Text: John H. Ingram, “Appendix E,” Edgar Allan Poe: Life, Letters, and Opinions (1880), pp. 263-288


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[page 263:]

APPENDIX E.

THE POE MEMORIAL, BALTIMORE.

ALTHOUGH most people appear to have felt that Edgar Allan Poe, of all his countrymen, least needed a marble monument to perpetuate his name, the feelings which prompted the erection of one by his fellow-citizens were, doubtless, generous and praiseworthy; and as evidence of such public appreciation, apart from the fact that it was the first memorial ever raised to a poet in America, the Baltimore monument deserves something more here than passing mention. On the 17th of November f875 the long talked of cenotaph was unveiled, amid a large concourse of people who had assembled to witness, or to take part in, the ceremonies connected with the event. The proceedings were inaugurated by music, after which Professor William Elliott, Jr., delivered the following address, recounting the history of the movement that culminated in that day’s celebration: —

“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, — I purpose, in discharging the duty assigned me on this occasion, to give a brief historical sketch of the movement which culminates to-day in the dedication of a monument to the memory of the great American poet, Edgar Allan Poe, the first and only memorial expression of the kind ever given to an American on account of literary excellence. [page 264:]

“This extraordinary and unique genius, born in Boston, January 20th,* 1809, during a brief sojourn of his parents in that place, died on the 7th of October 1849, in this city, which is undoubtedly entitled to claim him as one of her distinguished sono Two days thereafter, on the 9th of October, his mortal remains were interred in the cemetery attached to the Westminster Presbyterian Church, adjoining the building in which we are now assembled.

In this connection, acting as a truthful chronicler, I deem it proper to state some facts in relation to the circumstances of the interment. The reliability of the statement I shall now make is sufficiently attested by the evidence of at least three of the gentlemen present on that occasion — possibly the only three who yet survive.

“I have been informed that the day was, for the season, . more than ordinarily unpleasant, the weather being raw and cold; indeed, just such a day as it would have been more comfortable to spend within than without doors.

“The time of the interment was four o‘clock in the afternoon; the attendance of persons at the grave, possibly in consequence of the state of the weather, was limited to eight, certainly to not more than nine, one being a lady.

“Of the number known to have been present were the Hon. Z. C. Lee, a classmate of the deceased at the University of Virginia; Henry Herring, Esq., a connection of Mr. Poe; Rev. W. T. D. Clemm, a relative of Mr. Poe’s wife; our well-known fellow-citizen Neilson Poe, Esq., a cousin of the poet; Edmund Smith, Esq., and wife, the latter being a first cousin of Poe, and at this time his nearest [page 265:] living relative in this city; and possibly Dr. Snodgrass, the editor of the Saturday Visiter, the paper in which the prize story written by Poe first made its appearance. The clergyman who officiated at the grave was Rev. W. T. D. Clemm, already mentioned, a member of the Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, who read the impressive burial service used by that denomination of Christians, after which all that was mortal of Edgar Allan Poe was gently committed to its mother earth.

“Another item, which it may not be inappropriate to record in this historical compend, I will now mention, namely; that George W. Spence, who officiated as sexton at the burial of Mr. Poe, is the same person who, after the lapse of twenty-six years, has superintended the removal of his remains, and those of his loving and beloved mother-in-law, Mrs. Clemm, and their reinterment in the lot in which the monument now stands.

“For a number of years after the burial of the poet no steps seem to have been taken toward marking his grave, until at length a stone was prepared for this purpose by order of Neilson Poe, Esq. Unfortunately, however, this stone never served the purpose for which it was designed. A train of cars accidentally ran into the establishment of Mr. Hugh Sisson, at which place the stone was at the time, and so damaged it as to render it unfit to be used as intended.

“Another series of years intervened, but yet no movement to mark the grave. True, articles almost innumerable, ad nauseam, made their appearance at short intervals during that time in different newspapers, but the authors [page 266:] of those articles were mostly of that class of persons who employ their energies in finding fault with others, totally oblivious of the fact that they themselves no leas deserved the censure they so liberally meted out.

“‘Poe’s neglected grave’ was the stereotyped expression of these modern Jeremiahs. Nor were they content to indulge in lamentations; not unfrequently our good city was soundly berated because of its alleged want of appreciation of the memory of one whose ashes, they intimated, had he been an Englishman, instead of filling an unmarked grave in an obscure cemetery, would have had accorded to them a place in that grand old abbey which England has appropriated as a mausoleum for her distinguished dead.

