Text: Burton R. Pollin, “September 1835 (Headnote),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. V: SLM (1997), pp. 35-36 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 35:]

September 1835

[column 1:]

The crisis in Poe’s personal affairs further darkened his mood during the month of September. Writing to his benefactor, John Pendleton Kennedy, on the eleventh he began by expressing gratitude “for your frequent and effectual assistance and kindness,” and he noted that “Through your influence Mr. White has been induced to employ me in assisting him with the Editorial duties of his Magazine at a salary of $520 per annum. The situation is agreeable to me for many reasons — . . .” But then, compulsively, he added: “but alas! it appears to me that nothing can now give me pleasure — or the slightest gratification. . . . My feelings at this moment are pitiable indeed. I am suffering under a depression of spirits such as I have never felt before. I have struggled in vain against the influence of this melancholy — You will believe me when I say that I am still miserable in spite of the great improvement in my circumstances. . . . I am wretched and know not why. Console me — for you can. But let it be quickly — or it will be too late . . .” (Letters 1: 73). Kennedy answered Poe on September 19: “I am sorry to see you in such plight as your letter shows you to be in. — It is strange that just at the time when every body is praising you and when Fortune has begun to smile upon your hitherto wretched circumstances you should be invaded by these villainous blue devils. . . . You will doubtless do well henceforth in literature and add to your comforts as well as to your reputation which, it gives me great pleasure to tell you, is every where rising in popular esteem” (Poe Log, p. 170).

Despite his expressed state of despondency, Poe contrived to make a [column 2:] strong contribution to the September SLM, which was issued late in the month. Drawing on his unpublished “Tales of the Folio Club,” he printed “Loss of Breath,” “Shadow: A Fable,” and “King Pest the First” (SLM: pp. 735-40; 757-61; 762-63; texts and commentary in Mabbott 2: 61-82; 18792; 238-55). There was also a poem: “Lines Written in an Album” (p. 748), a revised version of the earlier “To Elizabeth,” now addressed to Eliza White, T. W. White’s young daughter; text and notes in Mabbott 1: 23336. Among the editorial items were: (1) two fillers: “Milton is indebted . . .” (p. 734) and “The ‘Acajou et Zerphile’ of Du Clos . . .” (p. 740); texts and notes in Pollin 2: 425-27; (2) seven critical notices — all by Poe, as White informed Lucian Minor in a letter of October 20, 1835 (Poe Log, p. 176). These are reprinted and discussed below. The Poe Log, p. 172, also credits Poe with the composition of two brief notices, clearly ordered by White: (1) an announcement that this number closes the first volume and that a title page and index will be sent to subscribers; and (2) a notice that the whole edition of Volume I, 1400 copies, has been exhausted. Extracts from “Opinions of the Press,” also printed on the covers, consist mainly of praise for Poe’s contributions (Poe Log, pp. 172-73).

With his work on the September number complete, Poe fled back to his personal affairs in Baltimore sometime before the twenty-first. White was apparently not surprised; to Lucian Minor he wrote: “Poe has flew [sic] the track already. His habits were not good. — He is in addition the victim of melancholy. I should not be at all astonished to hear that he has been guilty of suicide” (Poe [page 36:] Log, pp. 170-71). In Baltimore, Poe obtained on September 22 a license to marry Virginia Clemm; whether they were privately wed at this time remains a matter of controversy (for the view that they were, see Mabbott 1: 546). Whatever the case, Poe quickly applied for reinstatement to White before September 29 when White replied to him. It tells us much about White’s attitude toward his wayward assistant. “Would that it were in my power to unbosom myself to you, in language such as I could on the present occasion, wish myself master of. I cannot do it — and therefore must be content to speak to you in my plain way,” White began. He clearly felt that Poe drank to excess, despite promises to reform: “That you are sincere in all your promises, I firmly believe. But, Edgar, when you once again tread these streets, I have my fears that your resolves will fall through, — and that you would again sip the juice, even till it stole away your senses. . . . How much I regretted parting with you, is unknown to anyone on this earth, except myself. I was attached to you — and am still, and willingly would I say return, if I did not dread the hour of separation very shortly again.” The remainder of the letter holds out some hope of reconciliation, tempered by White’s doubts: “If you could make yourself contented to take up your quarters [column 2:] in my family, or in any other private family where liquor is not used, I should think there were hopes of you. But, if you go to a tavern, or to any other place where it is used, you are not safe. . . .You have fine talents, Edgar — and you ought to have them respected as well as yourself. . . . Separate yourself from the bottle, and bottle-companions for ever! . . . If you should come to Richmond again, and should again be an assistant in my office, it must be expressly understood by us that all engagements on my part would be dissolved, the moment you get drunk” (Poe Log, pp. 171-72). This hint apparently was enough for Poe; by October 3 he, Maria Clemm, and Virginia arrived in Richmond, to reside in rented rooms. Within days he was once again in White’s employ.

This issue, No. 13, closed out Volume I of the SLM. Much of it was still the heavy fare which White thought proper for his audience: another section of the history of Tripoli, the text of a lengthy address by James M. Garrett on education, and a long review of a book of reminiscences of a Revolutionary War hero, General Joseph Warren. Because of various delays, there were no issues dated October or November 1835, and Volume II would begin with the December number.






[S:0 - BRP5S, 1997] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe (B. R. Pollin) (September 1835 (Headnote))