Text: Hervey Allen, “Chapter 19,” Israfel: The Life and Times of Edgar Allan Poe (1926), volume 2, pp. 425-480


[page 425, unnumbered:]


Grotesques and Arabresques


IN the Summer of 1838, probably toward the end of August, Poe and his little family journeyed to Philadelphia and took up their residence with James Pedder in a boarding house that was kept by the Pedder sisters on Twelfth Street, a little above Mulberry (Arch).(508)

Pedder, the Englishman previously mentioned, had already established for himself magazine connections in Philadelphia, and it may have been through his advice and probably his assistance that Poe had been induced to change his residence. The boarding house was evidently a temporary arrangement until Poe could obtain employment and settle himself some place else. Long unsuccess in New York had left him poor again. The money for the move had been borrowed, and there is some evidence that, before leaving New York, Mrs. Clemm had again been forced to beg and find loans where she could. A gentleman by the name of Bayard had been the victim this time, apparently unknown to Poe. The move was by no means ill-advised as the town chosen for the new home was the center of journalistic activity in the United States. Poe was simply taking his wares to the most promising market.

A few weeks after his arrival in the city that was to be his home for the next six years, Poe and his family moved from the Twelfth Street boarding house to another boarding establishment [page 426:] at Fourth and Arch (then Mulberry).(509) The move “down town,” nearer to the district where the publishers’ offices and printers’ shops were then located, would seem to indicate that, at an early date after his arrival in Philadelphia, Poe had already found literary employment. Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque were partly prepared at this Arch Street boarding house, to which Lowell came later in 1845, bringing his bride. Mrs. Lowell wrote a letter from there during her honeymoon days and described the house as being then 127 Arch Street, at the northeast corner of Fourth and Arch, kept by Mrs. Parker, a Quakeress. It was clean and neat with a genteel reputation, the upper rooms in the rear being light and airy with white curtains and green trimmings. The Poes remained there until the beginning of September, 1838.(510)

At the end of the 1830’s, Philadelphia was the second city of the Union, surpassed in population by New York City alone. The building of the Erie Canal, the access of population due to the first strong inset of the tide of immigration, and the trade of the then flourishing American merchant marine had given New York the lead some decades before; but it was by no means an overwhelming one, and, as Philadelphia was also a great seaport and was developing its hinterland by both railways and canals, there was then no certainty that the lead of Manhattan was to be permanent.(511) [page 427:]

It was just about the turn of the tide in the race between those communities, which depended upon their natural native increase for growth, and those which were to profit by foreign accretion. Philadelphia belonged predominantly to the former class. It was, and it continued to be for many years, a peculiarly American city, with a culture surpassed by no other town on the continent. Its rapid commercial development, and the vast changes wrought by industrialism in Pennsylvania, have tended to obscure both its intellectual and political importance in the past. Nevertheless, for those who desire to study a flowering of intellectual and literary activity, peculiarly American in its nature, it is to Philadelphia as well as to Boston that one must turn.

Indeed, it was the peculiarly native fervor of the Philadelphia intellectuals, the too often provincial nature of their development, which has caused them to be forgotten; while the New Englanders, who identified themselves with the movements of world literature and continued in control of a national press, have continued to be more notably remembered. To those who are interested, however, in the literary, periodical, and journalistic output which most generally effected the contemporary American scene from the latter part of the Eighteenth Century, well up until the middle of the Nineteenth, Philadelphia is all important.

It was no mere boyish adventure which drew Benjamin Franklin from his brother’s printing establishment in Boston to the Quaker City, even as early as 1723. It was merely an early exercise of his preeminent sagaciousness, for even at that time Philadelphia was the great publishing center of the Colonies.(512) From its presses issued a flood of religious and political tracts, important [page 428:] newspapers, and the immortal sayings of “Poor Richard” himself. In Philadelphia appeared the first American editions of Shakespeare and Milton, Pamela, and The Vicar of Wakefield, and, in 1782, the first English Bible printed in the United States. In 1764 the first American religious journal had appeared in that city, and the record was continued well into the next century which saw the founding there, in 1802, of the Juvenile Magazine; the first native daily newspaper, the American Daily Advertiser; the first penny paper, the Cent, in 1830; the first monthly magazine in the country, and a mathematical journal. It was in Philadelphia, too, that there first appeared that outstanding feature of modern American journalism, the illustrated comic. The importance of the place as a center for political publication during and after the Revolution needs no comment. It was there that the Continental Congress sat and the Constitutional Convention convened. The ensuing ten years as the national capital continued to lend it a peculiar importance with a marked effect upon the circulation of its schoolbooks and newspapers.(513) All of this publishing activity, naturally enough, did not go on without a cultural and literary background.

Some of the early effects of the local literary lights are to be found embalmed in the pages of the Columbian Magazine which issued during the last two decades of the Eighteenth Century. These for the most part partook of the classical inanities of the period. Various gentlemen contributed translations, in couplets, from the Latin poets, or contented themselves with putting Mother Goose into Latin that attempted to render the exact tang of “hot butter blue beans” into the idiom of Cicero with consequent learned controversies. The only excursions into the realms of light were confined to some local descriptions and political articles not without merit but of a secondary order. The Columbian upon its demise was succeeded by the Analectic which condescended, though in a restrained manner, to deal with the existing world. There was also later the North American Quarterly which attempted, not without some success, to fulfill the function [page 429:] on this side of the water of the English reviews of the early Nineteenth Century. It dragged on a meritorious but somewhat dull life for some time.(514)

The comparative failure of the more pretentious literary efforts of Philadelphians, to gain and maintain a national or international reputation, may largely be set down to the nature of the social matrix in which they were fixed.(515) This did not apply so strongly to the journalistic and publishing groups that escaped the inherently warping effects of those who wrote from the background of Philadelphia blue-stocking society, priding itself on exclusiveness, an exclusiveness which it forgot sequestration worked both ways.

The social group of literateurs gathered most notably about Dr. Wistar who resided in a house at the southwest corner of Fourth and Locust Streets, long famous for its hospitality and the notables who gathered there. These gatherings indeed became traditional, and even after the death of the good doctor were carried on formally as “Wistar Parties.” A picture of their founder appeared on the card of invitation, and was referred to as late as 1855 by Thackeray, as the “hospitable pig-tailed shade.” Washington Irving, who occasionally visited his Quaker neighbors, complained of suffering, at Philadelphia literary gatherings and tea parties, “from an artillery of glances from long rows of young ladies.”

There were, however, several groups where real discussion went on, and a world of ideas was developed and proposed which never wholly succeeded in getting born. It was an interesting world for all that, and at the time a real one; one which later [page 430:] surprised and delighted Thackeray who wrote home to his wife, “Do you know there are 500,000 people in Philadelphia? I dare say you had no idea thereof, and smile at the thought of there being a monde here and at Boston and New York.” Mr. Thackeray was then being received with enthusiastic and substantial appreciation, so his wife could afford to smile.

Yet there was a monde sure enough. The “Carey Vespers” succeeded the “Wistar Parties” and sounded a knell, the echoes of which can be heard even to-day by those who live South of Market. Yet it was Philadelphia which produced the first genuine American literary figure, the curious novelist Charles Brockden Brown, whose triple name has set the style for so many thrice-named and third-rate American authors. About Brown there is an undoubted air of minor genius. It was his novels which in reality reproduced the American scene rather than the later, romantic and na├»ve frontier stories of Cooper, whose realities are confined largely to the sea. The neglected story of Charles Brockden Brown is one of the most interesting in American literature. Both his life story and his work had engaged the attention of Poe as early as Richmond boyhood days.(516)

By 1830, the first efflorescence of early Nineteenth Century magazine activity had pretty well worked itself out in Philadelphia and a new generation of editors, writers, and publishers had lately appeared on the scene. Graham, Burton, Godey, the Petersons, and many others were already active in the magazine world. The Saturday Evening Post had been begun in Franklin’s old print shop, and, since March, 1833, John Greenleaf Whittier had been editing the Pennsylvania Freeman at 31 North Fifth Street.

The chief idea of the new journalism was the exploitation on a larger scale than ever before of the now literate middle classes and a deliberate appeal to the feminine reader, with all the [page 431:] moralistic, democratic, and namby-pamby tendencies which the attempt and the age implied.(517)

The first transition from the more robust, though stuffier, classically minded literature of the old school was noticeable in the sudden popularity of the Parlor Annuals and Ladies Gift Books which, from about 1825 on, began to roll off the press in Philadelphia. The first of these had been imported from England, but the large success of the Atlantic Souvenir, the Bijou, and the later Opal attracted a host of others to the field. Tennyson had found them in England a fertile field in which-to sow lyrics, and Poe, as we have seen, had already “appeared.” The realm of the “Parlour” was soon invaded more energetically by a host of ladies’ and gentlemen’s magazines.

By the time of Poe’s arrival in Philadelphia in 1838, Godey’s Magazine or Lady’s Book, Graham’s Casket, Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, the United States Military Gazette, Alexander’s Weekly Messenger, and a small host of others, all issued from the Quaker City, together with a crop of annuals and several flourishing newspapers. The town had attracted to it many editors of great ability from other places, chief among whom was Louis A. Godey, the editor of the Book which bore his name, the Ladies Home Journal of its time. He had associated with him Mrs. Sarah J. Hale — author of Mary Had a Little Lamb — and formerly editress of a Boston journal,(518) and Louis M’Michael. It was Mr. Godey who first successfully reached the audience of American [page 432:] womanhood. To this audience, he and his staff catered most deliberately with the peculiarly pure and pretty sentimentality of the early American-Victorian scene.

The democratic theory of universal literacy was already beginning to provide an audience on a scale hitherto undreamed of. It was an audience of which Poe was one of the first to become aware, and it was composed of both men and women of all classes. But in Poe’s case, there was a peculiar situation. Writers had hitherto, for the most part, addressed themselves perforce to those who could read. But those who could read had constituted an exclusive intellectual minority necessarily tinged with classic ideals and aristocratic convictions. The generation at the end of the ‘30s in the United States, was the first to come to maturity under the public school system. The situation was now changed and Poe was aware of it. He desired to become generally known to this uneducated but reading generation, yet he continued to address them as if they were all capable of desiring serious literature, universally thoughtful, hopeful of being cleverly amused, and interested in genuine criticism. In this he was mistaken. Poe’s commercial hypotheses for a great magazine were well laid, but his own unadulterated message was far over the heads of his audience. It was only when it was controlled and altered by the influence of his proprietors and boss editors that it found a large contemporary reception. Yet it was this very process of adulteration and artistic cheapening that his literary ideals and selfconfident ego could never stomach.

For such reasons, and the philosophy that lay behind them, Poe was successful in increasing the circulation of the Messenger, Burton’s, and Graham’s, and for the same reasons coupled with his own infirmities, he forever failed in launching any successful magazine of his own. For literature and posterity the outcome has been fortunate. Neither Poe nor his successive employers fully realized the anomaly inherent in the facts, and Israfel continued, inadvertently, to address himself to an audience élite [page 433:] enough to be capable of remembering and cherishing what was valuable.(519)

All else in his work, all that was purely contemporary, has suffered the inevitable canker of ruthless time. It is a strange paradox, for the very quality which has preserved him to fame was fatal to the financial and physical prospects of the man. He was doomed forever to struggle with a hopeless and degrading poverty.

Other writers of the age avoided poverty by various expedients: Longfellow was a professor, Emerson was a minister, Holmes was a doctor, Hawthorne found refuge in a minor government employ that Poe tried to obtain in vain; Lowell escaped by several routes. Poe alone of his generation, unable to long cope with the world in any practical way, remained the poet, the dreamer, and the artist, dependent solely upon the motion of his pen from left to right for a precarious living. He was the only example in his generation in America of the detached literary type, the traditional starving poet.(520) There was no system of patronage, no benevolent government, no aristocracy; and he starved. For this, his practical countrymen have from time to time pointed the finger of scorn. There are even now many school texts which hold Poe up as a genius but a horrible moral example. Thus mediocrity is confirmed in its mistrust of the unusual, and dullness comforted by respectability.

The galaxy of publications already noticed as appearing in Philadelphia in 1838-39 were not without the ample aid of the crafts which produced them. Thither had flocked artists, able and humdrum illustrators, printers, engravers, lithographers, designers, and binders. The town was full of their shops and haunts; [page 434:] and in these places and among their coteries Poe spent much of his time.

Printing and publishing was thus taking on many of its modern aspects. The printing was largely bad or mediocre, but in the field of illustrations, despite much execrable taste, there was considerable mechanical advance. Steel engraving, lithographing, and wood cuts were much in vogue. There was even an adventuring on the part of publishers into the domain of stenciled and lace perforated offerings of valentine-like aspect, tinsel trimmings, and ornamented hand stamps and decalcomanias.(521) An examination of Godey’s Lady’s Book, say for the year 1844, will not be without profit for those interested. The partly hand-colored fashion plates have a value of their own.(522)

Against the tawdry, the cheap, the pretty and the sentimentally moral illustrators, Poe struggled and resolutely set his face. It was one of the chief items of complaint against the periodicals of the day which he constantly reiterates. His own ideal was to employ only woodcuts, comparatively simple, and executed by competent artists. In his correspondence with Lowell the point is frequently stressed.(523) Such an item, although comparatively unimportant, yet gives an insight into the well rounded artistic probity of the man. His own juvenile predilection for the pencil was not without result.(524) In this connection one more point must be noticed.

