Text: James A. Harrison, “Chapter 14,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. XVII: Letters (1902), 17:371-440


[page 371:]





FORTRESS MONROE, VA., 10th Apl. 1829.

Edgar Poe, late Serg’t Major in the 1st Art’y, served under my command in H. Company 1st Reg’t of Artillery, from June, 1827, to Jan’y, 1829, during which time his conduct was unexceptionable. He at once performed the duties of company clerk and assistant in the Subsistent Department, both of which duties were promptly and faithfully done. His habits are good, and intirely free from drinking.

Lieut. 1st Artillery.

In addition to the above I have to say that Edgar Poe was appointed Sergeant Major of the 1″ Art’y on the 1″ of Jan’y, 1829, and up to this date, has been [page 372:] exemplary in his deportment, prompt & faithful in the discharge of his duties, and is highly worthy of confidence.

Bt. Capt. & Adjt. 1″ Arty.


FORTRESS MONROE, April 10th, 1829.

I have known & had an opportunity of observing the conduct of the above mentioned Serg’t-Maj. Poe some three months, during which his deportment has been highly praiseworthy & deserving of confidence. His education is of a very high order and he appears to be free from bad habits, in fact the testimony of Lt. Howard & Adjt. Griswold is full to that point. Understanding he is thro’ his friends an applicant for cadet's warrant, I unhesitatingly recommend him as promising to acquit himself of the obligations of that station studiously and faithfully.

W. J. WORTH,  
Lt. Col. Comd’g Fortress Monroe.


RICHMOND, May 6th, 1829.

DR SIR, — The youth who presents this is the same alluded to by Lt. Howard, Capt. Griswold, Col. Worth, our representative & the speaker, the Hon’ble Andrew Stevenson, and my friend Major Jno. Campbell.

He left me in consequence of some gambling at the University at Charlottesville, because (I presume) I refused to sanction a rule that the shopkeepers & others had adopted there, making Debts of Honor of all indiscretions. I have much pleasure in asserting that he stood his examination at the close of the year with [page 373:] great credit to himself. His history is short. He is the grandson of Quartermaster Gen’l Poe of Maryland, whose widow, as I understand, still receives a pension for the services or disability of her husband. Frankly, Sir, do I declare that he is no relation to me whatever; that I have many whom I have taken an active interest to promote theirs; with no other feeling than that, every man is my care, if he be in distress; for myself I ask nothing but I do request your kindness to aid this youth in the promotion of his future prospects. And it will afford me great pleasure to reciprocate any kindness you can show him. Pardon my frankness; but I address a soldier.

Yr ob’d’t se’v’t,  

The Hon’ble


Sec’y of War,

Washington City.


RICHMOND, VA., May 13th, 1829.

SIR, — Some of the friends of young Mr. Edgar Poe have solicited me to address a letter to you in his favor believing that it may be useful to him in his application to the Government for military service. I know Mr. Poe and am acquainted with the fact of his having been born under circumstances of great adversity. I also know from his own productions and other undoubted proofs that he is a young gentleman of genius and talents. I believe he is destined to be distinguished, since he has already gained reputation for talents and attainments at the University of Virginia. I think him possessed of feeling and character peculiarly intitling him to public patronage. I am entirely satisfied [page 374:] that the salutary system of military discipline will soon develope his honorable feelings, and elevated spirit, and prove him worthy of confidence. I would not write in his recommendation if I did not believe that he would remunerate the Government at some future day, by his services and talents, for whatever may be done for him.

I have the honor to be  
Very respectfully,  
Your obt. serv’t,  


Sec’y of War,





ORDER No. 7.

WASHINGTON, February 8, 1831.

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. ...

Cadet E. A. Poe.

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 [page 375:] roll-calls between the 7th January and 27th January 1831, viz., absent from evening parade on the 8th, 9th, 15th, 20th, 24th, and 25th January 1831; absent from reveillé call on the 8th, 16th, 17th, 19th, 21st, 25th, and 26th January 1831; Absent from class parade on the 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 24th, and 25th January 1831; absent from guard-mounting on the 16th January 1831, and absent from church parade on the 23rd January 1831; all of which at West Point, New York.

Specification 2nd. — In this, that he, the said Cadet E. A. Poe, did absent himself from all his Academical duties between the 15th and 27th January 1831. ...

Charge 2nd. — 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 23rd January 1831, did fail to obey such order; this at West Point, New York.

Specification 2nd. — In this, that he, the said Cadet Poe, did fail to attend the Academy on the 25th January 1831, after having been directed so to do by the officer of the day; this at West Point, New York.

To which charges and specifications the prisoner pleaded as follows: — To the 1st specification of the 1st charge, “Not Guilty;” to the 2nd specification of the 1st charge, “Guilty;” and “Guilty” to the 2nd charge and its specifications. ...

The Court, after mature deliberation on the testimony adduced, find the prisoner “Guilty” of the 1st specification, 1st charge, and confirm his plea to the remainder of the charges and specifications, and adjudged that he, Cadet E. A. Poe, be dismissed the service of the United States. ... [page 376:]

The proceedings of the General Court-Martial. ... in the cases of Cadets ——, ——, E. A. Poe, ——, ——, have been laid before the Secretary of War and are approved. ...

Cadet Edgar 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.


[From MS. belonging to Miss A. F. Poe.]

RICHMOND, Feb. 21, 1836.

DEAR SIR, — I have received to day from my nephew E. A. Poe the sum of one hundred dollars and which I learn I am to attribute to you. I beg you will accept my sincere gratitude and I now hope I may be enabled to surmount difficulties with which I have had to contend for a long time — particularly since my mother's death. Myself & daughter are under the protection of Edgar — he is the Editor of the Southern Literary Messenger and bids fair to be an honour to our name — he desires me to say any influence you may be able to exercise in behalf of the Messenger will be to his immediate advantage — he desires his respects to you.

Most gratefully  

[page 377:]


[Griswold Collection.]

NEW YORK, March 3, 1836.

DEAR SIR, — I duly received the Book containing the Tales by Mr. Poe heretofore published in the Messenger,” and have delayed writing to you on the subject until I could communicate the final decision of the Messrs. Harpers as to their republication. By the way, you are entirely mistaken in your idea of my influence over these gentlemen in the transactions of their business. They have a Reader, by whose judgment they are guided in their publications, and like all other traders are governed by their anticipations of profit or loss, rather than any intrinsic merit of a work or its author. I have no influence in this respect, and indeed ought to have none, for my taste does not exactly conform to that of the Public at present. I placed the work in their hands, giving my opinion of it, which was such as I believe I have heretofore expressed to you more than once, leaving them to their own decision.

The[y] have finally declined republishing it for the following reasons: They say that the stories have so recently appeared before the Public in the “Messenger” that they would be no novelty — but most especially they object that there is a degree of obscurity in their application, which will prevent ordinary readers from comprehending their drift, and consequently from enjoying the fine satire they convey. It requires a degree of familiarity with various kinds of knowledge which they do not possess, to enable them to relish the joke: the dish is too refined for them to banquet on. [page 378:] They desire me, however, to state to Mr. Poe that if he will lower himself a little to the ordinary comprehension of the generality of readers, and prepare a series of original Tales, or a single work, and send them to the Publishers, previous to their appearance in the “Messenger,” they will make such arrangements with him as will be liberal and satisfactory.

I regret this decision of the Harpers, though I have not opposed it, because I do not wish to lead them into any measure that might be accompanied by a loss, and felt as I would feel for myself in a similar case. I would not press a work of my own on them, nor do I think Mr. Poe would be gratified at my doing so with one of his.

I hope Mr. Poe will pardon me if the interest I feel in his success should prompt me to take this occasion to suggest to him to apply his fine humor, and his extensive acquirements, to more familiar subjects of satire; to the faults and foibles of our own people, their peculiarities of habits and manners, and above all to the ridiculous affectations and extravagancies of the fashionable English Literature of the day, which we copy with such admirable success and servility. His quiz on Willis, and the Burlesque of “Blackwood,” were not only capital, but what is more, were understood by all. For Satire to be relished, it is necessary that it should be leveled at something with which readers are familiar. My own experience has taught me this, in the failure of some efforts of my own formerly.

Be good enough to let me know what disposition I shall make of the work.

I am respectfully,  
Your friend and Servant,  

[page 379:]


[Mrs. W. Y. Dill. MS.]

RICHMOND, Oct. 7, 1836.

DEAR COUSIN, — Edgar received a letter from you yesterday and requested me to answer it for him, as he is at present so much engaged, which I do with much pleasure. He will write himself the first spare moment he has. We arrived here on Saturday evening last. Edgar went on to Baltimore for us. I do indeed hope we will be happier here. My health is at present so bad that I have had no opportunity of seeing the place, but I think that I will like it, at all events, I am determined to be contented. Here myself & daughter know that we have some to love & care for us, there we had no one. We are boarding & it takes nearly all he can make to answer that demand, but poor fellow he is willing to do all in his power for us. Next year if God spares us he will receive more salary and then we will be more comfortable. He does not wish me to engage in any kind of business until my health is better. As you appear to be anxious to know something about our family I will try to tell you all I know which I know to be correct, for since my earliest infancy I have always heard it spoken of. Our grandparents came to this country about 90 years ago. Our grandmother was Jane, the daughter of Jas. Admiral McBride. She had a brother an Admiral also. She was an extremely proud, but a well educated lady. John our grandfather and herself brought with them two sons, my father David aged 18 months and George about 6 weeks. They settled near Lancaster in Pennsylvania [page 380:] and there they had 8 more children, which made in all ten — David, George, Robert, Samuel, Jane, Hester, John, Mary, James, & William, your father. Hester married in Pa. & died soon after, leaving no children. Jane died many years since & left one son who is also dead. Mary married & had a daughter who died last winter. My father had seven children of whom I am the last. Our uncle George had three children — Jacob who resides in Frederick Co. & George who is cashier of the bank at Mobile. They both have children. The Poes you mentioned in a former letter to Edgar must be very distantly related to us if at all. My father had only three of his children married, David the father of Edgar, Eliza the wife of Mr. Herring of Baltimore, & myself. David left three children, Henry, Edgar & Rosalie. Henry died about four years since & Rosalie lives here. Eliza died 12 years ago leaving 5 lovely children. My daughter Virginia is with me here and we are entirely dependent on Edgar. He is, indeed a son to me & has always been so. He will I am sure do all in his power to make us happy. He requests me to say that he is obliged to you for the subscribers you procured him and says that all that you can obtain for the Messenger will be to his advantage. It will give me sincere pleasure to hear from you occasionally and I wish you to remember me affectionately to your family and your brother Robert — will he not write to me? We are very closely connected & there are not many of us left, therefore we surely ought to keep up a correspondence. And now my dear Cousin I have endeavored to tell you something of our family, because I thought it would be gratifying to you and certainly anything I could do for you I ought, for [page 381:] out of all that are left, you have been my best friend & are best entitled to my gratitude. The God whom I trust will help you for your kindness to me. Oh that I had it in my power to oblige you. Edgar & my daughter Virginia desire me to remember them to you & believe me to be sincerely your affectionate cousin,



Augusta, Ga.



