Text: Hervey Allen, “Chapter 15,” Israfel: The Life and Times of Edgar Allan Poe (1926), volume 1, pp. 319-343


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[page 319, unnumbered:]

 

CHAPTER XV
“The Mysterious Years”

 

SPEAKING of Poe many years later, in New York, Elizabeth Oakes Smith, one of the literati, remarked, “men, such as Edgar Poe, will always have an ideal of themselves by which they represent the chivalry of a Bayard and the heroism of a Viking, when, in fact, they are utterly dependent and tormented with womanish sensibilities.”(399) There can be little doubt that, in this estimate, Mrs. Smith was essentially correct. Baltimore, 1831, marks the beginning of the period, which extended through all the rest of his life, when Poe gave himself up, in his domestic life, to a complete dependence for sympathy and physical comfort upon his aunt, Mrs. Clemm. As time went on, his cousin Virginia gradually took her own peculiar place in the circle of domestic pillars upon which he leaned. All attempt to realize objectively the Viking-military ideal had passed with West Point — the letter to Colonel Thayer, and the contemplated trip abroad to enter the Polish Army, was the last move in that direction. But the romantic, Bayard-chivalric idea still lingered, and was evident to the end in the various episodes with women, more especially in the juvenile affairs of the years in Baltimore and Richmond.

Hence, one of the first glimpses we have of the young poet after his arrival in Baltimore,(400) is his calling in full cadet regalia, and in company with Brother Henry, upon a young lady by the name of Kate Blakely who lived nearby. Miss Blakely was the daughter of Matthew Blakely, the proprietor of the Armstead Hotel on Short Swan Street between Jones Fields and the Market Space. She was probably one of the elder brother’s flames. They [page 320:] sat together in the hotel parlor. Kate seems to have been considerably impressed, and not a little flattered, by the attentions of “Mr. Allan Poe,” as he called himself, and by the pale, rather willowy elder brother. Edgar enlarged upon his prospects in Richmond, and later on addressed verses to the young woman, who was, of course, flattered. The combination of brass buttons and poetry is a solvent one upon the young female heart, and perhaps Poe played the part well even in a hotel parlor. Kate’s heart was fluttered, while Edgar had merely provided for himself a little stage upon which he might strut in costume, with a mild glow about the heart. The incident ended there. What Henry thought we do not know.

Edgar was tolerantly fond of his older brother who also wrote heart-smitten lyrics, and supplied an audience for the new book. Whether Henry was still attempting work in Mr. Didier’s office is doubtful. He was far gone in consumption and lapsed frequently into drink. The two young men probably still shared Mrs. Clemm’s attic room together. A good deal of the time of the younger brother must have been taken up nursing Henry, as the periods of his prostration became longer and more frequent. The nature of tuberculosis was still a mystery. It was then a “poetic,” and a “genteel” disease.(401)

As early as May, Poe was casting about for steady literary work. On May 6, 1831, he wrote to William Gwynn of Baltimore, editor and owner of the Federal Gazette, asking him for work on a salary basis.(402) Mr. Allan’s marriage, Poe said, had completely changed his prospects, and his guardian was anxious that he should remain in Baltimore.(403) Poe, it seems, had already quarrelled [page 321:] with Gwynn, probably over the latter’s treatment of Al Aaraaf.(404) For this he now apologized and asked the editor’s indulgence. Neilson Poe had only recently left Mr. Gwynn’s employ, and Edgar may have had some hopes of supplying his place in some humbler manner. But Mr. Gwynn did not see fit to reply. Poe was unable to see him personally as he (Poe) was confined to his room by “a severe sprain to his knee.” The next move was to write his friend Dr, Nathan C. Brooks, upon whom he had called on his way to West Point,(405) asking him for a position as an usher (assistant-teacher) in a boys’ school which Dr. Brooks had lately opened, at Reisterstown, Maryland. The position was already filled. The possibility of teaching, Poe seems to have kept in mind during most of the Baltimore sojourn.(406) It implied, at least, the possibility of salary and some leisure for the never-forgotten writing.

A little later Mrs. Clemm’s sore pressed household was relieved of one of its helpless burdens by the prime remover of all difficulties. The Baltimore American for Tuesday August 2, 1831, contained this notice:

Died last evening, W. H. Poe aged 24 years. His friends and acquaintances are invited to attend Ms funeral this morning at 9 from the dwelling of Mrs. Clemm in Milk Street. —

Henry was buried in the graveyard of the old First Presbyterian Church.

So June and July of 1831 must have been pretty well taken up with nursing the dying brother. As John Keats sat beside the bedside of his dying brother Tom, so Edgar Poe watched the passing of Henry under the spell of the same dread disease. There could have been time for very little work, and the whole process was enormously depressing, complicated as it was by a terrible poverty. [page 322:]

One can recall a little group of friends and relatives gathered upstairs at Mrs. Clemm’s on a hot August morning in Baltimore. The depressing old hymns, little Virginia’s terror, and the faint bird-like calls of the paralyzed grandmother as the shuffling feet carried the long burden downstairs, Mrs. Clemm in her widow’s weeds, weeping. After the short journey to the churchyard, Edgar returned to find himself the sole occupant of the attic room. Perhaps a physical relief, but there was no one there now to whom to read the Valley of Unrest or to help cap rhymes. Henry’s only legacy to his brother was the memory of his adventures and a debt, both of which Edgar claimed.(407) Only a dim memorial of Henry exists in a few obscure amorous verses published in the columns of the extinct Baltimore North American in 1827. Save for the curiosity of antiquaries and the reflected glory of Edgar, whose talents and vices Henry seems to have shared, William Henry Leonard Poe is a wasted and youthful shadow. The Poe and Herring cousins may have helped, probably with food. Edgar is known to have contracted a debt of $80 during his stay in Baltimore in 1829, part of which, he says, was for Henry.(407) The difficulties resulting from this debt occupy the chief place in the story of the remainder of the year. John Allan again figures in it largely.

For the time being, Poe evidently did not consider Henry’s debt as his own, for on October 16, 1831, he wrote John Allan an affectionate and homesick letter in which he tells him that he is clear of the difficulty that he spoke of in his last letter (Poe may have been writing to Richmond after settling in Baltimore, but these letters have been lost). This letter,(408) however, completely does away with the story that at this time the young poet was receiving an allowance from John Allan; evidently nothing of the kind occurred, for Poe distinctly says that he grieves that it is so seldom he hears from John Allan or even of him. He is now writing, he says, because he has nothing to ask; but being by himself, and thinking over old times and “my only friends,” [page 322:] his heart is full. The letter contains a note of self-reproach, and, despite the possibility of mercenary interest — a possibility which Poe carefully counters — the letter can only be taken for a genuine expression of regret and affection. He ends with a postscript asking if his “father” will not write one word to him. The letter is addressed in care of William Galt.(409) Poe hoped that this good friend would learn of its contents when he put it in John Allan’s hands. It would thus be delivered by a messenger in favor. The epistle is, when all is said and considered, nothing short of the cry of an exiled soul for news from home.

