Text: Thomas Ollive Mabbott, “Introduction,” from the facsimile edition of Tamerlane and Other Poems New York: The Facsimile Text Society, 1941, pp. v-lxvi


[page v, unnumbered:]



FEW books better deserve to be called monuments of literature than Poe’s Tamerlane of 1827. This little pamphlet, combining the qualities of historic significance and proverbial rarity in an unusual degree has “a name to conjure with,” wherever men love books. To those who agree with the dictum of Professor Saintsbury to an American friend that “Poe and Whitman are the Jachin and Boaz of your literature,” it takes a place beside the first edition of Leaves of Grass. To collectors of all the chief American poets, its rival is Bryant’s Embargo. But Whitman’s book is far less of a rarity, and Bryant’s is not characteristic of its author. The preëminence of Tamerlane is usually accepted in study and auction room.

At first glance Tamerlane may seem to be a conventional Byronic production, such as was common enough in 1827. But all sensitive critics have recognized that it shows here and there, though briefly [page vi:] and obscurely, flashes of something purely Poe’s own, a lyric quality that was later to distinguish his mature work and to bring new music and color to English poetry. The obscure but ambitious youth of 1827 had already showed marked capacity for getting into scrapes, and for dreaming. But as Poe said four years later “[Time], the greybeard will o’erlook Connivingly my dreaming book.”

A book so stirring to the imagination as Tamerlane, by so romantic an author as Poe, has naturally attracted much attention from scholars. But there has been no monographic treatment in recent years. And although there have been other reproductions (for this, counting the original, may be called a seventh edition), this is the first to be made generally available at a low price. Tamerlane presents many problems, for Poe printed it during a period of his life over which he later chose to draw a veil of obscurity — not yet completely lifted. But it is now possible to give a fairly clear account of what happened and to separate facts from legends and conjectures. The following study is based on an examination of much new evidence and reëxamination of the old. I am of course deeply indebted to my predecessors, but I have followed them only when convinced they were right or where their conjectures seemed plausible. On the other hand I have omitted nothing known to me that seems essential. [page vii:]

The following is quoted from my late master, William P. Trent;

When Mr. Richard Herne Shepherd republished Tamerlane in 1884 he declared that “both in promise and actual performance,” it might “claim to rank as the most remarkable production that any English-speaking” poet of the 19th Century published in his teens. At a first reading of the volume this judgment appears to be unintelligible. The oftener Poe’s first collection is read, however, the less will one be disposed to resent the eulogium. With all the imitativeness, with all the crudeness — especially and mirabile dictu for Poe, in the handling of the verse of the longest poem, there is a maturity of thought, a concentration of emotional power, and a marrying of the visionary elements of the life of the spirit with the elements of objective personal existence that seems to mark the advent of a writer destined to impress himself and his ideas deeply upon the minds and souls of men.(1) [page viii:]


Before he went to the University of Virginia in 1826, Poe became engaged to Sarah Elmira Royster. After his return from his rather inglorious career at college, he found that his letters to his sweetheart had been intercepted by her cautious parents and that she had accepted a new suitor, Mr. Shelton, whom she married. This is clearly the basis of the allegory of “Tamerlane,” and the subject of the song beginning “I saw thee on the bridal day.” Biographers differ on the depth of Poe’s affection for Elmira, and any definite statement about it must be a personal opinion. I believe that the love was real, that Poe never forgot her, and indeed that she and his wife Virginia were the two really great loves in his life. It should be recalled that at the end of his life Poe found Elmira a widow, and again became engaged to her. And I think it certain that she was the inspiration of the poems “Bridal Ballad” and “Sonnet to Zante,” published in January, 1837 [page ix:] (after Poe had probably met her again in Richmond), and that she has a share at least in the inspiration of “Annabel Lee,” written during the period of the second engagement in 1849.(2)

Unhappy at Richmond because of his love and the anger of John Allan at his gambling debts incurred at the University, Poe sought to leave Richmond, where he was apparently kept at work without salary in Allan’s counting house. Almost surely, too, Poe sided with his foster mother, whose relations with her husband were not happy. He sought vainly for a position in Philadelphia, and finally left the Allan home [page x:] in anger. We have letters of this time between Poe and Allan, which are not pleasant.(3)

On March 20, 1827, Poe wrote his last letter of the period to Allan from the Court House Tavern, Richmond, saying he planned to sail for Boston on Saturday [March 24], and asking for $12 for expenses. The exact details of his movements from March 20 to May 26 are imperfectly known, though during that time he certainly reached Boston and arranged to print Tamerlane. On March 27, John Allan wrote a relative “I am thinking Edgar has [page xi:] gone to sea,” and he seems to have thought Poe had taken an assumed name, Henri LeRennet.

But we do not know if he got the $12 or whether he carried out his plans exactly or modified them.(4) Poe later told imaginative tales of a foreign voyage at this time, which have greatly befuddled his earlier biographers. They are dealt with below, and are obviously fiction. But I believe from this mass of fiction two facts may be culled. He said his friend Ebenezer Burling started from Richmond with him and soon gave up the journey. That Ebenezer accompanied Poe to the first place the boat stopped has nothing incredible about it. And a number of traditions speak of his sailing on a coal boat. Since most of the boats that plied from Richmond to Boston at the time did carry coal, this is entirely credible. But it is impossible to name the boat at present.(5) The evidence [page xii:] concerning the route Poe used to reach Boston and what he did upon arrival must now be considered.


A most natural thing for Poe to do, under the circumstances, would have been to visit his relatives, his brother William Henry Leonard Poe especially, in Baltimore. Recently an undoubtedly authentic document has turned up that seems to indicate that he did so.

This most important bit of evidence has long been known to a few persons, but has never before been [page xiii:] published. It is now printed by courtesy of Mr. Augustus Wilfrid Dellquest, of Los Angeles, who owns the album of Octavia Walton, later Mme LeVert. This was obtained by his father, the late Augustus William Dellquest, directly from the administrator of the estate of Colonel D. B. Dyer, who purchased Château LeVert, near Augusta, Georgia, after Mme LeVert’s death. The contents of the album were authenticated by Mme LeVert’s grandson, George Walton Reab, so we have an absolutely complete history. This album contains a brief poem in the handwriting of Edgar Poe, to which the celebrated Octavia has added the date “May the 1st, 1827.” Although the poem is unsigned, it has always been known as Poe’s by the owners of the album. Now Octavia was in Baltimore in 1827, but is not known to have visited there either previously or later, and it is hard to say at what other time Poe could have written in her album. If it can be proved that Poe was not in Baltimore, we may assume that the lady made an error in the date and that the poet wrote in the album perhaps through the offices of a friend, at some other time. But the handwriting shows the poem is early, and it seems appropriate that it should first appear in print in this new edition of his earliest book. The lines are copied exactly from a photostat, but the title is added for convenience, on the analogy of similar poems written by Poe. [page xiv:]


When wit, and wine, and friends have met

And laughter crowns the festive hour

In vain I struggle to forget

Still does my heart confess thy power

And fondly turn to thee!


But Octavia do not strive to rob

My heart, of all that soothes its pain

The mournful hope that every throb

Will make it break for thee!(6) [page xv:]

It may at first seem troublesome to scholars to accept the idea of Poe’s visit to Baltimore in 1827, and the hypothesis that he went there is presented with some reserve. Yet nothing definite is known that precludes the occurrence of such a visit. It would be easier to understand how Poe’s brother and L. A. Wilmer knew so much about Poe’s affair with Elmira later in 1827, for their writings seem to indicate they knew far more than they could have learned from Tamerlane, and indeed Wilmer’s play Merlin suggests a personal acquaintance with Poe had begun. Wilmer at one time said he met Poe “shortly after his return from St. Petersburg” which is surely based on Poe’s later romancing about his early adventures, with which Wilmer probably was familiar, and this was connected by Poe with an attempt to help the Greeks, who rebelled in 1821 and needed no help after 1827. All this is a little ahead of the story, but the relations of Poe to his brother [page xvi:] and Wilmer had led me to suspect a visit to Baltimore even before I knew of Octavia’s album. The adventures of Poe in Boston, to be related immediately, do not require much time, and biographers have already felt difficulties in explaining the length of time between his departure from Richmond and his enlistment in the army.(7) Without claiming that the matter is certain as yet, I would submit that if we reject it, we must assume an error in the one definite document we know. But its acceptance requires only the assumption of minor inaccuracy in material we know to be somewhat inaccurate at other points.

If Poe was in Baltimore in 1827, the traditional date assigned to his cento in the album of Margaret Bassett might be confirmed. This album which is used by permission of the present owner, Mr. J. K. Lilly, Jr., of Indianapolis, contains a poem by Poe’s brother, dated Sept. 10, 1827, and an undated poem [page xvii:] by Poe himself, which, however, is written on the last page to which anyone contributed and follows a poem by an obscure writer, dated March, 1828. However, many poems in this album are undated, and one is out of chronological order. Thus, while I believe its date is 1829, it certainly is a poem written before the publication of Al Aaraaf, and its inclusion here seems desirable. The verses(8) are, of course, all quoted from the sources Poe cites, but some of them are humorously misquoted in an original way. The “Somebody” whose name Poe forgot was Spenser, and I think the fifth line parodies part of Hamlet’s soliloquy, “To be, or not to be.”


Who hath seduced thee to this foul revolt ] Milton Par: lost — Book I —

From the pure well of Beauty undefiled? ] Somebody

So banished from true wisdom to prefer

Such squalid wit to honourable rhyme? ] Cowper’s Task Book, I.

To write? To scribble? nonsense & no more? } Shakespeare

I will not write: upon this argument ] do. Troilus & Cressida.

To write is human — not to write divine. E.A.P. ] Pope Essay on Man [page xviii:]


Sometime between April 3 and early in May, Poe arrived in Boston and there arranged to print his poems. He also met a certain Peter Pindar Pease, whom he had known previously in Virginia and was to meet again in later life. Pease’s reminiscences of the poet have reached us, but unfortunately at third hand. From them I believe that Poe worked for a short time as clerk for a merchant named P. P. F. De Grand, whom he assisted by acting as market reporter for his newspaper, the Weekly Report.(9) If [page xix:] this paper contains writings of Poe, they can hardly be identified, for beyond a few articles credited to printed sources, and editorials signed by the proprietor, it printed only shipping lists, price lists of commodities, and advertisements.