Stereotyping had now been in successful use in the United States for about ten years. The first largely successful application of the principle had been in Harper’s Family Library, which dated from the early ‘30s.(525) Books could now be printed rapidly [page 435:] from plates; the chances of reduplication were enormously enhanced; and the output, in an age when all type was hand-set, was vastly increased and made cheaper.(512) It was a mechanical advance which directly affected the type of works in which Poe found himself engaged; i.e., textbooks, the publication of collected works, and the printing of periodicals.

The old publishing firm of Carey, Lea & Carey, to whom Poe was known since Baltimore days, after undergoing the change of Lea & Carey, had an off-shoot in Lea & Blanchard.(526) Both firms were now briskly engaged in flooding the American market with reprints of Byron, Scott, and later of Dickens, upon which, under existing copyright laws, the matter of authors’ royalties was a mere courtesy. With these firms and with the copyright situation, Poe was soon greatly interested.

For the rest, Philadelphia was a pleasant place to be. Living was cheap. The markets were not even second to those of Baltimore. Rents in town were reasonable, while the country about was verdantly fertile and contained some of the most satisfactory landscape in the eastern United States. The pastoral and romantic aspects of the Delaware, the Schuylkill, and the Wissahickon valleys had already attracted the brush and pencil of various foreign artists as early as the Eighteenth Century. Over it all was the peculiarly tranquil and yet alluring legend of the peaceful experiment of William Penn.

The city itself was at that time (1838) composed almost exclusively of red brick dwellings with white stone trimmings and smooth marble stoops. The streets were paved with round cobbles, broken by flagstones at the crossings, and stone gutters down the center, but provided with broad brick pavements well shaded in all the residential and even the business districts. There were [page 436:] many walled gardens, churchyards, and open spaces, particularly Franklin Square with a then famous fountain, for the town prided itself on its water-supply, one of the finest in the world.

One of the peculiarities of Philadelphia was the faucet which had replaced the earlier pump before every house. From these every morning a gushing stream was turned over the side walks and streets. Housemaids flourished brooms, and even scrubbed the brick pavements with flat stones and sand, while the gleaming brass rails, door knockers and knobs were the remarked objects of their peculiar and inveterate attention. Water was dashed about freely. In the early mornings it ran down the central gutter in a veritable river, imparting a spotless air to the town, but endangering the apparel of Captain Marryat and other British travelers who insisted upon their customary morning constitutionals.

The plan of the town was then unusual, consisting, for the most part, of regularly numbered streets crossing each other at right angles, a scheme whose literal convenience has unfortunately spread over the rest of the country. The houses with their singularly regular and precise system of numbering bespoke the somewhat prim and staid nature of their owners by displaying their large unmistakable brass numerals with glittering prideThe whole impression of the place was one of comfortable and prosperous order. There was not wanting, however, a decided and peculiar charm to the scene.

The architecture still bore, predominantly, the cast of the Eighteenth Century and the colonial, but it was, by now, largely and not inharmoniously mixed with the columns, facades, and the straight, brick fronts of the early Republic. The roofs, and the quaint angles of the forest of domestic chimneys lent a picturesque guise. There were many notable public buildings; the Mint, and the Pennsylvania Hospital, the simple but impressive Quaker Meeting House, and Christ Church in the manner of Sir Christopher Wren. With the aspect of all of these, Poe was to become particularly familiar; and with the shops, the old United States Hotel, and the Exchange.

The Post Office, a place of frequent resort for the whole town, [page 437:] was at Independence, then known as Congress Hall. Here Poe called often for his own matt and that of the magazines with which he was connected. In 1838 there were two ordinary mails to New York and “down east” that closed at five A.M. and five P.M., and there was a daily mail south and west. The Post Office kept open from sunrise until eight P.M. but only for one hour on Sunday. Stamps were not used until about ten years later, nor envelopes,(527) and “gentlemen of reputation” could establish credit at the Post Office and settle their bills monthly.

One of the sights of Philadelphia was the office of the principal mail contractor, a little two-story building on the west side of Third Street, where the stages and expresses departed for all directions. The contractor was a well-known local character, one Jim Reeside, nicknamed “The Admiral,” a tremendous man, with whose wife it was well for the editors of magazines to be friends. Mr. Reeside kept famous gray horses, and a huge dog which slept in front of the office on the brick pavement while the patrons of the United States mail awaited the end of his nap. His

repose was dangerous to disturb, and the world, for the most part, possessed itself in patience or went around.(528)

Poe’s business in Philadelphia for the most part took him into the lower part of town, down the broad “S” shaped sweep of the wide Dock Street, past the white pillared Merchants Exchange. Here the newspaper, magazine, printers’, and engravers’ offices were located, about whose haunts on Front and Dock [page 438:] Streets he was frequently seen. The river front was a mass of shipping whose masts and sails topped the flat roofs of blankfaced brick warehouses separated by narrow, stone-paved alleys. Drays, Dearborn wagons, York carryalls, coaches, and trotting wagons rumbled past over the cobbles, laden with heavy bales of merchandise or sedate passengers, making a frightful din punctuated by the oaths of the drivers and the incessant cracking of long whips.

Ladies from the fashionable districts came shopping in coaches, and little one-horse hacks. At five o’clock the merchants’ sulkies and the bankers’ carriages gathered in front of the moneychangers’ offices where messengers and merchants’ clerks rushed in and out, exchanging at the latest quotations their wild-cat money and state banknotes. Jay Cook and other rising young financiers stood on tables, quoting from memory the latest price on Louisiana or Arkansas money, picking out with unerring eye the lamentably frequent counterfeit bills. At closing time apprentices put up the wooden shutters across the square-framed shop windows; hatters took in their hooked poles upon which were hung rows of high beaver hats; the white canvas awnings in front of general stores, which gave the street in daytime the aspect of an arcade, were rolled up, and the world, that could afford it, crowded on to the Chestnut Street accommodation stages and rode off home.

For the most part, however, it was a world that walked, nor was it much of an effort. A stroll of twenty of thirty “blocks” in almost any, direction took one into the country. The night watchmen then began to make their rounds stopping at the little sentry-stations at the corners to light the whale-oil lights, to rattle sticks, and to proclaim the time of the night with an “all’s well.”

But the nights were, by no means, all peaceful. If any city in the Union could have inspired a poet to write The Bells, it was Philadelphia! One of the outstanding features of life in that place was the frequent fire alarms, real and imaginary. Scarcely a night passed without a rushing to and fro of the volunteer fire companies to a great cknking of gongs, blowing of bugles and [page 439:] ringing of bells. The great bell at Congress Hall tapped the signal of the quarter in which the fire lay. Thither the volunteer firemen rushed, clad in all the splendors of leather helmet, varnished hip boots, and oil-cloth cloaks, — only to find the alarm a false one, or to stage a disgraceful riot caused by professional jealousies while some unfortunate’s house went up in flames. These fire companies provided for many, the only social and political organization that they knew, and were at once the despair and the pride of the municipality which they kept in perpetual turmoil.

In the early morning, the town awoke to the rumble of market carts and farmers’ wagons and the clatter of the shaggy hoofs of rural nags ridden by buxom, red-cheeked German girls clutching brown crocks of butter, and paniers swollen with loaves of rye bread, pumpernickel and cheese. Such made their way to the long, low market buildings that stretched for squares along lower High (Market) Street, high-roofed sheds set upon pillars, with walled stalls, where the generous products of one of the most fertile farm regions in the United States astonished the foreign traveler.

Sixteen pound turkeys could be bought for $2. Wild game, rabbits, partridges, pheasants, quail, and venison were exposed in abundance. The butchers slaughtered frequently and made the occasion a fete day, parading through the town in white smocks to the noise of trumpet and drum, with skinned calves, the carcasses of pink scrubbed pigs with carrots in their mouths, or even an occasional bear, displayed in their carts. Such occasions were advertised widely, when the weather was hot, and the meat was bought up quickly.

Ducks, shad, and reed birds; great crocks of eggs, and strings of fowl decorated the market arcade for blocks. Here, amid piles of apples, heaps of red carrots, the long, green ears of maize, and bushels of glistering pea pods, the ladies of Philadelphia, despised fey their Boston sisters for their early marketing habits, moved amid a crowd of prim-bonneted Quaker maidens and their broadbrimmed papas. Buttonless Dunkards, yellow-turbaned negresses purchasing sturgeon meat at one cent the pound were to be seen, and shovel-bearded Moravians in from Bethlehem in covered [page 440:] wagons rubbing shoulders with the eagerly buying pursers of departing ships in smart shore togs and varnished hats. Here, Mrs. Clemm and Virginia were glad to come with a market basket to be cheaply filled, and through these arcades Poe passed many a morning on his way to work at Graham’s near the old Exchange.

It was a prosperous and hearty world. One in strange contrast to the grotesque dreams of the Dreamer who had come to live there. It was the upper strata of its population, which marketed with such gusto and fed upon scrappel and blood sausages for breakfast, that now composed a large part of his audience, and there were only a few of them to whom he could really speak.

They, content with, the glow of carefully tempered twilight,

Measured pulses of joy, and colorless growth of the senses,

Stand aghast at my dream of the sun, and the sound, and the splendor.(529)

To the inner circle of the Wistar Parties, Poe never penetrated. His outer semblance was far a brief time known to the proprietors of magazines and the editors of newspapers. Among them he moved a strange, marked figure, clad nearly always in shabby black, his eyes forever turned inward, beholding little but his dream. Even this, as he said, was a dream within another dream — the outside world which he so little marked and with “whose various embodied shapes he conversed, as with ghosts.

Yet in Philadelphia, for a short time, he was to know the most prosperous if not the happiest days of his manhood. The shadow, which lay somberly over its clean-swept streets and spotless houses, was the steadily failing health of his girl-wife. For the next decade Virginia was slowly dying. As it was, for her, and for her debt-burdened husband, the brief stay in the respectable, if not fashionable, boarding house on Arch Street with the Pedders had drawn to a close.

About September 5, 1838, Poe removed from the house at Fourth and Arch Street to a new dwelling located at Sixteenth [page 441:] near Locust. He describes it as a “small house.”(530) Less is known about this residence than of any other which the family occupied while in Philadelphia. The building has long since been torn down, and even the exact extent of the stay there is not known. This seems to be the house which Captain Mayne Reid, who about that time became acquainted with the Poes, describes as “a lean-to of three rooms (there may have been a garret with a closet) of painted plank construction, supported against the gable of a four-story brick house.” Reid’s description could apply to no other dwelling occupied by the Poes while in Philadelphia.581 Most of the fresh material which was written for Burton must have been prepared at the Sixteenth Street residence during the Fall and early Winter of 1839. The day before moving from Arch Street, Poe wrote to his old Baltimore friend, Nathan C. Brooks, telling him that on account of two important affairs then under way he could not undertake to write a critical article on Washington Irving which Brooks had previously requested.(530) At that time Brooks had just bought out the North American Quarterly Magazine of Baltimore and changed it to a monthly under the name of the American Museum of Literature and Arts. Poe’s remarks about Irving and his own methods of criticism are not without interest:

My main reason for declining is . . . I could not do the review well at short notice. The truth is, I can scarcely say I am conversant with living’s writings, having read nothing of his since I was a boy, save his Granada. It would be necessary to give his entire works a perusal. . . . Irving is much overrated, and a nice distinction might be drawn between . . . what is due to the pioneer solely, and what to the writer.

The merit, too, of his tame propriety and faultlessness of style should be candidly weighed. He should be compared with Addison, something being hinted about imitation. . . . A bold and a prior investigation of Irving’s claims would strike home, take my word for it. The American literary world never saw anything of the kind yet. . . .(530) [page 442:]

Brooks was at this time printing a good deal of the work which Poe must have done in New York. What the two important matters were, which Poe had on hand at that time and alleges as the reason for refusing an Irving article to Brooks, cannot be definitely stated. One of them, however, was the preparation of material for a textbook on conchology.

The Conchologist’s First Book, or, A System of Testaceous Malacology, arranged expressly for the use of schools, etc., was the sixth volume to which Poe lent the force of his name. It was published in April, 1839, in Philadelphia by Haswell, Barrington & Haswell. The number of the first edition is not known. The book is bound in brown paper boards with an outside cover with stamped illustrations of shells, weeds, and grasses, and although for the most part simply a rearrangement of the work of others, it is copyrighted in Poe’s name (“Edgar A. Poe”).

The volume was purely a piece of hack work upon which Poe hoped to realize enough from its sale as a textbook to support him till he could find literary connections in Philadelphia. Pedder acted as the go-between with Haswell, Barrington & Haswell, and Professor Wyatt probably furnished Poe with the English text from which, for the most part, the work was taken. It was

probably the definite engagement upon this book, arranged by Pedder with the publishers, which had finally induced Poe to leave New York. Philadelphia, on account of the many engravers then engaged there, was a peculiarly good place to issue a volume which demanded extensive technical illustration.

The publisher’s office was located at 293 Market Street, and there, during the Autumn of 1838 and the early Winter of 1839, Poe spent much of his time working on the volume on shells. He was assisted in his labors by a Mr. Isaac Lee, and Professor Thomas Wyatt, a neighbor, who was really responsible for the volttoe, and supplied most of the necessary scientific information. Wyatt had previously issued through Harpers “his late excellent Manual of Conchology,” a book which had proved so expensive to publish that Harpers could not afford to reprint it. Wyatt went about lecturing and selling his books, and, it is said, paid Poe $50 for the use of his name on the title page, as being one [page 443:] which would be likely to further sales. The whole scheme was obviously carefully arranged to avoid trouble over copyright with Harpers, the effect of which was to alienate the “affections” of that firm from Poe and to stand in his way six years later when he wished them, through Professor Anthon, to issue his collected works. To avoid any other legal troubles the work was deliberately based on an English text.

