Text: Arthur Hobson Quinn, “Chapter 15,” Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography (1941), pp. 451-495


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[page 451:]

CHAPTER XV
 
The Broadway Journal and the Poems of 1845

Poe left the staff of the Mirror because he saw in a new journal a better opportunity. While still on the Mirror’s staff he had become a welcome contributor to the Broadway Journal. This weekly had been founded in January, 1845, by Charles F. Briggs, as editor, and John Bisco as publisher. Briggs, a Massachusetts man, who had written a novel, The Adventures of Harry Franco, and was beginning to use the hero’s name as a nom de guerre, met Poe through Lowell’s written introduction. John Bisco was also a New England man, who had been at one time editor of the Knickerbocker. They were partners, sharing the profits, if there were any.(1)

Poe contributed to the first and second numbers of the Broadway Journal his critique of Elizabeth Barrett’s Drama of Exile and Other Poems,(2) the American reprint of her Poems of 1844. His treatment of those poems which he believed to be mystical, was at times unsympathetic. But his glowing tribute to her “wild and magnificent genius” which rendered her book “a flame” and which he believed justified him in calling her “the greatest — the most glorious of her sex,” pleased her, if she was somewhat embarrassed by it. R. H. Horne, with whom Poe kept up a correspondence, sent him on May 17, 1845, a note from Miss Barrett to Horne, in which she said in part:. “But I am uncomfortable about my message to Mr. Poe, lest it should not be grateful enough in the sound of it. Will you tell him — what is quite the truth — that in my own opinion he has dealt with me most generously, and that I thank him for his candour as for a part of his kindness. Will you tell him also that he has given my father pleasure; which is giving it to me more than twice. Also, the review is very ably written, and the reviewer has so obviously and thoroughly read my poems, as to be a wonder among critics. — Will you tell Mr. Poe this, or to this effect, dear Mr. Horne — all but part of the last sentence which peradventure [page 452:] may be somewhat superfluous.”(3) The most interesting portion of the review is that in which Poe traced the relationship of Shelley, Tennyson, and Miss Barrett. His criticism of “Lady Geraldine’s Courtship” in the same month in which “The Raven” appeared is also worth remembering. As Poe received one dollar a column for contributions to the Journal, he made thirteen dollars for this extensive article.(4)

The Broadway Journal carried, as a feature, critical judgments on “American Prose Writers” and Poe contributed one on N. P. Willis to the issue of January 18th.(5)  He devoted this paper largely to a discussion of Fancy and Imagination, in which he differed with Coleridge and also with his own earlier treatment of the subject(6) by insisting that “Fancy as nearly creates as the imagination, and neither at all.” Yet he continues “The pure imagination chooses, from either beauty or deformity, only the most combinable things hitherto uncombined,” and the result is something that shall have nothing of the qualities of either alone. If this is not creation, it is hard to see what that term means. But Poe was correct in attributing to Willis a brilliant fancy, to which his great popularity was due.

“The Raven” was reprinted in the issue of February 8th,(7) Poe having modified and improved the eleventh stanza and corrected the typographical error in the tenth stanza. Briggs remarked that it was for the benefit of his out-of-town readers. The same issue contained Poe’s characteristic review of Bulwer’s poems, in which Poe again showed Bulwer’s limitations.

In the issue of February 22nd, “Readers and Correspondents” were told: “We have the pleasure of announcing that hereafter Edgar A. Poe and Henry C. Watson will be associated with the editorial department of our Journal. Mr. Watson will have entire control of the musical department.” The notice also contained the statement “Personalities will always be avoided in our columns,” which proved to be more of a hope than a prophecy.

The issue of March 8, 1845, was headed by the names of “C. F. Briggs, Edgar A. Poe, H. C. Watson, Editors. Briggs told Lowell that Poe was “only an assistant to me,” and otherwise minimized Poe’s position.(8) But the actual contract between Bisco and Poe, dated February [page 453:] 21, 1845,(9) proves that Poe was given “one third of the profits,” and had the right to inspect the books, and Bisco agreed to make a settlement with him every four weeks. For this compensation he was to allow his name to be published as an editor, which meant that it had value, to furnish at least a page of original matter each week, and “give his faithful superintendance to the general conduct of the paper.” There is also a clause which provides that if Poe neglects any of the duties of assistant editor he shall forfeit all claim to the profits.

Poe carried over from the Mirror to the Journal one of the most unfortunate controversies of his career. On January 13 and 14, 1845, he had reviewed in the Evening Mirror, Longfellow’s Waif, a selection of his favorite pieces, which Longfellow had edited for the Christmas trade. Poe began by speaking of Longfellow’s “Proem,” better known now as “The Day is Done,” as the “worthiest composition in the volume.” Since the compilation included poems by Shelley, Herrick, and Browning, Poe evidently felt this was high praise. He could not lose an opportunity to dwell on his favorite topic, and he accused James Aldrich of imitating Thomas Hood, with the amiable statement “Somebody is a thief.” At the end of the review, he remarked that there appeared “in this exquisite little volume a very careful avoidance of all American poets who may be supposed especially to interfere with the claims of Mr. Longfellow.” Poe, as usual, combined his real appreciation of Longfellow’s verse with insinuations against his literary honesty. A friend of Longfellow, who signed himself “H,” replied, and Willis printed this reply with a rather jocular preface and equally caustic “Post Notes by the Critic” by Poe.(10)

Willis evidently regretted that he had permitted the attribution of a “moral taint” to Longfellow, for he published in the Mirror a half hearted defence of Poe’s review which was more of an apology to Longfellow.(11) Poe returned to the charge on February 15th in the Evening Mirror, in reply to a calm and sensible statement in the Broadway Journal by Charles F. Briggs, who objected to charges of plagiarism without foundation and stated that Aldrich’s poem had been published in any event two years before Hood’s. He also referred [page 454:] to a recent charge in The Rover that Longfellow had passed off a ballad of Motherwell’s as a translation from the German.(12)

Poe replied rather feebly to Briggs’ refutation, and in an editorial in the Weekly Mirror of February 22nd, made only a veiled allusion to Longfellow. So far the matter was a tempest in a teapot and since Briggs’ article and Poe’s reply to it were both printed on February 15th, I suspect that the matter was privately arranged between them as a scheme to call attention to their respective journals.

Unfortunately for Poe, a correspondent, “Outis,” sent a long article to the Mirror, in which he tried to turn the tables on the author of “The Raven,” by drawing a series of parallels between that poem and some sentimental verses, “The Bird of the Dream.” This counter attack was written in a clever imitation of Poe’s manner, and Outis then showed the absurdity of such charges of plagiarism. He praised “The Raven” highly, and denied that he knew Poe, although he was acquainted with Longfellow.(13) Poe seized upon this letter of Outis as an opportunity to stage a discussion that would be good publicity for the Broadway Journal, of which he had just become an editor.

Through five weekly numbers(14) of the Broadway Journal, Poe replied to the defence by Outis. These articles represent him at his worst. That keen, logical mind faltered into banalities, contradictions, and misrepresentations that make any admirer squirm. Poe put up straw men to knock down, charged Outis with implications that are not justified, and even denied that the dates of publication of two poems had any bearing on the matter of plagiarism. Poe then printed an elaborate comparison of Longfellow’s “Spanish Student” with Poe’s own drama of “Politian,” which are as unlike as well can be imagined. He also repeated the charge that Longfellow had represented Motherwell’s ballad of “Bonnie George Campbell” as his own translation from the German of Wolff. Longfellow had already disproved this charge, but that made no difference to Poe. [page 455:]

Worse than the bitterness with which Poe pursued lines and stanzas of Longfellow to their supposed origins, was his vulgarity in his personal references to Longfellow. There can be no excuse for remarks like, “Now when we consider that many of the points of censure made by me in this critique were absolutely as plain as the nose upon Mr. Longfellow’s face,”(15) or “There can be no doubt in the world, for example, that Outis considers me a fool: —. . . . and this idea is also entertained by Mr. Aldrich, and by Mr. Longfellow — and by Mrs. Outis and her seven children — and by Mrs. Aldrich and hers — and by Mrs. Longfellow and hers.”(16)

Longfellow replied to none of Poe’s attacks. That he was conscious of them is shown in a remark in his Journal, on December 10, 1845. In speaking of Lowell’s “superb poem,” “To the Past,” he wrote: “If he goes on in this vein, Poe will soon begin to pound him.”(17)

The result of this “Longfellow War” was the alienation of such friends as Lowell and a growing sense of irritation on the part of fair-minded critics with Poe. He defended himself in his “Editorial Miscellany,”(18) claiming that he had been one of Longfellow’s “warmest and most steadfast” defenders. But the facts were against him.

A more pleasant impression of Poe as an editor is given in the reminiscences of Alexander T. Crane, the office boy and mailing clerk of the Broadway Journal. Crane wrote as a very old man and some of his account is obviously incorrect, but the following incident could not have been imaginary:

Poe was a quiet man about the office, but was uniformly kind and courteous to everyone, and, with congenial company, he would grow cheerful and even playful. I saw him every day, for, as you may imagine, our office rooms did not consist of a great many compartments, and office boy and editor were pretty close together. He came to the office every day about 9 o’clock and worked until 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and he worked steadily and methodically, too.

Not a great while after I had gone to work on the paper, on a hot August afternoon while wrapping and addressing Journals, I was overcome with the heat and fainted dead away. Poe was writing at his desk. When I recovered consciousness I was [page 456:] stretched out on the long table at which I had been at work and Poe was bending over me bathing my wrists and temples in cold water. He ministered to me until I was able to stand up, and then he sent me home in a carriage.

This act of kindness, coupled with his uniform gentle greetings, when he entered the office of a morning, together with frequent personal inquiries and words of encouragement, made me love and trust my editor.

Crane also tells us that the circulation of the Journal was less than one thousand, of which half was on the mailing list.(19)

How seriously Poe took this crusade against plagiarism is seen in his long letter to J. Hunt, Jr., Editor of the National Archives, defending himself against the latter’s criticisms of Poe’s attack.(20) The defence is hardly successful, but one paragraph dealing with Poe’s general policy of criticism is worth preserving: “Let me put it to you as to a frank man of honor — Can you suppose it possible that any human being could pursue a strictly impartial course of criticism for 10 years (as I have done in the S. L. Messenger and in Graham’s Magazine) without offending irreparably a host of authors and their connexions? — but because these were offended, and gave vent at every opportunity to their spleen, would you consider my course an iota the less honorable on that account? Would you consider it just to measure my deserts by the yelpings of my foes, indepently [sic] of your own judgment in the premises, based upon an actual knowledge of what I have done?”

As soon as he had definitely joined the staff of the Broadway Journal, Poe proceeded to reprint his poems and stories in it.(21) Poe did not make as many changes in his poems as he did in his stories. He had revised a number of the poems for the Saturday Museum in 1843. Yet [page 457:] his constant care is shown in the replacement of two verses in “The Sleeper”:

“The wanton airs, from the treetop

Laughingly through the lattice drop”

which he had omitted.

The stories were quite often extensively revised, as compared with their forms in the Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque. The tales that had appeared in magazines since that volume are naturally not so much changed. The texts of the Broadway Journal have been generally adopted as the standard for his stories, since Poe had an opportunity to revise them. Usually there is an improvement. In “Berenice” he omitted the distressing passage in which the hero went to look at Berenice in her death chamber. In “Bon-Bon” he added the motto from French vaudeville. He changed the title of “Life in Death” to “The Oval Portrait,” and omitted the passages describing the effect of the drugs taken by the hero. This omission has been urged both by those who believe in Poe’s use of opium and by those who deny it, as proof of their theories.