On May 26, 1827, Poe enlisted in the United States Army, giving his name as Edgar A. Perry, a clerk, aged 22, and was assigned to Battery H of the First Artillery, stationed at Fort Independence in Boston Harbor, whither he went almost at once. On October 31, 1827, Poe(10) was transferred to Fort Moultrie, at Charleston, South Carolina. [page xx:]

Before discussing the chief event of Poe’s stay in Boston, the publication of Tamerlane, and the poet’s relations with his printer, we give an account of the latter person, about whom much has at last been discovered.


The printer whom Poe found to publish Tamerlane was a youth little older than himself, upon whose obscurity scholars have remarked(11) more often than was necessary. [page xxi:]

Calvin Frederick Stephen Thomas was born in New York City, August 5, 1808. His father was an Englishman, thought to have been the only member(12) of his family in this country, who died when [page xxii:] the boy was very young. The widow Maria C. Thomas, moved with her two children, Calvin and an older sister, Susan Reid, to reside with relatives at Norfolk, Virginia, returning after a few years to her native place, Boston, to educate her children.

There, in 1827 Thomas was listed as paying a poll tax, and had a printing business at 70 Washington St. We do not know how he met Poe; the possibilities are discussed below. No Boston imprint of Thomas except Tamerlane has been located, but we know he printed some apothecaries’ labels, and may assume most of his work was ephemeral.

Since we know his eldest child was born about 1829, Thomas must have married about that year. His wife was Eliza Ann Shields, by whom he had two sons, Calvin Frederick and Alfred, and five daughters, Agnes, Susan, Martha, Katherine, and Ida.

Thomas soon left Boston and came to New York City, where he appears only in the Directory for 1830, as a printer, at 144 Nassau St., living at 56 [page xxiii:] Spring St. Of his New York imprints no specimen has been found. But in the Directory for 1831 we find Thomas Edwards, a printer, at “Hudson, near Horatio,” near the last address of Thomas, who may have become his partner, for Edwards is not in the Directory for 1832, in which we find the firm of Thomas & Edwards upstate.

There, at Montgomery, N.Y., Thomas and Edwards issued in 1832 an edition of Samuel B. Wylie’s Two Sons of Oil, greatly revised from the earlier edition printed at Greenburg, Pa., in 1803. Of this Montgomery edition no copy is known, but it had at least 63 pages, as we know from the references and extracts from it in an anonymous reply, Sentiments of the Rev. Samuel B. Wylie, A.M. . . . . Contrasted . . . Montgomery, N.Y., from the Press of Thomas & Edwards, 1832, 12 mo., 12 pp. Of this the New York Historical Society has a copy. Next appeared a pamphlet by James O. Stokes, A Sermon Delivered before the Third Presbytery of New York, Montgomery, from the Press of Calvin F. S. Thomas, 1833.(13) Thomas then went to Goshen, N.Y., and ran a newspaper, I think.

On May 1, 1835, Thomas came to Buffalo, and [page xxiv:] went into the wine business, but soon returned to printing, being at first employed by O. G. Steele. His name is found in all Buffalo directories from 1836 to 1868. I have met with the statement he founded the directory, but I am not sure he was connected with it until 1850. He often changed his residence, his place of business, and his firm. In 1840 Thomas was interested in the Tecumseh campaign, was a member of a political glee club, and with Thomas Newell published the Buffalo Daily Centinel for six months. In the early forties he was a partner of Jewett, Thomas & Co., publishing the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, and from 1850 the Commercial Advertiser Directory. In 1855 the firm was Thomas & Lathrop. After its failure, E. R. Jewett again became proprietor, and Thomas manager. In 1862 he was described as “C. F. S. Thomas, Supt. Franklin Steam Printing House, 180 and 182 Washington St.,” of which an advertisement lists E. A. Thomas (his wife) as proprietor. Directories from 1862 to 1868 are called Thomas’ Directory; and he signed a full-page Preface to that for 1862 and was the publisher in 1865 and 1866. In 1867 and 1868 his firm was Thomas, Howard and Johnson.

He was the publisher of a literary periodical, the Western Literary Messenger from 1846 to 1857, and of the Buffalo Medical Journal from 1844 to 1860. The list of his Buffalo imprints in my footnote [page xxv:] is compiled largely from the “Imprint Catalogue” of the New York Public Library, which does not list Buffalo thoroughly after 1850, and from notes made by Mr. Wegelin. Some of the books are from plates purchased by the printer, and some had more than one edition. Incomplete as the list must be, it gives proof of an active career.(14)

In 1869 Thomas left Buffalo and retired to Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife lived with their daughter Martha and her family. Another daughter, Mrs. Lord, also lived in Springfield, where she has descendants. From his third year to his tenth, Mr. Booth lived with his grandfather and was his [page xxvi:] constant companion; he recalls a visit to a fair with him and his interest in horticulture. Thomas “was very fond of music and played the organ quite well.” He did not print or engage in business in Springfield, but he probably wrote for the local newspapers. The family is sure he never mentioned Poe to his relatives.(15) No poetry by Thomas is known.

A daguerreotype shows the printer as clean shaven; a later photograph shows an altogether charming old gentleman with beard and moustache; in both he wears spectacles. He attended the Episcopal Church at Springfield, where his pastor stated that when he first met him, Thomas said “I am a Unitarian, and have been connected with that church for more than thirty years. We have no minister and are not likely to have. I know your service, however, and can worship with you.” Thomas had always “taken a great interest in the Sunday School, and had recently assumed charge of its musical training” in 1876.(16) [page xxvii:]

Thomas died of malarial fever while on a visit to relatives in Buffalo, on September 19, 1876, and was buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery (Lot No. 13, Section 1) on September 22. The obituary in the Courier for September 20 said:

He was a man of uncommon activity and energy, public spirited and dispensed a princely hospitality in his time. He was decidedly mercurial in temperament, easily elated, but showing buoyancy and elasticity in adversity. He was in his day connected actively and efficiently with nearly all the more prominent societies of the city, and was the first man to put a pleasure steam yacht on Niagara River, and to project the Falconwood Club. He inaugurated the Buffalo City Directory, publishing it for many years as Thomas’s City Directory; he was ready with his pen, light in conversation, and altogether a man of remarkably versatile attainments. He was a man of generous impulses, a devoted husband and father, and we do not believe he left an enemy in the city.


We do not know how Poe met Thomas. There is indeed a vague statement, little more than a rumor, that their parents had been acquainted at Norfolk, about 1811, which cannot be completely rejected.(17) [page xxviii:] At one time I thought the printer’s reference to showbills on the cover of Tamerlane might suggest theatrical connections, but I learn that the word may not have its modern connotations in 1827. Available Boston playbills are not from the press of Thomas. It has been noticed that Thomas had his shop very close to the offices of two leading literary magazines [page xxix:] of Boston, which Poe was likely to visit in the hope of selling his work; perhaps Thomas was simply found in that way.

We know nothing of the terms between the author and his publisher. But we have seen from the account of his life that Thomas was the kind of man who might speculate on a business venture, and was not perhaps too cautious to have high hopes of success, which Poe may have shared. There was little expense involved save the cost of the paper, for Thomas obviously did the work himself and probably had much spare time.(18) We do not know the number [page xxx:] of copies printed. My guess is about 200.(19) The number immediately sold must have been very small, but the book was noticed as published in August and probably appeared in July, 1827.

The argument for suppression is based on the “Advertisement” prefixed to Poe’s revised version of the chief poem in his Al Aaraaf, 1829, page 40, which reads: “This Poem was printed for publication in Boston, in the year 1827, but suppressed through circumstances of a private nature.” It will be seen [page xxxi:] below how unreliable were all Poe’s remarks on the dates of his early poetry. But there is only one satisfactory interpretation of the “circumstances” — Poe’s enlistment in the army was something he did not talk about. In 1843 Poe regarded the book as published. Surely “suppression” was a euphemism for “had no real circulation.”

What presumably happened was this. Poe enlisted in the army before the printing had been far advanced. It is evident from the book itself that proofs were not corrected by the author. One of the misprints I consider decisive on that point, for it was an easy one for a printer to make,(20) but impossible for an author to miss.

Poe’s duties in the army must have given him little time to visit his printer, but surely he had some leave to visit Boston. He obviously sent a copy of the book to Baltimore, where his brother printed an extract from it late in 1827. And I believe some copies [page xxxii:] reached friends in Virginia, where one copy was found in the library of an old family.(21)

There is some information about the circulation of copies in New England, sufficient to show that copies were sold to the public and that publication, in a technical sense, was accomplished.(22) I have a [page xxxiii:] strong belief that Thomas sold such copies as he could and upon leaving Boston, about 1828, disposed of the remainder to a jobber. I suspect the books were peddled in New England towns, for one bears in ink the price “9d,” which is 12 ½ cents in New England money of account.(23) Mexican reals commonly circulated as legal tender in this country at the time. This I think was the usual price of Tamerlane.

Finally there is a story about a remainder of the book, which has usually been regarded as a legend. Really it is a little better than that, and I have persuaded Mr. Goodspeed, who did not include it in his delightful discussion of Tamerlane in Yankee Bookseller, 1937, to tell it for us. He writes:

Shortly after I sold my first Tamerlane, 1925, I had a call from [a retired bookseller of good reputation,] who had been in the business here in Boston for many years. In referring to my sale of Tamerlane, he said he remembered that when a young man employed by W. H. Piper, he had a bundle of this anonymous book, which they put in their window, or perhaps on the shelf outside the window, at a bargain price of 25 cents. I think he said they finally went to the junkman. I ought to add however that [page xxxiv:] it was a very short time after that, he went to a sanitarium where he later died, a mental case. Whether this accounts at all for the story I cannot say.

I have heard this story from other sources, and can only say that the manner in which some copies of the book have turned up suggests that something of the kind may have happened and that the memory of a bookseller — even a mad one — on such a point cannot be dismissed as lightly as could a statement of a person not interested in books.


