Text: James A. Harrison, “A Poe Miscellany,” Independent, vol. LXI (whole no. 3022), November 1, 1906, pp. 1044-1051


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­[page 1044:]

A Poe Miscellany

ANNOTATED BY PROF. JAMES A. HARRISON

[Professor Harrison is the editor of the Virginia Edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s complete works, and is the leading Poe specialist in America. Tho this article is complete in itself, it naturally follows the one published by Professor Harrison in THE INDEPENDENT two years ago entitled “Reminiscences of Poe.” — EDITOR.]

[column 1:]

THE present instalment of twenty-two letters and documents covers the period 1849-1870, and may well be entitled “Echoes of the Tragedy:” Letters about Poe, from intimate friends, near relatives or literary foes. No death perhaps ever aroused such interest — in many quarters such compassion and anguish — in American literary circles, sending out even today tremors and reverberations like those from some far-off volcano. Most untimely deaths among men of precocious genius weep themselves to sleep in the course of generations; but the Adonais group — the Keats, the Shelleys, the Poes — lift themselves up in the attitude of immortal sculptures perpetuating a grief that cannot be comforted. Ever and anon the lamentation breaks forth afresh as in these documents, which are filled with a varied expression of sympathy, admiration, tenderest pity; even the hostility in some of them is tempered with wonder and astonishment that so much was accomplished under circumstances so adverse.

Dr. J. J. Moran to Mrs. Clemm.

Balti. City & Marine Hospital, Nov. 15/1849.

Mrs. Clemm,

My Dear Madam,

I take the earliest opportunity of responding to yours of the 9th Inst. which came to hand by yesterday’s Mail.

Your deep solicitude, Madam, in reference to the “last moments” of him of whom you write, does not surprise me. It falls to the lot of but few, to enjoy the extensive popularity that was unquestionably his. Wherever talent — mental worth, nay Genius, was prized there “E. A. Poe” had warm friends. To his rarely gifted mind are we indebted for many of the brightest thoughts that adorn our literature to him is Belles Lettres indebted for the purest gems her Casket Contains. “Poe is gone!” How many hearts have heaved a sigh in uttering these three words! How many thousands will yet, and for years to come, lament the premature demise of this truly great man! Nor can there be found, in the list of his enemies (what great man ever lived without them?) one individual, who will withhold from him the meed of praise to which you refer when you speak of his “nobility of Soul.” Posterity will not hesitate to award him a place in the Catalogue of those whose pens have strewn flowers in the pathway of life — [column 2:] flowers too, whose fragrance will last for the enjoyment of unborn millions, thereby preserving a memorial more lasting than the Sculptor’s Chisel or the Art of the Statuary Could ever fabricate or invent. But now for the required intelligence. Presuming you are already aware of the malady of which Mr. Poe died I need only state concisely the particulars of his circumstances from his entrance until his decease.

When brought to the Hospital he was unconscious of his Condition — who brought him or with whom he had been associating. He remained in this Condition from 5. Ock in the afternoon — the hour of his admission — until 3 next morning. This was on the 3rd Oct.

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

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

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

Mrs. Chapman was not with him, but he lacked nothing which the utmost assiduity of ­[page 1045:] Nurses and myself could supply. Indeed we considered Mr. Poe an object of unusual regard.

Medical Men & Students of the House sympathized earnestly with him. Your imperative request urges me to be candid, else I should not have been thus plain. Rather far would I conceal his errors than even hint a fault of his.

His remains were visited by some of the first individuals of the City, many of them anxious to have a lock of his hair. Those who had previously known him pronounced his corpse the most natural they had ever seen. Z. Collins Lee Esqr, and Nelson [[Neilson]] Poe with many other respectible [[respectable]] individuals attended his funeral — The Revd. Mr. Clemm of this City attended officially on the occasion.

I have, thus, complied with your request, Madam, and therefore subscribe myself respectfully yours

J. J. Moran, Res. Phys.*

————

G. Lippard to Griswold [Griswold Collection. MS.].

Philadelphia, Nov. 22, 1849.

Dear Sir:

You will not attribute my delay in answering the letter which I received from you in regard to E. A. Poe, to a want of courtesy when I inform you, that I have only delayed in order to transmit to you satisfactory information, in relation to the matters in question. I have not been able to obtain any intelligence in regard to the missing valise. The people at the Depot know nothing about it, and I fear that the valise, etc. are irrevocably lost.

I have before me, a letter from Poe, dated Richmond, July 19, in which he speaks of the loss of certain lectures, during his last stay in Phila. Myself and C. C. Burr did our best to find them, at that time, but in vain.