Poe had now had ample opportunity to reflect and feel the effects of his own total neglect of John Allan’s advice. Despite the enormously complicated and aggravated circumstances of their long association, there was still an element of affection between them which cannot be denied. The very fact, that each could forever hurt the other, shows that a tie still existed, despite the written denials of both. Underneath the events of both their lives, the unshed tears of a father and son lost to each other murmured dismally in the deepest caverns of being. John Allan could not understand how he could ever lose anything that he had once possessed; Edgar Poe could not conceive how anyone could be finally angry with him. Call it sentimental or what not, but, “Dear Pa” says Edgar, “God bless you.” In Richmond, John Allan kept turning over the old letters from Poe, endorsing them from time to time with evident emotion.

Yet all the ramifications of their long and bitter quarrel were at work in the inevitable chain of cause and effect. The letter which John Allan had written to Henry Poe in 1824(410) complaining of Edgar, must inevitably have had its effect upon the Baltimore relatives. Henry would almost surely show it to his cousins. Its vague attack on Edgar, and the dark insinuations which it contained against Mrs. Poe and Rosalie, made Mrs. Clemm forever [page 324:] uneasy. From time to time she hinted that there was “a great mystery.”(411) From Mrs. Poe’s letters, that Edgar so carefully guarded, she knew the truth, whatever it was, and this evidently was troubling enough. The Poes and Herrings, on their part, must have viewed the situation somewhat practically. Edgar, as far as they knew, seemed to have lost a literally golden opportunity. He had cast off the care of a rich guardian, and somehow or other managed to get disowned. The reasons for it could not be plain. It must have been, and as a matter of fact, it was, partly his own fault, so what he said was discounted. In the meanwhile, here was an unknown scribbler apparently content to live on Mrs. Clemm. One might help her, but, as for Edgar, it was well to be a little wary, especially as he fascinated one’s daughters. All this affected Poe’s attitude towards his cousins, particularly the Neilson Poes, and played its part shortly in his approaching clandestine marriage with Virginia.

Mrs. Clemm, on the other hand, took a more “motherly” view. With Henry dead and her own son “of not much account” (he was drinking and later went to sea) she felt strongly the necessity of a man in her household who was at least a protection and a putative bread-winner. Anyone who could get money for stringing words, she thought, must be a genius, and, above all this, she loved Edgar Poe. His personality, appearance and blood-relationship were enough. To a woman of her nature, the fact that he needed help was an irresistible appeal. From the day that he entered her door in 1831, he was at once sheltered and bound in the strong arms of a powerful and masterful, yet completely feminine woman, who only surrendered him at last, and then with a supreme and touching reluctance, to death. The marriage with Virginia was the cementing bond of the most overpowering relationship of the latter half of his life. For in the last twenty years of Poe’s existence Maria Clemm assumed the major rôle in his affairs that John Allan had occupied during the first. Otherwise there was no comparison. A just and clear understanding of Mrs. [page 325:] Clemm’s vital influence upon Edgar Allan Poe is one with the comprehension of the man himself.

Maria Poe Clemm was born March 17, 1790, the younger sister by some five or six years of the poet’s father, David. Her parents, “General” David, and Elizabeth Cairnes Poe were then living in Baltimore. On July 13, 1817, at the age of twenty-seven, she married William Clemm, Jr., a widower with five children, a little property, and some prospects, the ceremony taking place at St. Paul’s Church, Baltimore. Mr. Clemm died February 8, 1826, leaving Mrs. Clemm penniless with two living children of her own: Henry, born September 10, 1818, and Virginia Maria, born August 15, 1822.(412) A third child, Virginia Eliza (named for Mrs. Herring, Poe’s aunt), died in infancy. What little property Mr. Clemm had left, had gone to the children by the first wife or was in litigation. Henry, the son, was, as we have seen, a stonecutter. But he was of little real help, being an intermittent drinker. His movements and whereabouts are as obscure and uncertain as his character. Thus, in a double sense, Edgar Poe came into the life of Mrs. Clemm to take the place of a son. The tragic picture of the household was complete with Mrs. Elizabeth Poe, Virginia’s and Edgar’s grandmother, who had become bedridden in 1827 from paralysis, and, except for an insignificant pension, was totally dependent upon Mrs. Clemm. Edgar was thus living with the closest relations he had left, his aunt, and his full cousin Virginia. In 1831, Virginia was only nine years old, yet it was only four years later that she became Poe’s wife. How important or significant either her inclination or judgments were in the marriage, can best be arrived at by a comparison of dates. A full discussion of this must be deferred to its proper place in the calendar while, in the meantime, the little girl goes to school.

During the Summer of 1831 Poe tried to alleviate the distressing conditions at the house in Milk Street, while he was still helping to nurse Henry, by competing for a $100 prize offered by the [page 326:] Philadelphia Saturday Courier, a paper like the old Saturday Evening Post. The prize was for a short story. Poe submitted a number of tales but the award went to a Mrs. Delia S. Bacon for a story called Love’s Martyr. Poe’s effort was not entirely unsuccessful, however, for the editor accepted his Metzengerstein which appeared in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier, January 14, 1832. It was his first short story to be published (sic), and shows that he was turning his attention from poetry to the more lucrative field of prose. It is possible that without the merciless spur of poverty he might never have done so. In verse, the dreamer found his true dream within a dream — and received only a dreamful compensation.

