Text: Dwight R. Thomas and David K. Jackson, “Chapter 03,” The Poe Log (1987), pp. 111-143


[page 111:]


Baltimore and the Early Fiction

Maria Clemm [thumbnail]

[Illustration on page 110]
Maria Clemm


Poe finds the life of a West Point cadet distasteful, disobeys orders, and is dismissed from the Academy, not before obtaining subscriptions to his Poems (1831). From West Point he journeys first to New York and then to Baltimore, where he joins the financially distressed family of his aunt Maria Clemm, a household that includes her daughter Virginia, her mother, and her nephew Henry Poe, Poe’s brother. Henry dies in 1831. The following year Poe has five short stories published in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier: “Metzengerstein,” “The Duke de L’Omelette,” “A Tale of Jerusalem,” “A Decided Loss;” and “The Bargain Lost.” In October 1833 Poe’s “MS. Found in a Bottle” wins him a $50 prize offered by the Baltimore Saturday Visiter for the best short story, and the friendship of John Pendleton Kennedy, a Baltimore lawyer and novelist. Poe is left nothing when John Allan dies on 27 March 1834.



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~~ 1831 ~~

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[page 111, continued:]

[1831] 3 JANUARY. WEST POINT. Midterm exams begin at the Academy (Allan, p. 453).

Poe writes John Allan, in Richmond:

Did I, when an infant, sollicit your charity and protection, or was it of your own free will, that you volunteered your services in my behalf? It is well known to respectable individuals in Baltimore, and elsewhere, that my Grandfather (my natural protector at the time you interposed) was wealthy, and that I was his favorite grandchild — But the promises of adoption, and liberal education which you held forth to him in a letter which is now in possession of my family, induced him to resign all care of me into your hands . . . . You would not let me return [to the University of Virginia] because bills were presented to you for payment which I never wished nor desired you to pay . . . . I will boldly say that it was wholly and entirely your own mistaken parsimony that caused all the difficulties in [page 112:] which I was involved while at Charlottesville . . . . Towards the close of the session you sent me $100 — but it was too late . . . . I applied to James Galt — but he, I believe, from the best of motives refused to lend me any — I then became desperate, and gambled . . . . But these circumstances were all unknown to my friends when I returned home — They knew that I had been extravagant — but that was all — I had no hope of returning to Charlottesville, and I waited in vain in expectation that you would, at least, obtain me some employment. I saw no prospect of this . . . . Every day threatened with a warrant &c. I left home — and after nearly 2 years conduct . . . in the army, as a common soldier — I earned, myself, by the most humiliating privations — a Cadets’ warrant . . . . I came home, you will remember, the night after the burial [of Frances Allan on 2 March 1829] — If she had not have died while I was away there would have been nothing for me to regret — Your love I never valued — but she I believed loved me as her own child. You sent me to W. Point like a beggar. The same difficulties are threatening me as before at Charlottesville — and I must resign . . . . When I parted from you — at the steamboat, I knew that I should never see you again.

As regards Sergt. Graves — I did write him that letter . . . . within a half hour after you had embittered every feeling of my heart against you by your abuse of my family, and myself, under your own roof — and at a time when you knew that my heart was almost breaking . . . . it is my intention to resign. For this end it will be necessary that you (as my nominal guardian) enclose me your written permission . . . . your refusal would only deprive me of the little pay which is now due as mileage.

From the time of writing this I shall neglect my studies and duties at the institution — if I do not receive your answer in 10 days — I will leave the point without — for otherwise I should subject myself to dismission (L, 1:39-43; letter is postmarked 5 January).

[1831] 5 JANUARY. A general court-martial convenes and adjourns to 28 January (Quinn, p. 173). Poe mails his letter of 3 January to Allan (Poe to Allan, 3 January 1831).

[1831] 7-27 JANUARY. Poe carries out his threat to neglect his duties (see 8 FEBRUARY 1831).

[1831] 9 JANUARY. Poe ranks seventeenth among the eighty-seven fourth-classmen who take the mathematics examination and third in French (“Merit Roll of the 4th Class, Mathematics, 9 January 1831,” in Post Order Book No. 5 [1827-32], USMA Archives, USMA Library; Quinn, p. 171).

[1831] 10 JANUARY. RICHMOND. Allan receives Poe’s letter of 3 January (see next entry).

[1831] 13 JANUARY. Allan endorses Poe’s letter of 3 January: “I do not think the [page 113:] Boy has one good quality. He may do or act as he pleases, tho’ I wd have saved him but on his own terms & conditions since I cannot believe a word he writes. His letter is the most barefaced one sided statement” (L, 2:471).

[1831] 28 JANUARY. WEST POINT. Lieutenant Thomas J. Leslie, paymaster of the Academy, presides over a general court — martial. Lieutanant Charles F. Smith, the adjutant, as trial judge-advocate, prosecutes (Allan, pp. 453-54).

[1831] 28 JANUARY OR LATER. Poe appears before the court-martial and is sentenced to dismissal (see next entry).

[1831] 8 FEBRUARY. WASHINGTON. Secretary of War John Henry Eaton approves the court-martial proceedings to take effect after 6 March:

Engineer Department  

Washington, February 8, 1831.

Military Academy Order, No. 7.

At the General Court-Martial, of which Lieutenant Thomas J. Leslie, of the Corps of Engineers, is President, convened at West Point, New York, on the 5th ult., in virtue of Military Academy Order No. 46 dated the 31st December 1830, was arraigned and tried . . . .

3. The Court next proceeded to the trial of Cadet E. A. Poe of the U. S. Military Academy on the following Charges and Specifications.

Charge 1st . . . . Gross neglect of duty.

Specification 1st . . . . In this, that he the said Cadet Poe did absent himself from the following parades and roll calls between the 7th of January and 27th January 1831, Viz. absent himself from evening parade on the 8, 9, 15, 20, 24 & 25 January 1831; absent from reveille roll call on the 8, 16, 17, 19, 20, 24 & 25 Jan’y 1831, absent from Class parade on the 17, 18, 19, 20, 24 & 25 Jan’y, absent from guard mounting on the 16 Jan’y 1831, and absent from Church parade on the 23d. Jan’y 1831; all of which at West Point N. Y.

Specification 2d . . . . In this, that he the said Cadet E. A. Poe, did absent himself from all his Academical duties between the 15th & 27 Jan’y 1831, viz. absent from Mathematical recitation on the 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25 & 26th Jan’y 1831, all of which at West Point N. Y.

Charge 2d . . . . Disobedience of Orders.

Specification 1st . . . . In this, that he the said Cadet Poe after having been directed by the officer of the day to attend church on the 23d January 1831, did fail to obey such order, this at West Point.

Specification 2d . . . . . In this, that he the said Cadet Poe did fail to attend the Academy on the 25 Jany. 1831, after having been directed to do so by the officer of the day: This at West Point N. Y.

To which charges and specifications the prisoner pleaded as follows, to the 1st [page 114:] specification of the first charge “Not Guilty;” to the 2nd specification of the 1st charge “Guilty;” and “Guilty” to the second charge and specification.

The court after mature deliberation on the testimony adduced find the prisoner “Guilty” of the 1st specification of 1st charge and confirm his plea to the remainder of the charges and specifications, and adjudge that he Cadet E. A. Poe be dismissed the service of the United States . . . .

7. . . . The proceedings of the General Court Martial of which Lieut. Thomas J. Leslie of the Corps of Engineers is President in the cases of Cadets L. [Llewellyn] Jones, H. [Henry] Swartwout, Thomas W. Gibson, W. [William] A. Parker, and Henry Minor [Jr.] have been laid before the Secretary of War and approved  . . . .

Cadet E. A. Poe will be dismissed the service of the United States and cease to be considered a member of the Military Academy after the 6th March 1831 (USMA Archives, Post Order Book No. 5, 1827-38; ViU-I; W, 17:374-76; Quinn, pp. 743-44).

[1831] 10 FEBRUARY. WEST POINT. Cadet David Emerson Hale (New Hampshire) writes his mother Sarah Josepha Hale: “ I have communicated what you wrote to Mr. Poe, of whom perhaps you would like to know something. He ran away from his adopted father in Virginia who was very rich, has been in S. America, England and has graduated at one of the Colleges there. He returned to America again and enlisted as a private soldier but feeling, perhaps a soldier’s pride, he obtained a cadet’s appointment and entered this Academy last June. He is thought a fellow of talent here but he is too mad a poet to like Mathematics” (Quinn, p. 171).

[1831] 18 FEBRUARY. The Academy releases Poe (Allan, p. 454).

[1831] 19 FEBRUARY. Poe leaves West Point for New York (Poe to Allan, 21 February 1830.