It is but just to state, that C. C. Burr, John Sartain, L. A. Godey, S. D. Patterson, were the only persons in this city, whom (last summer), I could induce to give one cent to save Poe from Starvation. These gentlemen (and Mr. Miskey clerk of Sartain’s I may add) acted in the most honorable manner.

I shall be glad to furnish you with any information in my power for your contemplated work.

Present my regards to Mrs. Clemm, and oblige yours Truly

George Lippard.

Rev. Rufus W. Griswold.

————

Jno. R. Thompson to R. W. Griswold [Griswold Collection: MS.].

Richmond, 21 Dec. 1849.

My dear Sir,

I have too long delayed sending you the promised mems of poor Poe, and I fear that [column 2:] what I now enclose will be of little value, scarcely’sufficient to warrant their incorporation into the Life. Two letters of Cooke’s and a short statement relating to his connection with the Allans, are all that I have been able to get together.

I see the new edition of the Poets does not give my lines. Well, n’importe. . . . I did desire to see the poem the “Greek Slave” in some collection for preservation, but if it does not come up to the standard of our imprimatur, I am glad that it has been left out.

Jno. R. Thompson.

R. W. Griswold, Esq.

P.S. Please return the letters when you have done with them.

————

Mrs. Clemm to Griswold [Griswold Collection: MS.].

Lowell, April 29th, 1850.

Dear Sir

On the receipt of your last letter, (in which you mentioned if I had my poor Eddie’s Lectures you could dispose of them for me) I wrote again to “Dr. Moran” to make another application to Mr. Neilson Poe relative to my dear son’s trunk, in which I supposed the lectures were. I have received an answer, in which he states, that the trunk has been sent to you at your request,* and for Miss Poe. I cannot understand this and wish you to let me know if there is any truth in it. Will you so much oblige me by so doing at your earliest convenience? Will you be so good as to enclose me a copy of the manuscript I left with Mrs. Lewis? I mean the “Literati of New York.” A couple of sheets will be sufficient for my purpose. You know they have all been published in Godey; you can if you need them refer to that magazine!

Yours respectfully  
Maria Clemm.

————

[Griswold Correspondence.]

New York, 25th, Sept., 1850.

My dear James [Fields]:

I thank you very heartily for that notice in “The Bee.” These attacks on me for the Life of Poe are certainly undeserved. Everybody who knows anything about Poe’s life, understands perfectly well that I have suppressed much more than I have printed against him, and the preface to “The Literati” shows that I was absolutely compelled to write what I have written, by the assaults of Graham and Neal . . . .

R.W.G.

————

[Griswold Correspondence.]

Charles Godfrey Leland on Griswold.

[Undated.]

Dr. Griswold was always a little “queer,” and I used to scold and reprove him for it. ­[page 1046:] He had got himself into great trouble by his remarks on Edgar A. Poe. Mr. Kimball and others, who knew the Doctor, believed, as I do, that there was no deliberate evil or envy in those remarks. Poe’s best friends told severe stories of him in those days — me ipso teste — and Griswold, naught extenuating and setting down naught in malice, wrote incautiously more than he should. These are the words of another than I. But when Griswold was attacked, then he became savage. One day I found in his desk, which he had committed to me, a great number of further material collected to Poe’s discredit. I burnt it all up at once, and told the Doctor what I had done, and scolded him well into the bargain.

He took it all very amiably. . . . It is a pity that I had not always had the Doctor in hand — though I must here again repeat that, as regards Poe, he is, in my opinion, not so much to blame as a score of writers have made out.”

————

Charles Dickens to James McCarroll.

Gad’s Hill Place
Higham by Rochester, Kent.

Sir —

When I have told you that I am truly sensible of the confidence your letter reposes in me, I fear I shall go on to tell you what you are not at all prepared to believe, but which is nevertheless the plain truth.

My influence with publishers, such as it is, is wholly personal and does not extend beyond my own productions. I never in my life succeeded in inducing any publisher to accept a book on my recommendation. To the best of my remembrance, the last trial I made in this wise was on behalf of Mr. Edgar Poe, then only known in the United States. It failed, and I have for many years relinquished the ungracious office, in which I always fared so ill. At least ten years passed, in the instance I have mentioned, before Mr. Poe’s tales were republished in England — by another bookseller.

Convinced by experience that I can do nothing for a book in Manuscript that it cannot do for itself, I never mediate now with any publisher whomsoever. In this respect, therefore, I am quite unable to render you any service.

