Text: George E. Woodberry, “Chapter 15,” The Life of Edgar Allan Poe: Personal and Literary (1909), vol. II, pp. 294-356


[page 294, unnumbered:]

Chapter XV


ON his return to New York Poe set himself diligently to work. In pursuance of his plan to found the “Stylus,” he had given lectures, as has been seen, in Lowell and Providence, but his in come must have been of the scantiest; he had not yet taken up his literary work as a magazinist in any earnest since his illness, and his poems, except “Ulalume,” had been desultory. In the last six months his published work was limited to the “Messenger” and the “Union”; in the former in September a criticism of Mrs. Lewis’s poems, and in October and November “The Rationale of Verse,” revised from his “Notes on English Verse” in the “Pioneer”; and in the “Union,” in November, his lines “To Helen.” Late in January, 1849, ne wrote to his friend in Lowell: —

“. . . I am so busy, now, and feel so full of energy. Engagements to write are pouring in upon me every day. I had two proposals within the last week from Boston. I sent yesterday an [page 295:] article to the ‘Am. Review’ about ‘Critics and Criticism.’ Not long ago I sent one to the ‘Metropolitan’ called ‘Landor’s Cottage’: it has something about Annie in it, and will appear, I suppose, in the March number. To the S. L. Messenger I have sent fifty pages of ‘Marginalia,’ five pages to appear each month of the current year. I have also made permanent engagements with every magazine in America (except Peterson’s National ) including a Cincinnati magazine, called ‘The Gentlemen’s.’ So you see that I have only to keep up my spirits to get out of all my pecuniary troubles. The least price I get is $5 per ‘Graham page,’ and I can easily average 1 1/2 per day — that is $7 1/2. As soon as returns come in I shall be out of difficulty.”(1)

Poe was elated with his immediate prospects; and he had good reason, if there was no exaggeration in these statements. On February 6, according to the same authority, he finished “The Bells,” presumably the second draft, and the next day “Hop-Frog,” a tale of grotesque humor out of Berner’s Froissart. He also mentions “Annabel Lee,” one of his most characteristic poems, apparently as recently written, but he may mean (as in the case of “The Bells”) [page 296:] only the latest draft, since a poem of that name is said to have been written three years earlier, according to others. His publications, so far as traced, were the review of Lowell’s “Fable for Critics,” in the February “Messenger”; “Mellonta Tauta,” a revision of the introduction to “Eureka,” in “Godey’s” for the same month; the lines “For Annie” (reprinted, as usual, at his request, by Willis), the sonnet “To my Mother,” and “Hop-Frog,” in the “Flag of Our Union,” all, as it would seem, in April; and lastly, in “Sartain’s Magazine” for March, “A Valentine,” the anagrammatic poem to Mrs. Osgood. Perhaps “El Dorado,” the only poem of which the first publication is unknown, be longs to this same period.

His correspondence reflects this active state of mind. He wrote to Thomas an old-time letter, and it is pleasant to see that he still commanded a man’s style: —

FORDHAM, February 14, 1849.

MY DEAR FRIEND THOMAS, — Your letter, dated November 27, has reached me at a little village of the Empire State, after having taken, at its leisure, a very considerable tour among the Post-Offices — occasioned, I presume, by your indorsement “to forward” wherever I might be [page 297:] — and the fact is, where I might not have been, for the last three months, is the legitimate question. At all events, now that I have your well-known MS. before me, it is most cordially welcome. Indeed, it seems an age since I heard from you, and a decade of ages since I shook you by the hand — although I hear of you now and then. Right glad am I to find you once more in a true position — in the field of Letters. Depend upon it, after all, Thomas, Literature is the most noble of professions. In fact, it is about the only one fit for a man. For my own part, there is no seducing me from the path. I shall be a Littérateur at least all my life; nor would I abandon the hopes which still lead me on for all the gold in California. Talking of gold, and of the temptations at present held out to “poor-devil authors,” did it ever strike you that all which is really valuable to a man of letters — to a poet in especial — is absolutely unpurchasable? Love, fame, the dominion of intellect, the consciousness of power, the thrilling sense of beauty, the free air of Heaven, exercise of body and mind, with the physical and moral health which result — these and such as these are really all that a poet cares for: then answer me this — why should he go to California? Like Brutus, “I pause for a reply” — [page 298:] which, like F. W. Thomas, I take it for granted you have no intention of giving me. I have read the Prospectus of the “Chronicle,” and like it much, especially the part where you talk about letting go the finger of that conceited booby, the East, which is by no means the East out of which came the wise men mentioned in Scripture. I wish you would come down on the Frogpondians. They are getting worse and worse, and pretend not to be aware that there are any literary people out of Boston. The worst and most disgusting part of the matter is that the Bostonians are really, as a race, far inferior in point of anything beyond mere talent to any other set upon the continent of North America. They are decidedly the most servile imitators of the English it is possible to conceive. I always get into a passion when I think about [it]. It would be the easiest thing in the world to use them up en masse. One really well-written satire would accomplish the business: but it must not be such a dish of skimmed-milk-and-water as Lowell’s. I suppose you have seen that affair — the “Fable for Critics,” I mean. Miss Fuller, that detestable old maid, told him once that he was “so wretched a poet as to be disgusting even to his best friends.” This set him off at a tangent [page 299:] and he has never been quite right since — so he took to writing satire against mankind in general, with Margaret Fuller and her protégé, Cornelius Mathews, in particular. It is miserably weak upon the whole, but has one or two good but by no means original things, — oh, there is “nothing new under the sun,” and Solomon is right — for once. I sent a review of the “Fable” to the “S. L. Messenger,” a day or two ago, and I only hope Thompson will print it. Lowell is a ranting abolitionist, and deserves a good using up. It is a pity that he is a poet. I have not seen your paper yet, and hope you will mail me one — regularly if you can spare it. I will send you something whenever I get a chance. With your coeditor, Mr. [name crossed out], I am not acquainted personally, but he is well known to me by reputation. Eames, I think, was talking to me about him in Washing ton once, and spoke very highly of him in many respects, so upon the whole you are in luck. The rock on which most new enterprises in the paper way split is namby-pambyism. It never did do and never will. No yea-nay journal ever succeeded. But I know there is little danger of your making the “Chronicle” a yea-nay one. I have been quite out of the literary world for the last [page 300:] three years, and have said little or nothing, but, like the owl, I have “taken it out in thinking.” By and by I mean to come out of the bush, and then I have some old scores to settle. I fancy I see some of my friends already stepping up to the Captain’s office. The fact is, Thomas, living buried in the country makes a man savage — wolfish. I am just in the humor for a fight. You will be pleased to hear that I am in better health than I ever knew myself to be — full of energy, and bent upon success. You shall hear of me again shortly — and it is not improbable that I may soon pay you a visit in Louisville. If I can do anything for you in New York, let me know. Mrs. Clemm sends her best respects, and begs to be remembered to your mother’s family if they are with you. You would oblige me very especially if you could squeeze in what follows, editorially. The lady [Mrs. Lewis] spoken of is a most particular friend of mine, and deserves all I have said of her. I will reciprocate the favor I ask, whenever you say the word, and show me how. Address me at New York City as usual, and if you insert the following, please cut it out and enclose it in your letter.

Truly your friend,

EDGAR A. POE.(1) [page 301:]

A letter to Duyckinck three weeks later also shows his natural vein: —

FORDHAM, March 8 [1849].

DEAR SIR, — If you have looked over the Von Kempelen article which I left with your brother, you will have fully perceived its drift. I mean it as a kind of “exercise,” or experiment, in the plausible or verisimilar style. Of course, there is not one word of truth in it from beginning to end. I thought that such a style, applied to the gold-excitement, could not fail of effect. My sincere opinion is that nine persons out of ten (even among the best-informed) will believe the quiz (provided the design does not leak out before publication) and that thus, acting as a sudden, although of course a very temporary, check to the gold-fever, it will create a stir to some purpose.