“But the ‘neglected grave’ was not always to remain such. At a regular meeting of the Public School Teachers’ Association, held in this hall October 7, 1865, Mr. John Basil, Jr., principal of No. 8 Grammar School, offered a paper, of which the following is a copy:

“‘Whereas, It has been represented to certain members of the Association that the mortal remains of Edgar Allan Poe are interred in the cemetery of the Westminster Church without even so much as a atone to mark the spot; therefore,

“‘Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed by the President of this Association to devise some means beat adapted in their judgment to perpetuate the memory of one who has contributed so largely to American literature.’

“This resolution was unanimously adopted, and a committee, consisting of Messrs. Basil, Baird, and J. J. G. Webster, Miss Veeder, and Miss Wise, appointed to carry out the purpose named. [page 267:]

“This committee reported in favour of the erection of a monument, and recommended that measures be at once taken to secure the funds necessary to accomplish this object This recommendation was heartily endorsed by the Association, and without delay the committee entered upon the work of raising the funds.

“In this work the young ladies of the Western Female High School took an active and, as will be seen, a successful part. An entertainment of select readings by the pupils of that school, held in this hall on the evening of October 10, 1865, under the superintendence of Miss S. S. Rice, yielded the handsome sum of $380. A literary and musical entertainment, held in Concordia Hall, December 7, 1865, in which the pupils of the Eastern and Western Female High Schools and those of Baltimore City College took part, increased the fund by the addition thereto of $75.92. May 15, 1866, a contribution of $50 was received from Professor Charles Davies, of New York, and on the 19th of the same month a donation of $54 was received as an offering of the young ladies of ‘Troy Female Seminary.” These sums, with interest added, amounted, as per report of Thomas D. Baird, treasurer, submitted March 23, 1871, to $587.02. The enthusiasm that characterised the undertaking at the outset seemed now to have greatly abated, and serious thoughts were consequently entertained of abandoning the project. At this juncture a new committee, consisting of Messrs. Elliott, Kerr, and Hamilton, Miss Rice, and Miss Baer, was appointed to consider the matter.

“After mature deliberation , this committee reported, April 15, 1872, as follows: I First, resolved, that the money now [page 268:] in the hands of the treasurer of the ‘Poe Memorial Fund’ be appropriated to the erection of a monument, the same to be placed over Poe’s remains. Second, that a committee of five be appointed by the President, with power to act as stated in the first resolution.’ These resolutions were adopted, and the committee therein provided for appointed as follows: Wm. Elliott, Jr., A. R Kerr, Alexander Hamilton, Miss S. S. Rice, and Miss E. A. Baer. September 2, 1874, this committee received from the estate of Dr. Thomas D. Baird, deceased, the late treasurer of the ‘Poe Memorial Fund,’ $627.55, the amount of principal and interest to that date, which was immediately deposited in the Chesapeake Bank of this city. Believing that this amount could be increased to $1000 by donations from some of our fellowcitizens who favoured the project, the committee applied to Mr. George A. Frederick, architect of the City Hall, for the design of a monument to cost about that sum.

“Mr. Frederick in due time submitted a design tat once simple, chaste, and dignified,’ but requiring for its realisation much more than the amount included in the expec tations of the committee. Moreover, a new feature was now introduced, that of placing a medallion likeness of the poet on one of the panels of the monument, which would still further increase the cost, With a view of determining whether the amount necessary to complete the monument, according to the proportions it had now assumed, could be raised, applications were made to a number of our citizens for contributions. From one of acknowledged aesthetic taste a check of $100 was promptly received. Two other gentlemen contributed $50 each, while Miss. S. [page 269:] S. Rice, a member of the committee, collected in small sums $52 more.

“A knowledge of the ‘world-wide’ known liberality of Mr. George W. Childs, of Philadelphia, formerly one of our fellow-townsmen, induced the Chairman of the committee to drop him a note on the subject. Within twenty-four hours a reply was received from that gentlemen expressive of his willingness to make up the estimated deficiency of $650.

“The necessary amount having now been secured, the committee proceeded to place the construction and erection of the monument in the hands of Mr. Hugh Sisson, his proposal being the most liberal one received. How faithfully he has executed his commission will be seen when the covering that now veils the monument is removed. No one so well as the Chairman of the committee knows how anxious Mr. Sisson has been to meet even more than the expectations of those most concerned. To his generous liberality are we largely indebted for the reproduction of the classic lineaments of the poet in the beautiful and highly artistic medallion that adds so much to the attractiveness of the monument.