The sale of a story in January, 1832, nevertheless, did not serve to put anything on the table through the Summer of 1831. Mrs. Clemm was probably under the necessity of going elsewhere than to the market with her market basket, a large wicker affair, vividly recollected by many who were repeatedly called upon to contribute to its contents, notably the Neilson Poes and the Herrings. Mrs. Clemm in her widow’s cap and large motherly person, her broad benign face troubled with an eleemosynary woe, was wont to appear at irregular but disconcerting intervals, the basket upon her arm, her fine gray eyes yearning with stark anxiety, and a tale of dole upon her lips that would have drawn tears from the mask of Comedy. No one was proof against her; for what she had to say was always painfully true: Virginia was naked; “dear Eddie” was so ill; or old Mrs. Poe was about to die (had been about to die indeed for five years) ; she herself was a poor widow; Henry was drinking again; the fire had gone out — and there was nothing to eat! What could one do in her large, neat, appealing, and irrefutable presence? The only reply was a contribution to the basket. Its wide and insatiable mouth gaped darkly, engulfing a child’s garment, a chicken, half a peck of potatoes, turnips, or loaves of bread — shut to the tune of her departing blessing, and it and the incident were both temporarily closed. But never completely so. It was impossible that the conjunction of all the ill luck which was so generously hers could ever end. Fortunately for a great poet, Mrs. Clemm had a knack. [[;]] [page 327:] a technique, indeed, which she soon acquired, of cutting under all intelligence and stabbing straight for the heart. She belonged in one part of her nature to that great, dark-garmented sisterhood that her own black widow’s weeds recalled, those who are forever flitting from door to door reminding the conventionally prosperous that poverty, bastardy, and suffering are mysteriously present facts and that alms are in order. Much as, from innate respectability, she hated her rôle, Mrs. Clemm played it surpassingly well. She was in this respect a little half-sister of St. Francis. Her lips, her gestures, and her own sacrifices pleaded for starving old age, childhood, and irresponsible genius. Only editors could resist, and even they did so with tears. On several occasions Mrs. Clemm actually borrowed money from an anthologist. Charity records no more signal triumph.

Yet sometimes her greatest skill was in vain. On November 7, 1831, Edgar Allan Poe was arrested in Baltimore for a debt — “which I never expected to have to pay.”(418) It was the $80, probably the note which he had endorsed for Henry, who was now free from all but celestial duns.(407) Edgar immediately wrote to John Allan. Prison was staring the young poet directly in the face. He was in bad health and he says he cannot undergo as much hardship as formerly. The debt laws in Baltimore were strict. One could then be confined for a debt of $5, and citizens of another town were not allowed the relief of bankruptcy. Besides, the debt was already two years old and it was Winter. “P. S.,” he adds, “I have made every exertion but in vain.” The letter was written on the eighteenth but it received no reply. Over two weeks later, on December 5, Mrs. Clemm seconded the appeal to Richmond in a heart rending letter to John Allan(419) that in both style and content does her credit. She had herself by some miracle raised $20, but that was not sufficient. She reminds Mr. Allan that Poe has no other place to which to appeal; says that besides this $80 he is not in debt; and closes by stating that the young man had been extremely kind to her as far as his opportunities [page 328:] would permit. There is some indication in this letter that Mr. Allan had “refused” to help Edgar, but it probably refers only to his long silence.

Ten days later Poe again writes to John Allan in sheer desperation. The prison door is evidently yawning. The letter is one of the most pitiable that a poet was ever forced to write to a patron.

Balt. Dec. 15th, 1831(415)

DEAR PA,

I am sure you could not refuse to assist me if you were well aware of the distress I am in. How often have you relieved the distress of a perfect stranger in circumstances less urgent than mine, and yet when I beg and entreat you in the name of God to send me succour you will still refuse to aid me. I know that I have no longer any hopes of being again received into your favour, but for the sake of Christ, do not let me perish for a sum of money which you would never miss, and which would relieve me from the greatest earthly misery. . . .

Poe then contrasts the blessings of wealth and happiness which his guardian was then enjoying with his own terrible misery, and adds:

If you wish me to humble myself before you I am humble — Sickness and misfortune have left me not a shadow of pride. . . .

How differently he would act, were their situations reversed, is the burden of the letter’s close. It reminds one of the last stanza of Israfel. Alas, for a poet in a world of sweets and sours so strangely portioned!

John Allan was not really so emotionally unassailable as this letter would indicate, although the accidental cause of events warranted Poe in thinking so. Mrs. Clemm, as we have seen, had written Mr. Allan on December 5, on the seventh, Mr. Allan had warranted John Walsh, a Baltimore correspondent of Ellis & Allan to “procure Poe’s liberation and give him $20 besides to keep him out of further difficulties,” but for some reason unknown, the merchant neglected to mail the letter until January 12, 1832. Mr. Allan was considerably troubled by this, an unusual [page 329:] oversight on his part in a financial transaction, for he endorses on the back of Poe’s letter of December 15. “Then put it in the (post) office myself.” This letter, written two days later, was evidently intended to answer Mrs. Clemm’s letter of the fifth.

In the meantime, of course, Poe knew nothing of all this. Christmas day, 1831, must have passed in an agony of suspense, and, on December 29, he again wrote to Richmond making a final curt appeal.(416) The letter begins “Dear Sir,” and contains a reminder that it is from one who in old times once sat upon the knees which the writer is now forced to embrace. Some two weeks later Poe was probably startled by the unexpected intervention of Mr. Walsh. It was after the crisis was over.

What had happened is not exactly clear. Poe does not seem to have been actually imprisoned. Probably someone of the cousins intervened to save the family name from disgrace; the importunate creditors were prevented; and Edgar Poe was absolved from the misery of hearing the New Year’s bells of 1832 ring through prison walls. For an underfed young man with a weak heart and a tendency toward melancholy, it was more than a fortunate escape — it was an extension of his lease on existence. The nadir had been reached.

The year 1832 still remains the most mysterious in the annals of Edgar Allan Poe. In many respects it is a blank, there is no correspondence covering the period, and his exact whereabouts during part of the time is open to reasonable doubt. The preponderance of evidence, however points to the fact that he was in the garret of Mrs. Clemm’s Milk Street house, and that the stories which began to appear in 1833 in the Baltimore Saturday Visitor, The Tales of the Folio Club, and the Coliseum were under way there.(417) The short stories which appeared in the Philadelphia [page 330:] Saturday Courier during 1832, of which there were five, probably represent the work of 1831.

Although it is impossible to present the events covering this “ mysterious year “ with any assurance as to the precise order of time in which they occurred, there is a considerable mass of evidence relating to the stay of Poe in Baltimore, some of which undoubtedly tends to fill in what has long remained more or less of a blank. Before touching on this, it should be stated that none of the traditions of this time indicate that the young poet was dissipated. The reliable facts, indeed, prove the reverse. He was, it seems, in ill health part of the time, probably caused by the weak heart that threatened to cease to beat altogether two years later, after the extreme poverty and deprivations that he was forced to undergo. It is now definitely known that absolutely no help was received from Richmond. The aid received from John Allan in January, 1832, was the last help he was ever to experience from that quarter.(418) Writing was Poe’s sole resource.