I had prepared the hoax for a Boston weekly called “The Flag,” where it will be quite thrown away. The proprietor will give me $15 for it on presentation to his agent here; and my object in referring the article to you is simply to see if you could not venture to take it for the “World.” If so, I am willing to take for it $10 — or, in fact, whatever you think you can afford. [page 302:]

I believe the quiz is the first deliberate literary attempt of the kind on record. In the story of Mrs. Veal, we are permitted, now and then, to perceive a tone of banter. In “Robinson Crusoe” the design was far more to please, or excite, than to deceive by verisimilitude, in which particular merely, Sir Ed. Seaward’s narrative is the more skilful book. In my “Valdemar Case” (which was credited by many) I had not the slightest idea that any person should credit it as anything more than a “Magazine-paper” — but here the whole strength is laid out in verisimilitude.

I am very much obliged to you for your re print of “Ulalume.”

Truly yours,


P. S. If you feel the least shy about the article, make no hesitation in returning it, of course: — for I willingly admit that it is not a paper which every editor would like to “take the responsibility” of printing although merely as a contribution with a known name: but if you decline the quiz, please do not let out the secret.

EVERT A. DUYCKINCK, Esq. [page 303:]

These various writings probably represent Poe’s literary activity for time past as well as present, and this is certainly the case with the noticeable pieces among them, — “The Domain of Arnheim,” and “Landor’s Cottage,” called its pendant. The latter closed the series of the landscape studies, which make as distinct a group in Poe’s imaginative work as the tales of mystery, ratiocination, or conscience, since in these the sensuous element, which was primary in his genius, found its simplest and most unrestrained expression. The series had culminated, however, in “The Domain of Arnheim,” in which the brilliancy and flood and glow of pure color are a mere reveling of the √¶sthetic sense; and so gorgeous is the vision and thrown out in so broad an expanse that, although only a description, the piece is as unique among works of imagination as is “The Black Cat” or “The Fall of the House of Usher.” The landscape that the mention of the latter recalls, and much more the spectral woodland and tarn of “Ulalume,” serve to measure by momentary contrast with the scenes of faery in “Arnheim” the range of Poe’s fantasy, and at the same time to bring out strongly the extent to which his work is depend ent for its effect directly on the senses, however [page 304:] abnormally excited. In fact, the impression made in the present case is solely spectacular. The landscape sketches, too, afford some pleas ant relief to the paltrinesses, the miseries, and debasements of his ordinary life. The idyllic sweetness of “Eleonora,” the quiet beauty of “The Island of the Fay” and “Morning on the Wissahiccon,” opened round Poe, as he was seen in his Philadelphia days, the only prospect beyond the mean walls of the newspaper office and the tenement house. Now in this mythical “Arnheim” he indulged most purely his delight in the contemplation of loveliness for its own sake; his country rambles in the wide theatre of the Palisades still gave him an outlook on the things of beauty, of light and calm and joy.

While Poe was thus engaged a successor to Mrs. Ellet had arisen in the home of his Lowell friends in Mrs. Locke, the lady who had helped to relieve his necessities in 1847. She had some communication with Mrs. Whitman, in discouragement of any renewal of relations with Poe, by whom, Mrs. Whitman reports, “she conceived herself to have been deeply wronged”; but, in regard to her complaints, Mrs. Whitman adds, “I saw that she was too much under the influence of wounded pride to exercise a calm [page 305:] judgment in the matter.” She busied herself so successfully as to disturb the minds of the Richmonders, and to alienate, at least partially, the good-will of the head of the house. Poe, on being informed of this, accounted for her hostility by saying that he had left her abruptly in consequence of her disparagement of “Annie,” and added that he thought it hard that such a quarrel should prejudice him in the latter’s mind. He was so far moved by the attitude assumed by her husband that he gave up a pro posed visit to his house and the plan of settling near these new friends permanently, and he even professed to think it necessary that the correspondence should cease. He wrote, “I cannot and will not have it on my conscience that I have interfered with the domestic happiness of the only being in the whole world, whom I have loved at the same time with truth and with purity.”(1)

Such an abrupt termination to one of the happiest friendships of his life was fortunately avoided. Poe was able to sustain his story, and after a few weeks Mrs. Locke, whose connection with his family seems to have been un broken, wrote to him that she was about to publish [page 306:] a novel recording their relations in detail in such a way as to make his own character appear noble and generous, and that she would come on to Fordham at once to avail herself of any suggestions from him. What became of this novel,(1) or what reception the lady’s proposals met with, is unknown; but as in the sequel, even after Poe’s death, she still busied herself in scan dal, it is likely that there was no reconciliation. In literary matters the spring had brought disappointment. The u Columbia” and “Union” failed; the “Whig” and “Democratic” stopped payment; the “Messenger,” which was in Poe’s debt, remained in arrears; another publication with which he had engaged for ten dollars weekly was forced to decline contributions; with “Godey’s” he had quarreled: and so, in his own words, he was “reduced to’sartain’ and ‘Graham,’ both very precarious.” His many engagements, on which he had built so hopefully a few months before, had dwindled away; the “Metropolitan,” whose short career was distinguished by some lines addressed to him by Mrs. Osgood, and also by Mrs. Whitman in indirect acknowledgment [page 307:] of his last letter, failed to print “Landor’s Cottage “; and to add to his misfortunes he had again been seriously ill. “I thought,” wrote Mrs. Clemm to “Annie,” “he would die several times. God knows I wish we were both in our graves. It would, I am sure, be far better.”(1) A deep gloom settled over his mind. He himself wrote to the same lady, in denying that this arose from his literary disappointments, “My sadness is unaccountable, and this makes me the more sad. I am full of dark forebodings. Nothing cheers or comforts me. My life seems wasted — the future looks a dreary blank; but I will struggle on and hope against hope.’”(2) Meanwhile light had broken on the “Stylus.” A new promoter, E. H. N. Patterson, had opened negotiations with him as early as the previous December, but the letter had just reached Poe in April, when he replied favorably; on May 7, Patterson made a definite offer, leaving Poe the entire editorial control, together with the expenses connected with that department; the receipts were to be shared, and the magazine to be printed at Oquawka, Illinois. Poe suggested, in view of the obscurity of Oquawka, that an announcement of simultaneous publication at St. Louis [page 308:] and New York be put on the title-page; and in addition asked fifty dollars as Patterson’s share of preliminary expenses, and promised to advance the interests of the project by proceed ing on the lecturing tour in the South, which he had in view on his first visit to Richmond, but had then abandoned.(1) After this he visited his friends at Lowell the last week in May, and there wrote the third draft of “The Bells”; he soon returned to New York, with the expectation of going South. He was delayed for some weeks, during which his despondency was marked and habitual. Before leaving Fordham he wrote requests that Griswold would superintend the collection of his works, and that Willis would write such a biographical notice as should be deemed necessary. On June 29, having completed his arrangements for his journey, he went to Brooklyn in company with Mrs. Clemm, to pass the night at the house of Mrs. Lewis, the poetess, whose works he had lately reviewed, and with whom during the past year an intimacy of the old kind had sprung up. “He seemed very sad,” wrote this lady, “and retired early. On leaving the next morning, he took my hand in his, and, looking in my face, said, ‘Dear Stella, my [page 309:] much beloved friend. You truly understand and appreciate me — I have a presentiment that I shall never see you again. I must leave to-day for Richmond. If I never return, write my life. You can and will do me justice.’”(1) Mrs. Clemm accompanied him to the steamboat, and on parting he said to her, “God bless you, my own darling mother. Do not fear for Eddy! See how good I will be while I am away from you, and will [sic ] come back to love and comfort you.”(2)

Poe went to Philadelphia, and, apparently after a day or two, entered the office of John Sartain, proprietor of “Sartain’s Magazine,” his friend for the past nine years, and exclaimed excitedly, “I have come to you for refuge.” He was delirious and suffering from what seems to have been an habitual delusion in such attacks, a fear of a conspiracy against him. Sartain, who long remembered the visions about which Poe raved and the persistence with which he be sought him for laudanum, reassured him, and cared for him some days, accompanied him when he went out, and brought him back; once Poe escaped and seems to have passed that night in an open field, but Sartain told the story with variations at different times; toward the end [page 310:] two other old friends, George Lippard and Charles Chauncey Burr, cared for him.