“To most of those present, I presume, it is known that the lot in which the monument is now located is not the one in which it was first placed. In deference to what was considered by the committee the popular wish, the monument was removed from its first location to its present one. The remains of Mr. Poe and also those of his mother-in-law were, as before intimated, removed at the same time. The new lot was secured mainly through the efforts of Mr. [page 270:] John T. Morris, President of the School Board, to whom, and to all others who have in any way contributed to the consummation of this undertaking, I wish here, on behalf of the committee, to render thanks.

“In conclusion, allow me to congratulate all concerned that Poe’s grave is no longer a neglected one.”

Upon the conclusion of Professor Elliott’s address, which was listened to with deep attention, Miss Sarah S. Rice was introduced to the audience. To this lady, well known to the public from her elocutionary attainments, the greatest possible credit is due for the successful completion of the enterprise. The first money raised for the erection of the monument was through her personal efforts, and the entire monument, from its inception to the close, has enjoyed the benefits of her unremitting attention and effort. Miss Rice then read several letters from authors who had received invitations to be present on the occasion. To the unveiling of Poe’s long-looked-for cenotaph most of his country’s best-known bards had been invited, but the only one, of more than local reputation, who found time to attend in person was Walt Whitman. His venerable head, with long white hair flowing over his shoulders, and his majestic figure, made him the observed of all observers.

After the letters had been read, the following poem, contributed by the well-known dramatic critic and littérateur, Mr. William Winter, was read by Miss Rice “with exquisite delicacy and utterance, and received with a burst of applause:” [page 271:]

AT POE’S GRAVE.

Cold is the paean honour sings,

And chill is glory’s icy breath,

And pale the garland memory brings

To grace the iron doors of death.

Fame’s echoing thunders, long and loud,

The pomp of pride that decks the pall,

The plaudits of the vacant crowd —

One word of love is worth them all.

With dews of grief our eyes are dim;

Ah! let the tear of sorrow start,

And honor, in ourselves and him,

The great and tender human heart!

Through many a night of want and woe

His frenzied spirit wandered wild;

Till kind disaster laid him low,

And Heaven reclaimed its wayward child.

Through many a year his fame has grown, —

Like midnight, vast, like starlight, sweet, —

Till now his genius fills a throne,

And nations marvel at his feet.

One meed of justice long delayed,

One crowning grace his virtues crave: —

Ah, take, thou great and injured shade,

The love that sanctifies the grave !

God’s mercy guard, in peaceful sleep,

The sacred dust that slumbers here

And, while around this tomb we weep,

God pleas, for us, the mourner’s tear!

And may his spirit, hovering nigh,

Pierce the dense cloud of darkness through,

And know, with fame that cannot die,

He has the world’s affection too!

The Philharmonic Society then rendered the grand chorus, “He Watcheth over Israel,” from the“Elijah” of [page 272:] Mendelssohn, with fine effect; after which, Professor Henry K Shepherd proceeded to deliver the following address:

“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, — It is my purpose to speak of Edgar Allan Poe principally as a poet and as a man of genius I shall abstain, for the most part, from personal incidents or biogmphical details. These, though not devoid of interest, pertain properly to the historian of literature, or to the biographer. Let his ’strange, eventful history’ be reserved for some American Boswell, hiasson, or Morley.

“Edgar A. Poe was born in 1809, the same year with Alfred Tennyson, the present Poet-laureate, and with Mrs. Browning, the most gifted poetess of any age. The third great era in English literature bad then fairly commenced. The glory of the elder day was revived.. The delusive splendour that had so long gilded the Augustan age of Anne paled before the comprehensive culture, the to vellous intellectual expansion, that distinguished the first thirty years of the present century. The spirit of poesy, no longer circumscribed by the arbitrary and enervating procedures of Dryden’s contemplated academy, ranged in unchecked freedom over seas and continents, arousing the buried forms of mediaeval civilisation, the lay of the minstrel, the lyric of the troubadour, the ancient glory of the Arthurian cycle.