Among other places where Poe is known to have been seen about this time was E. J. Coale’s bookstore on Calvert Street, which he is said to have haunted, and Widow Meagle’s Oyster Parlor on Pratt Street near Hollysworth. Here he met a sailor by the name of Tuhey who played the flute. The proprietress was a good-natured Irish woman who made much of the “Bard,” as he [page 331:] was called. Persons who went there, afterward remembered hearing Poe recite his own poetry, and the flute playing of Tuhey beside the inn fire.(419) The Tavern was a resort of sea-faring men, and those who gathered there were wont to exchange stories. Poe was still forced, it appears, to wear various articles of his West Point uniform, partly from necessity, probably, and partly from desire. There is some tradition of his drilling the street gamins about the neighborhood of Fells Point, and the young lads of the vicinage were said to have been fond of him, and to have followed him whenever he went through the streets. The Baltimore Library, then at the corner of Holiday and Fayette Streets, seems also to have been a refuge, and to have provided the source for the many literary and historical gleanings that appeared a few years later in the Southern Literary Messenger as Tid-bits. There may have been some “flying visits” to Philadelphia when the purse permitted, probably to see the editors of the Courier.(420)

The chief event of this period, however, was a romantic affair with a Miss Mary Devereaux a neighbor of the Clemms. The recollections of that young lady were not contributed until about forty years afterward, so that the exact time which they covered cannot be definitely ascertained, but, from numerous indications, it appears that part of the events which she described took place during the year 1832.(417)

Mrs. Clemm’s attic room looked out upon the rear of the houses upon Essex Street, in “Old Town.” Poe was much in this attic, writing, and, as he looked out of the third story window one day, across the fluttering clothes in the backyards between Milk and Essex Streets, he noticed a pretty girl who wore her auburn hair in “frizzed puffs,” as the style then was. She was sitting in the rear window of a house opposite. A handkerchief flirtation began in which another girl Mary Newman, who lived next door to Mary Devereaux on Essex Street, soon joined.(421) [page 332:] The white signals were alluring, and soon led to a closer acquaintance. Both the girls knew that Poe was a young soldier and a poet, and their hearts as well as the handkerchiefs seemed to have been agitated. A battledore and shuttlecock game of kisses was soon being played with hands for rackets, until Mrs. Devereaux once inquired, “What takes you upstairs so much, Mary?” One summer afternoon when Mary Devereaux and Mary Newman were seated talking together on their adjoining front stoop on Essex Street, with only a balustrade between them,(422) Edgar Poe passed “as usual” on his way home to Mrs. Clemm’s.(421) The impressive Edgar stopped and bowed. Virginia it seems had already been sent to Mary Devereaux for a lock of the bright hair which had first attracted his attention. The favor had been granted. One can therefore imagine the excitement of the two Marys as the romantic figure of the Milk Street window actually seemed about to speak. “Do you know him?” whispered Mary Newman to Mary Devereaux. “No,” replied Miss Devereaux lying valiantly despite the burning lock of hair. “Why, that’s Edgar Poe who has recently came from West Point. He writes poetry, too. Why I declare! There he comes across the street. Oh! Isn’t he handsome!” With a few omissions, perhaps “Poe’s Mary” can best tell the rest of the story for herself.(422)

Mr. Poe, having crossed the street, came up the Newman’s stoop. As he did so, I turned my back, as I was then young and bashful. He said ‘How do you do, Miss Newman?’ She then turned and introduced him to me, and then happened to be called into the house. Mr. Poe immediately jumped across the balustrades separating the stoops, and sat down by me. He told me I had the most beautiful head of hair he ever saw, the hair that poets always raved about. . . . From that time on, he visited me every evening for a year, and during that time, until the night of our final lover’s quarrel, he never drank a drop, as far as I know . . . Affectionate! . . . he was passionate in his love. . . . My intimacy with Mr. Poe isolated me a good deal. In fact my girl friends were many of them afraid of him and forsook me on his account. I knew more of his male friends. He despised ignorant people, and didn’t like trifling and small talk. He didn’t like dark-skinned people. [page 333:] When he loved, he loved desperately. Though tender and very affectionate, he had a quick, passionate temper, and was very jealous. His feelings were intense and he had but little control of them. He was not well balanced; he had too much brain. He scoffed at everything sacred and never went to church.(423) If he had had religion to guide him he would have been a better man. He said often that there was a mystery hanging over him he never could fathom. He believed he was born to suffer, and this embittered his whole life. Mrs. Clemm also spoke vaguely of some family mystery, of some disgrace. . . .(411) Mr. Poe once gave me a letter to read from Mr. Allan, in which the latter said, referring to me, that if he married any such person he would cut him off without a shilling.

Eddie and I never talked of his poetry then or in later years. He would not have done that; he would have considered it conceited. We were young, and only thought of our love. Virginia always carried his notes to me. . . . Eddie’s favorite name was ‘Mary’ he said. He used often to quote Burns, for whom he had a great admiration. We used to go out walking together in the evenings. We often walked out of the city and sat down on the hills.

One moonlight summer night we were walking across the bridge, which was not far from our house. At the other end of the bridge was a minister’s house. Eddie took my arm and pulled me, saying. * Come, Mary, let us go and get married; we might as well get married now as any other time.’ We were then but two blocks from home. He followed, and came in after me. We had no definite engagement, but we understood each other. He was then not in circumstances to marry. When my brother found that Mr. Poe was coming so often he said to me: ‘You are not going to marry that man, Mary? — I would rather see you in your grave than that man’s wife. He can’t support himself, let alone you.’ I replied, being as romantic as Eddie was, that I would sooner live on a crust of bread with him than in a palace with any other man. . . . The only thing that I had against him was that he held his head so high. He was proud and looked down on my uncle whose business did not suit him. He always liked my father, and talked with him a good deal. . . .

One evening a friend of my brother’s, a Mr. Morris, was visiting us. He knew that Mr. Poe’s favorite song, which I often sang him, was [page 334:] Come Rest in This Bosom. He asked me to sing it in order to tease Mr. Poe. I went to the piano to sing. Mr. Morris stood by me and turned the leaves. Mr. Poe walked with one hand behind his back, up and down the room, biting the nails of the other hand to the quick, as he always did when excited. He then walked over to the piano, and snatched the music and threw it on the floor. I said that it made no matter, and that I could sing the song without music, and did so. Mr. Morris, knowing me well called me ‘Mary.’ That also made Eddie jealous. He stayed after Mr. Morris left, and we had a little quarrel.