In “Eleonora” the descriptions of Eleonora and Ermengarde were curtailed. The title of the “Visionary” was changed to the “Assignation,” and the “Catholic Hymn” was omitted from “Morella,” as in the Phantasy Pieces, and the other changes made in that revision were preserved.

As Willis proved later, his friendship with Poe remained unaltered after his assistant left the Mirror. Since the publication of “The Raven” Poe was good copy, too, and references to him in the Mirror are frequent. The Evening Mirror of February 27, 1845, announced his lecture on the “Poets and Poetry of America,” for February 28th, and promised the audience “fine carving” from “the critical blade of Mr. Poe.” The account in the Weekly Mirror of March 8th was written by Willis, who was pleased to hear his poem “Unseen Spirits” read as one of three pieces of poetry which had been neglected by the critics. According to Willis, Poe had “an audience of critics and poets — between two and three hundred of victims and victimizers — and he was heard with breathless attention.”

After “gently waking up the American Poetesses,” including Mrs. Frances S. Osgood, for whom Poe prophesied a rosy future, he demolished some who were afloat “on bladders in a sea of glory.” Among the men, Poe treated only what Willis called the “Copperplate five,” probably because they had ornamented the frontispiece of Griswold’s Poets [page 458:] and Poetry of America. Bryant was praised highly, but Poe emphasized his keeping within narrow limits. Longfellow had the greatest genius of the five, but his alacrity at imitation made him borrow when he had better inspiration at home. Poe praised Halleck and recited “Marco Bozzaris.” Sprague and Dana were dismissed summarily, the former being described as “Pope and Water.”(22) The lecture took place at the New York Historical Society. Poe in his letter to J. Hunt, Jr., states that the lecture was so popular that he will repeat it, and he evidently was looking toward lecturing as a means of support.(23)

He may have been prompted to this repetition by a favorable criticism in the weekly issue of the New York Tribune, which lamented that only “three hundred of our four hundred thousand people” attended, while “the bare announcement should have crowded the doors. Shall we not have a repetition?” The critic gave Poe some good advice, however, about his obsession concerning plagiarism.(24) The repetition in March, however, does not seem to have been a success, partly on account of the weather. In speaking of this evening, the office boy, Crane, admits that once, during his service on the Journal, he saw Poe drunk:

Poe had given a lecture in Society library in New York on “The Poets and Poetry of America.” The lecture had proved a great success and he was finally induced to consent to repeat it. The night set for the second lecture was a very bad one. It stormed incessantly, with mingled rain and hail and sleet. In consequence there were scarcely a dozen persons present when Poe came upon the platform and announced that, under the circumstances, the lecture could not be given, and those in the audience would receive their money back at the door. I was one of those present, as Poe had given me a complimentary ticket to the lecture, and badly as I was disappointed, I could see upon his face that my master was much more so. It was a little thing, it is true, but he was a man easily upset by little things. The next morning he came to the office, leaning on the arm of a friend, intoxicated with wine.(25)

Willis copied from Dr. T. D. English’s Aristidean a column headed “Notes about Men of Note” and Poe led the list. “He never rests,” the [page 459:] article said. “There is a small steam engine in his brain which not only sets the cerebral mass in motion, but keeps the owner in hot water. His face is a fine one, and well gifted with intellectual beauty.”(26)

On July 19th the Mirror devoted three full pages to the commencement of the Rutgers Female Institute,(27) and Poe was announced as heading the committee which judged the compositions of the first or highest department. By some ironic chance, his old adversary, Henry T. Tuckerman, whom he was to immortalize in “An Enigma,” served on the same committee. Poe read the prize composition by Miss Lisa [[Louise]] O. Hunter, and I have no doubt he did it well. These public appearances of Poe are easy to identify. But the stories of his Bohemian associations at “Sandy Welsh’s cellar on Ann Street,” where he is supposed to have read “The Raven,” and accepted aid in its composition, rest upon very shadowy foundations.(28) Like other men working in New York City he ate luncheon somewhere, and met his friends. These meetings were probably as unproductive of literary result as they are today.

But Poe’s letters to Thomas continue to reveal that capacity for friendship which has often been denied him; also, his incessant industry, and his desire to repay money he owed by further labor:

[May 4, 1845.]

My Dear Thomas,

In the hope that you have not yet quite given me up, as gone to Texas, or elsewhere, I sit down to write you a few words. I have been intending to do the same thing ever since I received your letter before the last — but for my life and soul I could not find, or make, an opportunity. The fact is, that being seized, of late, with a fit of industry, I put so many irons in the fire all at once, that I have been quite unable to get them out. For the last three or four months I have been working 14 or 15 hours a day — hard at it all the time — and so, whenever I took pen in hand to write, I found that I was neglecting something that would be attended to. I never knew what it was to be a slave before. [page 460:]

And yet, Thomas, I have made no money. I am as poor now as ever I was in my life — except in hope, which is by no means bankable. I have taken a 3d pecuniary interest in the “Broadway Journal,” and for everything I have written for it have been, of course, so much out of pocket. In the end, however, it will pay me well — at least the prospects are good. Say to Dow for me that there never has been a chance for my repaying him, without putting myself to greater inconvenience than he himself would have wished to subject me to, had he known the state of the case. Nor am I able to pay him now. The Devil himself was never so poor. Say to Dow, also, that I am sorry he has taken to dunning in his old age — it is a diabolical practice, altogether unworthy “a gentleman & a scholar” — to say nothing of the Editor of the “Madisonian.” I wonder how he would like me to write him a series of letters — say one a week — giving him the literary gossip of New York — or something of more general character. I would furnish him such a series for whatever he could afford to give me. If he agrees to this arrangement, ask him to state the length & character of the letters — how often — and how much he can give me. Remember me kindly to him & tell him I believe that dunning is his one sin — although at the same time, I do think it is the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost spoken of in the Scriptures. I am going to mail him the “Broadway Journal” regularly, & hope he will honor me with an exchange.

My dear Thomas, I hope you will never imagine, from any seeming neglect of mine, that I have forgotten our old friendship. There is no one in the world I would rather see at this moment than yourself; and many are the long talks we have about you and yours. Virginia & Mrs. Clemm beg to be remembered to you in the kindest terms. Do write me fully when you get this, and let me know particularly what you are about.

I send you an early number of the “B. Journal” containing my “Raven.” It was copied by Briggs, my associate, before I joined the paper. “The Raven” has had a great “run,” Thomas — but I wrote it for the express purpose of running — just as I did the “Gold-Bug,” you know. The bird beat the bug, though, all hollow.

Do not forget to write immediately, & believe me

Most sincerely your friend,

POE(29) [page 461:]

Poe met Lowell for the first time, probably, in May, 1845, when Lowell, who had been living in Philadelphia, passed through New York. A description of the meeting is contained in a letter to Woodberry, written by Lowell on March 12, 1884, from London:

I saw Poe only once and that must have been, I think, in 1843 when I was in New York sitting to Page for my portrait. I suppose there are many descriptions of him. He was small; his complexion of what I should call a clammy-white; fine, dark eyes, and fine head, very broad at the temples, but receding sharply from the brows backwards. His manner was rather formal, even pompous, but I have the impression he was a little soggy with drink — not tipsy — but as if he had been holding his head under a pump to cool it.

His mother-in-law I used to see after his death — a rather ordinary uncultivated woman. I believe I helped her as well as I could in those days when I was earning my bread with my pen. If I had not paid Poe, by the way, she would certainly have reminded me of it and I should have paid her. I have no recollection that I ever did.

Faithfully yours,

J. R. LOWELL(30)

It will be noticed that Lowell’s memory of the occasion is not very clear, as he could not have met Poe in 1843, for even if Poe visited New York in that year, Mrs. Clemm, who was present at their interview, was in Philadelphia. That Poe had been drinking, however, is shown by a letter from Mrs. Clemm to Lowell in 1850:

Lowell, 9th March. 1850

Dear Sir.

I have received a letter from Mr. Redfield. (The publisher of my dear sons E. A. Poes works) in which he states that I will not receive any thing from those works until the expenses are paid. I suppose this is right, but in the mean time I must be entirely destitute. Now dear sir I wish you would so far oblige me as to dispose of a few copies for me among your friends in Cambridge. I am very much in want of a little money and have been ill all winter. I am entirely unable to make any exertion for myself. Mr. Longfellow (at my request) has taken 5 copies and paid me for them! If you will so far oblige me let me know how [page 462:] many I shall send you, And if it will be perfectly convenient to yourself to advance me about 10 dollars. You little know how desolate it is to be alone in this world. I have no home no dear Eddie now. How much I wish I could see you, how quickly I could remove your wrong impression of my darling Eddie. The day you saw him in New York he was not himself. Do you not remember that I never left the room. Oh if you only knew his bitter sorrow when I told him how unlike himself he was while you were there you would have pitied him, he always felt particularly anxious to possess your approbation. If he spoke unkindly of you (as you say he did) rely on it, it was when he did not know of what he was talking.

He was noble, generous, affectionate, and most amiable, (Dr. Griswolds assertion notwithstanding). Poor poor Eddie, it matters little to him now, but it almost breaks my heart to hear him spoken of so unkindly and untrue.(31)

Poe’s impression of Lowell is given in the report by Chivers of his conversations with Poe. According to Chivers, Poe said: “He called to see me the other day, but I was very much disappointed in his appearance as an intellectual man. He was not half the noble looking person that I expected to see.”(32) While Chivers is quite untrustworthy as a witness, Poe probably said something like the quotation. It is rather a pity that this friendship was broken, but like so many meetings of creative artists, there is often a disappointment. It would have been much better if Lowell and Poe had confined their communications to writing. Lowell’s activity in the abolition ranks probably irritated Poe, and Poe made an unfortunate statement in the Broadway Journal(33) concerning an alleged plagiarism of Lowell from Wordsworth, in which he was wrong. On the other hand, he defended Lowell zealously against the criticism of Wilson, the Editor of Blackwood’s, and referred to him as “The noblest of our poets.”(34) Finally, Lowell’s lines on Poe in 1848 in his “Fable for Critics”:

“Here comes Poe with his Raven like Barnaby Rudge,

Three fifths of him genius and two fifths sheer fudge” [page 463:]

called forth a sharp criticism of that poem from Poe, in the Southern Literary Messenger for March, 1849.

About the time of the meeting with Lowell, Poe moved to the second floor of 195 East Broadway. Little is known of this house, which was torn down long ago.(35) The situation was more open than Amity Street, but the family returned to that neighborhood in the fall. In his letter to Chivers of July 22, 1846, Poe explained his silence by the receipt of six letters addressed to 195 E. Broadway and continued: “Did you not know that I merely boarded at this house? It is a very long while since I left it, and as I did not leave it on very good terms with the landlady, she has given herself no concern about my letters.”(36)

There was trouble brewing in the management of the Broadway Journal, and after the issue of July 5th had been omitted, the second volume began with Edgar A. Poe and Henry C. Watson as editors, Briggs having withdrawn or having been eliminated. It is impossible to reconcile his statements concerning his intention to drop Poe(37) with the actual terms of the contracts, for Poe made his with Bisco, and as Poe, Bisco, and Watson went on together, the weight of evidence seems to be against Briggs. Bisco’s notice, which appeared in the Journal on July 12th, stated that “the editorial charge of ‘The Broadway Journal’ is under the sole charge of Edgar A. Poe — Mr. H. C. Watson as heretofore, controlling the Musical Department.”