One day was as a thousand years in the growth and advancement of the human mind. Edgar was in his childhood when the Georgian era had attained the meridian of its greatness. He spent five years at school in England, from 1816 to 1821. During this interval little is known [page 273:] of his personal history, save what he has left us is the story of ‘William Wilson,’ in which he depicts with a power of vivid delineation, worthy of the best days of De Quincey, his impressions of the school and its surroundings. We may feel assured, however, that his mind was rapidly unfolding, and with that keen susceptibility to external impressions, characteristic of the dawning intellect of youth, acquiring a permanent colouring from the wonderful drama that was enacting around him. The term of Edgar’s school life in England was a period of intense poetical activity and creative power, heroic emprise, knightly valour, and brilliant achievement. The atmosphere was echoing with the strains of songsters, whose notes make as sweet music as when they fell for the first time upon the ears of our youthful poet and aroused him to the consciousness of poet power. Alfred Tennyson was seven years of age when Edgar arrived in England, and, during the time of Edgar’s school life at Stoke Newington, was spending his play hours with Mallory’s ‘Morte D‘Arthur’ upon his knees, musing upon the faded splendours of the Table Rounde, and perhaps looking with prophetic vision to the time when Lancelot, Arthur, Percival, and Galahad should regain their ancient sway, with more than their ancient renown, as the mythical heroes of the British race. Mrs. Browning and Arthur Hallam, the hero of; In Memoriam,’ were in their childhood: Byron, Scott, Shelley, and Keats were in the zenith of their fame, and the English tongue had not been illustrated by so brilliant a constellation of poets since ‘the spacious times of great Elizabeth.’ It were difficult to imagine that this constellation did not exert an inspiring, [page 274:] influence upon the genius and temperament of our youthful poet,, an influence which mgt have determined in some degree his fatore career. He must have listened with that exquisite sympathy, of which the poetic temperament alone in capable, to the mournful story of gents, ‘the young Lycidas’ of our poetic history.

“A strange resemblance in mental constitution may be discerned between these wayward children of genius; the same deep taint of Celtic sadness, the same enthusiastic worship of supernal beauty, the same relentless struggle with the immutability of fact. The delicately wrought sensibilities of Keats, who could ‘feel the daisies growing over him,’ strikingly recalls the memory of our own poet, who imagined that he could ‘distinctly hear the darkness as it stole over the horizon.’ ‘A thing of beauty is a joy for ever,’ was the animating principle of the genius of the one and the art of the other. In 1822 Edgar, then in his fourteenth year, returned to his native land. He attained to manhood at a time when by a revolution, familiar in the history of every literature, the supremacy was reverting from poetry to prose.

“The romantic fervour, the Spenserian symphonies of ourlast great poetic era, were gradually yielding to the steady advance of philological investigation, critical dissertation, and scientific analysis. A new reflective era, more brilliant than that of Pope or Bolingbroke, was dawning The cold generalisations of reason, the relentless inductions of philosophy, chilled the glowing ardour of the preceding era. The publication of Macaulay’s Essay on Milton in 1825 marked the translation from the sway of the imaginative [page 275:] faculty to the present unsurpassed period in our prose literature. From this desultory outline of nearly contemporary literature, you will observe that our poet’s intellectual constitution was formed under peculiar conditions. He does not belong chronologically to the Georgian era; his position was, for the most part, one of comparative isolation, like that of Sackville, Wyatt, or Collins, in the -midst of, an unpoetic generation, uusustained by the consolations of poetic association or the tender endearments of poetic sympathy. When Poe attained to the full consciousness of his great powers, none of these quickening influences existed save as matters of history or poetic tradition. Tennyson, in England, was viewing nature in perspective, and involving his critics in webs as tangled and hopeless as that which enveloped the fatal lady of Shallot. Wordsworth had abjured the teachings of his early manhood. Shelley, Beats, and Byron were dead, Morris and Swinburne were yet unborn, and the thrones of the elder gods were principally filled by ‘the idle singers of an empty day.’ American poetry had then accomplished little that future ages will not willingly let die.