Our final lover’s quarrel came about in this way: One night I was waiting in the parlor for Eddie, and he didn’t come. My mother came into the room about ten o’clock and said, ‘Come Mary, it’s bed-time.’ The parlor windows were open, and I lay with my head on my arms on one of the window sills. I had been crying. Eddie arrived shortly after my mother spoke to me, and he had been drinking. It was the only time during that year that I ever knew him to take anything. He found the front door locked. He then came to the window where I was, and opened the shutters, which were nearly closed. He raised my head, and told me where he had been. He said he had met some cadets from West Point when on his way across the bridge. They were old friends, and took him to Barnum’s Hotel,(424) where they had a supper and champagne. He had gotten away as quickly as possible, to come and explain matters to me. A glass made him tipsy. He had more than a glass that night. As to his being an habitual drunkard, he never was as long as I knew him.

I went and opened the door and sat on the stoop with him in the moonlight. We then had a quarrel, about whose cause I do not care to speak.(425) The result was that I jumped past him off the stoop, ran around through an alleyway to tie back of the house, and into the room where my mother was.

She said, ‘Mary! Mary! what’s the matter?’

Mr. Poe had followed me, and came into the room. I was much frightened,(425) and my mother told me to go upstairs. I did so.

Mr. Poe said, ‘I want to talk to your daughter. If you don’t tell her to come down stairs, I will go after her. I have a right to!’

My mother was a tall woman, and she placed her back against the door of the stairs, and said, ‘You have no right to; you cannot go upstairs.’ [page 335:]

Mr. Poe answered, ‘I have a right. She is my wife now in the sight of Heaven!’

My mother then told him he had better go home and to bed, and he went away.

He didn’t value the laws of God or man. He was an atheist. He would just as lief have lived with a woman without being married to her as not. . . . I made a narrow escape in not marrying him. I don’t think he was a man of much principle.

After the quarrel . . . I broke off all communication with Mr. Poe, and returned his letters unopened. My mother also forbade him the house. He sent me a letter by Virginia. I sent it back unopened. He wrote again, and I opened the letter. He addressed me formally as ‘Miss Devereaux,’ and upbraided me in satiric terms for my heartless, unforgiving disposition. I showed the letter to my mother, and she in turn showed it to my grandmother, who was then visiting us. My grandmother read it, and took it to my uncle James. My uncle was very indignant, and resented Mr. Poe’s letter so much that he wrote him a very severe, cutting letter, without my knowledge. Mr. Poe also published at the same time in a Baltimore paper a poem of six or eight verses, addressed To Mary. The poem was very severe, and spoke of fickleness and inconstancy. All my friends and his knew whom he meant. This also added to my uncle’s indignation.

Mr. Poe was so incensed at the letter he received that he bought a cowhide, and went to my uncle’s store one afternoon and cowhided him. My uncle was a man of over fifty at the time. My aunt and her two sons rushed into the store, and in the struggle to defend my uncle tore his assailant’s black frockcoat at the back from the skirts to the collar. Mr. Poe then put the cowhide up his sleeve and went up the streets to our house as he was, with his torn coat, followed by a crowd of boys. When he arrived at our house he asked to see my father. He told him he had been up to see his brother, pulled out my uncle’s letter, said he resented the insult, and had cowhided him. I had been called down-stairs, and when Mr. Poe saw me, he pulled the cowhide out of his sleeve and threw it down at my feet, saying, ‘There, I make you a present of that!’

Shortly after this exciting and melodramatic scene, the Devereauxs moved away from Baltimore(426) and did not come across Poe until many years later. There are one or two very significant things about Mary Devereaux’s account, evidently by an uneducated but intelligent girl, it bears considerable weight as the direct [page 336:] evidence of one who knew him exceedingly intimately. The extreme difficulty of living with a man of Poe’s nervous and excitable temperament needs little comment. It is a further testimony to Mrs. Clemm’s everlasting affection and patience, while the picture of Virginia as a mere child and the bearer of love notes sets aside completely the absurd romantic rubbish that has been built up about this little maiden at that time.

Evidently she was a nice little schoolgirl in gingham and pigtails, who carried and fetched for big Cousin Eddie, probably with a mischievous thrill in the case of Mary Devereaux. This can scarcely mean that, “from the first Edgar Poe recognized in her the one over-powering affection of his heart.” If he did so, asking her to trot around the block to fetch him a lock of red hair from Mary’s was a passing strange way of manifesting his “soul’s worship” for Virginia. It is quite obvious to all but the sentimentally purblind that the only “throne in the house of the great poet” occupied by his “spiritu-el cousin” was a chair at the table three times a day, when the state of Mrs. Clemm’s larder permitted it. Mary says that Virginia was plump and hearty and a nice little schoolgirl with a pleasing disposition, “her chief charm.” Perhaps, Mrs. Clemm had her plans, but of these, like a wise mother, she said nothing then, we may be sure.

The end of the affair with Mary was to be typical of several to follow later. She bears testimony that Poe was passionate. Evidently he meant to have what all men desire — “He didn’t value the laws of God or man” — and the cause of the quarrel on the stoop Mary didn’t care to talk about,(425) but it is also evident that the great excitement of sex, like all other “stimulants,” completely unnerved Poe. He was never capable of remaining calm and collected, even rational enough, to overcome the normal and proper difficulties that stood between love and the prize. Before marriage was possible, the emotional pressure became so great that it exploded along some other paths, anger, jealousy, — exasperation of some kind, ending in sheer exhaustion and in later years followed by collapse. Uncle So and So was cowhided, the husband, or prospective mother-in-law fearful for the family real estate, with other relatives, became alarmed, and the world always [page 337:] heard about it later through the secondary literary manifestations of poems or tales of woe. Of course, the neighbors talked, and in Poe’s case the gossip has become immortal.(427)

About the same time, when according to Mary, John Allan was threatening to cut Poe off without a shilling, in case he married her, that gentleman in Richmond was making his will. This ode on the intimations of mortality was drawn April 17, 1832, due to the fact that, since his visit to the Hot Springs in 1829, Mr. Allan’s health had been steadily failing, and the “intimations” were now again assuming a dropsical turn.(428) Poe seems to have gotten wind of this. A printer by the name of Askew is known to have carried letters back and forth for Poe from Richmond.(429) The old servants in the house who had not forgotten either the old days nor “Marse Eddie,” occasionally sent him news, or he may have heard through the Mackenzies, who were still intimate with Miss Valentine, of the doings at the big mansion. Rosalie Poe was still living with the Mackenzies.