According to the Memorandum of Agreement, dated July 14, 1845, Bisco was to assume the sole financial and Poe the sole editorial responsibility, and they were to divide the “nett profits” evenly. Poe was to receive his share on the first of every month. He was also as Editor to be “uninterfered with by any party whatever.” Poe drew up this contract and hopefully included a provision that it was “to be renewable by Mr. Poe, indefinitely from year to year.”(38)

Briggs’ departure evidently gave Poe more chance to reprint his own work, or perhaps made it necessary in order to fill the magazine. In some issues he would reprint one or two stories and one or two poems, write a criticism and probably most of the miscellaneous [page 464:] notes. He usually signed the stories although occasionally he used the pen name, “Littleton Barry.”(39)

During these revisions, “The Song of the Newly Wedded” became the “Bridal Ballad,” “Lenore” was printed in long lines, as it had been in Graham’s, instead of the short lines in the Museum, which had not been so effective. Sometimes the poems must have been put in as “fillers” for they are not always signed, and to “Romance” and to “Catholic Hymn” is appended what seems to be the printers’ sign, called a double dagger or double obelisk (‡) instead of a name.

Among the stories, “Silence,” “How to Write a Blackwood Article,” and “A Predicament” assumed their new titles in print for the first time, again preserving the changes made in the Phantasy Pieces. In “William Wilson,” the birth date of his double was changed to 1813, making Poe by implication two years younger than he had been in Phantasy Pieces. “Ligeia” was extensively though verbally revised, including the passages added in the Phantasy Pieces. “The Conqueror Worm” was still included in “Ligeia,” although it had been published in the Broadway Journal separately.

There were other and minor changes in the tales, and Poe did not always preserve the alterations he had made in the Phantasy Pieces, which may indicate that he was too busy or less careful.

­

Title page of Tales (1845) [thumbnail]

[Illustration on page 465]
 
Title page of the Tales of 1845

On July 19, 1845, Wiley and Putnam announced in the advertising columns of the Broadway Journal(40) as the second number of its new Library of American Books, “Tales by Edgar A. Poe.” This volume was by no means Poe’s long hoped for edition of his stories. The book contained only twelve tales: “The Gold Bug,” “The Black Cat,” “Mesmeric Revelation,” “Lionizing,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Descent into the Maelström,” “The Colloquy of Monos and Una,” [page 466:] “The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion,” “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt,” “The Purloined Letter,” and “The Man of the Crowd.”

Poe apparently had little to do with the selection of the stories. As he wrote Eveleth(41) later, “The collection of tales issued by W. & P. were selected by a gentleman whose taste does not coincide with my own, from 72 written by me at various times — and those chosen are not my best — nor do they fairly represent me — in any respect.” Poe had indeed a right to criticize any selection from his tales which omitted “Ligeia,” “Shadow,” “Eleonora,” “William Wilson,” and “The Masque of the Red Death,” to mention only a few of his Arabesque masterpieces, but which included “Lionizing.” Evert Duyckinck, who chose the stories, was counting on the popularity of the ratiocinative tales, and outside of “Lionizing,” he may be criticized rather for omissions than for those selected.

Poe must have consented to the publication through his constant need of money. He was to receive a royalty of eight cents a copy on a book which sold for fifty cents. This was a real advance upon the return he had received for the Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, and indicates the value of Duyckinck’s services as his literary agent, as well as Poe’s growing importance.

Poe evidently revised the stories carefully for this edition and for these twelve stories this text has become the standard, subject to some later revisions.(42)

One of the most important changes was the omission of the opening paragraph in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” which suggested that phrenological science might lead to the discovery of an organ of analysis. Poe may have been beginning to lose his interest in phrenology. He added to “Mesmeric Revelation” two important passages, one dealing with the arguments for and against absolute coalescence of the ether, and the other with the relativity of pain. In “The Fall of the House of Usher” he added the quotation from Béranger:

“Son coeur est un luth suspendu:

Sitôt qu’on le touche il résonne.”

If Poe owed his line in “Israfel,” “Whose heartstrings are a lute” to this poem of Béranger’s, as has been suggested, it would be a remarkable [page 467:] example of Poe’s retention of an idea for fourteen years! The remaining changes though frequently appreciable, are largely improvements in verbal expression, wrought out of that passion for perfection which never left Poe.

The Tales were generally well received. The editor of the American Review printed the criticism as a special article,(43) in which the volume is said to be “one of the most original and peculiar ever published in the United States and eminently worthy of an extensive circulation.” The article began, however, with a statement which illuminates the contemporary criticism of Poe: “We fear that Mr. Poe’s reputation as a critic, will not add to the success of his present publication. The cutting scorn with which he has commented on many authors, and the acrimony and contempt which have often accompanied his acuteness, must have provoked enmities of that kind, which are kept warm by being assiduously ‘nursed.’ ”

Colton, for it was probably he who wrote the review, ratifies here Poe’s charges of conspiracy against himself, which have been thought by some to be prompted by persecution mania on his part. In an extended review in the Aristidean,(44) the new journal edited by English, the originality and ingenuity of the stories are especially noted. There are certain portions of this review, especially the reference to the old story of Longfellow’s plagiarism and the rejection of “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Tuckerman, which make me suspect Poe had a hand in writing it.

Whoever wrote the review referred to the favorable foreign criticism of the Tales. An example of British moralistic criticism was furnished by the Literary Gazette and Journal of the Belles Lettres of London.(45) This review, written by Martin Farquhar Tupper, praised the stories of ratiocination highly, and then proceeded: “Let us turn now to other pages equally brightened by genius, while they are untarnished with the dread details of crime.” A sympathetic criticism of “A Descent into the Maelström” and “Eiros and Charmion” follows. Poe must have read with mixed feelings that the latter story “is full of terror and instruction: true to philosophy and holy writ: it details the probable mode of the final conflagration.” But even if “The Fall of the House of Usher” is dismissed as “juvenile” — an English reviewer had called him a “genius!”

More restrained in his admiration, a critic in Blackwood’s, dealing [page 468:] with Poe, Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, and Simms,(46) denied Poe any boldness of imagination, yet selected for extensive quotation passages from “Eiros and Charmion” and “The Man of the Crowd,”(47) where Poe’s imagination shows itself clearly. Poe’s powers of analysis and his ability at realistic description are commented upon at length. This reception of the Tales abroad was only one evidence of his growing recognition.

Poe published six new stories during 1845. He depended for his market on Godey’s and Graham’s, or on the rival political monthlies, the American [Whig] Review and the Democratic Review. “The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade”(48) continued the famous story of the Arabian Nights, with a deft ironic touch. Fired by her success in interesting the King so long and saving herself from the bowstring, the Queen told one tale too many. Her story of Sinbad’s cruise around the world in an armored cruiser gave Poe a good chance to depict modern inventions of all kinds in terms of the wonder of a past age. Before the end of the story the King had become so impatient at the impossibilities Scheherazade was telling about that he decided after all to send her to the bowstring. This was a warning, perhaps, to those who overestimate the imaginative powers of their readers!

Poe used his story “Some Words with a Mummy”(49) as a vehicle for satire upon the methods of historians in their interpretation of the past. After a description of the mummy in which Poe used very naturally, the Encyclopedia Americana,(50) he gives a very amusing conversation between the revived mummy, “Count Allamistakeo” and a group of Egyptologists. Many of our most cherished scientific discoveries are shown to be overshadowed by the achievements of Egypt. I have already used the mummy’s description of the tyranny of the mob,(51) in estimating Poe’s attitude toward democracy. He had a similar dislike for the progress that proceeded by organizations for reform.

“We sent for a copy of a book called the ‘Dial,’ and read out of it a chapter or two about something which is not very clear, but which the Bostonians call the Great Movement of Progress. [page 469:]

“The Count merely said that Great Movements were awfully common things in his day, and as for Progress, it was at one time quite a nuisance, but it never progressed.”

“The Power of Words” is a prose poem far above these satires in merit, clever as they are. Poe faced in this story the problem of creation and took the position that God created only in the beginning. Through the conversation of Oinos and Agathos, he depicted the future life as a place where the soul’s unquenchable desire to know is recognized as its greatest happiness, and therefore the soul’s search for knowledge is never ceasing. He also expressed the idea of the conservation of force in poetic terms. As no thought can perish, so no act is without infinite result. Since every vibration once set in motion is eternal, the power of a word once spoken is also everlasting. He would be rash who speaks of the words of any writer as indestructible, but surely if we seek to establish the lasting quality of the utterances of American poets, Poe will serve as well as any to support our belief. Those who dismiss Poe’s scientific ideas as fantastic might compare this story with the accomplishment of the radio waves.

One of the most interesting of Poe’s stories, both for itself and because of its explanation of his own nature, is “The Imp of the Perverse.”(52) Poe is seen in one of his ablest phases, the criticism in telling phrases of pseudo-science. Phrenology is taken as a means to lead to something more important.

“The intellectual or logical man,” Poe remarks, “rather than the understanding or observant man, set himself to imagine designs — to dictate purposes to God. Having thus fathomed, to his satisfaction, the intentions of Jehovah, out of these intentions he built his innumerable systems of mind.” Poe rightly queries “If we cannot comprehend God in his visible works, how then in his inconceivable thoughts, that call the works into being?”

Induction, Poe argues, would have brought phrenology to admit the principle of perverseness. Poe draws then with a skill which fascinates anyone who is honest with himself, that human weakness which leads men to do the very thing which they wish above all other things not to do. How often this impulse explains Poe’s own actions needs no proof. He could fight for months against temptation and then in spite of every moral impulse, take the one glass that destroyed his faculties.

After lying in the hands of editors for months, “The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether” finally saw the light in Graham’s for November, 1845. It is no wonder that an editor hesitated, for while the [page 470:] story is a clever picture of the capture of a French insane asylum by its inmates, the tale is not important.

“The Facts of M. Valdemar’s Case” as it was first called in The American Review for December, 1845, was an instance in which Poe created disgust by the very success of his methods. Probably no one else would have thought of mesmerizing a man about to die and preserving his life for seven months, with the result that upon being released from the trance he falls at once into the state of putrescence to which he would have advanced had there been no hypnotism. Poe’s normally fine taste deserted him here. Yet his methods are remarkable. The frame of the story is realistic, the actions of the characters, with the exception of Valdemar, are possible; the result is impossible. But the critical faculties have been dulled by the influence of plausible details, and the story was taken seriously, especially in England when it was reprinted as a pamphlet in 1846.(53) There are remarkable touches, like the description of Valdemar’s voice, which impressed the narrator as “gelatinous or glutinous matters impress the sense of touch.” It is a pity that the art which Poe lavished in this story could not have had more worthy material.

The most significant group of Poe’s criticisms during 1845 dealt with the drama. He evidently, as editor of the Broadway Journal, had access to the theatres and he seems to have attended them freely. In his criticism of Fashion, the delightful social satire by Anna Cora Mowatt, he said “So deeply have we felt interested in the question of ‘Fashion’s’ success or failure, that we have been to see it every night since its first production.(54) As Fashion, opening on March 25th at the Park Theatre, had an uninterrupted run of twenty nights, Poe must have gone frequently, for this remark began his second review, on April 5th. He had made the mistake of writing most of his first review, for March 29th, without seeing the play, having based his judgment on Mrs. Mowatt’s original manuscript. Mrs. Mowatt had sent it to him with a note dated vaguely “Thursday Evening,” saying that his criticisms would be prized.(55) Poe’s criticisms of Fashion illustrate how [page 471:] little one can really judge of a play by reading it. His first review speaks of the improbability of the characters and incidents, but as anyone who has seen the play on the stage knows, they are redolent of reality.(56) Poe concluded, however, that it was probably the best American play, which it was not. After he saw it on the stage, he estimated the characters more justly, but spoke of them as “overpowering the moral,” which he thought a mistake. Poe seemed unaware that the masterpieces of drama have been those in which the characters are remembered rather than the theme, or “moral,” as he called it, while plays in which the characters are submerged in the theme are usually forgotten. Yet his plea for more natural acting, and for a form of drama which is untrammelled by theatrical rules and definitions, points forward to a freer technique that was not to come for many years.