WASHINGTON, March 12, 1843.

DEAR SIR. — I deem it to be my bounden duty to write you this hurried letter in relation to our mutual friend E. A. P.

He arrived here a few days since. On the first evening he seemed somewhat excited, having been overpersuaded to take some Port wine.

On the second day he kept pretty steady, but since then he has been, at intervals, quite unreliable.

He exposes himself here to those who may injure him very much with the President, and thus prevents us from doing for him what we wish to do and what we can do if he is himself again in Philadelphia. He does not understand the ways of politicians, nor the manner of dealing with them to advantage. How should he?

Mr. Thomas is not well and cannot go home with Mr. P. My business and the health of my family will prevent me from so doing.

Under all the circumstances of the case, I think it [page 382:] advisable for you to come on and see him safely back to his home. Mrs. Poe is in a bad state of health, and I charge you, as you have a soul to be saved, to say not one word to her about him until he arrives with you. I shall expect you or an answer to this letter by return of mail.

Should you not come, we will see him on board the cars bound to Phila., but we fear he might be detained in Baltimore and not be out of harm's way.

I do this under a solemn responsibility. Mr. Poe has the highest order of intellect, and I cannot bear that he should be the sport of senseless creatures who, like oysters, keep sober, and gape and swallow everything.

I think your good judgment will tell you what course you ought to pursue in this matter, and I cannot think it will be necessary to let him know that I have written you this letter; but I cannot suffer him to injure himself here without giving you this warning.

Yours respectfully,  
J. E. Dow.(1)


Philadelphia, Pa.


[Graham's Magazine, May, 1845.]

CAMBRIDGE, February 19, 1845.

DEAR SIR, — Perhaps you may remember that, a year or two ago, I published in your Magazine a translation [page 383:] from the German of O. L. B. Wolf, entitled “The Good George Campbell.” Within a few days I have seen a paragraph in a newspaper, asserting, in very discourteous language, that this was not a translation from the German, but a plagiarism from a Scotch ballad published in Motherwell's “Minstrelsy.” My object in writing you is to deny this charge, and to show that the poem I sent you is what it pretended to be.

As I was passing up the Rhine, in the summer of 1842, a gentleman with whom I had become acquainted on board the steamer put into my hands a collection of German poems, entitled Deutscher Sänger-Saal, edited by Gollmich. In this collection I found “The Good George Campbell.” It there appeared as an original poem by Wolf, and I was so much struck with its simplicity and beauty that I immediately wrote a translation of it, with a pencil, in my pocket-book; and the same evening, at Mayence, made a copy of the German, which I enclose.

Soon after my return to this country my version was published in your Magazine. At that time I had not the slightest suspicion that the German poem was itself a translation, nor was I aware of the fact till Mr. Griswold, then one of the editors of the Magazine, wrote to me upon the subject, and sent me a copy of the Scotch ballad from which he supposed the German poem to have been taken. I had never before seen it, and I could not but smile at my own ignorance, which had thus led me to re-translate a translation. I immediately answered Mr. Griswold's note, but as he did not publish my answer I thought no more of the matter.

My attention being called to the subject by the paragraph [page 384:] alluded to above, and the ballad from Motherwell's Collection, which was printed with it, and which I do not remember to have seen before, I turned to Mr. Griswold's letter, and found that his version of the poem differed very materially from Motherwell's and seemed to be but a fragment of some longer ballad. It is as follows: —


Saddled and bridled and booted rode he,

A plume at his helmet, a sword at his knee;

But torn cam’ the saddle, all bluidy to see,

And hame cam’ the steed, but hame never cam’ he.

Down cam’ his gray father, sabbin’ sae sair,

Down cam’ his auld mither, tearin’ her hair,

Down cam’ his sweet wife, wie bonnie bairns three,

Ane at her bosom an’ twa at her knee.

There stood the fleet steed, al foamin’ an’ hot,

There shrieked his sweet wife, an’ sank on the spot;

There stood his gray father, weepin’ sae free, —

Sae hame cam’ his steed, but hame never cam’ he.

Having with some difficulty procured a copy of Motherwell's “Minstrelsy,” I find the following note prefixed to the ballad. “Bonnie George Campbell” is probably a lament for one of the adherents of the house of Argyle, who fell in the battle of Glenlievat, stricken on Thursday, the third day of October, 1594 years. (Gordon's Earldom of Sutherland.) Of this ballad Mr. Finlay had only recovered three stanzas, which he has given in the preface to his “Scottish Historical and Romantic Ballads,” page 33, introduced by the following remarks — “There is another fragment still remaining, which appears to have belonged to a ballad of adventure, perhaps of real history. I [page 385:] am acquainted with no poem, of which the lines, as they stand, can be supposed to have formed a part.” The words and the music of this Lament are published in the fifth volume of the “Scottish Minstrelsy.” The other “fragment still remaining” is probably the poem sent by Mr. Griswold.

Since I have seen the Scotch ballad in Motherwell I have detected, by means of it, a misprint in the German poem. The last word of the second line is Tag (day) instead of Tay, the name of the river. I translated the word as it stood, and thus the accidental misprint of a single letter has become an unimpeachable witness of the falsity of the charge brought against me.

Will you have the goodness to publish this letter and the several versions of the poem inclosed?(1)

Yours truly,  


[From Horne's Letters of E. B. Browning.]

May 12th, 1845.

... Your friend, Mr. Poe, is a speaker of strong words “in both kinds.” But I hope you will assure him from me that I am grateful for his reviews, and in no complaining humour at all. As to the “Raven” tell me what you shall say about it! There is certainly a power — but it does not appear to me the natural expression of a sane intellect in whatever mood; [page 386:] and I think that this should be specified in the title of the poem. There is a fantasticalness about the “sir or madam,” and things of the sort, which is ludicrous, unless there is a specified insanity to justify the straws. Probably he — the author — intended it to be read in the poem, and he ought to have intended it. The rhythm acts excellently upon the imagination, and the “nevermore” has a solemn chime with it. Don’t get me into a scrape. The “pokerishness” (just gods! what Mohawk English!) might be found fatal, peradventure. Besides, — just because I have been criticised, I would not criticise. And I am of opinion that there is an uncommon force and effect in the poem.

I am delighted at the prospect of “Orion's” being republished in New York. I love the Americans, and think they deserve your “Orion.” A noble and cordial people, for all their “pokerishness” — save the mark! But Mr. Poe seems to me in a great mist on the subject of metre. You yourself have skipped all the philosophy of the subject in your excellent treatise on “Chaucer Modernized,” and you shut your ears when I tried to dun you about it one day. But Chaucer wrote on precisely the same principles (eternal principles) as the Greek poets did, I believe unalterably; and you, who are a musician, ought to have sung it out loud in the ears of the public. There is no “pedantic verbiage” in Longinus. But Mr. Poe, who attributes the “Œdipus Colonœus” to Æschylus (vide review on me), sits somewhat loosely, probably, on his classics.

Yours truly ever,  
E. B. B.

[page 387:]


[Griswold Collection.]

May 12th 1845.

You will certainly think me mad, dear Mr. Horne, in treading upon my own heels (room for the bull!) in another letter. But I am uncomfortable about my message to Mr. Poe, lest it should not be grateful enough in the sound of it. Will you tell him, what is quite the truth, — that, in my own opinion, he has dealt with me most generously, and that I thank him for his candour as for a part of his kindness. Will you tell him also that he has given my father pleasure, which is giving it to me, more than twice. Also, the review is very ably written, — and the reviewer has so obviously & thoroughly read my poems, as to be a wonder among critics. Will you tell Mr. Poe this, ... or to this effect, dear Mr. Horne — all but part of the last sentence, which peradventure may be somewhat superfluous.

I heard from dear Miss Mitford this morning, & she talks delightfully of taking lodgings in London soon; of coming, not for a day only, ... nor for a week only.


[Griswold Correspondence.]

NEW YORK, July 11, 1845.

MY DEAR DOCTOR, — ... The Broadway Journal stopped for a week to let Briggs step ashore with his luggage, and they are now getting up steam to drive it ahead under Captains Poe and Watson. I think it [page 388:] will soon stop again to land one of these. Let me tell you a good joke. Poe and Tuckerman met for the first time last night, — and how? They each, upon invitation, repaired to the Rutgers institute, where they sat alone together as a Committee upon young ladies’ compositions. Odd, isn’t it, that the women, who divide so many, should bring these two together! ...



[Lowell's Letters, edited by C. E. Norton.(1)]

ELMWOOD, Aug. 21, 1845.

MY DEAR FRIEND, — ... Poe, I am afraid, is wholly lacking in that element of manhood which, for want of a better name, we call character. It is something quite distinct from genius — though all great geniuses are endowed with it. Hence we always think of Dante Alighieri, of Michael Angelo, of Will Shakespeare, John Milton — while of such men as Gibbon and Hume we merely recall the works, and think of them as the author of this and that. As I prognosticated, I have made Poe my enemy by doing him a service. In the last Broadway Journal he has accused me of plagiarism, and misquoted Wordsworth to sustain his charge.