Although I can find no reference to the publication of Tamerlane by name in Baltimore, in 1827, traces of its influence, or at least of Edgar Poe and his story have been found in a quarto newspaper of that city, the North American. In September and November [[October]] two of the minor poems, somewhat revised, were printed in this weekly paper over the signature “W.H.P.,” commonly used by Poe’s brother. The second is marked “Extract.” Furthermore, in the same paper for November 27, 1827, appeared William Henry Leonard Poe’s story “The Pirate,” based on the unhappy love affair of Edgar Leonard (the name given the hero of the tale), which includes an account of his learning of his sweetheart’s approaching marriage from an old servant and much else, probably based on letters or conversations [page xxxv:] of Edgar Poe. The story is wildly melodramatic, for the hero stabs the lady and rushes forth to a career of piracy, seeking death in vain. But the less violent parts of the story are unmistakably the result of acquaintance with the romance of Poe and Elmira.(24)

And even before this, another writer, Lambert A. Wilmer, who knew Henry Poe and surely obtained the material from him or Edgar, contributed an anonymous drama, Merlin, to the columns of the North American for August 18, 25, and September 1, 1827, clearly based on the same theme. Its authorship is revealed in a review of Wilmer’s Emilia Harrington, in the Southern Literary Messenger for February, 1836, where Poe speaks of Wilmer’s Merlin as in parts “full of the truest poetic fire.”

Merlin is far milder than “The Pirate” — even milder than “Tamerlane,” for the hero, Alphonso, is restrained from committing suicide by a “new found friend” called Marcus, and through the enchanter Merlin is able to recover the treasure he has lost in a shipwreck, lack of which has made him despair [page xxxvi:] of obtaining the consent of his beloved’s father to his suit. The story is transferred from the banks of the James to the Hudson, and ends happily. The heroine’s name is Elmira. We know Poe wrote hinting suicide to John Allan, and we may be morally sure that he spoke or wrote despondingly to his brother. Those who think Poe did visit Baltimore in April or May, 1827, will see in Marcus an allegory of one whom Poe knew. Those who reject the hypothesis may regard the play as an offer of Wilmer’s friendship, accepted in 1829. Merlin, by the way, was separately published, for in the columns of the North American for September 22, 1827, I find the following notice: “Merlin, a drama, is printed in pamphlet form, and may be had at the office of the Baltimore North American. Sept. 21, 1827.” No copy of this pamphlet has yet been discovered, but three files of the newspaper with texts of the drama are known. A reprint of the play is a desideratum of Poe scholarship, especially if a copy of the separate edition (evidently printed by Samuel Sands) can be found.


As he became more famous, Poe tended more and more to obscure parts of his early career, and his statements about the year 1827 are deliberately confusing, as are all his statements after that date [page xxxvii:] about his age. He invented legends about himself, and adopted some adventures of his brother.(25) These fictions probably began early, but they flowered in 1843.

In that year there appeared a full page account of Poe’s life in a Philadelphia newspaper, the Saturday Museum. This sketch was not signed,(26) but it certainly [page xxxviii:] gave an account Poe wished the world to accept in 1843. The following extracts include all that is of interest in our present study. After an account of his wildness at the University, we read:

His good resolutions, however, had come somewhat too late, for he had already become involved in difficulties, which resulted in his leaving home. With a young friend, Ebenezer Burling, he endeavored to make his way, with scarcely a dollar in his pocket, to Greece, with the wild design of aiding in the Revolution then taking place. Burling soon repented his folly, and gave up the design when he had scarcely entered on the expedition: Mr. Poe persevered, but did not succeed in reaching the scene of action; he proceeded, however, to St. Petersburgh, where, through deficiency of passport, he became involved in serious difficulties, from which he was finally extricated by the American Consul. He returned to America, only in time to learn the severe illness of Mrs. Allan, who, in character, was the reverse of her husband, and whom he sincerely loved. He reached Richmond on the night after her burial. [page xxxix:]

Mr. Allan’s house now became doubly displeasing to him; deprived of her who had, in all cases, endeavored to make it a happy home. Mr. Allan’s manners, however, had become somewhat softened, and he professed, if he did not feel, an entire reconciliation. Mr. Poe now resolved to enter the West Point Academy. [Then follows an account of the second Mrs. Allan’s unfriendly conduct to Poe. Thereafter is a fairly accurate summary of Poe’s life from 1831 to 1843, and a series of critical opinions about Poe’s prose. Then the biographer continues.]

But not withstanding his success as a prose writer, it is as a poet we now wish chiefly to consider him. He wrote verses as soon as he could write at all. His first poetical publication, however, was “Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems. By a Virginian.” Of this, the first edition was published (in pamphlet form) in Boston, before he had completed his fifteenth year. Some of his best pieces, among others the subjoined lines to Helen, were composed two years previously. [Then is given the poem beginning “Helen, thy beauty is to me” in its final form, as it now appeared in his works. This had never been printed at all until the volume of 1831, and in a far from finished form there.]

These lines, by a boy of fourteen, will compare favorably with any written, at any age, by any poet whatsoever.

The second edition of the volume was published in Baltimore, by Hatch and Dunning, we believe in 1827; a third during the author’s cadetship at West Point. Of these editions, the two first attracted but little attention, on account of their slovenly printing and their modes of publication. [page xli:]

In this medley of fact and fiction the most complete synthesis was accomplished in the paragraph about the three books. It is highly probable that Poe had access, at the time, only to the edition of 1831. But the wrong date and the right publisher for Al Aaraaf and the subtle introduction of an alteration of the pseudonym from the first book, attached to the second, which really bore Poe’s name, I cannot think the result of a bad memory. Biographers refer to later reminiscences of his youth by Poe, which seem to indicate several retellings of this story at different periods of his life, but all are of a piece. They are valuable only when, and so far as, they are confirmed by other evidence, or are so inherently probable there is no need to deny them.

Poe told Lowell he could not obtain copies of his earlier books for him. Since he had to borrow from his cousin the 1829 volume used as copy for part of his edition of 1845, this is not to be doubted. Tamerlane Poe must have thought introuvable, and so it was to be for many years. No library or famous collector obtained a copy while Poe lived or for a decade thereafter.


Mr. Goodspeed has quoted a notice from the Philobiblion, March, 1862, “I am desirous of obtaining information concerning the first volume of [page xlii:] verse published by the late Edgar A. Poe, its date, size, contents, etc. It appears to be a scarce book.” Collectors were on the book’s trail, but they did not know that a copy had turned up. This was included in a consignment of hundreds of American books, sent in 1859 by Samuel G. Drake, of Boston, to Henry Stevens for the British Museum, which received them in 1860 and paid for them in 1867. In consideration of the large number taken, the rate was a shilling apiece. The authorship of Tamerlane is said to have been known.

An English biographer of Poe found that the Museum had the book, and in Belgravia, for June, 1876, announced the discovery and printed extracts from the text, but without mentioning where a copy was preserved. In 1884 another Englishman, Richard Herne Shepherd, produced a reprint of Tamerlane.(27)

Soon after this, a second copy of Tamerlane was found on a stall in Boston for 15 cents. This had [page xlii:] covers and is the copy reproduced in this volume. At least nine other copies have since been found,(28) and all have commanded a very high price. Part of the fascination of “Tamerlane” lies in an emotion Poe made the basis of his “Gold-Bug” — the hope of finding hidden treasure. This justifies the record of outstanding figures. In 1892 a copy brought $1,850; the highest record at auction is $11,500, in 1919. At private sale I know $31,000 was once paid. This was certainly abnormal, but even a poor copy is worth several thousand dollars.(29)


Since this volume contains a complete reproduction of the original copy of Tamerlane in the Huntington Library, made by the offset process, which reproduces all details, only brief bibliographical treatment is necessary. The title page reads:

TAMERLANE / AND OTHER POEMS. / [rule] / BY A BOSTONIAN. / [rule] / Young heads are giddy, [page xliii:] and young hearts are warm, / And make mistakes for manhood to reform. COWPER. / [ornament] / BOSTON: / CALVIN F. S. THOMAS. . . . . PRINTER. / [13 dots] / 1827.

12mo.. ([1]6, 26, [3]6, [4]2,) 20 leaves; pages [i-iii], iv, [5], 6-40, (i, iii, 5, 23, and 25 not numbered; ii, 22, 24, and 36 blanks); Size, about 6 1/2 x 4 1/4 inches; Type-pages 119 to 124 x 75 mm.; 26 lines.

The gatherings are not completely signed, signature appearing but three times; 1* on p. 5, 2 on p. 13, and 2* on p. 17. This however is sufficient to show the scheme, and Professor Lawrence Wroth agrees that the size is probably small 12mo, not 18mo. The asterisked signatures are probably offcuts, and the printer used half sheets. The arrangement is common at the time. The paper is without watermark.

The type-pages are irregular; page 20, which is the only one without extra spacing, is 119 mm. high, but other pages with spacing have 26 lines of printed text and are 124 mm. The width is taken from page 38, prose.

The covers are colored paper wrappers. On the recto of the front cover is a cover title set in different types from the title-page, but having the same text, except for two slight variations, a dash being inserted before “COWPER” and 15 dots instead of 13 being used above the date. On the verso of the back cover is an advertisement of the printer. The paper of the covers is colored through, and is a kind of gray brown that has been called tea-color. The color of different copies may differ because of fading. Several copies exist without covers, and William Andrews Clark argued convincingly that his copy never [page xliv:] had them. It is probable that the person who bought the remainder after Thomas left Boston did not think a binding necessary. Such copies were certainly early in circulation. No printed price occurs, but one copy bears a handwritten price, “9d” (12 ½ cents), asked for a copy before 1835, and this was probably the original price.

Publicly owned copies are those in the British Museum, London; the H. E. Huntington Library, San Marino, Cal. (the copy reproduced herewith); the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library of the University of California, Los Angeles; and the New York Public Library. Seven copies are in private hands. No copy inscribed in any way by Poe is known.

Since the original pamphlet is reproduced in this volume, a collation of the contents seems unnecessary. But a list of the misprints should be given, for while many are obvious enough, a few may prove hard to mend.(30) [page xlv:]


Tamerlane has been “reproduced” several times with varying accuracy. The following list of reprints is probably complete; the third item is in the Library of Congress, the rest in the New York Public Library.