The Conchologist’s First Book, 1839, 12 mo. pp. 156; had a preface and introduction written by Poe and signed “E.A.P.” which contained an explanation of the terms together with acknowledgments to Lee and Wyatt. This was followed by three pages of an introduction in which Bergman, De Blainville, and Parkinson are quoted, followed by twelve pages of engraved and beautifully colored plates of shells and their parts, boldly lifted in toto from an English book, The Conchologist’s Text Book, by Captain Thomas Brown, to whom no credit is given. Poe simply paraphrased in the body of the book from Wyatt for his nomenclature and descriptions of shells. This, of course, was by arrangement. For the description of the animals, Poe, who had now become deft, translated from Cuvier, giving that author credit. The unfortunate Brown, however, was completely left out.(532) Professor Wyatt concluded the volume with a glossary and an index written by himself. There was a second edition with ten added pages in 1840, under Poe’s name, a third anonymous one in 1845 by the same Philadelphia publisher. The book was reprinted in England, and in all no less than nine editions have been traced.

It was not long before Poe was accused of stealing the work entirely from Brown. Poe replied indignantly, “I wrote the Preface and Introduction, and translated from Cuvier the accounts of the animals, etc. All school-books are necessarily made in a similar way.” He then goes on to describe the usual procedure of “quacks” and claims that he did not intend to give [page 444:] the impression that the work was original with him. His defense is only partly sustained by the facts, and at best the book remains an unfortunate literary transaction. It later brought him more obloquy than money, but undoubtedly served to turn his attention to the outrageous condition of international copyright, a subject which he afterward discussed with Dickens and which led subsequently to Poe’s taking up the study of law and registering as a law student.

Poe has also been credited with a translation and digest of Lemonier’s Natural History, that was published in the Spring of 1839 under Wyatt’s name. In a review of the book in Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine for July, 1839, Poe said that he wrote “from personal knowledge, and the closest inspection and criticism.” This simply means that, at the time, he and Wyatt were working on the Conchology, the latter was also translating Lemonier, and Poe perhaps occasionally helped. His review is an obvious puff for a friend’s book and not one of his own. From this work, however, the poet acquired not a little definite technical knowledge. Even the printing of textbooks was grist to his mill.

The rest of Poe’s time, in the Spring of 1839, was taken up with the free-lance publishing of articles in various magazines to which he was already known, and with the making of contacts in Philadelphia with the local press, where his old friend L. A. Wilmer, who had left Baltimore on foot when ousted from the editor’s chair of the Visitor, was now in one of his frequently shifted saddles. Consequently, in May, the Saturday Evening Chronicle published Poe’s grotesque story of The Devil in the Belfry, a satire on the credulity of the conventionality of the mob. About a month before, his poem, The Haunted Palace, which was introduced into The House of Usher, appeared in the Baltimore Museum. This poem is an allegory depicting the progress of madness, and is the first thoroughgoing intimation from Poe that he could detect, in himself at least, the possibility of the final dénouement of the hero of the poem and of The House of Usher. That he, himself, and the strange conditions of his marriage, are in part the subjects of the story and the poem, there can remain no doubt. The description of Roderick Usher is the [page 445:] most perfect pen-portrait of Poe himself which is known. It might be labelled “Self Portrait of the Artist at the Age of Thirty.”

The character of his face had been at all times remarkable. A cadaverousness of complexion, an eye large, liquid, and luminous beyond comparison; lips somewhat thin and very pallid, but of a surpassingly beautiful curve, a nose of a delicate Hebrew model, but with a breadth of nostril unusual in similar formations; a finely moulded chin, speaking, in its want of prominence, of a want of moral energy; hair of a more than web-like softness and tenuity; — these features, with an inordinate expansion above the regions of the temple, made up altogether a countenance not easily to be forgotten.

Certain passages in The House of Usher, chiefly those dealing with “a small picture . . . of an immensely long and rectangular vault and tunnel . . . a flood of intense rays rolled throughout and bathed the whole in a ghostly and inappropriate splendour,” and “ the morbid condition of the auditory nerve,” suggest unmistakably that previous to this time Poe was already familiar with the effects of opium as, indeed, Ligeia also strongly implies.(533) And it is Virginia, too, who is embodied in the wasting frajne of the Lady Madeline. “The disease of the Lady Madeline had long baffled the skill of the physicians. A settled apathy, a gradual wasting away of the person,” her strange relations with her brother in the story, and his unmentionable reason for wishing to entomb her alive, all recall the long tortures that Poe underwent by the bedside of his slowly fading wife and cousin.

It is, indeed, in the order of the event of his heroes and heroines thait the progress of the phases of Poe’s inner life, its integration and disintegration, are to be read. He had, by now, well developed all of his ideal types except one. The Byronic hero of the prideful youth had gone with little Elmira Royster, the princess of Tamerlane. “Helen,” the yearning and mourned for heroine, a compound of Mrs. Stanard and Frances Allan, had been duly celebrated in pseans and lyrics; “Ligeia,” the strange mental opposite [page 446:] of Virginia and her prototypes had arisen to give him ghostly comfort in the barren cave of his marriage. Illness and early death overtook them all in the pages upon which they strangely moved.

In Baltimore and New York, Poe’s hero had become neurasthenic and hypochondriac, haunted by incense and mystery, the drug addict and the victim of supernatural fears. All of these were Poe himself and the women he loved, simulacra or defense mechanisms to compensate him in the realm of dreams for the sorrows and disappointments of his own life. All the apartments, the houses, the very gardens in which these dream-phantoms moved, were furnished with a magnificence which arabesquely caricatured the grotesque bareness of his real dwellings and the sordid places in which fate compelled him to dwell.

Let us look for a moment at an ideal chamber in which Poe sees the happy owner peacefully asleep. Who that sleeper was, can be safely left to the reader: “The Proprietor lies asleep on a sofa — the weather is cool — the time is near midnight: we will mate a sketch of the room during his slumber”:(534)


. . . It is oblong — some thirty feet in length and twenty-five in breadth — a shape affording the best (ordinary) opportunities for the adjustment of furniture. It has but one door — by no means a wide one; which is at one end of the parallelogram, and but two windows, which are at the other. These latter are large, reaching down to the floor, — have deep recesses — and open on an Italian veranda. Their panes are of a crimson-tinted glass, set in rosewood framings, more massive than usual. They are curtained within the recess, by a thick silver tissue adapted to the shape of the window, and hanging loosely in small volumes. Without the recess are curtains of an exceedingly rich silk, fringed with a deep network of gold, and lined with the tissue, which is the material of the exterior blind. There are no ! bat the folds of the whole fabric (which are sharp rather than massive, and have an airy appearance) issue from beneath a broad entablature of rich, giltwork, which encircles the room at the junction of the ceiling and walls. The drapery is thrown open also, or closed by means of a thick rope of gold loosely enveloping it, and resolving itself easily into a knot; no pins or other such devices are apparent. The colors of the [page 447:] curtains and their fringe — the tints of crimson and gold — appear everywhere in profusion, and determine the character of the room. The carpet — of Saxony material — is quite half an inch thick, and is of the same crimson ground, relieved simply by the appearance of a gold cord (like that festooning the curtains) slightly relieved above the surface of the ground, and thrown upon it in such a manner as to form a succession of short irregular curves — one occasionally overlying the other. The walls are prepared with a glossy paper of a silvergray tint, spotted with small Arabesque devices of a fainter hue of the prevalent crimson. Many paintings relieve the expanse of the paper, There are, nevertheless, three or four female heads, of an ethereal grottoes of Stanfield, or the lake of the Dismal Swamp of Chapman. These are chiefly landscapes of an imaginative case — such as the fairy beauty — portraits in the manner of Sully. The tone of each picture is warm but dark. There are no ‘brilliant effects.’ Repose speaks in all. Not one is of small size. Diminutive paintings give that spotty look to a room, which is the blemish of so many a fine work of Art overtouched. The frames are broad but not deep, and richly carved, without being dulled or filigreed. They have the whole lustre of burnished gold. They lie flat on the walls, and do not hang off with cords. The designs themselves are often seen to better advantage in this latter position, but the general appearance of the chamber is injured. But one mirror — and this not a very large one — is visible. In shape it is nearly circular — and it is hung so that a reflection of the person can be obtained from it in none of the ordinary sitting-places of the room. Two large low sofas of rosewood and crimson silk, gold flowered, form the only seats, with the exception of two light conversation chairs, also of rosewood. There is a pianoforte (rosewood, also), without cover, and thrown open. An octagonal table formed altogether of the richest gold-threaded marble, is placed near one of the sofas. This is also without cover — the drapery of the curtains has been thought sufficient. Four large and gorgeous Sevres vases, in which bloom a profusion of sweet and vivid flowers, occupy the slightly rounded angles of the room. A tall candelabrum, bearing a small antique lamp with highly perfumed oil, is standing near the head of my sleeping friend. Some light and graceful hanging shelves, with golden edges and crimson silk cords with golden tassels, sustain two or three hundred magnificently bound books. Beyond these things, there is no furniture, if we except an Argand lamp, with a plain crimson-tinted ground-glass shade, which depends from the lofty vaulted ceiling by a single slender gold chain, and throws a tranquil but magical radiance over all.

Now this is something more than a room to be used as a standard for better home furnishings by the readers of the [page 448:]Gent’s Mag” It is in reality the secret inner chamber of the poet’s dreams, and as such, it is worthy of considerable attention from a psychological point of view. It is the same room, slightly altered, in which “ Ligeia “ strove to enter the corpse of “Rowena,” the apartment of “Roderick Usher,” and the room where the “Raven” appeared. It is the scarlet and gold apartment where “Prince Ego” lies asleep in the soporific fumes of a perfumed lamp, carefully curtained from the world, suffused by a bloody-scarlet glow of magic and mystery, where the feminine faces that look from the wall are not those of real women but of the beloved “ethereal” dream faces. The landscapes are gloomy — of the dismal swamp — and no one, no one ever comes there — “The door is by no means wide.” There “my sleeping friend,” Poe’s own half-drugged, perfumed soul lies forever dreaming, undisturbed by reality. The curtain cords “ knot easily,” and even the mirror is carefully placed so that from no ordinary position in the room can the inhabitant thereof catch a glimpse of his real physical self. Only the red rays of the lamp depending from the lofty ceiling on the golden chain, save it from the gloom of the sepulchre.

One can scarcely refrain now from smiling at all this, (the rococo taste, and the insane coloring) but the actual picture of the real room in which “our sleeping friend” lay awake, and the real trouble in the wide, sleepless eyes wipes the superior curl from our lips. And there is something more than this, too. Every time has its ideal abodes and favorite characters. These are perfectly, and always impossibly expressed for it by its artists, none of whom can completely escape the ideal longings of the world in which they move. Somehow or other, by the magic of personality and the accidents of circumstance, Edgar Allan Poe was able to embody for his contemporaries not only the fragile, spiritual beings which they hoped and played that they were, but also the very houses and rooms in which they longed to move.(535) The taste [page 449:] of the time was bad; its human ideals were exaggerated and impossible, but in Poe, through the magic of art, they were removed into the world of ideality and became the shadowy prototypes of his era. There, like all imponderable things, they remain, made permanent in time.

It was in Philadelphia, too, that Poe fully developed the last of his heroes to appear in prose. With the first intimations of a disintegrating mind, he began to console himself by imagining in himself the opposite.(536) Consequently the next dream-self which developed was the hero which he projected as the inhuman reasoner of the tales of ratiocination, the solver of puzzles, the unerring reader of cryptograms, the successful finder of treasure, and the detector of mysterious crimes. This hero was a new contribution to literature, and is, taken all in all, the most popularly successful of those which Poe created. There had been only a few hints of him before in Poe’s writing, but in the Spring of 1839, if not earlier, Poe became definitely interested in the solutions of cryptograms, of which the mysterious hieroglyphs in Arthur Gordon Pym are perhaps an earlier symptom. In January (sic), 1840, he published in Alexander’s Weekly, an obscure Philadelphia magazine, “a challenge to the world,” in which he offered to solve any and all cryptograms submitted. As “the world” reached by Mr. Alexander consisted of a few hundred readers at most, Poe was successful in solving the few specimens sent in. As we shall see, the scheme was later repeated on a larger scale in Graham’s, where Poe proved himself to be rather adept with ciphers.

Another obscure contribution of Poe, about this time, was the review of N. P. Willis’s Tortesa, which appeared in the Literary Examiner and Western Monthly Review for July, 1839. This was a Pittsburgh publication, fathered by one E. Burke Fisher, a former contributor to the Messenger while Poe was editor, and a Mr. Whitney, Pittsburgh was largely devoid of any literary [page 450:] interest. Several local magazines had already been laid to rest in that locality, and the Western Monthly Review expired painlessly in August, 1839, without paying Poe, who has caused its editor to be faintly remembered by remarking, “No greater scamp ever walked.”(537)

The personal doings of Poe and his family during the first six months of their stay in Philadelphia are mostly unrecorded. For his various contributions here and there in newspapers and magazines he received almost nothing. The financial panic was still on, and the wolf must have been seated before the door at Sixteenth near Locust Street, where the family seems to have remained until about the Fall of 1839.(538) Mrs. Clemm and Virginia are said to have resorted again to taking in sewing. Of boarders we hear nothing. There was probably little enough to divide among three. This now habitual stringency was relieved by the engagement of Poe for the part-time editing and contributing to Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine and American Monthly Review. Just how Poe met Burton is not certain, possibly through Brooks or Wilmer, who were early contributors to Burton’s. In April, Burton had reviewed Arthur Gordon Pym and handled it rather sarcastically. Despite that, the author soon after applied to the editor for employment and received this answer:

Philadelphia, May 10, 1839


MY DEAR SIR, — I have given your proposal a fair consideration. I wish to form some such engagement as that which you have proposed, and know of no one more likely to suit my views than yourself. The expenses of the Magazine are already awfully heavy; more so than my drculaticm warrants. I am certain that my expenditure exceeds that of any publications now extant, including the monthlies which are double in price. Competition is high — new claimants are daily arising.