[Timothy P. Jones, dismissed from the Academy 31 December 1830 before Poe’s departure, recalled with exaggeration:

On the morning of the 6th [19th] of March [February], when Poe was ready to leave West Point, we were in our room together, and he told me I was one of the few true friends he had ever known, and as we talked the tears rolled down his cheeks . . . . He told me much of his past life, one part of which he said he had confided to no other living soul. This was that while it was generally believed that he had gone to Greece in 1827 to offer his services to assist in putting down the Turkish oppressors, he had done no such thing, that about as near Europe as he ever got was Fort Independence, Boston Harbor, where he enlisted, and was assigned to Battery H, First Artillery, which was afterward transferred to Fortress Monroe, Va. Poe told me that for nearly two years he let his kindred and friends believe that he was fighting with the Greeks, but all the while he was wearing the [page 115:] uniform of Uncle Sam’s soldiers, and leading a sober and moral life (New York Sun, 29 May 1904, copied from the Richmond Dispatch; Woodberry, 1:372).

Cadet George Washington Cullum (Pennsylvania) recalled:

As Poe was of the succeeding class to mine at West Point, I remember him very well as a cadet. He was a slovenly, heedless boy, very eccentric, inclined to dissipation, and, of course, preferred making verses to solving equations. While at the Academy he published a small volume of poems, dedicated to Bulwer in a long, rambling letter. These verses were the source of great merriment with us boys, who considered the author cracked, and the verses ridiculous doggerel (Stoddard [1872], p. 561 n.).

Eugene L. Didier recorded:

General Lucius Bellinger Northrop [South Carolina], the last survivor of the classmates of Poe at West Point, told me [his son-in-law] that Edgar Poe, at West Point, was the wrong man in the wrong place — although, from an intellectual point of view, he stood high there, as elsewhere: the records of the academy show that he was third in French, and seventeenth in mathematics in a class of eighty-seven. The severe studies and dull routine duties were extremely distasteful to the young poet, and, at the end of six months, he applied to his adopted father, Mr. Allan, for permission to leave the academy, which request was promptly refused . . . . He was shy, proud, sensitive, and unsociable with the other cadets. He spent more time in reading than in study . . . . During his short stay at West Point, Poe made a high reputation for poetical genius, and when it was announced that he intended to publish his poems, great expectations were formed of the book. Gen. Northrop informed me that the cadets eagerly subscribed for the volume (Didier [1909], pp. 224, 225, 253, 254).]

[1831] CA. 20 FEBRUARY. NEW YORK. Poe writes his brother Henry (Poe to Allan, 21 February 1831).

[1831] 21 FEBRUARY. Poe writes Allan: “I left [West] Point two days ago and travelling to N. York without a cloak or any other clothing of importance. I have caught a most violent cold and am confined to my bed — I have no money — no friends — I have written to my brother — but he cannot help me — I shall never rise from my bed — besides a most violent cold on my lungs my ear discharges blood and matter continually and my headache is distracting — I hardly know what I am writing — I will write no more — Please send me a little money — quickly — and forget what I said about you” (L, 1:43-44).

[1831] CA. 1 MARCH. Poe meets Peter Pindar Pease again.

Peter Pease did not see the poet again until 1831, when they met in New York, [page 116:] where Poe had gone, he said, to secure the publication of a book of his poems by Harpers. He claimed, almost boisterously, that he had “hit it hard” (evidently a favorite expression with him), meaning that his fortune was made. He told Pease that he was living in the vicinity of Madison Square, that he loved to walk beneath the elm trees there, and invited Pease to go with him for a refreshment. But my great-uncle was in a hurry to catch the boat for Amboy, so, after a short conversation, they shook hands and parted (Stearns, p. 25).

[1831] CA. 1 MARCH. Perhaps Henry Inman paints a portrait of Poe (Allen, pp. 245-46).

[1831] 6 MARCH. WEST POINT. Poe’s dismissal from the Academy takes effect (see 8 FEBRUARY 1831).

[1831] 10 MARCH. NEW YORK. Poe writes Colonel Sylvanus Thayer, Superintendent of the U. S. Military Academy, West Point: “I intend by the first opportunity to proceed to Paris with the view of obtaining, thro’ the interest of the Marquis de La Fayette, an appointment (if possible) in the Polish Army . . . . The object of this letter is . . . to request that you will give me such assistance as may lie in your power in furtherance of my views. A certificate of ‘standing’ in my class is all that I have any right to expect. Any thing farther — a letter to a friend in Paris — or to the Marquis — would be a kindness which I should never forget” (L, 1:44-45; also L, 2:472 n. 30).

[1831] MARCH. WEST POINT. One of the nineteen deductions for cadet accounts is “Edgar A. Poe’s ‘Poems’ ” (USMA Archives, Treasurer’s Records; Russell, pp. 29-30).

[1831] APRIL? NEW YORK. Elam Bliss publishes Poe’s Poems, printed by Henry Mason, 64 Nassau Street, and dedicated to “The U. S. Corps of Cadets.” Poe sends a copy to John Neal, bearing the inscription on the flyleaf: “Mr. John Neal, with the author’s best wishes” (Wakeman, item 935).

[POEMS] BY / EDGAR A. POE. / (rule) / TOUT LE MONDE A RAISON. — ROCHEFOUCAULT. / (rule) / SECOND EDITION. / (rule) / New York: / PUBLISHED BY ELAM BLISS. / (rule) / 1831. 124 pp.

Contents: “Letter to Mr. ——: Dear B——”; “Introduction” (“Romance, who loves to nod and sing”); “To Helen” (“Helen, thy beauty is to me”); “Israfel”; “The Doomed City”; “Fairy Land”; “Irene”; “A Paean”; “The Valley Nis”; “Al Aaraaf’ (including “Science! meet daughter of old Time thou art”); “Tamerlane.”

Perhaps less than a thousand copies printed. A facsimile edition with a [page 117:] bibliographical note by Killis Campbell was published for the Facsimile Text Society by the Columbia University Press, New York, 1936.]

[1831] APRIL. WEST POINT. One hundred and thirty-one out of 232 cadets subscribe to Poe’s Poems at $1.25 per copy (Ledger records of the Treasurer of the U. S. Military Academy, Thomas J. Leslie; Russell, pp. 29-30). A check for $36.72 is drawn in Poe’s favor for settlement of his account (USMA Archives, Treasurer’s Office Cash Book, 1830-49, p. 8; Russell, p. 29 n. 41).

[1831] 23 APRIL. A check for $170 is issued to Poe by Thomas J. Leslie, Treasurer of the U.S. Military Academy, transmitting Cadet subscription funds for Poems. Perhaps Colonel Sylvanus Thayer, Captain Ethan Allan Hitchcock, or Leslie contributes to the fund to make the amount $170 (Russell, pp. 30-31).

[“Officer pay records were not retained at West Point. The USMA Treasurer kept the cadet records only, and there is no way one can determine who added the $1.25. I did check the report again. I would not indicate, as Mr. Russell did, that it could have been either Thayer, Hitchcock or Leslie. Any one of the instructors, professors or staff may have added the amount or it may have been a clerical error” (information from Mrs. Marie T. Capps, Map & Manuscript Librarian, USMA Library).

Allan B. Magruder (Virginia) later recalled:

The cadets, especially from the South, generally subscribed at seventy-five cents [$1.25] a copy, which the superintendent allowed to be deducted from our pay. I think the publisher came up from New York and bargained with Poe for its publication. The sum thus raised enabled him, I suppose, to save a small margin for his travelling expenses and necessities beyond the cost of publication. The book was not supplied to the subscribers until some time after he left the Point. It was a miserable production mechanically, bound in green boards and printed on inferior paper, evidently gotten up on the cheapest scale. The subscription was not fully paid until the book was delivered, and I remember a general expression of indignation at the inferior quality and condition of the book . . . . He went to New York, and there obtained, as I heard afterward, some literary employment which afforded him scant support (Woodberry, 1:78).

Thomas W. Gibson (Indiana) recalled:

Some month or two after he had left, it was announced that a volume of his poems would be published by subscription, at the price of two dollars and fifty cents [$1.25] per copy. Permission was granted by Colonel Thayer to the corps to subscribe for the book, and as no cadet was ever known to neglect any opportunity [page 118:] of spending his pay, the subscription was pretty near universal. The book was received with a general expression of disgust. It was a puny volume, of about fifty pages, bound in boards and badly printed on coarse paper, and worse than all, it contained not one of the squibs and satires upon which his reputation at the Academy had been built up. Few of the poems contained in that collection now appear in any of the editions of his works, and such as have been preserved have been very much altered for the better.

For months afterward quotations from Poe formed the standing material for jests in the corps, and his reputation for genius went down at once to zero. I doubt if even the “Raven” of his after-years ever entirely effaced from the minds of his class the impression received from that volume (Gibson, p. 755).]

Baltimore from Federal Hill [thumbnail]

[Illustration on page 118, bottom]
Baltimore from Federal Hill

[1831] BEFORE 6 MAY. BALTIMORE. Poe joins Maria Clemm, Mrs. David Poe, Sr., Henry Poe, Virginia Clemm, and Henry Clemm, Jr., at Mechanics Row, Wilks Street, now known as Eastern Avenue (Matchett’s Baltimore Directors for 1831 and 1833, pp. 78 and 43; Woodberry, 1:375; Quinn, p. 188 n. 6).

