Text: Thomas Ollive Mabbott, “Annals,” The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. I: Poems (1969), pp. 529-572 (This material is protected by copyright)


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ANNALS

This short biographical account of Edgar Allan Poe is written primarily for the convenience of readers who have not made an extensive study of his life. It is arranged by calendar years, since the principal events fall into them conveniently. Special emphasis has naturally been laid upon what Poe referred to in his writing, but much attention has also been given to problems that have troubled advanced scholars, for which I now can suggest solutions.

Many questions remain, and some may always remain, unanswered. Poe kept no diaries, had few intimate friends, and to only one (F. W. Thomas) in whom he did confide had he frequent occasion to write letters. Poe told romantic stories about himself and made ironic and jocular remarks that his hearers thought were in dead earnest, and his capacious memory was inaccurate. Many of his acquaintances, their friends, and their relations were likewise unreliable. They contradicted each other and even themselves. Some were burdened with Victorian delicacy, others with too-vivid imaginations.

Excellent scholars have written about Poe, but they have often liked or disliked the poet so much that they wrote like prosecutors or attorneys for the defense, and some disliked each other. Suffice it to say here that I am indebted to all of them, but especially to the works of George Edward Woodberry, Arthur Hobson Quinn, and Mary E. Phillips. I have often gone also to the sources they cite, and I have discovered others for myself.

Writing today I am aware of disadvantages, for I have met only one man, Edward V. Valentine, who remembered seeing Poe, and he did not talk to him. But I am not hampered by any desire to spare the feelings of living persons by suppressing anything pertinent and true. I have weighed the evidence and testimony in the light of considerable knowledge of the character, accuracy, and prejudices both of the witnesses who knew Poe and of the biographers.(1)

FOREBEARS

The remote ancestry of the poet greatly interested some of his biographers but need not concern us here. His paternal grandfather, David Poe, born at Dring, County Cavan, Ireland, about 1743, was brought as a child to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. There he married Elizabeth Cairnes (born 1756), also of Protestant Irish descent. About 1775 they removed to Baltimore, where David Poe engaged in trade as a wheelwright and later had a drygoods store. He was active in the American Revolution and in 1779 was commissioned ­[page 530:] Assistant Deputy-Quartermaster General for the city of Baltimore, with the rank of major. This post gave him a courtesy title; he was usually called General Poe. He spent forty thousand silver dollars on the cause. He died in October 1816, and in 1824 his friend Lafayette visited his grave.

David and Elizabeth Poe had at least seven children, including David Poe, father of the poet; Maria, who became the second wife of William Clemm; and Elizabeth, who married Henry Herring on November 17, 1814.

Mrs. Clemm kept in touch with the families of two brothers of “General” Poe — William, who moved to Georgia, and George, who remained in Maryland. Neilson Poe — who knew the poet and, like Neilson’s children, John Prentiss Poe and Amelia Fitzgerald Poe, was an informant of the biographers — was a grandson of “General” Poe’s brother, George Poe.

Of Poe’s maternal ancestors in England very little is known. His grandmother, as Mrs. Arnold, first appeared on the stage at Covent Garden on February 28, 1791. Her last appearance in London took place on June 13, 1795. On January 5, 1796, the Boston Massachusetts Mercury announced: “On Sunday [the third] arrived in . . . the ship Outram . . . from London, Mrs. Arnold and Daughter from the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, and Miss Green. Both engaged . . . for the Boston Theatre . . . Mrs. Arnold is about in her four and twentieth year . . . Other passengers . . . [included] Mr. Tubbs . . .” Mrs. Arnold opened in Boston February 12, 1796.

After the Boston season ended on May 16, Mrs. Arnold gave concerts at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and elsewhere, assisted by her daughter. At about this time the mother became the wife of Charles Tubbs, a pianist. On November 25 the Tubbs family opened the first season of the Portland (Maine) Theatre with David Garrick’s farce, Miss in Her Teens, in which Miss Elizabeth Arnold played Biddy Bellair. In the Portland Eastern Herald of November 28, 1796, it was reported, “Miss Arnold, in Miss Biddy, exceeded all praise. Although a Miss of only nine years old, her powers as an actress would do credit to any . . . of maturer age.” Quinn accepted this statement about her age, although others have felt some doubt of her extreme precocity.(2) Of her talent there can be no doubt. The poet was not unreasonable when, late in life, he said he thought he owed his mother every good gift of his intellect or heart.(3)

In April 1798, after several changes of theatrical company, Mr. and Mrs. Tubbs and Elizabeth Arnold appeared under the management of a leading man, Mr. Edgar, as members of the Charleston (South Carolina) Comedians. On May 2, 1798, Mrs. Tubbs sang in a concert at Charleston, and thereafter her name disappears from the record. The next year, Miss Elizabeth Arnold ­[page 531:] made her Baltimore debut on May 31. On June 7, 1799. Mr. Tubbs had a small part in Miss Arnold’s benefit there, and then his name, too, is found no more. Elizabeth Arnold was now under the protection of a young actress known as Miss L’Estrange, who later married the actor Luke Usher.(4)

By 1800, Miss Arnold had become a leading lady. On March 14 of that year, Charles D. Hopkins made his debut in Philadelphia with Wignell’s company with which she appeared, and, before August 11, 1802, he married her. She took part on August 22 in the first theatrical performance given in the new capital, Washington.

Meanwhile, David Poe, Jr., born on July 18, 1784, had grown up in Baltimore and was destined by his family for the law. He had probably been a member of an amateur “Thespian Club” in Baltimore(5) before he escaped from a law office to the stage. He made his professional debut on December 1, 1803, with Alexandre Placide’s company at Charleston, South Carolina, where he remained until April 19, 1804. On June 30, we find him in Green’s Virginia Company at Richmond, together with Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins.

Charles Hopkins died on October 26, 1805. On March 14, 1806, “David Poe Jr.” entered into a marriage bond with “Mrs. Eliza Hopkins widow.”(6) The bridegroom’s family is said to have disowned him, but a partial reconciliation ensued when a son was born to the young couple in Boston on January 30, 1807. The boy was taken to his grandfather in Baltimore, probably in the summer of 1808 when his parents went to Richmond, and christened William Henry Leonard Poe.(7) David Poe, Jr., and Elizabeth Poe were again in Boston with Powell’s Company on October 19, 1808.

1809-1814

[1809] Edgar Poe, the poet, was born in Boston on January 19, 1809. On February 23 young David Poe in Baltimore wrote a letter trying in vain to borrow money from a cousin, George Poe, Jr.(1) He was back in Boston on April 17, playing Laertes to the Hamlet of John Howard Payne; Mrs. Poe played Ophelia — she was now leading lady for that youthful star. On June 6 the Poes were in New York, where an entertainment at Mechanics’ Hall was postponed because of the “sudden disappearance” of Mrs. Poe. On September 6 both husband and wife appeared at the Park. David, on October 18, as Captain Cypress in Richard Leigh’s Grieving’s a Folly, made his last appearance. His career was finished at the age of barely twenty-six.

David Poe, rarely praised, was a mediocre actor — he was hot-tempered. He threatened to beat a critic who ridiculed his wife’s costume(2) — and he had ­[page 532:] a reputation for drunkenness even when on the stage. From him the poet inherited little to commend.

[1810] In March 1810 Mrs. Poe again was John Howard Payne’s leading lady at the Park, where she made her last New York appearance on July 4. She was at Richmond from August 18 to September 21. During this year her daughter Rosalie was born. Of the poet’s father in 1810 nothing is known.

[1811] From January 23 to May 20, 1811, Mrs. Poe was at Charleston, and on July 26 at Norfolk. On September 20 she opened at Richmond and on October 11 made her last appearance on the stage. On November 29, 1811, the Richmond Enquirer carried a notice: “To the Humane Heart. On this night Mrs. Poe, lingering on the bed of disease and surrounded by her children, asks your assistance and asks it perhaps for the last time. The Generosity of a Richmond Audience can need no other appeal. For particulars, see the Bills of the day.” The paper of December 10 announced the passing of Mrs. Poe “on last Sunday morning,” December 8, and commented, “By the death of this lady the Stage has been deprived of one of its chief ornaments.” She was buried in Old St. John’s burial ground. Her funeral, at ten o’clock on December 10, was recorded in the Virginia Patriot of that day.

David Poe, Jr., died, I believe, on or about December 10, 1811. William Fearing Gill said in his Life of Edgar Allan Poe (1878), p. 20, “The poet’s father did not long survive his wife, dying only three days later of consumption.” My correspondent Frederick H. Howard had it from John P. Poe that David Poe, Jr., “was a widower only two days.”(3) Edgar Poe himself wrote in a letter of August 20, 1835, to his kinsman William Poe, that his mother died “a few weeks before” her husband, and in a letter of December 1, 1835, to Judge Beverley Tucker, that his parents died “within a few weeks” of each other. That David Poe survived his wife is argued by the fact that she was never referred to as his widow. There are a number of other stories about the last days of Poe’s father which I dismiss as incredible.

Mr. and Mrs. Luke Usher, the closest friends of Mrs. Poe (whom they called by her nickname “Betty”), took care of Edgar and Rosalie during their mother’s last illness, and continued to do so for some time thereafter.(4) It is most improbable that so young a child as Edgar was taken to his mother’s funeral or that he ever saw his mother after her death. In any case, in his ­[page 533:] letter of December 1, 1835, to Judge Beverley Tucker, the poet said he had no memory of his mother. His record of his pride in his mother’s stage career, in a discussion of Mrs. Mowatt in the Broadway Journal, July 19, 1845, is quite impersonal. But Poe knew he looked like his mother, for he owned a picture of her.

On December 26, 1811, there occurred a disastrous fire at the Richmond Theater, in which seventy-two persons lost their lives, among them Governor George William Smith of Virginia.(5) A good many children were orphaned, and they were kindly taken into the families of their parents’ friends. Edgar and Rosalie Poe, although not really sufferers from the fire, were also taken into good families: Rosalie into that of Mr. and Mrs. William Mackenzie (Mackenzie, McKenzie), and Edgar into that of Mr. and Mrs. John Allan.(6)

John Allan was a merchant. He was born in the parish of Dundonald, Ayrshire, Scotland, in 1780, arrived in Richmond before 1795, became the partner of Charles Ellis on November 23, 1800, and was naturalized on June 4, 1804. On February 5, 1803, he had married Frances Keeling Valentine, a lady of some beauty. Mrs. Allan’s sister, Ann Moore Valentine, made her home with the Allans over the general store of Ellis & Allan — exporters of tobacco and importers of many kinds of merchandise — at the northeast corner of Main and Thirteenth Streets. The Allans were prosperous and entertained a good deal, although Mrs. Allan was often indisposed. They had no children.

[1812] On January 7, 1812, John Allan bought a crib. According to tradition, the child Edgar was baptized by the Reverend John Buchanan.(7) He was given the name Edgar Allan Poe; I assume from the name that John Allan was his godfather — Poe usually called him “Pa.”

[1813] On May 14, Mr. Allan recorded that Edgar had caught the whooping cough; by July 26 he had recovered from the measles. Even in the nursery Poe showed great affection for a little playmate, Catherine Poitiaux. The two remained lifelong friends.

[1814] Poe was probably first sent to a dame school when he was about five years of age. Available information is slight and somewhat confusing. On January 20, Clotilda Fisher signed a receipt to John Allan for four dollars for “one quarter’s Tuition of Edgar A. Poe.” The lady was probably identical with, or a sister of, Elizabeth Fisher, listed in the Richmond City Directory of 1819 as a teacher. There is also a story that Poe attended the school of a Miss Elizabeth Miller, who taught him to read aloud with a ­[page 534:] Scottish burr, but it strikes me as a legend.(8) It is also told that for being naughty, a schoolmistress punished Poe by hanging a vegetable around his neck, that he went home wearing it, and that John Allan went to the teacher, rebuked her, and (perhaps) withdrew Poe from the school.(9) Poe is said to have been handsomely dressed by his foster parents.

In summer the Allan family visited the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. It is said that there little Edgar was taken about on horseback by one of Mrs. Allan’s relatives who had the child demonstrate his precocity by reading the newspaper to people they met. At home he was taught to stand on the table in his stocking feet and toast the ladies at a dinner party with a glass of sweetened wine. We are told, too, that Allan was a poor disciplinarian, alternately petting and scolding the child, who was often disobedient.(10) Some people thought him spoiled.

1815-1826

[1815] In the first part of 1815 Poe attended, in Richmond, the school of Mr. William Ewing, who in 1817 wrote of him as “a charming boy,” who had liked his school. But John Allan had decided to go to England to establish a branch of his firm, and accordingly he and his family boarded the Lothair at Richmond on June 22, 1815, put to sea from Norfolk the next day, and landed after thirty-four days at Liverpool. From there the family went to Scotland, where they visited John Allan’s relatives. They went to Irvine, Kilmarnock, Glasgow, Greenock, and Edinburgh. At Irvine, Poe may have observed archers shooting the popinjay on the cathedral.(1) He learned something about the Hebrides and the Isle of Skye, but he did not visit them. From Edinburgh the Allan family went by way of Newcastle and Sheffield to London, where in October they were at 47 Southampton Row, Russell Square, Bloomsbury.

[1816] In 1816 and 1817, in London, Poe went to the boarding school of the Misses Dubourg, 146 Sloane Street, Chelsea. The boy almost surely was taken to visit the Tower of London, where he must have seen the ravens; he may have been taken to the British Museum(2) and to Westminster Abbey. ­[page 535:]

[1817] In 1817, John Allan moved into 39 Southampton Row. His office was at 18 Basinghall Street, near St. Andrew’s Stair.

[1818] In 1818, Poe went to the boarding school of the Reverend John Bransby at Stoke Newington, where he did well in French and Latin. The master said, long afterward, that the boy was spoiled with too much spending money. In August the Allan family visited the Isle of Wight, presumably on vacation. On the way Poe may have seen Stonehenge.(3)

[1819] In 1819 Allan’s business was doing badly, but Edgar remained in school at Stoke Newington.

[1820] On June 8, 1820, the Allan party was in Liverpool on the way home. The New York Daily Advertiser of July 22 announced the arrival of the “ship Martha, [Captain] Sketchly, 31 days from Liverpool,” and mentioned as among the passengers, “J. & F. Allan, E. A. Poe, Ann Valentine.” This is Poe’s first notice in the press.

On July 28 the family took the steamboat home by way of Norfolk, and by August 2 were in Richmond, where they lived for a while at the home of Charles Ellis. His son, Thomas Ellis, tells us of his admiration of Poe, who taught him to shoot, swim, and skate, and who incidentally joined him in shooting some domestic fowls at Bushrod Washington’s estate, Belvidere — an act for which Poe received the only whipping the younger Ellis ever knew him to get from Mr. Allan.

Poe now entered the school (on Broad between Fifth and Sixth streets) of Joseph H. Clarke, a fiery Irishman from Trinity College, Dublin. Clarke examined him in Latin and found that Poe had proceeded so far as to decline the nouns penna, domus, fructus, and rus (all the declensions save the difficult third) and the regular adjective bonus. He also knew some French. He early read Ovid, Caesar, and Virgil under Clarke. Poe preferred poetry to prose, but was somewhat “averse from mathematics.” He was ambitious to excel, although “not especially studious” (that is, did not labor over his lessons), and did rather well.(4)

[1821-22] At Clarke’s, Poe was considered second as a classicist to Nat Howard, but he was the best reader of Latin verse. He at this time composed a series of poems to little girls of Richmond, which the master advised John Allan not to have printed. He also sent Clarke a letter in Latin verse during a summer vacation. In his last year with Clarke, Poe was reading Homeric Greek, and, in Latin, Horace and Cicero’s De Oficiis. When Clarke gave up his school, Poe read an ode in English at the farewell ceremonies. Clarke continued to be his friend as long as the poet lived.