Shall we say ten dollars per week for the remaining portion of the yeah Should we remain together, which I see no reason to negative, [page 451:] your proposition shall be in force for 1840. A month’s notice to be given on either side previous to a separation.

Two hours a day except occasionally, will, I believe, be sufficient for all required except in the production of any article of your own. At all events you could easily find time for any other light avocation — supposing that you did not exercise your talents in behalf of any publications interfering with the prospect of the G.M.

I shall dine at home today at 3. If you will cut your mutton with me, good. If not, write or see me at your leisure.

I am, my dear Sir, your obedt. Servt.


Mr. Burton was an Englishman. There is something Pypsian in his invitation “to cut mutton,” a phrase that at that time could scarcely have been lost on Poe. He, indeed, must often have thought with a sigh of the generous Virginia board set by Frances Allan, with all the foreign comestibles of John Allan’s warehouse at her command. Doubtless at three o’clock on the Saturday afternoon of May 10, 1839, he sat across the table from burly Billie Burton, who looked like an apotheosis of John Bull himself, and doubtless discussed the future of the Gentleman’s Magazine and the mutton, both at considerable length.

No one could talk more divinely than Poe, when the occasion was auspicious. In certain aspects, his conversation at times resembled that of Coleridge. But it was not often that he talked so, and when he did, alas, in America there was no Charles Lamb, no Keats, and no Haydon or Wordsworth before whom to pour forth the ambrosia from the arabesqued golden bowl of his dreams. Lowell could have been such a friend, but he was far away. What was said intimately between them was committed to paper and therefore dulled. For the most part this ethereal talk wasted itself upon the dull ears of a White, a Griswold, a Burton, or a Graham. Even they, however, remembered it, although it left them amazed. Ethereal conversation is the greatest gift of the gods. The gods of Ireland had bestowed it magnificently upon Poe — but there is always a fairy curse that goes with this gift; it vanishes instantly into thin air. Only Johnson possessed a Boswell. It would have been fortunate, amusing, exasperating, and mystifying, had someone so dogged Poe, for there were also occasions [page 452:] when he opened his lips with the same effect that at a more remote epoch was produced by opening the lid of Pandora’s box.

Mr. Poe’s arrangement with Mr. Burton was not unlike the contract which he had formerly made with Mr. White, and it commenced with the same salary — but there was one important reservation, at least on Poe’s part. Mr. Poe was even then engaged in a scheme to start a magazine of his own, and he did not intend to sell himself so fully to his editor as upon a former occasion. He was simply to write for Mr. Burton, and when that gentleman soon afterward printed his name on the July number, the first to which Poe contributed, it is said to have led to their first misunderstanding. At any rate, Poe did not identify himself with Burton’s to anything like the degree or in the same manner that he had with the Messenger.

The Gentleman’s Magazine, to which Poe now found himself a contributor and, willy-nilly, an editor, had been founded in 1837 by William Evans Burton, an English comedian. Mr. Burton was a man of great practical ability and a deal of pretension. He claimed to be a graduate of St. Johns College, Cambridge (sic), and was not only desirous of being known as a comic actor and a manager, a career in which he had achieved some success, but was also covetous of literary fame in his adopted country. In his own words, Burton’s Magazine was to be worthy of a place “upon the parlour table of every gentleman in the United States.” To that end, he had seen fit to try a cast of the dice in the magazine field in the very midst of the financial panic, and it is no small compliment to his practical ability to chronicle the fact that he abundantly succeeded where others longer established in the same domain had failed. Joseph Jefferson has left us an excellent picture of the man.(539)

Burton was thoughtful and saturnine . . . one of the funniest creatures that ever lived. . . . As an actor of the old broad farce comedy Mr. Burton had no equal in his day . . . ‘Captain Cuttle’ and ‘Micawber’ were his great achievements; his face was a huge map on which was written every emotion that he felt. . . . [page 453:]

Some of these ill-concealed emotions Edgar Poe did not like. He could not, from the first, help despising that part of Burton’s nature which he later described not inaccurately as the “buffoon.”(540)

Mr. Burton was at first both owner and editor, and the magazine consequently partook somewhat of the rather stodgy nature of its father. The poems resembled heavy crusts of half-baked pies, while the stories were the lightest pastries imaginable. These, however, seem to have been relished by several thousand subscribers, mostly in Philadelphia, where the padding out of frills of translations and book reviews, obtained by a brutal use of the tailor’s shears, was mistaken for the latest cut of literary fashion. Much of the “Quaker” following was due to the fact that Burton opened his pages generously to local poets and poetesses, novelists, and journalists. These in turn provided an enthusiastic claque. Neither the noise of their grateful applause nor the fervency of their contemporary din now annoys the ears of posterity. In addition to this, Mr. Burton also committed the then customary international burglary upon the literary effects of various British authors, among whom Leigh Hunt was the most famous. Such was the state of affairs when Mr. Poe appeared rather unwillingly upon the scene.

To come across Poe’s work suddenly in Burton’s is like finding a sonnet by Michelangelo in a bizarre scrapbook. To the August number, Poe contributed The Man That Was Used Up; in September, The Fall of the House of Usher; October and November saw William Wilson and Morella respectively; and the end of the year The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion. Besides this, there were several rather perfunctory book notices and some reprinted, but, as always, improved versions of formerly printed poems. To Ianthe in Heaven and Spirits of the Dead were an addition to his verse, the former of considerable merit.(541) [page 454:]

The office of Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, irreverently referred to by Poe as the Gent’s Mag., was at Bank Alley and Dock Street, now Lodge and Dock. Just at this point Dock Street makes one of its wide, sweeping curves, and where Lodge Street joins it, there is a little rounded corner, in Poe’s day covered by a canvas awning from the shop then located there. Under this he was occasionally to be seen loitering and talking. The classic front of the Exchange was just across the curve of Dock Street, then full of drays passing to and from the water front just below, and in the same vicinity along Front Street and the neighboring alleys, were located the printers’, engravers’, and binders’ offices. Here Poe strolled about on various errands and was frequently seen in company with one Alexander, Mr. Burton’s printer, English, and others.

There were several newspapers published near by. There were also frequent visits to Congress Hall for the mail of the magazine, and it was Poe’s custom, on warm days, to sit dreaming or reading his letters on the benches under the shade trees in Independence Square, staring at the dark, stone walls of the great prison along Walnut Street. Then, too, one could always while away an afternoon at Mr, Sully’s exhibitions of “ethereal paintings” just opposite the State House, perhaps remembering school days in Richmond with Robert Sully, the nephew of the painter, or talking to the artist himself, to whom Poe was known.(542)

By strolling through the arcade from Chestnut Street to La Fayette, with a few idle moments to spare, one could see the curiosities in Mr. Peal’s collection in the long upper room where dances were frequently held, or examine the lines of stuffed birds in glass cases under the rows of paintings hung above them. Most intriguing of all was the skeleton of a mammoth partly restored [page 455:] in plaster. It may possibly have been those very bones that inspired Hirst’s remarkable poem on The Coming of the Mammoth, which Poe afterward reviewed, remarking, “Eight miles!” against the stanza in which Mr. Hirst, in the careless fervor of poetical license, makes the Mammoth jump across the Mississippi River.(543)

In addition to the Arcade, a curious structure with restaurants and shops downstairs, conceived by an eccentric architectural genius known as “Pagoda-Arcade Browne,” there was also the Museum at Ninth and George Streets, with Nathan Dunn’s Chinese collection upstairs. Here there was always something going on. In 1839, George Combe, “the eminent lecturer on the science of Phrenology,” a science in which Mr. Poe was a dabbler, lectured to a small group of five hundred, while upstairs over two thousand people listened to the strains of Frank Johnston’s famous negro brass band. It was the beginning of the age of pseudo-science and negro music. Both the pseudo-science and the strange rhythms intrigued Mr. Poe. He was particularly proud of the great “bump of ideality” that bulged upon his brow.

The theater was on Chestnut Street between Sixth and Seventh. The theatrical Mr. Burton no doubt occasionally arranged to take his young editor there, to see Edwin Forrest rant and tear, or home evenings to his own hospitable house at 158 North Ninth Street, where the dinners and suppers were ample; the guests, literary, dramatic, and convivial.

Poe, on his part, was at this time not imbibing. For several years past nothing more than water had passed his lips.(544) His [page 456:] virtue in one case was probably off-set and made possible by the use of a more subtle and even more fatal stimulant.(533)

The days with Burton, however, laid the basis for many lasting and important associations. One day in 1839, a the magazine office, he met a rather quizzical gentleman by the name of Thomas Dunn English, who describes Poe as being dressed in a black suit, well brushed, with very clean linen, rather an unusual thing then, apparently, for an editor. They walked down Chestnut Street together as far as Third, where English later on had his offices, writing drivel for a juvenile magazine called the John Donkey. They parted at that time both well pleased. The intimacy grew and finally led to ‘later association in New York and a famous libel suit later on. In Philadelphia, English visited the Poes at home, where he described Mrs. Poe as a delicate gentlewoman and noticed that Mrs. Clemm was more of a mother than mother-in-law. Mr. English was by way of being a poet himself. He wrote a once famous old song called Ben Bolt, of lachrymose tendencies, and later introduced Poe to another young poet about town who was studying law. This was Henry Beck Hirst of Mammoth fame, of whom more hereafter.

All this time, nevertheless, Poe had not forgotten his scheme to launch a magazine of his own, the plans for which were rapidly maturing in his own head. Mr. Burton, on his part, was revolving further ventures into the dramatic field as a theater owner. His plan of a business activity took him frequently to New York. More and more of the routine work was thrust upon Poe, who was perhaps justified in feeling that the terms of agreement were being imposed upon. He was at times irregular, which exasperated Burton, and the first warmth of their mutual cordiality began to wane rapidly. By the end of the year they were both quite cool.

September, 1839, marked the beginning of a busy time for Poe after a less than usually productive period. He was now preparing for the appearance of his collected tales in two volumes, final [page 457:] arrangement for the publication of which had been made about the end of the month, September 28,1839, with Lea & Blanchard. The edition was to be at the risk of the publishers, and the author waived any claim for royalties unless the venture was successful.

Poe was very desirous of obtaining quotable criticisms for his work, to be used in inspired notices, and it was now that he began a rather extensive correspondence with literary friends and editorial acquaintances with that object in view. Such men as Washington Irving, James E. Heath, then editor of the Southern Literary Messenger, Philip Pendleton Cooke of Charlestown, Virginia, then an author of some note, and a Dr. J. Evans Snodgrass of Baltimore, associated for some time with Brooks on the Museum, an abolitionist, and a man of some local fame, were among those appealed to. The mass of these letters gives a rather intimate record of Poe’s activities about this time, and shows him in touch with a wide range of literary personalities. In addition to this, they are an excellent example of how he smoothed the path for his own work by “soliciting criticisms,” and spread the news of his publications by calling the attention of his various correspondents to favorable notices in current periodicals, quoting the encomiums of one man to another. The whole provides a rather interesting glimpse into the contemporary literary frog pond.

To Irving, Poe sent copies of Burton’s, containing The House of Usher and William Wilson, as they appeared. Irving replied to both, and upon receipt of the latter tale wrote Poe:(545)

I repeat what I have said in regard to a previous production, (The House of Usher), which you did me the favor to send me, that I cannot but think a series of articles of like style and merit would be extremely well received by the public.

I could add for your private ear, that I think the last tale (William Wilson) much the best, in regard to style. It is simpler. In your first you have been too anxious to present your picture vividly to the eye, or too distrustful to your effect, and have laid on too much coloring. It is erring on the best side — the side of luxuriance. There is no danger of destroying its graphic effect which is powerful. . . . [page 458:]

Time has not confirmed Irving in his judgment. It has been the very graphic effect in The House of Usher which has caused it to be remembered where William Wilson is often forgotten.

The correspondence with P. P. Cooke largely concerned Ligeia. Cooke’s letter is most charming and exhibits a Virginia gentleman enjoying to the full the life of his time.

. . . My wife enticed me off to visit her kins-people in the country, and I saw more of guns and horses and dogs than of pens and paper. Amongst dinners, barbecues, snipe-shooting, riding parties, etc., I could not get my brains into humor for writing to you or to anybody else.(546)

He then follows with a long discussion of Ligeia. The letters between Poe and Cooke plainly develop the fact that in his prose tales Poe followed much the same method of reconstruction as in his poems, i.e., the theme in one story was further developed and perfected in another of later date. In this case the fact is plainly brought out that Morella and its theme found its perfect and final expression in Ligeia, which Poe considered his best story.