[1831] 6 MAY. Poe writes William Gwynn, editor of the Baltimore Gazette and Daily Advertiser: [page 119:]

I am almost ashamed to ask any favour at your hands after my foolish conduct upon a former occasion . . . .

I am very anxious to remain and settle myself in Balto as Mr. Allan has married again and I no longer look upon Richmond as my place of residence . . . .

Perhaps (since I understand Neilson [Poe] has left you) you might be so kind as to employ me in your office in some capacity . . . . I would have waited upon you personally but am confined to my room with a severe sprain in my knee (L, 1:45).

[1831] AFTER 6 MAY. REISTERSTOWN, MARYLAND. Nathan Covington Brooks fails to obtain for Poe an usher’s place in his school (Stanard, p. 277).

[1831] AFTER 6 MAY. BALTIMORE. Poe writes letters and verses to Kate Bleakley, whose father is proprietor of the Armistead Hotel. Henry Herring discourages Poe’s attentions to his daughter Elizabeth (Woodberry, 1:89-90; Whitty, p. xxxvi; Phillips, 1:421, 425-26).

[1831] AFTER 6 MAY. Poe writes verses in the album of a friend of Poe’s cousin Elizabeth Herring, a niece of Dr. James H. Miller (Phillips, 1:424).

[1831] 7 MAY. NEW YORK. Either George P. Morris or Theodore S. Fay reviews Poe’s Poems in the New-York Mirror:

THE poetry of this little volume has a plausible air of imagination, inconsistent with the general indefiniteness of the ideas. Every thing in the language betokens poetic inspiration, but it rather resembles the leaves of the sybil when scattered by the wind. The annexed lines, which close a short poem, entitled the “Doomed City,” are less incomprehensible than most in the book, although the meaning is by no means perfectly clear . . . .

It sometimes happens that poetry, at first sight unintelligible, is discovered, upon a repeated and more careful examination, to be fraught with the treasure of thought and fancy. The “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” belongs to this class, but we can not flatter Mr. Poe with any similar hope respecting his own composition, although it occasionally sparkles with a true poetic expression, and sometimes a conflict of beauty and nonsense takes place, in which the latter seems to have the best of it. It is indeed encumbered by numerous obscurities, which we should be pleased to see either very much brightened or entirely expunged. What is the meaning of this?

“A heaven that God doth not contemn

With stars is like a diadem —

We liken our ladies’ eyes to them.”

Or these lines, (with which we close the article,) from “Fairy Land?”

“Huge moons — see! wax and wane

Again — again — again

How they put out the starlight

With the breath from their pale faces! [page 120:]

Lo! one is coming down

With its centre on the crown

Of a mountain’s eminence!

Down — still down — and down —

Now deep shall be — O deep!

The passion of our sleep!

For that wide circumference

In easy drapery falls

Drowsily over halls —

Over ruin’d walls —

Over waterfalls,

(Silent waterfalls!)

O’er the strange woods — o’er the sea —

Alas! over the sea!”

[1831] 21 MAY. PHILADELPHIA. Perhaps Lambert A. Wilmer briefly notices Poe’s Poems in the Saturday Evening Post (Mabbott [1969], 1:542).

[1831] AFTER 21 MAY. The Casket for May reprints the Saturday Evening Post notice of 21 May.

[1831] 28 MAY. The Saturday Courier announces a short story contest.

The publishers intend to devote annually a portion of the profits of their work, in the promotion of the Cause of LITERATURE. — As soon as proper arrangements can be effected, a premium of


will be awarded for the best AMERICAN TALE. The gentlemen who shall be selected to decide the award, shall be named at the time of offering the premium.

The publishers are aware of the difficulty of furnishing their paper in due season to subscribers residing at a distance — this obstacle will be remedied in the course of a few weeks, when such arrangements will be made as cannot fail to be perfectly satisfactory.

The Publishers request their country brethren to give the above notice a few insertions in their respective journals. The same favor will be reciprocated.

All orders for the SATURDAY COURIER, (containing the price of subscription,) must be addressed to



may 28 — tf

[1831] 4 JUNE. The Saturday Courier again announces its contest, an announcement which is repeated 31 July.

[1831] 8 JULY. NEW YORK. A review of Poe’s Poems appears in the Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer, edited by James Watson Webb: [page 121:]

“Poems by Edgar A. Poe.” New-York. Elam Bliss (second edition,) page 124. — This is evidently a fellow of fine genius, but if one were disposed to believe to the contrary, and to sustain his belief, he need wish for nothing more than a passage or two, taken hap hazard from the book — as for example:

[“To Irene” is quoted.]

Sheer nonsense, undoubtedly, yet as undoubtedly the author has the gift, and betrays the presence, here and there, that cannot be mistaken — for example:

[“To Helen” (“Helen, thy beauty is to me”) is quoted.]

And again — read the following sonnet, and then marvel at the strangeness of the mixture. Pure poetry in one page — pure absurdity in another —

[“Sonnet — To Science” is quoted.]

But we are sick of poetry — so sick of it indeed, that we should not have meddled with this, but for a wish to prevent a young man — the author must be young, for there is the fever and the flush, and the strong delusion of youth about him, if not boyhood — from betraying himself unworthily. He has a fine genius, we repeat it, and may be distinguished, if he will not mistake oddity for excellence, or want of similitude to all others, for superiority over them. We have said as much to the confederacy of small poets around us, and they dont like our candour.

[Lease, p. 132, without explanation, attributes this review to John Neal.]

[1831] 9 JULY-26 NOVEMBER. PHILADELPHIA. The Saturday Courier publishes its rules for a contest:


The publishers of the Saturday Courier grateful for the liberal patronage they have received, and anxious to improve, as far as they possibly can, the character of American Literature, offer the following premium: —

ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS to the writer of the best ORIGINAL TALE, prepared for the Saturday Courier, and presented under the following restrictions and regulations.

All Tales intended to compete for this premium, must be addressed to Woodward and Spragg, Philadelphia, free of postage, on or before the first day of December, 1831.

Accompanying each Tale the writer must furnish his or her name, and address, in a separate sealed envelope, which will not be opened except in the case of the successful competitor.

Early in December the Tales presented will be submitted to a committee consisting of the following gentlemen, viz: — David Paul Brown, William M. Meredith, John Musgrave, Richard Penn Smith, Morton McMichael, and Charles Alexander, Esq’rs. who will award prior to the 1st of January, 1832.

As soon as the award shall be determined, public information of the same will be given, and immediately thereafter the successful candidate may draw upon the publishers for the amount of the premium.

The publication of the Tales will be commenced in January, 1832, and continued at the discretion of the publishers. [page 122:]

Competitors for the premium are requested to use care in the preparation of their manuscripts, as it is very desirable that illegibility may be avoided.

Editors of papers which exchange with the Saturday Courier, by giving the above a few insertions will confer a favor upon the publishers, and probably advance the cause of Literature.

The Saturday Courier is published by Woodward and Spragg, No. 112 Chestnut street, Philadelphia, at $2 per annum, half yearly in advance.

july 9 — tf

[1831] AFTER 9 JULY. BALTIMORE? Poe enters the Philadelphia Saturday Courier contest.

[1831] 1 AUGUST. BALTIMORE. Henry Poe dies.

[1831] 2 AUGUST. Henry Poe is buried in the churchyard of the First Presbyterian Church. A notice of his death and funeral appears in the American and Commercial Daily Advertiser: “Died last evening W. H. Poe aged 24 years. His friends and acquaintances are invited to attend his funeral this morning at 9 from the dwelling of Mrs. Clemm, in Wilks Street” (First Presbyterian Church record; Quinn, p. 725; Allen, p. 260).

[1831] 3 AUGUST. The “List of Burials by Dr. William Nevins, 1831” includes the entry “3 Aug — W. H. Poe” (Phillips, 1:430).

[1831] 13 AUGUST. PHILADELPHIA. The Saturday Evening Post publishes “A Dream,” signed “P” (ascribed to Poe by Killis Campbell. See Mabbott [1978], 2:5-10).

[1831] 23 AUGUST. RICHMOND. John Allan, Jr., is born to Louisa and John Allan.

[1831] SEPTEMBER. BALTIMORE. A cholera epidemic reaches its height.

[1831] 16 OCTOBER. Poe writes John Allan:

It is a long time since I have written to you unless with an application for money or assistance . . . . I write merely because I am by myself and have been thinking over old times, and my only friends, until my heart is full — At such a time the conversation of new acquaintance is like ice, and I prefer writing to you altho’ I know that you care nothing about me, and perhaps will not even read my letter. I have nothing more to say — and this time, no favour to ask — Altho I am wretchedly poor, I have managed to get clear of the difficulty I spoke of in my last, and am out of debt, at any rate . . . . Will you not write one word to me? (L, 1:46-47). [page 123:]

[1831] 5 NOVEMBER. PHILADELPHIA. The editors of the Saturday Courier remind contestants to enter the contest promptly.