Meanwhile Mrs. Clemm, not hearing from him, had grown anxious, and wrote to “Annie,” July 9: —

July 9, 1849.

Eddy has been gone ten days, and I have not heard one word from him. Do you wonder that I am distracted? I fear everything. . . . Do you wonder that he has so little confidence in any one? Have we not suffered from the blackest treachery? . . . Eddy was obliged to go through Philadelphia, and how much I fear he has got into some trouble there; he promised me so sincerely to write thence. I ought to have heard last Monday, and now it is Monday again and not one word . . . Oh, if any evil has befallen him, what can comfort me? The day after he left New York, I left Mrs. Lewis and started for home. I called on a rich friend who had made many promises, but never knew our situation. I frankly told her. . . . She proposed to me to leave Eddy, saying he might very well do for himself. . . . Any one to propose to me to leave my Eddy — what a cruel insult! No one to console and comfort him but me; no one to nurse him and take care of him when he is sick [page 311:] and helpless! Can I ever forget that dear sweet face, so tranquil, so pale, and those dear eyes looking at me so sadly, while she said, “Darling, darling Muddy, you will console and take care of my poor Eddy — you will never, never leave him? Promise me, my dear Muddy, and then I can die in peace.” And I did promise. And when I meet her in heaven, I can say, “I have kept my promise, my darling.” . . . If Eddy gets to Richmond safely and can succeed in what he intends doing, we will be relieved of part of our difficulties; but if he comes home in trouble and sick, I know not what is to become of us.(1)

The news she feared was already on its way to her. Poe had written on Saturday, two days before: —

NEW YORK, [?] July 7.

MY DEAR, DEAR MOTHER, — I have been so ill — have had the cholera, or spasms quite as bad, and can now hardly hold the pen.

The very instant you get this come to me. The joy of seeing you will almost compensate for our sorrows. We can but die together. It is of no use to reason with me now; I must die. [page 312:] I have no desire to live since I have done “Eureka.” I could accomplish nothing more. For your sake it would be sweet to live, but we must die together. You have been all in all to me, darling, ever beloved mother, and dearest truest friend.

I was never really insane, except on occasions where my heart was touched.

I have been taken to prison once since I came here for getting drunk; but then I was not. It was about Virginia.(1) [page 313:] It may fairly be suggested that Poe’s reference to being taken to prison was a lingering hallucination. Sartain says: “He said he had been thrown into Moyamensing Prison for forging a check, and while there a white female form had appeared on the battlements and addressed him in whispers. ‘If I had not heard what she said,’ he declared, ‘it would have been the end of me,’”(1) and he went on in the same strain with delirious fancies. Sartain adds elsewhere: “When his turn came in the group before Mayor Gilpin, it was remarked, ‘Why, this is Poe, the poet,’ and he was dismissed without the customary fine.”(2)

He left Philadelphia Friday in season to take the night-boat at Baltimore and arrived in Richmond on Saturday night. The story is told by himself.

NEAR RICHMOND. [Saturday, July 14, 1849.]

The weather is awfully hot, and besides all this, I am so homesick I don’t know what to do. I never wanted to see any one half so bad as I want to see my own darling mother. It seems [page 314:] to me that I would make any sacrifice to hold you by the hand once more, and get you to cheer me up, for I am terribly depressed. I do not think that any circumstances will ever tempt me to leave you again. When I am with you I can bear anything, but when I am away from you I am too miserable to live.

RICHMOND, Saturday Night. [July 14, 1849.] Oh, my darling mother, it is now more than three [two] weeks since I saw you, and in all that time your poor Eddy has scarcely drawn a breath except of intense agony. Perhaps you are sick or gone from Fordham in despair, or dead. If you are but alive, and if I but see you again, all the rest is nothing. I love you better than ten thousand lives — so much so that it is cruel in you to let me leave you: nothing but sorrow ever comes of it.

Oh, Mother, I am so ill while I write — but I resolved that come what would, I would not sleep again without easing your dear heart as far as I could.

My valise was lost for ten days. At last I found it at the depot in Philadelphia, but (you will scarcely credit it) they had opened it and stolen both lectures. Oh, Mother, think of the [page 315:] blow to me this evening, when on examining the valise, these lectures were gone. All my object here is over unless I can recover them or rewrite one of them.

I am indebted for more than life itself to B[urr]. Never forget him Mother while you live. When all failed me, he stood my friend, got me money, and saw me off in the cars for Richmond.

I got here with two dollars over — of which I enclose you one. Oh God, my Mother, shall we ever meet again? If possible, oh COME! My clothes are so horrible and I am so ill. Oh, if you could come to me, my mother. Write instantly — Oh do not fail. God forever bless you.


RICHMOND, Thursday, July 19.

MY OWN BELOVED MOTHER, — You will at once by the handwriting of this letter, that I am better — much better — in health and spirits. Oh if you only knew how your dear let ter comforted me! It acted like magic. Most of my sufferings arose from that terrible idea which I could not get rid of — the idea that you were dead. For more than ten days I was totally deranged, although I was not drinking one drop; [page 316:] and during this interval I imagined the most horrible calamities.

All was hallucination, arising from an attack which I had never before experienced — an attack of mania-√°-potu. May Heaven grant that it prove a warning to me for the rest of my days. If so I shall not regret even the horrible unspeak able torments I have endured.

To L[ippard] and to Chauncey] B[urr] (and in some measure, also to Mr. S[artain]) I am in debted for more than life. They remained with me (Lpppard] and B[urr]) all day on Friday last, comforted me and aided me in coming to my senses. L[ippard] saw G[raham], who said everything kind of me, and sent me five dollars; and P[eterson] sent another five. B[urr] pro cured me a ticket as far as Baltimore and the passage from there to Richmond was seven dollars. I have not drank anything since Friday morning, and then only a little Port wine. If possible, dearest Mother, I will extricate myself from this difficulty for your dear, dear sake. So keep up heart.

All is not lost yet, and “the darkest hour is just before daylight.” Keep up heart, my own beloved mother — all may yet go well. I will put forth all my energies. When I get my mind [page 317:] a little more composed, I will try to write some thing. Oh, give my dearest, fondest love to Mrs. L[ewis]. Tell her that never while I live, will I forget her kindness to my darling mother. 1

On the same day Poe wrote a brief note 2 to Patterson, with regard to the “Stylus,” acknowledging the receipt of fifty dollars; he says he “was arrested in Philadelphia by the Cholera, from which I barely escaped with life,” and promises to write in full as soon as he should “gather a little strength.” He settled at the old Swan Tavern, in Broad Street, a decayed hotel, where he had stayed before, and was cared for kindly by his old friends.

He was received more cordially and with more distinction than on his previous visit. He divided his time between Duncan Lodge, the residence of the MacKenzies, at one end of the town, and Church Hill, the residence of Mrs. Shelton, at the other; he was made at home at both places; and at Robert Sully’s, the artist whom he had befriended in boyhood, and at Talavera, the seat of the Talleys, he passed many of these hours which he said were the happiest he had known [page 318:] for years. Mrs. Shelton was his boyish flame, Miss Royster, and he offered her marriage.