The most intimate, indeed almost affectionate, correspondent at this time was Dr. J. E. Snodgrass.(547) The poet asks him many small favors, and confides in him to the extent of much pertinent small talk. In one letter in a postscript Poe says:

P. S. I have made a profitable engagement with ‘Blackwood’s Mag’: and my forthcoming Tales are promised a very commendatory review in that journal from the pen of Prof. Wilson. Keep this a secret, if you please, for the present.

At a later date Poe told Griswold that he had contributed to two foreign (English) magazines. These contributions have never been definitely traced, but it seems possible that certain articles bearing upon the question of international copyright, which afterward appeared in Blackwood’s and the Edinburgh Review, may [page 459:] be by Poe, who was constantly fishing for English connections in several directions, then and later. To the correspondence with Heath of the Messenger, there will be occasion to refer later. In a letter to Snodgrass, at the end of October, Poe asks the Doctor to forward him, if possible, some back files of the Messenger, evidently with the idea of reprinting from them some of his redacted poetry which appeared later in Burton’s.(548) He had neglected to keep by him, he soon afterward told Lowell, any volumes of any of his own poems.

Sometime towards the end of 1839 or the beginning of the new year, the time cannot be fixed exactly, Poe and his family moved from Sixteenth near Locust Street to a new dwelling on Coates Street just overlooking the banks of the Schuylkill River.(525) This was at the opposite end of town from the offices of Burton’s Magazine, and entailed a walk of between two and three miles, unless the Chestnut Street stages were used, which, since 1829, had been running from the Coffee Houses on Front Street to the Schuylkill. If Poe walked, his route lay by the long gloomy walls of the Eastern Pennsylvania State Penitentiary, “large and imposing like the sight of a fortress.” Past this reminder of misery — “the prisoners are all to be kept in solitary confinement . . . and the arched roofs reverberate every sound” — (365) the poet went back and forth between the town and his little house.

The dwelling is still standing (1926), a three-story brick house with a white worn doorstep, situated on a little triangle of ground made by the junction of Coates Street, Fairmount Drive, and an alley. This was by far the most comfortable house in which Poe had lived for any length of time since the Richmond days. The country all about, at that period, was open, with only a few buildings scattered here and there, and, although the railroad [page 460:] yards were near, where cars were then shifted by horses, there was a beautiful view up the river and across to the opposite bank.

Just below the house, on the river flat, was a curious structure known as the Pagoda which had been erected by Browne, the eccentric designer of the Arcade. Its Chinese proportions overlooked an abandoned race track, which had been part of Browne’s scheme. Here some of the sporting gentlemen of Philadelphia could still be found, in high-wheeled racing carts, exercising their blooded nags and smart tandems. Just above the house was a high shot tower, for long a feature of the Philadelphia landscape. The house itself had two good rooms on the ground floor and several ample bedrooms above. Poe used the front parlor with a black slate mantel for his study, while the rear chamber appears to have been the dining-room; there being a cellar kitchen below, at that time. It was in the front rooms at Coates Street that most of the articles and stories which appeared in Graham’s must have been written, and it is highly probable that it was here, too, that the first faint taps of the Raven began to be heard, and to be put down upon paper. In the bedroom upstairs, Poe lay ill for weeks at a time.(549)

The proximity to the river allowed Poe to indulge in the only form of physical exercise for which he cared, and it was from the time of moving into the Coates Street house that his interest in the landscape and the country about Philadelphia may be dated. There were, it appears, picnics and boating excursions up the Schuylkill and Wissahickon with occasional hunting trips, Some neighbors of the Poes, who lived in the Lemon Hill district, remembered a shooting expedition to Gray’s Ferry in a rowboat after reed birds. Characteristically enough, the Virginian did the shooting while one of the Detwiler lads plied the oars. It was remembered that the mysterious looking gentleman made good use of his fowling-piece, and secured a good bag.(550)

Although the new “mansion” was to see Poe in the most prosperous [page 462:] days that he ever knew — those of his period as editor of Graham’s Magazine, when, for a while, the howls of the wolf were succeeded by the notes of Virginia’s little piano — the first few months in the residence at Coates Street were sad ones. The connection with Burton’s was severed, and Mr. Graham had not yet employed Poe. It was a time of scarcity and living on hopes of prospects for the Penn. Even the three-cent postage for the circulars must have been hard to find, and they were often mailed in bundles to his friends for distribution. Nothing, however, ever kept the home from having about it a spotless, a neat, and an attractive air of comfort imparted by the incessant and loving labor of the mother-in-law, who was the mother of both her “children.” If the walls were not hung in scarlet and gold, they were at least a complete refuge from the world. It was remarked that Mrs. Clemm kept no servant, but that Virginia was often seen working about the garden in front, where she raised fruit and flowers, while her widowed mother did the housework. The slightest patch of ground was always sufficient excuse for Virginia to provide her Eddie with a nosegay and a pot in the window. Poe had, by this time, become more than ever attached to her whose frail childlike person he had come to idolize and to confuse with the “Ligeia” of his dreams. It was not the full, hearty love of manhood for a healthy, competent woman, but a tenderness made poignant by a constantly increasing dread, a pity that longed to wrap her from sorrow and every care. Such a tenderness is often more enduring than passion. In the evenings she sang to him by the fire while Mrs. Clemm sewed; or he read to them, from his long rolls of perfectly written manuscript, some poem or weird tale in a voice that seemed to summon presences from the shadows,(551) while Catarina, the cat, then in her burgeoning kittenhood, purred on the ample plateau of Mrs. Clemm’s [page 462:] lap.(552) But there were gloomy days, too, when Virginia was faint and ill, when Eddie was in the depths of melancholia, or in one of those fits of abstraction, utter lassitude, or even semi-madness induced by a drug. Then he would get up and wander off, God knows where, to be brought back raving by staring neighbors or cajoled by “Muddie.” He would then collapse and lie for days helpless and despondent, half mad with remorse and exhaustion, upon the upstairs bed. Towards the end of 1839 those fits began to gain upon him. Finally he went into a nervous collapse. He was fighting off an old demon, and, as a compromise, began to drink hard cider.(544) These periods of absence from the magazine and the severity of some of Poe’s criticism had evidently gone far towards complicating matters with Mr. Burton, for it was about this time that Poe seems to have attempted to sever connection with the Gentleman’s, to have repented, and to have written the editor a despairing and supplicating letter. Mr. Burton replied. His letter is undated:

I am sorry you have thought it necessary to send me such a letter. Your troubles have given a morbid tone to your feelings which it is your duty to discourage. I myself have been as severely handled by the world as you can possibly have been, but my sufferings have not tinged my mind with melancholy, nor jaundiced my views of society. You must rouse your energies, and if care assail you, conquer it, I “will gladly overlook the past. I hope you will as easily fulfill your pledges for the future. We shall agree very well, although I cannot permit the magazine to be made a vehicle for that sort of severity which you think ‘so successful with the mob!’ . . . I accept your proposition to recommence your interrupted avocations with the Maga. Let us meet as if we had not exchanged letters. Use more exercise, write when feelings prompt, and be assured of my friendship. You will soon regain a healthy activity of mind and laugh at your past vagaries.(553) [page 463:]

This is certainly charitable, thoughtful, and the advice is good, yet a glance at Mr. Burton’s jolly comedian’s countenance will at once explain his faith in the power of simple remedies to bring health and peace to a face that wore far different lineaments from his own. The truce, however, was arranged and Poe’s contributions continued. He was now at work upon a serial story called The Journal of Julius Rodman, being an account of the “First Passage across the Rocky Mountains of North America ever achieved by Civilized Man.”(564) The story appeared anonymously in Burton’s from January to June of the following year (1840). This tale is perhaps the least worth while of any of Poe’s longer works and resembles Arthur Gordon Pym in its method and style. The story professes to describe the adventures of a young Kentucky traveler on a trapping expedition up the Missouri in the last decade of the eighteenth century. The Rocky Mountains are crossed in 1792, and the hero returns to Virginia, where, for insufficient motives, he carefully secretes his diary. The interest in the West was then strong, and Poe was simply writing for an audience. The narratives of Lewis and Clark, Sir A. Mackenzie, and Washington Irving’s Astoria were the sources drawn upon.(565) It is only occasionally, in this tale, that Poe attains to a faint glow of his better self. In the meantime, the last month of the year finally saw the publication of the collected tales an accomplished fact at last.

Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, the seventh work appearing under Poe’s name, was published in December, 1839, at Philadelphia by Lea & Blanchard, the title page bearing the date 1840. The edition consisted of 750 sets of two volumes each, and was dedicated to Colonel William Drayton. The first volume of 243 pages contained a preface in which Poe strove to counter the charge of German influence, and to lay stress on the fact that the collection possessed a spiritual coherence, having been written [page 464:] with a view to publication in collected form “to preserve, as far as a certain point, a certain unity of design.” This was followed by fourteen tales. The second volume contained ten stories and an appendix. In the Foreign Quarterly Review for July, 1827, appeared an article by Sir Walter Scott which suggested the title.(556) This comprised a collection of all the tales published up until that time with the addition of Why the Little Frenchman Wears His Hand in a Sling.(557) In them, all the types of the heroes and heroines which Poe was to create, appeared fully developed except that of the “Unerring Reasoner.” That was to await the tales of ratiocination soon to follow.

Poe had now been for a year and a half in Philadelphia. He had made many valuable acquaintances and increased his fame. . . . The year 1839 closed having seen two works issued under his name, and the publication of some of the greatest of his tales. The financial return had been almost nothing, and he was now once more despondent. In addition to this, the troubles with Burton were rapidly drifting to a close.

The opening of the year 1840 found Israfel with several irons very much in the fire. He was still contributing perfunctorily to Burton’s, but his main interest was now engrossed in the grand scheme to launch a magazine of his own, of which he was to be sole editor and proprietor. As he had no capital, his campaign for starting the journal, to be called the Penn Magazine, was pressed along three separate lines, i.e., the favorable announcement of its approaching advent by other publications, the securing of distinguished contributors, each with his own following, and the assurance of sufficient subscribers, in advance, to provide the initial financial backing.

For the securing of all three essentials, Poe relied perforce upon the cooperation and confidence of his personal and literary friends. His correspondence at this time is almost entirely given over to matters concerning the Penn, and for the most part embraced the members of his own family in Baltimore, old friends [page 465:] in Richmond, correspondents in the West, particularly St. Louis, and various magazine editors upon whose fear or favor he might safely rely. John Tomlin of Tennessee, Dr. Thomas Holley Chivers of Georgia, both poets, and Frederick William Thomas were now added to the list.

Poe had met Tomlin through magazine correspondence at an earlier date. Chivers had already published poems which had attracted Poe’s notice, and the correspondence which now sprang up between them was the beginning of an association which later had curious ramifications in their mutual effect upon each other’s poetry. Thomas was a poet and novelist, the author of Clinton Bradshaw, Howard Pinckney, East and West, and other forgotten works. He was also a minor journalist and dabbled not unsuccessfully in politics. At the time their correspondence began, Thomas was living in St. Louis. Through Baltimore connections, he already knew of Poe and was prepared to admire him. It was the beginning of the closest friendship which Poe contracted during his manhood.(558)

Poe’s theory of issuing a magazine of his own was, that once rid of the thwarting influence of an editor such as Mr. White or Mr. Burton, and with the policies of the magazine entirely in his own hands, he would be able to appeal to a larger and, at the same time, more select audience by the fearlessness of the criticism and the quality of the contributions offered. In this connection, Lowell’s description of the literary conditions in the United States a few years later was equally applicable to 1840.

The situation of American literature is anomalous. It has no center, or, if it have, it is like that of the sphere of Hermes. It is divided into many systems, each revolving round its several suns, and often presenting to the rest only the faint glimmer of a milk-and-water way.(559)

In 1840, and for some years later, these several centers may be said to have been located at Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. The West was nebulous and the faint glow at Charleston, [page 466:] which became visible just before the Civil War with the issue of Russell’s Magazine there, had not yet troubled the horizon.

It was Poe’s plan to disregard all of these local groups with their mutual and petty internal jealousies, and to found a periodical which would not only be national, but even international in its scope.

Unlike nearly all the other editors and critics of his time, Poe was aware of the movements and the orbits of stars in both English and German literature. There were only two magazines in the country that would have been rivals — the North American Review and the Knickerbocker, which represented the New England and the Manhattan groups respectively. Towards the former, with the exception of James Russell Lowell, Poe was peculiarly hostile. Part of this hostility to New England was due to personal jealousy and Southern traditions, but the major part of it can now candidly be acknowledged to have had its source in a just anger at the preposterous assumptions of the New England group and their clannish log rolling. To a man of Poe’s critical acumen and artistic instinct, this was like a red rag to a bull. The assumption of the superiority of the New England brand of culture and virtue has been swallowed by the American people with an ease that is only to be explained by their almost complete indifference to the facts of their own history, and an admiration for persistent propaganda. To Poe, raised in Virginia, and a member of Thomas Jefferson’s own university, the assumption was intolerable. Nor is the fact unimportant in Poe’s history. Through its curious ramifications, his reputation has suffered. The Puritan has withdrawn the fringes of his robes lest they take stain from the contact; Emerson called him the “jingle man,” and went on cogitating “Compensations”; and Longfellow, the carefully bibulous and benign, assumed the throne in solitary state, where he has reigned for two generations as the greatest American poet. In the meantime, every schoolboy learned that Edgar Poe was a drunkard, and the faintly heard echoes of Baudelaire’s twisted horn confirmed from France the certainty that he was “Immoral.” In the United States he became the enfant terrible of [page 467:] American literature, and abroad one of the two “world artists” we have produced.