[1831] CA. 7 NOVEMBER. BALTIMORE. Poe is “arrested” for a debt of $80 incurred by his brother Henry (Poe to Allan, 18 November 1831).

[1831] BEFORE 18 NOVEMBER. RICHMOND. Allan writes Poe, perhaps sending him money (Poe to Allan, 18 November 1831).

[1831] 18 NOVEMBER. BALTIMORE. Poe writes Allan:

I was arrested eleven days ago for a debt which I never expected to have to pay, and which was incurred as much on Hy’s [Henry’s] account as on my own about two years ago. I would rather have done any thing on earth than apply to you again after your late kindness . . . I am in bad health . . . If you will only send me this one time $80, by Wednesday next, I will never forget your kindness & generosity (L, 1:47-48).

[Quinn, p. 190, could find no evidence that Poe was arrested and put in jail.]

[1831] 30 NOVEMBER. ELMWOOD, MARYLAND. Neilson Poe marries his cousin Josephine Emily Clemm, Maria Clemm’s stepdaughter (Phillips, 1:419).

[1831] 1 DECEMBER. PHILADELPHIA. The Saturday Courier contest closes.

[1831] 5 DECEMBER. BALTIMORE. Maria Clemm writes John Allan:

As I am extremely distressed at Edgar’s situation I take the liberty of writing to you once more in his behalf — We have made every exertion for his relief — but our circumstances are too poor to afford him any — I have with great difficulty procured $20 which I will reserve for him, with all my heart — but it is insufficient to extricate him — I beg that you will assist him out of this difficulty and I am sure that it will be a warning for him as long as he lives — to involve himself no further in debt — I am satisfied that except in this instance he does not owe one cent in the world, and would do well if you would relieve him — he is extremely distressed at your refusal to assist him — and has no other resource whatever — as not being a resident of this city he cannot take the benefit of the insolvent laws — I feel deeply interested in him, for he has been extremely kind to me as far as his opportunities would permit — I should consider it as one of the greatest obligations to myself and family if you will be so generous as to assist him for this time only (Stanard, pp. 295-97).

[1831] 7 DECEMBER. RICHMOND. Allan writes John Walsh in Poe’s behalf, but neglects to send his letter until 12 January 1832: “Wrote on the 7th Decr [page 124:] 1831 to John Walsh to procure his liberation & to give him $20 besides to keep him out of further difficulties & value on me for such amt as might be required — neglected sending it on till the 12th Jany 1832 Then put in the office myself’ (Stanard, p. 300; L, 2:472).

[1831] 15 DECEMBER. BALTIMORE. Poe writes Allan: “I know you have never turned a beggar from your door, and I apply to you in that light, I beg you for a little aid, and for the sake of all that was formerly dear to you I trust that you will relieve me” (L, 1:48-49).

[1831] 24 DECEMBER. PHILADELPHIA. The Saturday Courier informs its readers: “The award of the prize committee will be announced in our next number.”

[1831] 29 DECEMBER. BALTIMORE. Poe writes John Allan: “for the sake of the love you bore me when I sat upon your knee and called you father do not forsake me this only time” (L, 1:49).

[1831] 31 DECEMBER. PHILADELPHIA. The Saturday Courier announces the winner of its contest:

The Committee [David Paul Brown, Richard Penn Smith, William M. Meredith, Morton McMichael, John Musgrave, and Charles Alexander] to whom was referred the selection of a Tale from among those presented for the premium of One Hundred Dollars, offered by us, have awarded in favour of LOVE’s MARTYR, by Miss Delia S. Bacon, of the State of New York, author of “Tales of the Puritans,” &c.

While we congratulate the fair author upon her success, we can at the same time promise our readers much gratification from the perusal of Love’s Martyr, which is strongly characterized by taste, genius and feeling.

Many of the other Tales offered for the Premium, are distinguished by great merit, and we are assured by the Committee that they derived much pleasure from reading them.

The writer of the successful Tale, will be good enough to draw upon us at her earliest convenience, for the amount of the Premium.

[1831] 1831? BALTIMORE. Maria Clemm writes Thomas Kell:

I am not myself personally known to you, but you were well acquainted with my late husband Mr. Wm. Clemm and also I believe, with many of my connexions. For their sakes as well as for my own I venture to solicit a little assistance at your hands. For a long time I have been prevented by continual ill health from making the exertions necessary for the support of myself and children, and we are now consequently enduring every privation. Under these circumstances I feel a hope that you will be inclined to give me some little aid. I do not ask for any material assistance, but the merest trifle to relieve my most immediate distress (Anon., “Letters and Documents;” Maryland Historical Magazine, 6 [March 1911]: 44; Jackson [1979], p. 20).



~~ 1832 ~~

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[page 125:]

[1832]  7 JANUARY. PHILADELPHIA. The Saturday Courier publishes its prize-winning story, Delia S. Bacon’s “Love’s Martyr.”

[1832]  12 JANUARY. WEST POINT. The U. S. Military Academy dismisses Thomas W. Gibson “after his second court-martial having been convicted of setting fire to a building near the barracks” (Russell, p. 13 n. 23).

[1832]  12 JANUARY. RICHMOND. Allan sends his letter written 7 December 1831 to John Walsh, in Baltimore.

[1832]  14 JANUARY. PHILADELPHIA. The Saturday Courier publishes Poe’s “Metzengerstein.”

[It is doubtful that Poe received any financial reward for this tale and the four others published in the Courier following the contest.]

[1832]  JANUARY. BALTIMORE. Lambert A. Wilmer returns to edit the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, a weekly established by Charles F. Cloud (Campbell [1916], p. 145).

[Wilmer later recalled his association with Poe:

He lived in a retired way with his aunt, Mrs. Clemm . . . . during an intimate acquaintance with him, which lasted for more than twelve years, I never saw him intoxicated in a single instance . . . . Poe’s personal appearance was delicate and effeminate, but never sickly or ghastly, and I never saw him in any dress which was not fashionably neat with some approximation to elegance . . . . Almost every day we took long walks in the rural districts near Baltimore, and had long conversations on a great variety of subjects . . . . On one occasion, when I visited him at his lodgings, he produced a decanter of Jamaica spirits, in conformity with a practice which was very common in those days . . . . Poe made a moderate use of the liquor; and this is the only time that ever I saw him drink ardent spirits. On another occasion I was present when his aunt, Mrs. Clemm, scolded him with some severity for coming home intoxicated on the preceding evening. He excused himself by saying that he had met with some friends, who had persuaded him to take dinner with them at a tavern, where the whole party had become inebriated . . . . In conversation Poe was fluent, but not eloquent . . . . I never knew him to speak in warm terms of admiration of any poetical writer, except Alfred Tennyson. Among prose authors, Ben. Disraeli was his model. Poe was an amiable colloquist . . . . He was singularly effeminate in mind and person . . . . One day, Poe, his cousin Virginia . . . . and I were walking in the neighborhood of Baltimore when we happened to approach a graveyard, where a funeral was then in progress . . . . Virginia became affected and shed more tears than the chief mourner. Her emotion [page 126:] communicated itself to Poe (“Recollections of Edgar A. Poe,’ Baltimore Daily Commercial, 23 May 1866, reprinted in Wilmer [1941], pp. 29-32. See also M.E. Wilmer, pp. 385-86).]

[1832]  3 MARCH. PHILADELPHIA. The Saturday Courier publishes Poe’s “The Duke de L’Omelette.”

[1832]  10 MARCH. BALTIMORE. The Minerva reprints Poe’s “The Duke de L’Omelette.”

[1832]  24 MARCH. ALBANY, NEW YORK. The Literary Gazette reprints “The Duke de L’Omelette.”

[1832]  EARLY APRIL? BALTIMORE. Poe visits his cousin Mrs. Beacham, the Henry Herrings, George Poe, the Cairnes, and Mrs. Samuel F. (Sarah E) Simmons. To Mrs. Simmons, an Amity Street neighbor of Maria Clemm, Poe later gives the manuscript of “Morella” (Whitty, pp. xxxvi-xxxvii; Phillips, 1:478-79; Allen, pp. 275-76; Mabbott [1969], 1:541, and [1978], 2:224).

[1832]  17 APRIL. RICHMOND. John Allan revises his will:

Item 2nd. I devise unto Miss Ann Moore Valentine, three hundred dollars annually and her board washing and lodging to be paid and found her by my executors out of my estate during her natural life, but this provision is to be in lieu and in discharge of the sum of two thousand dollars which I have in my possession belonging to her, and of which she is to discharge and acquit my estate in case she accepts of this bequest . . . .

Item 5th. I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Louisa Gabriella Allan, one third of the nett annual income of my whole estate during her natural life or until our eldest child becomes of age, to be paid her annually by my executors . . . .

Lastly I constitute and appoint my beloved wife Louisa Gabriella Allan and James Galt and Corbin Warwick executrix and executors of this my last will and testament . . . (extracts from MS, Will Book 2, p. 457, in the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond, Va., Division 1).