“The succession of sweet songsters is never broken; the silver cord that binds in perennial union the spirit of Chaucer and the muse of Spenser is never severed, however slight and impalpable may be the filaments that bind it together. There are always some who retain the echoes of long-gone melodies, upon whom descends something of the inspiration of those grand epochs around which is concentrated so much of the glory of the English tongue. Such a position is not an anomaly in our literary history; [page 276:] each a relation was sustained by the chivalrous Surrey, who introduced into the discordant English of his time that peculiar form of verse which was attuned to the harmonies of Milton, and by means of which Shakspeare, after a long and painful struggle with ‘the bondage of rhyming,’ rose to the supreme height of poetic excellence. A similar relation was sustained by Sackville, the sombre splendour of whose ‘Induction’ proved him the worthy herald of Spenser’s dawning greatness, and the gentle Cowper, who marks the transition from the school. of Jonson and of Addison to the advent of the Gothic revival. Such is in some essential respects the position that Poe occupies among American poets in the order of poetic succession. Having traced somewhat in detail the conditions of the age during which our poet’s intellectual constitution was developed, we are now prepared to appreciate the distinctive characteristics of his genius as revealed in his prose, but more especially in his poetry, It is known to students of our literary history, that in all periods of our literature, from the time that our speech was reduced to comparative uniformity, by the delicate discrimination and rare philological perception of Chaucer, there have existed two recognised schools of poetry — the native or domestic, aud the classical. In some poets the classical element constitutes the animating principle, as in Milton, whose pages, sprinkled with the diamond dust of ancient lore ‘thick as autumnal leaves that strew the brooks in Vallombrosa,’ furnish the most impressive illustrations of its beauty and its power. A wonderful impulse was communicated to the development of literary poetry by that ‘morning star of [page 277:] modern song,’ the poet Feats, and since his advent our poesy has tended more and more to divest itself of domestic sympathies, and to assume an artistic or classical character. Our poetry may have lost pliancy, but it has gained in elaboration and perfection of structure. Genius and imagination are not repressed, but are regulated by the canons of art, and from their harmonious alliance arises the unsurpassed excellence of Poe’s maturer productions. In the school of classical poets, he must be ranked is that illustrious succession of bards which includes the names of Surrey, Spenser, Ben Jonson, Herrick, Milton, Shelley, and Keats. Having assigned to Poe an honourable eminence in the school of literary poets, I proceed to speak of the originality, the creative power displayed in his poetry, as well as his brilliant achievements in metrical combination. Specific points of resemblance may be discovered between his poetry and that of his contemporaries and predecessors, but no general or well-defined likeness; and few poets have displayed a more surpassing measure of creative power. Some of his maturer poems are almost without precedent, in form as well as in spirit.

“The legend of the Raven, related by Roger de Hoveden, and referring to the era of the Latin conquest of Constantinople, nor the legend of Herod Agrippa, cited by De Quincey in his celebrated Essay on Modern Superstition, furnish an adequate foundation for the text of Poe’s masterpiece. The raven has constituted a prominent character in English poetry for many ages. In Macbeth, in Hamlet, in Sir David Lindsay, in Tickell’s exquisite ballad of Colin and Lucy, and in Coleridge, the appearance [page 278:] of this ‘ominous bird of yore’ will readily suggest itself to all lovers of our dramatic and lyric poetry. But none of these can be considered as the precursor of Poe’s poem. The nearest approach to any distinctive future of the ‘Raven’ is to be found, I suspect, in the dramas of Shakspewe, those unfailing sources of intellectual nutriment. The one word, Jbirii nur, of Harry Percy’s starling, preents a marked phonetic resemblance to the one word Nevermore of Poe‘a raven, whose melancholy refrain seems almost the echo of the starling’s unvarying note.

“No poem in our language presents a more graceful grouping of metrical appliances and devices The power of peculiar letters is evolved with a magnificent touch; the sonorous melody of the liquids is a characteristic feature, not only of the refrain, but throughout the compass of the poem, their I linked sweetness long drawn out’ falls with a mellow cadence, displaying the poet’s mastery of those mysterious harmonies which lie at the basis of human speech. The alliteration of the Norse minstrel and the Saxon bard, the continuity of the rhythms, illustrating Milton’s ideal of true musical delights in which ‘the sense is variously drawn out from one verse into another,’ the power of sustained interest and graphic delineation, are some of the features that place the ‘Raven’ foremost among the creations of poetic art in our age and in our land.