1.  The first reprint, London, 1884, limited to 100 copies, has a brief preface by Richard Herne Shepherd. It reproduces the peculiarities of the original in the manner of a type-facsimile, but corrects the chief misprints.

2.  A type-facsimile, Greenwich, Conn., 1905, limited to 47 copies, and privately printed, has a brief unsigned preface. The misprints are retained, but the line divisions in Poe’s Preface are not accurate.

3.  An amazingly realistic reproduction made by a photographic process, San Francisco, 1923, appeared in an edition of 150 copies. It is enclosed in a case with a printed volume containing a bibliographical note by William Andrews Clark, Jr., an appreciation by James Grant Wilson, and a reprint of the text. Even the coloring of the original is reproduced, but it can be easily distinguished by the presence of the first owner’s name, “M. Hathaway.” [page xlvi:]

4.  A fine photographic reproduction [London, 1931,] with no notes save the stamped word “FACSIMILE” was issued in a paper envelope giving the publisher as Ulysses Bookshop and the edition as of 288 copies.

5.  In 1939 another reproduction, which I am convinced is a type-facsimile, not photographic, was issued by Wirth Brothers, Baltimore. The copy seen by me has no indication printed on it that it is a facsimile, but the covers are yellow, and there are minor differences from the original, such as the omission of the periods in the running titles of “Tamerlane.” The edition is said to have been of 100 [[1000]] copies.

Photographic plates were long kept standing by the official photographer of the British Museum copy in London, who supplied orders on request.

Modern editions of Poe’s works often contain reprints of portions of the text of 1827, and give in notes the variants of the poems from the final texts. In most cases these seem to be based on the 1884 reprint, those in Campbell’s edition are taken from an original, of 1827, however.

TEXT OF 1827

We now come to the contents of the volume itself. The commentary is based on that of Campbell, but while all parallels that seem certainly related to the passages he cites are included, doubtful material has been omitted to allow the inclusion of new notes, gathered during the past twenty years. Of [page xlvii:] the manuscript from which the book was printed no fragment is known. Manuscript versions of some of the poems exist, but all are demonstrably of later date than the summer of 1827.


Poe’s pseudonym was justified by his birth in Boston and his residence in that city when he prepared his book for the press. Hervey Allen suggests, however, that Poe called himself a Bostonian because he had in mind a picture of the city, given him by his mother with an inscription asking him to “love Boston, the place of his birth.” It is also suggested the name was chosen to win the favor of New England reviewers.

The couplet used as motto is Cowper’s Tirocinium, lines 444-45, which Trent said “Poe probably intended as a peace-offering to severe judges of poetry, but some students have construed it into an appeal for Mr. Allan’s forgiveness.” It may also have meant that Poe hoped to write better in the future, for in 1829 Poe wrote John Neal he did not think he had yet done his best. Neal published this letter in the Yankee, Boston, December, 1829.


This Professor Trent characterized as “compounded of youthful and conventional mock-modesty [page xlviii:] and bravado in equal proportions.” The motto at the end, from line 8 of the second epigram of the thirteenth book of Martial, means freely “I myself know the unimportance of this” and is a commonplace which curiously enough was used in 1827 in Tennyson’s Poems by Two Brothers, of which Poe could have known nothing. It was used by Coleridge, whose work Poe probably did not know as early as 1827, by Southey, and by Dryden, but I suspect Poe’s source was some collection of quotations.

One statement, that about the date of the composition of the poems in the volume, calls for a full discussion of Poe’s earlier verse, after which the poems of the volume of 1827 will be taken up in order. All the evidence, incomplete as it is, makes it clear that several of the minor poems cannot be as early as 1822 and that nothing can be certainly attributed to so early a date. Poe’s habit of revision, which persisted throughout his whole career, may be the explanation of his statement. Some of his earliest lines probably were incorporated in the texts published in 1827. But it is safe to assume that in the ordinary sense of the word the composition of almost everything in the book must be placed in the years 1825 to 1827. Of the slight fragments of Poe’s poetry actually known to antedate 1827, nothing is to be identified with poems in Tamerlane. [page xlix:]


Poe’s Richmond schoolmaster, Joseph H. Clarke, recalled John Allan showing him a manuscript volume of verses “to the little girls of Richmond” by Poe. Allan was discouraged by the teacher from printing this book, and it is supposed to have perished. But there was found at the Library of Congress among the Ellis and Allan papers, in files for 1824, a sheet of paper on which some commercial calculations were made after it had been discarded by Poe. The first writing on the paper is in Poe’s hand and reads:

— Poetry. by. Edgar. A. Poe — —


— 1rst —

Last night with many. cares & toils opress’d

Weary. . I laid me on a couch to rest

This has been reproduced in Allen’s Israfel, page 124, but its full significance has not been pointed out. It is the beginning, not of a single poem, but of a collection of poems. Assuming that the poet dedicated his poems to the young ladies, but did not necessarily devote his lines wholly to their praise, I believe we have here a rejected commencement of a little manuscript book of poems, probably that of which Clarke saw a finished copy.

It was also recalled that on the retirement of [page l:] Clarke from Poe’s school, in the fall of 1823, Poe addressed the outgoing principal with an English ode, and even earlier he had written him an epistle in Latin verse. Of these no line is known to survive. But there is also a tradition that Poe wrote satires in verse before 1827, and one of these has reached us. It is called “Oh, Tempora! Oh, Mores,” and the original was kept by the Mackenzie family until about 1865, long enough for a copy to be taken, from which Eugene L. Didier printed a text in the No Name Magazine, Baltimore, October, 1889. This is an attack on a dandy named Pitts, 46 heroic couplets in length,(31) and I am convinced of the authenticity of the lines.

At the University of Virginia, Poe was recalled to have written a verse translation of a passage in Tasso.(32) [page li:]

We have given above two poems ascribed to the year 1827, but of which the date is not absolutely certain. There is also a poem, certainly of 1827, but of which the authorship is doubtful. This is an “Enigma” first printed in the Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post for March 10, 1827, and reprinted in the Casket for May, at page 199. This Poe reprinted, much revised, in his compilation “Omniana” in Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, May, 1840. The first version follows:

Sat. Eve. Post

[page lii:]

According to the June Casket, the words are Mum, Anna, Deed, Anana, Minim, and Madam. Poe was fond of puzzles, and his brother had contributed to the Post still earlier in 1827, but he did not definitely claim authorship. The case for and against this being by Poe is certainly balanced, but I incline to the view that he composed it. Other surviving poems ascribed to Poe before the publication of Tamerlane, as far as I know, are either dated too early,(33) or are certainly not his work.(34) [page liii:]


Poe’s subject is typical of the time, when Byron’s Oriental poems were the fashion, and the whole poem is in a sense an imitation of Byron’s manner. With the historical Tamerlane, Poe’s hero has little in common; he took the name of his enemy Bajazet and geographical terms from some brief account of him, not identified. He shows no acquaintance with Gibbon’s Chapter LXV, with its elaborate account of the historic Timur, or with Marlowe’s play (which he probably knew later in life), but Professor M. A. Shockley will show (in a forthcoming article in PMLA) that Poe probably heard of a performance of the “horse-spectacle” Timur the Tartar, performed [page liv:] in Richmond in his youth, and may have placed his hero in a tower as a result of a scene in that play; and Rowe’s Tamerlane made the hero a good man. The name of the heroine, Ada, is that of Byron’s daughter, and there are distinct echoes of Byron throughout.(35) There are two clear borrowings from Gray’s Elegy.”(36) The similarity of the passage beginning at XVI, 8, to the opening of Bryant’s “Thanatopsis” cannot be accidental. And there is at least a probable echo at X, i ff., of E. C. Pinkney’s Rodolph, Part I, lines 10-12. [page lv:]

To Rodolph’s proud ancestral towers,

Whose station from its mural crown

A regal look cast sternly down.

A possible reminiscence of Voltaire in VI, ii, is referred to earlier in this study, at page xiv, where is a quotation from La Princesse de Babylone.

The passage about flowers (VII, 17) is illustrated by Poe’s statement to Miss Susan Ingram, in 1849, recorded in the New York Herald, February 19, 1905, that the odor of orris root always recalled his foster mother to his mind.

The poem is connected in theme with Poe’s “Bridal Ballad,” “Sonnet to Zante,” and probably with “Annabel Lee.” A few foreshadowings of phrases elsewhere used by Poe have been found.(37) He also used “Tamerlane” as a signature to two poems printed in the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, May 11 and 18, 1833, called “To —” and “Fanny.”

Poe, immediately after printing the poem, began to revise it, and about 1828 he prepared a manuscript version, partly preserved in the Pierpont Morgan Library, called the Wilmer Manuscript, and sometimes thought to antedate 1827. The variants show that Poe had already made many changes [page lvi:] which first appear in print in 1829.(38) Poe, at the end of 1828, sent a part of the poem to John Neal, who printed it in the Yankee, Boston, December, 1829. Poe included a text in his volume Al Aaraaf, 1829. In his Poems, 1831, Poe again revised the poem, adding to it versions of “The Lake,” and “Imitation” (or rather of the 1829 version of that poem, which has little in common with its first form.) In 1845 Poe included in his Raven and Other Poems a text of “Tamerlane” with but one change from the 1829 version (abandoning all changes of 1831), and this version is of course collected in modern editions. While the final form is more polished, it is neither so clear nor so good a narrative as the original of 1827. Poe also dropped what are perhaps the finest lines in the book, the end of the seventh section. It has been stated that Poe dropped the heroine’s name after 1827, but it appears once in the 1831 version. Trent thought Poe’s chief motive in revision was to lessen the Byronic quality. [page lviii:]

TO — — (PAGES 26-27)

Since this poem refers to the love affair with Miss Royster, it must date from 1827. Whether Poe saw her on her bridal day or not, he had considered it as a poetic situation, for William Henry Poe writes thus in “The Pirate” in the Baltimore North American, November 27, 1827;

It was night when our boat landed me at the wharf, and I flew with a beating heart toward her dwelling. . .

There were lights in the front of the house and I heard music — I wished to see her alone, and went to the garden gate — everything reminded me of the blissful hours I had passed . . . The first [servant] I met . . . exclaimed, “O Lord! Master Edgar, is it you — Miss Rose is to be married in half an hour!” . . . A wealthy suitor had been proposed and was accepted. I asked if she could not procure me an interview — that, she said was impossible, but if I could stand in the passage, I might see her as she passed to the room.