“Armour rustling on the walls,

On the blood of Clifford calls,”

he quotes, italicizing “rustling” as the point of resemblance. The word is really “rusting” — you will find the passage in Wordsworth's “Song Sung at Brougham [page 389:] Castle,” etc. My metaphor was drawn from some old Greek or Roman story which was in my mind, and which Poe, who makes such a scholar of himself, ought to have known. There is a similar incident in Chaucer's “Knight's Tale,” probably from the same source. Any one who had ever read the whole of Wordsworth's poem would see that there was no resemblance between the two passages. Poe wishes to kick down the ladder by which he rose. He is welcome. But he does not attack me at a weak point. He probably cannot conceive of anybody's writing for anything but a newspaper reputation, or for posthumous fame, which is but the same thing magnified by distance. I have quite other aims. ...


[Griswold Correspondence.]

MY DEAR SIR, — I hope you will do whatever you can to favor Mr. Poe in the matter of which he spoke to you in his letter. I suppose you will send him a copy of my poems and one of “Urania,” and refer him for the little facts of my outward existence to the preface to my volume and to Mr. Griswold's book. I cannot think that he would be much interested to know that I have a little family growing up about me since friend Rufus posted up my history. This is almost the only change in my circumstances which has occurred since that date. But if there is anything about me which a friend might say and a well-wisher publish, say it and trust to Mr. Poe's discretion. I really believe, however, that I have nothing at present to show for the last half a dozen years of my life, which however [page 390:] have not been idle, and may some time or other bear their fruit.

I have always thought Mr. Poe entertained a favorable opinion of me since he taught me how to scan one of my own poems. And I am not ashamed, though it may be very unphilosophicai, to be grateful for his good opinion, and even venture to hope that he may find something to approve in one or two of my last poems — in the one you will send him and in the Pilgrim of last year if he ever sees it. ...

Yours very truly,  

BOSTON, Dec. 29, 1846.



Friday Evening [1847].

MY DEAR SWEET FRIEND, — I write to say that the medicines arrived the next train after you left to-day, and a kind friend brought them up to us that same hour. The cooling application was very grateful to my poor Eddie's head, and the flowers were lovely — not “frozen,” as you feared they would be. I very much fear this illness is to be a serious one. The fever came on at the same time to-day (as you said it would), and I am giving the sedative mixture. He did not rouse up to talk to Mr. C——, as he would naturally do to so kind a friend. ... Eddie made me promise to write you a note about the wine (which I neglected to tell you about this morning). He desires me to return the last box of wine you sent my sweet Virginia (there being some left of the first package, which I will [page 391:] put away for any emergency). The wine was a great blessing to us while she needed it, and by its cheering and tonic influence we were enabled to keep her a few days longer with us. The little darling always took it smiling, even when difficult to get it down. But for your timely aid, my dear Mrs. S., we should have had no last word — no loving messages — no sweet farewells, for she ceased to speak (from weakness) but with her beautiful eyes! ... Eddie has quite set his heart upon the wine going back to you, thinking and hoping you may find it useful for the sick artist you mentioned “as convalescent and in need of delicacies.” God bless you, my sweet child, and come soon to your sorrowing and desolate friend,


P. S. — We look for you in an early train tomorrow, and hope you will stay as long as possible. What we should do without you now is fearful to think of. Eddie says you promised Virginia to come every other day for a long time, or until he was able to go to work again. I hope and believe you will not fail him; and I pray that every blessing may be yours, and may follow you in life, as your angelic tenderness and compassion deserve.

Mr. C—— will tell you of our condition, as he is going to call for this note in an hour's time; and, until we see you, farewell.



MY DEAR ANNIE, — God has heard my prayers and once more returned my poor, darling Eddy to me. But [page 392:] how changed! I scarcely knew him. I was nearly distracted at not hearing from him. I knew something dreadful had occurred. And oh! how near I was losing him! But our good and gracious God saved him. The blood about my heart becomes cold when I think of it. I have read his letter to you, and have told him I think it very selfish, to wish you to come; for I know, my darling child, it would be inconvenient. ... Eddy has told me of all your kindness to him. God bless you for it, my own darling. I beg you will write often. He raved all night about you, but is now more composed. I too am very sick, but will do all I can to cheer and comfort him. How much I felt for you, dearest, when I read the awful account of your poor cousin's death. Have you heard anything of Mrs. L—— since her tragic performance? I never liked her, and said so from the first. Do tell me all about her.

Good-bye, dearest, your own  
M. C.

Nov. 16, 1848.


[Griswold Collection?]

January 11, 1849.

... Our dear Eddy ... is writing most industriously, and I have every hope that he will, in a short time, surmount most of our difficulties. He writes from ten until four every day. ... We have found out who wrote those verses that we attributed to Grace Greenwood; they were written by Mrs. Welby of Kentucky. Have you a copy of them? If so, Eddy says he will be so much obliged to you for them. ... Eddy wrote a tale, and sent it to the publisher, and in [page 393:] it was a description of you with the name of the lady, “darling Annie.” It will be published about the 20th of next month, and then I will send it to you. ... Did you see the lines to Eddy in a new magazine just come out, called the Metropolitan? They are by Mrs. Osgood, and very beautiful. ... Have you seen Lowell's “Satire,” and Mrs. Osgood's letter about the lines? Something about Eddy in both.



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 and helpless! Can I ever forget that dear sweet face, so tranquil, so pale, and [page 394:] 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.


[Century Magazine.]

NEW YORK, August 27, 1849.

DEAR MR. GRISWOLD, — I feel you will pardon the liberty I take in addressing you, but the extreme 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 [page 395:] A gentleman in the neighborhood 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.



[Griswold Collection.]

NEW YORK, Sep. 4, ’49.

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 understand from Mrs. Lewis you received the package 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 N. Y., care of E. A. Poe.


I will call on Saturday at 10 o’clock at your room if you will please meet me there. [page 396:]


[From MS. belonging to Miss A. F. Poe.]

RICHMOND, September 22nd, 1849.

MY DEAR MRS. CLEMM, — You will no doubt be much surprised to receive a letter from one whom you have never seen, although I feel as if I were writing to one whom I love very devotedly, and whom to know, is to love. ... Mr. Poe has been very solicitous that I should write to you, and I do assure you, it is with emotions of pleasure that I now do so. I am fully prepared to love you, and I do sincerely hope that our spirits may be congenial. There shall be nothing wanting on my part to make them so.

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. He showed me a letter of yours, in which you spoke affectionately of me, and for which I feel very much gratified & complimented. ... Edgar speaks frequently & very affectionately of your daughter & his Virginia, for which I love him but the more. I have a very dear friend, (to whom I am much attached,) by the name of Virginia Poe. She is a lovely girl in character, tho’ not as beautiful in person as your beloved one.

I remember seeing Edgar, & his lovely wife, very soon after they were married.

  · · · · · · · · ·  

Edgar's lecture a few weeks since, on the Poetic Principle, was very beautiful. He had quite a full, and [page 397:] very fashionable audience. He will repeat his lecture on Monday next, when I sincerely hope he may be patronized by a very large attendance. It is needless (I know) for me to ask you to take good care of him when he is (as I trust he soon will be) again restored to your arms.

“I trust a kind Providence” will protect him, and guide him in the way of truth, so that his feet slip not. I hope, my dear friend, that you will write to me, and as Edgar will perhaps reach you as soon as this does, he will direct your letter.

It has struck 12 o’clock, and I am encroaching on the Sabbath, and will therefore conclude. “Good night, Dear Friend,” may Heaven bless you and shield you, and may your remaining days on earth be peaceful and happy — and your eternity glorious and blissful.

Thus prays your attached tho’ unknown friend



[From MS. belonging to Miss A. F. Poe.]

NEW YORK, Oct. 9, ’45 [’49.(3)]

DEAR NELSON, — I have heard this moment of the death of my dear son Edgar — I cannot believe it, [illegible] have written to you, to try and ascertain the [page 398:] fact and particulars — he has been at the South for the last three months, and was on his way home — the paper states he died in Baltimore yesterday — If it is true God have mercy on me, for he was the last I had to cling to and love, will you write the instant you receive this, and relieve this dreadful uncertainty — My mind is prepared to bear all — conceal nothing from me.

Your afflicted friend,  


[From MS. belonging to Miss A. F. Poe.]

Oct., 1849,  
Wednesday morning.

Oh my mother, my darling, darling mother oh, what shall I say to you — how can I comfort you — oh mother it seems more than I can bear — and when I think of you, his mother, who has lost her all, I feel that it must not, no, it cannot be — oh if I could but see you, do, I implore you, come to Annie soon as possible — come, dear mother, and I will be indeed a daughter to you — oh if I could only have laid down my life for his, that he might have been spared to you — but mother it is the will of God, and we must submit; and Heaven grant us strength, to bear it, — we shall soon (at longest), meet the loved and lost to us here, in that blessed world where there are no partings — your letter has this moment reached me, but I had seen a notice of his death, a few moments previous in the paper — oh, mother, when I read it, I said, no, no, it is not true, my Eddie can’t be dead, no, it is not so, [page 399:] I could not believe it, until I got your letter,(1) even now, it seems impossible, for how can it be — how can I bear it — and oh, how can his poor, poor mother bear it and live — oh God, is it not too much forgive me mother, but I cannot bear to submit without a murmur, I know it is wrong, but mother I cannot — had my own been taken, I could have been reconciled and comforted, for I have kind parents, brother, and sister left, but he was her all — God, in mercy comfort and sustain her, for it is more than she can bear — pardon me if I add one pang to your grief, dear mother, but my own heart is breaking, and I cannot offer you consolation that I would, now, but mother, I will pray for you, and for myself, that I may be able to comfort you — Mr. R. begs that you will come on here, soon as you can, and stay with us long as you please — do, dear mother, gather up all his papers and books, and take them and come to your own Annie who will do everything in her power to make you comfortable and reconciled to the bitter lot Heaven has ordained for you — do not deny me this privilege, dear mother, my heart will nearly break if you do not come — write me if but one word, soon as you get this — the mail closes in 10 minutes. I must stop — my darling, darling mother, God in heaven bless and sustain you, and bring you safely to your own

Faithful ANNIE.(2)

[page 400:]


[From MS. in possession of Miss A. F. Poe.]

BALTIMORE, Oct. 11, 1849.