[1823] On April 1, 1823, Allan entered Poe in the school in the old Atheneum Building, Marshall and Tenth streets, run by William Burke, another Irishman and classicist. Here the poet remained until March 1825; he was never whipped, according to his deskmate, Creed Thomas, who remained a lifelong friend. His other best friends there were Robert G. Cabell and Robert Stanard. The mother of the latter, Jane Stith Craig Stanard, was ­[page 536:] kind to Poe, who felt for her a pure affection, perhaps the strongest of his life.(5) Probably about this time Poe, dressed in a sheet and a mask, tried to scare the Gentlemen’s Whist Club at the Ellis home. He was unmasked by General Winfield Scott and Dr. Philip Thornton of Rappahannock.(6)

[1824] On April 28, 1824, Mrs. Stanard died. Her mind was clouded in her last illness, and the poet grieved deeply at her death, which, more than any other incident of his life, turned his thoughts so often to the passing of fair ladies. Poe sometimes visited her grave in company with her son Robert.(7)

In school Poe practiced declamation and read his favorite part, the speech of Cassius in Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene 2, with unforgettable scorn and fire.(8) There are also references, but of a less definite kind, to his acting in amateur theatricals while he was a schoolboy. In June he swam some six or seven miles in the James River, from Ludlam’s Wharf to Warwick, against a tide of three miles per hour. His schoolmates Stanard and Cabell accompanied him on the shore, and his schoolmaster, Burke, went along in a rowboat to rescue him in case of need. Poe boasted of the feat throughout his life.

In October, Poe was lieutenant of the Junior Richmond Volunteers, who acted as guard of honor for Lafayette when he came to the city.

Allan’s business partnership was dissolved in this year. His relations with his godson, hitherto cordial, had become strained; it is thought that Mrs. Allan sometimes quarreled with her husband and that Poe sided with her. At about this time Poe composed several rhymed satires, one of which (“Oh, Tempora! Oh, Mores!”), ridiculing a socially minded drygoods clerk, Robert Pitts, survives. Another, now lost, was about the Junior Debating Society, of which the poet was a member.

[1825] Allan’s financial worries were of short duration, for in March 1825 his uncle, William Galt, died and left his nephew the bulk of his fortune of several hundred thousand dollars. In this year Poe fell in love with Sarah Elmira Royster, the daughter of a neighbor, and they became engaged without parental approval.

During Poe’s boyhood, the Allans, accompanied by Edgar, went regularly in the summers to the Virginia mountains. Poe’s poem “The Lake” suggests that he may have visited the Dismal Swamp near Norfolk; just when is not known. Poe attended church with his foster mother frequently; the Allans had a pew in Monumental Church; and I think it probable that Poe was confirmed as an Episcopalian by Bishop Richard Channing Moore.(9) ­[page 537:] The Allans presumably attended the theater often, and took Edgar with them. We know what he could have seen, although not what he did: he probably saw Timour the Tartar, a horse spectacle, and surely some Shakespeare, and doubtless he did not miss the Egyptian mummy exhibited at the Senate Chamber of the Capitol in 1823 and 1824.(10) John Allan is listed as a subscriber for Rees’s Cyclopaedia, with which Poe shows familiarity. Allan admired Shakespeare and poetry in general, although not that of Byron. Edward M. Alfriend tells us that Allan walked with Poe and read with him and once said, “Edgar is wayward and impulsive. . . for he has genius . . . He will someday fill the world with his fame.”(11) John Allan was to learn far more of the waywardness than he had reason to expect, but he did not live to see his prophetic words come true in 1845 when “The Raven” appeared.

[1826] On February 14, 1826, Poe entered the University of Virginia at Charlottesville.(12) There he attended the Greek and Latin classes of Professor George Long, and the classes of Professor George Blaetterman in French, Italian, and Spanish. The latter praised Poe’s verse translation (now lost) of a passage in Tasso. The poet had high academic standing and in class could translate from all these languages at sight, or at least after reading a passage once.(13)

The first librarian of the University, William Wertenbaker, who was also a student in Poe’s time, has left reminiscences and a list of books borrowed by Poe from June 13 to November 4, 1826: Robertson’s America, Marshall’s Washington, some volumes of Rollin’s Ancient History in French, a historical work by Voltaire, the title of which is unknown, and Dufief’s Nature Displayed, a textbook on learning the French language.

Poe was noted as a skillful draftsman and covered the walls of his room with pictures copied from an illustrated Byron — and according to statements he made long afterward, there were caricatures of his professors as well. In reminiscences of contemporaries mention is made of poems and stories he composed at this time, but unless some of the shorter pieces in Tamerlane and Other Poems of 1827 were among them, nothing of what Poe wrote at the University has reached us, save two letters to John Allan.

Poe was well liked at the University. Among his closer friends were William M. Burwell (later editor of De Dow’s Review), Thomas S. Gholson, Philip Slaughter (later a distinguished Episcopal clergyman), Zaccheus Collins ­[page 538:] Lee (who attended Poe’s funeral), and Miles George. The last once had a fist fight with the poet, but they made up completely. The University was a disorderly place. Poe sometimes drank too much, taking off a tumbler of peach brandy at a draft. Worse, he gambled heavily at cards, losing two thousand dollars — so large a sum that one surmises he was cheated. During the year at the University, he surely wandered about the countryside. Classes ended in mid-December but Poe stayed on for a few days in order to testify in a faculty investigation on December 20 that he “never heard until now of any Hotel-Keepers playing cards or drinking with students.”(14)

Upon returning to Richmond, Poe found Elmira Royster engaged to Alexander B. Shelton. Poe had been writing to her while he was at the University but her father had intercepted the letters; only one is said to have reached her.

1827-1829

John Allan refused to pay Poe’s gambling debts and some others incurred at college. Allan’s action was not wholly in consonance with the attitude of the best families, where a son was expected to be helped out of one serious scrape. But John Allan did not come of a “First Family of Virginia,” and he had once been in serious financial trouble. Certainly, to a man of business, Poe’s irresponsibility in money matters must have been hard to understand, as it was to the poet’s friends throughout life. Poe did not return to the University.

In March, after a serious quarrel, Poe left his guardian’s house and took a room in the Court-house Tavern. Within a few days, after appealing to John Allan for “the expence of my passage to Boston ($12) and a little to support me there until I shall be engaged in some business,” he sailed from Richmond, probably on March 24, accompanied as far as Norfolk by his friend Ebenezer Burling.(1) Then Poe went on to Baltimore, where he almost certainly saw his brother Henry, became acquainted with Lambert A. Wilmer, and probably met the fine poet Edward Coote Pinkney.(2) Very little is ­[page 539:] known of this visit, which is not even mentioned by Poe’s early biographers, but he evidently enjoyed some social life, for he wrote verses in the albums of Margaret Bassett and Octavia Walton.

We next find him in Boston, where for a short time he was probably clerk for a merchant, P. P. F. DeGrand, and market reporter for DeGrand’s paper, The Weekly Report. On May 26, 1827, Poe enlisted in the United States Army as “Edgar A. Perry” and was assigned to Battery H of the First Artillery, then stationed at Fort Independence in Boston Harbor. While in Boston, he arranged to have his Tamerlane and Other Poems printed and published by Calvin Frederick Stephen Thomas, who was less than a year older than Poe himself.(3) Poe did not read proof on the later pages of the tiny pamphlet, but a few copies were circulated. It was noticed as received by two magazines — the U. S. Review and Literary Gazette for August and the North American Review for October — but no review has been found. The poetry is largely Byronic, but in the final poem, “The Lake,” is first revealed the author’s distinct and original genius.

On October 31, Poe’s battery was transferred to Fort Moultrie at Charleston, South Carolina. He sailed November 8 on the brig Waltham and reached Charleston on November 18. While stationed at the fort, which is on Sullivan’s Island in Charleston Harbor, he was made company clerk with the rank of artificer. He dealt much with the commanding officer, Colonel William Drayton, who became his lifelong friend. Another officer, one who wrote a recommendation for him, was Captain H. W. Griswold.(4)

[1828] Late in 1828, Poe’s battery was ordered from Charleston to Fortress Monroe, Virginia. On December 11, the battery sailed on the ship Harriet; it arrived at Fortress Monroe on December 15. Poe had written a repentant letter to John Allan before this. Meanwhile, on December 6, 1828, Elmira Royster was married to Alexander B. Shelton.(5)

[1829] On New Year’s Day, Poe was promoted to sergeant major. On February 28, 1829, Frances Allan died. Poe is said to have returned to Richmond on leave the day after her funeral. There was a partial reconciliation ­[page 540:] with John Allan. Poe was released from the Army on April 15, and Allan set about helping him get an appointment to West Point, which did not come until March of the next year.

Poe’s time in the Army, where he had a good deal of leisure, was not wasted. He made a study of Shakespeare and of Milton (at least the minor poems). Extracts of his favorite passages, all very brief, survive in his handwriting. Abandoning the manner of Byron, he attempted to adopt something of Milton and Thomas Moore in a poem of several hundred lines, “Al Aaraaf.” The piece is extremely difficult, containing much of the mysticism, curious lore, and wholly individual melody that were to distinguish his later work.

This, with a much shortened version of “Tamerlane,” several other poems from the 1827 pamphlet, and a few new short lyrics, Poe brought together for a small volume. After going to Washington to push his quest for appointment to the Military Academy, and then to Baltimore where he called upon William Wirt, he went in May to Philadelphia and there met Joseph Hopkinson, the author of “Hail, Columbia,” and Isaac Lea, the publisher. The firm of Carey, Lea & Carey consented to bring out the book if a hundred dollars were offered to back it. Allan refused to advance the money, but in Baltimore the book was accepted, and published in December by Hatch and Dunning,(6) two young men from New York who started in Baltimore with a small capital, and whose firm soon disappeared.

Poe’s Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems had very little sale but it did receive some critical attention. A brief review, concluding, “The author, who appears to be very young, is evidently a fine genius, but wants judgment, experience, tact,” was published in the Boston Ladies’ Magazine of January 1830. In Baltimore, John H. Hewitt published in the Minerva and Emerald a review mildly praising the minor poems but denouncing “Al Aaraaf” as a “pile of brickbats.” John Neal, to whom Poe had dedicated the new version of “Tamerlane,” wrote enthusiastically of its “old-fashioned simplicity and power” and concluded, “If the young author now before us should fulfill his destiny . . . he will be foremost in the rank of real poets.”(7) It was this praise which led Poe’s cousin, Neilson Poe, on January 26, 1830, to write to his future wife, Josephine Clemm: “Edgar Poe has published a volume of Poems one of which is dedicated to John Neal the great autocrat of critics — Neal has accordingly published Edgar as a Poet of great genius ­[page 541:]. . . Our name will be a great one yet.”(8) This I am sure was meant to be contemptuous. Still another colorless notice appeared in an unidentified newspaper and was reprinted in Virginia Cavalcade (Summer 1955) from a clipping. It may be one of those alluded to in the following lines:

Next Poe who smil’d at reason, laugh’d at law,

And played a tune who should have play’d at taw,

Now strain’d a license, and now crack’d a string,

But sang as older children dared not sing.

Said Clio “by all the wise, who can admit

“Beardless no goat a goat — no wit a wit,

“Say! did not Billy Gwynn, the great, combine

“With little Lucas to put down thy line?

“And thou! thy very heart is on thy toy!

“Thy red-hot lyre will burn thee — drop it, boy!”(9)

These lines suggest that there were reviews from William Gwynn of the Baltimore Gazette, who had printed a few lines from “Al Aaraaf” in his paper before Poe’s book appeared, and from Fielding Lucas, Jr.,(10) bookseller and publisher, later a founder of the Maryland Historical Society. This is Poe’s earliest appearance in a satire, and shows that the author (whom I cannot identify) had considerable respect for the youthful poet, who certainly “smiled at reason” in “Al Aaraaf.”

At this time and perhaps in 1830 and 1831, Poe’s Baltimore residence was with “his cousin, Mrs. Beacham, in a house then No. 9 (now No. 28) Caroline Street, corner of Bounty Lane. Some of their family, named Cairnes, were staying with her.”(11) ­[page 542:]

1830-1832

[1830] Poe visited Richmond early in 1830. Late in June he entered West Point, where he stood third in French and seventeenth in mathematics in a class of eighty-seven. He roomed with Timothy Pickering Jones and Thomas W. Gibson; both have left reminiscences. Another friend, Allan B. Magruder, said that Poe’s intimates were chiefly Virginians. The poet told fictional stories of his adventures including one of a visit really made by his brother to South America. He composed comic verses about his officers and probably about his companions; and sometimes visited the celebrated tavern of Benny Havens, of course.(1)

Before the end of the year Poe had no doubt seen a copy of the Galignani edition of the poems of Coleridge, Keats, and Shelley. Perhaps equally important to his literary development was the friendship of a civilian resident, the poet John Augustus Shea, whose fine lyric “To the Ocean” Poe seems to echo in “To Helen.”(2)

[1831] Since John Allan sent him no allowance, Poe was in an uncomfortable position. He proceeded to get himself expelled. He absented himself from classes and roll calls, “disobeyed orders” (to go to church and class), and when court-martialed on January 27, 1831, he pleaded guilty to all charges save absence from roll call. He was expelled, but as of March 6, to allow him to receive his pay then due.

He was apparently already in touch with a New York publisher, Elam Bliss, and before leaving West Point on February 19 for New York was permitted to solicit subscriptions among the cadets for his forthcoming volume. Poems by Edgar Allan Poe (1831) was reviewed in the New York Mirror on May 7, 1831, and a very brief notice, presumably by L. A. Wilmer, appeared in the Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post, May 21, 1831, and was reprinted in the Casket for May, which came out at the end of the month. The book had little sale save to subscribers (for seventy-five cents a copy), and in 1836 Poe was to refer to it as “printed for private circulation.” For it he had made extensive revisions in “Tamerlane,” “Al Aaraaf,” and a few earlier poems; ­[page 543:] these changes he subsequently abandoned. There were also six wholly new poems, including the first version of the famous lyric “To Helen.” One of them, “Israfel,” even in its earliest form, is a masterpiece. According to Poe’s roommate Gibson, some of the cadets, to whom Poe dedicated the volume, were disappointed because he omitted the comic squibs that had amused his companions at West Point.

Ill and in need of money, Poe remained in New York for a short while, appealing vainly to John Allan for financial help and considering ways to join the Polish Revolution; but by early May he was in Baltimore, perhaps living with his grandmother, “General” Poe’s widow, and his aunt, Maria Glemm. His brother, William Henry Poe, died at the house of Mrs. Clemm on August 1. Sometime after July 16, Poe submitted some prose stories in a contest announced by the Philadelphia Saturday Courier; the closing date for entries was December 1, 1831. The award was announced in the issue of December 31, 1831, to “Love’s Martyr,” by Delia Bacon.

[1832] Miss Bacon’s story was duly printed in the Courier issue of January 7, 1832.(3) Poe was apparently the runner-up, for, between January 14 and December 1, 1832, five of his stories were published in the Courier anonymously:(4) “Metzengerstein,” “The Duc de l’Omelette,” “A Tale of Jerusalem,” “A Decided Loss” (now called “Loss of Breath”), and “The Bargain Lost” (a draft of “Bon-Bon”). Whether Poe ever heard of their publication is not known, but he never referred to any connection with the Courier contest and later printed the five stories in the Southern Literary Messenger as if they had not been published before.

Apart from the publication of these stories, the year remains almost completely obscure in Poe’s biography. Only one thing is firmly established: in the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, August 4, 1832, the editor, Lambert A. Wilmer wrote that “Mr. Edgar A. Poe has favored us with the perusal of some manuscript tales, written by him.”

The poet may have been, for part of the year, in the Army as a private soldier under an assumed name. The story is very old, and I incline, with some reservations, to accept it.(5) The stories of Poe’s travels abroad in 1832 (or 1834) to Greece, Russia, or anywhere else, are all fiction.(6) ­[page 544:]

1833-1838

[1833] In 1833, Poe had completed eleven “Tales of the Folio Club.” They were, as a careful reading of the introduction Poe wrote for them shows, literary exercises in the style of popular authors of the day. In addition to the five stories published in the Saturday Courier, they were “Lionizing,” “The Visionary” (now called “The Assignation”), “Shadow,” “Epimanes” (now called “Four Beasts in One”), “Silence” and “MS. Found in a Bottle.” They are almost wholly literary or impersonal in that the author used little of himself or people he knew in them. The stories include some masterpieces, but the volume planned was never published. Poe submitted several of the stories in a contest held by the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, and his “MS. Found in a Bottle” won the first prize of fifty dollars.(1) His poem “The Coliseum,” submitted at the same time, was placed second to one by “Henry Wilton,” who turned out to be John H. Hewitt, who had succeeded Wilmer as editor of the Visiter.