In reference to the abstract merit of your writings, and the probability of their finding a London publisher for themselves, I find it very difficult to arrive at a sound conclusion. The pieces in verse that you have sent me, appear to me to be more original in thought, and more strikingly expressed, than the prose tales. And yet I should deceive you if I concealed my belief that there are many writers of fugitive pieces who write as well, and yet who do not find it feasible or remunerative to collect their productions. In the prose tale I observe some very good description; I have not the means before me of judging of its merits in point of character or story, — but I have no doubt whatever that on this side of the Atlantic the Indian would scarcely interest any more, though he were in the hands of Scott himself. [column 2:]

On the whole I fear you have not yet done what would make its way here — or what would make a way for a poem of two thousand lines. But I can honestly add that your cultivation of literature evinces an earnestness of spirit, and a love and knowledge of nature, and a purity of taste, all very interesting and suggestive of advance.

Dear Sir  
Faithfully yours  
Charles Dickens.

James McCarroll, Esquire.*

[[————]]

The following three reminiscences give us final glimpses of Poe and his sister, as viewed by two gentlemen and a lady, who knew them personally: Col. T. H. Ellis, Poe’s early playmate and intimate, reared almost in the same house with him; Dr. D’Unger, a chance Baltimore acquaintance, and Mrs. Stone, matron of the Epiphany Church Home, Washington, D. C., where Rosalie Poe, the poet’s sister, spent the last six months of her life.

Colonel Ellis’s tribute to the “second” Mrs. Allan is notably emphatic and must remove all harsh prejudice against that refined and amiable gentlewoman. The letter is so rare and unknown that it is practically new and deserves a place here. Colonel Ellis, in his interesting communication to the writer (Biography, Vol. I, of the Virginia Edition), takes a milder and juster view of Poe’s boyish pranks.

EDGAR ALLAN POE.

To the Editor of the Standard:

413 W. Randolph St., Chicago.

April 22nd, 1881.

Dear Sir, —

A letter, which I have received from my brother Charles this evening, informs me of the illness of Mrs. Louisa G. Allan, the widow of my fathers [[father’s]] former partner in business, & the friend of my father’s family for more than fifty years past. It is not improbable that before this communication reaches you or before the next ensuing issue of your paper, she will have attained the end of her appointed time; in which case, I request you to publish what I have now to say, in the Richmond Standard. This request is made in order that I may perform an act of justice to one of the most admirable ladies I have ever known.

My father, the late Charles Ellis, of Richmond, & Mr. John Allan were raised as clerks together in the store of Mr. Wm. Galt, who was the most successful merchant of his day in Virginia, & at his death, perhaps the wealthiest man in the State. In the year 1800, Charles Ellis & John Allan, encouraged thereto by Mr. Galt, who was an uncle of Mr. Allan, formed a mercantile partnership, under ­[page 1047:] the firm name of Ellis & Allan, which continued until it was dissolved, by mutual consent, in 1824; their warm personal friendship was dissolved only by the death of Mr. Allan, in 1834.

Mr. Allan’s first wife, Frances Keeling Valentine, of Princess Anne Co., Va., was a cousin of my mother, who was a native of Norfolk & who, when a young lady, spent two or three winters in Richmond, as the guest of Mr. & Mrs. Allan. They were exceedingly partial to her & it was during her visits to them that my father made her acquaintance. From the period of my father’s marriage & as long as he lived, there was as much intimacy between his family & Mr. Allan’s, as probably between any two other families in Richmond.

On the 8th of Dec., 1811, Mrs. Poe, “one of the actresses of the company (then) playing on the Richmond boards,” died in Richmond, leaving three children. Wm. Henry, the eldest son, was adopted by his grandfather, Mr. Poe, of Baltimore, but died young. He was said to have been a youth of much promise. The second son, (born Jan. 19, 1809,) was adopted by Mr. & Mrs. Allan. The name of Edgar Allan was given him in baptism, by the Rev. Dr. John Buchanan. The third child, a daughter, was adopted by Mr. & Mrs. Wm. Mackenzie & the name Rose Mackenzie given her. The death of Mrs. Poe occurred eighteen days before the burning of the Richmond Theatre; & it is not improbable that Mr. & Mrs. Allan would have been present on that occasion but for the circumstance that they were spending the Christmas holidays at Mr. Bowles Cocke’s, at Turkey Island, with Edgar.

The business of Ellis & Allan so prospered that at the close of the war of 1812, with Great Britain, they determined to establish a branch house in London, under the firm name of Allan & Ellis, to be in charge of Mr. Allan. For that purpose he went to England in the summer of 1815, & resided there about five years, having with him his wife, his sister-in-law, Miss Anne M. Valentine, & his adopted son,[[.]] On his return, his own house having been leased so that he could not get possession of it, he & his family resided with my father’s family, at the corner of Franklin & Second streets, for nearly a year. It was then & there that my recollections of Edgar A. Poe began.