[1832]  24 APRIL. The Compiler advertises the sale of Allan’s “property on deed of trust, corner of Main and Fifth Streets, Clay Street house” (DLC-EA; Allen, p. 684).

[1832]  SUMMER? BALTIMORE. Poe visits E. J. Coale’s bookstore (Allen, p. 267).

Poe has a romantic affair with Mary Starr (“Baltimore Mary”) (Van Cleef, pp. 634-40; Campbell [1916], pp. 145-46. Mabbott [1969], 1:232-33, dates this episode “about 1834”). [page 127:]

[1832]  9 JUNE. PHILADELPHIA. The Saturday Courier publishes Poe’s “A Tale of Jerusalem.”

[1832]  JUNE. BALTIMORE. Perhaps Poe learns of Allan’s illness through letters carried by a printer named Askew and returns to Richmond (Allen, pp. 272-73).

[If Poe made this visit, he did not see John Allan (Poe’s statement, “more than three [years] since you have spoken to me;” in his letter of 12 April 1833).]

[1832]  23 JULY. RICHMOND. Thomas H. Ellis writes his brother James: “Uncle Allan has been in very bad health for some time: I have seldom seen a person so much [wasted]; his head is completely grey, and his step totter[ing;] he [desi]gns going to the Springs on Wednesday next” (NcD-ME).

[1832]  4 AUGUST. BALTIMORE. Wilmer writes in the Saturday Visiter: “Mr. Edgar A. Poe has favoured us with the perusal of some manuscript tales written by him” (Quinn, pp. 194-95).

[Poe gave to a proposed collection of his early stories the title of “Tales of the Folio Club.”]

[1832]  10 AUGUST. Wilmer brings suit against the proprietors of the Baltimore Saturday Visiter in chancery (Baltimore Court records; Campbell [1916], p. 145). John Hill Hewitt succeeds Wilmer as editor of the Visiter.

[1832]  12 AUGUST. RICHMOND. Poe’s boyhood friend Ebenezer Burling dies of cholera, and is buried in St. John’s Church burial ground (Edward V. Valentine’s notebook, ViRVal; Phillips, 1:440 and 2:1083).

[1832]  25 AUGUST. BALTIMORE. The Visiter reports that Wilmer is now the editor of the Morning Chronicle.

[1832]  29 SEPTEMBER. Wilmer’s suit is transferred to the higher courts at Annapolis (Campbell [1916], p. 145).

[1832]  EARLY FALL? Poe seeks employment as an editorial assistant and as a teacher. Perhaps Poe is a kiln worker (Weiss [1907], pp. 62-63; Campbell [1916], p. 146; R. T. P Allen, pp. 142-43. See SEPTEMBER? 1834).

[1832]  5 OCTOBER. RICHMOND. William Galt Allan is born to Louisa and John Allan. [page 128:]

[1832]  BEFORE 31 OCTOBER. BALTIMORE. Wilmer leaves Baltimore (Campbell [1916], p. 145).

[1832]  10 NOVEMBER. PHILADELPHIA. The Saturday Courier publishes Poe’s “A Decided Loss” (later entitled “Loss of Breath”).

[1832]  1 DECEMBER. The Saturday Courier publishes Poe’s “The Bargain Lost” (a draft for “Bon-Bon”).

[1832]  31 DECEMBER. RICHMOND. John Allan composes a memo to be added to his will (MS, Will Book 2, p. 457, in the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond, Va., Division 1; see Allen, pp. 691-98).



~~ 1833 ~~

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[page 128, continued:]

[1833]  JANUARY. NEW YORK. Charles Fenno Hoffman becomes the first editor of the Knickerbocker Magazine.

[1833]  2 FEBRUARY. BALTIMORE. The Saturday Visiter publishes Poe’s “Enigma (on Shakespeare).”

[1833]  15 MARCH. RICHMOND. John Allan adds a codicil to his will:

This memo, in my own handwriting is to be taken as a codicil and can be easily proven by any of my friends.

The notes preceding [codicil of 31 December 1832] are in the hand writing of my friend Jno. G. Williams.

The twins were born sometime about the 1st of July 1830. I was married the 5th. October 1830 in New York, my fault therefore happened before I ever saw my present wife and I did not hide it from her. In case therefore these twins should reach the age of 21 years & from reasons they cannot get their share of the fifth reserved for them, they are to have $4000 each out of my whole estate to enable them to prosecute some honest pursuit, profession or calling. March 15th. 1833 I understand one of Mrs. Wills’ twin sons died some weeks ago there is therefore only one to provide for. My wife is to have all my furniture, books, bedding, linin, plate, Wines, Spirits &c &c, Glass & China ware (MS, Will Book 2, p. 457, in the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond, Va., Division 1).

[1833]  SPRING. BALTIMORE. Poe takes up residence with his aunt Maria Clemm, No. 3 Amity Street (later 203 North Amity Street). She has been supporting herself by dressmaking (Evans, pp. 363-80). [page 129:]

[1833]  12 APRIL. Poe writes Allan: “It has now been more than two years since you have assisted me, and more than three since you have spoken to me . . . . without friends, without any means, consequently of obtaining employment, I am perishing — absolutely perishing for want of aid. And yet I am not idle — nor addicted to any vice — nor have I committed any offence against society which would render me deserving of so hard a fate. For God’s sake pity me, and save me from destruction” (L, 1:49-50).

[1833]  12 APRIL. RICHMOND. Allan endorses Poe’s letter of 21 February 1831: “Apl 12, 1833 it is now upwards of 2 years since I received the above precious relict of the Blackest Heart & deepest ingratitude alike destitute of honour & principle every day of his life has only served to confirm his debased nature — Suffice it to say my only regret is in Pity for his failings — his Talents are of an order that can never prove a comfort to their possessor” (Stanard, p. 268).

[1833]  13 APRIL. BALTIMORE. The Saturday Visiter acknowledges the receipt of “Serenade” from “E. A. P” (Mabbott [1969], 1:222).

[1833]  20 APRIL. The Saturday Visiter publishes “Serenade” as “by E. A. Poe.”

[1833]  4 MAY. Poe writes Joseph T. and Edwin Buckingham, editors of the New-England Magazine (Boston), and submits the manuscript of “Epimanes” (later “Four Beasts in One”), one of eleven tales. “Epimanes” includes “Latin Hymn” (L, 1:53-54).

[1833]  11 MAY. The Saturday Visiter publishes Poe’s “To — (‘sleep on’);” signed “Tamerlane.”

[1833]  18 MAY. The Saturday Visiter publishes “Fanny,” signed “Tamerlane.”

[1833]  15 JUNE. The Saturday Visiter announces the conditions of a contest:


The proprietors of the Baltimore Saturday Visiter feeling desirous of encouraging literature, and at the same time serving their readers with the best that lies within their reach, offer a premium of 50 dollars for the best Tale and 25 dollars for the best Poem, not exceeding one hundred lines, that shall be offered them between the present period and the first of October next.

The following gentlemen have been chosen to decide on the merits of the productions:

John P. Kennedy, Esq.

John H. B. Latrobe, Esq.

Doctor James H. Miller [page 130:]

Those writers throughout the country who are desirous of entering the lists, will please forward their productions to [Charles Ferree] Cloud and [William P.] Pouder, Baltimore, before the first of October (postpaid) enclosed in an envelope bearing the name of the writer. If secrecy is preferred, the name may be enclosed in a separate envelope, which will not be opened, except in the case of the successful author. We wish those who may write for either of the premiums to understand that all manuscripts submitted will become the property of the Publishers.

Silver medals to the amount of the above rewards will be given in lieu of cash, if required (French, pp. 259-60).

[The offer of prizes was repeated at varying intervals until 7 September (French, p. 259).]

[1833]  16 JULY. RICHMOND. Elizabeth Ellis writes her father Charles Ellis that “Mr. Allan [is] very unwell” (Phillips, 1:456).

[1833]  18 JULY. CHARLOTTESVILLE. Thomas H. Ellis, son of Charles Ellis, graduates from the University of Virginia in French Language and Literature (NcD-ME).

[1833]  27 JULY. RICHMOND. John Allan writes Charles Ellis: “Therm 95. My health greatly affected by it. I feel weak — I with all my family start Monday, stay 2 or 3 days at Byrd — then on to Sulphur Springs. Mrs. A. myself, Miss V. 2 children and 2 nurses, 2 drivers, five horses forms an expensive cavalcade. My sweet little Willie Galt is getting over his teething” (Phillips, 1:456-57).

[1833]  7 SEPTEMBER. BALTIMORE. The Saturday Visiter repeats its offer of prizes.

[1833]  26 SEPTEMBER. C. J. Durant makes his first ascension in a balloon.

[Ballooning, a nineteenth-century American fad, received fictional treatment by Poe in “Hans Phaall” and “The Balloon-Hoax.” See 25 APRIL 1834.]

