Text: Arthur Hobson Quinn, “Chapter 19,” Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography (1941), pp. 615-641


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[page 615:]

CHAPTER XIX
 
Richmond — The Last Appeal

Poe started for Richmond with his usual high hopes. His constant ambition to become the editor of a magazine had been renewed by his relations with Patterson, and though the cautious correspondent from Oquawka had not promised Poe complete control, he was prepared to furnish the sinews of war. Poe was also, in a real sense, going home. While he had not entirely abandoned the hope of locating his journal in New York, he had offered Patterson the alternative of St. Louis. The South was calling him in different ways. He had defended her men of letters in his criticisms, he had cooled the friendship of Lowell and other New Englanders by his attacks on the abolitionists, and he was feeling less and less happy in a region where New England dominated critical judgments and was insisting more and more upon her poetic supremacy. That Poe felt this keenly is seen in his comments upon Griswold’s Female Poets of America: “He has been at the pains of doing what Northern critics seem to be at great pains never to do, — that is to say, he has been at the trouble of doing justice, in great measure, to several poetesses who have not had the good fortune to be born in the North.”(1)

Poe had invaded the North in 1837 because he saw larger opportunities, and they were still larger in 1849, but not for him. In 1837, Bryant, Halleck, and Willis, who were looked upon as the leaders in American poetry, were New Englanders, it is true, but they had left New England for New York, and Halleck and Willis remained his friends. The New England group, Emerson, Longfellow, Whittier, Holmes, and Lowell, who in the twelve years from 1837 to 1849 had become dominant, remained in New England, and ruled from Boston, Cambridge, or Concord. Of this group Lowell alone had been enthusiastic in his critical judgment of Poe, and he had cooled decidedly by 1848.

Much of this mutual dislike was due, of course, to Poe’s own caustic [page 616:] utterances, but in trying to understand the causes of his failure to make a satisfactory career, the fact that he was an alien to the North has not been sufficiently appreciated. He was the only important Southern man of letters in this period to leave his section and make his fight for fame in the North. Washington Allston did go to Boston after his long European stay, but he was a painter rather than a poet, and his creative power collapsed, in any event, after his return to the United States. Poe must have felt the growing sectional hatreds that were, twelve years later, to bring on the Civil War, and we may be sure he never hesitated to speak his mind. It was therefore quite natural that he should turn toward his own country and exchange commercial opportunity for the prospect of living in a section where people thought as he did. When two sections of a land dislike each other for their faults, trouble will ensue, but when they dislike each other for their virtues, the case is more serious. Poe’s impulsive, excitable nature, his keen sense of personal honor and his contempt for purely material values, were not likely to endear him to the metropolis where standards were being based more and more upon commercial prosperity.

Unfortunately he stopped in Philadelphia, probably on business.(2) He may have taken a drink, for on Monday afternoon, which would have been July 2nd, or July 9th, he called on John Sartain, editor of the Union Magazine. Sartain’s account, written forty years later, has some obvious inaccuracies but presents a vivid account of Poe’s adventures. Looking pale and haggard, Poe begged Sartain for refuge from attack by two men who, he said, were on the train for New York, and were plotting to kill him. Poe therefore left the train at Bordentown and returned to Philadelphia. Either he or Sartain is in error in this statement, for he was not going to New York, unless he had determined to return to Mrs. Clemm’s protection. He was suffering from a mania of persecution, and he persuaded Sartain to remove his moustache, which Sartain cut off with his scissors. Here once more, the account seems incorrect for Poe wore a moustache in Richmond shortly afterward.

After tea [Sartain continued], it being now dark, he prepared to go out, and on my asking him where he was going, he said, “To the Schuylkill.” I told him I would go too, to which he offered no objection. His shoes were worn down a good deal on the outer side of the heels, and he complained that his feet were chafed in [page 617:] consequence, and hurt him, so I gave him my slippers to wear, as I had no second pair of shoes that would serve. When we had reached the corner of Ninth and Chestnut Streets we waited there for an omnibus, and among the things he said was that he wished I would see to it that after his death the painting Osgood had made of him should go to his mother (meaning Mrs. Clemm). I promised that as far as I could control it that should be done. We entered an omnibus and rode to its stopping-place, a tavern on the north side of Callowhill Street, on the bend it takes towards the northwest to reach the Fairmount bridge. At this place there was light enough, chiefly from what shone out through the door of the tavern, but beyond was darkness, and forward into the darkness we went.

I kept on his left side, and on nearly approaching the bridge I guided him off to the right by a gentle pressure until we reached the foot of the lofty flight of steep wooden steps that ascended almost to the top of the reservoir. Here was the first landing, and with seats, so we sat down.

Here on the old reservoir, now destroyed, but which some Philadelphians still remember, Poe told Sartain of his being in Moyamensing Prison, and of his dream of a radiant young female figure who stood on the topmost coping of the stone tower and spoke to him across a great distance. Sartain brought him home to Sansom Street, gave him a bed on the sofa and slept alongside on three chairs to protect him. On the second morning [July 4th?] Poe had recovered sufficiently to go out alone. He soon returned telling Sartain that “the whole thing had been a delusion and a scare created out of his excited imagination.”

Sartain then added:

I [[had]] asked him how he came to be in Moyamensing Prison, and he said he has [[had]] been suspected of trying to pass a fifty-dollar counterfeit note; but the truth is it was for what takes so many there for a few hours only, the drop too much. When his turn came in the group before Mayor Gilpin, it was remarked, “Why, this is Poe the poet,” and he was dismissed without the customary fine.(3)

Being now all right again, he was ready to go to New York. [page 618:] He borrowed what was needful, and departed. I never saw him more.(4)

Poe repeated his account of the dream and the radiant figure to John R. Thompson, somewhat later. This time the vision took him on a flight over the housetops of Philadelphia, turning eventually into a black evil bird, which told Poe it was the cholera.(5) There was an epidemic of cholera in Philadelphia in July, 1849, and the episode is to be taken simply as an illustration of Poe’s mental disturbance at this time. His letters from Philadelphia and Richmond about to be quoted tell the story better than any paraphrase. He was evidently in bad shape in Philadelphia [until July 13th] but fortunately he had friends in George Lippard, the novelist and Charles Chauncey Burr, the Editor of the Nineteenth Century.

On Saturday, July 7th, Poe wrote from Philadelphia in a despairing mood to Mrs. Clemm, misdating his letter as from New York.

New York, July 7. [Saturday]

My dear, dear Mother, — I have been so ill — have had the cholera, or spasms quite as bad, and can now hardly hold the pen.

The very instant you get this, come to me. The joy of seeing you will almost compensate for our sorrows. We can but die together. It is no use to reason with me now; I must die. I have no desire to live since I have done “Eureka.” I could accomplish nothing more. For your sake it would be sweet to live, but we must die together. You have been all in all to me, darling, ever beloved mother, and dearest, truest friend.

I was never really insane, except on occasions where my heart was touched.