Mrs. Mowatt did not act Gertrude, the heroine, when Fashion was first performed. Poe’s criticism of her acting later in The Lady of Lyons and other plays, is competent — and his picture of this high-hearted and courageous woman who did so much to ennoble the American theatre is singularly interesting.(57)

To the American Review for August, 1845, Poe contributed a survey of “The American Drama” as he knew it.(58) His general introductory remarks are still worth reading, for they contain some sensible suggestions, as well as some overstatements. He objected to the plays of Sheridan Knowles as “the most preposterous series of imitations of the Elizabethan drama, by which ever mankind were insulted or be-gulled,” and continued, “The first thing necessary is to burn or bury the ‘old models’ and to forget, as quickly as possible, that ever a play has been penned.” And he pleaded for a drama “conceived and constructed with Feeling and with Taste, but with Feeling and Taste guided and controlled in every particular by the details of Reason — of Common Sense — in a word, of a Natural Art.”

Poe showed his openmindedness here, for he had imitated in his own drama “Politian,” the romantic-idealistic type of play. This impulse in literature was still powerful, and in American drama was to produce in 1855 such a masterpiece as Boker’s Francesca da Rimini, [page 472:] which survived into the twentieth century and could be played even today if we had any great romantic actors. Poe did not see, what he should have seen, that in every age, the poet is the hope of the drama, whether, like Maxwell Anderson, he writes in verse or, like Eugene O’Neill, in prose. But perhaps at that period, this law of the drama did not need emphasis so greatly as the thesis Poe wished to drive home. He was living in a time when the real American drama had to combat the artificial drama of intrigue, largely of French origin. He was right in denouncing this artificial drama for its inconsequence, and its injurious effect upon “that real life-likeness which is the soul of the drama of character.” Poe also remarks “The truth is that cant has never attained a more owl-like dignity than in the discussion of dramatic principle. . . . the modern stage critic. . . . talks about ‘stage business and stage effect’ as if he were discussing the differential calculus. For much of all this, we are indebted to the somewhat over-profound criticisms of Augustus William Schlegel.” This last sentence might, incidentally, give some pause to those who derive Poe’s critical principles from Schlegel.

Poe selected Willis’s Tortesa the Usurer and Longfellow’s Spanish Student for detailed treatment. He was less happy here, for he could not resist the temptation to ride his old hobby of Longfellow’s plagiarism, and to submit Tortesa to standards of probability which no romantic play could meet. All of the complications, he insists “might have been avoided by one word of explanation to the duke.” Yes, indeed, but all the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet might have been avoided by one word of explanation at the right time. There would, in either case, have been no play. Poe tried to show his erudition by denouncing Willis for basing the rescue of his heroine upon a law of Florence which provided that if a woman were refused admittance to her home by her father, she became dependent upon the man who helped her. There was such a law, however.(59) Poe was on much safer ground in his criticism of the “asides” of that period as unnatural, and he recognized that there are many passages in Tortesa that “teem with the loftiest qualities of the dramatic art.”

It is hard for a critic to recognize the newest contemporary developments in an art. Poe did not know, apparently, of the foundations which were being laid in the field of the rural or “Yankee” [page 473:] drama, or the drama of low life in the cities, which were ultimately to lead to the natural plays of Augustin Daly and James A. Herne. But anyone familiar with our dramatic history will appreciate how far ahead of his time Poe sounded an appeal for simple natural drama in America.

Poe was not impressed by the performance of Sophocles’ Antigone at Palmo’s Opera House, and said so. His remarks upon the Greek drama in general are best forgotten, but the sequel to his visit, which he published in the Journal(60) reveals his proper resentment at the irate withdrawal of complimentary admission by Dinneford, the Manager. The student of the theatre can find amusement at Poe’s description of the difficulties of the dramatic critic of that day who dared to say what he thought.

Outside of the articles on the drama, Poe’s critical work while he was editor of the Broadway Journal did not include anything of great value. His lengthy reviews of the poetry of Hirst, of Chivers, of Mrs. Osgood, seem perfunctory, or were prompted by friendship. His discrimination shows, however, in his selection of “Grayling; or, Murder Will Out” for especial praise in his criticism of Simms’ The Wigwam and the Cabin. He says it is the best ghost story he has ever read, and it certainly is one of the most powerful.

Poe’s interest in “Anastatic Printing” on which he wrote an article,(61) is of some significance in proving his interest in all new discoveries for the reproduction of the written word. This method of reproducing manuscripts did not, of course, do away with printing as he suggested. But Poe’s own print-like characters would have been fine material for experiment. Brief articles, under the heading of “Editorial Miscellany” are more significant at times than the longer ones. A spirited criticism of the unfairness of British criticism, and especially of Blackwood’s, and of the timidity of American judges who wait for the opinion of “a sub-sub-Editor” of “The Spectator,” “The Athenaeum” or the “London Punch,” before they dare to have one of their own,(62) is still worth reading.

Poe did not limit his critical articles to the Broadway Journal. He wrote for the Aristidean an amusing bit of destructive criticism on [page 474:] George Jones’ Ancient America,(63) and an extended treatment of Longfellow’s Poems(64) marred by the ascription of Longfellow’s reputation as due to his chair at Harvard and “marriage with an heiress,” and including a feeble discussion of Longfellow’s translations. In an article on “American Poetry”(65) Poe objects to generalizations in criticism and insists that the critic should stick to the thing criticized. Considering that Poe’s most valuable criticisms, like that on Hawthorne’s short stories, are generalizations, this limitation is unfortunate. But Poe’s remark “True criticism is the reflection of the thing criticized upon the spirit of the critic” is worth remembering.

Two installments of the “Marginalia” were published in Godey’s for August and September, 1845. They were briefer than the earlier sections. Poe rode his hobby of plagiarism hard and contributed eleven striking parallels. It is dangerous to attribute the first printing of any important contribution to the “Marginalia.” In September, 1845, Poe copied verbatim his warning concerning the dangers of the spread of monarchical ideas, published first in the Mirror for February 8th. He evidently considered the right of an author to repeat himself as all paramount.

A letter from Poe to Neilson Poe in August reveals in its formal yet courteous tone how little connection the family in New York maintained with that branch of the Poes in Baltimore. It also makes clear the precarious state of Virginia’s health:

New-York: August 8, /45.

My Dear Sir,

It gave me sincere pleasure to receive a letter from you — but I fear you will think me very discourteous in not sooner replying. I have deferred my answer, however, from day to day, in hope of procuring some papers relating to my grandfather. In this I have failed. Mrs. C. has no memoranda of the kind you mention, and all of which I have any knowledge are on file at Annapolis.

I thank you for the kind interest you take in my welfare. We all speak very frequently of yourself and family, and regret that, hitherto, we have seen and known so little of each other. Virginia, in especial, is much pained at the total separation from her sisters. [page 475:] She has been, and is still, in precarious health. About four years ago she ruptured a blood-vessel, in singing, and has never recovered from the accident. I fear that she never will. Mrs. Clemm is quite well: — both beg to be kindly remembered.

I regret that I had no opportunity of seeing you during my last visit to Baltimore. Virginia and myself, however, will very probably spend a few weeks in your city during the fall, when we hope to be with you frequently. When you see any of Mr. Herring’s family, will you say that we are anxious to hear from them?

I rejoice to learn that you prosper at all points. I hear of you often. “The B. Journal” flourishes — but in January I shall establish a Magazine.

Very cordially Yours,

EDGAR A. POE.(66)

Poe’s reference to his last visit to Baltimore implies that he had been in that city in 1844 or 1845. An undated and unpublished letter to Isaac Munroe, speaks of delivering a lecture at Odd Fellows Hall in Gay Street, and asks Munroe to put a notice in the Patriot about it.

Sometime in 1845 Poe began to move in that curious mélange known as literary society. As usual, his own letters give little information concerning his social life, and the various contemporary accounts, while insistent upon the brilliancy of the company, are delightfully inconsistent as to dates. It was probably after the family left the neighborhood of East Broadway and came to 85 Amity Street in the winter of 1845 to 1846 that Poe mingled with his fellow writers. This house is one of the three homes associated with Poe, in New York, that are still standing. The building, originally a three-story house, with one of those basement dining rooms and a “stoop” so reminiscent of the Dutch origin of New York, has been remodeled. Like the Greenwich Street house, it is now a restaurant, “Bertolloti’s,” but it is less depressing in appearance, and the Poe tradition is more direct in the minds of the present occupants. There was a good-sized yard and the neighboring open spaces of Washington Square gave Virginia at least a breathing place.

It was not far to walk from 85 Amity Street to the home of Miss Anne Charlotte Lynch, later to be Madame Vincenzo Botta, who lived at 116 Waverly Place, one block south of Eighth Street, a little [page 476:] west of Washington Square North. Tall, slender and graceful, her “countenance at times full of intelligent expression,”(67) she made a charming hostess. At her evening parties, she welcomed men like Willis, Griswold, Dr. J. W. Francis, and less frequently, Halleck and Morris, women like Mrs. Caroline Kirkland, whose scenes of Western life had struck a new note of realism in American fiction, and visitors from New England like Miss Catherine Sedgwick, whose standing among novelists was recognized even in New York.

Mrs. Whitman, who is the chief source of information,(68) quotes an anonymous friend, who was really Mrs. E. Oakes Smith, as saying: “It was in the brilliant circles that assembled in the winter of 1845-46 at the houses of Dr. Dewey, Miss Anna C. Lynch, Mr. Lawson, and others that we first met Edgar Poe. . . . He delighted in the society of superior women.” James Lawson, who was described by Poe in “The Literati” in a short but friendly manner, which Poe afterwards modified, may have gathered a more definitely masculine group, and so may Orville Dewey, the well known Unitarian clergyman. Poe, however, was more likely to meet writers of distinction at 20 Clinton Place, the home of Evert A. Duyckinck, the former editor of Arcturus and the later editor and proprietor of The Literary World, and of many cyclopedias. Duyckinck, who was about thirty years of age, was a good friend to Poe and provided for a time what Poe needed, an adviser and manager.

Mrs. Whitman, at second hand, however, tells of Poe’s reciting “The Raven” at the house of “an accomplished poetess” — probably Miss Lynch, in the autumn preceding its publication. In view of Poe’s statement to Thomas in January, 1845, that he rarely went into the city and Willis’s remark that he never met Poe outside the Mirror office while he was an assistant, I am inclined to doubt Poe’s attendance at these parties so early. But there is no question about his later presence during the winter of 1845 to 1846, or that Virginia at times accompanied him. Mrs. Whitman, writing this time with more authority, speaks of Virginia’s face “always animated and vivacious,”(69) and pays her own tribute to Poe’s unfaltering devotion to his wife.

It is easy, however, to idealize such gatherings. I fancy that most of the guests were women, poetesses like Mrs. Mary E. Hewitt, Mrs. E. F. Ellet, and others, who contributed to Graham’s, Godey’s and other [page 477:] magazines, verses permeated with a pressed rose sadness, often teeming with unrequited love or apprehension of early death.