No boy ever had a greater influence over me than he had. He was, indeed, a leader among boys; but my admiration for him scarcely knew bounds; the consequence was, he led me to do many things for which I was punished. The only whipping I ever knew Mr. Allan to give him was for carrying me out into the fields & woods beyond Belvidere, one Saturday, & keeping me there all day & until after dark, without anybody at home knowing where we were, & for shooting a lot of domestic fowls belonging to the proprietor of Belvidere, (who was, I think, at that time, Judge Bushrod Washington). He taught me to shoot, to swim & to skate, to [column 2:] play bandy,&c., & I ought to mention that he once saved me from drowning — for having thrown me into the Falls headlong, that I might “strike out” for myself, he presently found it necessary to come to my help, or it would have been too late.

Mr. & Mrs. Allan, having no child of their own, lavished upon him their whole affection; he was sent to the best schools, he was taught every accomplishment that a boy could acquire, he was trained to all the habits of the most polished Society. There was not a brighter, more beautiful & graceful, or more attractive boy in the city than Edgar Allan Poe. Talent for declamation was one of his gifts. I well remember a public exhibition at the close of a course of instruction in elocution which he had attended, (in the old frame building that stood high above the present grade of Governor Street, at the southwest corner of Governor & Franklin Streets,) & my delight when he bore off the prize from Channing Moore, Cary Wickham, Andrew Johnston, Nat Howard & others, who were regarded as among the most promising of the Richmond boys.

In February, 1826, he was entered as a student at the University of Va. There he fell into gambling & dissipation, squandered a large amount of money, & became so reckless that Mr. Allan went up to Charlottesville, enquired into his ways, paid every debt that he thought ought to be paid, & refusing to pay some gambling debts, (which Mr. James Galt told me, in his life time, amounted to about $2,500,) brought Edgar away, in the month of December following, & for a time kept him in Ellis & Allan’s counting room (where they were engaged in winding up their old business,) thus attempting to give him some knowledge of bookkeeping, accounts & commercial correspondence.

It is no part of the object of this communication to speak harshly of Edgar A. Poe. There was a time doubtless, when if he had been told that he would do so & so, he would have exclaimed with the indignation of the prophet of old: “What! Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great evil?” But, whatever may have been the particulars of his conduct towards Mr. & Mrs. Allan, her friends believe that his ingratitude, falsehood & deceptions contributed to her death, on the 28th of February, 1828.

Mr. Allan’s second wife was Miss Louisa Gabriella Patterson, of New York, to whom he was married Oct. 5, 1830. She never saw Edgar Poe but twice in her life. The account I have heard of her first meeting him was this:

A short time previous to Mr. Allan’s death, on the 27th of March, 1834, he was greatly distressed by dropsy, was unable to lie down & sat in an arm-chair night & day; several times a day, by the advice of his physician, he walked across the room for exercise, leaning on his cane & assisted by his wife & a man-servant. During this illness of her husband, Mrs. Allan was, on an occasion, passing through the halls of this house, when hearing ­[page 1048:] the front doorbell ring, she opened the door herself. A man of remarkable appearance stood there & without giving his name asked if he could see Mr. Allan. She replied that Mr. Allan’s condition was such that his physicians had prohibited any person from seeing him except his nurses. The man was Edgar A. Poe, who was, of course, perfectly familiar with the house. Thrusting her aside & without noticing her reply, he passed rapidly upstairs to Mr. Allan’s chamber, followed by Mrs. Allan. As soon as he entered the Chamber Mr. Allan raised his cane, & threatening to strike him if he came within his reach, ordered him out; upon which Poe withdrew & that was the last time they ever met.

I have forgotten the particulars of the other occasion on which she saw him, but my impression is that it was after Mr. Allan’s death; that she was sitting at one of the front windows of her chamber & seeing him enter the gate & walk towards the door, sent her chamber-maid down to say that she begged to be excused from receiving him.

But in reference to the main point at which I am aiming, I will use her own words.

About ten years ago, a gentleman who was preparing a biography of Poe wrote to me requesting my reminiscences of Poe & a recital of any incidents I might be able to recall connected with him. Thinking it a suitable opportunity to correct misstatements relating to both Poe & Mrs. Allan, in all the biographies of Poe I had seen, I wrote to her asking several questions, to which she replied but briefly, & moreover requested that nothing should be said of her in such a connection. For this reason I did not prepare the communication I had thought of, but will now make an extract from her letter.

“As regards Edgar Poe, of my own knowledge I know nothing. I only saw him twice; but all I heard of him from those who had lived with him was a tissue of ingratitude, fraud & deceit. Mr. Poe had not lived under my husband’s roof for two years before my marriage & no one knew his whereabouts. His letters, which were very scarce, were dated from St. Petersburg, Russia, although he had enlisted in the army at Boston. After he became tired of army life, he wrote to his benefactor, expressing a desire to have a substitute if the money could be sent to him; Mr. Allan sent it; Poe spent it; & after the substitute was tired out waiting & getting letters & excuses, he (the substitute) enclosed one of Poe’s letters to Mr. Allan, which was too black to be credited, if it had not contained the author’s signature. Mr. Allan sent the money to the man & banished Poe from his affections & he never lived here again. I must say, in justice, I never influenced Mr. Allan against him in the slightest degree; indeed I would not have presumed to have interfered or advised concerning him. Poe was never spoken of between us.”