MY DEAR MADAM, — I would to God I could console you with the information that your dear son Edgar A. Poe is still among the living. The newspapers, in announcing his death, have only told a truth, which we may weep over & deplore, but cannot change. He died on Sunday morning, about 5 o’clock, at the Washington 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 Wednesday, he was seen & 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 physicians did not think it advisable that I should see him, as he was very excitable. The next day I called & sent him changes of linen, &c. And was gratified to learn that he was much better, & I was never so much shocked, in my life, as when, on Sunday morning, notice was sent to me that he was dead. Mr. Herring & myself immediately took the necessary steps for his funeral, which took place on Monday afternoon at four o’clock. He lies alongside his ancestors in the Presbyterian burying ground on Green Street. [page 401:]

I assure you, my dear madam, that, if I had known where a letter would reach you, I would have communicated the melancholy tidings in time to enable you to attend his funeral — but I was wholly [illegible] how to address you. 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. Wm. T. D. Clemm, a son of James T. Clemm. Mr. Herring & myself have sought, in vain, for the trunk & 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.

I shall not attempt the useless task of consoling you under such a bereavement. Edgar has seen so much of sorrow — had so little reason to be satisfied with life — that, to him, the change can scarcely be said to be a misfortune. If it leaves you lonely in this world of trouble, may I be allowed the friendly privilege of expressing the hope that, in the contemplation of the world to which he has gone & to which we are all hastening, you will find consolations enduring & all sufficient. I shall be glad, at all times, to hear from you, & to alleviate, in every way in my power, the sorrows which this dispensation may expose you. I only wish my ability was equal to my disposition.

My wife unites with me in expressions of sympathy.

Truly your friend & servant  

MRS. MARIA CLEMM. [page 402:]


[From MS. in possession of Miss A. F. Poe.]

Monday Morning, Oct. 14.

MY DARLING MOTHER, — Your precious letter has this moment reached me, and oh how much it has comforted me! I am so thankful to have you say that you will come, I had so much feared your N. York friends would prevail on you to stay with them until spring, but thank Heaven the blessed privilege of your dear society this winter will be mine — and dear mother will you not bring all of our darling precious Eddie's papers with you, all that you do not have to give up to the publishers, and his printed works too? There is so little here, that can be obtained of his — the “S. L. Messenger,” “Literary World,” “Broadway Journal” &c, &c, we never get, they do not come here at all. — If you will get a trunk and put them all in, and bring them on, it shall be no expense to you dear mother — do grant me this, for everything he has written, is so dear to me, and my only comfort now. Oh mother darling darling mother, is it possible, that he will never never write to me again? I have waited so long, and now, to know it never can be, oh mother, is it wrong, I cannot bear it calmly, I cannot yet see, why, or how, it is all for the best, God grant I may. — I am so thankful to see those kind notices of him, for my heart has been so pained, oh mother, it is so cruel, for those who envied him while living, to speak so harshly of him now that he is gone — but as you say, what matters it, he will never know it, and his friends will only love his memory more. — Do write me what day you will be here, so I can meet you at the [page 403:] cars, mother dear. — I have a little sum, laid aside for you, — shall I keep it, until you come, or shall I send it to you in a letter? Tell me darling mother when you answer this. — Do come soon as possible, I have a little room all ready for you where you can have a fire all to yourself, and I will try to make you so comfortable — come prepared to stay a long time won’t you — bring all you care for, everything, I have plenty of store room; do not part with anything you wish to keep, fearing it will discommode me, for nothing can if you will only come. Mr. R. sends his kindest love to you, — he is waiting to carry this to the office. Heaven bless you my darling darling mother!

Your own loving and faithful  

P. S. If you have any letters of Mrs. Locke's either to you or yours, do not destroy them, but be sure and bring them with you for a very particular reason, that I will give, when I see you. — Don’t forget to write whether you will have the money sent to you and when you will be here.


[Hutchinson Collection.]

RICHMOND, VA., Nov. 9, 1849.

MY DEAR SIR, — Your letter making inquires of a personal nature concerning poor Poe has been lying on my table some days. I avail myself of the first leisure moment to reply to it.

My first acquaintance with the deceased was in the spring of 1848, when I accidentally learned that a person [page 404:] calling himself Edgar A. Poe had been, for a fortnight, in a debauch, in one of the lowest haunts of vice upon the wharves in this City. If you have ever visited Richmond, you may perhaps know that the business portion of the town and the sites occupied by residences exclusively are distant from the shipping by a mile and a half, so that very few persons not actually engaged in commercial affairs ever visit the landing at all. As soon as I heard the name Poe in this connection my worst suspicions were excited, and I at once took a carriage and went to seek him. It was a very warm day in the latter part of May or early in June. When I reached the purlieus of this abandoned quarter, I learned that such a person had indeed been there, drunk, for two weeks, and that he had gone a few hours previous, without hat or coat, to the residence of Mr. John MacKenzie, some three miles distant in the country, alone and on foot. It was Poe. The next day he called on me with Mr. MacKenzie. From that time until his death we were much together and in constant correspondence. I did all I could to restrain his excesses and to relieve the pressure of his immediate wants (for he was extremely indigent), but no influence was adequate to keep him from the damnable propensity to drink, and his entire residence in Richmond of late was but a succession of disgraceful follies. He spoke of himself as the victim of a preordained damnation, as l’âme perdue, a soul lost beyond all hope of redemption. For three weeks previous to his departure from Richmond he had been sober — a Son of Temperance. But no confidence could be placed in him in any relation of life, least of all in antagonism to his fatal weakness. He died, indeed, in delirium from drunkenness; the shadow of infamy beclouded his last moments [page 405:]

And his soul from out that shadow

Shall be lifted never more!

But who shall judge harshly of the dead? Mercy benignantly tempers the divine Justice, and to this Justice we commit his spirit.

Poe had spoken to me of your design with reference to the literary enterprise of which you speak. You were fortunate, I think, in not having embarked in it, for a more unreliable person than he could hardly be found. I have not, as yet, recovered his trunk, so that I cannot tell you whether or no he left any unpublished MSS. The day before he went North from Richmond, I advanced him a small sum of money for a prospective article which he probably never wrote. His complete works will be brought out by the Rev. Dr. Griswold.

With much regard, I am, Sir, yours,  



NEW YORK, December 17, 1849.

MY DEAR MRS. WHITMAN, — I have been two or three weeks in Philadelphia, attending to the remains which a recent fire left of my library and furniture, and so did not receive your interesting letter in regard to our departed acquaintance until to-day. I wrote, as you suppose, the notice of Poe in “The Tribune,” but [page 406:] very hastily. I was not his friend, nor was he mine, as I remember to have told you. I undertook to edit his writings to oblige Mrs. Clemm, and they will soon be published in two thick volumes, of which a copy shall be sent to you. I saw very little of Poe in his last years. ... I cannot refrain from begging you to be very careful what you say or write to Mrs. Clemm, who is not your friend, nor anybody's friend, and who has no element of goodness or kindness in her nature, but whose heart and understanding are full of malice and wickedness. I confide in you these sentences for your own sake only, for Mrs. C. appears to be a very warm friend to me. Pray destroy this note, and at least act cautiously, till I may justify it in a conversation with you.

I am yours very sincerely,  


[Griswold Collection.]

CAMBRIDGE, Sept. 28, 1850.

SIR, — I think you must be mistaken in saying that I “showed you a series of papers” in reference to “The Haunted Palace,” and “The Beleaguered City;” for I do not remember that I ever had any such papers in my possession, nor that Mr. Poe ever accused me of taking my poem from his.

I do remember showing you two letters from him to me, (dated May & June 1841) proving the different tone he assumed towards me in private and in public. Nothing is said in these letters about the [page 407:] point now at issue; and these are the only ones I ever received from him.

With regard to “The Beleaguered City,” it was written on the nineteenth of September, 1839. I marked the date down at the time. It was first published in the “Southern Literary Messenger,” November, 1839. I sent it to Mr White, the Editor of that work, who had solicited a contribution from me. I do not believe Mr Poe ever saw it till it was published; for he was not then, I think, connected with the Messenger, and could not have had this manuscript in his hands, for Mr White did not, probably, receive it before the first of October; and it is the first article in the November No. of the Messenger.

“The Beleaguered City” is founded on an old tradition, which you will find mentioned somewhere in the Notes of Scott's “Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.” I do not recollect in which volume.

When Mr. Poe's poem was written, and first published, I do not know. I am quite sure I never saw it, till long, long after mine was written. It certainly never before occurred to me that there was any resemblance between the two; and upon reading them now I do not see any sufficient ground to justify a charge of plagiarism on either side, though you and Mr. Poe seem to think otherwise.

If you should resume this subject in print, (I mean the subject of Mr. Poe and his writings), — I wish you would contrive to leave me entirely out of it. I dislike all controversy and violent discussion; and never have taken part in any, and never intend to do so.

I remain  
Your Obt. Svt.  

[page 408:]


[Griswold Collection.]

No. 116, LEONARD ST., March 28th, 1851.

DEAR SIR, — When I wrote you from Stamford for the letters which were handed to you after the death of Edgar A. Poe, it was because I wanted them, and not to “insult you,” as I understand you suppose. The remarks which I made were founded upon what Poe told me.

If Poe ever left any letter in which he speaks ill of me, the fault was his own — not mine — and he will have to answer to God for the injustice. He, no doubt, felt piqued when I accused him of having stolen his “Raven” from my Poem “To Allegra Florence in Heaven” — which you know he did — if you know anything at all about it. The same is true of his Lectures on Poetry — besides many other things.

You are very much mistaken if you suppose that I endorse everything that Poe did. He married the Venus Urania in early life; but afterwards committed adultery with the Venus Pandemos.

Yours truly,  



In an article on American Literature in the “Westminster Review” for April, and in one on Edgar A. Poe, in “Tait's Magazine” for the same month, we [page 409:] find a repetition of certain incorrect and injurious statements in regard to the deceased author, which should not longer be suffered to pass unnoticed. These statements have circulated through half a dozen foreign and domestic periodicals, and are presented with an ingenious variety of detail. As a specimen, we take a passage from Tait, who quotes as his authority, Dr. Griswold's memoir of the poet:

“Poe's life, in fact, during the three years that yet remained to him, was simply a repetition of his previous existence, notwithstanding which, his reputation still increased, and he made many friends. He was, indeed, at one time, engaged to marry a lady who is termed “one of the most brilliant women in New England.” He, however, suddenly changed his determination; and after declaring his intention to break the match, he crossed, the same day, into the city where the lady dwelt, and, on the evening that should have been the evening before the bridal, “committed in drunkenness such outrages at her house as made necessary a summons of the police.”