“But perhaps the especial glory of the ‘Raven’ is the novelty as well as the skill of its metrical forms. In the originality of his metrical combinations, Poe has surpassed almost every poet of our era except Tennyson. The invention of new metres, or new dispositions of those in [page 279:] existence, is a task upon which few poets have ventured for centuries. From Surrey to Cowley was an era of transition and experiment. Under the ascendancy of the conventional school our poetry glided smoothly along in the orthodox ten-syllabled couplet, until Cowper broke through the consecrated measures of Pope and Dryden with a boldness and originality to which our literature had long been a stranger. Few poets of the Lake School ventured into the enchanted ground of metrical experiment. They were inclined rather to discard the restraints of verse, or to render it subordinate to the spontaneous expression of the thought. With the advent of the new poetic school, the increased attention to beauty of form and perfection of structure, the expanding of our metrical forms, became a question of serious import. The possible combinations of metre are infinite, I but for centuries,’ to use Poe’s own language, ‘no man had thought of doing an original thing in verse.’ The ‘Raven,’ which is a novel blending of trochaic octometres, is one of the most brilliant achievements that our era has witnessed, and marks an epoch in the history of the metric art.

“In no respect is the genius of our poet more signally displayed than in his essay upon the ‘Poetic Principle,’ in which the aesthetics of poetry are discussed with a masterly comprehension; and a felicity of illustration that entitle the author to be ranked among the finest critics that have ever lived. I have often thought that a dissertation upon poetry. by a great poet would constitute an invaluable addition to the critical resources of our literature. Oh! that Shakspeare had left us but one line indicating the processes of his mind in the creation of Lear or Cymbeline, or that Milton had [page 280:] bequeathed the rich legacy of a singe item respecting the composition of ‘L‘Allegro’ or the ‘Masque of Comus.’ It is one of the inestimable benefits conferred upon our literature by Edgar A. Poe, that he has taammitted to us a critical erpoa:zion of the principles of his art, which in perspicuity and ooh of conception is unomrpamed in the English language. A diligent reading of the Essay will reveal the fact that in his theory of poetry the mind of Poe was in perfect sTmpathy with the greatest masters, and the most discriminating expositors of the art of criticism. His theory of poetry is in thorough accord with that of Shakspeare, as indicated in the ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ and in a single line in the play of “As You Like It.’ It is repeated, in terms almost identical, by Shakspeare’s contemporary, Lord Bacon, in his “Advancement of Learning.’ ‘When I am asked for a definition of poetry,’ Poe wrote to a friend, ‘I think of Titania, of Oberon, of the “Midsummer Night’s Dream” of Shakspeare.’

“The neat distinguishing characteristic of Poe’s poetry is its rhythmical power, and its admirable illustration of that mysterious affinity which binds together the sound and the sense. Throughout all the processes of creation a rhythmical movement is clearly discernible. Upon the conscious recognition of this principle are based all our conceptions of melody, all systems of intonation and inflection. In this dangerous sphere of poetic effort he attained a mastery over the properties of verse that the Troubadours might have aspired to emulate.

“I would next direct your attention to the classic impress of Poe’s poetry, its felicitous blending of genius and culture, [page 281:] and to the estimation in which his works are held in other lands. The Athenian sculptor in the palmiest days of Attic art wrought out his loveliest conceptions by the painful processes of continuous diligence. The angel was not evolved from the block by a sudden inspiration or a brilliant flash of unpremeditated art. By proceeding upon a system corresponding to the diatonic scale in music, the luxuriance of genius was regulated by the sober precepts and decorous graces of formal art. No finer illustration of conscious art has been produced in our era than the ‘Raven.’ In all the riper productions of our poet there is displayed the same graceful alliance of genius, culture, and taste. He attained the mastery over the most subtile metrical forms, even those to whose successful production the spirit of the English tongue is not congenial The sonnet, that peculiarly Italian form of verse, immortalised by the genius of Petrarch, has been admirably illustrated is Poe’s poem of ‘Zante.’ Indeed, much of the acrimony of his criticism arose from his painful sensitiveness to artistic imperfection, and his enthusiastic worship of the beautiful. The Grecian caste of his genius led to an idolatrous love of beauty, embodied is palpable or material types.

“This striving after sensuous beauty has formed a distinctive characteristic of all those poets who were most thoroughly imbued with the Grecian taste and spirit. It has left its impress deep upon the texture of our poetry, and many of our most silvery symphonies owe their inspiration to this source. In addition to the classic element, his poetry is pervaded by that natural magic of style, that strange unrest and unreality, those weird notes like the refrain [page 282:] of his own ‘Raven,’ ’so musical, so melancholy,’ which an traceable to the Celtic influence upon our composite intellectual character. The quick sensibility, the ethereal temper, of these natural artists have wonderfully enlivened the stolid character of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors, and much of the style and constructive power that have reigned in English poetry since the age of Walter Map, of Layamon, and of Chaucer, may be justly attributed to the Celtic infusion into the Teutonic blood. Conspicuous examples may be discovered in Sbakspeare, in Keats, in Byron, and in Poe.