From the foregoing statement I think all must admit that Mrs. Louisa G. Allan is in no degree responsible for the estrangement that [column 2:] existed between Mr. Allan & his adopted son, or for Mr. Allan’s refusal to be reconciled, after the son had been several times before taken back & renewed efforts made for his improvement & advantage.

Having reached this point, let me say something further about her & her family. Mrs. Allan’s father was John W. Patterson, a lawyer of New York City, of fine attainments & good practice, an accomplished Latin, Greek & French scholar, speaking the French language with fluency & purity. He was educated at Londonderry, Ireland. Her grandfather was John Patterson, who anterior to the Revolution, was a Captain in the British Army; but quit that service, espoused the American cause, & I believe was the first United States Collector of the Port of Phila. His wife was Catharine Livingston, of Livingston Manor, which embraced Columbia and several adjacent counties in New York. As late as 1825 many of the lineal descendants of the original Livingstons continued to live in the villages of Claverick & Johnstown, a few miles back of the City of Hudson. General Harry Livingston, brother to Catharine, is mentioned in Revolutionary History. There was another brother commonly called “Oak Hill” John, after whom Johnstown was named. These Livingstons were English; the originals were granted manorial rights & possessions under the laws of Elizabeth, because of their colonizing the American possessions of Great Britain.

Mrs. Allan’s mother was Louisa De Hart, youngest daughter of John De Hart & Sarah Dagworthy, of the ancient borough of Elizabeth, New Jersey. John De Hart was a lawyer & a member of the First Colonial Congress from New Jersey. The father of Sarah Dagworthy was an English Army officer.

Mrs. Allan’s only sister, Lucy, married Captain Thomas Mann Randolph, of Tuckahoe, Va. One of Mrs. Randolph’s daughters, Louisa, married, you know, Mr. George W. Mayo, of Richmond, a son of Mr. Edward C. Mayo, who was the son of Colonel John Mayo, of Bellville, whose wife, Abigail De Hart, was an aunt of Mrs. Allan & the mother of the distinguished beauty & belle, Mrs. General Winfield Scott. It was while Mrs. Allan was on a visit to her aunt at Bellville, that she first met Mr. Allan.

All the ladies of this family whom I have known, notably Mrs. Mayo, of Bellville, Mrs. Patterson & Mrs. Allan, were remarkable for the strength & firmness of their character, their self-reliance & excellent sense, as well as for fine physical development.

Out of eight brothers who grew to manhood, one is living — Mr. Henry Livingston Patterson, of St. Louis. When I knew him in New York, many years ago, he was one of the handsomest men I ever saw, with a splendid voice specially suited to the business in which he was then engaged, that of a drygoods auctioneer, in connection with the large house of Austin, Wilmerding & Co. He married Miss Hunt, of St. Louis, & has long resided there, a wealthy & prominent citizen. ­[page 1049:]

Mrs. Allan had three children, John, Wm. Galt & Patterson. To the careful training & education of these children she devoted herself with rare assiduity. The two eldest, when sufficiently advanced to leave home, were placed under the Rev. Dr. Muhlenberg, at his school near Flushing, New York; from there, they were sent to the Rev. Mr. Van Bokkelin, in Maryland; afterwards were advantageously placed at school among their Allan relations in Scotland & then entered at the University of Virginia. In order to be near them during their collegiate course, she removed to Charlottesville temporarily, placing Patterson at a preparatory school near by. When all three had passed through the University, she took them to Europe, spending eighteen months, or two years in travel. It was whilst in Rome that Patterson, the youngest, married a lady of Cincinnati; but this marriage was never congenial to her. John, subsequent to his return from Europe, married Miss Henrietta Hoffman, a charming lady & highly accomplished, the only child of Mr. Wm. Henry Hoffman, of Baltimore, by whom he had two children, now surviving, — Hoffman & Louisa Gabrielle: these young representatives of the house have been a special solace & comfort to their grandmother of late years. Their father, who as the Adjutant of a Cavalry Regiment in the Confederate service had evinced decided military talent, was killed on the retreat from the battle at Gettysburg, July 5, 1863. Never shall I forget the grief of Mrs. Allan when she sent for me to come to see her, on receiving the news of John’s death! William, after the war in which he continuously served, married his brother John’s widow, but died without issue. Patterson is also dead, leaving among other children, a daughter, Genevieve, who is said to possess, like her mother, special talent for Music & Art.