Among these guests, the graceful distinguished figure of Poe moved with the dignity which even anxiety and poverty could not crush and with a courtesy to which so many have left their tribute. Unlike Hawthorne, Poe did not shun social gatherings; he liked sympathy and admiration. When the host or hostess summoned courage to ask him to recite, he usually assented, and then even the chatterers must have listened while his remarkable interpretations of his own or of others’ poetry gave some meaning to the occasion. Poe contributed infinitely more than he received, we may be sure, but in his quiet observant way he was gathering material for The Literati.

It was not, however, at one of these literary gatherings, but in the unromantic atmosphere of the Astor House, in March, 1845, that he met Mrs. Frances Sargent Osgood. She was the first of the literary women with whom he formed a warm friendship, which blossomed into one of those sentimental adventures that punctuate his later life. He had accepted her verses for Graham’s, and when he mentioned her poetry in his lecture on February 28, 1845, the episode began. Her own account is vivid:

My first meeting with the poet was at the Astor House. A few days previous, Mr. Willis had handed me, at the table d’hote, that strange and thrilling poem entitled “The Raven,” saying that the author wanted my opinion of it. Its effect upon me was so singular, so like that of “weird, unearthly music,” that it was with a feeling almost of dread, I heard he desired an introduction. Yet I could not refuse without seeming ungrateful, because I had just heard of his enthusiastic and partial eulogy of my writings, in his lecture on American Literature. I shall never forget the morning when I was summoned to the drawing-room by Mr. Willis to receive him. With his proud and beautiful head erect, his dark eyes flashing with the electric light of feeling and of thought, a peculiar, an inimitable blending of sweetness and hauteur in his expression and manner, he greeted me, calmly, gravely, almost coldly; yet with so marked an earnestness that I could not help being deeply impressed by it. From that moment until his death we were friends; although we met only during the first year of our acquaintance. And in his last words, ere reason had forever left her imperial throne in that overtasked brain, I have a touching memento of his undying faith and friendship.

During that year, while traveling for my health, I maintained a correspondence with Mr. Poe, in accordance with the earnest entreaties [page 478:] of his wife, who imagined that my influence over him had a restraining and beneficial effect. It had, as far as this — that having solemnly promised me to give up the use of stimulants, he so firmly respected his promise and me, as never once, during our whole acquaintance, to appear in my presence when in the slightest degree affected by them. Of the charming love and confidence that existed between his wife and himself, always delightfully apparent to me, in spite of the many little poetical episodes, in which the impassioned romance of his temperament impelled him to indulge; of this I cannot speak too earnestly — too warmly. I believe she was the only woman whom he ever truly loved.(70)

Mrs. Osgood was an attractive woman of thirty-four, whose husband was an artist of some ability. She had been a protegée of Mrs. Norton in England, and had published volumes of verse in 1838 and 1842. Stoddard paid her an unusual tribute by saying that both men and women liked her, and she seems indeed to have been a charming person. Her poetry, while generally rather mild, was distinctly above that of the average magazine poetess of that time. I have already spoken of “The Daughters of Herodias.” “Elfrida,” a dramatic poem, has some fine moments, and lyrics like “She Comes, the Spirit of the Dance,” Poe praised with reason.

Mrs. Osgood was not at all averse to Poe’s advances and they conducted a literary courtship, principally in the Broadway Journal. She sent to the Journal verses entitled, “So Let it Be, To ———,” printed on April 5th,(71) and signed “Violet Vane.” Two of the seven stanzas will indicate the orthodox romantic approach:

“Perhaps you think it right and just,

Since you are bound by nearer ties,

To greet me with that careless tone,

With those serene and silent eyes.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

The fair fond girl, who at your side,

Within your soul’s dear light, doth live,

Could hardly have the heart to chide

The ray that Friendship well might give.” [page 479:]

Poe replied on April 26,(72) by verses which had already been adressed “To Mary,” and “To One Departed,” but which became “To F——.” She returned to the charge on September 6th, with her “Echo Song,”(73) beginning:

“I know a noble heart that beats

For one it loves how “wildly well!”

I only know for whom it beats;

But I must never tell!”

On September 13th Poe published another “To F——,”(74) which had earlier been addressed to “Eliza.” His poem, “A Valentine,” seems to have been written for her alone, and to have been read at the home of Miss Anne Lynch, on February 14, 1846,(75) and it was published in the Evening Mirror, on February 21, 1846. If the first letter of the first line, the second of the second line, and so on, are selected, the name of Mrs. Osgood appears. It is difficult to take courtships like this very seriously. Poets have been dusting off their amatory verses for new occasions since time immemorial, but they usually outgrow the habit with fading adolescence. Perhaps the very publicity of the courtship, while it caused comment, made it more innocuous. Life in New York in those days, if we can believe the testimony of travellers and observers, was lived so often in hotels and boarding houses, that even poets were affected by the external quality of the channels of affection.(76)

Mrs. Osgood was a good friend of the family, and Virginia welcomed her influence over Poe which seemed to keep him from stimulants, [page 480:] at least while in her presence. One of the most vivid pictures of their home life in the spring of 1846, is due to Mrs. Osgood:

It was in his own simple yet poetical home that, to me the character of Edgar Poe appeared in its most beautiful light. Playful, affectionate, witty, alternately docile and wayward as a petted child — for his young, gentle, and idolized wife, and for all who came, he had even in the midst of his most harassing literary duties, a kind word, a pleasant smile, a graceful and courteous attention. At his desk beneath the romantic picture of his loved and lost Lenore, he would sit, hour after hour, patient, assiduous and uncomplaining, tracing, in an exquisitely clear chirography and with almost superhuman swiftness, the lightning thoughts — the “rare and radiant” fancies as they flashed through his wonderful and ever wakeful brain. I recollect, one morning, towards the close of his residence in this city, when he seemed unusually gay and light-hearted. Virginia, his sweet wife, had written me a pressing invitation to come to them; and I, who never could resist her affectionate summons, and who enjoyed his society far more in his own home than elsewhere, hastened to Amity-street. I found him just completing his series of papers entitled “The Literati of New-York.” “See,” said he, displaying, in laughing triumph, several little rolls of narrow paper (he always wrote thus for the press), “I am going to show you, by the difference of length in these, the different degrees of estimation in which I hold all you literary people. In each of these, one of you is rolled up and fully discussed. Come, Virginia, help me!” And one by one they unfolded them. At last they came to one which seemed interminable. Virginia laughingly ran to one corner of the room with one end, and her husband to the opposite with the other. “And whose lengthened sweetness long drawn out is that?” said I. “Hear her!” he cried, “just as if her little vain heart didn’t tell her it’s herself!”(77)

The only new, unpublished poem that appeared in 1845 was “Eulalie — A Song,” printed in the American Review in July.(78) This celebration of married love has already been discussed at the date of its composition in 1843.

The Tales sold well enough to encourage the publishers to issue a collection of Poe’s poetry. Poe’s letter to Duyckinck shows that he was permitted this time to make his own selection: [page 481:]

My Dear Duyckinck,

I leave for you what I think the best of my Poems. They are very few — including those only which have not been published in volume form. If they can be made to fill a book, it will be better to publish them alone — but if not, I can hand you some “Dramatic Scenes” from the S. L. Messenger (2d Vol) and “Al Aaraaf” and “Tamerlane,” two juvenile poems of some length.

Truly yours

POE.

Wednesday 10th [Sept. 1845?](79)

The Raven and Other Poems appeared early in November, 1845.(80) The volume contained thirty poems, divided into two groups.(81) The first began with “The Raven,” very naturally, but there is no discernible principle in the arrangement of these nineteen poems. As a preface, Poe said:

These trifles are collected and republished chiefly with a view to their redemption from the many improvements to which they have been subjected while going at random “the rounds of the press.” If what I have written is to circulate at all, I am naturally anxious that it should circulate as I wrote it. In defence of my own taste, nevertheless, it is incumbent upon me to say, that I think nothing in this volume of much value to the public, or very creditable to myself. Events not to be controlled have prevented me from making, at any time, any serious effort in what, under happier circumstances, would have been the field of my choice. [page 482:] With me poetry has been not a purpose, but a passion; and the passions should be held in reverence; they must not — they cannot at will be excited with an eye to the paltry compensations, or the more paltry commendations, of mankind.

This Preface is important because it shows that poetry was his first love. The “Poems Written in Youth” include selections from the volumes of 1827 and 1829, with one striking exception. “To Helen” had first appeared in the volume of 1831, and why Poe relegated it to the youthful poems while he included among the main group the five others also printed first in 1831, is a puzzle. As a footnote to the first page of the “Poems Written in Youth,” Poe made a statement:

Private reasons — some of which have reference to the sin of plagiarism, and others to the date of Tennyson’s first poems — have induced me, after some hesitation, to republish these, the crude compositions of my earliest boyhood. They are printed verbatim — without alteration from the original edition — the date of which is too remote to be judiciously acknowledged.

The poems were not printed “verbatim,” from the original editions, but appear in their revised forms. Poe omitted six of the 1827 poems and one from 1829. Some of these may be spared, but why he left out “Spirits of the Dead,” or “To ——,” later “A Dream within a Dream,” is not clear, especially since he reprinted the latter in 1849. There was an opportunity here to accuse Tennyson of plagiarism in “Locksley Hall,” which Poe seems to have missed!

This text of the 1845 volume has usually become the standard, with alterations from the Lorimer Graham Copy. These are not very important, except perhaps in the case of “Lenore.”(82)

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Title page of The Raven and Other Poems (1845) [thumbnail]

[Illustration on page 483]
 
Title page of The Raven and Other Poems

The reviews of The Raven and Other Poems were on the whole inadequate. The critic of The Aristidean(83) called attention to the influence of Miss Barrett’s “Lady Geraldine’s Courtship,” praised “The Raven,” highly, but said “Israfel” was “fiddle-de-dee.” Margaret [page 484:] Fuller in The New York Tribune(84) combined a singular ability to select for quotation the right poems, like “Israfel” and “To One in Paradise,” and some of the best lines in other poems, with almost complete blindness as to the significance of Poe’s poetry in general. Lewis Gaylord Clark, in the Knickerbocker,(85) revenged himself upon Poe for the latter’s various criticisms(86) of his magazine by a bitter onslaught on Poe’s character:

If we were disposed to retort upon Mr. Poe for the exceedingly gross and false statements which, upon an imaginary slight, he made in his paper respecting this Magazine, we could ask for no greater favor than to be allowed to criticize his volume of poems. Surely no author is so much indebted to the forbearance of critics as Mr. Poe, and no person connected with the press in this country is entitled to less mercy or consideration. His criticisms, so called, are generally a tissue of coarse personal abuse or personal adulation. He has praised to the highest degree some of the paltriest writers in the country, and abused in the grossest terms many of the best.

Such an attack is, of course, not criticism, but the entire review would repay reading by anyone who desires to estimate rightly the difficulties under which Poe or any other independent critic labored in that period. In Clark’s case, there was a personal feud of long standing. But it was in the same decade that Cooper sued the New York newspapers for libel until they ceased in their attacks, wiser but poorer.

The London Literary Gazette(87) which had praised his Tales, gave his poems scanty notice, on the ground that the Gazette had already assigned his genius to its proper place. It quoted, however, “The Conqueror Worm” and the passage of “The Sleeper” in which occurred the lines,

“Soft may the worms about her creep!”

only to denounce them as “morbid.” The London Athenaeum copied “The Raven” and “Dreamland,” but repeated the usual banality of demanding that if Poe had to be mystical it should be a mysticism [page 485:] “caught up on his own mountains, — fed on the far prairie — watered by the mighty rivers of the land, etc.”(88) If this owl-like critic had lived in Shakespeare’s day he would probably have criticized that poet for wasting his energies on the ghostly battlements of Elsinore when there were perfectly good localities in England for ghosts to operate, to say nothing of kings like Ethelred II, who had been strangely neglected by British poets! But the same critical stupidity still resounds today, both in England and America.