I have been taken to prison once since I came here for getting drunk; but then I was not. It was about Virginia.(6) [page 619:]

Before this letter reached Mrs. Clemm, she had sent a pathetic note to Mrs. Richmond:

July 9, 1849

Eddy has been gone ten days, and I have not heard one word from him. Do you wonder that I am distracted? I fear everything. . . . Do you wonder that he has so little confidence in any one? Have we not suffered from the blackest treachery? Eddy was obliged to go through Philadelphia, and how much I fear he has got into some trouble there; he promised me so sincerely to write thence. I ought to have heard last Monday, and now it is Monday again and not one word. . . . Oh, if any evil has befallen him what can comfort me? The day after he left New York, I left Mrs. Lewis and started for home. I called on a rich friend who had made many promises, but never knew our situation. I frankly told her. . . . She proposed to me to leave Eddy, saying he might very well do for himself. . . . Any one to propose to me to leave my Eddy — what a cruel insult! No one to console and comfort him but me; no one to nurse him and take care of him when he is sick and helpless! Can I ever forget that dear sweet face [Virginia’s], so tranquil, so pale, and those dear eyes looking at me so sadly, while she said, “Darling, darling Muddy, you will console and take care of my poor Eddy — you will never, never leave him? Promise me, my dear Muddy, and then I can die in peace.” And I did promise. And when I meet her in heaven, I can say, “I have kept my promise, my darling.”. . . If Eddy gets to Richmond safely and can succeed in what he intends doing, we will be relieved of part of our difficulties; but if he comes home in trouble and sick, I know not what is to become of us.(7)

Poe remained in Philadelphia until Friday, July 13, when he left for Richmond. On the way he wrote again to Mrs. Clemm, probably on Saturday,

Near Richmond.

The weather is awfully hot, and, besides all this, I am so homesick I don’t know what to do. I never wanted to see any one half so bad as I want to see my own darling mother. It seems to me that I would make any sacrifice to hold you by the hand once more, and get you to cheer me up, for I am terribly depressed. I do not think that any circumstances will ever tempt me to leave you again. When I am with you I can bear anything, but when I am away from you I am too miserable to live.(8) [page 620:]

He had scarcely arrived, on July 14, when he wrote again to Mrs. Clemm. In his agitation he lengthened the time he had been away from her from two weeks to three.(9) And his fastidious love of neatness shows strongly in his distress at his appearance:

Richmond, Saturday Night. [July 14]

Oh, my darling Mother, it is now more than three weeks since I saw you, and in all that time your poor Eddy has scarcely drawn a breath except of intense agony. Perhaps you are sick or gone from Fordham in despair, or dead. If you are but alive, and if I but see you again, all the rest is nothing. I love you better than ten thousand lives — so much so that it is cruel in you to let me leave you; nothing but sorrow ever comes of it.

Oh, Mother, I am so ill while I write — but I resolved that come what would, I would not sleep again without easing your dear heart as far as I could.

My valise was lost for ten days. At last I found it at the depot in Philadelphia, but (you will scarcely credit it) they had opened it and stolen both lectures. Oh, Mother, think of the blow to me this evening, when on examining the valise, these lectures were gone. All my object here is over unless I can recover them or re-write one of them.

I am indebted for more than life itself to B[urr]. Never forget him, Mother, while you live. When all failed me, he stood my friend, got me money, and saw me off in the cars for Richmond.

I got here with two dollars over — of which I inclose you one. Oh God, my Mother, shall we ever again meet? If possible, oh COME! My clothes are so horrible, and I am so ill. Oh, if you could come to me, my mother. Write instantly — oh do not fail. God forever bless you.

EDDY.(10)

Poe’s next letter proves that the episode was a temporary depression of a violent nature, rather than a permanent break down.

Richmond, Thursday, July 19

My Own Beloved Mother —

You will see at once, by the handwriting of this letter, that I [page 621:] am better — much better in health and spirits. Oh, if you only knew how your dear letter comforted me! It acted like magic. Most of my suffering arose from that terrible idea which I could not get rid of — the idea that you were dead. For more than ten days I was totally deranged, although I was not drinking one drop; and during this interval I imagined the most horrible calamities.

All was hallucination, arising from an attack which I had never before experienced — an attack of mania-à-potu. May Heaven grant that it prove a warning to me for the rest of my days. If so, I shall not regret even the horrible unspeakable torments I have endured.

To L[ippard] and to C[hauncey] B[urr] (and in some measure, also, to Mr. S[artain]) I am indebted for more than life. They remained with me (L[ippard] and B[urr]) all day on Friday [July 13] last, comforted me and aided me in coming to my senses. L[ippard] saw G[odey], who said everything kind of me, and sent me five dollars; and [S. D.] P[atterson] sent another five. B[urr] procured me a ticket as far as Baltimore, and the passage from there to Richmond was seven dollars. I have not drank anything since Friday morning, and then only a little Port wine. If possible, dearest Mother, I will extricate myself from this difficulty for your dear, dear sake. So keep up heart.

All is not lost yet, and “the darkest hour is just before daylight.” Keep up heart, my own beloved mother — all may yet go well. I will put forth all my energies. When I get my mind a little more composed, I will try to write something. Oh, give my dearest, fondest love to Mrs. L. Tell her that never, while I live, will I forget her kindness to my darling mother.(11)

Poe was well enough to write to E. H. N. Patterson and to Lippard on July 19th. He told Patterson that he had been “arrested in Philadelphia by the cholera.” He promised to work again, “as soon as he [page 622:] gathered a little strength” but his handwriting was clear and strong,(12) and Poe was probably overestimating his ill health. There was often a trace of the neurotic in his analysis of his own condition. He begged Lippard to find his lectures, but that good friend was not able to discover them.(13)

Poe put up in Richmond at the old Swan Tavern on the north side of Broad Street between Eighth and Ninth Streets,(14) a hotel which had once been fashionable and was even in 1849 a respectable house. It was near the home of Mrs. Jane MacKenzie, Duncan Lodge, an attractive house, built in 1843(15) and still standing in 1940. His friend John MacKenzie was living there and Rosalie, his sister, whose attentions while natural, were often an embarrassment to her brother.

He was gradually recovering his health and he was received cordially by old and new friends. One of the latter, Susan Archer Talley, was then a young woman, whose verses Poe had praised and who had achieved the immortality of being included in Griswold’s Female Poets of America. She has painted a picture of Poe’s personal appearance which compensates us somewhat for the many errors of fact with which she has confused his biography.(16)

­

Edgar Allan Poe in 1849 [thumbnail]

[Illustration facing page 622]
 
Edgar Allan Poe in 1849

Rosalie took Poe to visit the Talley family soon after his arrival. Susan Talley’s description of her meeting with Poe is vivid: [page 623:]

As I entered the parlor, Poe was seated near an open window, quietly conversing. His attitude was easy and graceful, with one arm lightly resting upon the back of his chair. His dark curling hair was thrown back from his broad forehead — a style in which he habitually wore it. At sight of him, the impression produced upon me was of a refined, high-bred, and chivalrous gentleman. I use this word “chivalrous” as exactly descriptive of something in his whole personnel, distinct from either polish or high-breeding, and which, though instantly apparent, was yet an effect too subtle to be described. He rose on my entrance, and, other visitors being present, stood with one hand resting on the back of his chair, awaiting my greeting. So dignified was his manner, so reserved his expression, that I experienced an involuntary recoil, until I turned to him and saw his eyes suddenly brighten as I offered my hand; a barrier seemed to melt between us, and I felt that we were no longer strangers.