Poe’s story received some national attention, and the author came to the notice of the judges, Dr. James H. Miller, John H. B. Latrobe (who later gave highly inaccurate reminiscences), and John Pendleton Kennedy, who became a good friend to Poe. Late in the year Poe sold “The Visionary” to the Lady’s Book, where it appeared, unsigned, in the number for January 1834. This was his first story to appear in a magazine of really wide circulation; the editor was Louis A. Godey, who later gave his name to that well-remembered periodical. Poe did not contribute to it again for about a decade.

In this year Poe was living with his grandmother, his aunt Mrs. Clemm, and his young cousin Virginia, in Amity Street.

[1834] Early in 1834 Poe made a visit to Richmond and called at the home of John Allan, who was extremely ill. Allan’s second wife, the former Louisa Gabriella Patterson (whom he had married on October 5, 1830), said her husband was not well enough to receive him, and Allan himself shook his cane at Poe and ordered him to leave.(2) On March 27, 1834, John Allan died; he mentioned in his will his legitimate and illegitimate children, but not Edgar Allan Poe. ­[page 545:]

Poe continued during 1834 to reside in Baltimore at the house on Amity Street. It is said that at this time Virginia Clemm used to carry messages from Poe to a girl named Mary Starr, with whom the poet was — or fancied himself — in love. In 1834 or early 1835, Poe was visited by Mary Winfree of Chesterfield, Virginia, to whom he first addressed the little poem of compliment he later addressed to several other ladies; in the present volume it is called “To Frances.”(3)

The fiction Poe composed at this period is decidedly somber. “Berenicë” and “King Pest” are both in part inspired by unpleasant true stories; in “Morella” he returned to pure “Gothick” romance.

[1835] Early in 1835, Poe began to write his never-completed blank-verse tragedy Politian. He seems to have had some connection with the Baltimore American. Probably through John P. Kennedy he was put in touch with Thomas W. White, who, late in 1834, had begun to publish the Southern Literary Messenger at Richmond.(4) In the number for March there appeared Poe’s grim story “Berenicë,” and about this time he began to write book reviews for the magazine. He rivaled the severity of the British reviewers and became involved in a number of controversies. He sent the Messenger his fine tale of supernatural horror “Morella,” and the poor grotesque “King Pest,” and wrote especially for it “Hans Pfaall.” On July 7 his grandmother died.

By August 18, Poe was in Richmond. It is reported that he drank too much at times and had fits of despondency.(5) He met the publisher’s eighteen-year-old daughter, Eliza White (called “ ‘Lizzie”), and in the September Messenger published, addressed to “Eliza,” the complimentary little poem originally written for his cousin Elizabeth Rebecca Herring and later addressed to Frances Sargent Osgood. It seems to me certain that Mrs. Clemm decided to “save” her nephew from Lizzie.(6) Neilson Poe had a plan to take Virginia into his home and to educate her. Poe’s aunt wrote the poet a letter, which does not survive, apparently mentioning Neilson’s plan, and Poe wrote a reply on August 29, 1835, asking Virginia’s hand in marriage. The letter seems to me somewhat hysterical and concludes with a postscript addressed to the bride-to-be! ­[page 546:]

On September 22, Poe was back in Baltimore, where he took out a marriage license for Virginia and himself. I am convinced that they were privately married by the Reverend John Owen of the First Presbyterian Church.(7) Virginia was barely thirteen. She and her mother soon went to Richmond, and in October were residing with Edgar at the boarding house of Mrs. James Yarrington on the corner of Bank and Eleventh Streets.(8) There was some talk of Mrs. Clemm opening a boarding house, but it came to nothing. In the issue of the Messenger for December 1835, which began volume 2, Poe was announced (without name) as assisting White.

[1836] Poe was editor of the Southern Literary Messenger throughout 1836, contributing chiefly reviews. Of the reviews that appeared, he wrote not quite all, though he “assumed responsibility” for all of them.(9) These reviews included two praising the early work of Dickens, one of Joseph Rodman Drake and Fitz-Greene Halleck, and a good many attacks on authors who would be wholly forgotten had not Poe disliked their work and said so with biting sarcasm. It is regrettable that these diatribes and a great deal of purely routine reviewing kept Poe too busy for his own imaginative work. He composed no tales during the year 1836, although he did publish a few of those previously written, including the wonderful prose poem “Shadow.” His first series on “Autography” — less studies of handwriting than criticisms in petto — and the analysis of “Maelzel’s Automatic Chess Player” appeared during the year. Two significant poems were written before it ended: “Bridal Ballad” and “To Zante.”

On May 16, 1836, Poe and Virginia were publicly married by the Reverend Amasa Converse, editor of the Southern Religious Telegraph. The young couple went on a brief honeymoon to Petersburg, Virginia. There they visited Hiram Haines, proprietor of the local Democratic Constellation, and Dr. W. M. Robinson. Virginia was not yet fourteen, and the marriage ­[page 547:] was frowned upon in Richmond by some of the ladies; but T. W. White and his daughter Lizzie are said to have attended the wedding.(10)

[1837] Poe’s withdrawal from the Southern Literary Messenger was announced in the January number,(11) which contained two poems written in 1836, five book reviews including a long one of William Cullen Bryant’s Poems and another of Washington Irving’s Astoria, and the first installment of The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. A second installment appeared in the February issue; thereafter Poe did not contribute anything to the magazine until after T. W. White’s death in 1843.

The Poe family probably moved to New York in February. They there boarded at 113 1/2 Carmine Street with the eccentric and learned bookseller William Gowans, who has left reminiscences. From him Poe probably learned much — some facts and some legends. Poe attended a banquet at the City Hotel, 123 Broadway, tendered by the booksellers to the writers of the city on April 2, 1837, and met several distinguished guests: Irving, Bryant, Halleck, George P. Morris, and Noah Webster were present. He was also asked to be one of those who proposed toasts. Poe’s, the only thing of the kind he is known ever to have composed, was:

The monthlies of Gotham — their distinguished

editors and their vigorous collaborators.(12)

To the June issue of the American Monthly Magazine (edited by Charles Fenno Hoffman), Poe contributed his story that was later called “Mystification.” He also contributed to the New-York Review for October an unsigned review of John Lloyd Stephens’ Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petraea, and the Holy Land (New-York, 1837), in which there is a discussion, with which Professor Charles Anthon of Columbia College assisted, of the exact interpretation of a Hebrew text. Poe later used this material as if it were wholly his own, an act which has led to accusations of charlatanism. However, I am convinced that Poe knew a little Hebrew.

The winter of 1837-38 was severe in New York, and Poe at one time ­[page 548:] dropped in at the famous old Northern Dispensary at Christopher Street and Waverly Place in Greenwich Village and asked for medicine for a cold.(13) He renewed Baltimore contacts and contributed his fine prose poem “Siope” (now called “Silence”) to The Baltimore Book for 1838.

[1838] Obscurity covers some of the year 1838 in Poe’s life. His book, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, was published in July by Harpers. Some copies were sent to England, where the book was at once pirated; it sold better there than in America. Poe himself did not think highly of this work; its chief importance may be that it is supposed to have inspired to some extent Melville’s Moby-Dick.

In this year Poe moved his family to Philadelphia. On July 19, 1838, he wrote from there to James K. Paulding, then Secretary of the Navy, vainly begging for any kind of clerkship “by land or sea.” It was presumably at about this time that he said “he could not possibly live by literary labor” and “actually endeavored to acquire the art of lithography” under the tuition of Peter S. Duva1.(14) It may be also that he worked for a time in a Philadelphia printing house with James Peddler, an Englishman. Pedder and his daughters Anna and Bessie became intimates of the Poes and Mrs. Clemm, who were for a while in very great need. Bessie reported that the poet’s family lived on bread and molasses for weeks together, that Poe’s gratitude toward the Pedder sisters was almost unbounded. At weekly meetings of the Needlewoman’s Friend Society, of which Anna was secretary, Poe sometimes gave readings from his poems. James Pedder remarked long afterward that he had known Poe “too well” and had thought him “the most gentlemanly young man he ever saw” but so temperamental that he feared Poe might end his days in a madhouse.(15)

In any case, Poe’s retirement from professional writing was brief, for a ­[page 549:] poem in the Saturday Evening Post, August 11, 1838, addressed to Poe by “Horace in Philadelphia,” his old friend Lambert A. Wilmer, welcomed him back to the field of letters.(16) And in the first number, that for September 1838, of a new Baltimore magazine, the American Museum, run by Poe’s friends Nathan Covington Brooks and Dr. Joseph Evans Snodgrass, appeared the story “Ligeia,” which Poe sometimes called his finest. It was followed in November by the pieces that were later called “How to Write a Blackwood Article” and “A Predicament.”

On September 4, Poe wrote N. C. Brooks that he was just “leaving Arch Street for a small house” — presumably that at Sixteenth and Locust Streets. During the summer he may have made a walking tour in rural Pennsylvania.(17)

1839-1842

[1839] Early in 1839, Poe was associated with Peter S. Duval and Professor Thomas Wyatt, author of A Manual of Conchology (New York: Harpers, 1838), in producing The Conchologist’s First Book. Poe was paid fifty dollars to permit his name to appear as its author.(1) The work, priced at a dollar and seventy-five cents, was issued before April 20, 1839; a second revised edition (dated 1840) in September, and a third (without any author’s name) in 1845. Poe worked in like fashion on A Synopsis of Natural History, but this was signed by Wyatt; it came out in June 1839.

Meanwhile, to the American Museum for April Poe sent “The Haunted Palace,” his only important poem of this period, and to the Philadelphia Saturday Chronicle of May 18, a story, “The Devil in the Belfry.” He also wrote two unsigned reviews for the Pittsburgh Literary Examiner, edited by E. Burke Fisher, who had been a contributor to the Southern Literary Messenger.

In May, Poe became coeditor with the proprietor of Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine. The owner was a fine comedian, William E. Burton, who wrote rather well and was later a great collector of Shakespeareana. Since Burton’s theatrical engagements often called him for long periods to New York and elsewhere, Poe wrote most of the book reviews from July 1839 to June 1840. He was also expected to furnish a signed original feature every month. Two ­[page 550:] of these were the tales “The Fall of the House of Usher” (September) and “William Wilson” (October). Burton was associated from December 1839 to May 1840 with a newspaper called Alexander’s Weekly Messenger, for which during those months Poe wrote a good deal, including his first series of solutions of cryptograms. In it he also published “Instinct vs Reason,” an account of his sagacious pet, the remote inspiration of his tale “The Black Cat.” Poe’s “Sonnet — Silence” was sent off for the first number of the year 1840 of the Saturday Courier, which had contributions from almost every member of the Philadelphia corps éditorial. Late in 1839, the firm of Lea and Blanchard brought out his collected Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque in two volumes, dated 1840. The work was dedicated to Colonel William Drayton, his old commander in the Army, who possibly backed the venture financially. Only 750 copies were issued; it received very few reviews and sold very slowly, although Sarah Josepha Hale noticed it favorably in Godey’s Lady’s Book for January 1840.

Poe was much in company at this time with James Pedder and with Henry B. Hirst, a poet who kept a bird store and owned a raven. Hirst was later a lawyer, an editor, and, finally, a harmless madman.(2) In 1839 Poe also met Thomas Dunn English, a young physician.

[1840] In 1840, besides many reviews, Poe contributed an anonymous serial, “The Journal of Julius Rodman,” to Burton’s. Late in May he drank too much, and was discharged after a quarrel with his employer, although I believe that later the two men became friends again.(3) In September we find Poe attempting to find a position in Richmond for C. Auguste Dubouchet — from whom came the unusual given names of our author’s famous detective, C. August Dupin.(4)

About November, Burton sold his magazine to George Rex Graham, who united it with his Casket to form Graham’s Magazine. To the new magazine’s first number (for December) Poe contributed a fine tale, “The Man of the Crowd,” in the manner of some of the Sketches by Boz of the youthful Dickens, who described in that series the less savory districts of London.

[1841] That Burton recommended Poe to Graham is a tradition in accord with what we know of the actor’s good nature. On February 20, 1841, the Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post announced Poe as one of the editors ­[page 551:] of Graham’s, and the April number (published about March 15) contained some reviews by Poe. As with Burton’s, Poe was expected to contribute a feature every month. In April the feature was “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” which, if not actually the first detective story every written, is the first consciously composed as such and the direct ancestor of all that have come after it. Later in Graham’s came “A Descent into the Maelström” (May) and “The Island of the Fay” (June), a charming fantasy written to accompany a picture engraved by John Sartain after a painting by the once famous artist John Martin. In the June number of Graham’s there was a fashion plate which some have supposed to represent Mrs. Clemm, Edgar and Virginia Poe, and Henry B. Hirst. Poe began in the August number a new series on secret writing, and in that for November, another series on Autography.

In this year Poe wrote for other periodicals, too. He demonstrated his analytic powers not only in his articles on secret writing, but also (in the Saturday Evening Post of May 1) by forecasting from the fast few chapters the outcome of Barnaby Rudge. In the same periodical, in the issue of November 27, there appeared the first form of “Three Sundays in a Week,” Poe’s only simple love story. In it the hero wins the hand of his cousin, aged fifteen — surely a touch of autobiography. There is a little of the author’s personality, too, in another piece from this time — the lovely and gentle, though enigmatic, fantasy “Eleonora,” which concerns the love of two wedded cousins whose mutual happiness ends with the lady’s death. This, however, is much less autobiographical than some critics have supposed, for it appeared in The Gift for 1842, an annual that was in print in the autumn of 1841, some months prior to the first known serious illness of Virginia Poe.

In the spring of 1841 Poe met Rufus Wilmot Griswold, who was preparing the first edition of his Poets and Poetry of America. To him Poe sent a highly inaccurate account of his life and some of his poems, three of which were chosen for the anthology that appeared the next year.(5)

[1842] In January 1842 Virginia Poe burst a blood vessel while singing, and her life was despaired of. She was never again in good health for long, although she lived for five more years. The poet himself had a brief illness and when he returned to his office found that Charles J. Peterson, Graham’s other editor, had taken over. This so upset Poe that he quit at once,(6) ceasing ­[page 552:] with the May number to be a regular editor. Griswold, whose Poets and Poetry of America(7) had just appeared, was called in to succeed Poe.

In March, Poe met Dickens in Philadelphia. The novelist had been impressed by Poe’s analysis of Barnaby Rudge, but the acquaintance, from which Poe hoped much, resulted in no benefits for the poet. More pleasant was a visit from his friend F. W. Thomas. Poe also began in this year to correspond with James Russell Lowell and Thomas Holley Chivers. Poe’s attempts to obtain a job in the Customs House at Philadelphia were frustrated by the “regular” politicians.

During the year Poe published important reviews, marred by charges of plagiarism but generally discerning, of Longfellow and Hawthorne. His new stories were: “Life in Death” (the first version of “The Oval Portrait”); “The Masque of the Red Death”; and “The Pit and the Pendulum.” Inspired by the horticultural planning of A. J. Downing, Poe wrote a happy sketch of pure beauty, “The Landscape Garden,” by which he set great store. He also composed “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt,” a long study of the mysterious death of a cigar girl, Mary Rogers, in New York in the previous year. It was finished by June 4. In June, Poe went to New York on a business trip, which worried his wife; nothing else about it is surely known. Two more stories were written, though not printed, in 1842. One was “The Black Cat”; the other was “The Gold-Bug,” which was designed originally for serial publication. In this year also he put together a new and enlarged collection of his short stories — PHANTASY-PIECES — but did not succeed in having it published.

His only verse appearing in 1842, not published until about December, was “The Conqueror Worm.”

1843-1844

[1843] Late in 1842, Poe had been in touch with James Russell Lowell, who began to issue his magazine, The Pioneer, at Boston in January 1843. To it Poe contributed “Lenore” and “The Tell-Tale Heart,” a tale of crime and retribution. In the third and last issue of The Pioneer, he published his “Notes Upon English Verse.” He continued to write for Graham, with whom he did not quarrel even though some of his friends did so.