There is no room to doubt that in this he obeyed worldly motives; for though there had been romantic passages between them in school days, there is no likelihood that these would have prevailed on Poe to unite himself with a woman who is described as of plain manners, older than himself, and with no attraction except wealth. Poe attributed his ill-success in the world solely to his poverty; in later years especially this had become so settled a conviction in his mind that, in his letters to “Annie,” “I must get rich, get rich,” is a refrain so constant as to seem the purpose he had most at heart; he needed money to secure his shattered health against the necessities of hard labor for a support precarious at best, and especially to establish the “Stylus,” the scheme he pursued as a phantom. Mrs. Clemm believed that his motive was to provide a home and friends for herself. To her Mrs. Whitman wrote: “I think I can understand all the motives that influenced Edgar in those last days and can see how the desire to provide a home and friends for you swayed him in all.”(1) His engagement to Mrs. [page 319:] Shelton was announced and is said to have been mentioned in the papers, greatly to his displeasure; and although Mrs. Shelton denied that a formal agreement existed, and acknowledged only a partial understanding, she plainly meant to marry Poe. Toward the end of August an obstacle arose in Mrs. Shelton’s determination to retain control of her income (she seems to have held only a life-interest in the estate) and in her lack of sympathy with Poe’s plans for the “Stylus,” and he therefore broke the engagement. Mrs. Shelton demanded her letters, and, Poe refusing unless his own should be first returned, she held a consultation with the MacKenzies in regard to the difficulty.(1)

As the season went on, Poe was lionized and social attention widely shown him. He gave a public lecture, Friday, August 17, — that on “The Poetic Principle,” — in the Exchange Hotel, and, both before and after the performance, the press complimented and praised him. The financial success was not great, however; the audience was less than one hundred persons,(2) [page 320:] and it is plain that he cleared little, but he was encouraged to try again. It was at this time that he is said to have broken with Mrs. Shelton, and at the lecture he ignored her presence and joined the Talley party immediately on its conclusion.

In respect to his other practical interest, the “Stylus,” he had written meanwhile to Patterson, August 7, I apologizing for his delay by saying that he had “suffered worse than death — not so much from the Cholera as from its long-continued consequences in debility and congestion of the brain — the latter, possibly, attributable to the calomel taken,” and saying that he was still “too feeble to travel.” He suggested that the price be put at five dollars in stead of three, and the publication postponed till July 1, 1850. Patterson consented to this, and hoped for a conference in St. Louis in October. The correspondence ended here, and John R. Thompson responded to Patterson’s later inquiries about Poe. He said that for the last three weeks in Richmond Poe was sober, and had [page 321:] joined the Sons of Temperance;(1) but he adds, “no confidence could be placed in him in any relation of life,” and congratulated his correspondent on not having embarked in the enterprise; “for,” he writes, “a more unreliable person than he could hardly be found.”(2)

Poe had joined the Sons of Temperance, and a report of this found its way to a Philadelphia paper, and was there commented on. He had arrived in Richmond in a state requiring medical attendance, and it may be presumed that some part of his physician’s reminiscences are to be referred to that occasion. The evidence is very direct, nevertheless, to his repeated illness in the earlier part of his stay. On one occasion he seems to have been attended, in delirium, by Dr. George Rawlins,(3) but his physician in 1849 [page 322:] was Dr. William Gibbon Carter.(1) The most specific account of his health is given by Mrs. Weiss when writing of his intemperate habits in her first reminiscences: —

“The knowledge of this weakness was by his own request concealed from me. All that I knew of the matter was when a friend informed me that Mr. Poe was too unwell to see us that evening. A day or two after this he sent a message by his sister requesting some flowers, in return for which came a dainty note of thanks, written in a tremulous hand. He again wrote, inclosing a little anonymous poem which he had found in some newspaper and admired; and on the day following he made his appearance among us, but so pale, tremulous, and apparently subdued as to convince me that he had been seriously ill. On this occasion he had been at his rooms at the(1) Old Swan/ where he was carefully tended by Mrs. Mackenzie’s family, but on a second and more serious relapse he was taken by Dr. Mackenzie and Dr. Gibbon Carter to Duncan Lodge, where during some days his life was in [page 323:] imminent danger. Assiduous attention saved him, but it was the opinion of the physicians that another such attack would prove fatal. This they told him, warning him seriously of the danger. His reply was that if people would not tempt him he would not fall. Dr. Carter relates how, on this occasion, he had a long conversation with him, in which Poe expressed the most earnest desire to break from the thralldom of his besetting sin, and told of his many unavailing struggles to do so. He was moved even to tears, and finally declared, in the most solemn manner, that this time he would restrain himself — would withstand any temptation.”(1) It would appear that it was subsequent to this that he joined the Sons of Temperance; from the first of September he was in better health, and no sign of illness occurs until his departure.

Meanwhile Mrs. Clemm at Fordham was destitute, and applied to Griswold for relief. The letter is significant of the relations of the family with him at the time when he was designated by Poe as literary executor: —

NEW YORK, August 27, 1849.

DEAR MR. GRISWOLD, — I feel you will pardon the liberty I take in addressing you, but the extreme [page 324:] urgency of my situation compels me to do so. Mr. Poe has been absent from home for some weeks; he is now in Richmond and has been very ill, and unable to send me any money since he left, and is much distressed for fear of my suffering. Indeed I have suffered. I have been very sick, and entirely unable to make the least exertion. I have been without the necessaries of life for many days, and would not apply to any one, in hopes that I would soon receive some aid from my poor Eddy. He writes me that he is getting better, and hopes he will be soon able to attend to business. I confide in you, dear sir, and beg you to loan me a small sum until I can receive some from him. I have not the means to go to the city, but a note addressed to Mrs. Maria Clemm, care of E. A. Poe, New York, will reach me. A gentleman in the neighbor hood asks every day for me at the post-office. You have no idea how distressing it is to my feelings to make this request, but I think you will feel for my situation.



She addressed him again a week later: — [page 325:]

NEW YORK, September 4, 1849.

DEAR MR. GRISWOLD, — I have tried so long to see you without success, that I have taken the liberty of addressing this note to you. I under stand from Mrs. Lewis you received the package [a review of her poems to be inserted in Griswold’s forthcoming new edition of his “Female Poets of America”] Mr. Poe left at her house for you. I wish you to publish it exactly as he has written it. If you will do so I will promise you a favorable review of your books as they appear — you know the influence I have with Mr. Poe. Not that I think he will need any urging to advance your interest. I have just heard from him; he writes in fine spirits and says his prospects are excellent. Will you be so kind as to let me know if you receive this? Please direct to me at New York, care of E. A. Poe. Respectfully,


I will call on Saturday at ten o clock at your room if you will please meet me there.

Poe wrote again to Mrs. Clemm with a glowing account of his success, and it will be observed [page 326:] that the breach with Mrs. Shelton must have been of brief continuance, if, as is said, it took place in August: —

RICHMOND, September [5], 1849. [First sheet missing.] . . . possible. Every body says that if I lecture again and put the tickets at fifty cents, I will clear $100. I never was received with so much enthusiasm. The papers have done nothing but praise me before the lecture and since. I inclose one of the notices, the only one in which the slightest word of disparagement appears. It is written by Daniel, the man whom I challenged when I was here last year. I have been invited out a great deal, but could seldom go, on account of not having a dress-coat. To-night Rose [his sister] and I are to spend the evening at Elmira’s [Mrs. Shelton]. Last night I was at Poitiaux’s; the night before at Strobia’s, where I saw my dear friend Eliza Lambert, Gen. Lambert’s sister. She was ill in her bedroom, but insisted upon our coming up, and we stayed until nearly one o clock. In a word, I have received nothing but kindness since I have been here, and could have been quite happy but for my dreadful anxiety about you. Since the report of my intended marriage the [page 327:] McKenzies have overwhelmed me with attentions. Their house is so crowded that they could not ask me to stay. And now, my own precious Muddy, the very moment I get a definite answer about everything I will write again and tell you what to do. Elmira talks about visiting Fordham, but I do not know whether that would do. I think, perhaps, it would be best for you to give up everything there and come on here in the Packet. Write immediately and give me your advice about it, for you know best. Could we be happier in Richmond or Lowell? for I sup pose we could never be happy at Fordham, and, Muddy, I must be somewhere where I can see Annie. Did Mrs. L[ewis] get the “Western Quarterly Review”? Thompson is constantly urging me to write for the “Messenger,” but I am so anxious that I cannot. Mr. Loud, the husband of Mrs. St. Leon Loud, the poetess of Philadelphia, called on me the other day and offered me $100 to edit his wife’s poems. Of course I accepted the offer. The whole labor will not occupy me three days. I am to have them ready by Christmas. I have seen Bernard often. Eliza is expected, but has not come. When I repeat my lecture here, I will then go to Peters burg and Norfolk. A Mr. Taverner lectured [page 328:] here on Shakespeare, a few nights after me, and had eight persons, including myself and the doorkeeper. I think upon the whole, dear Muddy, it will be better for you to say that I am ill or something of that kind, and break up at Fordham, so that you may come on here. Let me know immediately what you think best. You know we could easily pay off what we owe at Fordham, and the place is a beautiful one, but I want to live near Annie. And now, dear Muddy, there is one thing I wish you to pay particular attention to. I told Elmira when I first came here, that I had one of the pencil-sketches of her, that I took a long while ago in Richmond; and I told her that I would write to you about it. So when you write, just copy the following words in your letter: —

“I have looked again for the pencil-sketch of Mrs. S. but cannot find it anywhere. I took down all the books and shook them one by one, and, unless Eliza White has it, I do not [know] what has become of it. She was looking at it the last time I saw it. The one you spoilt with Indian Ink ought to be somewhere about the house. I will do my best to find it.”