I am thus minute in my account of my first meeting with Poe, because I would illustrate, if possible, the manner peculiar to him, and also the indescribable charm, I might almost say magnetism, which his eyes possessed above any others that I have ever seen.(17)

Mrs. Weiss made one observation concerning Poe which is illuminating: “His own insight into personal character was quick and intuitive, but not deep; and it struck me even then, with all my youthful inexperience, that in knowledge of human nature he was for a man of his genius, strangely deficient.”(18)

It was just that inability to judge correctly the real nature of his acquaintances, that led Poe into so much trouble, and gave rise to charges of insincerity. His intimate friends he knew well, but he was led frequently into impulsive approaches to someone whom he believed to be his friend, but who was really not. Then on discovering a real or even fancied flaw, his bitter denunciation was partly caused by the recognition of his own error. His complete mistake concerning Griswold’s supposed reconciliation is a case in point.

The perennial dispute over Poe’s habits has, as usual, much material to feed on during this last visit to Richmond. Mrs. Weiss never saw him intoxicated, but learned afterward of two relapses, the second being serious. He was taken to Duncan Lodge by Dr. MacKenzie and Dr. Gibbon Carter and the latter warned Poe that another attack of [page 624:] the same nature would be fatal. Poe’s reply was that if people would not tempt him, he would not fall.(19) Here Mrs. Weiss is probably to be relied on, even though her evidence is secondary.

Poe certainly made a strong fight to keep his word to his friends. William J. Glenn, the presiding officer of the Shockoe Hill Division, No. 54, of the Sons of Temperance, gives the details of Poe’s reception into that body “sometime between July 1 and September 30, 1849,” and continues, “There had been no intimation that Mr. Poe had violated his pledge before leaving Richmond in October.”(20) How difficult it was for Poe to withstand that temptation in a society where conviviality was a matter of course, can well be imagined. To refuse to drink with an acquaintance was almost an insult, and few were good enough friends to help him in his struggle.

Poe was constantly occupied with his hopes for The Stylus. On August 7th he wrote again to Patterson, giving him good reasons why a three dollar magazine could not kindle Poe’s enthusiastic cooperation. Patterson agreed on August 21 to support a five dollar journal if Poe could secure one thousand subscribers, and plans were made for a meeting in St. Louis for October 15th. To help on this project and to support himself Poe lectured on “The Poetic Principle” on August 17, 1849, in the Exchange Concert Rooms. The audience was large and enthusiastic, but since the tickets were sold at twenty-five cents,(21) Poe could hardly have profited greatly.

The Richmond Whig of August 21st, in a glowing editorial, remarked, “We were never more delighted in our lives,” and stated that Poe manifested “an acquaintance with poets and their styles perfectly unique in this community. . . . We venture to ask Mr. Poe to make one more representation before us.” The Whig published “Lenore” on September 18th. John M. Daniel, in a penetrating analysis, criticized unfavorably Poe’s reading of poetry, although he approved of his critical theory.(22) This lecture may have led to Poe’s revising for the Examiner several of his poems, only “The Raven” being published during his lifetime, in that paper. He may also have taken some informal part in the work of the office, but Daniel makes no [page 625:] mention of this in his article in the Messenger. Poe was at the time of his death, under an engagement to furnish literary articles for Daniel.(23)

Shortly after this first lecture Poe wrote to Mrs. Clemm telling of his renewed hopes. The first page is missing, but the remainder is one of the most important documents in Poe’s correspondence:

[[. . . .]] possible. Every body says that if I lecture again & put the tickets at 50 cts, I will clear $100. I never was received with so much enthusiasm. The papers have done nothing but praise me before the lecture and since. I enclose one of the notices — the only one in which the slightest word of disparagement appears. It is written by Daniel — the man whom I challenged when I was here last year. I have been invited out a great deal — but could seldom go, on account of not having a dress coat. To-night Rose & I are to spend the evening at Elmira’s. Last night I was at Poitiaux’s — the night before at Strobia’s, where I saw my dear friend Eliza Lambert (Gen. Lambert’s sister). She was ill in her bed-room, but insisted upon our coming up, & we stayed until nearly 1 o’clock. In a word, I have received nothing but kindness since I have been here, & could have been quite happy but for my dreadful anxiety about you. Since the report of my intended marriage, the McKenzies(24) have overwhelmed me with attentions. Their house is so crowded that they could not ask me to stay. — And now, my own precious Muddy, the very moment I get a definite answer about everything, I will write again & tell you what to do. Elmira talks about visiting Fordham — but I do not know whether that would do. I think, perhaps, it would be best for you to give up everything there & come on here in the Packet. Write immediately & give me your advice about it — for you know best. Could we be happier in Richmond or Lowell? — for I suppose we could never be happy at Fordham — and, Muddy, I must be somewhere where I can see Annie. — Did Mrs. L. get the Western Quarterly Review? Thompson is constantly urging me to write for the Messenger, but I am so anxious that I cannot. — Mr. Loud, the husband of Mrs. St Leon Loud, the poetess of Philadelphia, called on me the other day and offered me $100 to edit his wife’s poems. Of [page 626:] course, I accepted the offer. The whole labor will not occupy me 3 days. I am to have them ready by Christmas. — I have seen Bernard often. Eliza is expected but has not come. — When I repeat my lecture here, I will then go to Petersburg & Norfolk. — A Mr. Taverner lectured here on Shakspeare, a few nights after me, and had 8 persons, including myself & the doorkeeper. — I think, upon the whole, dear Muddy, it will be better for you to say that I am ill, or something of that kind, and break up at Fordham, so that you may come on here. Let me know immediately what you think best. You know we could easily pay off what we owe at Fordham & the place is a beautiful one — but I want to live near Annie. — And now, dear Muddy, there is one thing I wish you to pay particular attention to. I told Elmira when I first came here, that I had one of the pencil-sketches of her, that I took a long while ago in Richmond; and I told her that I would write to you about it. So, when you write, just copy the following words in your letter:

“I have looked again for the pencil-sketch of Mrs. S. but cannot find it anywhere. I took down all the books and shook them one by one, and unless Eliza White has it, I do not know what has become of it. She was looking at it the last time I saw it. The one you spoilt with Indian Ink ought to be somewhere about the house. I will do my best to [find?] it.”

I got a sneaking letter to-day from Chivers. — Do not tell me anything about Annie — I cannot bear to hear it now — unless you can tell me that Mr. R. is dead — I have got the wedding ring. — and shall have no difficulty, I think, in getting a dress-coat.

Wednesday Night

[First line is torn — the only clear words are “night. . . own. . . dear Muddy.” Then follows on the last page —] Also the letter. Return the letter when you write.(25) [page 627:]

With his resilient nature, Poe responded to the sympathy of his old friends. The visit to Poitiaux’s took him back to the days in London in 1816 when his little sweetheart, Catherine Poitiaux, still living in 1849, had sent him her love. In that midnight chat with Eliza Lambert, the visits that the Allan family made to “Uncle Lambert’s,” the home of Eliza’s father, called up the early days in Richmond when Poe was a handsome, petted child. Her brother, General Lambert, was Mayor of Richmond from 1841 until his death in 1853. Poe was also welcomed by his old friends, Robert Stanard, Robert Sully, the painter, and by Dr. Robert Henry Cabell and his wife, Julia Mayo Cabell, the cousin of the second Mrs. Allan. As he told Susan Talley, he found in their homes, “pictures, flowers, delightful music and conversation and a kindness more refreshing than all.” His recognition by Mrs. Cabell is especially significant since it is evidence that the Allan family did not all take sides against him. The Richmond tradition of the Mayo family speaks of their wit and independence.