By now Poe had formed a partnership with Thomas Cottrell Clarke to publish Poe’s long-projected magazine, now named THE STYLUS, which was to ­[page 553:] be illustrated by Felix O. C. Darley. Clarke published a weekly paper, the Saturday Museum, in Philadelphia; Poe was announced as an editor but denied that he was a member of the staff although he wrote for the paper regularly. Its columns for March 4, 1843, contain the earliest printed biography of Poe and reprints of most of his shorter poems. The life is full of inaccuracies and fictions undoubtedly emanating from Poe himself.(1) In this month Poe went off to Washington, seeking a government job and subscriptions to THE STYLUS. There he went on a spree, called on President Tyler with his cloak inside out, and got into a quarrel with Thomas Dunn English. Poe returned to Philadelphia jobless and penniless after a few days. Publication of THE STYLUS was again “postponed”; it never did appear, although Poe took subscriptions for it until the end of his life.

“The Gold-Bug,” written in 1842, was submitted in a contest of the Dollar Newspaper, and won a prize of one hundred dollars. Published in the issues of June 21 and June 28, it was widely reprinted. It was Poe’s first really national success. William H. Graham commenced “publication in parts” (at 12 1/2 cents each) of The Prose Romances of Edgar A. Poe; the first part, containing “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Man That Was Used Up,” was on sale on July 22, but no second part was ever published. During the summer, Poe may have visited Barhyte’s Trout Pond at Saratoga Springs, where he is said to have discussed with Mrs. John Barhyte a plan of “The Raven.”(2) At some time in 1843, Poe visited New York City, where on March 11 he published pseudonymously in Park Benamin’s weekly, the New World, a bitter attack on “The Magazines.”

On July 19, 1843, Poe registered in the District Court of Philadelphia to study law in the office of his friend Henry B. Hirst.(3) That Poe read much law beyond a chapter or two of Blackstone may be doubted. To The Opal for 1844 he contributed, to accompany a plate, his charming sketch, “The Elk,” based apparently on what he saw when he visited the falls of the Wissahickon near Philadelphia. Poe and his family were then living at 2502 ­[page 554:] Coates Street (now Fairmount Avenue), on the outskirts of Philadelphia.(4) Poe’s sister paid them a visit there.

On August 8 a dramatization by Silas S. Steele of Poe’s “Gold-Bug” was performed on the last night of the season at the American Theatre in Walnut Street, Philadelphia — the only dramatization of a Poe story reported during his lifetime. And late in the year Poe began his career as a lecturer, delivering his “Poetry of America” in Philadelphia on November 21, 1843. He repeated this lecture in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 28, and at Newark in the same state on December 23.

[1844] In 1844, Poe published only one poem, “Dream-Land,” but was busily composing short stories, of which several are important: “A Tale of the Ragged Mountains,” “The Purloined Letter,” “Thou Art the Man,” “Mesmeric Revelation,” “The Premature Burial,” and “The Oblong Box.”

On January 31 Poe gave his lecture on American poetry at Baltimore, and on March 13 at Reading, Pennsylvania.

Thomas Dunn English said that at this time Poe got into a scrape in Philadelphia, but never revealed its natures.(5) On April 6, Poe and his wife moved to New York.(6) They were soon followed by Mrs. Clemm and Catterina (or Kate), the cat, but not before Poe’s mother-in-law had sold to Leary’s bookstore, among Poe’s own books, some copies of the Southern Literary Messenger belonging to William J. Duane — a mistake that later greatly embarrassed Poe.

In New York, Poe sold his “Balloon Hoax” for publication in the Extra Sun of April 13. It was reprinted the next day in the Sunday Times, edited by Major Mordecai M. Noah. This suggests that Poe had already joined Noah as subeditor. What Poe wrote for the Sunday Times is conjectural since no specimens of the paper for the proper period, save a fragment of the issue of April 14, 1844, are now known.

Poe also arranged to send a series of seven newsletters to Eli Bowen, an editor of the Spy of Columbia, Pennsylvania, between May 14 and June 25, 1844. They were collected in book form in 1929 as Doings of Gotham.

Poe left Noah to join the staff of the new Evening Mirror of George P. Morris and Nathaniel P. Willis, a daily “for the upper ten thousand,” begun on October 7.(7) Poe wrote for it from the first. His work was that of a ­[page 555:] “mechanical paragraphist,” or perhaps we may say subeditor, for he used the editorial “we.” His contributions, when identifiable, were of slight importance during the first few months.

In 1844, Poe sometimes visited the tea store of Gabriel Harrison, from whom several literary men, including Halleck and Morris, bought tobacco. Harrison became Poe’s friend, and for his political club Poe composed a marching song (p. 340, above) — whether in favor of Polk or Clay is not recorded. Poe’s letters of this time reveal annoyance at finding Dr. English editing the New York Aurora, of which no issues of the proper period are known.

Perhaps the most amusing of Poe’s satires (if the background is understood), “The Literary Life of Thingum Bob,” appeared in the Southern Literary Messenger of December. The article made so much fun of Graham and other veteran magazine editors that Poe sent it for publication to a newcomer in the field, Benjamin Blake Minor, who had taken over the Messenger after Thomas W. White died. For Graham’s Poe wrote a long appreciation — far too enthusiastic — of R. H. Horne’s epic, Orion. Great hopes of this man’s help in England proved vain. Poe also reviewed the poetry of J. R. Lowell appreciatively.

Before the end of the year, Poe had moved with his family to the farmhouse of Patrick Henry Brennan near what is now 84th Street and Broadway and not far from the big rock near the Hudson known as Mount Tom, where Poe and Virginia liked to sit and gaze on the river. Mr. Brennan was a man of culture; Mrs. Brennan, who did not usually take boarders, consented to have the poet stay with them, largely for the charm of his conversation. It is almost certain that “The Raven” was finally prepared for publication here.(8) Poe first offered the poem to Graham, who rejected it, but it was soon afterward accepted by George Hooker Colton (a friend of Lowell) for a new magazine in New York, the American Review: A Whig Journal. Poe and Colton remained good friends until the latter’s untimely death on December 1, 1847.(9)

1845

[1845] Poe’s annus mirabilis was 1845. About January 15, the February issue of Graham’s Magazine came out with a sketch of his life by James Russell Lowell. On January 29, the Evening Mirror appeared with “The ­[page 556:] Raven,” copied from advance sheets printed for the February issue of Colton’s magazine, the American Review, and preceded by an enthusiastic introductory note by Willis, in which the author’s name was revealed.(1) Success was immediate; the poem was copied, parodied, recopied, and even anthologized in a schoolbook within a few weeks. Poe gave his lecture on the “Poets of America” at the New York Society Library at 348 Broadway on the last evening of February.(2) In this lecture, he praised the poems of Frances Sargent Osgood. She did not attend, but soon managed to meet him.(3) A romantic friendship resulted, furthered by the exchange of a number of poems. Frances Osgood wrote good verses, had great charm, and was probably a good influence on Poe — at any rate, Poe’s wife thought so.(4) ­[page 557:]

Lowell had put Poe in touch with Charles F. Briggs, editor of a new literary weekly, the Broadway Journal, founded in January 1845, and Poe wrote for it from the first. In the issue of March 8, he was announced as coeditor with Briggs and Henry C. Watson, a music critic. In the paper Poe reprinted many of his poems and stories “to fill,” but most of his original work was reviewing. A long study of Elizabeth Barrett, later Mrs. Browning, was an important contribution. More notorious is a series of five articles on the “plagiarisms” of Longfellow. (Willis said Poe believed that “Longfellow is asleep on velvet; it will do him good to rouse him. His friends will come out and fight his battle.”(5)) It was a regrettable business, however, and I do not think it even increased the paper’s circulation. ­[page 558:]

Poe composed no important poems in 1845 but addressed a number of compliments in verse to Mrs. Osgood. New tales included “Some Words with a Mummy,” “The 1002nd Tale of Scheherazade,” “The Imp of the Perverse,” and “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar.”

Poe took an interest in the production of Mrs. Anna Cora Mowatt’s comedy, Fashion, which opened at the Park Theater on March 25, and in a review on April 5 said that he attended every performance. In this year he for the first time entered largely into the society of literary people. He met Miss Anne Charlotte Lynch, whose literary soirées at 116 Waverly Place in Greenwich Village were famous.(6) There, on July 19, he read “The Raven” at her request — in a very quiet way.(7) The charm and brilliance of his conversation are recorded, and his reticence, too. Few really came to know him, said Mary E. Hewitt, who mentioned rumors of his mesmeric powers — which he seems not to have denied in conversation, although he did, carefully, in print. To these salons came almost all the company we find mentioned in “The Literati of New York City,” written the next year. There was a preponderance of female poets, but prominent men came, too, including Griswold, Halleck, Willis, George P. Morris, and the colorful Dr. John W. Francis, president of the Academy of Medicine.

The author of “The Raven” was asked by the Philomathean and Eucleian Societies of New York University to read a poem at commencement exercises on July 1, but he was unable to write a new poem and pleaded indisposition. The eccentric poet, Dr. Thomas Holley Chivers, who first met him about then, found him in bed but not sick.(8)

On July 10, Poe and Henry T. Tuckerman met to judge the poems of girls graduating from the Rutgers Female Institute. Poe read the winning poem the next evening at the commencement in the Rutgers Street Presbyterian Church, and in 1847 sent the winner, Louise Olivia Hunter, a valentine.

At the conclusion of the first volume of the Broadway Journal, Briggs sought to drop Poe and the publisher, John Bisco. But in the end Bisco won, and from July 12 the paper came out edited by Poe and Watson. Finally, Poe bought the Broadway Journal, and the issue of October 25 had “Edgar A. Poe, Editor and Proprietor” at the masthead. This achievement must have been a matter of great personal satisfaction to Poe, but he had been forced to borrow money from Halleck, Horace Greeley, and others including Thomas Dunn English and Griswold.

During the year a dozen of Poe’s tales were selected by Evert A. Duyckinek, a new friend, and published by Wiley and Putnam in New York under the title Tales, about June 26. This volume was followed by The Raven and Other Poems, which appeared on November 19. ­[page 559:]

Lowell was in New York and met Poe probably in May 1845, and neither was much pleased. Poe was, in Mrs. Clemm’s words, “not himself.”(9) But it was through Lowell’s good offices that Poe was invited to deliver a poem before the Boston Lyceum on October 16 for a fee of fifty dollars. Unable to compose a new poem for the occasion, he read “Al Aaraaf,” renamed “The Messenger Star of Tycho Brahe,” before the Boston audience. Following a two-and-a-half-hour oration by Caleb Cushing, Poe discoursed for twenty minutes on the nature of poetry before delivering his poem. The reading was characterized by the Boston Courier of October 18 as “an elegant and classic production . . . containing the essence of true poetry, mingled with . . . a graceful delivery”; but “that it was not appreciated by the audience, was very evident, by their uneasiness and continual exits in numbers at a time.” The Boston Transcript denounced the performance as a failure, and there were other unfavorable comments.(10) Poe retaliated by saying in the Broadway Journal that he had been drunk and had hoaxed his audience with a poem written when he was ten years old.(11) One statement is as reliable as the other: he did become inebriated after the reading. The whole affair was regrettable. There is a pleasanter side to the picture, however, far less well known. Thomas W. Higginson was present, and on several occasions described Poe’s reading. He said, “I heard Poe read . . . in Boston in a voice whose singular music I have never heard equalled.”(12)

During 1845, Poe was usually on good terms with Thomas Dunn English and contributed to his obscure magazine, the Aristidean. But he had also met the formidably dreadful Elizabeth F. Ellet, who advanced him fifty dollars ­[page 560:] and pursued him — with poems in the Broadway Journal and by letters — all for literary advancement. Poe repulsed [[rebuffed]] her, and a complicated quarrel resulted in which an embarrassing situation arose concerning the letters of Mrs. Osgood and Mrs. Ellet to Poe.(13) One ramification was that Poe, intoxicated, had a fist fight with Dr. English. In the fight, Poe received a black eye; this (according to English’s reminiscences in the New York Independent of October 29, 1896) Poe ingeniously explained to friends as the result of an accidental collision with an Irish laborer carrying a board.

Late in the year Poe was on terms of friendship with a tragedian, James E. Murdoch, who contributed largely to the columns of the Broadway Journal on the drama. Poe’s associate in the musical department of his magazine, Henry C. Watson, obtained a better paid position elsewhere; there had been no quarrel. Other contributors to the Broadway Journal included, in addition to several of the female poets, Dr. Chivers, William Gilmore Simms, and Poe’s Virginian friend Philip Pendleton Cooke. In the issue of November 29 there appeared an essay, “Art Singing and Heart Singing,” signed “Walter Whitman.” Long afterwards Walt Whitman recalled meeting Poe at the office of the paper.

During the year Poe’s residence was at one time 195 East Broadway (an entirely different thoroughfare from Broadway) and later at 85 Amity Street (now Third Street).

The Broadway Journal continued to lose money, and concluded with the issue dated January 3, 1846.

1846-1847

[1846] In 1846 Poe was selling criticisms to Graham and Godey. The former, in Graham’s Magazine for April, published “The Philosophy of Composition” — Poe’s imaginative story of how he wrote “The Raven,” which he thought nobody would regard as literally true.(1)

In Godey’s for May, Poe began his famous series called “The Literati of New York City.”(2) The sketches were for the most part rather mild, which apparently surprised even some contemporaries. But Poe could not restrain himself from discussing men with whom he had quarreled. He made an all-out and unfair attack on Thomas Dunn English, which provoked the author of “Ben Bolt” to publish an angry reply.(3) Godey arranged to publish an even worse-mannered reply by Poe in the Philadelphia Spirit of the Times on ­[page 561:] July 10, 1846. On July 23, Poe brought suit for libel against Hiram Fuller, the editor, and Augustus W. Clasen, Jr., the proprietor of the New York Evening Mirror, which had printed several attacks on him, including that by English. The trial did not take place until February 17, 1847, when Poe was awarded damages of $225. Poe was cleared of English’s charge that he had committed forgery but his reputation was not helped by the testimony of his own character witnesses; Freeman Hunt, editor of the Merchant’s Magazine, and Major Noah both swore that the poet was “occasionally addicted to intoxication.”(4) The hubbub led Godey to discontinue “The Literati” with the sixth installment. In the subsequent issue, for November, was “The Cask of Amontillado,” a great story of revenge, in which many readers see a sublimation of Poe’s bitter feeling at the time, although he used literary sources (Balzac and Joel T. Headley) for his plot.

In the spring of 1846 Poe made a trip to Baltimore where he met R. D. Unger, and was much in the company of printers and obscure newspapermen. Unger describes meeting Poe in unusually good spirits at a famous oyster house. During the visit Unger says Poe was drinking steadily, although less excessively than on some occasions.(5)

In this year Poe moved from Amity Street. He seems first to have gone back to the Brennan home, then for a time to a house owned by Mr. and Mrs. John C. Miller at Turtle Bay (now the foot of Forty-seventh Street) on the East River. There the poet enjoyed boating and would row out to the little uninhabited islets south of Blackwell’s (now called Welfare) Island.(6) Chivers probably suggested Poe’s retreat from town.

Finally the Poe family moved to the Fordham cottage, later to be idealized as “Landor’s Cottage,” which Poe rented from Mr. John Valentine for one hundred dollars a year.(7) Here Marie Louise Shew was brought to help Mrs. Clemm nurse Virginia, whose illness grew worse. A number of visitors have left records of visits to the Poe family at Fordham. Mrs. Osgood and Elizabeth Oakes Smith called there, and Mary Starr (Mrs. Jenning) and her ­[page 562:] husband sometimes came. Rosalie Poe stayed for some days at the cottage.(8) Poe also visited nearby St. John’s College, founded in 1841, the institution which has now become Fordham University. He was there on terms of friendship with Father Edward Doucet, S. J., and Father Thebaud. He conversed in French with them, and sometimes played cards, and he had the privilege of using the library.(9)

In this year Poe began to write to an admirer, George W. Eveleth, a young medical student from Phillips, Maine, who may be called the first special student of Poe. There is also a story, perhaps of this year, that Poe stood sponsor in baptism for the child of a neighbor and gave him the name Edgar Albert, because of the unhappy associations of his own middle name.(10)

[1847] On Saturday, January 30, 1847, Virginia Poe died. Her funeral took place on February 2,(11) and was attended by Morris, Willis, Mrs. Ann Stephens, Mrs. Shew, Mrs. Edmund Morton Smith (the Poes’ cousin Elizabeth Herring, on a visit to New York), Mary Starr Jenning, and Mary Valentine (later Mrs. Briggs; she was an adopted daughter of Poe’s landlord). It is believed that the poet never looked at his wife in death. The tiny poem “Deep in Earth” was probably composed by him almost at once.