Poe’s poem, however, opens with a line from a poem by John Lofland, the Milford Bard, that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post for July 15, 1826. The firm of Ellis and Allan had a file of this paper. The poem is reprinted in Lofland’s very rare book, Harp of the Delaware (Philadelphia, 1828, page 27). The lines Poe may have had in mind should be quoted: [page lviii:]

I saw her on the bridal day

In blushing beauty blest

Smiles o’er her lips were seen to play

Like gilded gleams at dawn of day,

The fairest of the guest. . . .

And now a tear stole from her eye,

And mingled with her softer sigh;

Now wish’d it not, now wish’d it here,

And blush’d to think the hour so near.

Poe’s fourth line echoes one from the end of Paradise Lost, “The world was all before them”; and he has an elaborate account of a lady blushing in his tale, “The Assignation.”

Poe revised the poem little when he reprinted it in the 1829 volume, and did not change it in the two later versions, except to use the title to “Song” in the Broadway Journal, September 20, 1845, and in his volume of that year. Whitty refers to a manuscript version, once probably part of the Wilmer manuscript, but not at the Morgan Library. Poe did not reprint the poem in 1831.


With this poem, lines 17-18, Campbell compares two passages in Byron, “The Dream,” lines 19-21, and Childe Harold, Canto III, stanza xiv. Poe himself seems to echo his line 19 of “Dreams” in the opening of his second poem called “To Helen,” [page lix:] which begins “I saw thee once, once only.” This similarity suggests that the early poem relates to Mrs. Jane Stith Stanard, whom Poe called Helen and to whom he likened Helen Whitman.

Poe did not reprint the poem, but his brother sent it to the North American, where it appeared headed “Extract-Dreams” over the signature “W.H.P.,” on October 20, 1827, evidence that W. H. Poe by that time had a copy of Tamerlane. Poe wrote a slightly revised version, which survives among the Wilmer manuscripts at the Morgan Library. All the texts of the poem are given in Poe’s Brother, at page 50.


The poem has been connected with Poe’s traditional visits to the grave of his first “Helen,” and while Trent thought this connection unlikely, I am inclined to accept it. The poem seems to be an early production. Campbell finds in it echoes of Byron’s Manfred, especially, Act I, scene i, lines 199-206, and scene ii, lines 204-5. With the lines 23 ff. compare Poe’s “City in the Sea,” line 38, and “Valley of Unrest,” line 11. An early manuscript is described by Whitty, page 304, but is not at the Morgan Library. Poe changed the title to “Spirits of the Dead,” and reprinted it in his volume of 1829 and also in Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine for July, 1839, [page lx:] but omitted it from the collection of 1831 and 1845. It was not in earlier editions of his poems, and was given as a curiosity in the Roll Call, Washington, March 12, 1864, where it was said to show “elements, which expanded into the strange form, the solemn vocal music, the weird and haunted gloom, the sacred horror, the sinister and mournful beauty of the later poems.”


Although one of the weakest and perhaps the earliest poems in the volume, since it is little more than an unconscious echo of Moore’s song “When Gazing on the Moon’s Light,” this has great interest as the germ of Poe’s “Ulalume.” Poe must have discovered what he would have called in another the “plagiarism” in “Evening Star,” for he never reprinted it. Poe’s recollection of several of his earliest poems in the last three years of his life is significant of his tenacity of poetic ideas and passion for perfection in expressing them.


The poem’s source, despite its title, has not been found. In the 1829 volume it was called “To — —” and appeared greatly revised, retaining indeed only one line unaltered from the version of 1827. Poe [page lxi:] included part of this second poem as a new conclusion to the 1831 version of “Tamerlane,” but by this time no line of the first version was retained. Late in life Poe based on this his fine poem “A Dream within a Dream,” but comment on that wholly different poem is hardly in place in a study of Tamerlane, but belongs in a complete edition of his works, for which I have long been preparing notes.


The title is that given the lines by Woodberry. No second printing of this poem during Poe’s lifetime has been found. The motto is from Byron’s Island, Canto I, lines 382-85, and Campbell thinks the beginning like the opening of Childe Harold, Canto III, “In my youth’s summer did I sing of one.” But this passage is strongly reminiscent of Bryant’s “Thanatopsis,” also echoed in “Tamerlane.” The reference to the breaking harpstring may be from experience, but this is the traditional sound of the singing statue of Memnon and of the stone on which Apollo placed his harp at Megara, to which Pinkney referred in “A Picture Song.” Poe’s references to Pinkney suggest early acquaintance with his work. Poe echoed lines 13-14 of “[Stanzas]” in “To M.L.S.,” line 12, “Unthoughtlike thoughts that are the souls of thought.” One should also compare line [page lxii:] 28 with “Al Aaraaf,” Part II, lines 176-77; and with lines 17-25, a passage in “Ligeia” (Harrison’s edition of Poe, II, 252).

The poem seems to relate to the mystic experience, and while vague and obscure enough, I do not think it early. The lines from Byron appeared first in 1823.

[A DREAM] (PAGES 33-34)

Poe gave this no title in 1827, but called it “A Dream” in all later versions (namely, those in Al Aaraaf, 1829, the Broadway Journal, August 16, 1845, The Raven and Other Poems, 1845) where, except for the omission of the first stanza, only the slightest changes were made. This poem is one of the finest of the early poems, and the second stanza has a lyric depth prophetic of Poe’s later power. Campbell thought the poem like Moore’s “Oft in the Stilly Night” and a quatrain of a poem Poe almost surely knew, the once popular, now forgotten, Letitia E. Landon’s Troubador (1825), Canto I, lines 138-41, seems to me to be echoed. It reads;

He dreams a dream of life and light,

And grasps the rainbow, that appears

Afar all beautiful and bright,

And finds it only made of tears.

“Day star,” in line 20, is probably, as Mr. J. H. Birss thinks, taken from Milton’s Lycidas, line 168. [page lxiii:] The commonplace “joy departed” is discussed in the notes to my edition of Poe’s Politian, 1923, Scene IV, line 66, to which a reference to Job IV: 13 should be added. The joy departed is, of course, the ideal love for Jane Stanard; the waking dream that for Miss Royster.


The poem concerns Elmira, and the date must be 1827. Poe never reprinted it himself, but his brother inserted a version in the North American, September 15, 1827, signed “W.H.P.,” with bad revisions, perhaps by himself or by the editor of the paper. Trent thought Poe dropped the poem because he realized its similarity to Byron’s “This Day I complete My 36th Year” (1824) and line 2 echoes Stanza XIV, line 3, of Byron’s “Fare Thee Well” (which is also echoed in Politian, Scene VII, line 28), “Sear’d in heart and lone and blighted.” With line 23 compare Manfred, Act I, scene i, line 233, “An essence which hath power to destroy.”


This much-admired poem has caused much discussion. Its maturity suggests composition about 1827. Trent believed it to “represent no real thought of suicide, nor any actual spot seen by the poet in Virginia (or Scotland!) but a sheer effort of a strikingly [page lxiv:] uncanny imagination to present uncanny moods in a weird landscape setting.” Poe did occasionally talk of suicide enough to worry his friends, but he made no attempt of a kind to endanger his life at any time, and I think the subject here is rather the realization of the relation of the individual to nature and to death, with some awareness of the morbid impulse induced in some persons by the sight of dark waters. Vergil ended his Aeneid with a reference to death, and Poe may have had this in mind in placing this poem last.

Comparison has been made between the beginning of “The Lake,” the opening of Byron’s third canto of Childe Harold, and Moore’s poem, “I wish I were by that dim Lake.” Lines 18-19 have been compared to Manfred, Act I, scene ii, line 103, “Such would have been for me a fitting tomb.” And the whole poem reminds one of a “Fragment,” by Henry Kirke White, beginning and ending thus;

When high romance o’er every wood and stream

Dark lustre shed, my infant mind to fire,

Spell-struck, and fill’d with many a wondering dream,

First in the groves I woke the pensive lyre,

All there was mystery then, the gust that woke

The midnight echo with a spirit’s dirge . . .

And dark forebodings now my bosom fill.

Poe reprinted “The Lake” in his volumes of 1829, 1831 (incorporated in a version of “Tamerlane”), [page lxv:] and 1845. He also contributed it to a religious annual, The Missionary Memorial, for 1846 (published probably in October, 1845), which was reprinted from the same plates with a new title, Christ’s Messengers, in 1846, 1847, 1850, and 1853. This last place of publication seems to argue against the theory that the theme is suicide and to favor the interpretation of mystic experience.


The words “so abominably,” quoted in the fifth note, are from Hamlet, Act III, scene ii, line 39; the quotation in the tenth note is Byron’s Bride of Abydos, Canto I, line 179. Campbell thinks the flower mentioned in the eleventh note is the Commelia, referred to by Thomas Moore; it might be the day-lily, Hemerocallis.


In 1827, “show bill” might have meant any advertising leaflet. Thomas’s address is very near the offices, at 72 and 74 Washington Street, respectively, of the two magazines that noticed (without reviewing) Tamerlane, the U.S. Review and Literary Gazette for August, and the North American Review for October. For early allusions at Baltimore see page xxxiv above. Tamerlane was catalogued in Samuel Kettell’s Specimens of American Poetry, [page lxvi:] Boston, 1829, III, 405. A vague reference, quoted from the Boston Lyceum for August, 1827, in Heartman and Canny’s Bibliography, page 15, may allude to Poe, but this is doubtful.


In conclusion I would thank the authorities of the Huntington Library for permission to use the copy of Tamerlane reproduced; the Buffalo Historical Society, Mr. A. W. Dellquest, and Mr. J. K. Lilly, Jr., for use of unpublished manuscripts; Professor A. H. Quinn and Messrs. Heartman and Canny for information about forthcoming books by them; the authorities at the Buffalo City Cemetery and the Grosvenor Library, Mr. Oscar Wegelin, and last, but not least, Mr. S. C. Booth for invaluable contributions to our knowledge of the printer.