There must of course have been another side to the picture. As he passed his old home at the corner of Main and Fifth Streets he could not help a sardonic smile at the signs of prosperity and the two additional wings which Mrs. John Allan had found it necessary to build for the sons she had given her husband. Miss Nancy Valentine was still living with her, a woman of sixty-three, who was to die in the following January. She was out of the city nearly all the summer, visiting Mrs. Allan at Byrd Lodge, near Columbia, Virginia, or other friends. Perhaps this was the reason Poe did not try to see her. But in the letters she wrote to Mrs. Allan and the boys, she makes no mention of the lad who had never called her “Aunt Nancy” and for whose fame she apparently cared so little.(26) But there are constant references in her letters to John Allan, and she tells of her hopes that his sons will grow up to be like him, “who was the most noble and kind hearted soul in the world.”

Perhaps some of these impressions gave rise to the mood of which Mrs. Weiss gives a vivid picture. It can hardly be imaginary, even though it is tinted with romance:

The only occasion on which I saw Poe really sad or depressed, was on a walk to the “Hermitage,” the old deserted seat of the [page 628:] Mayo family, where he had, in his youth, been a frequent visitor. On reaching the place, our party separated, and Poe and myself strolled slowly about the grounds. I observed that he was unusually silent and preoccupied, and, attributing it to the influence of memories associated with the place, forebore to interrupt him. He passed slowly by the mossy bench called the “lovers’ seat,” beneath two aged trees, and remarked, as we turned toward the garden, “There used to be white violets here.” Searching amid the tangled wilderness of shrubs, we found a few late blossoms, some of which he placed carefully between the leaves of a note-book. Entering the deserted house, he passed from room to room with a grave, abstracted look, and removed his hat, as if involuntarily, on entering the saloon, where in old times many a brilliant company had assembled. Seated in one of the deep windows, over which now grew masses of ivy, his memory must have borne him back to former scenes, for he repeated the familiar lines of Moore:

“I feel like one who treads alone,

Some banquet hall deserted” —

and paused, with the first expression of real sadness that I had ever seen on his face.(27)

Poe’s thoughts as he passed the scenes of his boyhood’s love affair with Sarah Elmira Royster were probably more pleasant, for the affair was on again. Her own words to E. V. Valentine tell the story:

I was ready to go to church and a servant told me that a gentleman in the parlour wanted to see me. I went down and was amazed to see him — but knew him instantly — He came up to me in the most enthusiastic manner and said: “Oh! Elmira, is this you?” That very morning I told him I was going to church, that I never let anything interfere with that, that he must call again and when he did call again he renewed his addresses. I laughed at it; he looked very serious and said he was in earnest and had been thinking about it for a long time. Then I found out that he was very serious and I became serious. I told him if he would not take a positive denial he must give me time to consider of it. And he said a love that hesitated was not a love for him. But he sat there a long time and was very pleasant and cheerful. He [continued?] to visit me frequently but I never engaged myself to him. He begged me when he was going away to marry him. Promised he would be everything I could desire. He said when he left that [page 629:] he was going to New York, to wind up some business and that he would return to Richmond as soon as he accomplished it, though he said at the same time that he had a presentment he never should see me any more.(28)

When Mr. Valentine pressed for an answer to his question “Were you engaged to Poe when he died?” her reply was elusive. “I was not engaged to Poe when he left here, but there was a partial understanding, but I do not think I should have married him under any circumstances.”

There was evidently no great rapture in this mature love story. A letter from Elmira to her cousin, Dr. Philip Fitzhugh, written on December 11, 1848, indicates that she had not met Poe at that time. It is that of a woman rather bored with life and ready for another adventure. Yet her letter to Mrs. Clemm of September 22, 1849, clearly implies that she expected to marry Poe. Poe’s engagement to Mrs. Shelton has usually been attributed to a desire to use her property in the publication of the Stylus. As human motives are rarely unmixed, he probably had some idea of profiting by the marriage. But there had been real if not undying affection between them, and on both sides there was a clutching at the memories of youth, as youth was slipping away from them. After all, each woman who has known a man intimately, keeps her own place in his heart, or at least in the chambers of his vanity.

Poe lectured at the Academy in Norfolk on the “Poetic Principle” on September 14, 1849. The North American Beacon of Norfolk made quite an occasion of Poe’s lecture, quoting(29) in advance the editorials of the Richmond Whig, commenting on Poe’s reputation in France and upon his lecture in Richmond. After the lecture, the Beacon published a favorable analysis of the “Poetic Principle,” and spoke of the recitations, including “The Raven” as eliciting “rounds of applause from the intelligent audience.”(30)

Poe had friends in Norfolk, one of whom, Miss Susan V. C. Ingram, gave, many years later, a charming picture of the group which gathered at the Hygeia Hotel at Old Point Comfort on Sunday evening, September 9th:(31) [page 630:]

Mr. Poe sat there in that quiet way of his which made you feel his presence. After a while my aunt, who was nearer his age, said: “This seems to be just the time and place for poetry, Mr. Poe.”

And it was. We all felt it. The old Hygiea [[Hygeia]] stood some distance from the water, but with nothing between it and the ocean. It was moonlight and the light shone over everything with that undimmed light that it has in the South. There were many persons on the long verandas that surrounded the hotel, but they seemed remote and far away. Our little party was absolutely cut off from everything except that lovely view of the water shining in the moonlight and its gentle music borne to us on the soft breeze. Poe felt the influence. How could a poet help it? And when we seconded the request that he recite for us he agreed readily.

I do not remember all of the poems that he recited. There was “The Raven” and “Annabel Lee,” and last of all he gave us “Ulalume,” including the last stanza, of which he remarked that he feared that it might not be intelligible to us, as it was scarcely clear to himself, and for that reason it had not been published.(32)

I was not old enough or experienced enough to understand what the words really meant as he repeated: —

“Said we, then, the two then. “Ah, can it

Have been that the woodlandish ghouls —

The pitiful, the merciful ghouls,

To bar up our way and to ban it

From the secret that lies in these wolds —

From the thing that lies hidden in these wolds —

Have drawn up the spectre of a planet

From the limbo of lunary souls —

This sinfully, scintillant planet

From the hell of the planetary souls?”

I did, however, feel their beauty, and I said to him when he had finished, “It is quite clear to me, and I admire the poem very much.”

He seemed pleased to have me speak so, and the next day I was greatly surprised to receive from him a manuscript copy of the poem. It made quite a scroll and must have taken him a long time to write out. The ten stanzas were written on five large sheets of paper pasted together in the neatest possible way, end to end. He wrote such a beautiful, fair hand it was a joy to look upon it. Not only did he acknowledge his appreciation of my appreciation [page 631:] by sending me this precious manuscript, but he accompanied it with the kindest sort of a note.(33)

This was only a little more than two weeks, as I remember, before Poe’s death, but I saw him again before he went to Baltimore, where he died.