The subject is one which cannot well be approached without invading the sanctities of private life; and the improbabilities of the story may, to those acquainted with the parties, be deemed an all-sufficient refutation. But in view of the rapidly increasing circulation which this story has obtained, and the severity of comment which it has elicited, the friends of the late Edgar A. Poe deem it an imperative duty to free his memory from this unjust reproach, and to oppose to it their unqualified denial. Such a denial is due, not only to the memory of the departed, but also to the lady whose home is supposed to have been desecrated by these disgraceful outrages. [page 410:]

Mr. Poe was frequently my guest during his stay in Providence. In his several visits to the city I was with him daily. I was acquainted with the circumstances of his engagement, and with the causes which led to its dissolution. I am authorized to say, not only from my personal knowledge, but also from the statements of all who were conversant with the affair, that there exists not a shadow of foundation for the stories above alluded to.

Mr. Poe's friends have no desire to palliate his faults, nor to conceal the fact of his intemperance — a vice which, though never habitual to him, seems, according to Dr. Griswold's published statements, to have repeatedly assailed him at the most momentous epochs of his life. With the single exception of this fault, which he has so fearfully expiated, his conduct, during the period of my acquaintance with him, was invariably that of a man of honor and a gentleman; and I know that, in the hearts of all who knew him best among us, he is remembered with feelings of melancholy interest and generous sympathy.

We understand that Dr. Griswold has expressed his sincere regret that these unfounded reports should have been sanctioned by his authority; and we doubt not, if he possesses that fairness of character and uprightness of intention which we have ascribed to him, that he will do what lies in his power to remove an undeserved stigma from the memory of the departed.


PROVIDENCE, June 2, 1852. [page 411:]


NEW YORK, June 8, 1852.

DEAR SIR, — I think you have done wrong in publishing your communication in yesterday's “Tribune” without ascertaining how it must be met. I have never expressed any such regrets as you write of, and I cannot permit any statement in my memoir of Poe to be contradicted by a reputable person, unless it is shown to be wrong. The statement in question I can easily prove, on the most unquestionable authority, to be true; and unless you explain your letter to “The Tribune” in another for publication there, you will compel me to place before the public such documents as will be infinitely painful to Mrs. Whitman and all others concerned. The person to whom he disclosed his intention to break off the match was Mrs. H——t. He was already engaged to another party. I am sorry for the publication of your letter. Why you did not permit me to see it before it appeared, and disclose in advance these consequences, I cannot conceive. I would willingly drop the subject, but for the controversies hitherto in regard to it, with which you are acquainted. Before writing to “The Tribune” I will await your opportunity to acknowledge this note, and to give such explanations of your letter as will render any public statement on my part unnecessary.

In haste, yours respectfully,  

W. J. PABODIE, ESQ. [page 412:]


[Griswold Collection.]

PROVIDENCE, June 11, 1852.

DEAR SIR, — In reply to your note I would say, that I have merely testified to what I know to be true, viz. that no such incident as that extensively circulated in relation to certain alleged outrages at the house of Mrs. Whitman, and the calling in of the Police, ever took place. The assertion that Poe came to Providence, the last time, with the express intention of breaking off the engagement, you will find to be equally unfounded, when I have stated to you the facts as I know them.

In remarking that you had expressed regret at the fact of their admission into your Memoir, I had reference to a passage in a letter written by Mrs. Hewitt to Mrs. Whitman, which was read to me by the latter some time since. I stated in all truthfulness the impression which that letter had left upon my mind. If I have wrongly interpreted her words, believe me, it was not intentional. I enclose an extract from the letter, that you may judge for yourself.

I know that from the commencement of Poe's acquaintance with Mrs. W., he repeatedly urged her to an immediate marriage; and, more than once, her refusal to consent to this was followed by some act of reckless indulgence. At the time of his interview with Mrs. Hewitt, circumstances existed, which threatened to postpone the marriage indefinitely, if not altogether to prevent it. It was undoubtedly with reference to these circumstances that his remark to Mrs. H. was made — certainly not with any intention, on his part, of breaking off the engagement, as his subsequent conduct [page 413:] will prove. He left N. York for Providence on the afternoon of his interview with Mrs. H., not with any view to the proposed union, but at the invitation of the Prov. Lyceum; and, on the evening of his arrival, he delivered a lecture on American Poetry before an audience of some two thousand persons. During his stay in the City, he again succeeded in renewing his engagement, and in obtaining Mrs. W.'s consent to an immediate marriage. He stopped at the Earl House, where he became acquainted with a set of somewhat dissipated young men, who often invited him to drink with them. We all know that he could seldom withstand such temptations; and, on the third or fourth evening subsequent to that on which he lectured, he came up to Mrs. Whitman's in a state of partial intoxication. I was myself present nearly the whole of the evening, and do most solemnly affirm that there was no unusual noise, no disturbance, no outrage; neither was there any call for the Police. Mr. Poe said but little and was very quiet. This was undoubtedly the evening referred to in your Memoir, for it was the only evening on which he was intoxicated during his last visit to the City. But it was not “the evening that should have been the evening before the bridal,” for they were not yet published; and the law in our State, at that time, required that a couple should be published three several times, on as many different days, before they could be legally married. The next morning Mr. Poe manifested and expressed the most profound contrition and regret, and was profuse in his promises of amendment. He was still urgently anxious that the marriage should take place before he left the City. That very morning he wrote a note to Dr. Chivers [[Rev. Crocker]], requesting him to publish the intended [page 414:] marriage at the earliest opportunity, and intrusted this note to me with the request that I should deliver it in person. The note is still in my possession. I delayed complying with his request, in the hope that the union might yet be prevented. Many of Mrs. W.'s friends deprecated this hasty and imprudent marriage, and it was their urgent solicitations and certain representations which were that afternoon made by them to Mrs. W. and her family, that led to the postponement of the marriage, and eventually to a dissolution of the engagement. In the evening of that day Mr. Poe left for New York. These are the facts which I am ready to make oath to if necessary. You will perceive, therefore, that I did not write unadvisedly in the statements published in the Tribune.

For yourself, Mr. Griswold, I entertain none other than the kindest feelings. I was not surprised that you should have believed those rumors in regard to Poe and his engagement; and although, from a regard to the feelings of the lady, I do not think that a belief in their truth could justify their publication, yet I was not disposed to ascribe to you any wrong motive in presenting them to the public. I supposed rather that, in the hurry of publication, and in the multiplicity of your avocations, you had not given each statement that precise consideration, which less haste and more leisure would have permitted. I was thus easily led to believe from Mrs. Hewitt's letter, that, upon being assured of their incorrectness, and upon learning how exceedingly painful they were to the feelings of the surviving party, you sincerely regretted their publication. I would fain hope so still. In my article in the Tribune, I endeavoured to palliate their publication on your part, and to say every thing in your extenuation, that was [page 415:] consistent with the demands of truth and justice to the parties concerned.

I have only to add, that, in regard to Mr. Poe's intoxication on the evening above alluded to, it was, to all appearances, as purely accidental and unpremeditated, as any similar act of his life. By what system of logic any one should infer that, in this particular instance, it was the result of a malicious purpose and deliberate design, I have never been able to conceive. Surely the circumstance was not of so rare occurrence, as to call for any such speculation as to its cause. The circumstances of the case and his subsequent conduct prove, beyond a doubt, that he had no such design.

With Mr. Poe's Mother in Law, I have no acquaintance. I have never seen her, or corresponded with her. She knew nothing of my intention of publishing the article in the Tribune.

With great respect,  
Your obt. servt.  



[Griswold Collection.]

Friday morn. 20 Sept. [1853?]. [[1850]]

DEAR DOCTOR, — The third volume of Mr. Poe's works has just been sent me from the office. It is got up in a very readable style, and the able manner of its editorship must give satisfaction to friends and foes. I saw by yesterday's Tribune that it is to be [page 416:] published to-morrow. I shall go to Mr. Redfield's in the morning and get several copies. I bought six sets of the first volumes.

Nothing has ever given me so much insight into Mr. Poe's real character as his letters to you, which are published in this third vol. They will not fail to convince the public of the injustice of Graham's and Neal's articles. I was astonished at the part of P.'s Note, where he says — “But I have promised Mrs. L. this.” I will explain. Mrs. C. said to me on one of her visits, “Dr. G. has been to Fordham. He came to see Eddie about you. Something about the new Edition of The Female Poets. But you are not to know anything about it.” Mr. P. never mentioned the subject to me, or I to him. He only sent to me for my latest Poems, saying that you were going to increase or re-write the Sketch for a new Edition of “The Female Poets.”

I have ceased to correspond with Mrs. C. on account of her finding so much fault, and those articles of G.'s and N.'s. I cannot endure ingratitude. I have felt and do feel that you have performed a noble and disinterested part towards Mr. Poe in the editing of his works. At the time you published the article on his death in the Tribune, you did not know that you were his appointed Editor, and therefore, you had a right to say what you thought of his merits and demerits. ...

Yours ever sincerely,  

P. S. As soon as I can get time I will read “The Literati” thoroughly, and write out my impressions, and give some account of Mr. P. and his family, as I knew them. [page 417:]


[From MS. in possession of Miss A. F. Poe.]

NEW YORK, Nov. ’58.

MY DEAR MRS. CLEMM, — I yesterday received your note of November 8th, which was forwarded to me from Providence. I, too, have seen the very unjust & perverted statements to which you allude and regret that a story so false & dishonoring to one whose memory is dear to you should have thus been thoughtlessly republished. You may remember that I wrote you some five or six years ago that a friend of mine (who was authorised to speak on the subject from his personal knowledge of the circumstances) had sent a refutation of the story to the New York Tribune, which refutation has been subsequently republished in various public journals.