There was no such quick recognition of the poems as there had been of the stories. Poe had dedicated the volume “To the Noblest of her Sex — Elizabeth Barrett Barrett.” Her letter to him, while it conveyed her personal appreciation and her sense of the vividness of his writing, confined her comment to “The Raven.”(89) She added, “I think you will like to be told that our great poet, Mr. Browning, the author of ‘Paracelsus’ and the ‘Bells and Pomegranates’ was much struck by the rhythm of that poem.” The future Mrs. Browning also remarked that “there is a tale of yours which I do not find in this volume, but which is going the rounds of the newspapers, about Mesmerism (“The Valdemar Case”), throwing us all into — dreadful doubts as to whether it can be true, as the children say of ghost stories. The certain thing in the tale in question is the power of the writer, and the faculty he has of making horrible improbabilities seem near and familiar.”(90)

It may have been the mental disturbance of which Poe speaks in his letter to Duyckinck on November 13th which prompted him to commit one of those unfortunate mistakes which was long remembered to his discredit. Lowell’s efforts to obtain a lecture appointment bore fruit, and Poe was invited to read a poem before the Boston Lyceum on October 16, 1845. As he had said long before in “Romance,” he could not write a poem to order. He read, therefore, “Al [page 486:] Aaraaf.” which must have been over the heads of his audience, who had already listened to an address by Caleb Cushing. This might have been forgiven if he had not taken a drink afterwards and expressed his frank opinion of Boston. His own statement, published in the Broadway Journal on November 1st, gives us a first-hand account of the occasion. It added naturally fresh fuel to the fire:

Editorial Miscellany

We take the following paragraph from “The Sunday Times and Messenger” of October 26:

“Mr. Poe’s Poem. — Mr. Poe was invited to deliver a poem before the Boston Lyceum, which he did to a large and distinguished audience. It was, to use the language of an intelligent hearer, ‘an elegant and classic production, based on the right principle; containing the essence of true poetry, mingled with a gorgeous imagination, exquisite painting, every charm of metre, and graceful delivery.’ And yet the papers abused him, and the audience were fidgetty — made their exit one by one, and did not at all appreciate the efforts of a man of admitted ability, whom they had invited to deliver a poem before them. The poem was called the ‘Messenger Star.’ We presume Mr. Poe will not accept another invitation to recite poetry, original or selected, in that section of the Union.”

Our excellent friend Major Noah has suffered himself to be cajoled by that most beguiling of all beguiling little divinities, Miss Walters, of “The Transcript.” We have been looking all over her article, with the aid of a taper, to see if we could discover a single syllable of truth in it — and really blush to acknowledge that we cannot. The adorable creature has been telling a parcel of fibs about us, by way of revenge for something that we did to Mr. Longfellow (who admires her very much) and for calling her “a pretty little witch” into the bargain.

The facts of the case seem to be these: — We were invited to “deliver” (stand and deliver) a poem before the Boston Lyceum. As a matter of course, we accepted the invitation. The audience was “large and distinguished.” Mr. Cushing preceded us with a very capital discourse: he was much applauded. On arising, we were most cordially received. We occupied some fifteen minutes with an apology for not “delivering,” as is usual in such cases, a didactic poem: a didactic poem, in our opinion, being precisely no poem at all. After some farther words — still of apology — for the “indefinitiveness” and “general imbecility” of what we had to offer — all so unworthy a Bostonian audience — we commenced, and, with many interruptions of applause, concluded. Upon the whole [page 487:] the approbation was considerably more (the more the pity too) than that bestowed upon Mr. Cushing.

When we had made an end, the audience, of course, arose to depart — and about one-tenth of them, probably, had really departed, when Mr. Coffin, one of the managing committee, arrested those who remained, by the announcement that we had been requested to deliver “The Raven.” We delivered “The Raven” forthwith — (without taking a receipt) — were very cordially applauded again — and this was the end of it — with the exception of the sad tale invented to suit her own purposes, by that amiable little enemy of ours, Miss Walters. We shall never call a woman “a pretty little witch” again, as long as we live.

We like Boston. We were born there — and perhaps it is just as well not to mention that we are heartily ashamed of the fact. The Bostonians are very well in their way. Their hotels are bad. Their pumpkin pies are delicious. Their poetry is not so good. Their Common is no common thing — and the duck-pond might answer — if its answer could be heard for the frogs.

But with all these good qualities the Bostonians have no soul. They have always evinced towards us individually, the basest ingratitude for the services we rendered them in enlightening them about the originality of Mr. Longfellow. When we accepted, therefore, an invitation to “deliver” a poem in Boston — we accepted it simply and solely, because we had a curiosity to know how it felt to be publicly hissed — and because we wished to see what effect we could produce by a neat little impromptu speech in reply. Perhaps, however, we overrated our own importance, or the Bostonian want of common civility — which is not quite so manifest as one or two of their editors would wish the public to believe. We assure Major Noah that he is wrong. The Bostonians are well-bred — as very dull persons very generally are.

Still, with their vile ingratitude staring us in the eyes, it could scarcely be supposed that we would put ourselves to the trouble of composing for the Bostonians anything in the shape of an original poem. We did not. We had a poem (of about 500 lines) lying by us — one quite as good as new — one, at all events, that we considered would answer sufficiently well for an audience of Transcendentalists. That we gave them — it was the best that we had — for the price — and it did answer remarkably well. Its name was not “The Messenger-Star” — who but Miss Walters would ever think of so delicious a little bit of invention as that? We had no name for it at all. The poem is what is occasionally called a “juvenile poem” — but the fact is, it is anything but juvenile now, for we wrote it, printed it, and published it, in book form, before we had fairly completed our tenth year. We read it verbatim, from [page 488:] a copy now in our possession, and which we shall be happy to show at any moment to any of our inquisitive friends.

We do not, ourselves, think the poem a remarkably good one: — it is not sufficiently transcendental. Still it did well enough for the Boston audience — who evinced characteristic discrimination in understanding, and especially applauding, all those knotty passages which we ourselves have not yet been able to understand.

As regards the anger of the “Boston Times” and one or two other absurdities — as regards, we say, the wrath of Achilles — we incurred it — or rather its manifestation — by letting some of our cat out of the bag a few hours sooner than we had intended. Over a bottle of champagne, that night, we confessed to Mess. Cushing, Whipple, Hudson, Field, and a few other natives who swear not altogether by the frog-pond — we confessed, we say, the soft impeachment of the hoax. Et hinc illae irae. We should have waited a couple of days.(91)

Poe was severely criticized and the Charleston Patriot, ready to defend a Southern poet, had a long article which Poe reprinted in the Broadway Journal.(92) Through a quotation in this notice from the Boston Courier, it is evident that Poe’s poem was highly thought of by some of the audience, since that journal compared it with the “Eve of St. Agnes” and “Paradise Lost”! Poe might have let this rather clever defence of his excursion into what the Patriot called the “purlieus of the Puritans,” stand alone, but again, unfortunately, he commented upon it, revealing a New England persecution mania, a jealousy of Longfellow and an inability to keep from personalities which are almost childish. The account makes clear, however, that it was the “first edition” that he delivered and which he was just then publishing in The Raven and Other Poems of 1845.(93)

That the personalities were not altogether on Poe’s side, however, was shown clearly by the contemptuous account of his contributions to the evening, by Miss Cornelia M. Walter, the Editor of the Transcript. In the leading editorial of October 17th under the heading “A Failure,” she said: [page 489:]

. . . . When the orator had concluded, an officer of the society introduced to the assembly a gentleman, who, as we understood him to say, possessed a raven-ous desire to be known as the author of a particular piece of poetry on a celebrated croaking bird well known to ornithologists. The poet immediately arose; but, if he uttered poesy in the first instance, it was certainly of a most prosaic order. The audience listened in amazement to a singularly didactic exordium, and finally commenced the noisy expedient of removing from the hall, and this long before they had discovered the style of the measure, or whether it was rhythm or blank verse. We believe, however, it was a prose introductory to a poem on the “Star discovered by Tycho Brahe,” considered figuratively as the “Messenger of the Deity,” out of which idea Edgar A. Poe had constructed a sentimental and imaginative poem. The audience now thinned so rapidly and made so much commotion in their departure that we lost the beauties of the composition. . . . Another small poem succeeded. This was “The Raven” — a composition probably better appreciated by its author than by his auditory, and which has already gone the rounds of the press, followed by a most felicitous parody from another source. The parody, however, had not been announced as “part of the entertainment,” and was “unavoidably omitted.”(94)

Considering the tone of this editorial, Poe treated Miss Walter with restraint.(95)

In the issue of the Broadway Journal for October 18, 1845, under “Critical Notices,” appeared the statement that “the editor’s temporary absence from the city will account to our publishing friends for present neglect of several new works. They will be attended to on his return.”(96)

This notice probably referred to his visit to Boston, or to a trip devoted to raising a fund to purchase the Journal. On October 24th, he signed a contract with John Bisco, by which he obtained control of the paper. He agreed to pay Bisco fifty dollars in cash, to give him a [page 490:] note at three months for the full amount of debts due the paper, and to assume the responsibilities to subscribers and advertisers.(97)

Poe evidently made strenuous efforts to raise the money to carry out this contract. He wrote to Kennedy:

New York: Octo. 26. 45.

My dear Mr. Kennedy,

When you were in New York I made frequent endeavors to meet you — but — in vain — as I was forced to go to Boston.

I stand much in need of your aid, and beg you to afford it to me, if possible — for the sake of the position which you already have enabled me to obtain. By a series of manoeuvres almost incomprehensible to myself, I have succeeded in getting rid, one by one, of all my associates in “The Broadway Journal” and have now become sole editor and owner. It will be a fortune to me if I can hold it — and if I can hold it for one month I am quite safe — as you shall see. I have exhausted all my immediate resources in the purchase — and I now write to ask you for a small loan — say $50. I will punctually return it in three months.(98)

Kennedy wrote a friendly letter on December 1, but could not help him. Horace Greeley loaned him fifty dollars, which Poe was not able to repay. Poe wrote to Griswold for fifty dollars on October 26th,(99) and Griswold claims that he loaned him twenty-five dollars.

Poe’s appeal to Chivers reveals how brave a fight he was putting up, alone:

New-York: Nov. 15. 45.

My Dear Friend — Beyond doubt you must think that I treat you ill in not answering your letters — but it is utterly impossible to conceive how busy I have been. The Broadway Journals I now send, will give you some idea of the reason. I have been buying out the paper, and of course you must be aware that I have had a tough time of it — making all kind of maneuvres — and editing the paper, without aid from anyone, all the time. I have succeeded, however, as you see — bought it out entirely, and paid for it all, with the exception of 140$ which will fall due on the 1st of January [page 491:] next — I will make a fortune of it yet. You see yourself what a host of advertising I have. For Heaven’s sake, my dear friend, help me now if you can — at once — for now is my time of peril. If I live until next month I shall be beyond the need of aid. If you can send me the $45, for Heaven’s sake do it by return of mail — or if not all, a part. Time with me now, is money & money more than time. I wish you were here that I might explain to you my hopes & prospects — but in a letter it is impossible — for remember that I have to do everything myself — edit the paper — get it to press — and attend to the multitudinous business besides.

Believe me — will you not? — my dear friend — that it is through no want of disposition to write you that I have failed to do so: — the moments I now spend in penning these words are gold themselves — & more. By & bye I shall have time to breathe — and then I will write you fully.