We went from Old Point Comfort to our home near Norfolk, Va., and he called on us there and again I had the pleasure of talking with him. Although I was only a slip of a girl and he what seemed to me then quite an old man, and a great literary one at that, we got on together beautifully. He was one of the most courteous gentlemen I ever have seen, and that gave a great charm to his manner. None of his pictures that I have ever seen look like the picture of Poe that I keep in my memory. Of course they look like him, so that any one seeing them could have recognized him from them, but there was something in his face that is in none of them. Perhaps it was in the eyes, perhaps in the mouth, I do not know, but any one who ever met him would understand what I mean.

There were no indications of dissipation apparent when we saw Poe in Virginia at that time. I think he had not been drinking for a long time. If I had not heard or read what was said about his intemperance I should never have had any idea of it from what I saw in Poe. To me he seemed a good man, as well as a charming one, very sensitive and very high minded.

I believe he was engaged at that time to be married to a widow, but he did not mention the matter to us.

I remember one little incident that illustrates how loyal he was to the memory of those who had been kind to him. I was fond of orris root and always had the odor of it about my clothes. One day when we were walking together he spoke of it. “I like it, too,” he said. “Do you know what it makes me think of? My adopted mother. Whenever the bureau drawers in her room were opened there came from them a whiff of orris root, and ever since when I smell it I go back to the time when I was a little boy and it brings back thoughts of my mother.”(34)

Meanwhile Mrs. Clemm was writing hysterically to Mrs. Richmond, begging for help to go to Poe’s assistance. She also sent to Griswold a note which reveals her responsibility for some of Poe’s lapses from critical independence. [page 632:]

New York, September 4, 1849.

Dear Mr. Griswold, — I have tried so long to see you without success, that I have taken the liberty of addressing this note to you. I understand from Mrs. Lewis you received the package Mr. Poe left at her house for you. I wish you to publish it exactly as he has written it. If you will do so I will promise you a favorable review of your books as they appear. You know the influence I have with Mr. Poe. Not that I think he will need any urging to advance your interest. I have just heard from him; he writes in fine spirits and says his prospects are excellent — Will you be so kind as to let me know if you receive this? Please direct to me at N. Y., care of E. A. Poe.

Respectfully,

MARIA CLEMM.(35)

Poe returned to Richmond on September 17th. On the next day he wrote two letters, one to Mrs. Clemm, his last letter to her:

Richmond Va
Tuesday — Sep 18 — 49.

My own darling Muddy,

On arriving here last night from Norfolk I received both your letters, including Mrs. Lewis’s. I cannot tell you the joy they gave me — to learn at least that you are well & hopeful. May God forever bless you, my dear dear Muddy — Elmira has just got home from the country. I spent last evening with her. I think she loves me more devotedly than any one I ever knew & I cannot help loving her in return. Nothing is as yet definitely settled — and it will not do to hurry matters. I lectured at Norfolk on Monday(36) & cleared enough to settle my bill here at the Madison House with $2. over. I had a highly fashionable audience, but Norfolk is a small place & there were 2 exhibitions the same night. Next Monday I lecture again here & expect to have a large audience. On Tuesday I start for Phila. to attend to Mrs. Loud’s Poems — & possibly on Thursday I may start for N. York. If I do I will go straight over to Mrs. Lewis’s & send for you. It will be better for me not to go to Fordham — don’t you think so? Write immediately in reply & direct to Phila. For fear I should not get the letter, sign no name & address it to E. S. T. Grey, Esqre. If possible I [page 633:] will get married before I start — but there is no telling. Give my dearest love to Mrs. L. My poor poor Muddy I am still unable to send you even one dollar — but keep up heart — I hope that our troubles are nearly over. I saw John Beatty in Norfolk.

God bless & protect you, my own darling Muddy. I showed your letter to Elmira and she says “it is such a darling precious letter that she loves you for it already.”

YOUR OWN EDDY.

Don’t forget to write immediately to Phila. so that your letter will be there when I arrive.

The papers here are praising me to death — and I have been received everywhere with enthusiasm. Be sure & preserve all the printed scraps I have sent you & keep up my file of the Lit. World.(37)

On the same day he wrote to Mrs. Lewis, a rather cautious letter — for him.

[Tuesday 18th Sept. 1849]

My dear, dear Mrs. Lewis — My dear sister Anna (for so you have permitted me to call you) — never while I live shall I forget you or your kindness to my mother. If I have not written you in reply to your first cherished letter, think anything of my silence except that I am ungrateful or unmindful of you — or that I do not feel for you the purest and profoundest affection — ah, let me say love. I hope very soon to see you and clasp your dear hand. In the meantime, may God bless you, my sweet sister.

Your always,

EDGAR.(38)

Something, however, was going on, for there is an undated fragment, hastily written. —

Dearest Anna,

Give the enclosed speedily to my darling Anna mother. It might get into wrong hands.(39) [page 634:]

The somewhat complicated plans by which Poe was to marry Mrs. Shelton and placate Mrs. Clemm apparently necessitated a diplomatic approach, for Elmira wrote to her prospective mother-in-law on September 22nd:

Richmond September 22nd 1849

My Dear Mrs. Clemm:

You will no doubt be much surprised to receive a letter from one whom you have never seen. — Although I feel as if I were writing to one whom I love very devotedly, and whom to know, is to love — Mr. Poe has been very solicitous that I should write to you, and I do assure you, it is with emotions of pleasure that I now do so — I am fully prepared to love you, and I do sincerely hope that our spirits may be congenial — There shall be nothing wanting on my part to make them so — I have just spent a very happy evening with your dear Edgar, and I know it will be gratifying to you, to know, that he is all that you could desire him to be, sober, temperate, moral, & much beloved — He showed me a letter of yours, in which you spoke affectionately of me, and for which I feel very much gratified & complimented — You also mentioned your fears in regard to the influence Rose might have in predjudicing [sic] me against you. Be assured, that she has never attempted it, and if she had, she would have accomplished nothing, except a very decided disapprobation of such a course — Edgar speaks frequently & very affectionately of your daughter & his Virginia, for which I love him but the more — I have a very dear friend, (to whom I am much attached), by the name of Virginia Poe, she is a lovely girl in character, tho’ not as beautiful in person as your beloved one — I remember seeing Edgar, & his lovely wife, very soon after they were married — I met them — I never shall forget my feelings at the time — They were indescribable, almost agonizing — “However in an instant,” I remembered that I was a married woman, and banished them from me, as I would a poisonous reptile —

Edgar’s lecture a few weeks since, on the Poetic Principle, was very beautiful, he had quite a full, and very fashionable audience — He will repeat his lecture on Monday next, when I sincerely hope he may be patronised by a very large attendance — It is needless (I know) for me to ask you, to take good care of him when he is, (as I trust he soon will be) again restored to your Arms — “I trust a kind Providence” will protect him, and guide him in the way of truth, so that his feet slip not — I hope my dear friend that you will write to me, and as Edgar will perhaps reach you as soon as this does, he will direct your letter — It has struck 12 o’clock, and I am encroaching on the Sabbath, and must [page 635:] therefore conclude — “Good Night Dear Friend,” May Heaven bless you, and shield you, And may your remaining days on earth, be peaceful and happy — And your eternity glorious and blissful — Thus prays your attached

tho unknown friend — ELMIRA.(40)