I got a sneaking letter to-day from Chivers. Do not tell me anything about Annie — I cannot [page 329:] bear to hear it now — unless you can tell me that; Mr. —— [her husband] is dead. I have got the wedding ring, and shall have no difficulty, I think, in getting a dress-coat.(1)

Wednesday Night.

. . . [torn out] also the letter. Return the letter when you write.

A few days later, on Sunday, September 9, he was at Old Point, near Norfolk, with a Virginia party, one of whom in her old age described the scene, which is too characteristic to be neglected: —

“That Sunday evening in early September at Old Point stands out like a lovely picture. I can not describe it fitly. There was more in it than may be expressed in mere words. There were several of us girls, all friends, and all of us knew Mr. Poe. I can see just how we looked sitting about there in our white dresses. There was a young collegian, too, who was my particular friend. He is gone long years since, and all the others in that little group have passed away except Sister and myself.

“Mr. Poe sat there in that quiet way of his [page 330:] which made you feel his presence. After a while my aunt, who was nearer his age, said: ‘This seems to be just the time and place for poetry, Mr. Poe.’

“And it was. We all felt it. The old Hygeia stood some distance from the water, but with nothing between it and the ocean. It was moonlight and the light shone over everything with that undimmed light that it has in the South. There were many persons on the long verandas that surrounded the hotel, but they seemed remote and far away. Our little party was absolutely cut off from everything except that lovely view of the water shining in the moonlight and its gentle music borne to us on the soft breeze. Poe felt the influence. How could a poet help it? And when we seconded the request that he recite for us he agreed readily.

“He recited the Raven, Annabel Lee, and last of all Ulalume, with the last stanza, of which he remarked that he feared it might not be intelligible to us, as it was scarcely clear to himself, and for that reason it had not been published.”

The next day he sent a copy of “Ulalume” with a letter to this young friend: — [page 331:]

Monday Evening.

I have transcribed “Ulalume” with much plea sure, Dear Miss Ingram — as I am sure I would do anything else at your bidding — but I fear you will find the verses scarcely more intelligible to-day in my manuscript than last night in my recitation. I would endeavor to explain to you what I really meant — or what I fancied I meant, by the poem, if it were not that I remembered Dr. Johnson’s bitter and rather just remarks about the folly of explaining what, if worth explanation, would explain itself. He has a happy witticism, too, about some book, which he calls “as obscure as an explanatory note.” Leaving “Ulalume” to its fate, therefore, and in good hands, I am, yours truly,


“We went from Old Point Comfort,” the writer continues, “to our home near Norfolk, Va., and he called on us there, and again I had the pleasure of talking with him. Although I was only a slip of a girl and he what then seemed to me quite an old man, and a great literary one at that, we got on together beautifully. He was one of the most courteous gentlemen I have ever seen, and that gave a great charm to his [page 332:] manner. None of his pictures that I have ever seen look like the picture of Poe that I keep in my memory. Of course they look like him, so that any one seeing them could have recognized him from them, but there was something in his face that is in none of them. Perhaps it was in the eyes, perhaps in the mouth, I do not know, but any one who ever met him would understand what I mean.

“There were no indications of dissipation apparent when we saw Poe in Virginia at that time. I think he had not been drinking for a long time. If I had not heard or read what had been said about his intemperance I should never have had any idea of it from what I saw in Poe. To me, he seemed a good man, as well as a charming one, very sensitive and very highminded.”

She closes her reminiscences with a pleasant touch of Poe’s boyhood.

“I remember one little instance that illustrates how loyal he was to the memory of those that had been kind to him. I was fond of orris root and always had the odor of it about my clothes. One day when we were walking together he spoke of it. I like it, too, he said. Do you know what it makes me think of? My [page 333:] adopted mother. Whenever the bureau drawers in her room were opened there came from them a whiff of orris root, and ever since when I smell it I go back to the time when I was a little boy, and it brings back thoughts of my mother.” 7 On the following Friday, September -14, Poe lectured in the Norfolk Academy on “The Poetic Principle,” and was handsomely noticed in the local press,(2) and he was entertained in the city at the best houses. He returned to Richmond, and wrote immediately to Mrs. Clemm. It will be observed that the pseudonym he gives to her is the same as that used in his first note to Mrs. Whitman.

[RICHMOND, VA. Tuesday, September 18, 49.

MY OWN DARLING MUDDY, — On arriving here last night from Norfolk I received both your letters, including Mrs. Lewis’s. I cannot tell you the joy they gave me to learn at least that you are well and hopeful. May God forever bless you, my dear, dear Muddy. — Elmira has just got home from the country. I spent last [page 334:] evening with her. I think she loves me more devotedly than any one I ever knew and I cannot help loving her in return. Nothing is as yet definitely settled] — and it will not do to hurry matters. I lectured at Norfolk on Monday and cleared enough to settle my bill here at the Madison House with $2 over. I had a highly fashion able audience, but Norfolk is a small place and there were two exhibitions the same night. Next Monday I lecture again here and expect to have a large audience. On Tuesday I start for Philadelphia to attend to Mrs. Loud’s poems — and possibly on Thursday I may start for New York. If I do I will go straight over to Mrs. Lewis’s and send for you. It will be better for me not to go to Fordham — don’t you think so? Write immediately in reply and direct to Philadelphia. For fear I should not get the letter sign no name and address it to E. S. T. Grey, Esqre. If possible I will get married before I start, but there is no telling. Give my dearest love to Mrs. L. My poor, poor Muddy, I am still unable to send you even one dollar, but keep [up heart — I hope that our troubles are nearly over. I saw John Beatty in Norfolk.

God bless and protect you, my own darling Muddy. I showed your letter to Elmira, and she [page 335:] says “it is such a darling precious letter that she loves you for it already.”


Don’t forget to write immediately to Philadelphia so that your letter will be there when I arrive.

The papers here are praising me to death — and I have been received everywhere with enthusiasm. Be sure and preserve all the printed scraps I have] sent you and keep up my file of the “Literary World.”(1)

On Saturday, September 22, Mrs. Shelton, at Poe’s request, wrote her first letter to Mrs. Clemm, which proves her engagement on her part. She says, “I have just spent a very happy evening with your dear Edgar, and I know it will be gratifying to you to know that he is all that you could desire him to be, sober, temperate, moral, & much beloved.”(2)

Poe repeated his lecture on “The Poetic Principle” on Monday, September 24, in the [page 336:] Exchange Hotel, to a good audience, and was well noticed by the press.