You are wrong (as usual) about Arch?tas & Or?on — both are as I accent them. Look in any phonographic Dictionary — say Bolles. Besides, wherever the words occur in ancient poetry, they are as I give them. What is the use of disputing an obvious point? You are wrong too, throughout, in what you say about the poem “Orion” — there is not the shadow of an error; in its rhythm, from α to ω.

I never dreamed that you did not get the paper regularly until Bisco told me it was not sent. You must have thought it very strange.

So help me Heaven, I have sent and gone personally in all the nooks & corners of Broker-Land & such a thing as the money you speak of — is not to be obtained. Write me soon — soon — & help me if you can. I send you my Poems.

God bless you —

E.A.P.

We all send our warmest love to yourself, your wife & family.(100)

Poe wrote his cousin, George Poe, for a loan of two hundred dollars on November 30th,(101) but apparently without result.

On December 1st Poe in desperation wrote to Fitz-Greene Halleck:

New York, Dec. 1, 1845.

My dear Mr. Halleck: On the part of one or two persons who are much imbittered against me, there is a deliberate attempt now [page 492:] being made to involve me in ruin, by destroying The Broadway Journal. I could easily frustrate them, but for my total want of money, and of the necessary time in which to procure it: the knowledge of this has given my enemies the opportunities desired.

In this emergency — without leisure to think whether I am acting improperly — I venture to appeal to you. The sum I need is $100. If you could loan me for three months any portion of it, I will not be ungrateful.

Truly yours,

EDGAR A. POE.(102)

Halleck loaned him the money, but it was not sufficient, of course.

Let us hope that it was some satisfaction to him in his trouble to see “Edgar A. Poe, Editor and Proprietor” on the first page of Vol. II, No. 16 of the Broadway Journal, issued on Saturday, October 25, 1845. At last he had a journal entirely his own. But it was not a monthly magazine, costing five dollars and appealing to the class of readers he had in mind. Poe’s satisfaction was, in any case, short lived. He could not keep the journal afloat alone, and on December 3, 1845, he sold to Thomas H. Lane one half of his interest, retaining sole charge as Editor and sharing the business management with Lane. Lane agreed to pay all the debts that did not antedate November 17th, provided they did not exceed forty dollars.(103) The office of the paper was moved to 304 Broadway, the corner of Duane Street.(104)

Even Lane’s help was unavailing, and while Poe was writing desperately to his friends, he was fighting against a bad nervous depression. His letter to Duyckinck, dated “Thursday — 13th,” which brings it probably in November, 1845, makes this clear:

85 Amity St.

My dear Mr. Duyckinck,

For the first time during two months I find myself entirely myself — dreadfully sick and depressed, but still myself. I seem to have just awakened from some horrible dream, in which all was confusion, and suffering — relieved only by the constant sense of your kindness, and that of one or two other considerate friends. I really believe that I have been mad — but indeed I have had abundant reason to be so. I have made up my mind to a step [page 493:] which will preserve me, for the future, from at least the greater portion of the troubles which have beset me. In the meantime, I have need of the most active exertion to extricate myself from the embarrassments into which I have already fallen — and my object in writing you this note is, (once again) to beg your aid. Of course I need not say to you that my most urgent trouble is the want of ready money. I find that what I said to you about the prospects of the B. J. is strictly correct. The most trifling immediate relief would put it on an excellent footing. All that I want is time in which to look about me; and I think that it is your power to afford me this.

I have already drawn from Mr. Wiley, first $30 — then 10 (from yourself) — then 50 (on account of the “Parnassus”) — then 20 (when I went to Boston) — and finally 25 — in all 135. Mr. Wiley owes me, for the Poems, 75, and admitting that 1500 of the Tales have been sold, and that I am to receive 8 cts a copy — the amount which you named, if I remember — admitting this, he will owe me $120. on them: — in all 195. Deducting what I have received there is a balance of 60 in my favor. If I understood you, a few days ago, Mr. W. was to settle with me in February. Now, you will already have anticipated my request. It is that you would ask Mr. W. to give me, to-day, in lieu of all further claim, a certain sum whatever he may think advisable. So dreadfully am I pressed, that I would willingly take even the $60 actually due, (in lieu of all farther demand) than wait until February: — but I am sure that you will do the best for me that you can.

Please send your answer to 85 Amity St. and believe me — with the most sincere friendship and ardent gratitude

Yours

EDGAR A. POE.(105)

Poe’s situation was evidently desperate, whether the help was given or not. A letter dated vaguely “Thursday morning” reveals probably that Virginia’s illness had become again acute:

Thursday Morning [Nov. 13? 1845?].

My dear Mr Duyckinck,

I am still dreadfully unwell, and fear that I shall be very seriously ill. Some matters of domestic affliction have also happened [page 494:] which deprive me of what little energy I have left — and I have resolved to give up the B. Journal and retire to the country for six months, or perhaps a year, as the sole means of recruiting my health and spirits. Is it not possible that yourself or Mr Matthews [sic] might give me a trifle for my interest in the paper? Or, if this cannot be effected, might I venture to ask you for an advance of $50 on the faith of the “American Parnassus”? — which I will finish as soon as possible. If you could oblige me in this manner I would feel myself under the deepest obligation. Will you be so kind as to reply by the bearer?

Most sincerely yours

EDGAR A. POE

E. A. Duyckinck Esq.(106)

The changes in the stories after Poe became both editor and proprietor were not very significant. “Four Beasts in One” and “Mystification” assumed their present titles. Poe signed the last two stories “Littleton Barry” to avoid the appearance of his own name so frequently.(107)

All his efforts failing, on January 3, 1846, Poe issued his Valedictory:

Unexpected engagements demanding my whole attention, and the objects being fulfilled, so far as regards myself personally, for which “The Broadway Journal” was established, I now, as its Editor, bid farewell — as cordially to foes as to friends.

Mr. Thomas H. Lane is authorized to collect all money due the Journal.(108)

Lane closed up the business with the help, it is said, of Thomas Dunn English, and the Broadway Journal expired.

Outside of Poe’s condition, the main cause of the failure was the lack of capital. The advertisements in the Journal seem to be ample, and in fact increased from two to four pages after Poe had complete possession of the paper. No satisfactory figures concerning its circulation [page 495:] are available, but there were agents in twenty-three cities according to the last issue. Then as now, a magazine must lose money at first, if it is to win eventually, and Poe could not afford to lose even for a few months. That he did not know this seems inexplicable.

The year 1845 was a memorable one in Poe’s life. He published his most famous poem, four of his best-known short stories, a volume of tales and the first collected edition of his poetry in book form since 1831. He had been editor and finally proprietor of a magazine. His recognition at home and abroad was growing. His labor was constant and intense. The revisions of his stories alone called for unremitting care, and for a time he carried on the Broadway Journal not only as editor but as contributor, almost alone. His estimate to Thomas that his working day lasted fifteen hours was not excessive. Yet he ended the year defeated and with no reward except the consciousness of his widening fame. But that would not provide support for Virginia and Mrs. Clemm, and the worry over his wife’s decline faced him every day.


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 451:]

(1)  Ms. contract between Bisco and Briggs, December 23, 1844, is in Collection of W. H. Koester.

(2)  Broadway Journal, I (January 4 and 11), pp. 4-8, 17-20.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 452:]

(3)  Unsigned Autograph Ms. in Boston Public Library.

(4)  Letter, Briggs to Lowell. H. E. Scudder’s Life of Lowell, I, 158.

(5)  Vol. I, pp. 37-38.

(6)  See Chapter X.

(7)  Vol. I, p. 90.

(8)  Briggs to Lowell, March 8, 1845. Woodberry, Life, II, 125-128.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 453:]

(9)  See Appendix for contract between Poe and Bisco. Original contract is in the W. H. Koester Collection.

(10)  These attacks and replies can be read most conveniently in the Weekly Mirror of January 25, 1845, pp. 250-251, where they are grouped together. The identification of the portions written by Willis and by Poe is given in the Broadway Journal, I, 147.

(11)  “Longfellow’s Waif,” Weekly Mirror, February 8, 1845, p. 287.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 454:]

(12)  “Thefts of American Authors,” Broadway Journal, I (February 15, 1845), 109. Briggs was wrong, however, in his dates. Hood’s poem appeared in 1831 and Aldrich’s in 1841.

(13)  Weekly Mirror, March 8, 1845, pp. 346-347.

(14)  IMITATION — PLAGIARISM — MR POE’s REPLY TO THE LETTER OF OUTIS. — A LARGE ACCOUNT OF A SMALL MATTER — A VOLUMINOUS HISTORY OF THE LITTLE LONGFELLOW WAR. March 8th, pp. 147-150; March 15th, pp. 161-168; March 22nd, pp. 178-182; March 29th, pp. 194-198; April 5th, pp. 211-212. They were reprinted by Griswold in the Literati Volume, under the title “Longfellow and Other Plagiarists,” which incidentally Poe did not use.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 455:]

(15)  Broadway Journal, March 8, 1845, p. 147.

(16)  Broadway Journal, March 15, 1845, p. 163.

(17)  Life of Longfellow, ed. by Samuel Longfellow, II, 26.

(18)  Broadway Journal, II (August 16), 93-94.

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

(19)  Sunday World-Herald, Omaha, July 13, 1902, p. 24. Photostat, Library of Congress.

(20)  Poe to Hunt, March 17, 1845, Original Autograph Ms., Huntington Library. Hunt was editor of the short-lived National Archives, which lasted from February 6 to March 13, 1845. When Poe wrote his letter the National Archives had already stopped.

(21)  During his term as associate editor he reprinted his poems “To F—,” “The Sleeper,” “To One in Paradise,” “The Conqueror Worm,” and “Dreamland.” The stories reprinted were “Passages in the Life of a Lion,” “Berenice,” “Bon-Bon,” “The Oval Portrait,” “Three Sundays in a Week,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “Eleonora,” “Shadow,” “The Assignation,” “The Premature Burial,” “Morella.” The essay “Philosophy of Furniture” was also a repetition of earlier work.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 458:]

(22)  Weekly Mirror, I (March 8, 1845), p. 347.

(23)  Original Autograph Ms., Huntington Library. March 17, 1845.

(24)  New York Tribune, Weekly Edition, March 8, 1845

(25)  Sunday World Herald, Omaha (July 13, 1902), p. 24. Photostat, Library of Congress.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 459:]

(26)  Weekly Mirror, II (July 5, 1845), p. 201.

(27)  Vol. II, pp. 225-227.

(28)  They go back to Francis G. Fairfield’s “A Mad Man of Letters,” Scribner’s Monthly, X (October, 1875), 690-699. Since he places the writing of “The Raven” while Poe was at Fordham, and bases his remarks upon Colonel John du Solle, at second hand, no great stress can be laid upon his testimony.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 460:]

(29)  Original Autograph Ms., Griswold Collection, Boston Public Library. Thomas notes on the letter that Dow is dead.

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

(30)  This letter was published in two installments: Woodberry, Life, II, 137; and by M. A. DeWolfe Howe, New Letters of James Russell Lowell, p. 275. I have combined them.

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

(31)  Original autograph Ms., Harvard College Library. The last paragraph is concerned with instructions about sending the money.

(32)  “Poe-Chivers Papers,” edited by G. E. Woodberry, Century Magazine, LXV (January and February, 1903). The reference to Lowell is on p. 446; and in addition to the personal description, the conversation deals critically with Lowell’s poetry. It is not important, however.

(33)  Vol. II (August 16, 1845), p. 88. Signed by Poe in Huntington copy.