After his wife’s death, Poe was extremely ill. Mrs. Shew came out every other day to help Mrs. Clemm take care of him. She obtained from the famous Dr. Valentine Mott the opinion that Poe had suffered from a brain lesion early in life, and would not reach old age.(12) Her patient, although ­[page 563:] his heart, too, gave him trouble, was strong enough to address several poems of compliment to her, and to send to Miss Lynch’s annual St. Valentine’s Day party another poem, written for Louise Hunter, to whom Poe’s committee had awarded a school poetry prize in 1845.

During the year Poe wrote little prose — chiefly a revised review of Hawthorne and a story, “The Domain of Arnheim,” an enlarged version of his “Landscape Garden” of 1842. The great event in 1847 was the composition of “Ulalume,” the strangest and yet probably the most characteristic of his poems.

In February Poe won the libel suit begun in 1846, but he was disturbed by word from Eveleth that he was being attacked for “plagiarism” of The Conchologist’s First Book, a charge that was not actionable, though untrue. In the summer he went South again, visiting Washington and its environs. With a party of friends from Alexandria he attended the commencement of the Episcopal High School in Virginia, and, being recognized, obligingly recited “The Raven.”(13) He went back to Baltimore, and again saw Unger, who found him drinking rather steadily, and depressed.(14) After Poe’s wife died, Unger said, Poe seemed not to care if he lived a year or a day. The younger man discussed with Poe his own recent reading. Poe said he too had read a new translation of Fouqué’s Sintram and His Companions; Poe praised it highly, remarking that “every man had his own devil.”(15) But he had nothing to say of Herman Melville’s Omoo, of 1847.

Poe also went to Philadelphia. On August 6, Louis A. Godey wrote George W. Eveleth that Poe had called on him “quite sober,” but that he had “heard from him elsewhere, when he was not.” Apparently Judge Robert Conrad and George R. Graham befriended Poe on this trip.(16) Also some time after Virginia’s death Poe went to Albany to see Mrs. Osgood, and seems to have acted irresponsibly.(17) Probably in this year he began to see ­[page 564:] a good deal of Sarah Anna Lewis (also called Estelle, and later Stella), a poetic lady of Brooklyn, to whom he was introduced by her husband, Sylvanus D. Lewis, an attorney whom he had known for some time.

1848

[1848] Early in 1848, Poe finished a long work on cosmology, and on the evening of February 3 he delivered it as a lecture, “The Universe,” at the New York Society Library Lecture Room. He reworked and expanded this lecture to make a book called Eureka, which was published by Putnam in July.

More interesting to most of us are the pleasant visits he made to Mrs. Shew in Greenwich Village. She shared the home of her husband, Dr. Joel Shew, first at 47 Bond Street and after early May at what is now 17 West Tenth Street. At the former place Poe “collaborated” with her (she wrote four lines) on a first draft of “The Bells.” For the second house, Dr. Shew allowed the poet to select some of the furnishings. Mrs. Shew, an Episcopalian, sometimes took Poe to church with her. She had a genuine and deep affection for him but she did not want to marry him, and after a while she ceased to see him. In this breaking off she was to some extent prompted by a young student of theology, John Henry Hopkins, Jr., who was horrified at a pantheistic tendency in Eureka and feared that Mrs. Shew’s orthodoxy might be shaken by the author of that recondite treatise.

Meanwhile, through the offices of a relative of Mrs. Osgood, Jane Ermina Locke, a minor poetess of Lowell, Massachusetts, Poe was invited to lecture there on July 10. There he met Nancy Locke Heywood Richmond, wife of Charles Richmond, a prosperous local manufacturer of wrapping paper. Another romance began which was of very great emotional importance to Poe.(1)

After July 15, Poe went south and visited Richmond, where he spent three weeks. There he saw his sister and the Mackenzies, and called daily upon a pretty widow, Mrs. Jane Clark, who looked somewhat like Virginia Poe. She heard him recite “The Raven” to a small party, including Rosalie, in a voice “like Edwin Booth’s.”(2) Little else is firmly known of the visit. ­[page 565:] Poe claimed to have challenged John M. Daniel, editor of the Richmond Examiner, to a duel which did not take place,(3) and there is testimony that Poe met Charles M. Wallace, later a well-known Richmond historian, in company with the journalist, D. Hammersley, and others at Our Home Restaurant, where Eureka was discussed.(4) Poe certainly met John R. Thompson, who bought “The Rationale of Verse” for publication in the Southern Literary Messenger of October and November 1848 and “was responsible for a distressing picture of Poe’s habits at that time.”(5) That Poe recited parts of Eureka at some convivial gathering seems probable enough, although I do not believe the details of Thompson’s account.

Poe went home by way of Baltimore, and there again saw R. D. Unger. Naturally he must have gone through Philadelphia. He was at home before September. Late in the summer he made a walking tour of two of the Hudson River counties of New York, which he mentioned in a letter of October 18, 1848, to Eli Bowen (formerly editor of the Columbia Spy), through whom he seems to have sold to a collector a manuscript of “The Raven.”(6)

Back in New York, Poe returned to a romantic adventure that had begun early in the year. At a valentine party of Miss Lynch, a poem “To Edgar A. Poe” had been read, sent in from Providence, hence obviously by Sarah Helen Whitman.(7) To this Poe had replied by composing in blank verse the poem that I have called in this volume “To Helen [Whitman]” and sending it to her in manuscript about the first of June. He now arranged to go to Providence where, on September 21, he met his “Helen of a thousand dreams.”

Mrs. Whitman was somewhat eccentric in dress and manner and was interested in things spiritual and romantic. Poe proposed marriage and after some time was accepted, with reservations. Mrs. Whitman told him that she would dismiss him if she ever saw him intoxicated, and she prudently transferred all her property to her mother and sister. Poe (wisely, I think, for once) after drinking called upon his fiancée.(8) A tradition reaches me directly from Mr. Alfred Hall-Quest of New York, a descendant of one of Mrs. Whitman’s neighbors who saw the poet ride a horse down the street on this occasion.

Poe’s letters to Mrs. Whitman are well known; they are extremely literary — he later expanded a paragraph of one of them into his story “Landor’s ­[page 566:] Cottage.” One feels that the two poets (from the beginning “a pair of starcross’d lovers”) were at best in love with love. Yet there was much of nobility in Mrs. Whitman, who in later years was a staunch asserter of what was noble in Edgar Poe.(9)

In late October Poe again saw Mrs. Richmond at Lowell. Plans for another lecture there fell through, and Poe went from Lowell to Boston to Providence and then back to Boston. He was distraught, and later wrote Mrs. Richmond that he had taken a dangerous amount of laudanum.(10) This illness is of literary importance, for the poet’s recovery is commemorated in his poem “For Annie.” On December 20, he delivered his new lecture, “The Poetic Principle,” before the Franklin Lyceum of Providence at the Earl House. He later claimed that his audience numbered sixteen hundred.(11) It was in the course of this visit to Providence that his engagement to Helen Whitman was definitely broken.

During 1848 Poe issued a Prospectus of the Stylus, dated January, promising a work to be called “Literary America.” A later prospectus, dated April, omits mention of it. Some pages of a preface and fragmentary notes survive.

1849

[1849] Poe’s last year was one of great activity. Godey, with whom he had quarreled, brought out one story purchased a year before, “Mellonta Tauta,” a half-serious prophecy of the twenty-ninth century. It has a somber element; Poe feared that individuals’ rights would come to be little regarded in the future.

He continued to write for Graham’s and the Southern Literary Messenger, but his chief market was now the Boston Flag of Our Union, a cheap popular weekly, which he despised although it paid well. There appeared his horror tale “Hop-Frog,” the charming “Landor’s Cottage,” and the highly original autobiographical verses “For Annie.” Interest in the Gold Rush inspired both a hoax, “Von Kempelen and His Discovery,” the short lyric “Eldorado,” and the sonnet “To My Mother.”

He fell into correspondence with E. H. N. Patterson, a young newspaperman of Oquawka, Illinois, with new plans to publish the chimerical Stylus magazine. ­[page 567:]

Meanwhile, “The Bells” was expanded to its present form. It was sold in July, together with “Annabel Lee,” written in May, to John Sartain for his Union Magazine. Poe seems to have thought “Annabel Lee” would be his last poem, and, contrary to his usual practice, he circulated it in manuscript, as if to be sure it would reach the world. His forebodings were not mere premonition; the symptoms of his heart trouble were of a terrifying kind.

At the end of June, Poe went south, stopped off in Philadelphia, drank a great deal too much, and for the first time had delirium tremens. John Sartain came to his rescue, as did C. Chauncey Burr, George Lippard, S. D. Patterson, and Godey, the last of whom sent him a kind message with five dollars. On July 13 Poe was on his way to Richmond, where he arrived on July 14 and put up at the Swan Tavern.(1)

In Richmond the poet spent more than two happy months, the Indian summer of his life. He was now received into society, and we have pleasant reminiscences of his attendance at the Mackenzies’, where he saw his sister Rosalie and mingled with young people and even children, who usually liked him. Other friends were his childhood “little sweetheart” Catherine Poitiaux, Robert Stanard, Robert Sully the painter, Dr. Robert Henry Cabell and his wife Julia Mayo Cabell (a cousin of the second Mrs. John Allan), Dr. John F. Carter, and Thomas Alfriend and his son Edward. Poe called almost daily on Susan Archer Talley, a poetess of eighteen, whom he trusted and regarded with such affection that he instructed his friends to watch him to make sure she never saw him when he was not himself.(2) He also called often upon his early fiancée, Elmira Royster Shelton, then a widow. He proposed marriage and apparently was accepted, although Mrs. Shelton’s son, Southall B. Shelton, and her daughter, Ann Elizabeth, who were apparently schoolchildren, did not approve of the match.(3)

Poe wrote little during the summer, leaving behind him only a few criticisms, the unfinished satire “A Reviewer Reviewed,” and a fragment of an adventure story, now called “The Lighthouse.” He delivered his lecture on “The Poetic Principle” at the Exchange Concert Rooms in Richmond on August 17 and again on September 24, and at Norfolk on September 14. A little earlier he had read “Ulalume” at the Hygeia Hotel, Old Point Comfort, and had given a manuscript copy of it to Miss Susan Ingram, who was present.

All was not completely happy, however. In Richmond Poe was intoxicated ­[page 568:] at least twice.(4) He called on John M. Daniel, who in the Richmond Examiner of August 21 had unfavorably criticized his reading of “The Raven.” Daniel is said to have offered him a job as literary editor of the paper, but nothing came of the offer save that a number of Poe’s poems were set up in type and the final version of “The Raven” was published in its pages on September 25, 1849.

Poe’s last surviving letters are of September 18, 1849. He refers in one to a planned journey to Philadelphia, where he was to edit (for a fee of one hundred dollars) the poems of Margaret St. Leon Loud and where he hoped to see her on September 26. But he delayed, in order to deliver his last lecture, and left Richmond on the boat for Baltimore on the morning of September 26. He had said farewell to a friend, Dr. John F. Carter, leaving with him a copy of Moore’s Irish Melodies, perhaps as a parting gift, and taking the doctor’s malacca cane instead of his own. He left with his sister a letter (his last) for Miss Talley, with a manuscript copy of “For Annie.” Neither letter nor manuscript survives. To John R. Thompson, who was among those who saw him off, he gave a holograph of “Annabel Lee” for five dollars, obviously as an autograph. Poe seemed in fair health.

Presumably on September 28, Poe reached Baltimore. The next few days are somewhat obscure, although it is certain that he began to drink. Bishop O. P. Fitzgerald said long afterward that Poe attended a birthday party and could not refuse to pledge his hostess in wine.(5) Poe also called on N. C. Brooks, but unfortunately did not find him at home. The poet may then have tried to take the train for Philadelphia.(6) ­[page 569:]

On October 3 (Election Day in Baltimore), Joseph W. Walker, a compositor, found Poe extremely ill at Cornelius Ryan’s “4th Ward polls,” at Gunner’s Hall, 44 East Lombard Street, and summoned Dr. Joseph Evans Snodgrass, who, in company with Henry Herring, Poe’s uncle by marriage, took the author in a carriage to Washington Hospital.(7)

There Poe was cared for by Dr. John J. Moran. The doctor wrote a brief account to Mrs. Clemm on November 15, 1849; and we have another from the doctor’s wife, who helped to nurse the patient.(8) Poe was delirious or unconscious most of the time, but toward the end he had lucid intervals. He asked Mrs. Moran if she thought there was hope for him in the next world. She replied affirmatively, read him the fourteenth chapter of St. John, and left him. He died soon afterward, very early in the morning of Sunday, October 7, 1849.

No death certificate was required at the time, but the Baltimore Clipper of October 9 said that Poe had died “of congestion of the brain.”(9)

Poe’s funeral was held on Monday, October 8, at four o’clock, and he was buried in the Poe family lot in the Presbyterian Cemetery in Baltimore. The ceremony was conducted by a relative, the Reverend William T. D. Clemm; the coffin was made by Charles Suter; the sexton was George W. Spence. Dr. Snodgrass, Z[accheus] Collins Lee (a classmate at the University of Virginia), Henry Herring, and Neilson Poe attended, as did Edmund Morton Smith and his wife (Poe’s cousin Elizabeth), Poe’s schoolmaster, Joseph H. Clarke, and perhaps a few more.(10) ­[page 570:]

POE’S APPEARANCE AND MANNER

Poe’s personal appearance is very well known from numerous portraits taken from life in several media. The more familiar image (which appears on a United States three-cent postage stamp, issued on October 7, 1949) shows that he wore a mustache. This is to be seen in all the daguerreotypes — one by Matthew Brady among them. But Poe, prior to some time in 1845 or 1846, wore slight chin whiskers and no mustache.(1) He had dark brown curly hair, and luminous hazel eyes, a very high forehead, and a somewhat weak chin. He was about five feet eight inches in height.(2) He always walked like a soldier and dressed plainly but neatly; in later years he usually wore a stock.

His conversation was fascinating, and he was assertive and positive in literary opinions but less contentious than might be supposed from his published criticisms. We have already recorded instances of his good relations with children. His Negro barber and his office boys, Alexander Crane and Ash Upson, bore witness to his affability.(3)

All this of course was when Poe was sober; liquor often brought out the worst in him, and he could be quarrelsome and even pugnacious after a glass or two of wine. He was certainly not addicted to drugs,(4) although like almost everyone of his time, he must have had medicinal doses of opiates.

Poe’s attitude toward women was chivalrous to an extreme, although Mrs. Whitman said he was not a Sir Galahad.(5) ­[page 571:]

The poet, although usually cheerful, was throughout his life occasionally subject to fits of almost hopeless gloom. Once he said to Thomas Alfriend, “God gave me a spark of genius, but He quenched it in tears.” Not quite, one feels; Poe struggled against odds and suffered defeats, but he returned again and again to the fray. Like his own gallant knight, he never ceased to ride boldly, and to “seek for Eldorado.”

AFTERWORD

There were several fairly kind short obituaries, and one long one of surprising malignity, signed “Ludwig” (really Rufus Wilmot Griswold), in the New-York Tribune on October 9, 1849.(6)

At the news of Poe’s death, Mrs. Clemm gave up the Fordham cottage and moved to the home of the Lewises in Brooklyn.(7) Poe had died intestate, and his sole heir-at-law was really his sister Rosalie, but she was unable to put up the money required to take out letters of administration in Virginia. Sylvanus D. Lewis drew up some papers (of questionable legality), and Mrs. Clemm took over the estate of her son-in-law. She and the Lewises asked Griswold to assume the position of literary executor.(8) He accepted the invitation, found in J. S. Redfield a New York publisher, and in six weeks put together the first two volumes of the Works of Edgar Poe, including the poems and many of the tales, together with brief articles by James Russell Lowell and N. P. Willis. Advertisements in the New-York Tribune announced publication on January 10, 1850.

