statement by Dr. I. W. Heysinger, who once owned the Sully portrait, in The Life and Works of Thomas Sully, by Edward Biddle and Mantle Fielding (Philadelphia, 1921), p. 249.

[[Note: In his definitive book on The Portraits and Daguerreotypes of Edgar Allan Poe, Charlottesville, University Press of Virginia, 1987, Michael J. Deas reproduces a “Replica of a lost portrait attributed to Thomas Sully” (p. 121), which is the portrait described by Quinn. This black and white photographic copy, deposited by Heysinger at the Library of Congress in April 1905 to register for copyright, is not clearly in the style of Sully and does not strongly resemble Poe. Indeed, after exhaustive research, including an extended effort to track down all of the various portraits that have been suggested as being of Poe and attributed to Sully, Deas concludes that the none of these are authentic, and that the legend of such a portrait is probably a myth. Among other points, Deas notes that Biddle and Fielding did not include the supposed Poe portrait in a large exhibit of Sully portraits they arranged at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1922. Deas also examined Sully’s manuscript record of his paintings, with over 2,500 entries, but found no mention of Poe (p. 120). A little more than a decade after Deas published his book, a possible portrait of Virginia Poe by Thomas Sully has surfaced and been exhibited. It bears a strong resemblance to the portrait of Mrs. Graham by Sully, but neither the sitter nor the artist have been conclusively identified. Although Poe knew Robert Sully in Richmond, where they were both children, and Thomas Sully was the uncle of Robert, there is no evidence that Poe even met Thomas Sully, let alone sat for a portrait, however appealing the idea might be.]]

(21)  Letter to G. W. Eveleth, February 16, 1847. Original Autograph Ms., Berg Collection, New York Public Library.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 277:]

(22)  See J. W. Robertson’s Bibliography of Poe, I, 44-45.

(23)  Life, I, 197. From a manuscript letter by John C. Anthony, who had his information from Wyatt.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 278:]

(24)  The date on the original letter in the Griswold Manuscripts, Boston Public Library, is Saturday, May 11, 1839, changed to May 10th, under which it appears in the biographies. In 1839, Saturday could only have been May 11th.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 279:]

(25)  Woodberry, I, 240; Hervey Allen, Rev. Ed., p. 371; M. E. Phillips, p. 600.

(26)  New York, 1850, p. xvi.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 282:]

(27)  Griswold Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Personally examined and photostat furnished through the courtesy of the Rare Book Division. The reference to Dawes is puzzling, for neither the notice of Dawes’ Poems in Burton’s in March, 1839, nor that of his story Nix’s Mate, in December, 1839, is anything but friendly. Perhaps Burton had received a criticism of Dawes from Poe which he did not print. The reference to Bird’s novel may be concerned with the review of The Adventures of Robin Day, which appeared in the June number, 1839, and which was, of course, in type, at least, by May 20th. [[Quinn has apparently not connected the article on Dawes with the “Retrospective Criticism” of Dawes published in Graham’s Magazine in October 1842. It seems that Poe had retained this article in its original form, and offered it about July 1842 to J. and H. G. Langeley for the Democratic Review, with some changes to update it and allow it still to seem relevant, although these features may have been an afterthought, considered only when the article was again rejected.]]

(28)  That it was deliberate is shown in the publication by W. M. Griswold in the Correspondence of Rufus W. Griswold, pp. 90-91, a portion of the original letter dated 30 May, 1839. While W. M. Griswold prints only seven sentences, none of the forged sentences are included.

(29)  See pp. 297-300.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 283:]

(30)  F. L. Mott, A History of American Magazines, 1741-1850 (New York, 1930), p. 675.

(31)  Poe to Cooke, September 21, 1839. Woodberry, in Century Magazine XLVIII (September, 1894), 726-729, attributes it to the Griswold Mss., where it seems not to be at present.

(32)  Vol. V (July), p. 56.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 285:]

(33)  The Gift paid on an average of two dollars a page, but the page was small. “Eleonora” probably netted Poe eighteen or twenty dollars.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 286:]

(34)  The Gift. A Christmas and New Year’s Present for 1836, edited by Miss Leslie, pp. 166-171.

(35)  The hero was to have been a Spanish nobleman, Alfonso, who like William Wilson was spoiled by his parents, and who was followed by a masked figure who interfered with his vicious pursuits. At the very end, Alfonso drops his mask and cloak, just as Wilson does. But the story is only a bare outline, and the important elements of “William Wilson” are Poe’s own. Irving states that the story was taken from a Spanish play, the Embozado, by Calderón, which he had been unable to find. Woodberry showed, I, 232n, that there was no such play, but that the character of Un Hombre Embozado occurs in El Purgatorio de San Patricio, a favorite of Shelley’s. There is no evidence that Poe saw the Spanish play. He did not need to do so, for he undoubtedly read Irving’s account, since it occurred in the number of the Gift in which a story of his own appeared.

(36)  Chapter III, 74-76; Chapter VI, 106-107.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 287:]

(37)  See p. 187.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 287, continuing to the bottom of page 288:]

(38)  All the biographies give 750 as the size of the Edition, depending upon Henry C. Lea’s statement, “a reference to memoranda of that time shows that the Edition consisted of but 750 copies.” (The Nation, XXXI, December 9, 1880, p. 408). I have personally examined this manuscript, in the Griswold Collection, Boston Public Library, and this letter is printed from [page 288:] the photostat, made by the courtesy of the Rare Book department. The original Ms. letter is at least as good evidence as the “memoranda” Lea found, forty years after.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 289:]

(39)  Tuesday in 1839 was October 1st. Considering the delays incident to publishing, the Tales could hardly have appeared before November.

