Text: Gabriel Harrison, “Edgar Allan Poe,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY), vol. 36, no. 273, November 17, 1875, p. 4, col. 4, middle


[page 4, column 4, continued:]


Some Reminiscences of His Old Friend Gabriel Harrison.

To the Editor of the Brooklyn Eagle:

I read in Saturday’s EAGLE an interesting article on Edgar A. Poe, in connection with the creation of a monument to his memory at Baltimore. In the conclusion of your article, you remarked that I had been as well acquainted with Poe as if he had been a member of the Faust Club, which is a fact. Hence, without the slightest desire to thrust my name forward in connection with his, while some few good citizens of Baltimore are doing something by way of honor to his memory and his genius, I propose to recall some circumstances of my acquaintance with Poe, which I think may be of interest at the present moment, and more especially so, when I can say a good thing about the best abused man this country has produced.


It was in the Fall of 1843 or ’44 that I first became acquainted with Poe. At that time I was the President of the White Eagle Club, New York, and kept a tea store on the southeast corner of Broadway and Prince street, then Mr. William Niblo’s property. One evening I observed a person looking intently through my windows at a display of some Virginia leaf tobacco. After some minutes he entered the store, spoke of the beauty of the leaf and its quality. He took a very small bit of it in his mouth, and further remarked that he might be considered a small user of the Solace. In a few days after he called again. On this occasion I was endeavoring to compose a campaign song for my club. I acquainted him with the fact, and while I was waiting upon a customer, he had composed a song to the measure and time of the “Star Spangled Banner.” It was used by the club successfully through the campaign of 1844. I was exceedingly pleased with it and ready to present him with all the tobacco I had in my store, the most of which he respectfully declined.

On his departure, I requested the name of my stranger friend, which he left as Thaddeus K. Peasly, Here, to keep any story whole, I must introduce the celebrated poet,


with whom I was well acquainted, and who at that time was in the office of John Jacob Astor, a little brick building, then situated on the north side of Prince street, west of Broadway. In the evenings, Mr. Halleck frequently visited me, and behind a pile of tea chests, with which I had partitioned off a little room, we would sit in company with old Grant Thorburn, who kept a floral depot next door to me, and would listen to his stories of old New York.

Incidentally, we three lords of the hour, snugly ensconced behind our China walls, would embellish our evening’s entertainment with occasional tastes of my several wines, for which I had not a very large sale, and about which, both the wine and the slow sale, none of us three were much troubled. On one of these occasions, when Mr. Halleck was leaving my store, he met the socalled Peasly entering it, whom he hailed as Poe. An explanation was soon made, and in a few moments we were behind those blessed walls, smiling over the nom de plume of Thaddeus K. Peasley. From this moment Poe and I became well acquainted with each other, and from 1844 to 1847, whenever he was in the city we frequently met. We talked, walked, and drank together; and here I can attest, that in all my intimacy with Mr. Poe I never saw him in a state of what might be termed intoxication, nor was his conduct any other than such as befitted a gentleman. I ever found him a man of the most refined sensibilities. He always dressed his sentiments, in conversation, in the most exquisite drapery of words. In his talks he always inspired me to the closest attention, and if today I have any appreciation of the English and American poets, I am indebted to Poe for the knowledge, and thank my stars that I met him on the wayside of this covetous world.


When I first knew him he was slim in stature, a pale face with a melancholy expression, and a handsome mouth, remarkable for its compression. His eyes were full of thoughtfulness, with the ends of the brows slightly turned upward, presenting an expression of painful sadness. His dress was characteristic of the gentleman. His coat, generally buttoned close up to the neck, a black stock, with rounded corners to his collars, amply extending over it. His walk was always slow, with not an over graceful swing of his rather large hands. His voice was somewhat sweet, but his articulation was remarkably fine, and he might be termed an admirable elocutionist in conversation.

I made the acquaintance of


the mother[[-]]n[[-]]law of Mr. Poe, at the residence of Mrs. S. D. Lewis, of this city, with whom she resided for several years after Poe’s death. We became fond of each other, and our friendship lasted up to the hour of her death, which took place at a worthy institution called “Church Home,” in Baltimore. It affords me much pleasure to state from my own personal knowledge, that Mr. S. D. Lewis was one of the best friends that Mrs. Clemm had after her “dear Eddy’s” death. Many a package of delicacies I have known him to send to that nasty [[?]] old lady while she was an inmate of the “Church Home.” No Holy-day came, Christmas or Thanksgiving, that did not carry the evidence of Lewis’ noble heart toward Mrs. Clemm.

In regard to Mr. Poe’s likeness, let me add a few words which I consider of large importance. I had made an excellent daguerreotype of Mr. Poe, and as there was no likeness of him extant in colors, I embraced the opportunity before Mrs. Clemm’s death, to finish in water colors a picture of him, under her immediate supervision, that I might get his complexion, with the color of his eyes and hair, as correct as possible. In this, I succeeded to Mrs. Clemm’s perfect satisfaction. This picture, for safe keeping, I presented to the Long Island Historical Society. On the occasion when I visited Mrs. Clemm, at the Church Home, for the purpose of my picture of Poe, in the fullness of her kind heart, she took from her finger her own wedding ring and that of Poe’s wife, solidified into one, and which Poe wore up to the hour of his death, and presented it to me. This also I presented to the same Society. With the ring she gave me his moustache scissors and pocket comb. The scissors I presented to Mr. Chandos Fulton, an ardent admirer as well as defender of Poe’s genius and character. The pocket comb was nearly worn out by its use, and, in respect to his memory, I have snugly tucked it away in an old trunk in which I keep all the heart treasures of my life. I often look at it, but always when I do so, it is under the smarting remembrance of Poe’s cowardly and vehement defamers. Poe had his faults, unquestionably, but none that I ever saw, were they mine, would I blush to confess to the world. I could say much more of interest on the subject of Poe’s characteristics, but fearing I have already taken too much valuable space in your paper, I respectfully subscribe myself for truth and candor.




The Faust Club was a Brooklyn social club for journalists, artists, actors, and musicians. It was organized in December 1864, but ran out of money and folded in 1875. The club printed an edition of Furman’s Notes on Brooklyn in 1865 (from the original edition of 1824), and installed a statue of John Howard Payne by Henry Baerer in Prospect Park in 1873, the same year that American composer Henry Chadwick published his Faust Club Polka. As an artist, musician and one-time actor, Harrison was presumably a member. The White Eagle Club was a political organization in support of Democrat James K. Polk.

The word “nasty” used in regard to Mrs. Clemm must be a misreading or error by the typesetter, or some exceedinly idiosyncratic meaning by Harrison. The usual meaning of the word certainly does not fit with Harrison’s general tone in speaking of Mrs. Clemm.


[S:1 - BDE, 1875] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - Edgar Allan Poe (G. Harrison, 1875)