Text: George E. Woodberry, “Appendix A-03,” The Life of Edgar Allan Poe: Personal and Literary (1909), vol. II, pp. 368-370


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­[page 368, continued:]

III. LOWELL’S LETTERS TO BRIGGS

“January 16, 1845.

“I received this morning the two numbers of your ‘Broadway Journal,’ & am in haste to tell you how much I like it. . . . The article upon Miss Barrett is extremely well written, I suppose by Poe. It is a good telling article, though I do not agree with it in its conclusion. From a paragraph I saw yesterday in the ‘Tribune’ I find that ­[page 369:] Poe has been at me in the ‘Mirror.’ He has at least the chief element of a critic — a disregard of persons. He will be a very valuable contributor to you.”

“August 8, 1845.

“I am glad to hear that the conduct of Poe and Biscoe about the B. J. was not so bad as I had feared.”

“August 21, 1845.

“Poe, I am afraid, is wholly lacking in that element of manhood which, for want of a better name, we call character. It is something quite distinct from genius, — though all great geniuses are endowed with it. Hence we always think of Dante Alighieri, of Michael Angelo, of Will Shakespeare, of John Milton — while of such men as Gibbon & Hume we merely recall the works, & think of them as the author of this and that. As I prognosticated, I have made Poe my enemy by doing him a service. In the last B. J. he has accused me of plagiarism, and misquoted Wordsworth to sustain his charge. ‘Armor rustling on the walls, On the blood of Clifford calls,’ he quotes, italicizing ‘rustling’ as the point of resemblance. The word is really ‘rusting.’ You will find the passage in Wordsworth’s’song sung at Brougham Castle,’&c. My metaphor was drawn from some old Greek or Roman story which was in my mind, and which Poe, who makes such a scholar of himself, ought to have known. There is a similar incident in Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale, probably from the same source. Any one who had ever read the whole of Wordsworth’s poem would see that there was no resemblance between the two passages. Poe wishes to kick down the ladder by which he rose. He is welcome. But he does not attack me at a weak point. He probably ­[page 370:] cannot conceive of anybody’s writing for anything but a newspaper reputation, or for posthumous fame, which is but the same thing magnified by distance. I have quite other aims. . . . How can I expect to be understood, much more to have my poetry understood, by such a man as Poe. I cannot understand the meanness of men. They seem to trace everything to selfishness. Why, Brackett (the sculptor, as he is called,) actually asked Carter how much Poe paid me for writing my notice of him in Graham’s Magazine. Did such baseness ever enter the head of man? Why, it could not get into the head of a dog, even if had three heads like Cerberus.”

“November 25, 1849.

“What a contemptible idea of me Willis must have to think that anything Poe might say of me would make any difference in my feeling pity for his poor mother-in-law. I confess it does not raise my opinion of Willis. I knew before, as well as I know now, that Poe must have been abusing me, for he knew that ever since his conduct towards you about the ‘Broadway Journal’ I had thought meanly of him. My ‘pleasant letter’ to W. was about ten lines, less rather than more, I fancy, & my ‘generous donation’ was five dollars! I particularly requested of him that it should be anonymous.”(1)


[[Footnotes]]

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

1  xxxxxxxxxxxx.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 370:]

1 Lowell MSS. The third letter was published in Letters of James Russell Lowell, i, 99 (Harpers, 1894).


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - LEAPPL, 1909] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - The Life of EAP (G. E. Woodberry) (Appendix A-03)