Text: George W. Eveleth, “Rufus Wilmot Griswold,” New York Times Saturday Review, March 10, 1900, p. ?, col. ?


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Rufus Wilmot Griswold.

To The New York Times Saturday Review:

If I remember aright, that name was accustomed to appear in the publications of its wearer’s “day and generation,” qualified at one end with “Rev.,” at the other with “D. D.,” whieh signify Reverend and Divine Doctor, don’t they? Mrs. Whitman, in her letter dated Dec. 30 [[15]], 1864, gives her estimate of the sacred qualities underlying and shining out from them: * * * “You will have learned from the volume, ‘Edgar Poe and His Critics,’ how little reliance can be placed on Dr. Griswold’s memoir. I have abundant proof that he purposely falsified every anecdote and altered nearly every purported note or assumed manuscript of his much maligned author. The reason of his treachery is indicated in that volume. * * * I have been permitted to see a note, which he wrote to a friend in New York in the Spring of 1850, in which he says: ‘I am getting on rapidly with my “Life of Poe,” and am trying hard to do him justice, for Fanny’s [Mrs. Frances Sargent Osgood] spirit looks down on me while I write.’ The task was evidently too great for him. He could not forgive him [Poe] the interest which he had inspired in the person he [Griswold] most wished to please. * * * You perhaps will remember a paragraph in the memoir, in which it is said that he [Poe] would have graduated with the highest honors had not his gambling, intemperance, and other vices induced his expulsion from the university. This passage, blindly accepted on the authority of Dr. Griswold, has passed through nearly all the leading European reviews, and has been again and again cited in proof of his early and hopeless depravity. I have been favored with the perusal of letters from Dr. Maupin. Mr. Wertenbaker, and other gentlemen of the Faculty of Charlottesville University, in which they affirm that he never, at any time, came under the censure of the university, and that he did not graduate there simply because the university, at that period, conferred no degrees. I have in my possession also a letter from one of his classmates. Mr. John Willis of Orange County, Va., written on the 3d of April, 1861, confirmatory of their favorable sentiments.”

G. W. E.

Denver, Col., Jan. 20, 1900.


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Notes:

In this editorial letter, Eveleth is primarily quoting for a letter that Sarah H. Whitman wrote to him on December 15, 1864. At least portions of the letter by John Willis were printed by Gill.

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[S:0 - EAW, 1900] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - Rufus W. Griswold (G. W. Eveleth, 1900)