To Mrs. Weiss, who then looked on Poe with the romantic interest of a young poetess as well as with a woman’s sympathy with sadness so confessed as his, is due the most lifelike and de tailed portrait of him that exists and the most vivid account of him in these last Richmond days. Erect in stature, cold, impassive, almost haughty in manner, soberly and fastidiously clad in black, to a stranger’s eye he wore a look of distinction rather than beauty; on nearer approach one was more struck by the strongly marked head, with the broad brow, the black curly hair brushed back, the pallid, careworn, and in repose the somewhat haggard features, while beneath the concealment of a short black mustache one saw the slight habitual contraction of the mouth and occasionally the quick, almost imperceptible curl of the upper lip in scorn — a sneer, it is said, that was easily excited; but the physical fascination of the man was felt, at last, to lie in his eyes, large, jet-black, with a steel-gray iris, clear as crystal, restless, ever expanding and contracting as, responsive with intelligence and emotion, they bent their full, open, steady, unshrinking gaze from under the long black lashes that [page 337:] shaded them. He visited the houses where he was intimate, but was also seen in general society. His sister, Rosalie, who adored her distinguished brother, was greatly pleased to see him made much of, and shadowed him as he went about, sometimes inconveniently. She lived to be old, and the Civil War having broken up the home of the MacKenzies, she wandered about among charitable homes and was at last received into the Epiphany Church Home at Washington, where she died June 14, 1874. This last summer with Poe, of whom she was so proud, was the happiest of her life, as she saw him in their common circle into which both had been adopted in childhood. The old, familiar society and ways of living were scarcely less grateful to Poe; on meeting his friends his face would brighten with pleasure, his features lost the worn look and his reserve its coldness; to men he was cordial, to women he showed deference; and in society with the young he for got his melancholy, listened with amusement, or joined in their repartees with evident pleasure, though he would soon leave them for a seat in the portico, or a walk in the grounds with a single friend. To the eyes of his young girlish friend, Miss Talley, he seemed invariably cheerful, [page 338:] and often even playful in mood. Once only was he noticeably cast down; it was when visiting the old deserted Mayo place, called The Hermit age, where he used to go frequently in his youth, and the scene was so picturesque that it is worth giving at length: —

“On reaching the place our party separated, and Poe and myself strolled slowly about the grounds. I observed that he was unusually silent and preoccupied, and, attributing it to the influence of memories associated with the place, for bore to interrupt him. He passed slowly by the mossy bench called the lovers seat, beneath two aged trees, and remarked, as we turned toward the garden, There used to be white violets here/ Searching amid the tangled wilderness of shrubs, we found a few late blossoms, some of which he placed carefully between the leaves of a note book. Entering the deserted house, he passed from room to room with a grave, abstracted look, and removed his hat, as if involuntarily, on entering the saloon, where in old times many a brilliant company had assembled. Seated in one of the deep windows, over which now grew masses of ivy, his memory must have borne him back to former scenes, for he repeated the familiar lines of Moore: — [page 339:]

“‘I feel like one

Who treads alone

Some banquet hall deserted,’

and paused, with the first expression of real sad ness that I had ever seen on his face. The light of the setting sun shone through the drooping ivy-boughs into the ghostly room, and the tattered and mildewed paper-hangings, with their faded tracery of rose-garlands, waved fitfully in the autumn breeze. An inexpressibly eerie feeling came over me, which I can even now recall, and as I stood there, my old childish idea of the poet as a spirit of mingled light and darkness recurred strongly to my imagination.”(1)

Poe talked with his young friend about his plans and hopes; about the restrictions on criticism which are imposed by personal friendship and editorial prepossessions, and from which even he could not wholly free himself; about his New York friends, the misconstructions his nature suffered under even among those who knew him, and other confidential topics that the charm of his listener and his own readiness to indulge in female intimacies beguiled him into. In particular it should be noticed that he showed her a letter from Griswold, accepting his commission [page 340:] to edit his works in case of his sudden death.

In order to wind up his affairs in New York and to bring Mrs. Clemm to Richmond, as preliminaries of his marriage, Poe decided to go North. Poe is said to have himself written to Mrs. Clemm that the ceremony was fixed for October 17.(1) He told his friends at Richmond that he would return within two weeks, and expressed his intention to reside thereafter in that city, where there was some talk of his joining the staff of the “Examiner.” On the day before leaving, Tuesday, September 25, he passed the evening at Mrs. Talley’s, where he had a long conversation with her daughter, in which he spoke of his future, “seeming to anticipate it with eager delight, like that of youth,” and, . Mrs. Weiss adds, “he declared that the last few weeks in the society of his old and new friends had been the happiest that he had known for many years, and that when he again left New York he should there leave behind all the trouble and vexation of his past life.”(2) That night he spent with his friends at Duncan Lodge, and sat late at his window, smoking and silent. The next day he passed in the city with some [page 341:] male friends, sent a note by Rosalie for Mrs. Weiss, enclosing the poem “For Annie,” and spent the evening with Mrs. Shelton. She says, writing October 11, “He came up to my house on the evening of the 26th Sept. to take leave of me. He was very sad, and complained of being quite sick. I felt his pulse, and found he had considerable fever, and did not think it prob able he would be able to start the next morning (Thursday) as he anticipated. I felt so wretched about him all that night, that I went up early the next morning to inquire after him, when, much to my regret, he had left in the boat for Baltimore.”(1) On his walk back from Mrs. Shelton’s he stopped at Dr. John Carter’s office, as was his custom, and, without mentioning his intention of leaving for Baltimore that night, took his friend’s Malacca cane and went to take a late supper across the street, at Sadler’s restaurant. There he met some acquaintances, who kept company with him until very late and then accompanied him to the boat, where, as is said, they left him sober and cheerful. He, however, had left his trunk and baggage at the hotel, and [page 342:] from all the circumstances it would seem that his decision to go to Baltimore that night was suddenly executed. The boat left at four o clock the next morning, September 27, and arrived at Baltimore about twenty- four hours later, early on Friday, the 28th.

Poe wandered in Baltimore or its neighbor hood for five days. It is known that he called on his old Baltimore friend, Dr. N. C. Brooks, partially intoxicated, and not finding him at home went away. It is said that he was invited to a birthday party and could not refuse a pledge to his hostess.(1) It is said that he dined with some old military friends. It is said that he took the train to Philadelphia, but either because he was in a wrong car or because the river was in flood, he was brought back from Havre de Grace in a state of stupor. It is said that he was captured by an election gang, drugged, and made to vote at several places. The basis of these statements is lost; in view of the tragic consequences, it was natural that any who shared in his last days should keep silence, and there is no decisive direct evidence to any of these reports, which may be correctly described as rumors. It is plain enough what happened; there is no mystery [page 343:] about it. Just as when in the summer of 1847 at Philadelphia l he was saved by a friend, just as when in the summer of 1848 at Boston he was saved by a friend, just as when in the summer of 1849 he was saved by Burr, he had experienced one of those repeated attacks, worse at each re turn, and of whose fatal issue he had been often warned, and he had found no friend by to save him. On the sixth day, Wednesday, October 3, he was picked up unconscious near one of the rumshops used for voting, Ryan’s Fourth Ward Polls. The absence of his baggage, the state of his clothes, his entire condition were a repetition of his experience in Philadelphia. It is a trifling but interesting detail that the Malacca cane had stuck to him through all his adventures; had he been drugged and made to vote in any violent manner, as was represented, it could hardly have failed to be separated from him. A printer recognized him and sent the fol lowing note to his old friend, Dr. Snodgrass: — [page 344:]

BALTIMORE CITY, October 3, 1849.

There is a gentleman, rather the worse for wear, at Ryan’s Fourth Ward Polls, who goes under the cognomen of Edgar A. Poe, and who appears in great distress. He says he is acquainted with you, and I assure you he is in need of immediate assistance.



Dr. Snodgrass called at Ryan’s, and Mr. Herring, Poe’s relative, who had also been summoned, came to the scene. Between them they put Poe, with the cane, into a carriage, and he was taken to the Washington Hospital, where he was admitted, still unconscious, at 5 P. M. Neilson Poe was also notified, visited the hospital, and sent whatever was necessary. Poe remained in an alarming delirium, with such intervals of apparent sanity as he had shown in his ravings with Sartain. Mrs. Moran, the wife of the resident physician, in his last hours read to him, she says, “the fourteenth [page 345:] chapter of St. John’s Gospel, gave him a quieting draught, wiped the beads of perspiration from his face, smoothed his pillow, and left him.”(1) It is the only mention of religion in his entire life. This was on Sunday, October 7. Shortly after, about five o clock, he died.