In 1840, Poe was hoping to give a center and an intellectual direction to the current in the muddy swimming hole of American literature. It is a great pity that he failed. Artistically he was the foremost creative mind of his literary generation in America; in the final analysis it was his physical infirmities which doomed him to fail. Poe’s own prospectus for the Penn, which was circulated about a year later (he probably delighted in the pun on the name), gives most satisfactorily the basis upon which he built his hopes. Naturally enough, the complete philosophy behind it is not fully developed in a document whose aim was so practical as the




A Monthly Literary Journal

To be edited and published in the city of Philadelphia


To The Public: — Since resigning the conduct of the Southern Literary Messenger, at the commencement of its third year, I have always had in view the establishment of a Magazine which should retain some of the chief features of that journal, abandoning or greatly modifying the rest. Delay, however, has been occasioned by a variety of causes, and not until now have I found myself at liberty to attempt the execution of the design.

I will be pardoned for speaking more directly of the Messenger. Having in it no proprietary right, my objects too being at variance in many respects with those of its very worthy owner, I found difficulty in stamping upon its pages that individuality which I believe essential to the full success of all similar publications. In regard to their permanent influence, it appears to me that a continuous definite character, and a marked certainty of purpose, are requisites of vital importance; and I cannot help believing that these requisites are only attainable when one mind alone has the general direction of the undertaking. Experience has rendered obvious — what might indeed have been demonstrated a priori — that in founding a Magazine of my own lies my sole chance of carrying out to completion whatever peculiar intentions I may have entertained.

To those who remember the early days of the Southern periodical [page 468:] in question, it will be scarcely necessary to say that its main feature was a somewhat overdone causticity in its department of Critical Notices of new books. The Penn Magazine will retain this trait of severity insomuch only as the calmest yet sternest sense of justice will permit. Some years since elapsed may have mellowed down the petulance without interfering with the vigor of the critic. Most surely they have not yet taught him to read through the medium of a publisher’s will, nor convinced him that the interests of letters are unallied with the interests of truth. It shall be the first and the chief purpose of the Magazine now proposed to become known as one where may be found at all times, and upon all subjects, an honest and a fearless opinion. It shall be a leading object to assert in precept, and to maintain in practice, the rights, while in effect it demonstrates the advantages, of an absolutely independent criticism; a criticism self-sustained; guiding itself only by the purest rules of Art; analyzing and urging these rules as it applies therein; holding itself aloof from all personal bias; acknowledging no fear save that of outraging the right; yielding no point either to the vanity of the author, or to the assumptions of critical prejudice, or to the involute and anonymous cant of the Quarterlies, or to the arrogance of those organized cliques which, hanging like nightmares upon American literature, manufacture, at the nod of our principal booksellers, a pseudo-public opinion by wholesale. These are objects of which no man need be ashamed. They are purposes, moreover, whose novelty at least will give them interest. For assurance that I will fulfill them in the best spirit and to the very letter, I appeal with confidence to those friends, and especially to those Southern friends, who sustained me in the Messenger, where I bad but a very partial opportunity of completing my own plans.

In respect to the other characteristics of the Penn Magazine a few words here will suffice.

It will endeavor to support the general interests of the republic of letters, without reference to particular regions — regarding tie world at large as the true audience of the author. Beyond the precincts of literature, properly so called, it will leave in better hands the task of instruction upon all matters of very grave moment. Its aim chiefly shall be to please — and this through means of versatility, originality, and pungency. It may be as well here to observe that nothing said in this Prospectus should be construed into a design of sullying the Magazine with any tincture of the buffoonery, scurrility, or profanity, which are the blemish of some of the most vigorous of the European prints. In all branches of the literary department, the best aid, from the highest and purest sources, is secured.

To the mechanical execution of the work the greatest attention will be given which such a matter can require. In this respect it is proposed [page 469:] to surpass, by very much, the ordinary Magazine style. The form will somewhat resemble that of the Knickerbocker; the paper will be equal to that of the North American Review; pictorial embellishments are promised only in the necessary illustration of the text.

The Penn Magazine will be published in Philadelphia, on the first of each month; and will form, half-yearly, a volume of about 500 pages. The price will be $5 per annum, payable in advance, or upon receipt of the first number, which will be issued on the first of March, 1841. Letters addressed to the Editor and Proprietor,


Philadelphia, January 1, 1841

In this prospectus for the Penn, somewhat toned down for popular consumption, we have, in a thimble, the outstanding critical and publishing theories of Poe, i.e., his insistence that the unity of a, vivid personality would impel success, his purpose to criticize without fear or favor, a refusal to pander to local prejudices or sectional cliques, the theory of the world as an audience, a freedom from didactic tendencies and ephemeral propaganda, pleasure as the aim of literature, the avoidance of the profane or the erotic, and a format which relied on good printing and legitimate illustration of the text rather than upon sentimental embellishment. The theory was fairly sound, but it is an open question whether, if financial circumstances had permitted it, the personality of the “Editor and Proprietor” would have allowed him, particularly in the realm of criticism, to have carried it wholly into effect. He too had peculiar prejudices and particular friends.

The responses to Poe’s appeals by correspondence were on the whole rather reassuring. Promises of support by subscribers, and of articles from various literary friends accumulated encouragingly, and it seemed for a while as if the Penn might actually appear in January, 1841, as an announcement in the Philadelphia Saturday Chronicle for June 13, 1840, indicated. A series of unforeseen events, and an unlooked-for change in Poe’s prospects, now, however, suddenly intervened, and the date of the first appearance of the magazine was deferred. These events were a nervous crisis, a final quarrel with Burton, and the absorption of Poe in his work as the editor of another important periodical.

Through the latter part of the Winter and the early Spring of [page 470:] 1840, Poe had continued his work with Mr. Burton, although unwillingly. Their growing tension was now made even more tense by a scheme of prizes which Burton began to offer under the guise of “premiums” sums which Poe said Burton never intended to pay. It was a method of obtaining authors’ manuscripts, by dangling a precarious bait before their eyes, which disgusted Poe. He is said to have protested to Burton, but in vain.

Also about this time, the proprietor of the Gentleman’s began to become more interested in his theatrical than in his journalistic ventures, and quietly commenced to negotiate for the sale of the magazine without saying anything to Poe. Poe on his part was conducting his negotiations for the Penn without saying anything to Burton, when about the same time, apparently, the news of the several private activities of each came to both their ears. Poe is said to have availed himself of Burton’s lists for the Penn, but as many of the subscribers and contributors had been obtained by his own efforts, the charge against him is not clear. Poe’s irregularities and fitfulness were doubtless irritating, on the other hand he had been ill. As usual there was much to be said, on all sides, when the final break came. Burton’s quarrels with various theatrical managers had determined him to buy a theater of his own, and he now, without saying anything to Poe, advertised the magazine for sale. It was then, perhaps, when he attempted to remonstrate with his editor about the lists, that Poe told him that he “looked upon him as a blackguard and a villain.” In addition to all this, Burton had been absent from the magazine offices on theatrical business quite frequently. In February, he is known to have been in New York. This threw a double burden upon Poe, who became tired of the whole thing, and upon one of these occasions made his attitude in the matter clear by staying away himself. The final dénouement is graphically given by one of Poe’s friends, a Mr. Rosenbach, whose father was interested in the magazine. On returning, Mr. Burton opened the office door to find the desk piled high with manuscripts and letters, Poe absent, and the layout for the next number unprepared:

Burton immediately sought my father at his house, and it was about midnight when he found him. He came in a carriage with a large [page 471:] bundle of manuscripts, from which they made selection. They worked until morning when they sent me with copy to the printer, Charles Alexander, in Franklin Place, Chestnut Street. Alexander hunted up some extra compositors, and by dint of hard work and hurried proofreading, the Gentleman’s Magazine appeared as usual, Poe was discharged for his negligence. . . .(560)

One can imagine the roast-beef tinge of the comedian-editor’s countenance as he arrived at Mr. Rosenbach’s about midnight, “in a carriage piled high with manuscripts.” And of the remarks anent Mr. Poe as “some selection was made” — frantically — under the rays of the astral lamp while dawn slowly paled into morning. For some time afterward, both Mr. Burton and Mr. Poe were heard by mutual acquaintances to be indulging themselves in libelous asides at each other’s expense. After this affair, which occurred sometime in the Spring of 1840, Poe did not again appear at the office of the Gent’s Mag. There were, however, a number of personal matters left in the air by his withdrawal, about which Burton addressed a letter to Poe at the end of May. The nature of these, and the state of the controversy can best be understood by giving Poe’s carefully pondered reply:

SIR, — I find myself at leisure this Monday morning, June i, to notice your very singular letter of Saturday. . . . I have followed the example of Victorine and slept upon the matter and you shall now hear what I have to say. In the first place, your attempts to bully me excite in my mind scarcely any other sentiment than mirth. When you address me again, preserve if you can, the dignity of a gentleman. . . . As for the rest you do me great injustice and you know it. As usual, you have wrought yourself into a passion with me on account of some imaginary wrong; for no real injury, or attempt at injury, have you ever received at my hands. As I live, I am utterly unable to say why you are angry, or what true grounds of complaint you have against me. You are a [page 472:] man of impulses; have made yourself, in consequence, some enemies; have been in many respects ill-treated by those whom you looked upon as friends — and these things have rendered you suspicious. You once wrote in your magazine a sharp critique upon a book of mine — a very silly book — Pym. Had I written a similar criticism upon a book of yours, you feel that you would have been my enemy for life, and you therefore imagine in my bosom a latent hostility towards yourself. This has been a mainspring in your whole conduct towards me since our first acquaintance. It has acted to prevent all cordiality. In a general view of human nature your idea is just — but you will find yourself puzzled in judging me by ordinary motives. Your criticism was essentially correct, and therefore, although severe, it did not occasion in me one solitary emotion either of anger or dislike. But even while I write these words, I am sure you will not believe them. Did I not still think you, in spite of the exceeding littleness of some of your hurried actions, a man of many honorable impulses, I should not now take the trouble to send you this letter. I cannot permit myself to suppose that you would say to me in cold blood what you said in your letter of yesterday. You are, of course, only mistaken in asserting that I owe you a hundred dollars, and you will rectify the mistake at once when you come to look at your accounts. . . . Your error can be shown by reference to the Magazine. During my year with you I have written:

In July 5 PP

“ August 9 pp.

“ September 16 pp.

“ Oct. 4 pp.

“ Nov. 5 pp.

“ Dec. 12 pp.

“ Jan. 9 pp.

“ Feb. 12 pp,

“ March 11 pp.

“ April 17 pp.

“ May 14 pp.+ 5 copied — Miss McMichael’s Ms.

“ June 9 pp. + 3 “ — Chandlers

132 (An error in addition)

Dividing this sum by 12, we have an average of u pp. per month — not 2 or 3. And this estimate leaves out of question everything in the way of extract or compilation. Nothing is counted but bona fide composition, 11 pp. at $3 per p. would be $33, at the usual Magazine prices. Deduct this from $50, my monthly salary, and we have left $17 per month, or $4.25 per week, for the services of proof reading; general superintendence at the printing office; reading, alteration, and preparation [page 473:] of Mss., with compilation of various articles, such as Plate articles, Field sports, etc. Neither has anything been said of my name upon your title page, a small item — you will say — but still something, as you know. Snowden pays his editresses $2 per week each for their names solely. Upon the whole I am not willing to admit that you have greatly overpaid me. That I did not do four times as much as I did for the Magazine was your own fault. At first I wrote long articles, which you deemed unadmissable, and never did I suggest any to which you had not some immediate and decided objection. Of course, I grew discouraged, and could feel no interest in the journal.

I am at a loss to know why you call me selfish. If you mean that I borrowed money of you — you know that you offered it, and you know that I am poor. . . . Place yourself in my situation and see whether you would not have acted as I have done. You first ‘enforced’ as you say, a deduction of salary; giving me to understand thereby that you thought of parting company. You next spoke disrespectfully of me behind my back — this as an habitual thing; — to those whom you supposed your friends, and who punctually reported to me, as a matter of course, every ill-natured word which you uttered. Lastly, you advertised your magazine for sale without saying a word to me about it. I felt no anger at what you did — none in the world. Had I not firmly believed in your design to give up your journal, with a view of attending to the Theatre, I should never have dreamed of attempting one of my own. The opportunity of doing something for myself seemed a good one — (and I was about to be thrown out of business) — and I embraced it. Now I ask you, as a man of honor and as a man of sense, — what is there wrong in all this? What have I done at which you have any right to take offence? I can give you no definite answer (respecting the continuance of Rodman’s Journal) until I hear from you again. The charge of $100 I shall not admit for an instant. If you persist in it our intercourse is at an end, and we can each adopt our own measures. In the meantime, I am,

Yr. Obt. St.,


To have admitted the charge of $100, which was more than he actually did owe Burton, would have necessitated the continuance of the Rodman Journal for nothing at all. Mr. Burton, who had several manuscripts of Poe’s on hand, refused to publish them, and also annoyed Poe by pretending not to be able to find the manuscripts sent in to the magazine by several of his former contributors. About the middle of June, Poe wrote to Snodgrass saying: [page 474:]

I would go down to the office, open the drawer in his presence, and take the MS. from beneath his nose. I think this would be a good deed done, and would act as a caution to such literary swindlers in the future. . . .(561)

Even as late as April, 1841, Poe again writes:

In regard to Burton I feel indebted to you for the kind interest you express; but scarcely know how to reply. My situation is embarrassing. It is impossible, as you say, to notice a buffoon and a felon, as one gentleman would notice another. The law, then is my only recourse. . . .(540)

Poe felt that he was being libelled. But nothing came of his talk of the law, and both he and Burton gradually cooled off. Burton’s “libels” had to do with assertions on his part that Poe’s irregularities and idiosyncrasies, while employed on the Gentleman’s Magazine, were due to drinking. Mr. Burton was mistaken, but honestly so. Poe had, indeed, been wayward and fitful, but as will be shown shortly, he was not drinking at this time.(544) His eccentricities arose from another source. The Penn Magazine project may be regarded as having caused the main trouble with Burton, as it did later on with Graham.