[1833]  1 OCTOBER. The Saturday Visiter contest closes.

John Pendleton Kennedy [thumbnail]

[Illustration on page 131]
John Pendleton Kennedy

[1833]  7 OCTOBER. The Saturday Visiter committee meets at the home of John H. B. Latrobe, 11 West Mulberry Street: “after dinner [J. P.] Kennedy and Dr. [James H.] Miller [and I] met at my house to decide the merits of certain compositions offered for premiums for the ‘Saturday Visiter,’ and made our selection of prose and poetry, and had altogether quite a pleasant afternoon and evening” (Latrobe, quoted in Semmes, p. 558).

[On 7 December 1852 Latrobe wrote Charles Chauncey Burr: [page 132:]

The manuscripts, as received from the Editor, were laid in a pile on the table. Each one was opened as it came to hand. Sometimes, the first few sentences would condemn it as unworthy. Sometimes several pages were borne with. In some cases, the whole production was read. Two only of the prose pieces were laid aside for re-examination. I recollect them well. One was clever, but watery, evidently a woman’s work. The other was terse, and the denouement terribly original. The poems were treated in the same way. But two of these were put by for review — one the Coliseum, by Poe, and the other, to which the prize was awarded, by J. H. Meritt [Hewitt], though the authorship was not known until afterwards. The loose MSS. having been gone through with, I turned to the Book, which contained many tales, and read it from beginning to end. It was so far, so very far, superior to anything before us, that we had no difficulty in awarding the first prize to the author. Our only difficulty was in selecting from the rich contents of the volume. We took the “Ms. Found in a Bottle” . . . .

To the committee, they [Poe’s tales] were novelties for which they were wholly unprepared. Hence the admiration which, I well remember, the reading of them produced.

In this statement I hardly think I can be mistaken, so far as the action of the committee can be looked upon as a recognition of Mr. Poe’s merits. Mr. Kennedy sent for him at once, and became his most useful friend. At my instance he called on me several times, and entered at length into the discussion of subjects on which he proposed to employ his pen. When he warmed up, he was most eloquent. He spoke, at that time, with eager action; and although, to judge from his outward man, the world was then going hard with him, and his look was blaze [blaze?], yet his appearance was forgotten, as he seemed to forget the world around him, as wild fancy, logical truth, mathematical analysis, and wonderful combinations of fact flowed, in strange commingling, from his lips, in words choice and appropriate as though the result of the closest study. I remember being particularly struck with the power that he seemed to possess of identifying himself with whatever he was describing. He related to me all the facts of a voyage to the moon, I think, which he proposed to put upon paper, with an accuracy of minute detail and a truthfulness as regarded philosophical phenomena, which impressed you with the idea, almost, that he had himself just returned from the journey which existed only in his imagination (Hubbell [1954], pp. 837-39).]

[1833]  12 OCTOBER. The Saturday Visiter publishes the decision of the judges:


It will be seen by the following letter that the Committee have decided on the merits of the various productions sent for the premiums offered by us. The “Manuscript found in a bottle” is the production of Edgar A. Poe, of Baltimore.

The poem entitled “The Song of the Winds” by Henry Wilton, of Baltimore.

The prize pieces shall be published next week.

Messers. Cloud and Pouder —

Gentlemen: — We have received two pacquets containing the Poems and Tales submitted as competitors for the prizes offered by you in July last, and in accordance with your request have carefully perused them with a view to the award of the premiums. [page 133:]

Amongst the poems we have selected a short one, entitled “Song of the Winds,” as the most finished production offered. There were several others of such a degree of merit as greatly to perplex our choice and cause some hesitation in the award we have made.

Of the tales submitted there were many of various and distinguished excellence; but the singular force and beauty of those offered by “The Tales of the Folio Club;” it may be said without disparagement to the high merit of others presented in the competition, left us no ground for doubt in making choice of one from that collection. We have accordingly, awarded the prize in this department to the tale bearing the title of “A MS Found in a Bottle.” It would scarcely be doing justice to the author of this collection to say the tale we have chosen is the best of the six offered by him. We have read them all with unusual interest, and can not refrain from the expression of the opinion that the writer owes it to his own reputation, as well as to the gratification of the community to publish the whole volume. These tales are eminently distinguished by a wild, vigorous and poetical imagination, a rich style, a fertile invention, and varied and curious learning. Our selection of “A MS Found in a bottle” was rather dictated by the originality of its conception and its length, than by any superior merit in its execution over the others by the same author.

The general excellence of the whole of the compositions offered for the prizes is very creditable to the rising literature of our country.

Very Respectfully Gentl’n




Baltimore, October 7, 1833 (French, pp. 260-61).

[1833]  19 OCTOBER. The Saturday Visiter publishes Poe’s “MS. Found in a Bottle” with an introductory note: “The following is the tale to which the Premium of Fifty Dollars has been awarded by the Committee. It will be found highly graphic in its style of composition.” The editor of the Visiter comments: “It gives us great pleasure in stating for the literary credit of our city, that both the successful candidates are Baltimoreans” (French, p. 261).

[1833]  21 OCTOBER. On the Monday following the publication of “MS. Found in a Bottle” Poe calls on John H. B. Latrobe.

[Later Latrobe described Poe:

His figure was remarkably good, and he carried himself erect and well, as one who had been trained to it. He was dressed in black, and his frock-coat was buttoned to the throat, where it met the black stock, then almost universally worn. Not a particle of white was visible. Coat, hat, boots and gloves had very evidently seen their best days, but so far as mending and brushing go, everything had been done apparently, to make them presentable. On most men his clothes would have looked shabby and seedy, but there was something about this man that prevented [page 134:] one from criticizing his garments, and the details I have mentioned were only recalled afterwards. The impression made, however, was that the award in Mr. Poe’s favor was not inopportune (Rice, pp. 60-61).]

[1833]  AFTER 21 OCTOBER. John Hill Hewitt, editor of the Saturday Visiter and the other successful contestant under the pseudonym of “Henry Wilton,” winning the prize for the best poem, encounters Poe after the contest.

A few days after the publication of these prize pieces, as I [Hewitt] was about entering the office of the Visiter, on the S. E. corner of Baltimore and Gay Streets, I encountered Mr. Poe. He approached me with an ominous scowl on his features.

“You have used underhanded means, sir, to obtain that prize over me,” said he, sternly.

“I deny it, sir,” was my reply.

“Then why did you keep back your real name?”

“I had my reasons, and you have no right to question me.”

“But you tampered with the committee, sir.”

“The committee are gentlemen above being tampered with, sir; and if you say that you insult them,” I replied, looking him full in the face.

“I agree that the committee are gentlemen,” replied he, his dark eyes flashing with anger, “but I cannot place you in that category.”

My blood mounted up to fever heat in a moment, and with my usual impulsiveness, I dealt him a blow which staggered him, for I was physically his superior.

There was every prospect of a very pretty fight, for Poe was full of pluck, but several gentlemen, friends to both parties, interfered, and the affair was “nipped in the bud.” There was no duel — much to the disappointment of our friends and well-wishers (Hewitt [1949], p. 19).

[1833]  26 OCTOBER. The Saturday Visiter publishes Poe’s “The Coliseum” and reports that his Tales of the Folio Club will be issued by subscription.


This is the title of a volume of tales from the pen of Edgar A. Poe, the gentleman to whom the committee appointed by the proprietors of this paper awarded the premium of $50. The work is about being put to press, and is to be published by subscription. We have a list at our office, and any person wishing to subscribe will please call. The volume will cost but $1.

The prize tale is not the best of Mr. Poe’s productions; among the tales of the Folio Club there are many possessing uncommon merit. They are all characterized by a raciness, originality of thought and brilliancy of conception which are rarely to be met with in the writings of our most favored American authors. In assisting Mr. Poe in the publication of the Folio Club, the friends of native literature will encourage a young author whose energies have been partially damped by the opposition of the press, and, we may say, by the lukewarmness of the public in appreciating American productions. He has studied and written much — his reward rested on public approbation — let us give him something more substantial [page 135:] than bare praise. We ask our friends to come forward and subscribe to the work — there are many anxious to see it before the public (French, pp. 262-63).

[1833]  26 OCTOBER. NEWBURYPORT, MASSACHUSETTS. The People’s Advocate prints an unauthorized version of Poe’s “MS. Found in a Bottle.”

[1833]  2 NOVEMBER. BALTIMORE. The Saturday Visiter reports: “Mr. Poe has declined the publication of his Tales of the Folio Club in the manner stated in our last number. It is his intention, we understand, to bring them out in Philadelphia” (French, p. 262)

[1833]  2 NOVEMBER. John Pendleton Kennedy makes an entry in his journal: “In July last I was appointed, together with John Latrobe and Dr. Miller, a committee, by the editors of the Saturday Morning Visiter to decide upon a prize tale and poem. Early in October we met for this purpose and having about a hundred tales and poems. The prize for the tale we gave to Edgar A. Poe, having selected that call[ed] ‘A MS. Found in a Bottle’ from a volume of tales furnished by him. The volume exhibits a great deal of talent, and we advised him to publish it. He has accordingly left it in my possession, to show it to [Henry C.] Carey in Philadelphia” (Campbell [1917a], p. 197; see Hammond, p. 27).