There were a hundred motives to take Poe to Richmond. Aside from going “home,” and that was much, the chance of a favorable reception by his “father” might mean the immediate relief of his desperate circumstances and a change in his entire future. Undoubtedly, too, there were other than mercenary motives. Perhaps, they would let him rest in his old room. “Aunt Nancy” would still be there, and after all “Pa” had saved him from prison. He must care a little, A rumor of the making of the will,(430) of Mr. Allan’s ill health, or some chance kindly expression from John Allan may have been the deciding factor. We can be sure his heart was beating fast as he packed his bag and said good-bye to Mrs. Clemm. The steamboat left early.

It was sometime in June, 1832, when Poe arrived in Richmond after an absence of over two years.(431) The return to an old scene [page 338:] revives all the familiar attitudes and emotions that go with it. The little Virginia capitol could scarcely have changed at all since he had left it, the very patterns of the vines on the walls of houses were old friends. It must have seemed impossible as he opened the gate of the well-known walk that he was not really “going home.” All that lay about him was at the core of his dreams. Old “Dab,” the butler, opened the door, and Poe told him to take the bag to “his room.” It was not the gesture of presumption but the motion of old habit. At the same time he asked for Miss Valentine. She, it appears, must have been out, and the old butler informed him that “Marse Eddie’s room” was now a guest chamber! There appears to have been some argument with old Dandridge about this. Poe regarded the room as his peculiar domain. His things, he thought, were still there.(432) The old darkey must have been in a quandary. Poe then asked for Mrs. Allan who came down to the parlor.

Here she found a young man, a stranger, acting like a member of the family. To her amazement, she found herself being reproached for having ordered her own house to suit herself. Poe on his part, as usual under the stress of great excitement, could not control his feelings and found himself reproaching “the strange woman” who seemed to have usurped Frances Allan’s place. The voice of an “heir” upstairs did not tend to soothe him. It is said that even the child came in for some acrid remarks [page 339:] on Poe’s part, and that in his excitement he went so far as to hint that Mrs. Allan had not been without mercenary motives in marrying. The lady is said to have replied that, far from considering Poe a member of the family whose wishes were to be consulted in the plans of the household, she knew him to be nothing more than a mere pensioner on her husband’s bounty. The interview was undoubtedly acrimonious and, no doubt, enormously exasperating to them both. To Mrs. Allan, Poe’s presence must have been an insufferable reminder, and an assertion of the rights of the beloved foster-son of the first wife, that struck at the very basis upon which her own existence and her children’s lives, for there were now two of them, must rest. She sent for Mr. Allan, who was at the office, and is said to have coupled her message with the assertion that “Edgar Poe and herself could not remain a day under the same roof.” Poe was inclined for a moment to stand upon “his rights,” and seems to have remained seated in the parlor, but the emphatic sound of the lame man’s cane clicking up the walk, and the clump of a well-known foot was sufficient to change his mind if not his feelings. He crossed the hall to the front door about the same instant that John Allan let himself in by the side entrance.

Poe went to the Mackenzies, where he told his story. They were simple and kindly folk who understood. Rosalie was still there, and Jack Mackenzie his staunch boyhood friend. Rosalie had grown up, but she was still a little girl. Miss Valentine, who must have been out when Poe “called” at the big mansion, sent him money. The Mackenzies also probably contributed. After a short time Poe returned to Baltimore.

Then the Richmond gossip began. It was rumored that Poe had thrust himself past the butler and gone to Mrs. Allan’s room where she lay in bed with a new born infant in her arms. There he had “reviled her and the child” and had been thrown out by the servants after which he threw stones at the house. Only the arrival of Mr. Allan had prevented goodness knows what! Poe must, of course, have been drunk. What could one expect of the son of actors, a mad poet, — after all Mr. Allan’s kindness, too! A hundred eager Penelopes now took up the shuttle of rumor, [page 340:] platting and unraveling the endless web of petty scandal, as the domestic knitting needles were laid aside, in order to weave the most delightful incident that had been suggested to designers along the James for years.

Before the shuttles were discarded, a whole grotesque panel in the tapestry of the adventures of Israfel was completed for the corridors of legend. It was such an intriguing work of art that it appeared later as a lunette in one of the side halls of history.

In the meantime, Mr. Allan’s generosity had crystallized in his will in the form of certain codicils regarding the education of twin boys, on a side street in Richmond, who were now just two years old. Perhaps, the once beloved foster-son’s indignation and the nervousness of the second Mrs. Allan had roots which even the longest knitting needle could not probe. Whatever may have been said between them that morning in the big octagon parlor, on Poe’s part, the world was never the wiser. Others were not so reticent about him.(433)

The news of the outcome of the visit to Richmond could have brought very little cheer to the poverty-stricken hearth of Mrs. Clemm in Baltimore. If anything, Poe had only “succeeded” in making his alienation the more complete. John Allan never communicated with him (Poe) again, and Poe only attempted to do so once with him. There was nothing left but for the pen in the garret to scratch on and on, with only the most glimmering prospects [page 341:] that the fine chirography of its industrious characters would ever be translated into print. There was a whole volume of stories at hand, the famous Tales of the Folio Club.

Meanwhile, at the Baltimore Library, the same pair of eyes were eagerly scanning the Tales of Hoffman, German Philosophy, largely in a denatured and secondary English form, foreign and American newspapers and magazines.

In the Autumn of 1832, there is a legend and some evidence that Poe made an ocean voyage as a sailor before the mast to the coast of Wexford in Ireland.(434) But both the legend and the evidence are uncertain. The incident remains to be proved, and the probabilities are that Poe remained in Baltimore. Henry Clemm may have accompanied Poe to Ireland, but Mary Devereaux says he went West, about this time. An old acquaintance and boyhood chum also removed from Richmond into an even vaguer beyond. In the Fall of 1832, Ebenezer Burling died of cholera in Richmond. Whether Poe heard about it then we do not know.

Edgar was much at his cousins’ house as well as at the Clemms’. At the corner of Bounty Lane and Caroline Street lived a cousin, Mrs. Beacham, with several in her family. Here Poe was a frequent visitor, as well as at Mr. George Poe’s house. A good deal of his time was spent at Mr. Henry Herring’s on Asquith Street near Pitt. Mr. Herring was a prosperous lumber dealer and was able to afford a pleasant social background for his daughter. A circle of young girls met frequently at her house, and Poe seems to have been much in demand, reciting poetry, and writing in his cousin’s album, a custom of the time which was so universal as to develop a distinct type of parlor literature. Poe seems to have been extremely fond of this Miss Herring, if not in love. She married a year or two later and left Baltimore to live in Virginia. The Cairnes, family relatives of old Mrs. David Poe, were also [page 342:] kindly and hospitable,(435) and there was a neighbor, a Mrs. Samuel F. Simmons, who was extremely kind. In recognition of this, she received some time later the manuscript of Morella in the neat scribal characters that mark it as part of The Tales of the Folio Club. About the same time, Poe was engaged in writing his only attempt at drama, Politian.