I have reason to believe that an article(1) will soon appear in one of our leading magazines which will tend greatly to enlighten the public with regard to this and other unfounded statements in Dr. Griswold's Memoir.

A literary friend of mine at the South, who is deeply interested in all that relates to the character and Genius of Edgar Poe, intends I think to write an essay on the subject — perhaps a Memoir of the author — which will, in a measure, invalidate much that has been so recklessly alleged against him.

When in New York last June I received a card from Mrs. Lewis with an invitation from her, as from [page 418:] the lady at whose house she boarded, to visit them in Irving Place on an evening when they were expecting company. Unable to accept their invitation as I was intending to leave the city I called at the house and supposing you to be Mrs. Lewis's guest enquired for you & her, when I learned with regret that you had left the city. I was accompanied by a southern gentleman who is greatly interested in Edgar's genius & who would gladly have made your acquaintance.

There are one or two subjects on which I wish for information. In the published notices written soon after Mr. Poe's decease I noticed that he had been engaged for two or three months to a lady of Richmond — a widow, beautiful & wealthy, to whom he had been attached years before. No one that I have heard speak on the subject seems to have any definite knowledge in relation to this rumor. Some doubt that there was any foundation for the report, others affirm that it related not to a widow but to Miss Elizabeth White of Richmond, &c. &c. Can you enlighten me on this subject. I have a friend who specially desires information on this point & that from no idle curiosity.

If I should visit Washington this winter I will try to see you. I am at present visiting a friend in New York, but any letter which you may address to me at Providence will be immediately forwarded to me.

Truly & affectionately  
Your friend  

Can you tell me who wrote the “Memoir” prefixed to the Illustrated Poems? [page 419:]


[From MS. in possession of Miss A. F. Poe.]


MY DEAR MRS. CLEMM, — when I received your note of Nov. 7th my mother was just recovering from a severe attack of pleurisy which confined her for many weeks to her chamber. My time was so constantly occupied that until about a week ago I could not find a moment's leisure to reply to you, and even then I was unwilling to write without making some further effort to obtain purchasers for the “Memoir” &c. I have no money of my own but I hoped to make an arrangement with a friend by which I might obtain something to send you. The gentleman to whom I wished to apply was out of Town. After two or three fruitless attempts to see him I obtained an interview which only resulted in disappointment. I can send you my truest sympathy — my most sincere and affectionate wishes for your welfare and happiness. I do not wonder at your wish to be with your Southern friends, although I should feel truly sorry to have you leave the North without seeing you.

Had I a home of my own how earnestly I should wish to have you with me — to hear you speak of him whose memory is so dearly cherished by us. Can you tell me what has become of my letters? Mr. Griswold wrote me some two years ago that he understood they had been returned to me, but as I have never received them I presume he must have been mistaken in his impressions in relation to the matter.

Mr., or rather Dr. Thomas Chivers wrote to Mr. Pabodie a few days ago requesting him to send him [page 420:] your address. He is writing a life of Edgar and probably wishes to make some enquiries of you. He also wished Mr. Pabodie to obtain a daguerreotype of him which was taken at one of the offices when Edgar was in Providence. You ask about Mrs. J. E. Locke. I have seen her but once for the last three years, and then only for a few moments. It was in September last. She called on me as she was passing through Providence on her way to Philadelphia. She was going there to pass a few weeks with a friend. I presume she is now in Boston. They are at housekeeping in Bedford place. In the spring of 1849 I received many letters from Mrs L. urging me to visit her at Lowell. She was at that time a stranger to me and I of course declined the invitation. She, however, would take no denial & renewed her entreaties so pressingly & with such earnest assurances of having important information to impart, which could not be entrusted to a letter, that I at length consented to pass a week with her. It was in the month of May 1849. Her object in seeking my acquaintance was unquestionably to prevent any renewal of my correspondence with Mr. Poe, by whom she conceived herself to have been deeply wronged. During the summer of 1849 I received many letters from her in which there were frequently allusions to the subject that so deeply engrossed her feelings. I saw however that she was too much under the influence of wounded pride to exercise a calm judgment in the matter, and said but little in reply to her representations. After Mr. Poe's death she wrote to me to say that he had spoken disrespectfully of me to his friends in Lowell. In my reply I made no allusion whatever to the paragraph in question — In her next letter she repeated the assertion — [page 421:] I passed it in silence as before. She then came to Providence and passed a night with me. On her attempting to introduce the subject which she had so often touched upon in her letters, I interrupted her by saying that I did not wish to listen to any charges against one whose memory was dear and sacred to me — that if false they could not now be refuted — if true I could understand and forgive them. This, (and my refusal to show her the note which you wrote me respecting a farewell message from Edgar said to have been forwarded her through me) led to a partial estrangement of feeling, and although we occasionally exchange letters, it is with increasing reserve & formality. She has, I doubt not, many noble & generous qualities, but they were, when I saw her, repressed by antagonistic feelings.

I fear, from her own confessions, that she has sometimes used my name very unwarrantably to endorse her own opinions of Mr. Poe's character. In a letter to Mr. Willis written about the time of Edgar's death she ventured to do so — citing me as authority for some impressions which she entertained with regard to his moral character. I wrote to Miss Lynch at the time, requesting her to set Mr. Willis right on this matter, but as some coolness then existed between Miss Lynch & myself I am ignorant whether the request was ever complied with.

Let me hear from you soon and

believe me sincerely and truly  
Your friend  

[page 422:]


[From MS. in possession of Miss A. F. Poe.]

NEW YORK, March 10, 1859.

MY DEAR MRS. CLEMM, — I thank you for your kind letter. All that you have told me is interesting. There are one or two questions that I should like to ask of you. Did Edgar go twice to Richmond during the last Summer of his life — the Summer of 1849? If you could tell me anything in relation to the period of Mrs. Stannard's death it would be interesting to me. I will tell you why. Edgar told me once about going to her house with Robert, who was at the time I think a schoolmate of his. She was very kind to Edgar, and when she died very suddenly, a few weeks after, he felt such sorrow for her death (as he told me) that he used to go every night to the cemetery where she was buried; leaving school, or Academy, privately to visit it. He told me much that was very interesting about his sorrow at her death, though he had only once seen her. For this reason I wish to know if possible the period of her death. Perhaps some of her friends can tell you. Can you tell me who wrote the Memoir prefixed to the Illustrated Poems? Mr. O’Connor tells me he thinks it may have been Briggs. Do you know?

I did not see Mrs. Lewis, nor have I ever seen her. I should like to see Edgar's letter to you and also the letter of Mrs. Shelton. I will return them to you as soon as I have read them & will consider their contents as sacred.(1) [page 423:]

I have only peaceful & happy thoughts in view of the change which seems so near. I have long anticipated it as a translation to a fairer life — a life of increased capacities for happiness and opportunities for beneficence.

It is pleasant to me to be remembered in your prayers. In mine I have often remembered you. I have been too ill since I have been in N. York to see any one — even my dearest friends.

Will you accept the enclosed note (I wish it were more) and believe me ever

Most truly your friend,  

Did Edgar's grandfather live in Baltimore & can you tell me from what part of the old world his paternal ancestors came? I am greatly interested in genealogy & have a particular reason for wishing to know.


[From MS. in possession of Miss A. F. Poe.]

NEW YORK, April 4th, 1859.

MY DEAR MRS. CLEMM, — Some time in November last I received from you a letter in which you spoke of the Memoir prefixed to the Illustrated Volume of Edgar's Poems, regretting the misrepresentations of injurious statements that were reprinted in it & requesting me to write for your friends a statement which should remove the effect they were calculated to induce.

I answered your letter, I think, by return of mail, complying with your wish & asking from you some information with regard to Edgar's reported marriage [page 424:] engagements with a lady of Richmond whose name I did not then know, but which I have since learned through Mrs. Anna Cora Ritchie of that city. Will you tell me something of this lady? I remember that Edgar spoke of her when he was in Providence during the autumn of 1848. He spoke of having thought of renewing with her an earlier attachment previous to visiting Providence, &c. &c. But at that time I think he told Mr. Pabodie that the years of their separation had greatly changed the tastes & idiosyncrasies of both and that there seemed but little chance of happiness for either in a renewal of their earlier relations.

After the unhappy incidents which terminated my engagement with Edgar, I believe his attentions to this lady were renewed.

Did he love Mrs. Shelton at the time of his death & were they indeed engaged? I should like to hear from you the history of this affair respecting which such various rumours have reached me.

I was in Washington for a few weeks in February and sought in vain to learn the address of Mr. Johnson, or I should have made an effort to see you. I was very unwell during my visit there and am so still. My physicians tell me that I may die very suddenly with a complaint of the heart which has caused me great suffering for more than a year & which rapidly increases. I have one or two other questions to ask of you — I wish very much to know the date of Mrs. Helen Stannard's death — I mean the wife of Judge Stannard of Richmond, the mother of the late Robert Stannard. Can you ascertain this for me — & can you tell me whether Mr. Allan was twice married? — I ask the question because Mrs. Ritchie (who is intimately acquainted with Mrs. Allan, the widow of Mr. [page 425:] Allan) writes that he was only once married, while Griswold gives the very date at which the former Mrs. Allan died — & also says that Edgar “accompanied Mr. & Mrs. Allan to England.” Any facts which you can give me in relation to these matters will deeply interest me. While at Georgetown with my cousin the Rev. N. Power Tillinghast he spoke of his neighbour Mr. George Poe as a relative of Edgar's. Can you tell me in what degree? I have some doubts whether my last letter ever reached you. Will you have the kindness, dear Madame, to write me a line on receiving this & direct to the Care of Horace H. Day, 23 Cortlandt St., New York?

Yours very affectionately,  

Have you heard of the death of Mrs. Jane E. Locke? I saw it not long ago in the Boston papers.


[From MS. in possession of Miss A. F. Poe.]

NEW YORK, April 5th, 1859.

MY DEAR MRS. CLEMM, — Your kind & very interesting letter should have been sooner acknowledged but I have been very unwell since I received it & have moreover been pressed by very urgent engagements. I know you will forgive me. Mrs. R.'s letters are full of such genuine love for you that I know they must be very dear to you. I am afraid you may have been anxious about them.