[Later, 13 April 1869, in a letter to George Wolff Fahnestock, Kennedy wrote: “I was very intimate with Poe, during the period of his residence in this city, and followed the story of his unhappy career with great interest after he left us. I have never known, nor heard of any one, whose life so curiously illustrated that twofold existence of the spiritual and the carnal disputing the control of the man, which has often been made the theme of fiction. His was debauched by the most grovelling appetites and exalted by the richest conceptions of genius. — In his special department of thought, our country has produced no poet or prose writer superior to him — indeed, I think, none equal to him” (Bohner [1958], pp. 220-22; Osborne, pp. 17-18).]

[1833]  AFTER 2 NOVEMBER. John Pendleton Kennedy delivers Poe’s manuscript to Carey & Lea, Philadelphia publishers (see 2 NOVEMBER).

[1833]  NOVEMBER? Poe sustains “himself precariously by ‘jobs’ for the ‘Visiter,’ and for Mr. Kennedy” (W, 1:110-11; cf. Weiss [1907], pp. 68-69).

[1833]  16 DECEMBER. RICHMOND. John Allan writes Charles Ellis that he is anxious to obtain a settlement of the business affairs of their firm: “My health is perhaps as good now as it ever will be. While therefore I can attend to these matters it were wise to do it” (DLC-EA; Quinn, p. 205). [page 136:]

[1833]  CA. 1833. BALTIMORE. Poe writes “To Elizabeth” in the album of his cousin Elizabeth Rebecca Herring (Mabbott [1969], 1:233-36).



~~ 1834 ~~

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[page 136, continued:]

JANUARY. PHILADELPHIA. Godey’s Lady’s Book publishes Poe’s “The Visionary” (later called “The Assignation”), including “To One in Paradise.”

Moldavia, the Allan house [thumbnail]

[Illustration on page 136, bottom]
“Moldaivia” the Allan House

[1834]  1 JANUARY. BALTIMORE. John Pendleton Kennedy writes Henry C. Carey, in Philadelphia: “What have you done with Poe’s MS? — When will you publish it, and what do you think of it?” (Hammond, pp. 27 and 41 n. 38).

[1834]  26 JANUARY. RICHMOND. Patterson Allan is born to Louisa and John Allan. [page 137:]

[1834]  CA. 14 FEBRUARY. Perhaps Poe pays his last visit to the ailing John Allan and meets Louisa Allan.

A short time previous to Mr. Allan’s death, on the 27th of March, 1834, he was greatly distressed by dropsy, was unable to lie down, & sat in an arm-chair night & day; several times a day, by the advice of his physician, he walked across the room for exercise, leaning on his cane, and assisted by his wife & a manservant. During this illness of her husband, Mrs. Allan was on an occasion, passing through the hall of this house, when hearing the front doorbell ring, she opened the door herself. A man of remarkable appearance stood there, & without giving his name asked if he could see Mr. Allan. She replied that Mr. Allan’s condition was such that his physicians had prohibited any person from seeing him except his nurses. The man was Edgar A. Poe, who was, of course, perfectly familiar with the house. Thrusting her aside & without noticing her reply, he passed rapidly upstairs to Mr. Allan’s chamber, followed by Mrs. Allan. As soon as he entered the chamber, Mr. Allan raised his cane, & threatening to strike him if he came within his reach, ordered him out; upon which Poe withdrew, & that was the last time they ever met (Thomas H. Ellis, Richmond Standard, 7 May 1881).

[1834]  1 MARCH. William Burke on leaving the Richmond Seminary writes a thank-you note to Charles Ellis, Jr., Montague Thompson, Charles Carter, and a Committee of Students:

I have received, with feelings of the utmost sensibility and gratitude, two beautiful Silver Tankards, presented by you, on behalf of the late students of the Richmond Seminary. . . . One exhortation, My Dr. Pupils, before you disperse — Cultivate a generous ambition — honour your parents — respect your Teachers — be industrious, docile and modest — love order and decency — frown down vicious companions — abhor meanness, and never forget that a virtuous and well spent youth affords the best prospect of a respectable and happy old age (NcD-ME).

[1834]  10 MARCH. BALTIMORE. The Baltimore American and Literary Gazette reports that Henry Herring has bought Hampstead Hall (Phillips, 1:473).

[1834]  19 MARCH. RICHMOND. Margaret Ellis writes her husband Charles that “Nancy Valentine called at the store today, & told Thomas [Ellis] that Mr. Allan was very sick” (Phillips, 1:473).

[1834]  27 MARCH. John Allan dies, leaving a widow and three sons. Charles Ellis, Jr., writes his father: “I inform you of Uncle Allan’s death — today at 11 o’clock very suddenly — he was sitting in his Easy-chair by himself and had not Mrs. Allan been called in by the cries of one of the children he would not have been known to be dead for some time. She found him laid back, noticed the difference in his appearance directly & brought assistance by her screams. The two Mr. Galts [William, Jr., and James] have arranged the funeral for Saturday” (Phillips, 1:474). [page 138:]

[1834]  29 MARCH. Thomas Ellis writes his father Charles Ellis: “Uncle Allan was buried [in Shockoe Hill Cemetery] this morning at 12 o’clock. His death created much sensation & his family appear deeply distressed” (Phillips, 1:474).

On his tombstone appears the inscription:

MARCH 27, 1834

He whose remains lie buried beneath
this tomb was a native of Ayrshire, Scotland.
Blessed with every social and benevolent
feeling, he fulfilled the duties of Husband,
Father, Brother, and Friend, with surpassing
Kindness, supported the ills of life with
Fortitude, and his Prosperity with Meekness.

A firm believer in Christ, and resigned to
the decrees of Almighty God, he gave up
life with all its enjoyments, without a murmur.

While affection mourns the great loss it
has sustained, the remembrance of his
virtues and the hope of a reunion hereafter
are the only sources of consolation to
the bereft heart.

[1834]  1 APRIL. The Richmond Enquirer notices John Allan’s death: “Died in this city on Thursday morning, in the 54th year of his age, John Allan, Esq., one of the worthiest citizens of Richmond. He has been long a resident of the city — and none was better known, none more highly respected — distinguished for his humanity, his hospitality, his attachment to his friends, his devotion to his family” (Bondurant, p. 209 n. 40).

[1834]  11 APRIL. Jane Ellis writes her brother James, a cadet at West Point: “You have not heard of Uncle Allan’s death I expect, as Father did not receive our letters until he reached Philadelphia; no one was with him and he died very suddenly sitting in his arm-chair. You can conceive how distressed Aunt Nancy is, the whole family are very much grieved, and I can say that Mrs. Allan looks as white as a sheet” (NcD-ME; Bondurant, p. 209).

[1834]  15 APRIL. WEST POINT. James N. Ellis writes his brother Charles, Jr.: “I [page 139:] have just heard the particulars of Uncle Allan’s death. It was indeed a sudden call to one who has not although the newspapers say so, spent his time in a proper way. But peace be to his ashes for he was ever kind and affectionate to all and all his sins were against himself. No doubt his wife is very much afflicted at it. She should be for [an undecipherable deletion] man there could not be” (NcD-ME).

[1834]  25 APRIL. BALTIMORE. The Lutheran Observer, and Weekly Religious and Literary Visiter, edited by Benjamin Hurtz and printed by Charles F. Cloud, makes an announcement:

Balloon Ascension

Mr. JAMES MILLS has the pleasure to inform the citizens of Baltimore that he will make his Second Grand Ascension on THURSDAY, 1st May, at Fair Mount Garden, East Baltimore st —

Mr. HERRING has at considerable expense, erected an Amphitheatre sufficient to contain from seven to eight thousand persons, where they can be comfortably seated and witness the whole of this interesting process.

[For an unknown reason the ascension was postponed to 26 May. In its 20 June issue the Lutheran Observer continued its interest in balloons. “Mr. Herring” was, of course, Henry Herring, the first husband of Poe’s Aunt Elizabeth. See 17 NOVEMBER 1814.]

[1834]  8 MAY. RICHMOND. John Allan’s will is probated at a Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery held for Henrico County at the Capitol in the City of Richmond. His widow Louisa Allan renounces all her rights under the will and elects to take her share under the intestate law (Allen, pp. 695-98).

[1834]  AFTER 8 MAY? Perhaps Poe calls on Louisa Allan.

. . . after Mr. Allan’s death . . . she was sitting at one of the front windows of her chamber & seeing him [Poe] enter the gate & walk towards the door, she sent her chamber-maid down to say that she begged to be excused from receiving him (Thomas H. Ellis, Richmond Standard, 7 May 1881).