New York
January 6, 1941


[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page vii, running to the bottom of page viii:]

1.  This is from the manuscript draft of an unfinished critical biography of Poe begun over thirty years ago, given me (with permission to use it) long ago, by my master. Trent abandoned his book because the material, then unpublished, in the Valentine Museum, seemed to him to invalidate some biographical points. This implied no change in his aesthetic opinions. The section on Tamerlane in the manuscript is a somewhat corrected draft, not final, and has been treated freely. Trent’s work contains few facts not already given by Woodberry and other biographers, but shows remarkable grasp of the problems, at a time when far less evidence was accessible than now. Material ascribed elsewhere to Trent is from this source. My study leans heavily, of course, on that of previous biographers, [page vii:] especially on Woodberry’s revised Life of Edgar Allan Poe, 1909 (hereinafter cited as Life), and on the 1925 edition of Edgar Allan Poe Letters in the Valentine Museum, by Mrs. Mary Newton Stanard (usually referred to simply as Stanard, hereinafter), but practically all biographies of Poe have been reconsidered in regard to the 1827 period. Those biographers who accepted the now exploded legend of Poe’s journey to Europe in that year are of little service.

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

2.  It is true, one judges from his article on a parallel case, “Lord Byron and Miss Chaworth” (1844), that Poe could look upon a lost early love philosophically. It is also true that “Annabel Lee” is always supposed to refer to Virginia Poe. But Poe said it concerned Elmira, the reference to the envy of the angels echoes “Tamerlane,” and the references to lovers, both children, parted by kinsmen, and reunited in love, fit the story of Poe and Elmira. They do not apply to Virginia. Nevertheless, we know from “Eleonora” (1841) that Poe could think of two great loves as one thing, and those who find references to Poe’s wife in “Annabel Lee” may also be right. One should not dismiss lightly an affection that led two lovers to become engaged a second time after almost complete separation for twenty years. These views I know were shared by Campbell and Whitty, as far as the importance of Elmira in Poe’s life and work are concerned. Poe’s relation to Mrs. Jane Stanard (“Helen”) were a “purely ideal love of his soul,” and all his other love affairs seem to me to have affected the poet less deeply — though of course this again is a matter of personal opinion.

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

3.  See Stanard, passim. Some of my views are based on Woodberry, Life, Hervey Allen, Israfel (1926), and other biographies of Poe, as well as occasionally on tradition. I have not hesitated to interpret evidence anew. Mrs. Stanard thought Poe did not work in Allan’s counting house; the documents make me feel he was not paid for his work, but that he was kept there by Allan. There is a strong tradition that the most unpleasant of all Poe’s letters to John Allan was long ago destroyed. It probably dealt with the reason for quarrels between Poe’s foster parents. Since some writers have passed judgment on the merits of Poe’s quarrel with Allan, it should be said plainly that the faults were not all on one side. Men must be judged by the standards of the time and place in which they act. Poe’s gambling and drinking, and Allan’s well-known weakness, however reprehensible, were the kind of thing then to be expected and must not be overemphasized. But Allan showed a hardness and lack of generosity entirely unexpected in a Virginian of his time. This appears elsewhere than in his dealings with Poe, and makes a complete defense of his conduct impossible, if indeed any man who had seen his portrait would attempt it.

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

4.  On May 27 Allan wrote a relative that he thought Edgar had gone to sea, and a letter sent Poe from Dinwiddie County by a friend named Edward G. Crump on March 25 was not forwarded by Allan, but docketed in a way that suggests he thought Poe had assumed the name Henri Le Rennet. It has been asserted and denied that Poe kept in touch with his foster mother. It is said letters from Poe from abroad were received at Richmond. Is this a confused recollection of the receipt of one ostensibly from abroad (perhaps sent by way of his brother) to reassure Mrs. Allan he was alive? Apparently the family did not know he was in the army until December, 1828, but what John Allan knew and admitted may not have been the same thing.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page xi, running to the bottom of page xii:]

5.  Mrs. Stanard decided it was the “Carrier,” but she was [page xii:] misinformed, for that vessel did not arrive in Boston on April 7, as she was told, but cleared for Richmond. Professor A. H. Quinn told me he could not verify its arrival, and I found record of its departure in P. P. F. DeGrand’s Report, a paper that gives detailed news of shipping in Boston. Unhappily this news is not complete enough, since the length of a voyage is only occasionally recorded, and in the absence of passenger lists and certainty of what day Poe really sailed, the ship could only be identified if but one ship made the trip at the right time. But if Poe sailed without stopover, or started on a boat for Boston, one probable ship is the “Friends’ Delight,” Captain Kelley, which reached Boston, 15 days from Richmond, on April 15. The “Only Daughter,” Captain Hix, arrived April 9, time not stated; if it made a very swift voyage for a coal boat, it might fit the specifications even better than the “Friends’ Delight.” I think Poe started out on one of these boats, but I suspect he may have left it when Burling did, perhaps at Norfolk. On Burling consult Whitty’s Complete Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, p. xxx. It is clear that this part of the tradition is strong and probable.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page xiv, running to the bottom of page xv:]

6.  Several of Poe’s poems of compliment are enigmas, in which the first letter of the first line, the second of the second, and so forth, spell the lady’s name. Using this system on “To Octavia,” we get WNVLOTTNI. Were it WAVLOCTNI we should have all the letters that make up Octavia Walton. This we do obtain by taking the letter immediately before the right one in the second and the sixth lines. In the first version of an enigma to Frances S. Osgood, Poe misplaced some letters. It seems possible that Poe wrote hastily or revised unthinkingly from a draft. The addition of “And,” which makes for better meter, but is not necessary to the sense of the second line, would account for the misplaced letter there. Mr. Dellquest thinks a comma, which if counted would correct the sixth line, may be present, though I cannot see it in the photostat. Certainly the coincidence is remarkable.

We may add that on another page of the album is an extract, written in Poe’s hand, given for completeness below, as Poe wrote it; he did not accent “maître” in line 4.

The following lines are fr: Voltaire’s story styled “the Princess of Babylon”:

“L’arc de Nimrod est celui de la guerre;

L’arc de l’amour est celui du bonheur: [page xv:]

Vous le portez. Par vous ce dieu vanqueur,

Est devenu le maitre de la terre.


Trois vois puissants, trois vivaux aujourd’hui,

Osent pretendre à l’honneur de vous plaire,

Je ne sais pas qui votre cœur préfère,

Mais l’univers sera jaloux de lui.”

This conceit may have been the source of Poe’s lines about the envy of the angels in “Tamerlane” and in “Annabel Lee.” The verses are from Chapter I of Voltaire’s Princesse de Babylone.

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

7.  It was easy to go by boat from Norfolk to Baltimore, and I think Poe’s story about Burling indicates at least that his boat did stop at some port before reaching its destination. Poe could also have sailed easily from Baltimore to Boston, either with funds obtained there, or by working his way as he is supposed to have done on the coal boat. I find the “Susan Miller,” Captain Allen, arrived in Boston from Baltimore on May 6, 1827, after a voyage of only five days. Poe’s fondness for Baltimore is well known. An otherwise unknown visit to that city in 1846 was revealed by the publication of a letter of April 15, 1846, from Mary E. Hewitt to Poe, in A Christmas Book from Hunter, 1936 [[1937]], p. 120.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page xvii, running to the bottom of page xviii:]

8.  The album remained in the hands of the Bassett family for about a century, one owner being Dr. John Y. Bassett, [page xviii:] of whom Osler wrote in An Alabama Student, 1908. The book was lot 76 in the auction of the Walpole Galleries, New York, March 25, 1930, and Poe’s lines are reproduced in facsimile in the catalogue. A text of the poem also appeared in London Notes & Queries, November 28, 1931; William Henry Poe’s poem was printed in the same periodical for May 21, 1932. In the same sale was a copy of Poe’s Al Aaraaf, 1829, from the same source, I think, and this is an added argument for the later date of the poem.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page xviii, running to the bottom of page xix:]

9.  Theodore Pease published an article in the Outlook, New York, September 1, 1920, stating his source was an uncle who had talked to Peter, but asked Theodore to publish nothing until the said uncle was dead. According to Theodore, Peter met Poe in Boston in 1827, living under an assumed name, out of work, and thinking of enlisting in the army. The poet had been for “two months” clerk for a waterfront merchant, and had also been a market reporter for an obscure newspaper, which could not pay him and soon perished. This tradition shows some confusion, in the time element at least, and I think is “contaminated” by contact (of the second narrator?) with a biography of Poe. Woodberry’s earlier work could lead one to think Poe was longer [page xx:] in Boston than he really was. Assuming minor inaccuracies, I have essayed to reconstruct a narrative consistent with the known facts.

The Union List of Newspapers reveals that Peter’s description of the paper fits one publication surprisingly well, and only one. No paper save a suburban sheet ceased publication in 1827. But P. P. F. De Grand’s Weekly Report did cease in 1828, and may well have been a losing venture in 1827, and no other Boston paper was so likely to have a market reporter. Since De Grand was a merchant who ran the paper on the side, I have assumed Poe had, not two jobs, but a double one, for which he was paid only a single salary. He may have worked only two weeks, not two months. The New York Historical Society has a file of the Report. Its title I cite as given in 1827.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page xix, running to the bottom of page xx:]

10.  Woodberry, taking an obscure hint from Griswold, uncovered the records of Poe’s career in the regular army, first publishing the facts in the Atlantic Monthly for December, 1884. Mrs. Stanard cited the statement of Colonel James House that Poe “had been reduced to the necessity of enlisting” as proof that poverty was the poet’s chief motive. [page xx:] This is probably correct, but his choice was not really a strange one. Hervey Allen remarks that Poe’s brother was apparently for a time in the navy. Besides that, Poe had been an officer in a boys’ military organization at Richmond; had surely dreamed of helping the Greeks, like Lord Byron; and had chosen a military hero for “Tamerlane.” Trent remarks that Poe perhaps did not know that minors were accepted by the army at the time, and so gave a wrong age. May not the motive have been hope of promotion? Poe was promoted to be sergeant major within nineteen months, and his record, for all that he preferred to conceal it after he went to West Point, was one to be proud of. Hervey Allen suggests Poe joined his company about the first of June.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page xx, running to the bottom of page xxi:]