“I have thus endeavoured to present to you the intellectual character of Edgar A. Poe, as it has revealed itself to me from the diligent study of his works, and from many contrasts and coincidences that literary history naturally suggests. I have attempted to show the versatility of his genius, the consummate as well as conscious art of his poetry, the graceful blending of the creative and the critical faculty — a combination perhaps the rarest that the history of literature affords — his want of deference to prototypes, or morals, the chaste and scholarly elegance of his diction, the Attic smoothness and the Celtic magic of his style. Much of what he has written may not preserve its freshness or stand the test of critical scrutiny in after tunes, but when subjected to the severest ordeal of varying fashion, popular caprice, I the old order changing, yielding place to new,’ there is much that will perish only with the English language. The maturer productions of Poe have received the most enthusiastic- tributes from the sober and dispassionate critics of the older world.

“I shall ever, remember the thrill of grateful appreciation [page 283:] with which I read the splendid eulogium upon his genius in the London Quarterly Review, in which he is ranked far above his contemporaries, and pronounced one of the most consummate artists of our times, potentially the greatest critic of our era, and possessing perhaps the finest ear for rhythm that was ever formed. You are doubtless familiar with the impression produced by the;Raven’ upon the mind of Mrs. Browning, ’Shakspeare’s daughter and Tennyson’s sister.’ It is but recently that Algernon Swinburne, one of the master-spirits of the new poetic school, has accorded to Poe the pre-eminence among American poets. Alfred Tennyson has expressed his admiration of Poe, who, with true poetic ken, was among the first to appreciate the novelty and delicacy of his method, and, at a time when the Laureate’s fame was obscured by adverse and undiscriminating criticism, plainly foresaw the serene splendour of his matured greatness.

“An appreciative and generous Englishman has added to the literature of our language a superb edition of Poe’s works, in which ample recognition is accorded to his rare and varied poems, and the calumnies of his acrimonious biographer are refuted by evidence that cannot be gainsaid or resisted. No reader of English periodical literature can fail to observe the frequent tributes to his genius, the numerous allusions to his memory, the impressive parallelisms between Poe and Marlowe, the contemporary of Shakspeare and Greene, the rival of the great dramatist, that have appeared in the columns of the Athenæum, the Academy, the British Quarterlies, and the transactions of the new Shakespeare Society. Nor is this lofty estimate [page 284:] of his powers confined to those lands in which the English language is the vernacular speech; it has extended into foreign climes, and aroused appreciative admiration where English literature is imperfectly known and slightly regarded.

“Let us rejoice that Poe’s merits have found appropriate recognition among his own countrymen, and that the Poets’ Corner in our Westminster is at last rescued from the un grateful neglect which, for a quarter of a century, has constituted the just reproach of our State and metropolis. I recognise in the dedication of this monument to the memory of our poet an omen of the highest and noblest import, looking far beyond the mere preservation of his fame by the ‘dull, cold marble’ which marks his longneglected grave. The impulse which led to its erection coincides in spirit and in character with those grand movements, which the zeal and enthusiasm of patriots and scholars in Great Britain and in America have effected, within the past ten years, for the perpetuation of much that is greatest in the poetry of the English tongue. At last we have the works of Geoffrey Chaucer restored to their original purity by the praiseworthy diligence of Furnival, Morris, and Bradshaw. At last we are to add to the golden treasury of our literature genuine editions of Shakspeare, in which the growth of his genius and his art will be traced by the graceful scholarship and penetrating insight of Tennyson, Ingleby, Spedding, Simpson, and Browning. Ten years have accomplished what centuries failed to achieve, in rescuing from strange and [page 285:] unpardonable indifference the masterpieces of our elder literature, the Sibylline leaves of our ancient poesy.

“This graceful marble, fit emblem of our poet, is the expression, perhaps unconscious, undesigned, but none the less effective, of sympathy with this great intellectual movement of our era. I hail these auspicious omens of the future of our literature with gratitude and delight. But while we welcome these happy indications, while we rejoice in the critical expansion of our peerless literature, let us not disregard the solemn injunction conveyed by this day’s proceedings. While we pay the last tributes of respect to the memory of him who alone was worthy, among American poets, to be ranked in that illustrious procession of bards, around whose names is concentrated the glory of the English tongue from Chaucer to Tennyson, let us cherish the admonition to nurture and stimulate the poesy of our land, until it ascend I with no middle flight’ into the ‘brightest heaven of invention,’ and the regions of purest phantasy.”