Griswold set to work on a “Memoir” for the third volume, which was to appear late in 1850. In this amazing document, Griswold found little about Poe to praise save his genius. He saw the poet’s character in the worst possible light, twisted facts to fit his viewpoint, and even altered texts of letters. This is inexcusable, although there were extenuating circumstances.(9) The Suetonian biography ruined Poe’s personal reputation for years, but it helped to sell the books. In 1856, a fourth volume was brought out, just before the editor’s death, and the Works sold steadily. The editorial work, which was by no means bad on the rest, was particularly good on the stories. All ­[page 572:] subsequent editions of the prose works were largely based on Griswold until 1902, when James A. Harrison’s Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, in seventeen volumes, appeared.

Usually an important author’s standing is little enhanced by statues. But in the case of Poe, whose reputation had been so injured by his first biographer, a monument was of value. The idea was suggested in the columns of the New York Cosmopolitan Art Journal as early as 1856, but nothing came of it. However, on October 7, 1865, it was resolved by the Public School Teachers’ Association of Baltimore to campaign for something appropriate.(10) Money for the monument was raised largely from teachers and students of the city, and of the Troy Female Seminary,(11) plus a large contribution from the philanthropist George W. Childs. The unveiling took place on November 17, 1875, before a large audience. Letters were read from Longfellow, Holmes, Whittier, Tennyson, and Poe’s friends John Neal and Helen Whitman. Stéphane Mallarmé sent a sonnet in French. But only one important poet came from out of town. He was Walt Whitman.(12)

Poe’s fame is established. It is that of an artist who, facing extreme difficulties, gave the best he could in the realms of exalted art. This has been in many ways a sad chronicle, but it is not a tragedy. A man who accomplished what he wished in his chosen fields of poetry and romance won a victory. “To him the laurels belong.”

 


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 529:]

1  For the poet’s forebears and for the events of his life I follow, unless otherwise indicated, the well-documented narrative of Arthur H. Quinn, Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography (1941), occasionally supplementing Quinn’s account from his own and other sources.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 530:]

2  See Quinn, pp. 2-6, 16. Like George E. Woodberry in Edgar Allan Poe (1885), p. 6, and The Life of Edgar Allan Poe (1909), I, 7, I think that both mother’s and daughter’s ages were understated. Quinn quotes a London marriage record, May 18, 1784, of Henry Arnold and Elizabeth Smith as perhaps that of Poe’s grandparents. The couple signed with their marks, and I cannot accept this identification for an actress as evidential of the given names of Poe’s grandparents.

3  See letter of May 16, 1875, from Marie Louise Shew Houghton to J. H. Ingram, described as no. 226 in the Ingram List — J. C. Miller, John Henry Ingram’s Poetry Collection at the University of Virginia (1960).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 531:]

4  See Mary E. Phillips, Edgar Allan Poe, the Man (1926), II, 1611ff. I suspect that Mr. or Mrs. Usher was related to the Arnolds.

5  Eugene L. Didier, The Life and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (1877), pp. 23-24.

6  Quinn, p. 23, gives a facsimile of this document, which contains the only authenticated signature of the poet’s father. The lady is called Mrs. Hopkins in the Virginia Patriot on April 5, the day before Easter, but Mrs. Poe on April 9, 1806.

7  See Appendix V for an account of Poe’s brother.

1  The letter is the only surviving composition of the poet’s father. Quinn, Edgar Allan Poe, p. 32, published it from a transcript by the recipient.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 531, continuing to the bottom of page 532:]

2  Quinn, pp. 34-35. The criticism was exceptional. Mrs. Poe was generally admired ­[page 532:] in hoydenish parts, and thought to look charming in boy’s clothes. She may once have been allowed to play Hamlet, but the playbill for the performance (formerly owned by Guido Bruno) is not accessible for authentication. Quinn’s records are not complete for some cities; for example, he gives nothing for Petersburg, Virginia, where Woodberry, Life, I, 8, places David Poe in November 1804.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 532:]

3  On December 28, 1808, however, Amelia F. Poe wrote to John H. Ingram that David Poe died “a short time before” his wife, in Norfolk (Ingram List, no. 414, incompletely described). Phillips, I, 77f., quotes an undated, unsigned newspaper article that said David Poe, Jr., was in New York on July 10 and died in Norfolk on October 19, 1810, but when I saw the clipping in the auction room I thought it to be later than 1850.

4  I follow reminiscences of John P. Poe, given about 1890 to my correspondent, F. H. Howard.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 533:]

5  The romantic story told by Didier in Life and Poems, p. 25, that Poe’s father rushed into the theater and died trying to save his wife, is pure fiction; but I suspect it emanated from Edgar Poe himself.

6  It has also been said that the boy was taken into the care of his foster parents before the disaster of December 26 and was with them at a friend’s home in the country at the time. In this instance I have preferred the account suggested by Woodberry (Life, I, 16) as the more reasonable. John Allan had cousins by marriage named Poe, in Scotland. See Phillips, II, 1623. For more about Rosalie Poe, see Appendix V.

7  Thomas Ellis, quoted by J. A. Harrison in The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (1902), I, 23; see also Ingram List, no. 418.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 534:]

8  For this story see Phillips, I, 114-115; her “authorities” were imaginative persons. There is nothing of a teaching Miss Miller in the Richmond City Directory or any early document.

9  I follow R. H. Stoddard’s account in his “Life of Edgar Allan Poe,” Selected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (1880), p. xxiv. The vegetable story is supported by Mary Jane Poitiaux Dixon in a letter dated July 2, 1875, now at the University of Virginia, described only in part in the Ingram List as no. 237; a complete copy is before me.

10  William Fearing Gill, The Life of Edgar Allan Poe (1878), pp. 24-25, apparently following Edward V. Valentine.

1  See note on line 5 of “Romance.” A tradition that Poe went to school at Irvine is doubtful, though he may have spent a few days in school there. Phillips I, 132ff., gives some material that can hardly be considered reliable.

2  It is extremely improbable that Poe was ever a reader at the British Museum as one biographer has fancied; admission of anyone under twenty-one was very rare. Poe’s later knowledge of London slums came from the writings of Dickens rather than from experience.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 535:]

3  Letter of John Allan, dated August 18, quoted in Phillips, I, 165.

4  Here I follow Stoddard’s “Life” (1880), p. xxvii, in the main. Clarke gave many reminiscences of Poe. The curriculum was usual at the time. Clarke also indicated that Poe read Xenophon in Greek; the Anacreontea probably preceded that.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 536:]

5  See the commentary on “To Helen.”

6  Reminiscence of Thomas Ellis. This and other details of Poe’s boyhood are found in reminiscences of contemporaries cited by Harrison, I, 23-29.

7  Poe’s statement that he visited her tomb alone by night may be questioned. Cemetery gates were closed at night, and Poe disliked visiting such places in the dark, for all that he wrote in his fictions.

8  Stoddard, “Life,” p. xxix.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 536, running to the bottom of page 537:]

9  See Phillips, I, 108; and George D, Fisher, History and Reminiscences of the Monumental Church, Richmond, Va., from 1814 to 1878 (Richmond, 1880), where on p. 37 it is stated that in 1814 John Allan paid $340 to subscribe to pew number 80. It cannot be proved that Poe was confirmed, because if Bishop Moore, rector ­[page 537:] and father of Poe’s friend Channing Moore, kept a parish register, it has not survived.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 537:]

10  See Agnes M. Bondurant, Poe’s Richmond (1942), p. 122ff.

11  In “Unpublished Recollections of Edgar Allan Poe,” Literary Era, August 1901.

12  Almost all that we know of Poe at the University is given in Harrison’s memoir in Complete Works, I, 35-63.

13  Poe’s favorite Latin poet was Horace. His later reading in the classics was desultory, but he had far more than “a smattering of Greek” (the phrase is Woodberry’s); Poe could and did expand a rare Greek contraction in a review when he was over thirty and in his last years occasionally quoted Homer correctly. His ability to converse in French with his Jesuit friends at Fordham makes me sure that he spoke that language well.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 538:]

14  Faculty Minutes, quoted by Quinn, p. 109.

1  In a letter (now in my files) dated January 27, 1908, to William Peterfield Trent, Mary Rosalie Picôt says she often heard her mother mention “Aunt Burling” and her only child, Ebenezer, who was a friend and schoolmate of Poe’s. See also Phillips, I, 292.

2  The history of Poe’s broken engagement not only inspired his own “Tamerlane” and “Song” (“I saw thee”) but provided plots for two Baltimore writers. William Henry Poe made use of it in “The Pirate” (a violent prose tale with a hero named Edgar, published in the Baltimore North American, November 27, 1827), and Lambert A. Wilmer used it in Merlin (a three-act play printed in the North American of August 18 and 25 and September 1, 1827; a pamphlet edition was advertised for sale on September 22, but no copy is known). Wilmer gives a happy ending to the story, but his source is obvious; his hero is called Alphonse (from Allan?) and his heroine Elmira. In the Southern Literary Messenger of February 1835, in reviewing Wilmer’s novel Emilia Harrington, Poe praised Merlin without reference to his personal connection with it. Hervey Allen and I reprinted “The Pirate” in Poe’s Brother (1926), and I published an edition of Merlin, from the periodical text, in 1941.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 539:]

3  See my introduction to the 1941 facsimile of Tamerlane and Other Poems, where the Boston adventures of the poet and the printing of his little book are discussed in considerable detail.

4  Poe’s military record, turned up by Woodberry (Edgar Allan Poe, 1885), is documented in detail by Quinn. The hypothesis of Poe’s meeting at Charleston with a famous naturalist, Dr. Edmund Ravenel, was merely advanced as “probable” by Quinn, p. 130, but Poe never mentioned Ravenel. There is no reason to think Poe took any interest in natural history so early as this.

5  For my account of the Sheltons, I am largely indebted to Mrs. Ralph T. Catterall of the Valentine Museum and to Mr. Milton C. Russell of the Virginia State Library. Sarah Elmira Royster was born in 1810 or 1811; married December 6, 1828; baptized, “aged twenty-four,” on July 1, 1835. She died in her seventy-eighth year, on February 11, 1888, at her residence, 1000 East Clay Street, Richmond, and was buried front the Grace Street Presbyterian Church. Her husband, Alexander Barret(t?) Shelton, was born in 1807. He died at the couple’s home, “The Cottage,” in Henrico County, Virginia, aged thirty-seven, on July 12, 1844. They had five children. Shelton left an estate worth about $50,000. Both Shelton and his wife were buried in Shockoe Hill Cemetery.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 540:]

6  See E. L. Didier’s Life and Poems of . . . Poe, p, 39. The only known imprints of Hatch and Dunning are of 1829, when they also issued a Maryland Spelling Book by John Henry Shea.

7  The review in the Ladies’ Magazine was pointed out by J. H. Whitty in the New York Evening Post Book Review, August 13, 1921. It was not composed by the editor, Sarah Josepha Hale, but abridged from a slightly longer and more complimentary notice, of which the manuscript, in a hand I cannot identify, has survived and was reproduced in Virginia Cavalcade (Summer 1955). Hewitt’s review long survived only in clippings, but was reprinted in full by Vincent Starrett in the Saturday Review of Literature, May 1, 1943. It is also in John Hill Hewitt’s Recollections of Poe, edited by Richard Barksdale Harwell (Atlanta, 1949), Neal’s comment is known only from a quotation in the Philadelphia Saturday Museum, March 4, 1843.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 541:]

8  See Quinn, p. 165. Quinn thought this showed Edgar’s “improved . . . standing with his relatives in Baltimore.” I wish I could agree, but I have seen more than was accessible twenty years ago about Neilson Poe (1809-1884), himself a minor journalist who edited newspapers in Baltimore. In a letter of October 7, 1839, Edgar said he thought his cousin “jealous” of his literary reputation. As late as 1847 Neilson (whose name was pronounced and is often misspelled “Nelson”) revealed his critical acumen by a remark that he thought Poe’s brother Henry to be more of a genius than Edgar! See the Ingram List, no. 184.

9  The verses are from The Musiad or Ninead, “a poem, by Diabolus, edited by ME” (Baltimore, 1830), p. 8. The Musiad is a small octavo of eight pages. It recounts a visit to America of the muses (with the approval of Wordsworth and Moore) to interview the poets N. P. Willis, Henry Pickering, Poe, and Sumner Lincoln Fairfield. I use the copy at Brown University. Mrs. Whitman, in 1874, thought that Poe was the author; I think it highly unlikely. The pamphlet (possibly a fragment) has recently been reprinted by David A. Randall in The J. K. Lilly Collection of Edgar Allan Poe: An Account of Its Formation (Lilly Library, Indiana University, 1964), pp. 55-62.

10  See J. Thomas Scharf, Chronicles of Baltimore (1847), pp. 377, 381, and 510. Lucas was, with Gwynn, among the Managers who laid the cornerstone of the famous Washington Monument in Baltimore on July 4, 1815; on his publishing career, see Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, October 1955.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 541, running to the bottom of page 542:]

11  See William J. High’s “New Poeana” in the Baltimore Sun, June 26, 1921, quoted by Phillips, I, 439. High recorded this tradition from his grandfather, Joseph ­[page 542:] B. Jenkins, a friend of these relatives of Poe. I corresponded with Mr. High and think he was reliable, although perhaps inaccurate, since search of the directories does not confirm his statements. A Mrs. Mary Beastall lived on Caroline Street, near Pratt, in 1833; Edward Carnes, a stage driver, at 8 Caroline Street.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 542:]

1  Absurd stories were and still are told at West Point of the poet’s frolics; that of roasting a goose named for an officer and “eating him in effigy” is possibly not made up. Poe, however, was in no serious trouble with the authorities for mischievous conduct. Gibson’s article was published in Harper’s New Monthly for November 1867; for Jones’s, see Woodberry, Life, I, 369-372. In 1884 Magruder wrote letters to George E. Woodberry, who quoted from them in Edgar Allan Poe (1885), pp. 54-55.

2  The Poetical Works of Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats, Complete in One Volume, Paris: A. and W. Galignani, 1829, was quickly available to American readers; see letter of George Keats written in November 1830, saying that the book was then “for sale in the eastern Cities” (Hyder E. Rollins, The Keats Circle, Cambridge, Mass., 1948, I, 331-332). For this and other references I am indebted to Mr. Eugene P. Sheehy. For Shea, see my note on lines 9-10 of “To Helen.”

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 543:]

3  Miss Bacon is remembered as the leading exponent of the notion that Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare’s plays.

4  Killis Campbell announced in The Dial, February 17, 1916, his discovery of the texts. All essential documents were published in facsimile by John Grier Varner in Edgar Allan Poe and the Philadelphia Saturday Courier (Charlottesville, 1933).

5  The source is Griswold’s “Memoir,” p. xxvii, in his edition of Poe’s Works. Contrary to popular belief, it does not seem to be a confused account of Poe’s earlier enlistment of 1827-28. The author of the “Memoir,” who tended to present Poe in the worst light, says, “He was recognized by officers who had known him at West Point, and efforts were made privately . . . to obtain for him a commission, when it was discovered . . . he had deserted.” The presence of a former cadet in the ranks was socially embarrassing to officers; the “private efforts” may be suspected (if the story has a factual basis) to have been contributions for the sum needed to obtain his “release by purchase.”

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 543, running to the bottom of page 544:]

6  The stories are synoptically discussed by Edward Wagenknecht, Edgar Allan Poe: The Man behind the Legend (1963), pp. 22-23. A manuscript ascribed to ­[page 544:] Alexandre Dumas is obviously fiction — it has Poe meeting Dumas in Paris through “une recommendation de . . . Fenimore Cooper.” See the Ingram List, no. 215, for adventures in a foreign port recounted when Poe was delirious. That he sailed to Wexford in Ireland and came right back is so unromantic one might believe it, but it is a sailor’s yarn of one James Tuhey, told to F. W. Thomas, according to Whitty’s “Memoir,” p. xxxiv.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 544:]

1  Rumors that Poe was the sole contestant are baseless. Timothy Shea Arthur is quoted in the Philadelphia Saturday Museum, March 4, 1843, as saying he had entered a story. For further details of the contest, see commentary on “The Coliseum.”