11.  Woodberry succeeded in finding his daughter, Mrs. Martha Thomas Booth, of Springfield, Missouri, and based most of his discussions, first in the Atlantic Monthly for December, 1884, and later in the two versions of his biography of Poe, largely on a letter she wrote him on June 14, 1884. Unfortunately this letter is not preserved among the Woodberry papers at Harvard. Curiously enough he did not obtain the printer’s full name, and got the impression that he printed no book save Tamerlane! This last error [page xxi:] must be corrected, for it has been echoed by almost every writer who has mentioned Thomas. It was Oscar Wegelin, bibliographer of the New York Historical Society, who pointed out other existing imprints of Thomas in articles in the American Collector for October, 1926, and the Bulletin of the New York Historical Society for January, 1940. Recently Mr. Wegelin and I have located many books printed by Thomas through the “Imprint Catalogue” in the Reserve Division of the New York Public Library, and have obtained much information about him from directories of the cities in which he resided. Other sources are the Buffalo Courier, Sept. 20, 21, 23, 1876, and Buffalo Historical Society Publications, XIX, 161-62 and 214. The printer’s grandson, Mr. Stanley C. Booth, of Springfield, Missouri, the son of Woodberry’s correspondent, himself knew his grandfather, and remembers him well. Mr. Booth has kindly replied to questions, and other members of the family in Springfield have placed at my disposal much valuable material, including two photographs of Calvin Thomas and the broadside published by his pastor on his decease, and verified (from the family bible) the dates of the printer’s birth and death. I have also obtained a little information from the Springfield Leader: an anonymous article in the issue of August 7, 1920, lent me by Mr. Booth; and one in the issue of June 30, 1925, signed by James Waddell, who apparently interviewed Mrs. Booth (1839-1927), but gave little new. This last was sent me by Floyd C. Shoemaker of the Missouri Historical Society, Columbia, Mo.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page xxi, running to the bottom of page xxii:]

12.  The third name is given by the poet’s grandson as Stephen. Mr. Wegelin, Mr. Booth, and I agree in thinking he was a namesake of Calvin F. Stevens, the only Calvin [page xxii:] F. S. in the New York Directory for 1808, an accountant in the Post Office. St. John is given in the only printed record met with, Buffalo Historical Society Proceedings, XIX, 214, probably a misprint. Thomas is said in one obituary to have been born in Connecticut, and this is in the cemetery records and may be right, if the family merely resided in New York at the period. The exact age of his sister is not known, nor the name of the printer’s father, which may have been Alfred.

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

13.  The only known copy of this is one later used to make up part of A Series of Sermons issued by Stokes at Medina, N. Y., 1834, the rest of which is not printed by Thomas. The book is in the Wilberforce Eames Collection at the Huntington Library.

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

14.  1. Charter of the City of Buffalo, 1839. 2. S. DeVeaux, The Falls of Niagara, 1839. 3. The Legend of the Whirlpool [an anonymous poem], 1840, 4. Nathaniel T. Strong, Appeal to the Christian Community, 1841. 5. Benjamin Hodge’s Descriptive Catalogue of Fruit and Ornamental Trees, 1845-46. 6. James L. Barton’s Lake Commerce, 1846 [reprinted 1847, 1848]. 7. Album of Table Rock, 1848. 8. James L. Barton, Address, 1848. 9. Thomas M. Foote, National Characteristics, 1848. 10. Asahel Davis, Antiquities of America, 1849 [also reprinted later]. 11. Bylaws of the Medical Society of the County of Erie, 1849. 12. O. Turner, Pioneer History, 1849. 13. Memorial of the Buffalo Citizens, 1850. 14. The Great Northern Route, 1852. 15. James Sheldon, Oration, 1852. 16. Joel F. Bingham, The Hour of Patriotism, 1862. 17. George W. Hosmer, Report of Delegates from the General Aid Society, 1862. 18. William H. Greene, Biographical Sketch of . . . . Thomas T. Sherwood, 1866. 19. The Golden Wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Jenkins, 1866.

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

15.  The Buffalo Historical Society has an unpublished manuscript by Thomas, Reminiscences of the Press in Buffalo, 1835-63, in which I find no mention of Poe. Some details of the life are from this source, but Thomas was modest, and said more of others than of himself.

16.  My source is In Memoriam, Remarks of the Rev. T. W. Mitchell, Rector of Christ (Episcopal) Church Springfield, Mo., upon the death of Mr. C. F. S. Thomas. [Reprinted] from the Springfield Times, Sept. 27, 1876. This is a broadside with two columns of text, 10 x 6 ¾ inches. It gives the date of death erroneously as the 26th.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page xxvii, running to the bottom of page xxix:]

17.  See Woodberry, Life, I, 366 ff., and Allen, Israfel, p. 201. The story came from Whitty, who claimed to have verbal information from Judge W. R. Hughes, who had known Poe and also had seen a lost manuscript about Poe, written by F. W. Thomas, apparently distinct from the [page xxviii:] Saturday Museum sketch. Now F. W. Thomas was no relative of Calvin F. S. Thomas, but he was long intimately acquainted with Poe and wrote the poet on August 3, 1841, a long account of himself, mentioning his family. He actually had a brother named Calvin and a sister named Susan, both younger, in a family of eight children. It is certainly undeniable that the temptation to ask one Thomas about the other would have been strong, and anything F. W. Thomas really said about Calvin F. S. Thomas would be important.

Whitty also said he thought there might have been something unpleasant in the relations of the printer’s family and the poet’s. This has led to attempts to connect the printer’s elder sister with the Miss Thomas, who shared a benefit with Mrs. Poe at Norfolk in 1811. But this is absurd, for the printer’s mother, Maria C. Thomas died, aged 56, on July 4, 1841, and was buried in her son’s lot in Buffalo City Cemetery. She could hardly have had a daughter old enough to be anything but a child actress, and “Miss Thomas” was not one.

I think the point in “not pleasant” has been missed; Whitty did not hint at any participation of Mrs. Thomas in the Poe family troubles, but at her disapproval of one or both of Poe’s parents, who were highly temperamental. Professor Jay B. Hubbell recently found in Duke University Library a letter from Samuel Mordecai, November 2, 1811, in which is a definite contemporary reference to the long suspected separation of Poe’s parents. [This seems to disprove the date [page xxix:] of David Poe Jr.’s death at Norfolk, October 19, 1810, sometimes given on the “authority” of an “unidentified and untraced newspaper clipping[[.]]” I saw that clipping in the auction room, and believe it must have been printed after 1860, and regard it as of very slight value as evidence.] Even the idea that Mrs. Thomas did not like the Poes is far fetched. It seems probable enough however that she might have met them, and that she was living with her son in 1827. It is not impossible that Poe visited actors in Boston, seeking friends of his parents, and so might have got in touch with Mrs. Thomas and her son.

There is nothing mysterious about the fact Thomas is not known to have mentioned Poe. We know from what he wrote of the newspapers of Buffalo that Thomas tended to say but little of himself, and it is improbable that anyone ever asked him about Poe, since few people had heard of Tamerlane before 1876. It has been suggested Thomas never knew Poe’s name, but I agree with those who think this an unnecessary hypothesis.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page xxix, running to the bottom of page xxx:]

18.  The story that Poe offered to pay and could not, etc., is mere legend, and improbable. Poe could not have looked [page xxx:] prosperous in 1827, and unless he paid in advance, a printer must have considered the work as a speculation. Poe was enthusiastic; Thomas was ambitious; both were inexperienced; the risk was slight.

19.  The old guess was 40, but it was based on the idea that but one copy had survived, and “nothing more.” My feeling is that the number of surviving copies means little, for there has been intensive search made for the book, which has led to eleven copies being recovered to date. But as is shown below, a copy is known to have been sold for 12 ½ cents, and I have a feeling that a printer would at least plan to make $25 gross on such a venture. Unhappily the price named may have been at second hand, but the book is small for a quarter. Mr. Lilly has sent me a copy of a bill to an apothecary in his collection which reads:

Boston, Feb. 19, 1827.

A. L. Lowe   to Calvin F. S. Thomas . . .   Dr.
  to printing 5,000 directions (Jewett’s)    . .   $15.00
  to — ”      6,000 labels. @ 62 ½  . . . . . .   3.75
  Rec’d Pay’t   $18.75

Calvin F. S. Thomas

This suggests the job on Tamerlane might have run anywhere from $10 to $20.

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

20.  Tamerlane is not well printed, but considering the inexperience of both printer and author, the work is not worse than might be expected, except at one place. At page 28 [[26]] is the reading “Inclines of my [[mine]] imaginary,” where we know Poe intended “In climes of my [[mine]] imagining” A printer, not understanding the poem and with Poe’s not too clear handwriting to work from (for in 1827 he had not developed the extreme legibility that characterized his later hand), might easily make that error. But no author could have overlooked it, since it makes complete nonsense and involves three words, not one that an inexperienced reader would miss. For notices of book, see page lxv.

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

21.  The Didier copy of Tamerlane, now owned by Mr. Frank J. Hogan and probably the finest of all, was found in Virginia. Its present owner tells me it bears the name of a very early owner, Wade Keyes, of whose association with the poet we know nothing; but the provenance of the book is significant.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page xxxii, running to the bottom of page xxxiii:]

22.  Provenance is not always easy to determine in the case of rare books, but we have definite information about some copies of Tamerlane, and the vaguer rumors about where copies were found fit in with the definite evidence to show circulation in New England. Almost every copy of which the provenance is even hinted at seems to have come from New England, with the exception of the Didier copy, and one from Brooklyn. The most interesting copy from this point of view is that found by Mr. Charles E. Goodspeed, in 1925. This is described in the 160th Catalogue of Mr. Goodspeed and referred to in his Yankee Bookseller, but the exact text of the inscription is not accessible. However, it was presented by a young lady school teacher, aged about nineteen, to a child of nine, probably her pupil, in Milford, Mass., in 1834. The child was the aunt of Mrs. Dodd who found the copy. A copy sold on December 13, 1938, by the American Art Association (sale no. 4422) was found at Skowhegan, Maine, and bore the inscription of an early owner, “Joseph Bigelow, Book, Bloomfield,” with a few other markings in his hand. Bigelow was a carpenter and builder of Bloomfield, which later became Skowhegan, and the book remained in the town till 1938. The Clark copy is inscribed only “M. Hathaway’s Book. No 23,” in an old [page xxxiii:] hand, but, like some of the uninscribed copies, came from New England.