In the meantime, in May, 1840, Poe had met personally, and became in a few days intimately acquainted with, his lifelong friend, F. W. Thomas, who had stopped off at Philadelphia on his way home to St. Louis from the Whig presidential convention held in Baltimore the same month.(558) Thomas visited the Poes at Coates Street where the family was still living. They were all much taken with one another. Thomas was especially delighted with Virginia and Mrs. Clemm, and evidently won his way to the heart of Poe, who afterward mentions his conversation turning frequently “upon the one loved name.” It was Frances, the name of Poe’s beloved foster-mother.(562) [page 475:]

There were many associations which drew these two young men together. In the first place both were writers, poets, and editors; both had been raised in the South and had known of each other through mutual friends for a long time. Thomas, like Poe, suffered from ill health. He was a cripple, probably due to tuberculosis of the bones, and his struggles for recognition had been long and hard. In Baltimore, while Poe was in the Army, Thomas had known Poe’s brother Henry well, and they had been rivals in a love affair.(563) It was then that he had first learned of Poe and his work. Poe had been especially interested in Thomas’s novel, Clinton Bradshaw, because it depicted persons then living in Baltimore, whom he knew. In Philadelphia, both of them became intensely interested in each other. There were long conversations upon poetry and other literary topics. Poe gave Thomas much good advice about style and method in novel writing, and the evenings at Coates Street were enlivened by Virginia’s singing in her sweet, high voice one of Thomas’s songs, It is said thatAbsence Conquers Love.” Thomas loved this composition and once, when in Philadelphia, ill and in hard luck, he had stopped in front of a house on Chestnut Street to listen to a lady’s voice singing a familiar tune — it was his own song.

While in Philadelphia in May, 1840, Thomas made a speech for “Tippecanoe and Tyler too” — and was pelted by a mob of the Locofocoes. The young politician was a lawyer and a personal admirer of the Whig candidate —

One of the first persons who noticed me in the West was General Harrison, who shortly after my Arrival in Cincinnati invited me to the ‘Bend,’ where I went and was his guest for some weeks, — I was engaged there in one of my first law cases against his eldest son (now dead), William Harrison.(563)

It is impossible now, almost a century later, to recall to the present generation the fervency of the presidential campaign of 1840. It marked the beginnings of the insurgence of the idealism [page 476:] and the hopes which two decades later placed Abraham Lincoln in the White House. It was a progressive movement that centered itself about Harrison, a rather futile old military hero, but it was pregnant with the energy and lyric enthusiasm of youth. The Whigs were a young man’s party and the campaign marked a departure from old-time methods. There were torchlight processions, speeches by young madcaps in oil-cloth cloaks, glistening with the reflections of rockets and red fire, and, above all, the sound of young, manly voices raised in a national enthusiasm of song while the barbecued ox sizzled before some great bonfire in the prim public squares. Both Poe and Thomas felt the breeze raised by the passing wings of the angel of youth and both wrote political songs. “I battled with right good will for Harrison” says Poe.(564) Thomas was later rewarded with a public office, the benefits of which he tried hard to obtain for Poe, They both met at a time of considerable spiritual enthusiasm, and forever remained firm friends. Most of the biographies of Poe have overlooked the great friendship of Poe’s later years. It was a fine one. Their conversation and correspondence were affectionate, and their rare times together fondly cherished. Those who assert that Poe was incapable of true friendship must explain away the contrary evidence of these sometimes touching letters, “You have shown yourself, from the first hour of our acquaintance, that rara avis in terris — a true friend. Nor am I the man to be unmindful of your kindness.”(565) Poe on his part did many literary favors for Thomas.

Poe’s resources, already of the scantiest, were reduced to nil after his parting with Burton. The last of his contributions to the Gentleman’s ceased in June, 1840. During the past six months his most important critical contributions had been a highly appreciative critique of De la Motte Fouqué’s Undine, the effect of which is largely overcome by finding the same critic praising, ad nauseam, Moore’s Alciphron. From old association Poe was [page 477:] more than partial to Moore, who had a contemporary reputation now difficult to understand. Poe had also found opportunity to take Longfellow to task for bungling in Hyperion, when the stuff of his poem gave him, Longfellow, a great artistic opportunity. Longfellow’s treatment of Hyperion was more personal and autobiographical than Poe knew, and dealt with the events of the death of his first wife and his second marriage.

With the advent of Summer, however, Poe’s opportunities for publishing were, as we have seen, withdrawn. His contributions from June, 1840, to January, 1841, when he began to write for Graham’s, were mostly fugitive and certainly obscure. Some went to the Philadelphia newspapers, Alexander’s Weekly Messenger, to the editor of which he was already known since the cryptogram articles, and a few paragraphs to the United States Military Magazine. This comprehended the extent of his publishing until December, 1840.

The rest of the time was taken up by his correspondence concerning the Penn, his supervision of the printing and mailing out of the prospectus already noticed, dated January 1, 1841. It was during this interlude that he approached his cousin, William Poe of Baltimore, with an appeal for aid in his venture. The paucity of his work at this time may also be attributed to the approach, through the Fall of 1840, of the sickness which confined him to bed in the December and January following. After the flare-up with Burton there had been a well authenticated nervous collapse. Which was the cause, and which the effect, it is impossible to ascertain. The ramifications and implications are various.

Suffice it to say, that Poe was far from a well man in heart, brain, or nerves. To this condition was now added the additional strain of no occupation with a consequent return of dire poverty. Once more, for a brief period, his entire support was Mrs. Clemm. In addition to supplying the larder by some beggar’s magic, she also nursed both Poe and Virginia. In the Summer, she had received a temporary respite by an absence from Philadelphia “ on a six weeks’ visit to New Jersey,” perhaps to Mary Devereaux, who was then married and living in Jersey City.

In October, 1840, Burton succeeded in selling the Gentleman’s [page 478:] Magazine outright for $3,500 to George R. Graham, the owner of Atkinson’s Casket, an anaemic monthly that had then fluttered harmlessly through ten puerile volumes. Mr. Burton sold out his literary aspirations and used the cash to purchase Cook’s Olympic Circus, between Eighth and Ninth Streets in Philadelphia, where he now once more appeared in his true character as manager and chief clown. Graham was thus left in sole charge of both magazines which he continued separately, up until the new year, when their destines and identities were merged in a new publication called Graham’s Magazine. Mr. Burton, at the time of the merger, a process lamentably familiar to the readers of modern American periodicals, boasted 3500 subscribers, and Mr. Graham, 1500. The new magazine therefore started with about 5000 for its audience. In a few months it had increased under Poe’s editing to over 37,000. It was the largest monthly in the world, the first of the huge modern American magazines. The inference from these figures speaks loudly for Poe. It was then an unprecedented triumph in the field of journalism.

Graham’s Monthly, in some of its respects, may be compared with the present Saturday Evening Post, or the Ladies Home Journal. It aimed to appeal to a large audience of both sexes of the middle classes, and it succeeded. Strangely enough, Mr. Graham was at that time a part owner in the contemporary Saturday Evening Post. In some respects, except for the fact that he was extravagant and died in poverty, George R. Graham was the Curtis or the Munsey of his time. Behind his first success was the able editor Edgar Allan Poe, for whom, after all, Burton, it appeared, had deep in his heart a real liking. When the negotiations for the sale of the Gentleman’s were completed, Burton turned to Graham and remarked, “There is one thing more, I want you to take care of my young editor.” It was one of the telling and kindly lines that actor ever spoke. Sometime October and December, 1840, Mr. Graham came into contact with Poe, for in the last number of the Gentleman’s under Graham’s management, appeared Poe’s remarkable tale of conscience, The Man of the Crowd. It is a curious coiribmatioa of a “hero” under the effect of remorse for crime, and the scenes of [page 479:] London which Poe recollected from his sojourn there with the Allans, now grotesquely recalled through the cloud and pall of a dream.

From the blank of the remaining months of the year, only a few glimpses can be snatched. The hunt for a legacy was still on; the old one of William Clemm, Sr., Virginia’s grandfather, of Mount Prospect, Maryland. Legal business in connection with this matter seems to have taken Poe to Baltimore in the Summer and Fall of 1840.(469) Mrs. Clemm’s lawyer had his offices in the basement of Barnum’s Hotel, at the intersection of Fayette and Calvert Streets, where Poe was occasionally found. Poe seems to have stayed with the family of Mr. William J. High, an artist, and at that time had a daguerreotype taken by Stanton & Butler at 79 Fayette Street.(566)

This picture he gave to the Highs for their kindness. It afterward seems to have fallen into the hands of some of the Baltimore Poes.

On November 23, 1840, Poe was at home in Philadelphia answering a letter to F. W. Thomas, which — “I only received . . . about an hour ago, having been out of town for the last ten days. . . .” This, and a similar reference to an absence from town in August of the same year, possibly refers to the occasional trips to Baltimore. The rest of Poe’s activities at this time related, for the most part, to his efforts to launch the Penn Magazine. In his letter to Thomas, Poe continues —

Thank you a thousand times for your good wishes and kind offers. I shall wait anxiously for the promised article. I should like to have it, if possible, in the first sheet, which goes to press early in December. But I know that I may depend upon you, and therefore say no more upon this head. For the rest, your own experience and friendship will suggest the modes by which you may serve me in St. Louis. Perhaps, you may be able to have the accompanying ‘Prospectus’ (of the Penn) (which you will see differs from the first) inserted once or twice in some of the city papers — if you can accomplish this without trouble I shall be greatly obliged to you. Have you heard that illustrious graduate [page 480:] of St. John’s College, Cambridge (Billy Barlow) (a reference to Burton) has sold his magazine to Graham, of the Casket?

Mrs. Clemm and Virginia unite with me in the kindest remembrance to yourself and sister — with whom your conversation (always turning upon the ‘one loved name’) has already made us so well acquainted. How long will it be before I see you again? Write immediately.

It was probably in November, 1840, that Poe and Mr. Graham first met and talked over the proposition of Poe’s assuming charge of the new magazine that was to appear the first month of the new year. The definite engagement did not take place till later, but, as has been noticed, Poe contributed a story to the last number of the Gentleman’s and his hand is found in the columns of the new monthly as early as February, 1841. That he did not contribute more, or appear largely in the first number, was due to the fact that he was now overtaken by one of those periods of illness, nervous collapse, and prostration which were so significant in his career. It was this, and the expectations of an arrangement with Graham which now perforce deferred the appearance of the Penn, and brought him to the verge of a physical and mental crisis.


[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 425:]

508.  The locations of Poe’s places of abode, offices of magazines, and the addresses of persons with whom he was intimately acquainted in Philadelphia have been arrived at by a careful comparison of his own correspondence and letters about him, consultation of contemporary city directories, magazine and newspaper headings, and the city records dealing with the transfer of real estate and street and lot numbers. Wherever possible both the old and new street numerals are given. It has thus been possible to reconstruct Poe’s Philadelphia haunts fairly accurately. The sojourn of Poe with the Pedders rests on the recollections of the Pedder sisters to whom Poe afterward presented some of his manuscripts.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 425:]

509.  Poe was known to have been at this house till the beginning of September, 1838. See Poe to N. C. Brooks, Philadelphia, September 4, 1838. “ I am just leaving Arch Street for a small house,” etc.

510.  From a letter of the first Mrs, James Russell Lowell, written during her honeymoon about the end of May, 1845. The character of Poe’s residences is given carefully here as it indicates his mode of life, financial, and social conditions,

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 426, running to the bottom of page 427:]

511.  The author is greatly in the debt of Francis Rawle, Esq., President of the Pennsylvania Historical Association, for free access to the library, catalogues, collections of prints, paintings, and the invaluable original manuscripts and literary correspondence in its possession. The preparation of Poe’s contemporary Philadelphia background ranged over a wide field of material. Some of the more accessable references are: Oberholteer, E, P., The Literary History of Philadelphia, Geo. W. Jacobs & Co., Publishers; the same, Poe’s Philadelphia Homes; Smyth, A. H., The Philadelphia Magazines and their Contributors, Philadelphia, Robert M. Lindsey, 1892; files of Burton’s, Graham’s, Godey’s, and other magazines to which Poe contributed; files of contemporary newspapers. Descriptions of persons and places are taken from contemporary engravings, paintings, and other illustrations. [page 427:] Maps, almanacs, book catalogues, time tables, directories, first editions of Poe and other authors, and files of correspondence of literary and other persons connected with Poe directly, or with his environment, have been consulted.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 427:]

512.  The important rôle which mechanical advances in printing have played in the spread of intellectual enlightenment has seldom been fully stressed. The mission of Franklin to England, at the behest of Governor Keith of Pennsylvania, to provide the best of type and presses then obtainable, immediately placed Philadelphia a century ahead of the other colonies in publishing. Seventeenth Century presses continued to be used elsewhere in America well up into Revolutionary times. The lead was long maintained in Philadelphia, where, in 1810, the art of lithography was introduced into the United States in the pages of the Analectic Magazine. Revolution in illustration followed.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 428:]

513.  Poe’s own early schoolbooks had been printed there. See note 98, page 65.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 429:]

514.  Poe had undoubtedly pored over the pages of these and similar publications in Richmond at Ellis & Allan, who took subscriptions for such periodicals. His curious tendency to the semi-classical and the pedantic is largely to be explained by a reference to the magazine literature of his boyhood. The background of American writers of the ‘40s to the ‘60s cannot be understood without a familiarity with the early Nineteenth-Century magazines and newspapers upon which they were raised, illustrations are often the primary source of literary inspirations. Philadelphia provided the best of these — see note 512.