Poe was asked to repeat his lecture and he spoke again in Richmond on “The Poetic Principle” on September 24th. The Richmond Examiner said on the 25th: “Edgar A. Poe lectured again last night on the ‘Poetic Principle’ and concluded his lecture as before with his own celebrated poem of the ‘Raven’. . .. We furnish our readers today with the only correct copy ever published which we are enabled to do by the courtesy of Mr. Poe himself.”(41)

On Poe’s last public appearance William Winston Valentine noticed the pallor which overspread his face, contrasted with the dark hair which fell from the summit of his forehead, with an inclination to curl. His brow was fine and expressive, but his eyes were dark and restless and while his mouth was firm, there hovered over it an expression of scorn and discontent. His gait was firm and erect but his manner was nervous and emphatic. Valentine also spoke of the great struggle for self-control in which Poe seemed to be constantly engaged, and the sadness in the intonations of his voice.(42)

From his letter to Mrs. Clemm on September 18th, it is clear that Poe planned to leave Richmond on Tuesday, September 25th. But apparently he spent that evening at “Talevara,” the rather modest home of the Talleys, still standing on West Grace Street in 1940, but then in the suburbs. Here Susan Talley had a talk with him. He was as always, she says, hopeful of the future “seeming to anticipate it with an eager delight, like that of youth. He declared that the last few weeks in the society of his old and new friends had been the happiest that he had known for many years, and that when he again left New York he should there leave behind all the trouble and vexation of his past life. On no occasion had I seen him so cheerful and hopeful as on this evening. . . . In the course of the evening he showed me a letter just received from his ‘friend, Dr. Griswold,’ in [page 636:] reply to one but recently written by Poe, wherein the latter had requested Dr. Griswold in case of his sudden death to become his literary executor. In this reply, Dr. Griswold accepted the proposal, expressing himself as much flattered thereby, and writing in terms of friendly warmth and interest. It will be observed that this incident is a contradiction of his statement that previous to Poe’s death he had had no intimation of the latter’s intention of appointing him his literary executor. . . . He was the last of the party to leave the house. We were standing on the portico, and after going a few steps he paused, turned, and again lifted his hat, in a last adieu. At the moment, a brilliant meteor appeared in the sky directly over his head, and vanished in the east. We commented laughingly upon the incident; but I remembered it sadly afterward.”(43)

That night Poe stayed at Duncan Lodge, and spent the next day with Dr. Gibbon Carter, Dr. MacKenzie and other friends. On Wednesday evening, he called on Elmira, who wrote Mrs. Clemm about his visit:

“He came up to my house on the evening of the 26th Sept. to take leave of me. He was very sad, and complained of being quite sick. I felt his pulse, and found he had considerable fever, and did not think it probable he would be able to start the next morning (Thursday) as he anticipated. I felt so wretched about him all that night, that I went up early the next morning to inquire after him, when, much to my regret, he had left in the boat for Baltimore.”

Yet John R. Thompson wrote to Griswold on October 10th, “The evening before his departure from Richmond he was with me and spoke in the highest spirits of his resolves and prospects for the future.” Thompson gave Poe a letter to deliver to Griswold.

Late in the evening, Poe stopped at Dr. John Carter’s office, looked over the papers, then, taking Dr. Carter’s cane, he remarked that he would step across to Sadler’s Restaurant on Main Street and eat supper. Meeting some acquaintances, he remained longer than he had probably expected and went at once to “the Baltimore boat,” which left probably early in the morning of Thursday, the 27th. He seemed to these friends to be cheerful and sober.(44) [page 637:]

Poe may have left his trunk and perhaps his valise at the Swan Tavern.(45) Since he expected to return soon it would not be surprising if he left his trunk behind. But with his constant care concerning his personal appearance, it is hard to believe that he started on his travels without any baggage. The matter is of importance since it has been made the basis of an argument that he was already in the grip of a mental seizure. Lippard, at Griswold’s request, was looking for a valise in Philadelphia in November, which indicates that he believed Poe had some baggage with him.

But from the time Poe left Richmond until he was found in Baltimore on October 3rd, his progress has been overlaid with rumor and conjecture. He is said to have called on his friend, Dr. Nathan C. Brooks, in Baltimore, but found him not at home. If the boat to Baltimore arrived on Friday, September 28th, this leaves several days to account for. A statement made by Thomas H. Lane, the friend of Poe who had closed the affairs of the Broadway Journal, may fill a portion of this void. As he understood it, Poe came to Philadelphia on this last journey, and stopped off to see friends. He was brought home, ill, by James P. Moss of 70 South Fourth Street, who was the husband of Lane’s aunt. He was a musician and a friend of Poe. The next morning, against their protests, Poe left, in poor condition, saying that he was going on to New York. Lane believed that Poe must have taken the wrong train, and gone back to Baltimore.(46)

Lane unfortunately in his memoranda gave no specific dates. Trains left Baltimore for Philadelphia at nine A.M. and eight P.M., arriving [page 638:] in Philadelphia at 2:45 P.M. and 2:15 A.M.(47) Poe could have taken either train, and would have arrived in Philadelphia on Saturday, September 29th or Sunday, September 30th.

Poe intended to stop in Philadelphia to see the poetess, Mrs. St. Leon Loud, whose verses he was to edit. He had asked Mrs. Clemm to address letters to him in Philadelphia under the name of “E. S. T. Grey,” so that the evidence in favor of this visit cannot be dismissed lightly, even if it is not at first hand.(48)

If Poe did stop in Philadelphia, he returned to Baltimore by October 2nd or 3rd, for the next certain fact is the note sent to Dr. J. E. Snodgrass, his earlier friend and correspondent:

Baltimore City, Oct. 3, 1849

Dear Sir, —

There is a gentleman, rather the worse for wear, at Ryan’s 4th ward polls, who goes under the cognomen of Edgar A. Poe, and who appears in great distress, & he says he is acquainted with you, and I assure you, he is in need of immediate assistance.

Yours, in haste,

JOS. W. WALKER

To Dr. J. E. Snodgrass.(49) [page 639:]

Walker was well known among the compositors on the Baltimore Sun. When he found Poe lying outside of Ryan’s Fourth Ward polls, semi-conscious, he naturally sent for the friend whom Poe mentioned as the nearest to be found. The polling place was in a public house, known as Gunner’s Hall,(50) at 44 East Lombard Street, a few doors east of High Street, and Dr. Snodgrass lived on High Street, not far away.

What had brought Poe into this condition is still a matter of conjecture. There was an election on Wednesday, October 3rd, for Members of Congress and House of Delegates,(51) and the fact that Poe was found in or near a polling place has given rise to vivid pictures, all problematical, of his having been drugged, taken from one polling place to another to be voted as a “repeater,” and abandoned when his usefulness was over. There is no doubt that such practices were frequent in those days, but that Poe was made a victim of them has not been fully established.(52) The Baltimore papers made no mention of any violence at the polls. Perhaps the “cooping” was so well known that it was unnecessary to mention it!