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

23.  This is the Milford copy, which I think is the cause of rumors that a “presentation copy” exists. It was indeed presented, but not by Poe.

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

24.  This material is reprinted in Poe’s Brother, 1926, by Hervey Allen and myself. I have heard the tradition in Richmond that Poe did see his sweetheart before her marriage, and to her “spoke daggers, but not used them.” It is not impossible that Edgar Poe himself had a hand in the authorship of “The Pirate.” Wilmer’s drama Merlin is to be reprinted in 1941, with my introduction.

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

25.  Poe had several possible motives for this. He regarded his enlistment in the army as inglorious. He married a wife much younger than himself. There is a possibility that he had the chivalrous desire to dismiss unpleasant rumors about the parentage of his sister, which, whether baseless or not, have always been whispered by gossips. And finally, he had heart attacks (as one may learn from articles in the New York Bookman, January, 1909, and the Outlook, September 1, 1820) in 1841 and 1848. It has occurred to me that these may have induced him to wish to think himself young, for W. H. Hudson did something of this kind, because of a heart ailment.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page xxxvii, running to the bottom of page xxxviii:]

26.  The sketch first appeared in the issue for February 25, and was reprinted in the issue for March 4, 1843. Frequently referred to, but never reprinted, this extraordinary document has caused great confusion. Ownership of the known copies was private, and I for many years knew its contents only “in confidence.” Now there is a copy of the issue of March 4 in the library of the University of North Carolina, which I have used. An examination reveals clearly the method of construction. A correct enough account of Poe’s life is given, except for periods he wished unknown. For these fiction, with only the slightest flavoring of a fact here and there, is substituted. Poe told Lowell the sketch was written by Henry B. Hirst, and it is thought the editor of the Museum, Thomas C. Clarke, helped him. In the sketch itself F. W. Thomas and T. W. White are thanked for information. [page xxxviii:] But one cannot read the thing without seeing much that could only have come from Poe himself, who obviously stood at the writer’s shoulder and perhaps sometimes took his pen. Poe sent the paper to Lowell for use in compiling his sketch of the poet that appeared in Graham’s Magazine for February, 1845, and made the cryptic remark that it was “true in general,” but unfortunately Lowell did not take the hint. The confusing statements concern the period 1827 to 1830, primarily — and the writer of the sketch denied one legend, that Poe’s attempt to join the Poles in 1831 included a trip to Europe.

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

27.  The first Englishman, Ingram, proceeded on the idea of “finders keepers,” an unfortunately childish manner in this matter. He argued that the book was privately printed, partly from the notion that this gave him a better “right” to exclusive use of a volume that was publicly owned! The worst part of this is that by delaying full scholarly publication he perhaps prevented someone getting in touch with Calvin Thomas, who was still alive in 1876. Details of the squabble may be traced through references in Shepherd’s reprint.

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

28.  For details of the collecting of the book see Goodspeed’s Yankee Bookseller and Vincent Starrett’s Penny Wise Book Foolish, which has a reprint of the article that brought a copy of the book to light, “Have you a Tamerlane in your Attic” when it appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, June 27, 1925.

29.  For lists of owners and details of collectors’ adventure, see the forthcoming Bibliography of Poe by Heartman and Canny, and Mr. John Fleming’s remarks in Carl Cannon’s History of American Collectors. The writers courteously informed me of this material, prior to its publication. [[Carl Cannon, American Book Collectors and Collecting from Colonial Times to the Present, H. W. Wilson Co., 1941.]] [[The William E. Self copy of Tamerlane sold on December 4, 2009 for a record $662,000.]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page xliv, running to the bottom of page xlv:]

30.  All references are to pages of the book, sections and lines of the poems; the first reading is that of the book, the second the correct reading.

“Tamerlane” p. 6 (II, 11) hatred / hated; p. 8 (IV, 7) crash / crush, (IV, 15) sleep / steep; p. 9 (VI, 8) she / she was; p. 11 (VIII, 9) dwell / dwelt; p. 13 (IX, 12) wore / were; p. 19 (XVI, 5) to / too; p. 20 (XVI, 25) lisp / list.

“Dreams” p. 28 (line 16) Inclines of my [[mine]] imaginary / In climes of my [[mine]] imagining.

“Visit of the Dead” p. 28 (line 17) ferver / fever; (line 24) wish / mist.

“Imitation” p. 30 (line 8) hash / had; (line 18) sight / sigh.

“Stanzas” p. 31 (line 10) ferver / fever. [page xlv:]

“Notes” p. 38 (note 5) born born / born; p. 39 (note 7) Angoria / Angora.

In “Tamerlane” II, 12, on page 6, I am not sure if shown should be changed to shone. The following odd forms were tolerated in Poe’s day, I think; Vallies, transient, can’st [[,]] would’st, and Ay (for Aye); and both conquerer and lovliness were probably preferred spellings, certainly not errors.

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

31.  It has been accurately reprinted by Whitty in his edition of Poe’s poems, p. 169. The copy is imperfect, the word “eyes” having obviously dropped out of line 68, and there is an error in line 13, which I cannot correct. Another account of a satire on a young man who offended Poe is given in the Century Magazine for April 1, 1904, at p. 779. This was called “Don Pompioso” and has been thought identical with “Oh, Tempora” — probably rightly. Clarke’s reminiscences are referred to by Woodberry and Allen.

32.  The best account of this is in the life of Poe, the first volume of Harrison’s Virginia edition of Poe’s Works, 1903. Poe is also said to have written prose stories at the time. Of one, apparently called “Gaffy,” Harrison gives a brief account, but nothing is known of the rest. Mrs. Stanard has printed the only surviving letters of the period from Poe.

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

33.  The chief of these is, of course, “To Helen,” which Poe himself allowed Lowell to think an early poem. The source of this is quoted above. It is certain that the lines are founded on an incident — the sight of Mrs. Jane Stanard — that occurred in Poe’s early youth; but no text appeared until 1831, and if Poe wrote a poem at the time, it probably had the same relation to the masterpiece now in his works that “Evening Star” has to “Ulalume” — an identity of theme. I have met with the suggestion that some poems first printed in Al Aaraaf, 1829, were held back from the 1827 volume. All the poems first printed in 1829 show a poetic mastery and firmness, not indeed fully developed, but of a kind wholly lacking in known work of 1827.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page lii, running to the bottom of page liii:]

34.  The most important of these is a poem found in Poe’s handwriting (together with several poems copied by him from other authors) called variously “To Luisa” and “Life’s Vital Stream” This is reprinted in the editions of Whitty and Campbell, but it is now known to be copied from a novel, George Barnwell, by Thomas Skinner Surr, 1798. There is a series of poems signed by a certain Edgar, described as eighteen years old, in Elizabeth Chase’s Miscellaneous Selections, Baltimore, 1821, which have been often ascribed to Poe. The poet was a Baltimorean; his relatives, [page liii:] referred to in the poems, do not fit Poe’s family; and the attribution to Poe is dismissed by all careful scholars who have read the texts, though the book (of which the New York Public Library has a copy) is collected as “Poeana” Even more absurd is the attribution of three poems in Grigg’s Southern and Western Songster, Philadelphia 1829 (in the Sale Catalogue of the National Art Galleries, New York, Feb. 23, 1933). One of these poems is the old song “Mr. Po” probably written long before Edgar Poe was born, though it is known he was once amused when a child sang it in his presence!

Two hoaxes, sometimes published as “written by Poe while at the University of Virginia” are obvious forgeries, bad imitations of the style developed by Poe only in the last years of his life. One is called “My Soul,” the other “Kelah” or “The Murderer.”

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

35.  All references in Roman and Arabic numerals alone are to the sections and lines of the poem itself. The following comparisons should be made: with I, 1 ff., Manfred, Act I, scene i, lines 66-78 and 154-59; with VIII, 19, “The Dream,” line 51, “He had no breath, no being; but in her” (this from a poem based on a love affair similar to Poe’s); with VIII, 35, “Churchill’s Grave,” line 43, “The glory and the nothing of a name”; and with XVI, 20 ff., the celebrated opening of the Monody on Sheridan. Stoddard thought Poe’s subject suggested by lines 322-23 of the first scene of the Deformed Transformed, “They woo with fearless deeds the smiles of fortune, And oft like Timour, the lame Tartar, win them.” Most interesting of all is the incorporation of the famous “sound of revelry by night” from Childe Harold, Canto III, stanza xxi, without quotation marks in XV, 13.

36.  Compare with XVI, 1, Gray’s line 120, “And Melancholy marked him for her own”; and with XVII, 11, Gray’s line 55 “Full many a flower is born to blush unseen.” Supposed echoes of Wordsworth, “Ode on the Intimations of Immortality,” ll. 142-48, in V, 17-21, seem to me probably, though not surely, coincidental.

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

37.  With XVI, 9, compare “Coliseum,” line 3; with V, 21, a passage in the tale “Berenice”; with XVI, 28, Poe’s review of Ainsworth; with VII, 6, part of a letter to Mrs. Richmond. These prose parallels are found in Harrison’s edition of Poe, II, 19; X, 215; and XVII, 312.

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

38.  The imperfect manuscript includes the equivalent of the following portions of the 1827 text; IV, 5 to V, 221 VIII-XV. Poe had already dropped XI, 23, through XIV. Whitty, Complete Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, 3d ed., pp. 294-95, collected the variants, but missed two: XV, 4, for with read in; XV, 13, for by night read to-night. This last is in the Byron quotation, which Poe revised before he cancelled it; this is, of course, the most interesting of all the changes in the Wilmer manuscript.



For additions to these notes, see the Digression C in Mabbott’s “Introduction” to The Raven and Other Poems (1942).

This text is reproduced with special permission from the estate of Thomas Ollive and Maureen Cobb Mabbott.

Althought this note has been separated from the facsimile, the full text of the Poe’s original book is reproduced in e-text as ­Tamerlane and Other Poems­.

For information about the Facsimile Text Society, see the note to Mabbott’s “Bibliographical Note” for Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems (1933).


[S:1 - ITAOP, 1941] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Introduction [to Tamerlane and Other Poems] (T. O. Mabbott, 1941)