[1834]  15 MAY. WASHINGTON. The Daily National Intelligencer carries a “PROSPECTUS of a Literary Paper to be published in Richmond, Va., by Thomas W. White, to be entitled THE SOUTHERN LITERARY MESSENGER, To be devoted to every department of Literature and the Fine Arts.”

[“The Southern Literary Messenger originated from a remarkable combination in one individual of enterprise, industry and perseverance; one who could contribute little else than mechanical skill to such a periodical as he [page 140:] succeeded in establishing more to his honor than his profit. Thomas W. White commenced the publication in 1834, at a time when even our large cities sustained very few such enterprises. A local sale of 5,000 copies was more probable and feasible in New York or Philadelphia, than one of 250 in Richmond. . . .

“A short time after its commencement, he obtained the services of Edgar A. Poe as editor, which were continued for eighteen months — an unusually long period for that erratic genius to devote to one occupation” (Mordecai, pp. 241-43).]

[1834]  16 MAY. BALTIMORE. John Pendleton Kennedy writes White, commending the Messenger venture and promising his aid (information from the late John C. Wyllie).

[1834]  27 MAY. RICHMOND. Margaret Ellis writes her son James, at West Point: “I believe that Charles wrote you an account of the Coronation of the Queen of May, in Mr. [Genaro] Persico’s School” (NcD-ME).

[Poe composed a “May Queen Ode.” See APRIL? 1836.]

[1834]  5 JUNE. White writes Mrs. Lydia Huntley Sigourney, a poetess of Hartford, Connecticut, and sends her a copy of James Ewell Heath’s novel Edge-Hill (Mrs. Sigourney to White, 14 June 1834).

[1834]  14 JUNE. HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT. Mrs. Sigourney writes White that she is “happy to announce the arrival of ‘Edge-Hill’ ” and continues: “The proof-sheet of my poetical offering to the ‘Southern Literary Messenger,’ is correctly printed. I think it would improve its appearance to omit the dashes which occur in the orthography, — and which I am in the habit of making in the manuscript, with some inadvertence. I should be particularly pleased to attempt a sketch of the biography of Judge [John] Marshall. . . . I recollect taking great pains to get a sight of him, when in Richmond, in 1825, though ineffectually” (NHi).

[1834]  JUNE OR JULY? NEW YORK? James Kirke Paulding, a novelist, writes White: “It gives me great pleasure to find that you are about establishing a literary paper in Richmond” (Messenger, 1 [August 1834]: 1).

[Other correspondents encouraging White at this time and earlier were Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, John Pendleton Kennedy, John Quincy Adams, and Peter A. Browne. See Messenger, 1 [August 1834]: 1. Irving dated his letter 10 May.]

[1834]  CA. 5 AUGUST. RICHMOND. The first number of the Southern Literary [page 141:] Messenger appears (Richmond Enquirer, 5 August 1834; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 9 August 1834).

[1834]  SEPTEMBER? BALTIMORE. Robert T. P Allen, a West Point graduate, is informed that Poe is working in a brickyard (R.T.P Allen, pp. 142-43. See EARLY FALL? 1832).

[John H. Ingram wrote Sarah Helen Whitman, 14 February 1877 (Miller [1979], p. 474): “By the way, did I tell you that the Allen who gave the story of Poe working in the brickyard ‘late in the fall of 1834’ was a witness against Poe in the West Point courtmartial . . . .?”]

[1834]  24 AUGUST. Margaret Ellis writes her son James: “Friday was Elizabeths birth day, & Jane had Colombia Hudgins, Mary Shepherd & Rose McKenzie [Poe] to spend the day with her, in the evening William Robinson & William Perkins came in, & they spent quite a merry evening, playing with fortune cards & other amusements” (NcD-ME).

[1834]  24 OCTOBER. RICHMOND. Thomas H. Ellis writes his brother Charles that White would like to have the Messenger noticed in one of the Charlottesville papers and to have the names of any new subscribers (NcD-ME).

[1834]  4 NOVEMBER. White invites Nathaniel Beverley Tucker, Professor of Law, College of William and Mary, to become a contributor to his Messenger (Vi-W-TC).

[1834]  7 NOVEMBER. ESSEX COUNTY, VIRGINIA. James Mercer Garnett writes White, criticizing his editorial policies (ViHi).

[1834]  13 NOVEMBER. ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA. Edgar Snowden, editor Alexandria Gazette, writes White: “I have been so busy that I have had hardly time to do any thing in your line — I send you a notice of and some extracts from a volume of Poems written by . . . [Thomas J.] Semmes of this place. . . . I shall try and be a regular contributor if my articles are worth publishing and if the [Richmond] Compiler! is not too hard upon me” (NcD-ME).

[1834]  CA. 19 NOVEMBER. BALTIMORE. Poe writes John Pendleton Kennedy:

Since the day you first saw me my situation in life has altered materially. At that time I looked forward to the inheritance of a large fortune, and, in the meantime, was in receipt of an annuity sufficient for my support. This was allowed me by a gentleman of Virginia (Mr Jno Allan) who adopted me at the age of two years, (both my parents being dead) and who, until lately, always treated me with the [page 142:] affection of a father. But a second marriage on his part, and I dare say many follies on my own at length ended in a quarrel between us. He is now dead, and has left me nothing. . . . I could not help thinking that if my situation was stated — as you could state it — to Carey & Lea, they might be led to aid me with a small sum in consideration of my M.S. now in their hands. This would relieve my immediate wants (L, 1:54-55).

[1834]  21 NOVEMBER. PHILADELPHIA. Henry C. Carey writes Kennedy: “ I will see to your friend Poe this day or tomorrow. I have not had time since receipt of your letter this morning” (Campbell [1917a], p. 197).

[1834]  26 NOVEMBER. Henry C. Carey writes Kennedy:

I should have written you sooner in relation to your friend, but that I have expected for several days to hear from you. The book shall go to press at once, but I have much doubt of his making anything by it. Such little things [?] rarely succeed, and if they do, their produce is small. I do not expect to make anything, but am perfectly willing to take the chance of it. As he, however, appears to want something immediately, I had thought of handing the volume to Miss [Eliza] Leslie to see if she could select something for her Souvenir [the Gift], for which he could be paid promptly. If he could dispose of them in that way, they would, I think, be more productive than in the form of a volume. Doubting, as I do, any extent of sale that will enable us to make anything by it, I am not very willing to increase the risque by paying the author in advance.

Say what I shall do, and it shall be done. It shall be printed as it stands — or I will hand it to Miss Leslie and print after she shall have selected one — or, in short, what you please shall be done. I should be exceedingly glad to promote your friend’s objects if I knew how, but writing is a very poor business unless a man can find the way of taking the public attention, and that is not often done by short stories. People want something larger and longer. If, by the publication of these tales in the Souvenir — or the newspapers — he could obtain anything like a name, his book would afterwards — composed of the same tales — be worth more than it now is, unknown as he is. Direct me (Campell [1917a], pp. 197-98).

[1834]  2 DECEMBER. BALTIMORE. Elizabeth Rebecca Herring, Poe’s cousin, marries Andrew Turner Tutt of Virginia (Phillips, 1:425, 514; Mabbott [1969], 1:147-48).

[1834]  19 DECEMBER. Poe writes Kennedy: “About four weeks ago I sent you a note respecting my Tales of the F. Club, and matters have since occurred to me that make me doubt whether you have recd. it. You would confer upon me the greatest favour by dropping a few words for me in the P. O.” (L, 1:55-56).

[1834]  22 DECEMBER. Kennedy writes Poe:

I have received your note, and should sooner have apprized you of what I had [page 143:] done, but that Carey’s letter only reached me a few days ago as I was stepping into a carriage to go to Annapolis, whence I returned only a day or two since.

I requested Carey immediately upon the receipt of your first letter to do something for you as speedily as he might find an opportunity, and to make some advance on your book. His answer let me know that he would go on to publish, but the expectation of any profit from the undertaking he considered doubtful — not from want of merit in the production, but because small books of detached tales, however well written, seldom yield a sum sufficient to enable the bookseller to purchase a copyright. He recommended, however, that I should allow him to sell some of the tales to the publishers of the annuals. My reply was that I thought you would not object to this if the right to publish the same tale was reserved for the volume. He has accordingly sold one of the tales to Miss Leslie for the “Souvenir” [the Gift], at a dollar a page, I think with the reservation above mentioned — and has remitted me a draft for fifteen dollars which I will hand over to you as soon as you call upon me, which I hope you will do as soon as you can make it convenient. If the other tales can be sold in the same way, you will get more for the work than by an exclusive publication (W, 17:3; Woodberry, 1:105-06).

[1834]  1834 OR EARLY 1835. Miss Mary Winfree of Chesterfield, Virginia, a friend of Elmira Shelton, meets Poe in Baltimore. For her he composes “To Mary” (later entitled “To One Departed” and “To Frances”), a poem first published in the July 1835 Southern Literary Messenger (Mabbott [1969], 1:236-37, 545).






[S:1 - TPL, 1987] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - The Poe Log (D. R. Thomas and D. K. Jackson) (Chapter 03)