It is noticeable that most of the houses which Poe frequented were the homes and rendezvous of pretty young girls. In their company, rather than in the companionship of youths of his own age, he seems to have been most at home. With them he doubtless found himself the object of interest and considerable admiration, an atmosphere in which he expanded. Seated on the Empire sofas, just then beginning to go out of fashion, in a parlor adorned with genre pictures of the day, each conveying an obvious but edifying moral, he wrote sentimental poems in the red morocco, brass-bound and betasseled albums, or looked at the incredible flounced nymphs simpering from the pages of a genteel magazine, with the head of a living replica tantalizingly near. Then, with a faint rustle of ruffles and the twinkle of lowheeled, beaded cloth slippers, they would all gather about the piano where the candles would be lit in the little brass sidesconces, brightening white lace-covered hands that leapt along the keys. A certain young gentleman with soulful grey eyes turned the music, whose quaint notes as large as tadpoles wriggled their way through the faint-ruled lines of an old song. Outside the passerby paused to be quaveringly informed that a young lady within was extending a contralto invitation to Come Rest in This Bosom. Then there was currant cake and a little sweet elderberry wine. The conversation was in strict keeping with the refreshments. In winter time the black lumps of canal coal melted slowly in the arabesqued cast iron paunch of an urn-topped stove; parchesi draughts advanced or returned on candle lit square; the strange designs of dominoes grew and dissolved on deal tables, amid breathless giggles; and there was an ancient game, never [page 343:] old, played with a handkerchief or a pillow. Baltimore, after all, had its relaxations. Above the monotone of poverty, if one listens carefully, can be heard the quaint grace notes of a thin piano and the whisper of skirts over carpets where the flowers of Victoria had not yet bloomed. Half a century later an old lady remembered a young man:(436)

Mr. Poe was about five feet eight inches tall, and had dark, almost black hair, which he wore long and brushed bade in student style over his ears. It was as fine as silk. His eyes were large and full, gray and piercing. He was entirely clean shaven. His nose was long and straight, and his features finely cut. The expression about his mouth was beautiful. He was pale, and had no color. His skin was of a clear, beautiful olive. He had a sad, melancholy look. He was very slender . . . but had a fine figure, an erect military carriage, and a quick step. But it was his manner that most charmed. It was elegant.(437) When he looked at you it seemed as if he could read your thoughts. His voice was pleasant and musical but not deep. He always wore a black frock-coat buttoned up, with a cadet or military collar, a low turned-over shirt collar, and a black cravat tied in a loose knot. He did not follow the fashions, but had a style of his own. His was a loose way of dressing as if he didn’t care. You would know that he was very different from the ordinary run of young men.

Thus, we get a fairly complete picture of Poe in the early 1830’s. In the Fall of 1832, Mrs. Clemm moved from Milk Street to Number 3 Amity Street where she resided until the entire family left for Richmond in 1835. She was accompanied to the new dwelling by Virginia, “a handful of furniture,” and her nephew Edgar, who, although nobody knew it but himself, was just on the threshold of fame.


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 319:]

399.  Selections from the Autobiography of Elizabeth Oakes Smith, edited by Mary Alice Wyman, Lewiston Journal Company, Lewiston, Maine, page 119.

400.  Information supplied from letters by a member of the Poe family in Maryland.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 320:]

401.  The statement is nowhere directly made in any correspondence that Henry Poe died of tuberculosis. From various indications and references to his ill health, his early death, the long period of his illness, and the fact that no specific name is given to his complaint, it is morally certain that consumption complicated by alcoholic excess was the cause.

402.  A Baltimore correspondent sends information of a Balloon-hoax story contributed by Poe to a Baltimore newspaper about April 1, 1831. It has not been possible to verify this. Dr. Mabbott informs me he “doubts it.”

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 320, running to the bottom of page 321:]

403.  This was pure fiction on Poe’s part as there had been no communication between him and John Allan since the letter of February 21, 1831, in New York. The only basis for the statement is that Mr. Allan was certainly desirous of Poe’s staying away from Richmond. Poe evidently still counted on his guardian’s help, [page 321:] and therefore hoped to seem to act according to his desires. It will be remembered that Mr. Gwynn had been a law student with David Poe, the poet’s father.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 321:]

404.  See Chapter XII, page 262. Also Poe to Gwynn, Baltimore, May 6, 1831.

405.  See Chapter XII, page 267. Brooks continued Poe’s friend for years; also Chapter XIX, page 441.

406.  See Poe to Kennedy, Baltimore, March 15, (1835).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 322:]

407.  The debt was probably a note, endorsed for Henry in 1829 to help pay for doctors and medicines.

408.  Valentine Museum Collection, letter No. 26.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 323:]

409.  Mr. Galt was looking after the business at Ellis & Allan for Mr. Allan who was now often absent. The address to William Galt thus insured its not being read by the clerks, and its getting into the correct hands. Poe was evidently anxious to reopen communication with Richmond; the long silence had greatly alarmed him.

410.  See Chapter VII, page 125.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 324:]

411.  Mary Devereaux spoke of this remark by Mrs. Clemm, see this chapter, page 333. Mrs. Clemm was not referring to conditions in Richmond, but to a Poe family mystery as she continued to hint of it years later after the Allan affairs were aired in court.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 325:]

412.  There is some conflict about dates here, August 12, and August 22, 1822, are also given by family tradition. The church record is followed, from St. Paul’s Parish Baltimore, see Woodberry, 1904, vol. I, page 137, note 1. The thanks of the author are also due to Mrs. Sally Bruce Kinsolving for making a search of the St. Paul’s Parish Records.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 327:]

413.  Valentine Museum Letters, letter No. 27, Baltimore, Maryland, November 18, 1831 (Thursday). See also note 407.

414.  Valentine Museum Letters, letter No, 28.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 328:]

415.  Valentine Museum Letters, letter No. 29.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 329:]

416.  Valentine Museum Letters, letter No. 30.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 329, running to the bottom of page 330:]