I return them with many thanks. They indicate a very sweet & sincere nature. I am going to the sea-coast [page 426:] near Portland to-morrow rather unexpectedly & am to-day very much hurried by preparations, but I cannot leave without returning your letters & expressing to you my gratitude for your kindness in sending them.

I wrote during the past year an article about Mr. Poe — a protest against the very unjust estimates that have been formed of his character & genius — which I think you will like. It alludes very briefly & remotely to personal matters and has NO reference to the incidents connected with the two last years of his life. But I think it will very essentially modify the popular judgment — at least if it should obtain an extensive circulation. It has been seen by some of the best scholars & critics of my acquaintance & highly approved by them — It was read by the editor of an influential Religious Monthly & by him commended to the Editors of the Atlantic. After detaining it three months it was rejected without explanation. I believe that Mr. Lowell is not disposed to look favourably upon anything written in Edgar's favor.

My friends wish me to prepare for a second edition of my poems & if I also publish a small volume of prose I shall include the article of which I speak. I wish you would tell me the year of your father's death & his age at the time of his death. I should like (purely through a private interest in the matter) to know the name of the M. L. S. to whom the last verses in the “poems” are addressed.

I have heard Edgar speak of the circumstances under which he composed the poem of Ulalume. — It purports to have been suggested by a midnight walk on the Anniversary of a burial — and it is my impression that he told me it was so written. But Virginia died in January, did she not? — And the poem was professedly [page 427:] written in October — perhaps the correspondence in time was purely ideal — I know he described the emotions themselves as real. I rode last Sunday with some friends to High Bridge & remembered as I walked there much that Edgar had told me of his love for that place & his habit of walking there at all hours.

If you write to me address your letter to me at Providence, R. I.

I shall hope to hear from you during the week — but do not trouble yourself to write if you feel unequal to it —

I will write again before long.

Your affectionate friend  


[From MS. in possession of Miss A. F. Poe.]

NEW YORK, April 17th, ’59.

MY DEAR MRS. CLEMM, — I thank you for your very kind letter & for the papers which you entrusted to me. I found them very interesting, but VERY sad. My heart ached to think on the sorrows of those last fatal days. Yet doubtless all was for the best. Believe that his parting prayer was accepted & that his redeemed spirit is unfolding and expanding into diviner harmonics with the spirits of those who best loved him & whom he best loved on earth as in heaven —

What you tell me of Mrs. Stannard perplexes me — If she died only 26 years ago, Edgar could not have been at the Academy in Richmond at that time — he would have been 22 years old — Yet I so well remember that he described to me his sorrow at hearing of her [page 428:] death while in school, & told me of his solitary visits to the cemetery. Was the cemetery in the city or was it only in the neighborhood of Richmond? — Is there not a mistake about the period of her death? —

I was particularly interested in what you told me about Edgar's grandfather having been born in Ireland. I will tell you why. Mr. Poe was one day speaking to me of the marked resemblances in certain of our tastes & habits of thought, some of which might almost be termed idiosyncrasies, yet were common to both. Assenting to what he said, I added — “Do you know it has just occurred to me that we may have come from distant branches of the same family and that the name of Power as well as that of Poe are both variations from the name as originally spelled — I think the correct orthography of the name in both instances is Poer.” He looked suddenly up with an expression of surprise & pleasure on his face, & said “Helen, you startle me! for among some papers of my grandfather's there is one in which some reference is made to a certain Chevalier Le Poer who was a friend of the Marquis de Grammont & a relative of our family.” He said at the time that he would at some future day show me this paper and seemed very much interested in the matter. My father's ancestors were of an Anglo-Norman family who went over to Ireland in the time of Henri II. The founder of the family in Ireland was, I think, Sir Roger Le Poer, who went to Ireland as Marshal to Prince John in the reign of Henry II. The name of Poer is by the historians of Ireland spelled sometimes as Power & sometimes as Poer or De Le Poer. I knew nothing about the old style of spelling the name at the time when I expressed to Edgar my belief that our names had a common origin. I have been so strongly impressed [page 429:] within a few years with the idea that Edgar's family on his father's side came from Ireland that I requested my aunt Mrs. J. L. Tillinghast, who now resides with her son at Georgetown, to enquire of Mr. George Poe about the origin of the family. He had forgotten or had never known. The information that you have given me on the subject is therefore very interesting to me — My Aunt says that Mr. Poe (who before he became a Catholic was a member or an attendant of her son's church in Georgetown) looks very much as my father looked in the later years of his life.

I do not know that these things will interest you, but they may do so. I tell them to you simply to show you how interesting to me in connection with this conversation was your intelligence. I have been for several years past very much interested in genealogical researches, and anything in relation to your father's family will interest me. The name of your mother, too — I should like to learn. Can you tell me whether Edgar's father ever was in England — or did he meet his wife Miss Arnold in this country — I think she was of English birth — & did Edgar's father adopt the stage as a profession? I know it has been so stated, & again I have heard the statement contradicted. Can you tell me whether an article in Griswold's Edition of Edgar's works entitled Landor's Cottage was ever published before it appeared there — I mean was it ever published in a magazine? Did I ask you if you knew the name of the author of the Memoir prefixed to the Illustrated Edition of Edgar's Poems? I think I did, but you do not allude to it in your letter.

Do you still maintain friendly relations with the lady in Lowell of whom Edgar writes, and does she still cherish his memory? I have never seen her. [page 430:]

There are many things which I should like to learn of you, but I am suffering to-day with such a deadly weight about my heart that I must only say how grateful I am to you for entrusting me with the papers which I return to you — I think I can understand all the motives that influenced Edgar in those last days & can see how the desire to provide a home & friends for you swayed him in all. Your friend




Aug. 19, 1860.

Oh, how supremely happy we were in our dear cottage home! We three lived only for each other. Eddie rarely left his beautiful home. I attended to his literary business, for he, poor fellow, knew nothing about money transactions. How should he, brought up in luxury and extravagance?

He passed the greater part of the morning in his study, and, after he had finished his task for the day, he worked in our beautiful flower garden, or read and recited poetry to us. Every one who knew him intimately loved him. Judges pronounced him the best conversationalist living. We had very little society except among the literati, but this was exceedingly pleasant.

[Signature missing.]

[page 431:]



Aug. 26, 1860.

... It is utterly false the report of his being faithless or unkind to her.(1) He was devoted to her until the last hour of her death, as all our friends can testify. ... I enclose you two of Eddie's letters. ... The other was written at the time you generously offered to take my darling Virginia. I wrote to Eddie asking his advice, and this is his answer. Does the affection then expressed look as if he could ever cease to love her? And he never did.

[Signature missing.]


[From MS. in possession of Miss A. F. Poe.]

Sunday Eve, June 15 [no year].

MY DARLING MUDDIE, — Notwithstanding my last letter to you remains unanswered, I will not let pass an opportunity of writing to you. — I am alone in the house & oh how I wish my own precious Muddie could sit down beside me, if only for one hour, this night — do you think we shall ever meet again on earth? Sometimes I think it is impossible, then I feel that I must see you & that some good angel will bring about a meeting for us — I so long to hear your voice calling me again, “Annie” “dear Annie,” as you have so often called me, & as he used to call me, oh so tenderly — Muddie, was there ever a voice so [page 432:] sweet? As the years go by & I see others who are called refined & elegant among men, I realize more fully his superiority — I look in vain for a brow that will compare with his — for such a carriage — such grace & dignity combined — again & again I have replied to those who have asked me if such & such a man were not a “perfect gentleman” that I had never yet seen but one man, I deemed worthy to bear that title & Muddie I know I shall never see another, for there can never be another like him. — Muddie, I have something sad to tell you — some one has stolen my Daguerreotype of him. Since we came to this house I have kept it in a drawer of a little table, in the parlor with some twenty others. About six months ago I missed it, & for a long time supposed some one must have taken it to have copied & would bring it back, but now that I have asked everybody I can think of & can get no clue to it, I am perfectly wretched; — true I have the crayon, but that is not nearly so good. Oh Muddle do put yours under lock & key & keep it always safe! Can you have a card photograph taken from it, where you are? But Muddle dear Muddie, you will leave me the Daguerreotype, if God should take you first, won’t you? I will not claim another thing, for I have the next dearest treasure you possess — the locket with the hair — that is always under lock & key, & the picture used to be, but I had to go for it so often, that I finally left it down stairs for a few weeks, never once dreaming but it would be safe. — Oh Muddle, if you did but realize how unhappy it makes me, I am store you would promise that if I outlive you, yours shall be mine — I will promise you to keep that safely, for I will not allow it to be seen even. So many of his admirers [page 433:] have wanted to borrow mine to have it copied, but I never once lent it — I was so fearful some accident might befall it. I have promised to have it copied myself & really did intend to, for there are a few persons I would be glad to have own it, because they would thoroughly value & esteem it. I am sorry to pain you by telling you of it, but Muddie it was not from any carelessness, or I never could forgive myself — it may yet be returned, I cannot but hope — still the possibility that it may not, makes me so anxious that you guard yours with tenfold care — if you can have it copied there, I will send the money, if the pictures are good — there are so few good photographers, & so many miserable pictures palmed off upon people that I am almost afraid to trust its being done well — but you can tell me what you think about it(1)


[From MS. in possession of Miss A. F. Poe.]

BROOKLYN, N. Y., Jan. 31st, 1865.

MY DEAR MRS. CLEMM, — You must not think that I have forgotten you because I did not answer your letter before this, or immediately after I received it, — the truth of the matter is I have not been very well, besides I am forced to keep so close at work, day and evening, that I have not as much time for my pleasures — and the greatest of all is to write to you, one for whom I have so much love and respect.