It is impossible that any lady could have performed more scrupulously & becomingly all the proprieties of widowhood than Mrs. Allan has done since the death of her husband, full seven & forty years ago. Her home has been, unvaryingly, one of elegance [and] hospitality. And I am persuaded the whole community of Richmond would, if necessary, rise up in her praise as a lady of whom any community might be proud. For many years she has been a communicant of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Richmond.

One fact deserves prominent mention — the protection, kindness & support, which Mrs. Allan gave, without stint or abatement until dispensed with by death, to Miss Valentine, the maiden sister of Mr. Allan’s first wife — a lady widely known for her cheerfulness, humor, buoyancy & wit. Mr. Allan had made provision for her in his will, but the home of her heart she found under Mrs. Allan’s sheltering roof. She died on the 23d of January, 1850, in the sixty-third year of her age. Mrs. Allan was in her eighty-second year at the time of her death.

Praying you to accept this imperfect tribute to her worth from a long absent friend I am

Truly yours,   Thomas H. Ellis. [column 2:]

[[————]]

Two Reminiscences of Poe* and his Sister.

I.

Palmer House,   Room 733.
  Chicago.

October 29, 1899.

My Dear Sir,

Your letter, seeking information as I possess regarding my acquaintance with the lamented Edgar Allan Poe, came to hand this morning; and in response I will furnish you, willingly, with what I knew of him, prior to his demise in 1849. I first met him in 1846, about a year previous to his wife’s death. He was probably 12 or 15 years my elder at that time, as I was nearing my majority. Mr. John N. Millington, then foreman of the Baltimore Patriot, an evening paper, (also publishing a morning edition,) introduced me. The introduction took place in Guy’s Coffee House, corner of Monument Square and Fayette street, but our conversation was quite brief, Mr. Poe being of a nervous, melancholy, glum disposition and not much inclined to converse. He spoke to Mr. Millington of the illness of his wife — she had then been an invalid for some years — and remarked that there was a slight improvement in her condition. I do not remember where he said she was, but she certainly was not in Baltimore at that time. As Mr. Poe stood up to the “Bar” and drank off a big drink of whiskey, (I believe this was his favorite tipple), — Mr. Millington and myself joining him — my drink “California Pop,” as it was called, I formed the opinion that the poet had, in his time, seen many a barkeeper’s countenance; and, really I pitied him, for I had read a number of his short stories, printed if my memory serve me correctly, in Graham’s Gentleman’s Magazine, a Philadelphia monthly and greatly admired his style of composition. I was “courting” those days and the men in the Patriot office, on account of my youth, twitted me a good deal about it. At that time I was assisting Mr. John Wills, who managed the commercial column of the Patriot. Mr. Millington joked me and mentioned the matter of my “courting” to Mr. Poe, who with the gravity of a Church beadle, remarked — “My young friend don’t hurry yourself as to marriage. It has its joys, but its sorrows overbalance those.” His manner when he uttered this sentence, actually chilled me. A second drink — called for by Mr. Millington, — was indulged in and we separated. It is fresh in mind that Mr. Poe, on this occasion, was entirely destitute of funds, because he took Mr. Millington aside and borrowed a trifle from him.

Mr. Poe did not seem the style of man to make friends; and I never knew of his having any prominent ones in Baltimore. He was a chronic grumbler at his want of “luck,” and was eternally finding fault with the people who bought his writings, always claiming that a man could make more money carrying a hod then he could with his pen. He frequently asserted that such men as Dr. Johnson, author of “Rasselas,” Oliver Goldsmith and himself never should have been born, because the ­[page 1050:] world didn’t or wouldn’t understand them. And, I remember, on one occasion, when Mr. Poe and I were standing on the corner of Baltimore and Light streets, that he quoted what Shakspere [[sic]] says: “What good men do is buried with their bones,” or something near that. I met him very often at a then famous oyster house, I think it was located at the corner of Howard and Saratoga streets, and, on one occasion, whilst we were eating our “stews,” he was unusually lively and tried to be witty — (there was no wit in him, however,): — he told me the old, old story of the two bumpkins who were quarrelling over an oyster, who sought a lawyer’s advice, and how the lawyer, opening the bivalve, ate the oyster and handed a shell to each of the disputants. Poe thought this story a great one. Where he had been, for a few months previous to this meeting at the oyster-house, I do not know and he would not tell me; but he had been somewhere and had just returned. He had about $10 and he thought that that sum was quite a large one for him! Indeed, he so expressed himself.