The story of the last days, taken from con temporary documents, is as follows. Dr. Moran wrote: —


November 15, 49.


My dear Madam, I take the earliest opportunity of responding to yours of the gth inst, which came to hand by yesterday’s mail. . . .

But now for the required intelligence. Presuming you are already aware of the malady of which Mr. Poe died, I need only state concisely the particulars of his circumstances from his entrance until his decease.

When brought to the hospital he was unconscious of his condition — who brought him or with whom he had been associating. He remained in this condition from five o clock in the afternoon — the hour of his admission — until three next morning. This was on the 3d October. [page 346:]

To this state succeeded tremor of the limbs, and at first a busy but not violent or active delirium — constant talking — and vacant con verse with spectral and imaginary objects on the walls. His face was pale and his whole person drenched in perspiration. We were unable to induce tranquillity before the second day after his admission.

Having left orders with the nurses to that effect, I was summoned to his bedside so soon as consciousness supervened, and questioned him in reference to his family, place of residence, relatives, etc. But his answers were incoherent and unsatisfactory. He told me, however, he had a wife in Richmond (which I have since learned was not the fact), that he did not know when he left that city or what had become of his trunk of clothing. Wishing to rally and sustain his now fast sinking hopes, I told him I hoped that in a few days he would be able to enjoy the society of his friends here and I would be most happy to contribute in every possible way to his ease and comfort. At this he broke out with much energy, and said the best thing his best friend could do would be to blow out his brains with a pistol — that when he beheld his degradation he was ready to sink into the earth, etc. Shortly [page 347:] after giving expression to these words Mr. Poe seemed to doze, and I left him for a short time. When I returned I found him in a violent delirium, resisting the efforts of two nurses to keep him in bed. This state continued until Saturday evening (he was admitted on Wednesday), when he commenced calling for one “Reynolds,” which he did through the night until three on Sunday morning. At this time a very decided change began to affect him. Having become enfeebled from exertion, he became quiet and seemed to rest for a short time; then gently moving his head, he said, “Lord help, my poor soul “ and expired!

This, Madam, is as faithful an account as I am able to furnish from the Record of his case. . . .

His remains were visited by some of the first individuals of the city, many of them anxious to have a lock of his hair. . . . Respectfully yours,

J. J. MORAN, Res. Phys. (1) [page 348:]

The undistinguished funeral took place on Monday, October 8, and three days later Neilson Poe wrote to Mrs. Clemm: —

BALTIMORE, October 11, 1849.

MY DEAR MADAM, —. . . He died on Sun day morning, about five o clock, at the Washing ton Medical College, where he had been since the Wednesday preceding. At what time he arrived in this city, where he spent the time he was here, or under what circumstances, I have been unable to ascertain. It appears that on Wednes day he was seen and recognized at one of the places of election in old town, and that his condition was such as to render it necessary to send him to the College, where he was tenderly nursed until the time of his death. As soon as I heard that he was at the College I went over; but his physician did not think it advisable that I should see him, as he was very excitable. The next day I called, and sent him changes of linen, etc., and was gratified to learn that he was much better, and I was never so much shocked, in my life, as when, on Sunday morning, notice was sent me that he was dead. Mr. Herring and myself immediately [page 349:] took the necessary steps for his funeral, which took place on Monday afternoon at four o clock. . . . The body was followed to the grave by Mr. Herring, Dr. Snodgrass, Mr. Z. Collins Lee (an old classmate), and myself. The service was performed by the Rev. William T. D. Clemm, a son of James S. Clemm. Mr. Her ring and myself have sought, in vain, for the trunk and clothes of Edgar — there is reason to believe that he was robbed of them, whilst in such a condition as to render him insensible of his loss. . . .

Truly your friend and servant,



Three days after Poe’s death, Kennedy, who was on the ground, his earliest friend and life long well-wisher, wrote in his diary the passage from which some brief extracts have already been made: —

Wednesday, Oct. 10, 1849.

On Sunday last Edgar A. Poe died in town here at the hospital from the effects of a debauch. He had been to Richmond, was returning [page 350:] to New York, where he lived, and, I under stand, was soon to be married to a lady in Richmond of quite good fortune. He fell in with some companions here who seduced him to the bottle, which it was said he had renounced some time ago. The consequence was fever, delirium, and madness, and in a few days a termination of his sad career in the hospital. Poor Poe! He was an original and exquisite poet, and one of the best prose writers in this country. His works are amongst the very best of their kind. His taste was replete with classical flavor, and he wrote in the spirit of an old Greek philosopher.

It is many years ago — I think perhaps as early as 1833 or 4 — that I found him in Baltimore in a state of starvation. I gave him clothing, free access to my table, and the use of a horse for exercise whenever he chose in fact brought him up from the very verge of despair.

I then got him employment with Mr. White in one department of the editorship of the “Southern Literary Messenger “at Richmond. His talent made that periodical quite brilliant whilst he was connected with it. But he was irregular, eccentric, and querulous, and soon gave up his place for other employments of the [page 351:] same character in Philadelphia and New York. His destiny in these places was as sad and fickle as in Richmond.

He always remembered my kindness with gratitude, as his many letters to me testify. He is gone. A bright but unsteady light has been awfully quenched.(1)

Shortly after, Poe’s remaining writings were published by the editors or friends who had copies. To mention only the first issue in each case, “Annabel Lee,” the simplest and sweet est of his ballads, appeared in the New York “Tribune”; “The Bells,” that wonderful onomatopoetic experiment, in “Sartain’s” for November; an essay “On Critics and Criticism,” in “Graham’s” for January, 1850; and in October following, “The Poetic Principle,” in “Sartain’s.”

Meanwhile words, like Kennedy’s for kind ness, were spoken to the world by Poe’s friends and associates over the still recent grave. Graham wrote of him as seen in the editorial office and spoke with most authority of the professional side of his career: “For three or four years I knew him intimately, and for eighteen months [page 352:] saw him almost daily, much of the time writing or conversing at the same desk, knowing all his hopes, his fears, and little annoyances of life as well as his high-hearted struggle with adverse fate; yet he was always the same polished gentle man, the quiet, unobtrusive, thoughtful scholar, the devoted husband, frugal in his personal expenses, punctual and unwearied in his industry, and the soul of honor in all his transactions. This, of course, was in his better days, and by them we judge the man. But even after his habits had changed, there was no literary man to whom I would more readily advance money for labor to be done. . . . The very natural question, Why did he not work and thrive? is easily answered. It will not be asked by the many who know the precarious tenure by which literary men hold a mere living in this country. The avenues through which they can profitably reach the country are few, and crowded with aspirants for bread, as well as fame. The unfortunate tendency to cheapen every literary work to the lowest point of beggarly flimsiness in price and profit prevents even the well-disposed from extending anything like an adequate support to even a part of the great throng which genius, talent, education, and even misfortune, force [page 353:] into the struggle. The character of Poe’s mind was of such an order as not to be very widely in demand. The class of educated mind which he could readily and profitably address was small — the channels through which he could do so at all were few — and publishers all, or nearly all, contented with such pens as were already en gaged, hesitated to incur the expense of his to an extent which would sufficiently remunerate him; hence, when he was fairly at sea, connected permanently with no publication, he suffered all the horrors of prospective destitution, with scarcely the ability of providing for immediate necessities. . . . Let the moralist, who stands upon “tufted carpet, and surveys his smoking board, the fruits of his individual toil or mercantile adventure, pause before he let the anathema, trembling upon his lips, fall upon a man like Poe, who, wandering from publisher to publisher, with his fine, print-like manuscript, scrupulously clean and neatly rolled, finds no market for his brain — with despair at heart, misery ahead, for himself and his loved ones, and gaunt famine dogging at his heels, thus sinks by the wayside, before the demon that watches his steps and whispers oblivion.”(1) Willis, his New York [page 354:] chief, whose description of their collaboration has already been given, wrote of their later friendly, though never intimate, acquaintance: “He frequently called on us afterwards at our place of business, and we met him often in the street, — invariably the same sad-mannered, winning, and refined gentleman such as we had always known him,” and found in his letters to himself friendly business notes — sufficient evidence of “the very qualities denied to Mr. Poe, — humility, willingness to persevere, belief in another’s kindness, and capability of cordial and grateful friendship! Such he assuredly was when sane. Such only he has invariably seemed to us, in all we have happened personally to know of him, through a friendship of five or six years. And so much easier is it to believe what we have seen and known than what we hear of only, that we remember him but with admiration and respect.”(1) Mrs. Osgood, writing on her deathbed, with the same limitation, but brightening memory within the little bound, said: “I have never seen him otherwise than gentle, generous, well-bred, and fastidiously refined. To a sensitive and delicately nurtured woman there was a peculiar and irresistible [page 355:] charm in the chivalric, graceful, and almost tender reverence with which he invariably approached all women who won his respect. It was this which first commanded and always retained my regard for him.”(1) Mrs. Whit man said: “He was essentially and instinctively a gentleman.”(2) Mrs. Shelton said: “He was a gentleman in every sense of the word. He was one of the most fascinating and refined men I ever knew. I never saw him under the influence of wine.”(3) Burr, who knew him in his worst hours, said, characterizing him: “He was also, in the core of his heart, a grateful, single-minded, loving kind of man. . . . A very gentle, thoughtful, scrupulously refined, and modest kind of man. . . . That he had faults and many weaknesses is, also, too true. But that he had a congregation of virtues which made him loved as well as admired by those who knew him best, is also true.”(4) Mrs. Clemm, who lived on charity till past her eightieth year and died in the Church Home at Baltimore, February 16, 1871, so long the faithful guardian of his life, wrote [page 356:] to Willis in the first moments of her grief: “Say what an affectionate son he was to me, his poor desolate mother.”(1) This is the sheaf of memories that was laid upon his grave.