(34)  Broadway Journal, II (October 4, 1845), 199.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 463:]

(35)  Richard Cramer, “Poe’s City Homes,” Ledger Monthly, LVII (January, 1901), 28.

(36)  Original Autograph Ms., Huntington Library.

(37)  See Briggs to Lowell, Woodberry, II, 144-147.

(38)  Original Autograph Ms., Berg Collection, New York Public Library. See Appendix for Contract.

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

(39)  The poems republished from the first number of Vol. II until Poe purchased the Journal were “The Coliseum,” “Sonnet to Zante,” “Israfel,” “Sonnet — Silence,” “Bridal Ballad,” “Eulalie,” “Catholic Hymn,” “Lenore,” “A Dream,” “Romance,” “The City in the Sea,” “The Valley of Unrest,” “To the River,” “To F—,” “To ——” (The bowers whereat, etc.), “Song — (I saw Thee on Thy Bridal Day),” and “Fairyland.” The stories were “How to Write A Blackwood Article,” “A Predicament,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” “The Literary Life of Thingum-Bob,” “The Business Man,” “The Man that Was Used Up,” “Never Bet the Devil your Head,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “William Wilson,” “Why the Little Frenchman Wears His Hand in a Sling,” “Silence — A Fable,” “Diddling Considered as One of the Exact Sciences,” “The Landscape Garden,” “A Tale of Jerusalem,” “Ligeia,” “The Island of the Fay,” “Ms. Found in a Bottle,” “The Duc de L’Omelette,” and “King Pest.”

(40)  P. 415.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 466:]

(41)  Original Autograph Ms., Berg Collection, New York Public Library. Poe to Eveleth, December 15, 1846. J. M. Wilson’s Edition, p. 9.

(42)  Made by Poe in the volume known as the “Lorimer Graham Copy” now in the Century Association, New York. [[Now in the HRCL, University of Texas, at Austin.]]

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 467:]

(43)  American Review, II (September, 1845), 306-309.

(44)  October, 1845, pp. 316-319.

(45)  January 31, 1846, pp. 101-103.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 468:]

(46)  “The American Library,” Blackwood’s Magazine, LXII (November, 1847); references to Poe, 582-587.

(47)  See further comment on this story, quoted pp. 309-310.

(48)  Godey’s Lady’s Book, XXX (February, 1845), 61-67.

(49)  American Review, I (April, 1845), 363-370.

(50)  See Lucile King, “Notes on Poe’s Sources,” University of Texas Studies in English, X (1930), 130-134.

(51)  See p. 94.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 469:]

(52)  Graham’s Magazine, XXVII (July, 1845), 1-3.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 470:]

(53)  Mesmerism, “In Articulo Mortis.” An Astounding and Horrifying Narrative. Shewing the Extraordinary Power of Mesmerism in Arresting the Progress of Death. By Edgar A. Poe, Esq. of New York. London, 1846. Price threepence.

(54)  The reviews appeared in the Broadway Journal, I (March 29 and April 5), 203-205 and 219-220. They are signed by Poe in the Huntington Copy.

(55)  Virginia Edition, XVII, 207-208. Attributed to Griswold Collection in Boston Public Library, where it is not at present.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 471:]

(56)  Fashion has often been revived. It ran for 235 consecutive performances February 3 to August 30, 1924, in New York.

(57)  Broadway Journal, II (July 19 and 26, August 2), 29-80; 43; 60. They are signed by Poe in the Huntington Copy.

(58)  Vol. II, pp. 117-131. It was to be the first of a series of articles, but these did not appear.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 472:]

(59)  Such an incident is made the basis of a story, La Sepolta Viva, by Domenico Manni, translated by Roscoe in his Italian Novelists (1825), Vol. 4. Poe could easily have seen it.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 473:]

(60)  I (April 19, 1845), 251-252.

(61)  Broadway Journal, I (April 12), 229-230.

(62)  Broadway Journal, II (October 4, 1845), 199-200. The article is signed by Poe in the Huntington Copy and in “Marginalia.”

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

(63)  I (1845), 9-12.

(64)  I (1845), 130-142. Although the article speaks of “Mr. Poe,” the repetition of the charge of plagiarism from the Broadway Journal, I (March 29), p. 198, identifies the article as by Poe.

(65)  I (November, 1845), 373-382.

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

(66)  Original Autograph Ms., Pratt Institute. [[Enoch Pratt Library]]

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

(67)  Poe, “The Literati,” Godey’s Lady’s Book, XXXIII (September, 1846), 133.

(68)  See her Edgar Poe and His Critics, p. 23.

(69)  Edgar Poe and His Critics, p. 26

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 478:]

(70)  Mrs. Osgood to Griswold, according to his “Memoir,” The Literati (1850), p. xxxvii. Since there would have been no motive for Griswold to alter this account, it may be looked upon as authentic. I have not preserved the typographical errors, such as “wierd”; or “Elective” for “Electric.”

(71)  Broadway Journal, I, 217. Reprinted in Mrs. Osgood’s Poems (Philadelphia, 1850), pp. 403-404.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 479:]

(72)  Broadway Journal, I, 260.

(73)  Broadway Journal, II, 129. Other verses of hers like “Love’s Reply,” I (April 12), 231, or “Slander,” II (August 30), 113, may belong to this series.

(74)  Broadway Journal, II, 148. Poe’s interest in the matter may be judged by the fact that only the first four lines of this poem were inserted as a “filler” to complete a page of his story of “Diddling, etc.” The poem did not have the full title of “To F—s S. O—d,” until it reappeared in The Raven and Other Poems.

(75)  The poem, as read in 1846, is in Autograph Ms. at the [[Enoch]] Pratt Library. It is dated “St. Valentine’s Eve, 1846.” There are several differences between this 1846 form and that usually printed. Poe misspelled Mrs. Osgood’s middle name “Sargent” as “Sergeant,” so the nature of the poem required rewriting, the last four lines being entirely different in the 1849 version.

(76)  See the descriptions by Charles Dickens, James Silk Buckingham, Francis J. Grund, and others, especially the latter’s Aristocracy in America.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 480:]

(77)  Mrs. Osgood to Griswold, The Literati (1850), XXXVI.

(78)  II (July, 1845), 79.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 481:]

(79)  Original Autograph Ms., Duyckinck Collection, New York Public Library.

(80)  Wiley and Putnam’s Announcement. Advertisement in Broadway Journal, II (November 8, 1845), 280. Its price was “31 cents.” Noted among Books Received, II (November 22), 307. Reviews begin in November. It was published as No. 8 of Wiley and Putnam’s Library of American Books. Poe says (Broadway Journal, December 13, 1845) that he read the proofs the evening before he delivered the Boston lecture on October 16th.

(81)  The poems in Poe’s order were: “The Raven,” “The Valley of Unrest,” “Bridal Ballad,” “The Sleeper,” “The Coliseum,” “Lenore,” “Catholic Hymn,” “Israfel,” “Dream-land,” “Sonnet — To Zante,” “The City in the Sea,” “To One in Paradise,” “Eulalie — A Song,” “To F—s S. O—d,” “To F—,” “Sonnet — Silence,” “The Conqueror Worm,” “The Haunted Palace,” “Scenes from Politian.” Then followed Poems Written in Youth: “Sonnet — To Science,” “Al Aaraaf,” “Tamerlane,” “A Dream,” “Romance,” “Fairy-land,” “To —— (The bowers, whereat in dreams, I see),” “To the River ——,” “The Lake —— To ——,” “Song (I saw thee on thy bridal day),” “To Helen.”

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 482:]

(82)  Poe added two verses,

“Here is a ring as token

That I am happy now! —”

in “Bridal Ballad,” rearranged and slightly altered the last stanza of “Lenore,” changed the color of the eyes of “To One in Paradise” from “dark” to “grey” and made verbal alterations which have usually been adopted.

(83)  November, 1845, pp. 399-403.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 484:]

(84)  November 26, 1845; reprinted in Weekly Issue, November 29th.

(85)  Vol. XXVII (January, 1846), pp. 69-72.

(86)  See “The Magazines,” Broadway Journal, II (July 12, 1845), 10-11. Article signed in Huntington Copy.

(87)  March 14, 1846, pp. 237-238.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 485:]

(88)  The Athenaeum, No. 957 (February 28, 1846), 215.

(89)  It is interesting to compare Miss Barrett’s letter as printed in the Century, XLVIII (October, 1894), 859, with Poe’s quotations from it in his letter to Field, June 15, 1846, now in the Huntington Library.

(90)  Miss Barrett’s note of the omission of “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” from “the volume” is explained by the fact that Wiley and Putnam were issuing the Tales and the Poems together under one cover. Poe’s presentation copy to her, now in the New York Public Library, is bound in this way, also the “Lorimer Graham” copy, with Poe’s Ms. corrections, now in the Century Association. [[Now in the HRCL, University of Texas, at Austin.]] A reproduction of The Raven and other Poems from the last, is announced for early publication with foreword by T. O. Mabbott.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 488:]

(91)  Broadway Journal, II (November 1, 1845), 261-262.

(92)  II (November 22, 1845), 309-311.

(93)  He spoke of the Boston Star reprinting the “third edition” of the poem, “revised and improved” with “two or three columns of criticism” evidently unfavorable. What he meant by the “third edition” is not clear, unless he referred to the Saturday Museum text, which is hardly an “edition.” Poe reverted to the 1829 form for the 1845 text.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 489:]

(94)  See Joseph E. Chamberlin, “Edgar A. Poe and his Boston Critic, Miss Walter,” Boston Evening Transcript, January 26, 1924, Book Section, p. 2, in which is reproduced the entire criticism. Miss Walter in private life was Mrs. W. B. Richard.

(95)  Miss Walter continued her attacks, punning on his name, and commenting on his request for the support of his friends for the Broadway Journal. “What a question to ask! Edgar A. Poe to be in a condition to require support. It is indeed remarkable!” — Boston Transcript, October 28, 1845.

(96)  Vol. II, p. 227.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 490:]

(97)  See Appendix, for contract, printed from Ms. in the collection of W. H. Koester.

(98)  Original Autograph Ms., Peabody Institute.

(99)  The Ms. letter from Poe, asking the loan, is in the Griswold Collection, Boston Public Library, but the letter of November 1, thanking Griswold, is not. It is printed in Griswold’s “Preface” to his Memoir.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 491:]

(100)  Original Autograph Ms., Huntington Library.

(101)  Original Autograph Ms., Enoch Pratt Library.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 492:]

(102)  J. G. Wilson, Life of Halleck (New York, 1869), p. 431.

(103)  See Contract published from the Original Ms. in possession of John W. Garrett, by Kenneth Rede, American Literature, V (March, 1933), 53-54.

(104)  Broadway Journal, II (December 27, 1845), p. 315.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 493:]

(105)  Original Autograph Ms., New York Public Library. Poe’s Letters to Duyckinck were printed in the Bulletin of the New York Public Library, VI (January, 1902), 7-11.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 494:]

(106)  Original Autograph Ms., New York Public Library.

(107)  The stories republished while Poe was both Editor and Proprietor were: “The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade,” “The Power of Words,” “Some Words with a Mummy,” “The Devil in the Belfry,” “The Spectacles,” “Four Beasts in One,” “A Tale of the Ragged Mountains,” “The Oblong Box,” “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” “Mystification,” and “Loss of Breath.”

(108)  Broadway Journal, II (January 3, 1846), 407.


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Notes:

Sadly, the “three homes associated with Poe, in New York, that are still standing” have subsequently been demolished to make way for various development projects.


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[S:1 - EAP:ACB, 1941] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - E. A. P.: A Critical Biography (A. H. Quinn) (Chapter 15)