417.  Several legends about Poe’s going abroad in 1832, and of his being in Baltimore unknown to the Clemm’s, exist. I have assembled the bulk of the material dealing with this year and considered all the correspondence before and after it, and all the circumstances implied. There is no genuine evidence to imply that Poe was not in Baltimore in 1832, and all the implications are that he was. The Valentine Museum Letters are silent but indicate, at the last, that Poe had remained in poverty in Baltimore. Mary Devereaux’s story shows Poe very palpably a year or two before John Allan’s death in 1834, and must necessarily cover part [page 330:] of the “mysterious” period. The amount of manuscript material which Poe had on hand a year or so later, taken together with the work that he is known to have done in 1831, shows that he must have been writing through 1832. Had he made all of the “voyages” and trips, been dying of fever, in jail, etc., etc., during this time, we would have some authentic record, or some real evidence about it. The blank simply means an unknown author hard at work on his manuscripts. The account given here has been put together with painstaking analysis, where surmise has been resorted to it is the result of the elimination of the impossible.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 330:]

418.  As this statement contradicts that of all other biographers and Poe himself to John P. Kennedy, the reader is referred to the Valentine Museum Letters covering the second Baltimore period, 1831-1833, which show beyond peradventure that John Allan did not give Poe an “annuity.” During the period, John Allan probably (sic) sent Poe a small gift in November, 1831, the $80 to save him from prison, too late, “and $20 besides.” In his last letter to John Allan (Poe from Baltimore, April 12, 1833,) the latter says, “It is now more than two years since you have assisted me . . . three since you have spoken (written) to me.” Poe would scarcely lie to John Allan about what Mr. Allan had done himself. Prof. Woodberry’s contrary statements were made before the complete evidence was available.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 328:]

419.  See J. H. Whitty’s Memoir, large edition, page xxxv. There are also other accounts confirming this.

420.  This is conjectural, although there are some doubtful references to it by Mary Devereaux.

421.  It is said that Poe for awhile boarded at the Newmans, but Mary Devereaux’s story indicates that he knew Miss Newman as a neighbor and lived at the Clemm’s, whence Virginia carried notes.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 332:]

422.  The account here given, and the conversations are taken from Poe’s Mary by Augustus Van Clef, Harpers New Monthly Magazine, March 1889, pages 634-640. Also see note 745.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 333:]

423.  This implied a much more definite philosophy at that time than now. To be “a free thinker” was a serious charge in 1832. The author has contemporary letters showing that young men who took Sunday walks had to hide the wild flowers they picked on such sinful rambles under their beaver hats on returning to town or they would lose their jobs. See The Young Man’s Sunday Book, Philadelphia, Desilver, Thomas and Co., 1836, for some startling remarks on young men who do not go to church.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 334:]

424.  This hotel, Barnum’s, was a famous Baltimore hostlery noted for its diamond-back terrapins, and canvas-back ducks “done rare.” The place was built in 1827. The Post Office was on the ground floor. This was the end of the Philadelphia stage line, just then (1832) about to go out of business.

425.  “Mr. Poe” had evidently carried matters to extremes. The reader is asked to note this passage for future reference.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 335:]

426.  To Philadelphia —— , and afterward to Jersey City.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 337:]

427.  In Richmond, Baltimore, and Charlottesville Poe is still gossiped about as though he were still alive. Some of the legends are ingenious.

428.  John Allan had nearly died of dropsy in March, 1820. John Allan to Charles Ellis, London, March, 1820. Ellis & Allan Papers.

429.  Information given to the author in Richmond, July, 1925.

430.  Robert Cabell was one of the witnesses of the will. Young Robert Cabell was a close friend of Poe and may have been in touch with him.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 337, running to the bottom of page 338:]

431.  This date has been placed a year earlier and a year later by various biographers. [page 338:] The making of the will, and the known movements of Poe in 1831 and 1833, place it in 1832 by elimination. The birth of young William Galt Allan, after which, according to the Allan tradition, Poe appeared, seems to fix it about June, Poe could not have appeared “after the birth of the first child” as he is said to have done, as that was at a time when he is known to have been elsewhere.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 338:]

432.  These, it appears, had been “moved out,” a fact that enraged Poe. The story of this visit comes from two distinct angles; the legends according to the Allan tradition, and the version derived from the Mackenzies to whom Poe went immediately after the event. I have tried to reconstruct the incident taking into consideration the personalities involved and the standpoints from which the stories were afterwards told. Mrs. Susan Archer Weiss and others, afterward presented the Mackenzie-Poe version. For the Allan version see the letters of Miss Mayo and Colonel Ellis — also see Woodberry, 1909, vol. I, pages 95-96. The Valentine Letters show no indication of a visit in 1831. The only possible time was the early Summer of 1832. The second visit to the Allans took place shortly before Mr. Allan’s death in 1834. Poe’s memorandum to Griswold we now know refers to letters written and received at West Point. Valentine Museum Letters, Nos. 22-24.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 340:]

433.  The second Mrs. Allan and her family, together with Colonel Thomas Ellis and a certain social group in Richmond, later on became the source of much invidious anti-Poe propaganda. They had had the advantage of living after Poe died, when all fear of the devastating reply that he might have made was removed. Then the world was informed of Poe’s ingratitude to his “generous benefactor,” forgery, and the embezzlement of the substitute’s money. At the time that these assertions were allowed to “emanate,” the documents which disproved them were in the hands of those who originated the stories. Only two conclusions arc possible; either these people fabricated the legends, or they were too purblind to understand the letters which they themselves possessed. Considerable authority was attached to their assertions as coming from persons who had personal knowledge of the facts, as well as documents to which biographers were denied all access. The impression grew that the real facts were scandalous — they were — but not about Poe. The story of Poe’s visits to Richmond were the beginning of this kind of thing. It is now high time, a century later, to lift “the mysterious veil.”

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 341:]

434.  J. H. Whitty mentions this in his biographical sketch to the Complete Poems, Houghton Mifflin. The story comes from the memories of Poe’s friend, F. W. Thomas, who said that he knew a sailor by the name of Tuhey, who played the flute, and that the sailor told him that Poe had gone with the said Tuhey to Ireland and back.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 342:]

435.  According to F. W. Thomas, Tuhey, the sailor, was also a guest at this house and Poe was so much in love with one of the Cairnes girls that, when she refused him, he went to Ireland in despair. See note 419 for the source of this.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 343:]

436.  Mary Devereaux in 1888-9. Harpers New Monthly Magazine, December, 1889. See note 422, page 332.

437.  For a person born in the 1820’s and reared in the decades that followed, “elegant” was the last word of praise. The word has lost its glory. “Elegance” was interred at Frogmore.

 


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - HVA26, 1926] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Israfel: The Life and Times of Edgar Allan Poe (H. Allen) (Chapter 15)