When Dr. Snodgrass found Poe, his clothing had been taken and he was dressed in a poor suit of thin texture. He was still grasping the cane of Dr. Carter, which he had taken in Richmond.(53) [page 640:]

Dr. Snodgrass and Henry Herring, who had married Poe’s aunt, Elizabeth Poe, took him to the Washington College Hospital, about five o’clock on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 3rd. He was placed in the second floor room in the tower facing the court.(54)

He remained unconscious until three o’clock the next morning, but even on regaining partial consciousness, he was unable to tell Dr. Moran, the attending physician, how he had come to the condition in which he was found. From this state of utter despair and self-reproach he passed into a violent delirium, which lasted until Saturday evening. He was carefully tended and Neilson Poe sent him changes of linen and called but could not see him.

On Saturday night he began to call loudly for “Reynolds!” Perhaps to his dim and tortured brain, he seemed to be on the brink of a great descending circle sweeping down like the phantom ship in the “Manuscript Found in a Bottle” into “darkness and the distance.” In that first published story, Poe had written, “It is evident that we are hurrying onward to some exciting knowledge — some never to be imparted secret, whose attainment is destruction. Perhaps this current leads to the South Pole itself.”

It would have been natural enough for his favorite theme, the terror of the opening chasm, to lead his thoughts to that other story, Arthur Gordon Pym, and from that to Jeremiah Reynolds, projector of the voyages to the South Seas, whose very language he had used in that tale. He could easily have known Reynolds, but what led to his wild cries for him must still remain uncertain.(55) [page 641:]

Toward three o’clock on the morning of Sunday, October 7th, Poe weakened and seemed to rest. About five o’clock he breathed a short prayer, “God help my poor soul!” Then the “fever called living was conquered at last,” and the poet who had seen farthest into the dim region “out of space, out of time” went on his last journey, alone.


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 615:]

(1)  Southern Literary Messenger, XV (February, 1849), 126.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 616:]

(2)  See letter, Mrs. Clemm to Annie, July 9, 1849. Ingram, II, 222-223.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 617:]

(3)  A careful search of the records of the Philadelphia County Prison, popularly known as “Moyamensing,” made through the courtesy of Superintendent Frederick S. Baldi, by John D. Reid, Deputy Warden, shows no record of Poe having been imprisoned there. He may have given an assumed name, but a search in the records, kept alphabetically, under “Edward S. T. Grey,” or “Edgar Perry,” also proved fruitless.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 618:]

(4)  “Reminiscences of Edgar Allan Poe,” Lippincott’s Magazine, XLIII (March, 1889), 411-415. Reprinted with some variations, in Reminiscences of a Very Old Man (New York, 1900), pp. 206-212. Sartain makes no mention of Poe begging for laudanum, as Woodberry states, II, 309.

(5)  Thompson’s dramatized version may be found in his Genius and Character of Edgar Allan Poe. (Privately printed from his manuscript, by J. H. Whitty and J. H. Rindfleisch, 1929), pp. 23-25.

(6)  Published first by C. Chauncey Burr in his quarterly journal, The Nineteenth Century, V (February, 1852), 29. He was given the letters by Mrs. Clemm, and incorporated them in his article, “Character of Edgar A. Poe,” pp. 19-33.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 619:]

(7)  Ingram, II, 222-223; one vol. ed., pp. 416-417.

(8)  Nineteenth Century, V, 29.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 620:]

(9)  Though this letter is undated, it was evidently written before the letter of July 19th, and must therefore have been sent on Saturday, July 14th.

(10)  Nineteenth Century, V, 30.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 621:]

(11)  Nineteenth Century, V, 30-31. The names are inserted on the evidence of Lippard’s letter to Griswold, November 22, 1849 — “It is but just to state that C. C. Burr, John Sartain, L. A. Godey, S. D. Patterson, were the only persons in this city, whom (last summer) I could induce to give one cent to save Poe from starvation.” Autograph Ms., Boston Public Library. Woodberry, II, 316, credits Graham and Peterson with the loans, but gives no supporting evidence, and Miss Phillips and Hervey Allen adopt his conclusions. Obviously Lippard is the best authority.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 622:]

(12)  Four of Poe’s letters to Patterson are published in facsimile in Some Letters to E. H. N. Patterson of Oquawka, Illinois, with comments by Eugene Field (Chicago, the Caxton Club, 1898).

(13)  Lippard to Griswold — November 22, 1849. Autograph Ms., Griswold Collection, Boston Public Library. We know of Poe’s letter through Lippard’s statement that he has the letter before him, dated July 19th.

(14)  A mantelpiece from the hotel is now on the first floor of the Valentine Museum. Poe moved later to the Madison House.

(15)  The usual statements in the biographies that Edgar and Rosalie Poe had played in this house as children is incorrect. It was in a much more modest house, built on the lots which William MacKenzie purchased in 1812. See Miss Mary Wingfield Scott’s “Notes on Old Richmond Houses.” Ms. in the Valentine Museum.

(16)  Mrs. Weiss, as she became later, is one of the most irritating of the Poe biographers. Her article on “The Last Days of Edgar A. Poe,” in Scribner’s Monthly, XV (March, 1878), 707-716, is of real value. Her later contributions in The Independent May 5 and August 25, 1904, and her volume, The Home Life of Poe (New York, 1907), grow steadily more misleading. Mrs. Weiss was incapable of judging evidence and any accounts, except those based on her own first-hand knowledge, are untrustworthy. Griswold, in his introduction to her verses in the Female Poets states that she was completely deaf, and while this cannot, in the light of her conversations with Poe, be correct, yet her hearing may have been impaired!

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 623:]

(17)  Susan A. T. Weiss, “The Last Days of Edgar A. Poe,” Scribner’s Monthly, XV (March, 1878), 708.

(18)  Scribner’s Monthly, XV, 709.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 624:]

(19)  Scribner’s Monthly, XV, 712.

(20)  Letter of William J. Glenn to E. V. Valentine, June 29, 1899, now in the Valentine Museum in Richmond.

(21)  Advertisement in Richmond Enquirer, Friday, August 17th.

(22)  “Edgar Allan Poe,” Southern Literary Messenger, XVI (March, 1850), 177, reprinting his earlier account in the Examiner. Complete Article, 172-187.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 625:]

(23)  The Richmond Examiner during the War; or, the Writings of John M. Daniel, with a Memoir of his Life, by his brother, Frederick S. Daniel (New York, 1868), p. 220.

(24)  Poe’s spelling of the name.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 626:]

(25)  The original autograph letter, undated, is in the Griswold Collection, in the Boston Public Library. Someone, probably William M. Griswold, has written across the top — “Sept. 1849.” Woodberry dates it September [5] but gives no authority. The postscript dated “Wednesday night,” was probably written later than the letter. September 5th fell on Wednesday so the main letter was evidently not written on that date. It probably was written on a Tuesday, and the only Tuesdays would have been September 4th and 11th, for the letter of September 18th is evidently later. It may even have been earlier, if Mrs. Clemm’s letter of September 4th refers to it, as seems probable.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 627:]

(26)  A bundle of Ann Valentine’s letters has recently been discovered in the Valentine Museum. Even her letters to Elizabeth Valentine, who was in Richmond during July and August, 1849, and whose brother William heard Poe lecture, make no inquiries concerning Poe.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 628:]

(27)  Scribner’s Monthly, XV, 712.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 629:]

(28)  From E. V. Valentine’s conversation with Mrs. Shelton, November 19, 1875. Ms. in Valentine Museum.

(29)  Editorials, September 13 and 14, 1849, page 2.

(30)  Editorial, September 17, page 2.