2  Thomas H. Ellis, quoted by Quinn, p. 205. See also the Ingram List, no. 222. Mrs. Allan apparently avoided later contact with Poe, but she is said to have sent his bride a reassuring letter blaming herself for the complete break between Allan and the poet. See the Ingram List, no. 210. The actual letter was undoubtedly among those unwisely destroyed by Mrs. Clemm.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 545:]

3  See comments on the lost poem “To Mary [Starr],” and “To Frances.”

4  White conducted the magazine until his death on January 19, 1843. His middle name is given variously as Willis, Willys, and Wyllis; no full signature is known. White was somewhat secretive about his editors. The first was James Ewell Heath; the second was Edward Vernon Sparhawk, who, White said, began with the ninth number and “retired with the eleventh” (May to July 1835). There is evidence that Lucian Minor always assisted White behind the scenes, and so did Heath. The magazine did not always come out on time, and there were no issues dated October or November 1835 or December 1836.

5  See the extracts from White’s letters to Lucian Minor, in Whitty’s Complete Poems (1911), pp. 178-179. The letters were owned by Oliver Barrett of Chicago. I have never seen the manuscripts but am confident of their authenticity.

6  Mrs. Weiss, Home Life of Poe, p. 78, thought that there was an engagement; see also the Ingram List, numbers 196, 214, and 223. Elizabeth Oakes Smith is the authority for record about Maria Clemm’s notions that Lizzie White was capricious and used morphine. Mrs. Whitman doubted the truth of the second idea, as do I.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 546:]

7  The evidence is somewhat incomplete but to me seems conclusive, Eugene L. Didier, in Life and Poems (1877), p. 58, mentioned the marriage as on “September 2d” — an easy slip for “22d” — and Woodberry, Life (1909), I, 143, shrewdly pointed out that this allusion was made before the existence of the marriage license had been discovered, that return of the license was not obligatory, and that there are other incomplete records for this time. Didier had interviewed, and seems to have followed, Mrs. Clemm, who gave him the names of an impossible minister (one who became a bishop) and the wrong church, but she was capable of flourishes like these. My friend Robert Hunter Paterson tells me he has himself investigated the problems. John Owen had conducted the funeral of Poe’s grandmother. He was a supply preacher and did not have access to the records of the church, for the regular minister, who preceded him, had died of an epidemic disease and the volume had been temporarily placed “in quarantine.” Later, Owen’s successor filled in one marriage entry; the proper pages are otherwise blank. This fact was unknown to previous students, who used a typescript made by the late L. H. Dielman. Quinn, p. 227, ignored Woodberry’s subtle analysis.

8  See Phillips, I, 515.

9  The article defending “Slavery” (so headed), though reprinted by Harrison as Poe’s, is the work of Judge Beverley Tucker. Lucian Minor wrote at least one review. Poe’s salary was now $520 a year, with some pay for extra work; in a letter of January 22, he estimated his income at $800.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 547:]

10  For some of these details see Allen, Israfel (1934), pp. 318-320. The marriage was announced in the Richmond Enquirer of May 20 and the Whig of the same date. The marriage bond is reproduced by Quinn, p. 253; in it a witness made affidavit that the bride was “of the full age of twenty-one years.” But that is part of the printed form; no real deception was intended, and the signer probably was not even asked to read it. He was Thomas W. Cleland, said to have been the son-in-law of Mrs. Poore, at whose boarding house on Bank Street Poe had resided in 1835. She was presumably Mrs. Ann Poore, who died aged 68 on August 22, 1854, according to the records of Shockoe Hill Cemetery. See Phillips, I, 529f.

11  White, in a notice “To the Patrons,” dated January 26, said: “Mr. Poe, who has filled the editorial department for the last twelve months . . . retired . . . on the 3rd inst.; and the entire management of the work again devolves upon myself alone.”

12  My attention was called to this toast by Nelson Adkins. See William L. Keese, John Keese, Wit and Litterateur (1833; 2nd ed., 1884), p. 25. Keese was toastmaster at the banquet. Poe’s words are quoted in the New York American, in the Evening Post, and in the Commercial Advertiser, all of April 3, 1837. The word “collaborators” was often used at the time for “contributors.”

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 548:]

13  Phillips, I, 556-557. The superintendent, N. D, Luks, wrote me on September 23, 1920, confirming the recollections of a trustee, John R. Voorhis. The books were destroyed about 1890.

14  Lambert A. Wilmer, “Recollections,” reprinted in my edition of his Merlin (1941), p. 33. For a categorical denial by Duval in 1844 see Woodberry’s Edgar Allan Poe (1885), p. 143. Duval is not directly quoted, and his original statement has not been found among Woodberry’s papers at Harvard or Columbia. The Conchologist’s First Book (see below) caused a scandal, and Duval may have remembered badly what he might have been glad to forget. I regard Wilmer as a more reliable witness than Duval.

15  The period of the Poes’ great destitution in Philadelphia can have been only in 1838, early 1839, or late 1840. I take much of my discussion from Dr. A. S. W. Rosenbach’s note describing a copy, specially bound in one volume, of Poe’s Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, marked “For Miss Anna and Miss Bessie Pedder, from their most sincere friend, the Author” (A Catalogue of the Books and Manuscripts of Harry Elkins Widener [1918], p. 56). Dr. Rosenbach seems to have drawn his information from either a letter or a clipping of an article written by Pedder at his home in Roxbury, Massachusetts, in 1852; neither, unhappily, now accompanies Poe’s book, which is in the Widener Collection at Harvard. Rosenbach places Pedder’s arrival in America “after 1840,” during that year Pedder was editing the Philadelphia Farmer’s Cabinet. This slight inaccuracy does not invalidate the other information in the catalogue.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 549:]

16  See Carroll D. Laverty, “A Note on Poe in 1838,” in Modern Language Notes, March 1949.

17  In July 1838 Poe may have gone to Povalley (named for his relatives) in Mifflin County. The stories about what he did there (Phillips, I, 601f.) are obviously made up, but traditions about places are proverbially reliable, and the visit itself may be a fact.

1  The book was largely based on French sources and was really the work of Wyatt, who had assistance on lists of species from Isaac Lea, the well-known publisher. Poe revised the introduction and acted as textual editor. Without giving credit, Wyatt and Duval copied the dozen pages, “Explanation of the Parts of Shells,” and four accompanying plates from a book by Captain Thomas Brown, The Conchologist’s Text-Book (Glasgow, 1833, often reprinted). This borrowing was discovered in 1846 and led to a charge of plagiarism against the whole book — a charge that has been constantly repeated, even as recently as 1960, although the works are in general utterly dissimilar.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 550:]

2  Hirst was rather wild, drank absinthe, and got into fights about women. He seems, however, to have had no bad influence on Poe.

3  Of Poe’s unfortunate conduct when not sober we naturally know more from his foes than his friends, but that he was often difficult for both is unquestionable. The quarrel with Burton had something to do with Poe’s plans for a magazine of his own. The story (usually rejected) told by R. W. Griswold, “Memoir,” p. xxxiii, although probably overcolored, does not seem to me to be baseless, for it describes the kind of thing Poe did. According to Griswold, Burton, finding his editor inebriated, reproached him, and Poe replied, “Burton, I am the editor of the Penn Magazine — and you are a fool.” In the New York Independent of October 22, 1896, Thomas Dunn English told of another incident of this period. English found Poe “struggling to raise himself from the gutter . . .” He continues, “I volunteered to see him home . . . I knocked at the door, and Mrs. Clemm opened it . . . she cried, ‘You make Eddie drunk, and then you bring him home.’ ”

4  See W. T. Bandy in PMLA, September 1964.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 551:]

5  A complete account of Griswold’s career, which was one of amazing industry, would require a far larger work than the only biography, Rufus Wilmot Griswold (Nashville, 1943), by Joy Bayless. Griswold, often called “Reverend,” was licensed to preach and delivered a few sermons but was not a pastor. He was the literary executor of Frances Sargent Osgood as well as of Poe. Although his tampering with the texts of Poe’s letters cannot be excused, he did so many fine things — helping young authors such as Charles Godfrey Leland and rescuing from dispersal the famous Abbott Collection of Egyptian antiquities (now in the Brooklyn Museum) — that he must not be regarded as the complete villain some of Poe’s later biographers have thought him.

6  See John Sartain, Reminiscences of a Very Old Man (1899), p. 200. Many biographers have mistakenly supposed that Poe’s immediate quarrel was with R. W. Griswold.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 552:]

7  Poe reviewed the book very briefly in Graham’s for June and at greater length in the Boston Miscellany for November. Griswold arranged for the second review and paid for it in advance. From Poe’s letters we know that he thought (perhaps rightly) that Griswold meant to pay him for a “puff,” that he thought it a great joke to review the book without special consideration, and that he wondered if his critique would appear. However, some biographers have misunderstood the affair. Griswold did have the review printed, and collected it in Poe’s Works (1850), although he was disappointed, as a letter (which I have read in manuscript) to J. T. Fields of August 12, 1842, shows. Poe’s joke was a mild one; his review was decidedly favorable but concluded with praise of Griswold’s “taste, talent, and tact.” The italics are Poe’s and his “victim” cannot have missed the double entendre, although few readers of the time probably saw the point.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 553:]

1  The only surviving issues of the Saturday Museum during Poe’s connection with it are those of February 4, March 4 and 18, April 1, and an undated “Extra No. 1.” A letter of Poe’s certainly implies that the biographical sketch, “by Henry B. Hirst,” appeared a week before the date I give for it, but the possibility of an unexpected delay leads me to use only what information I can verify. Abridgements of the sketch were published in the Boston Notion, April 29, 1843, and the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, July 29, 1843. W. F. Gill (in his Life of . . . Poe, pp. 327-346) reprinted from a clipping from the Saturday Museum of January 28, 1843 (my date is from an advertisement in the Philadelphia Public Ledger of the day) a savage attack on Griswold’s Poets and Poetry of America that has often been ascribed to Poe and is given as his in Harrison, Works, XI, 220. I am now satisfied that this is by Hirst, although it may include a few things Poe had said. A series of attacks on Griswold, Graham, and the latter’s magazine in a periodical called The Citizen Soldier I am now sure is also not by Poe.

2  For this and other traditions concerning “The Raven” see the commentary and notes on that poem.

3  The relevant document has been seen in the present century, but is now said to be missing from the files. See Phillips, I, 838, for my record from the Philadelphia Times, July 20, 1901.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 554:]

4  Poe moved several times in Philadelphia, on dates now uncertain — see Quinn, pp. 274, 361, 384f. His home at 234 (now 530) North Seventh Street was still standing in 1965.

5  See the New York Independent, October 29, 1896. A suggestion that it concerned Mrs. Barhyte is absurd; she had no connection with Philadelphia.

6  Poe first boarded with a Mrs. Morrison, 130 Greenwich Street, then with a Mrs. Foster at 4 Ann Street. While in lower Manhattan, Poe moved often.

7  What are certainly Noah’s reminiscences are quoted in “The Late N. P. Willis,” an unsigned article in the Northern Monthly for January 1868, published at Newark, New Jersey. This article also quotes from one by Willis (which I find in the New York Home Journal, October 30, 1858) mentioning that neither he nor Morris knew Poe well when they engaged him. Poe got on well with the kindly Noah, and they remained friends for life. Noah said that Poe worked for him before joining Willis in October. Noah also said he printed a biographical sketch of Poe with a woodcut after a daguerreotype.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 555:]

8  See commentary and notes on “The Raven.” The Brennans never saw Poe under the influence of liquor. He from time to time made himself useful to the household, taking Thomas Brennan, a small son, to the shore of the Hudson River and drawing pictures in the sand. There is an anecdote (hitherto unprinted) from a descendant, Mary A. Farley, that his landlady once asked Poe to show himself at the door to scare off a chicken thief, which the poet refused to do. This fits in with Poe’s remark that a brave man may sometimes choose “to seem or to be a coward,” for which see “Marginalia,” no. 184.

9  Careless biographers’ references to a quarrel between Poe and G. H. Colton are baseless. It was Walter Colton who disliked Poe; see Passages from the Correspondence and Other Papers of Rufus Wilmot Griswold (1898), edited by W. M. Griswold, p. 262.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 556:]

1  My statement is correct that the first publication was in the daily newspaper, the Evening Mirror of January 29, of which all known copies are now publicly owned, to the sorrow of private collectors.

2  See the New-York Tribune for March 1, 1845, and the Evening Mirror of the same date; about three hundred persons were present. The New York Society Library was located (from 1840 to 1853) in its own building at the corner of Broadway and Leonard Street. The institution, chartered in 1754, has always been distinct from the New-York Historical Society, founded in 1804, which was in Poe’s day housed in “the building of the University” on Washington Square. These institutions, which still flourish in new homes, are often confused by writers on Poe.

3  On March 1, William M. Gillespie, then connected with a New York paper and soon to become a professor at Union College, wrote to Poe hinting that the lady would like to meet him. Mrs. Osgood later said that Poe had sought to meet her, and that N. P. Willis had introduced them at the Astor House.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 556, running to the bottom of page 557:]

4  Frances Sargent Locke was born in Boston on June 18, 1811, but passed most of her childhood in Hingham, Massachusetts. At an early age she began to write verses for Lydia Maria Child’s Juvenile Miscellany. She had too much facility for greatness, but wrote pleasantly always. In 1834 she met and soon after married the painter Samuel Stillman Osgood, and went to London with him. There she became a friend of the Honorable Mrs. Norton, one of the lovely granddaughters of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and in 1838 published A Wreath of Wild Flowers from New England. The Osgoods returned to Boston in 1840 and settled soon after in New York. Mrs. Osgood was recognized as a leading contributor to Graham’s and wrote for many other magazines; her contributions were often tales, into which she introduced poetry.

In 1844 I judge that there was a rift with her husband because of another woman. (Osgood’s flirtation in 1842 with Elizabeth Newcomb, sister of Emerson’s friend Charles King Newcomb, caused much gossip, Ellen B. Ballou informs me.) Fanny Osgood often used herself for copy, and she published a poem in the Evening Mirror, December 10, 1844, without title but with a foreword, probably by N. P. Willis: “The following heartfelt and womanly farewell to a faithless lover, is from the pen of Mrs. Frances Sargent Osgood — a true poet.” The poem begins, “Yes, lower to the level / Of those who love thee now!” and the lover is reproached for pining “ ’mid passion’s madness” but is assured that he may yet return, if he will. It is clearly the errant husband who is addressed. (This poem is quoted in a review by Poe in the Broadway Journal, December 13, 1845, and may also be seen in Mrs. Osgood’s Poems of 1849, p. 461.)

She met Poe in the early part of 1845 and proceeded to flirt with him, with R. W, Griswold, and with Edward J. Thomas, a merchant. She had a habit, mentioned by Thomas Dunn English, of sitting at gentlemen’s feet at parties and looking ­[page 557:] up at them; but despite this pretense of docility she seems to have been a woman of strong mind. She was certainly the most gifted and charming of the ladies among Poe’s Literati of New York. She gave Poe intellectual companionship, and Virginia Poe encouraged the friendship, presumably deciding that it was better to have her husband charmed by a lady whom almost everybody, herself included, liked than by someone such as the malicious Mrs. Elizabeth F. Ellet. Few people, however, understood the situation, and Poe was widely criticized for “deserting a dying wife” for a playful poetess, and gossip led to quarrels and scandals of a most unfortunate kind.

The affair was certainly the most serious in Poe’s life. Poe did not see Mrs. Osgood after 1847, but always referred to her with kindness. It appears that ultimately she was completely reconciled to her husband, as is suggested by a poem (collected in her Poems of 1849) “To S. S. Osgood,” signed “F. S. O.,” which appeared in the New York Literary World, October 23, 1847. Samuel Osgood went to California in February 1849 and prospered, and he returned some time before Mrs. Osgood’s death at their home in New York on May 12, 1850.

It should be plainly said that Poe broke up no home, but was used by a clever woman as part of a successful campaign to win back an errant husband. If Poe and Mrs. Osgood were in love — and Poe did use the word “amour” to his friend Chivers — the matter was something to which neither Mrs. Osgood’s husband nor Poe’s wife objected. Samuel Osgood painted both his wife’s portrait and that of Poe, and these were bequeathed by Griswold to the New-York Historical Society.