During the delivery of his address, Professor Shepherd was frequently interrupted by applause. When he had concluded, Poe’s “Raven” was recited, followed by a rendering of the Inflammatus, from Rossini’s Stabat Mater, by the local Philharmonic Society. Mr. J. H. Latrobe then gave some personal reminiscences of the poet, and, upon the conclusion of his remarks Mr. Neilson Poe, Sr. a cousin of the poet, was introduced by Professor Elliott, and said: “The relatives of the late poet would indeed be wanting in sensibility, as well as gratitude, if they let this occasion pass without some acknowledgment of their special obligation to those [page 286:] who have reared the memorial soon to be unveiled over the grave of their kinsman. It is impossible that they can be indifferent to the increasing fame of one whose ancestry is common to themselves, and who share his blood. They cannot but look with gratification at the fact that the imputations on the personal character of Poe, which envy has invented and malice magnified, can now, under a closer investigation and an impartial criticism, be judged with charity and justice. Personal animosity may have created slanders which a kindlier spirit is now rejecting, and the ‘good and noble traits of character of the dead are being recognised by an impartial public.”

Those present then repaired to Westminster Churchyard, where all that is mortal of Poe now reposes. The remains have been removed from their first resting-place, in an obscure corner of the churchyard, to the corner of Fayette and Greene Streets, where the monument now covering the grave can be seen from Fayette Street.

While the Philharmonic Society rendered the “Sleep and Beat” by Barnby, adapted for the occasion from Tennyson’s “Sweet and Low” by Mrs. Eleanor Fullerton, of Baltimore, the Committee on the Memorial and others gathered around the monument.

While the dirge was being sung, Professor Elliott and Miss Rice removed the muslin in which the memorial was veiled, and it was then for the first time presented to the gaze of the public. The monument was crowned with a wreath composed of ivy, and another of lilies and evergreens. After the dirge, Poe’s “Annabel Lee ” was recited, and selections from “The Bells” were given by Mrs. Dillehunt. This concluded [page 287:] the ceremonies, and the crowd which had collected in the graveyard came forward to view the monument. During the unveiling a large throng was gathered in the vicinity of Fayette and Greene Streets, unable to gain admission to the Female High School or the churchyard. The monument is of the pedestal or cippus form, and is eight feet high; the surbase is of Woodstock granite, six feet square, the other portions being of white-veined Italian marble. The pedestal has an Attic base three feet ten inches square; the die block is a cube three feet square and three feet two inches high, relieved on each face by a squareprojecting and polished plane, the upper angles of which are broken and filled with a carved rosette. On the front panel is the bas-relief bust of the poet, modelled by Frederick Volck from a photograph in possession of Mr. Neilson Poe. 4n the opposite panel are inscribed the dates of the poet’s birth and death. The die block is surmounted by a bold and graceful frieze and cornice four feet square, broken on each face in the centre by a segment of a circle. The frieze is ornamented at the angles by richly-carved acanthus leaves, and in the centre by a lyre crowned with laurel. The whole is capped by a blocking three feet square, cut to a low pyramidal form. 1s The monument is simple and chaste, and strikes more by graceful outline than by crowding with unmeaning ornament.” Mr. Geo. A. Frederick was the architect.

A TRIBUTE FROM THE STAGE. — “A pleasing feature of the ceremonies was the placing upon the monument of a large wreath of flowers, made up principally of camelias, lilies, and tea roses. Together with this was deposited a floral tribute [page 288:] in the shape of a raven, made from black immortellés. The large petals of the lilies suggested the t bells’ immortalised by Poe’s genius, the significance of the other emblems being obvious. These were tributes from the company at Ford’s Grand Opera House, Mrs. Germon being mainly instrumental in getting them up. Poe’s mother had been an actress at Holliday Street Theatre, which fact had been preserved is the traditions of the stage, and had something to do with inspiring this tribute.”


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 264:]

* Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19th, 1809. — J. H. I.


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - EAP:HLLO, 1880] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - E. A. P.: His Life, Letters and Opinions (J. H. Ingram) (Appendix E)