(31)  New York Herald, February 19, 1905, third section, p. 4.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 630:]

(32)  It had been published in the American Review for December, 1847.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 631:]

(33)  The note from Poe to Miss Ingram is given on pages 533-534, in the discussion of “Ulalume.”

(34)  In a rather pathetic note, written on May 26, 1913, Miss Ingram, then a woman of eighty, thanks the owner for permission to see the poem once again.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 632:]

(35)  Original Autograph Ms., Griswold Collection, Boston Public Library.

(36)  A careful search of the North American Beacon for September, 1849, reveals no lecture except the one on Friday, September 14th.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 633:]

(37)  Original Autograph Ms. fragment, [[Enoch]] Pratt Library. From “and it will not do” on line eight, as far as “but keep” on line twenty-two, it is in Poe’s own hand. The remainder is a copy, probably in the hand of Mrs. Clemm.

(38)  The original autograph Ms. in the Koester Collection is undated, but Mrs. Lewis wrote on it “Tuesday, 18th Sept. 1849.” This date may of course refer to the time she received it.

(39)  Original Autograph Ms., Koester Collection.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 635:]

(40)  Original Autograph Letter, [[Enoch]] Pratt Library. The passage describing her feelings on seeing Edgar Poe and Virginia was omitted by Ingram, and later biographers have followed him.

(41)  E. V. Valentine’s notes, Valentine Museum. The version of the “Raven” published in the Examiner has been accepted as the best text.

(42)  From Edward V. Valentine’s notes on his brother’s impressions — sent to Ingram, September 28, 1874. Now in the Valentine Museum.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 636:]

(43)  Scribner’s Monthly, XV (March, 1878), 713-714.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 636, continuing to the bottom of page 637:]

(44)  Mrs. Weiss in Scribner’s Monthly tells a straight story of these last days, but gives no exact dates. Thompson’s autograph letter of October 10th, in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, does not give the exact date of Poe’s departure, but speaks of it as being “some three weeks since,” [page 637:] obviously incorrect. The whole fabric of Poe’s last few days in Richmond depends on the accuracy of Mrs. Shelton’s statement that he spent the evening of Wednesday, September 26th with her. See letter, Mrs. Shelton to Mrs. Clemm, October 11, 1849, published by Woodberry in “The Poe-Chivers Papers,” Century Magazine, N. S., XLIII (February, 1903), 551-552. Mrs. Weiss omits all mention of the visit to Mrs. Shelton but states that she read in the Richmond Dispatch a notice of Poe’s death “three days” after the evening on which he left Richmond, which is obviously incorrect. I have attempted to reconcile the contradictory testimony of the two ladies, and have omitted some third-hand testimony. Woodberry states definitely that Poe left at 4 A.M. on Thursday, September 27th, but gives no authority. See Appendix, p. 755, for the schedules of boats from Richmond to Baltimore, none of which left at 4 A. M. on Thursday.

(45)  See p. 463.

(46)  This account is based on a letter of October 20, 1927, to me, from my college friend, the late Dallet Fuguet, a cousin of Lane. Fuguet says that Lane’s mind was still “as keen as ever” when he took down the memoranda, and that Lane had often told him the story.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 638:]

(47)  American Railway Guide and Pocket Companion for the United States, for 1851. On Sundays the morning train was omitted in both directions.

(48)  At that time the location of the railroad stations in Philadelphia would make a mistake on Poe’s part improbable but not impossible. Passengers from Baltimore used the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad, whose main station was at Eleventh and Market Streets. There was also a station at Sixth and Chestnut Streets, connected by omnibus with the main station. This was only four blocks from 70 South Fourth Street. Passengers for New York had to take the ferries of the Camden and Amboy Railroad, from the foot of Federal Street or Walnut Street, to Camden, New Jersey, and thence went by rail to New York. The Walnut Street Ferry was also about four blocks from 70 South Fourth Street, which would have been near Walnut Street. It is quite possible that Poe, in his confused condition, walked up Fourth Street, instead of down Walnut Street. But on the other hand, he must have been in very poor shape not to notice that he was taking an omnibus instead of a boat!

(49)  This note was copied from the original by William Hand Browne for Ingram. Letter of Browne to Ingram, October 25, 1880. It was in the possession of Dr. Snodgrass, later of his widow, and while on coarse paper it was well written. Letters of W. H. Browne to Ingram, February 2, 1900, and January 13, 1909. Letters now in the Library of the University of Virginia.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 639:]

(50)  The building was destroyed, probably in the fire of 1904.

(51)  Baltimore Sun, October 3, 1849.

(52)  Edward Spencer’s account, New York Herald, March 27, 1881, found conveniently in Harrison’s Biography, pp. 330-331, makes a good deal of Poe’s Whig proclivities and the nearness of the Whig “Coop,” where the repeaters were kept, to Ryan’s polling place. W. Hand Browne quotes his friend Dr. James W. Alnutt as one who knew of the “cooping” of Poe; see his letter to Ingram, December 5, 1875. University of Virginia Library.

(53)  The most coherent account of the last days is to be gained by a combination of the letters of William Hand Browne to Ingram, the account by Edward Spencer in 1881 in criticism of Dr. Snodgrass’s account in Beadle’s Monthly, March, 1867, and Dr. Moran’s first statement, in his letter to Mrs. Clemm, November 15, 1849, before he began to dramatize the situation. The reason for the untrustworthy nature of the Rev. Dr. Snodgrass’s version is explained by his first account, reproduced in Life Illustrated, New York, May 17, 1856, from the Woman’s Temperance Paper of New York City. He was evidently using Poe’s death as a warning to the intemperate, and consequently invented the “deep intoxication,” which by 1867 had become “beastly intoxication.” In this earlier account he did not accuse Poe of “scarcely intelligible oaths and other forms of imprecation” as he did in 1867. In 1856 he said, “The muscles of articulation seemed paralyzed to speechlessness, and mere incoherent mutterings.” Probably the temperance lecturer repeated these choice bits of scandal so often that he came to believe them.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 640:]

(54)  The building is now occupied by the Church Home and Infirmary. A stairway was cut through Poe’s room and destroyed it. A tablet states, “Here before alterations was the room in which Edgar Allan Poe died, October 7, 1849.” The Washington College Medical School in 1849 was the Medical Department of Washington and Jefferson College at Washington, Pennsylvania.

(55)  There is no absolute certainty that Poe had met Reynolds personally, but his account of the latter in the “Chapter on Autography” in the Southern Literary Messenger in 1836, and in Graham’s Magazine in December, 1841, and Poe’s many other laudatory references to his achievements in connection with expeditions of discovery in the South Seas indicate a meeting. There would have been opportunities in New York in 1837 to 1838 and in the later period. See for interesting accounts of Reynolds, R. F. Almy, “J. N. Reynolds: a Brief Biography,” Colophon, II, N. S. (1937), 227-245, and Aubrey Starke, “Poe’s Friend Reynolds,” American Literature, XI (May, 1939), 152-166.


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Notes:

In the quotation at the bottom of page 617, running to the top of page 618, Quinn omits “had” in the first sentence, and prints “has been suspected” in place of “had been suspected,” as Sartain gives it. The initial “had” is not present in the 1900 Reminiscences, but based on the subsequent paragraph, Quinn is quoting from Lippincott’s and not the later version.


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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 19)