Mr. Poe was absent from Baltimore* a good portion of the time between 1846 and 1849, the year of his death. He was missed a great deal being a sort of “hanger on” around the newspaper offices and saloons. John Boyd’s coffee-house, afterwards known as Reilly’s, on South street, near Baltimore street — a “cellar” restaurant — was one of his favorite resorts. In this place was a small room, the walls of which were covered with portraits of actors and actresses, old theatre bills, &c. Poe would spend a happy hour or two in this room if he had “a chum,” with him, provided he could get a glass or two of ale or brown stout whilst there. He often alluded to the circumstance that his mother, (who died when he was quite young), was an actress; but I never heard him refer to his father. After a visit to “Boyd’s” he was the “moodiest of the moody.” Poe was never a brilliant talker, but he was a hard worker (and a hard drinker) when he had work to do. His mentality was of a peculiar quality and, on some occasions, especially after a drinking “bout,” his talk would run on the super-natural. I call to mind once meeting him on South Gay street, near Lombard; and, seeing a couple of books I had just bought, he asked what they were. One was Herman Melville’s “Omoo”, the other “Undine” and “Sintram and his Companions.” Remarking upon the latter volume, (which contained the two stories, he said he had read them and thought Fouqué, the author, was one of the “deepest thinkers” that ever put pen to paper. He remarked that the character of Sintram was true to nature. “Every man had had his own devil.” As said before, Poe was not a man to make friends, or I may add, to keep them. He was conscious that he was not properly appreciated, and was continually on the “growl” when any one tendered him a compliment, as a writer: “People couldn’t get meat and drink with compliments.” What few friends he had were the poorly-salaried [column 2:] newspaper men of that day. I never knew him to be in any other condition than one of “hard luck.” In one way he was a “periodical” drinker, that is, he had his sober spells — yet I never saw him brutishly drunk, no matter how many glasses of the ardent he swallowed. The story that one glass of liquor would “set him wild” is moonshine. The trouble with him was that he “worked himself down” and then became despondent. Drink was induced by this despondency, and he kept up the “drunk” as long as he had money; without getting beastly drunk. He drank until his, [[sic]] nerves were shattered, poured it down until he was actually sick. He ate very little whilst indulging. I suppose he told me a hundred times that he was going to quit the habit, and I am sure he was sincere in his wish to do so. All his drinks were followed by a weakening diarrhoea. That was what carried him off. The loss of his wife was a sad blow to him. He did not seem to care, after she was gone, whether he lived an hour, a day, a week or a year. She was “his all”. As to his death, it took place, I believe in an infirmary or hospital, located on Broadway, East Baltimore. I was away visiting at the time, sometime after my return to the city a subscription was gotten up amongst the printers and newspaper men, with a view to place his remains in the burial yard of Westminster Church, Fayette and Green streets, and there they rest to-day. Now, whether he had been buried in “Potter’s Field,” (as has been asserted,) or whether he had just died when this subscription was gotten up is more than I can tell. As said above, I had been away from the city for some time and had lost sight of him for at least 6 months. He died, as I understood at the time from inflammation of the intestines, the diarrhoea preceding the fever. The story recently afloat to the effect that he was “cooped” by “road heelers,” drugged and kept drunk in the rear room of a fire-engine house, on Calvert street, is mere twaddle. Poe was not a voter in Baltimore, being a non-resident; in addition, he was never looked upon as a “bum” and although in them very frequently, was not a bar room loafer. His drinking was that of a gentleman, if an unfortunate victim of alcohol can be rated a gentleman.

What the religious belief of Mr. Poe was I cannot say; but I am very sure he was a believer in spirit friends. “Spiritualism” was not then known; but, if it had been, I am sure confident Mr. Poe would have been a believer in the mystery, fraud or whatever it is.

I never heard Mr. Poe refer to his college days, nor did I ever hear him recite any of his own compositions. He rarely used a Latin or French word in his conversation, and he was reticent as to his knowledge of Greek. I have heard him speak of the Iliad and Odyssey, of Homer, and of the works of Horace. He was an admirer of Scott’s poetical works, and also of the poems of Ossian.

And, dear Chevalier, this is all I can tell you about Edgar Allan Poe.

Very truly, R. D’Unger, M.D.  
Room 733 Palmer House.

­[page 1051:]

[[————]]

Dr. Clemm’s Statement about Poe.

“Catonsville,  
Baltimore Co., Md.,  
February 20, 1889.

“Dear Sir: —

“Allow me to say that this remarkable statement of Dr. Moran* both confuses and surprises me because it positively contradicts the statement made to me personally by the Doctor; and surprises me because he did not years ago give to the public what he now avers to be the true cause of Mr. Poe’s death.

“I think it due, therefore, to the truth of history, to give the Doctor’s statement made to me by himself immediately upon the death of the poet and while, as yet, he lay a corpse in the hospital.