[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 295:]

1 Ingram, ii, 205.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 300:]

1 Griswold MSS.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 302:]

1 Poe to Duyckinck, loc. cit. pp. 10-11.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 305:]

1 Poe to “Annie,” February 19, 1849. Ingram, ii, 208.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 306:]

1 This should not be confused with a novel, in which Poe figured, Mary Lyndon, New York, 1855, published anonymously but afterwards acknowledged by Mrs. Gove-Nichols.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 307:]

1 Ingram, ii, 215.

2 Ingram, ii, 214.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 308:]

1 Poe to Patterson, May 23, 1849, America, April 11, 1889.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 309:]

1 Ingram, ii, 220.

2 Ingram, ii, 221.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 311:]

1 Ingram, ii, 222.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 313,running to the bottom of page 314:]

1 Character of Edgar A. Poe, by C. Chauncey Burr, The Nineteenth Century, V, i (February, 1852), pp. 19-33. There can be no doubt that the letter should have been dated at Philadelphia. Burr prefaced these letters thus: —

“I feel that I am justified in opening to the public eye this sacred retreat of privacy in the life of Poe, in order to defend his fame from the scandalous falsehoods which malice has heaped upon it. Here we shall find traces of an intense, sincere, fiery, loving heart, full of great extremes and wanderings, alas! but somehow, always returning to the same spot of affection and truth. His affection for Mrs. Clemm, the mother of his wife, and his tender and anxious solicitude for her welfare, even in the midst of the most distracting pain and poverty, opens to our view the agonies of a heart overflowing with kindness, gratitude, and faith, yet cruelly dispossessed of every means of the blessing it would bestow. I am greatly indebted to this kind lady for the privilege of making such extracts from her son’s letters to her as I may find important for my purpose, and I have taken the liberty to quote only parts of letters, for to [page 314:] do more than this would swell my paper beyond the limits of a magazine article.”

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 314:]

1 Philadelphia Record (no date).

2 Lippincott’s, March, 1889.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 317:]

1 The Nineteenth Century, loc. cit.

2 Poe to Patterson, July 19, America, loc. cit.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 318:]

1 Mrs. Whitman to Mrs. Clemm, April 17, 1859. MS.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 319:]

1 Mrs. Weiss, p. 196, makes these statements with much positiveness, relying on Poe’s confidential communications to Dr. Mackenzie, who, she says, had originally, in 1848, suggested Poe’s first visit to Richmond to make the marriage.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 319, running to the bottom of page 320:]

2 There is much confusion, in the many Richmond [page 320:] reminiscences of Poe, of the events of the first with those of the second visit with regard to his lectures, his courtship, and his habits. The second visit had a different social character and personal color from the first.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 320:]

1 Poe to Patterson, America, loc. cit.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 321:]

1 The gentleman who administered the oath on this occasion, writing December 4, 1900, states that Poe was initiated about the first of July, and that for the “next three months or more there was not the least intimation that he had failed to live up to his obligation.” The Virginia Poe, i, 321. Thompson’s statement made within seven weeks of the time, and being from a kindly friend and constant associate, should take precedence as evidence.

2 Thompson to Patterson, November, 9, 1849, America, loc. cit.

3 The Virginia Poe, i, 311.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 322:]

1 Dr. John Carter to the author, June 16, 1884, MS. “My brother, who attended (sic) Poe, has on occasion defended him through the press from the charge of dram-drinking; he was not a steady drinker, but had his sprees.”

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 323:]

1 Scribner’s Magazine, xv, 5 (March, 1878).

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 324:]

1 Griswold MSS.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 325:]

1 Griswold MSS.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 329:]

1 Griswold MSS.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 333:]

1 New York Herald (by Miss Susan Ingram), February 19, 1905.

2 The Norfolk American Beacon, September 13, 14, 17, 1849.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 335:]

1 Poe to Mrs. Clemm, MS.; where bracketed, MS. copy. A portion of this letter was published by Burr, loc. cit.

2 Mrs. Shelton to Mrs. Clemm, MS. The letter, which was of an intimate character and therefore suppressed in the former biography, when Mrs. Shelton was still alive, has been partially published in The Virginia Poe, xvii, 396.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 339:]

1 Scribner’s Magazine, xv, 5, p. 712 (March, 1878).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 340:]

1 Didier, no.

2 Scribner’s Magazine, loc. cit.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 342:]

1 Mrs. Shelton to Mrs. Clemm. The Poe-Chivers Papers, loc. cit. This letter, written two weeks after the facts, settles the date on which Poe left Richmond.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 342:]

1 The Virginia Poe, i, 319.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 343:]

1 Poe to —— (the editor of Graham’s) , August 10, 1847. The Virginia Poe, i, 270. “Without your aid at the precise moment and in the precise manner in which you rendered it, it is more than probable that I should not now be alive to write you this letter.”

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 344:]

1 New York Herald, March 27, 1881. Cf. The Virginia Poe, i, 328 et seq. , where a summary with extracts is given from The Facts of Poe’s Death and Burial (by Snodgrass), Beadle’s Monthly, 1867, and the examination of this by Mr. Spencer, in the Herald.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 345:]

1 The Virginia Poe, i, 337.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 347, running to the bottom of page 348:]

1 Moran to Mrs. Clemm, MS. The omitted portions are of no interest. The different dates and additional circumstances given many years afterward by Dr. Moran in the press, and in A Defense of Edgar Allan Poe: Life, Character, and Dying Declarations of the Poet: An Official Account of his Death by his Attending Physician, John J. Moran, M. D., Washington, [page 348:] D. C., 1885, must give way to the statements here made when the event was fresh in his memory.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 349:]

1 Neilson Poe to Mrs. Clemm, MS. The omitted portions are of no interest.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 351:]

1 Kennedy MSS.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 353:]

1 Graham’s Magazine, March, 1850.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 354:]

1 Home Journal, October 12, 1849.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 355:]

1 Griswold, lii.

2 Mrs. Whitman to Gill, August, 1873.

3 Appleton’s Journal, May, 1878.

4 The Nineteenth Century, loc. cit.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 356:]

1 Mrs. Clemm to Willis. Home Journal, October 12, 1849.





[S:0 - LEAPPL, 1909] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - The Life of EAP (G. E. Woodberry) (Chapter 15)