You know how much respect I have for the memory of Eddie, — a memory that takes its grace from [page 434:] his great genius, and as I always believed him to have had a gentler and nobler nature, — I have of late felt it a sacred duty to see justice done his likeness; — all the pictures, that have as yet been published of him, or prefixed to his Poems, are to me perfect failures. I have photographed the Daguerreotype of him, which is in my possession, and which in my opinion is excellent, as I remember him (I think) in 1849 or 50, and have been working it up in water colors for the purpose of presenting it to the L. I. Historical Society,(1) — therefore I desire it to be the authentic likeness of our great Poet. You know how much he has of late advanced in public estimation; like the sweet bard of Avon, his great worth and merit was not felt and known till after his death, and Poe, like the great Shakspeare, will keep on growing until his stature has its proper height and fullness. —

Now, dear Muddie, will you please sit down when you feel well enough, and write me a full and careful description of the color of his eyes, his hair, his complexion, &c. &c. As I remember him I think his eyes were of a dreamy hazel color, and his complexion much the same as my own; please tell me if I am right; — you know this is no more than justice to Eddie's memory, as well as a duty which we owe to the future. —

There have been so many strange statements made as to the circumstances under which he wrote the Raven, that some time you will relate the true ones to me so as to preserve facts for the future — Next week I shall send a small Box, &c.

Ever yours,  
G. H[arrison].

[page 435:]



August 25, 1873.

No such scene as that described by Dr. Griswold ever transpired in my presence. No one, certainly no woman, who had the slightest acquaintance with Edgar Poe, could have credited the story for an instant. He was essentially and instinctively a gentleman, utterly incapable, even in moments of excitement and delirium, of such an outrage as Dr. Griswold has ascribed to him. No authentic anecdote of coarse indulgence in vulgar orgies or bestial riot has ever been recorded of him. During the last years of his unhappy life, whenever he yielded to the temptation that was drawing him into its fathomless abyss, as with the resistless swirl of the maelstrom, he always lost himself in sublime rhapsodies on the evolution of the universe, speaking as from some imaginary platform to vast audiences of rapt and attentive listeners. During one of his visits to this city, in the autumn of 1848, I once saw him after one of those nights of wild excitement, before reason had fully recovered its throne. Yet even then, in those frenzied moments when the doors of the mind's “Haunted Palace” were left unguarded, his words were the words of a princely intellect overwrought, and of a heart only too sensitive and too finely strung. I repeat that no one acquainted with Edgar Poe could have given Dr. Griswold's scandalous anecdote a moment's credence.

Yours, etc.,  

[page 436:]


[From MS. in possession of Miss A. F. Poe.]

MY DEAR SIR, — Edgar A. Poe was a wonderful man, and he has never had justice done him. Of late I have had some correspondence with a Mr. Ingram who is preparing a life to appear with the works of Poe, by and by. I have sent him all that remains of a correspondence after the great fire and the pillage I have been subjected to by autograph hunters. Most happy should I be if in my power, to witness the ceremony, the inauguration of Poe's monument: for after all the abominable calumnies that have been circulated against him both abroad and at home, he stands higher to-day in the estimation of hundreds of poets, than he ever did while on earth. He says in one of his letters, which I have sent a copy of to London, that I gave him the first push in his upward career, and for that reason was bound to keep him moving.

Respectfully yours,  

PORTLAND, MAINE, Nov. 3/1875.



DEAR SIR, — From my near acquaintance with Edgar A. Poe at the time “The Raven” was written, I have no doubt that your theory as to the source of the inspiration of The Raven is in the main correct. It was his foible to mislead and mystify his readers.

His published analysis of “The Raven” is a good specimen of his capability in this kind of fiction. [page 437:]

Your impression that the poet was accessible to fear, is entirely correct. He was singularly sensitive to outside influences, more so than most imaginative men.

His organization, as I have always said, was extremely delicate and fine. Hence his impressibility and subjection at times to influences which would not have a feather's weight with ordinary men.

Even when absorbed in writing, I noticed that a sudden breath of air, a noise unheard by others around him, would startle him.

He disliked the dark, and was rarely out at night when I knew him. On one occasion he said to me, “I believe that demons take advantage of the night to mislead the unwary” — “although, you know,” he added, “I don’t believe in them.”

The mysteries of his inner life were never revealed to any one, but his intimates well understood that to mystify his hearer was a strong element of his mind.

Yours very truly,  

NEW YORK, May 1, 1877.


[From MS. in possession of Mrs. W. M. Griswold.]

WASHINGTON, D. C., Jan. 10th, 1895.

MY DEAR SIR, — The incident to which I alluded(1) was as follows: —

Poe called on me one day in great glee and said: “I have a good joke on Griswold. I met him the other day and suggested to him that he should get me [page 438:] through his publishers to write a review of his last work, ‘The Poets and Poetry of America.’ He said it would be a good idea and that he would speak to his publishers about it and said, ‘I am sure they’ll pay fairly and I think you can go on and do the work without waiting.’ ” “Well, I wrote the review, and a few days after handed it to him, when he gave me the money for it from the publishers.” “Well,” I said, “this is nothing more than the ordinary booksellers’ advice and I dare say your review was a fair one and will be of use to the work.” “There lies the joke,” he replied. “I began at the very beginning and did not allow a single merit in the book: I assailed it to the extent of my powers and should like to have seen Griswold's face as he read the manuscript.” I looked at him and said, “That is a very good joke doubtless for you, but Griswold and the publishers paid you; of course, you returned the money?” “No,” said he, “I spent it.” He had not the least idea that he had been doing a very contemptible thing, and it was impossible to get angry with him because, in spite of his unsurpassed ability in certain lines of literary work, he was in morals an absolute idiot.

In other instances I remember that he showed this lack of appreciation of right and wrong, and one of them was his trip to Boston. He carne to me one day looking very dilapidated and I knew from that fact he was just recovering from indulging to excess in liquor, for Poe was naturally a very neat man in his person and dressed with great care even when poorest. Whenever you found him slovenly or careless in his dress you knew that he was on a drinking bout or he had been on one. I said to him rather testily, “You have been on another of your sprees.” “Well,” he said, “it [page 439:] is the last, I never intend going on another.” I said, “I have heard that so often it has lost its force with me, but what can I do for you, what do you want?” “Well,” said he, “I don’t know what to do, I am in a strait.” “What is the matter?” “Well, you see they have invited me in Boston to deliver an original poem and I have been in a condition that I am unable to do it; I have got to go next week.” “Well,” I said, “write to them that you have been indisposed, because you have been. I consider it a case of disease in you, and postpone the event.” “But,” said he, “I want the money.” “Well,” I said, “you can’t get the money without you earn it.” He said, I’ll fix it,” and went off. The next thing I heard was that he went down to Boston and read “Al Aaraaf,” a poem which he wrote when he was a young man, (he said when he was a boy, but that is another of his figments). They were disappointed. It was not what they expected, but they treated him with great courtesy, gave him a supper, and speaking under the influence of champagne and excitement, he let the facts out. Of course, they became very indignant, and when Poe came back he wrote an article in the “Broadway Journal” in which he assumed that he had gone there with this poem in order to test their acumen. He had not the least notion that he was doing anything wrong. He never had. Anything that he did was right, regardless of its morality or lack of it, and everything he said for a purpose was true to him, however false it might be. I could cite numerous instances of his recklessness of assertion and bold statement without basis. In morals, as I have said before, he was an idiot. To hold such a man responsible for his deeds or sayings is absurd. [page 440:]

In time you will vindicate your father from the charges made against him. These arose from the disappointed ambition of other parties: when he prepared his work on “The Poets and Poetry of America,” the best ever seen of its kind, he made enemies not only of those whom he omitted but of those he did admit where he did not give them great prominence or tickle their vanity. They followed him not only to the day of his death but after it, and slandered him most abominably, as I know. He suppressed much about Poe that he might have said, and much about Poe would have been lost but for the industry of Ingram, who in his anxiety to out “Boswell Boswell” raised from the dust letters that utterly damaged Poe's reputation.

Your father was made to pose before the public as a man without a heart, which was just the reverse of his principal characteristic. He had a great reserve where he could have done much mischief without passing the bounds of truth, and where he could do a service for another he always rendered it freely. There was the instance of “Gaslight” Foster in which he labored hard to prevent that unfortunate man from the results of his indiscretion and succeeded, without receiving, so far as I can learn, any show of gratitude in return.



[The following footnote appeared at the bottom of page 371:]

1.  This group of letters concerns Poe's application for a cadet's warrant to enter the United States Military Academy at West Point, after his resignation from the army. He had entered the army under the assumed name of Edgar A. Perry.

We take our copies from the originals — verified at the War Department through the courtesy of Prof. E. R. Rawson.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 382:]

1.  Then editor of the “Daily Madisonian,” a Tyler organ.

2.  This letter to George R. Graham of “Graham's Magazine” is in reply to an accusation of plagiarism brought against Longfellow by Poe. — ED.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 385:]

1.  Here follow Motherwell's “Bonnie George Campbell,” and Wolf's German translation “Der Gute George Campbell.”

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 388:]

1.  Permission of Harper & Bros.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 397:]

1.  This letter from “Elmira” (Mrs. Shelton) seems to clinch the fact that she was now in good faith engaged to Poe.

2.  Neilson Poe (afterwards Judge Poe) was Poe's second cousin and had married Virginia Poe's half-sister.

3.  In her agitation Mrs. Clemm writes “ ’45” For the year date instead of ’49, and “Nelson” for Neilson.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 399:]

1.  See Biography, p. 339

2.  This pathetic letter with all its incoherence has been left in its original punctuation by the editor.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 405:]

1.  John R. Thompson, the poet, was editor of the “Southern Literary Messenger” for several years, succeeding Dr. B. B. Minor in 1847; afterwards literary editor of the “New York Evening Post.” — ED.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 415:]

1.  “Stella.”

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 417:]

1.  This refers to Mrs. Whitman's own “Edgar Poe and his Critics.” The article was sent to “The Atlantic Monthly,” then edited by James Russell Lowell, but was declined. — ED.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 422:]

1.  Mrs. Whitman was then apparently at work on her “Edgar Poe and his Critics,” which appeared shortly afterward. Mrs. Shelton's letter will he found on page 396. — ED.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 431:]

1.  Virginia.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 433:]

1.  Here ensues a break in the MS.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 434:]

1.  The portrait is in the rooms of the Society in Brooklyn. (See frontispiece to this volume.) — ED.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 437:]

1.  Cf. Poe-English controversy, page 233.





[S:1 - JAH17, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - Complete Works of E. A. Poe (Vol. 17 - Letters) (J. A. Harrison) (Chapter 14)