(40)  Foreign Quarterly Review, I (July, 1827), 60-98.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 290:]

(41)  Indeed, despite later revisions, the form of some of the stories, notably “Ligeia” and “William Wilson,” is, I believe, to be preferred.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 290, continuing to the bottom of page 291:]

(42)  Some of these letters to Snodgrass, which were once in the possession of the late William Hand Browne, of the Faculty of Johns Hopkins, passed to Edward Spencer of Baltimore, who published a portion of them in the New York Herald, March 27, 1881. Several of these letters (September 11, 1839, November 11 [1839], January 17, 1841, September 19, 1841) have been published in facsimile under the title of “Some Edgar Allan Poe Letters. Printed from the originals in the Collection of W. K. Bixby. St. Louis, Mo., MCMXV.” Harrison states that he printed his summaries from the originals. Woodberry quotes usually from the copies made by W. H. Browne. There are discrepancies, and I have checked where possible with originals in the Huntington Library, the Morgan Library, or with copies by William Hand Browne, in the Library of the University of Virginia. The [page 291:] letters have been collected in a convenient form, under title of “A Poe Correspondence Re-Edited,” by J. W. Ostrom, in Americana, XXXIV (July, 1940), 1-38.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 291:]

(43)  “Why the Little Frenchman Wears his Hand in a Sling” was republished in Bentley’s Miscellany, XLIII (July 1, 1840), 45-48, as “The Irish Gentleman and the Little Frenchman,” but Poe hardly profited by such reprinting. [[Quinn would not have been aware of T. O. Mabbott’s speculation that this story was probably published in an unlocated periodical in 1837-1839, perhaps in the Baltimore Saturday Vister (see Mabbott, Tales and Sketches, 1978, 2:463).]]

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 292:]

(44)  From copy made by William Hand Browne, Ingram Collection, University of Virginia.

(45)  Gentleman’s Magazine, V (September and October, 1839), 161-163, 221-226.

(46)  Facsimile, Bixby Letters.

(47)  Woodberry, I, 216, attributed by him to the “Griswold Mss,” where it seems not to be at present.

(48)  A curious error. The Museum had died in June, 1839.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 293:]

(49)  See “Poeana,” American Book Collector, II (December, 1932), 348-352, for discussion of the differences in the title pages of the Magazine.

(50)  Original Autograph Ms., Berg Collection, New York Public Library.

(51)  Autograph Ms., Griswold Collection, Boston Public Library.

(52)  Poe to Burton, June 1, 1840.

(53)  See articles by P. P. Crawford and H. A. Turner, University of Texas Studies in English, XII (1932), 158-170, and X (1930), 147-151. J. A. Robertson, Bibliography of Poe, II, 191, suggests that John K. Townsend’s Narrative of a Journey Across the Rocky Mountains to the Columbia River, etc. (Philadelphia, 1839), was the account most closely followed by Poe. Poe probably saw the book, and the title may have led him to write one with a similar name. But I can see no influence of any significance exercised by Townsend’s book on “Julius Rodman.”

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 296:]

(54)  Quoted from The American, February 26, 1887, by Woodberry, Life, I, 242; and adopted by Allen, Israfel, Rev. Ed., p. 378. I am authorized by Dr. Abram S. W. Rosenbach, to state that this account is without foundation.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 297:]

(55)  Gill, Life of Edgar Allan Poe, pp. 96-97.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 299:]

(56)  Really 131 pages.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 300, continuing to the top of page 301:]

(57)  This letter is probably a rough draft and Poe may not have sent it in this exact form to Burton. Mrs. Richmond, however, wrote on May 27, 1877, to Ingram, “I enclose a copy of a letter I gave to a friend long ago, which I know is correct in every particular. I urged him to send you the original, — but he did not like to trust it out of his sight. I am sure it is a perfect copy, for he is most reliable and he assured me that every erasure was precisely like the original.” Through the courtesy of Professor James S. Wilson and Mr. W. D. Hull of the University of Virginia, I am able to print the letter in the exact form of the copy sent to Ingram. Ingram printed it (I, 175-179) with omissions, not only of the lines Poe crossed out, but also of some he left untouched. On the other hand he inserted lines Poe had erased. It [page 302:] seems best to print it as Poe wished Burton to see it, so far as this is now possible.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 301:]

(58)  Poe to Snodgrass, November 11, 1839.

(59)  Wemyss, Twenty-Six Years of the Life of an Actor and Manager (New York, 1847), II, 384.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 303, running to the bottom of page 304:]

(60)  This letter was published separately in the Baltimore American of [page 304:] April 4, 1881, with editorial comment. The editor states that it was furnished by the widow of Dr. J. E. Snodgrass, and had not yet been published. I have reproduced it from the account in the American from photostat sent by Mr. L. H. Dielman, of Baltimore.





[S:1 - EAP:ACB, 1941] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - E. A. P.: A Critical Biography (A. H. Quinn) (Chapter 11)