“Let me premise, however, that at the personal request of Dr. Moran, I buried the lamented poet. I was stationed at the time at the Caroline Street Methodist Episcopal Church, in Baltimore, and it was in the parsonage of said Church that the Doctor called on me.

“The funeral was comparatively quiet and utterly without ostentation. But one hack was employed, and four persons occupied it — the late Hon. Neilson Poe, Z. Collins Lee, a prominent attorney of the Baltimore bar at the time, one other person and myself. He was buried in the Westminster Church Cemetery, corner of Green and Fayette Streets, Baltimore. The funeral service of the Methodist Episcopal Church was read at the grave by the writer.

“Subsequently Poe’s remains, together with those of his late wife, were removed and reinterred in the same grave, in another part of the cemetery, and now a handsome and appropriate monument ornaments the place where reposes the sleeping dust.

“But to return from this unnecessary digression, to the statement of Dr. Moran, made to me on his visit to the parsonage to secure my [column 2:] services for the burial of Mr. Poe. The statement was substantially as follows: —

“ ‘Mr. Poe’, said the Doctor, ‘came to Baltimore on his way to Philadelphia to be married.* He was handsomely dressed, and had with him an ample wardrobe neatly packed away in his trunk. Upon landing on the wharf from the Norfolk steamer, Mr. Poe was greeted by some of his old and former associates, who insisted that they should take a sociable glass of ardent spirits together for old acquaintance sake. To these persuasions the unfortunate poet yielded. This was the first drink he had taken for several months. Sad enough for Poe; it revived his latent appetite for drink, and the result was a terrible debauch which ended in his death. He lost all his wardrobe; was clad in tattered garments, and had on, when found, an old straw hat which no one would have picked up in the street. His appearance and condition were pitiable in the extreme, and in that drunken and stupid state he was brought to my hospital. Everything that medical skill and faithful nursing could suggest was done for him: but all to no purpose. He was unconscious or delirious during the entire time — some sixteen hours — with but one short interval, when for a moment reason returned, and during that short gleam of consciousness he looked at me and said with great emphasis, — ‘Dr. Moran, give me a pistol that I may blow my brains out!’

“ ‘He then suddenly relapsed into his former delirious condition and soon died.’

“The preceding is in substance a truthful account of the statement made to me by Dr. Moran, and if he has proof that Mr. Poe died from other causes, by all means it should be produced.

W. T. D. Clemm,

Pastor Catonsville Methodist Episcopal Church Baltimore Conference.”

To Dr. Elmer R. Reynolds,
  Washington, D. C.


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 1045, column 1:]

*  From the MS. belonging to Miss A. F. Poe. The editor prints this important letter verbatim as it has hitherto appeared only in abbreviated form.

  NOTE — It is now known (see Mrs. Weiss’s statement, derived from her brother-in-law, Dr. J. C. Carter, Part First of this Miscellany) that Poe’s “valise” [trunk] was forwarded after his death to his Baltimore relatives by Mr. Mackenzie. It is from this trunk that Griswold must have derived some of the material for his edition of Poe in 1849-56.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 1045, column 2:]

*  This proves the fact that Poe’s trunk was not lost at the time of his death and that Griswold had access to its contents. Another evidence of this is the curious “Introduction to the Tales of the Folio Club,” printed for the first time in Vol. II, of the Virginia Edition. This fragment was copied by the editor from the original MS. found in the Griswold Collection.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 1046, column 2:]

*  From MS. belonging to F. R. Halsey, Esq.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 1049, column 2:]

*  The editor is permitted to print this letter of Dr. D’Unger by the Chevalier E. R. Reynolds, of Washington, D. C., to whom it was addressed. — Ed.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 1050, column 1:]

*  Poe was at Fordham in 1846-49, and never lived in Baltimore after ‘33, ‘34 and ‘35. The above account is highly improbable. — Ed.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 1051, column 1:]

*  Evidently Dr. J. J. Moran’s “Defense of Edgar Allen [[Allan]] Poe;” Washington, D. C., 1885. — Ed.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 1051, column 2:]

*  This, of course, is inaccurate. — Ed.


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Notes:

Although Harrison says that the last two reminiscences are about Poe and his sister, neither mentions Rosalie at all. The reminiscences of Mrs. Stone, implied by the introductory material, were apparently left out at the last minute. They may be found, however, in “Poe’s Unhappy Sister,” by Gilberta S. Whittle, Baltimore Sun, October 29, 1904 (see Ingram collection, item 921).

Of the text Harrison prints from R. D’Unger, T. O. Mabbott describes it as “extracts from an incorrect transcript” (Poems, 1969, 1:561n5).

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[S:1 - IND, 1906] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - A Poe Miscellany (J. A. Harrison, 1906)