515.  This does not apply to the political pamphlets and tracts. It must be remembered that the bulk of the Revolutionary doctrines, the only part of American literature that gained the ear of the world in the Eighteenth Century, was printed in Philadelphia where the best brains of the Colonies gathered.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 430:]

516.  Poe’s early fascination for Brown may perhaps be explained by a remark which Brown made about his own work: His books he said had, “great efficacy in beguiling his body of its pains and thoughts of their melancholy; in the head and heart of their aches.”

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 431:]

517.  The announcements and editorials of the magazines of the era make their publishing philosophy sufficiently clear.

518.  Mrs. Sarah J. Hale published a pamphlet of child’s verses, Dr. Lowell Nason of Boston, publisher, 1830. It is now exceedingly rare and contains some of the best known children’s lyrics in the language.

“Mary had a little lamb,

Its fleece was white as snow,”

and —

“If ever I see on brush or tree

Young birds in a pretty nest.

I must not in my play

Steal the young birds away

To grieve their mother’s breast.

Mrs. Hale had known of Poe since 1827, and had written a letter to her son, at [page 432:] West Point in 1830, inquiring about him, This partly explains Poe’s frequent appearance in Godey’s where Mrs. Hale held sway for years with telling effect on the American feminine world.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 433:]

519.  George R, Graham, however, afterwards commented on this in his defense of Poe. Graham’s Magazine, 1850:

“The character of Poe’s mind was of such an order as not to be very widely in demand. The class of educated mind which he could readily and profitably reach was small — the channels through which he could do so at all were few . . .” etc. Mr. Graham was the most successful magazine editor of his era and deserves respectful attention in his estimate of Poe.

520.  It is characteristic of the age that the poet Longfellow who embodied the genius of mediocrity received a bust in Westminster Abbey while Poe’s obscure grave in Baltimore was sown with thistles.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 434:]

521.  Louis A. Godey was once described as a “decalcomaniac.”

522.  It is not to be supposed that people actually appeared as the fashion plates of any period show them. The point is that the spirit of the times can be glimpsed in fashion plates, because that is the way people desired to appear.

523.  See also Poe’s prospectus for the Penn and the Stylus and his contract with to artist, F. O. C. Darley.

524.  See Poe’s own drawing of Miss Royster, Volume I.

525.  A good example of this Family Library is A description of Pitcairn’t Island and its Inhabitants with an Authentic account of the Mutiny of the Ship Bounty, J. Harper, New York, 82 Cliff St., 1832. Harper’s stereotype edition, Poe’s Arthur Gordon Pym had been made possible by cheap printing .processes used by the Harpers.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 435:]

526.  Mathew Carey, an economist of considerable influence, was the “ancestor” of various Philadelphia publishing houses, in which the name “Carey” appears even now. He was a great high tariff man, also famous for his “standing Bible type” from which over two hundred thousand impressions were struck between 1804 and 1825. The forms stood till 1844. Carey was also influential in introducing Didot’s stereotyping process into the United States. Carey, of Carey & Lea, was his son. Poe was much about the plant and dealt with the junior partner, Mr. Lea, in 1829, and the ‘30s, and corresponded with the firm. See Chapter X, page 250.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 437:]

527.  Poe’s correspondence with Dr. Snodgrass and others in the latter ‘30s and early ‘40s’ is still carried on with folded foolscap paper and wafer seals, the postage being prepaid. Postage was often a serious item with Poe. The rates were high, averaging 3 cents for a prospectus of the Penn or Stylus, for instance. Private “letter mail” companies attempted to compete with the government but were closed up by federal actions. The American Letter Mail Co. of Philadelphia early used stamps. Poe once cautions a correspondent to use Hamden’s Express instead of the Post Office on account of cheaper rates. See Poe to Lowell, February 4, 1843.

528.  The apparently disconnected anecdote is introduced here to show the vast change that has taken place since Poe’s day. A visit to the present Philadelphia Post Office with this little incident in mind will serve to bring home the enormous gulf between the world of Poe’s day and our own. Tons of mail now leave the Philadelphia Post Office daily. The entire United States in Poe’s era did not furnish this quantity.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 440:]

529.  Writing from Kennet Square near Philadelphia some years later, Bayard Taylor bursts into an ecstacy of indignation against the Philadelphia environment and its smugness. He knew it only too well,

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 441:]

530.  Poe to N. C. Brooks, September 4, 1838. Also reminiscences of John Sartain, Mayne Reid, etc.

531.  Reid’s description may apply to the Spring Garden Street house occupied by the Poes three years later. That was a three-story brick house, however, and the descriptions cannot be reconciled. Reid’s recollections may confuse both places (sic).

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 443:]

532.  “Poe added such important integral portions to his book . . . that the name of “Brown “ was later dropped from the title page by the publishers, and Poe’s ideas worked into the new edition. This is the first time that this fact has ever been stated. . . .” A Richmond correspondent to the author, March 20, 1926.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 445:]

533.  See Chapter XVI, page 371, for a full discussion of this. It is not the intention here to show that Poe was an habitual user of opium. That he resorted to it from time to time is plainly indicated. Also see Chapter XXIII and Chapter XXVI, pages 700 and 817.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 446:]

534.  From Poe’s Philosophy of Furniture, Burton’s Magazine, May, 1840.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 448, running to the bottom of page 449:]

535.  The ideal of the Victorian heroes and heroines seems to have been tha creation of a completely masculine and feminine type. Much of the fiction of the Twentieth Century stresses the strange results of a mixture of the two types in one person, and the neurasthenic results. The effect upon the costume of the two [page 449:] sexes, by these various ideals at different epochs provides a field for an interesting study.

536.  For a detailed account of this disintegrating process the reader must turn to the evidence in Chapter XXII and chapters following.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 450:]

537.  Poe to Dr. Snodgrass, Philadelphia, July 12,1841. Dr. Thomas Ollive Mabbott says that there were probably two items that appeared in the Western Monthly Review about this time.

538.  Woodberry, 1909, vol. II, note 3, pages 34 and 35, notes the removal about this time, but ignores the Sixteenth Street residence.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 452:]

539.  Autobiography of Joseph Jefferson, the American actor, page 100.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 453:]

540.  Poe to Snodgrass, April 1, 1841. See also Poe to Thomas, November 23, 1840, and Poe to Snodgrass, January 17, 1841. for further jibes at Burton’s expense.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 453, running to the bottom of page 454:]

541.  A typical Poe legend is connected with the lines To Ianthe. In the Summer of 1838, Poe is said to have made a trip to Po Valley, Center County, Pennsylvania, where he engaged the affections of no less than two maidens, visited a cave, [page 454:] carved his initials, and gave the original manuscript of To Ianthe to a young woman who was conveniently buried with the poem — and the proof. The hope of a legacy from some collateral relatives settled in Pennsylvania is said to have caused the trip. This is, of course, pure fiction. See A Modern Petrarch (A Story of Alexander’s Stream). In The Seven Mountains, H. W. Shoemaker, Bright Printing Co., Reading, Pennsylvania, 1913.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 454:]

542.  Thomas Sully painted a portrait of Poe in Philadelphia.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 455:]

543.  Stan V. Henkels & Son, Philadelphia, Catalogue No, 1388, March 19, 1926. The Coming of the Mammoth, The Funeral of Time, and Other Poems, by Henry B. Hirst, Boston. Published by Phillips & Sampson, 1845. 12mo, original boards; printed label partly missing.

An autograph presentation copy: “To Edgar A. Poe, Esq., with the regards of his friend Hirst, June, 1845.” Dr, Thomas Ollive Mabbott, in a letter dated New York, September 29, 1924, says this book has quite a number of annotations throughout in Poe’s hand.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 455, running to the bottom of page 456:]

544.  Poe to Dr. Snodgrass, Philadelphia, April 1, 1841. Speaking of his experience with Burton, Poe says . . . “From the hour on which I first saw this basest of calumniators to the time in which I retired from his office . . . I pledge you, before God, the solemn word of a gentleman . . . nothing stronger than water ever passed my lips . . . after leaving Burton . . . I was induced to resort [page 456:] to the occasional use of cider, with the hope of relieving a nervous attack. . . .” See Thomas’s remark about Poe’s use of dder, Chapter XXVI, page 558. Mrs. Clemm also bore testimony as to Poe’s sobriety in the early Philadelphia days.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 456:]

545.  Washington Irving to Poe, Newburgh, November 6, 1839.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 456:]

546.  P. P. Cooke to Poe September 16,1839. Cooke writes from Charleston, Virginia, at that time one of the strongholds of Virginia plantation life at its best.

547.  Dr. James Evans Snodgrass of Baltimore had been one of the associates and contributors with Brooks on the Museum. These letters were in part published in the New York Herald for March 27, 1881. The more exact text appears in Woodberry. Harrison also includes them with a running comment.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 456:]

548.  Poe requests from Snodgrass especially No. 7, vol. I, to No, 6, vol. II, of the Southern Literary Messenger. He undoubtedly desired these to republish and revamp his old work in Richmond for Philadelphia publications. Snodgrass does not seem to have been able to supply these as Poe later, through Henry B. Hirst, borrowed several copies of the S.L.M. from William Duane, Secretary of the Treasury. These borrowed volumes gave rise to an unfortunate and mistaken charge against Poe by Duane. See Chapter XXIII, page 585. Also Woodberry, 1909, vol. II, appendix II.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 460:]

549.  Description from a visit made by the author to the Coates Street house in March, 1926.

550.  From an anonymous clipping. Contemporary records show the Detwillers to have been neighbors of the Poes in the “Lemon Hill” district.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 461:]

551.  F. O. C. Darley, the artist, tells of Poe’s reading the manuscripts of The Gold Bug and The Black Cat to him later. “The form of Poe’s manuscripts was peculiar. He wrote on half sheets of note paper, which he pasted together at the ends, making one continuous piece, which he rolled up tightly. As he read he dropped it upon the floor. It was very neatly written and without corrections apparently,” Darley to Woodberry, February, 1884.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 462:]

552.  This cat is mentioned by name in Poe’s own letters to Mrs. Clemm, and afterward accompanied the family to New York where she was seen by visitors to the Fordham cottage, and specifically mentioned. See Poe to Mrs. Clemm, New York, April 7, 1884, page 582, and Chapter XXV, page 751.

553.  It will be remembered that both Mr. White of the Messenger, and Mr. Kennedy also Advised exercisfe for Poe. This is a confirmation of Poe’s sedentary and unhealthy mode of life, probably due to his lack of energy, a bad heart and poverty. He seems at times to have attempted to follow out the advice.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 463:]

554.  First traced by Ingram, Poe’s English biographer.

555.  Astoria, Washington Irving, Philadelphia, two volumes, 1836. A narrative deduced f rtfm the fur trading records of the Northwest and John Jacob Astor’s ventures. An important piece of Americana. Poe’s use of sources, contrasted with Irving’s method, is apparent here.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 464:]

556.  Woodberry, 1909, vol. I, page 223, note 1.

557.  Published in the Broadway Journal, November 9, 1845. See also Chapter V, page 75, for the source of this story.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 465:]

558.  For a full history of Thomas see Appendix III.

559.  Lowell’s sketch of Poe, Graham’s Magazine, February, 1845.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 471:]

560.  See also Alexander to Clarke, October 20, 1850, Gill, page 97. “The absence of the editor on professional duties left the matter frequently in the hands of Mr. Poe, whose unfortunate failing may have occasioned some disappointment in the preparation of a particular article expected from him, but never interfering with the regular publication of the Gentleman’s Magazine, as its monthly issue was never interrupted upon any occasion, either from Mr. Poe’s deficiency, or from any other cause, during my publication of it, embracing the whole of Mr. Poe’s connection with it. . . .” This somewhat conflicting testimony is given here as a matter of justice.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 474:]

561.  Poe to Snodgrass, Philadelphia, June 17 (1840). This is a characteristic Poe letter full of bluster. After calling Burton many hard names he became friends with him a year or so later.

562.  Thomas was referring to his sister Frances. This remark of Poe’s is peculiarly significant as showing haw strongly he cherished the memory of his foster-mother. Thomas to Poe August 3, 1841, “ I remarked one day to my sister Frances . . .” etc.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 475:]

563.  Thomas to Poe, Washington, August 3, 1841. An autobiographical letter viewing. Full text in Griswold collection. See note 145. See “Poe and Thomas,” Appendix.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 476:]

564.  Poe to Thomas, August 26, 1841. Undated by Stoddard. The date comes from Thomas’s reply of July 1, 1841, Thomas’s father was also an active Whig, see Appendix.

565.  Poe to Thomas, May 25, 1842.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 479:]

566.  From the history of this daguerreotype, furnished by a Baltimore friend, it has been possible to reconstruct the story of these obscure trips.






[S:0 - HVA26, 1926] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Israfel: The Life and Times of Edgar Allan Poe (H. Allen) (Chapter 19)