(The foregoing account is based on wide reading, for I have long believed it worthwhile to know more about this lady, for whom Poe felt a deep and lasting affection. See Chivers’ Life of Poe, and my review of it in the Quarterly of the New-York Historical Society, October 1953. I have been aided by some personal letters of Ellen B. Ballou, who has been working at Brown University on a doctoral dissertation about Mrs. Osgood. Writing in the New York Independent, October 29, 1896, Thomas Dunn English said plainly that he told Mrs. Clemm, who “seemed rather unconvinced,” she should tell Virginia Poe the “connection was purely Platonic, that Poe admired her [Mrs. Osgood’s] ability and she admired him.” But, English said, “The supposed intrigue became town talk.” The paternity of Mrs. Osgood’s third child, Fanny Fay, who was born about June 1846 and died on October 28, 1847, has been questioned — although perhaps not in print — but the date of the poem indicating complete reconciliation of the Osgoods — discovered by me only in the summer of 1962 — indicates that Samuel Osgood either believed himself the father or chose to accept that position.)

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 557:]

5  See The Prose Works of N. P. Willis (1845), p. 768. That Poe himself wrote the defense of Longfellow signed “Outis” (“Nobody”) published in the Weekly Mirror, March 8, 1845, is not certain; I incline to believe so.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 558:]

6  Miss Lynch later married Professor Vincenzo Botta and continued to be a leading hostess throughout her life. Her Memoirs appeared in 1894. Some of my statements are based on quotations collected by Harrison, I, 241ff.

7  The date comes from a newly found letter of July 17, from Miss Lynch to Poe, now in the Pierpont Morgan Library.

8  See New-York Tribune, July 1, 2, 1845; Chivers’ Life of Poe, p. 61; and Yale List, no. 59: “Engraved invitation . . . from the University of the City of New York for the Annual Oration and Annual Poem, before the Philomathean and Eucleian Societies on July 1, 1845.”

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 559:]

9  See Woodberry, Life, II, 137.

10  My chief sources for this unfortunate episode are those cited by Phillips, II, 1049ff., and Quinn, pp. 487ff. See also a discussion by Sidney P. Moss in Poe’s Literary Battles (Durham, 1963). I differ with Mr. Moss on several matters of opinion, such as the reliability of some witnesses. The fee is named definitely in the Boston Transcript of November 4, 1845, and I find that a document that has been cited as evidence of a lower sum refers to what Poe’s trip to Boston cost him. Griswold says that Poe appealed to Mrs. Osgood to write a poem for him and that she obliged with “Lulin, or the Diamond Fay,” which she later published in the Union Magazine for May and June 1848. It was collected in her Poems (1849). I see no reason to doubt Griswold’s account of this in the “Memoir.”

11  Later, Poe actually printed in the Broadway Journal of the sixth of December, . . . we have a fine poem that we wrote at seven months — and an invitation to deliver it before the Lyceum.” Whether or not Poe had thought in advance of his actions as a hoax is not clear, but things said by E. P. Whipple (in Gill’s Life, p. 168) and by Thomas Dunn English in the Independent of November 5, 1896, makes me think he did. English thought, as I do, that Poe’s glass of wine was taken after the lecture. The Boston Star reprinted the 1831 version of “Al Aaraaf” on November 5.

12  See a letter to Charles W. Kent, dated October 6, 1899, published in Kent’s The Unveiling of the Bust of Edgar Allan Poe . . . October 7, 1899 (Lynchburg, Va., n. d.), p. 64. There is another favorable article (hitherto unnoticed) in the Boston Museum of November 17, 1849. It is unsigned and may or may not be from Higginson. The writer says that Poe “with the most imperturbable sang froid” offered to recite “The Raven,” and that “all was hushed at once, and Mr. Poe recited that remarkable poem in a manner that will never be repeated.”

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 560:]

13  See a synoptic account of the quarrel in Sidney Moss, Poe’s Literary Battles, p. 207ff. My extremely unfavorable opinion of Mrs. Ellet is based on very wide reading of contemporary sources.

1  See W. F. Gill, Life (revised edition, 1878), pp. 137 and 150, for statements of Graham and Mrs. Weiss.

2  Among the authors treated, Halleck, Willis, and Margaret Fuller are remembered for other reasons, but most of the rest are saved from oblivion today by being “included in Poe’s Literati.” Poe did not reach Bryant or Morris.

3  English was not “without the commonest school education,” as Poe alleged, for his medical degree was awarded by the University of Pennsylvania and he had already published his celebrated poem, which Poe did not mention.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 561:]

4  See the New-York Tribune, February 18, 1847. Poe did not sue English. Actually, testimony brought out that Poe had induced English to invest thirty dollars in the Broadway Journal, which Poe claimed would be a great success. English’s calling this action “obtaining money under false pretenses” was libel per se, although only because of the phraseology used.

5  Letter to Chevalier Reynolds from Chicago, October 29, 1899, signed R. D. Unger, M.D., in the Ingram Collection (Ingram List no. 402). Ingram regarded this as a “pack of lies — perhaps some grains of truth,” and James A. Harrison, who printed extracts from an incorrect transcript (as if by “R. D’Unger”) in the Independent, November 1, 1906, put little faith in it. But neither Harrison nor Ingram knew that there was independent evidence for the Baltimore visit of 1846. In a letter to Poe, April 15, 1846, Mrs. M. E. Hewitt referred to his recovery from a recent illness in Baltimore. The letter, cited by Quinn, p. 506, is in the Griswold Collection in the Boston Public Library.

6  See Phillips, II, 1109ff., for reminiscences of John LeFevre Miller and his sister Sarah, respectively nine and thirteen years old in 1846, when Poe was their parents’ tenant.

7  The cottage is preserved, but has been moved from its original position on Kingsbridge Road to nearby Poe Park.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 562:]

8  Phillips, II, 1137, 1183; Weiss, Home Life, pp. 127-130. I have a record of a letter from Charles Steele to Joseph Wood Krutch, dated April 9, 1935, telling of another visitor. Mr. Steele said that his grandmother, Ellen Maria Keith Steele of Boston, told him about 1887 that she had called on her cousin, Mrs. Edgar Allan Poe, who was in great poverty at Fordham. I recall no other reference to this family connection.

9  See Quinn, p. 520, and Phillips, esp. II, 1115 and 1240f. The card playing was mentioned in a letter from J. H. Hopkins on February 9, 1875 (Ingram List, no. 201), Father Doucet became president of the college, and Poe’s association with him and the institution as what would now be called a “visiting scholar” is well known to this day on the campus.

10  See the reminiscences of the child’s sister, Mrs. Mary Andre Phelps, as copied from a Chicago paper in the New York Commercial Advertiser of June 18, 1897. (Unfortunately I do not know Mrs. Phelps’s maiden name.) She says the poet sometimes played Dr. Busby (a card game resembling Old Maid) with her and her brother.

11  Identical obituaries, possibly composed by her husband, in the New York Herald and in the Tribune of February 1, 1847, read: “On Saturday, 30th ult. of pulmonary consumption in the 25th year of her age, VIRGINIA ELIZA, wife of EDGAR POE. Her friends are invited to attend her funeral at Fordham, Westchester County on Tuesday next (tomorrow) at 2 P.M. The cars leave New York for Fordham, from City Hall at 12 [P.]M. — returning at 4 P.M.” She was laid to rest in the family vault of John Valentine in the churchyard of the Dutch Reformed Church at Fordham. On January 19, 1885, she was reinterred beside her husband in Baltimore. See Woodberry, Life (1909), II, 225f., and Phillips, II, 1200-1207.

12  A modern medical man who saw a photograph of Poe told my friend Robert Hunter Paterson that a twist in the poet’s face suggested to him a brain lesion, ­[page 563:] and Poe certainly had manic and depressive periods. Poe wrote of some kind of secret he concealed for reasons of family pride; aristocratic Baltimoreans (and Mrs. Clemm was one) considered any kind of insanity disgraceful. Woodberry’s notion that Poe referred to drug addiction is nonsense; addiction was not especially disgraceful in 1849, and no doctor of medicine who knew Poe ever thought him an addict.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 563:]

13  See the account of Arthur Barksdale Kinsolving, D.D., in William A. R. Goodwin’s History of the Theological Seminary in Virginia (1924), p. 420.

14  The Unger letter has already been described in note 5 on the year 1846. Some details of Poe’s drinking “like a gentleman” on these occasions are of interest. He usually preferred whiskey and enjoyed sitting in a room in John Boyd’s establishment at 9 South Street, where there was a collection of theatrical mementoes on the wall. Poe sometimes went to Guy’s Monument House. Unger mentions, as two friends of Poe, John M. Millington, a printer, and John Wills, a minor journalist, both connected with the Baltimore Patriot. I find them in directories.

15  Sintram’s chief “companion” is a demon. So far as I recall, there is nothing to show that Poe ever took any interest in Melville. Moby-Dick was not published while Poe was alive.

16  See Phillips, II, 1228; and Poe’s letter of August 10, 1847, to Conrad.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 563, running to the bottom of page 564:]

17  He is said to have begged her to elope with him. The informant is Mrs. Osgood’s brother-in-law (whose home she was visiting), the Reverend Henry F. Harrington, ­[page 564:] who published a long letter about the episode in the New York Critic, October 3, 1885 — a document to which few biographers save Miss Phillips refer. I am assured by Harrington’s granddaughter that he was a lovable and kindly old gentleman. He was obviously shocked about Poe, but his letter refers to the poet as “breaking up a home,” and this shows that he was unaware that the Osgoods were already separated in fact when Mrs. Osgood met Poe. I do not think Mrs. Osgood took her sister’s husband into her confidence at all. (Edward Wagenknecht, Edgar Allan Poe, 1963, discussing Harrington’s story, p. 256, says, “I do not trust Harrington . . . he published an hysterical attack.”) I have read some unpublished statements of Mrs. Osgood, and, like Wagenknecht, I think Harrington prejudiced and ready to believe and exaggerate gossip having little basis in fact.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 564:]

1  See commentary and notes on “For Annie.”

2  Mrs. Clark’s “Reminiscences” are given in an interview for the New York Sunday World, March 17, 1878, when she lived in Louisville, Kentucky. She was a native Virginian and first met Poe in 1835. Her maiden name is not known. Mrs. Clark stated that she never saw Poe intoxicated.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 565:]

3  Poe mentioned it as of “last year” in a letter of September 1849 to Mrs. Clemm.

4  Phillips, II, 1302, quotes directly from a manuscript note by Wallace, dated “Sept. 18, 1875.” Whitty’s discussion, “Memoir,” p. lxvi, may be partly conjectural.

5  Quinn, p. 568. Quinn points out the shadowy nature of our sources, but does not mention Mrs. Clark. He makes clear that Thompson was self-contradictory. I would add that Thompson was a sensational writer given to self-glorification as a rescuer of Poe. Quinn gives most of the needed references, but we may add Mrs. Weiss, Home Life of Poe, pp. 163-168; Woodberry, Life, II, 443-446. There is a lurid article about Poe and Thompson in Lippincott’s Magazine for May 1872.

6  For a text of the letter to Bowen see American Notes & Queries, January 1965.

7  Sarah Helen Power, born in 1803, was married July 10, 1828, to John Winslow Whitman, who died in 1833. Mrs. Whitman lived until June 27, 1878. There is a valuable biography, Poe’s Helen (1916), by Caroline Ticknor.

8  Quinn tells the story of the courtship in well-documented detail.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 566:]

9  Mrs. Whitman’s Edgar Poe and His Critics (1860) was the first book to defend Poe’s memory. A new edition with introduction and notes by Oral S. Coad appeared in 1949.

10  Students have taken many views of this incident, some thinking it a serious attempt at suicide, others feeling that the whole episode was mere hallucination or even a made-up story. Poe said in his letter of November 16, 1848, that he procured two ounces of laudanum, went to Boston, swallowed “about half” of it, became violently sick, was rescued by a friend, and returned to New York. The crucial word is “about” — an ounce of laudanum could be a fatal dose to a man neither an addict nor in extreme pain. But how much was “about half”? Did the druggist, observing his customer’s condition, give him a diluted potion? I incline to think that Poe’s “attempted suicide” was not quite serious.

11  See Providence Manufacturers’ and Farmers’ Journal, December 20, 1848; and Richmond Whig, August 17, 1849.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 567:]

1  See Quinn, pp. 616ff., for references to Sartain’s and other accounts. Sartain said that at Poe’s request he clipped off the poet’s mustache. Since Poe wore one a few weeks later, more than one critic has questioned Sartain’s accuracy. However, a mature man can grow a mustache in three weeks.

2  My principal sources are Susan Archer Talley Weiss, “Last Days of Edgar A. Poe,” Scribner’s, March 1878; her Home Life of Poe (1907); and the extremely important brief article by Edward M. Alfriend in the Literary Era, August 1901, which preserves several of Poe’s bons mots. Harrison, Complete Works (1902), I, 310-337, is also useful on this period.

3  See “Poe’s First and Final Love” in the revived Southern Literary Messenger, March 1943, by F. Meredith Dietz, who interviewed a granddaughter of Mrs. Shelton. The extreme disapproval of her children accounts for Mrs. Shelton’s contradictory statements about her friendship with the poet.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 568:]

4  On August 27, Poe joined the Sons of Temperance, Shockoe Hill Division, Number 54. See Rayburn S. Moore, “A Note on Poe and the Sons of Temperance,” American Literature, November 1958.

5  Bishop Fitzgerald, quoted by Harrison, Complete Works, I, 319, had an inaccurate memory, but it is unlikely that a Victorian bishop would make up the story, which fits in with Neilson Poe’s reference, in 1849, quoted by Woodberry, Life, II, 447, to his knowledge of a “single indulgence.” Neilson Poe’s reticence may also result from some feeling that he had failed to rescue the poet in time. Elizabeth Ellicott Poe, in an otherwise horribly inaccurate article in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat of January 17, 1909, says one thing “from family tradition” that her own grandfather, “the first cousin of the poet,” saw Edgar Poe in a stupor “lying under the steps of the Baltimore Museum,” on the corner of Baltimore and Calvert streets, and “sent a message to Neilson Poe.” Since Edgar Poe had often recovered without aid, if Neilson neglected him on this occasion, who now can blame him? But he might have blamed himself.

6  The story that Poe reached Philadelphia but returned in confusion to Baltimore is well witnessed, in manuscript reminiscences of Thomas H. Lane, cited by Phillips, II, 1498, and Quinn, p. 637. Apparent inconsistencies arise from the fact that Lane wrote four versions of what he recalled, all of which I have read in manuscript; but I now suspect that the date of Poe’s adventure was 1848 instead of 1849. Another story is that Poe boarded the wrong train, and was sent back from Havre de Grace to Baltimore by the conductor, George W. Rollins. Several biographers tell this anecdote, without naming its source, which turns out to be the unreliable Dr. John J. Moran, in A Defense of Edgar Allan Poe (Washington, 1885), p. 60. Moran’s statements in this pamphlet and elsewhere in his later years reveal an almost incredibly expansive imagination.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 569:]

7  The story that Poe was a victim of election violence is twaddle, as R. D. Unger remarked, in his letter in the Ingram Collection (no. 402). It first turned up in John R. Thompson’s lecture, “The Genius and Character of Edgar Allan Poe,” which Gill, Life, p. 267, says was delivered in Baltimore (obviously before April 30, 1873, when Thompson died). Thompson said that Poe was “seized by lawless agents of a political club, imprisoned in a cellar . . . and next day in a state bordering on frenzy made to vote in eleven different wards, as if in . . . compensation for never having exercised the right of suffrage before.” See Genius and Character, ed. James H. Whitty and James H. Rindfleisch (Richmond, 1929), p. 42. Thompson cited no authority, and no real witness ever appeared, though cheap journalists in time supplied imaginary ones. See Woodberry, Life, II, 448. Dr. Unger noted that in Baltimore Poe was widely known by sight, and as a nonresident. Poe had the malacca cane; would lawless fellows have failed to purloin so salable an object?

8  See Quinn and Hart, Edgar Allan Poe . . . Documents, pp. 32-34, for the complete letter of Dr. Moran. The statement of Mrs. Mary O. Moran was published by Harrison, Complete Works (1902), I, 337.

9  Dr. Unger thought (from what he heard later) that the cause was “inflammation of the intestines, the diarrhoea preceding the fever.” Unger knew that Poe’s periods of drinking were followed by this condition. Dr. Moran made references to Poe’s being “drugged.” An opiate was the usual remedy — to be bought from any apothecary. Poe’s weak heart made any illness or strong remedy dangerous for him.

10  The date was established by John C. French, Baltimore Sun, June 3, 1949. For a list of those attending, see Phillips II, 1511; and Quinn, p. 643. Suter was a prominent and highly skilled cabinet-maker, who probably never built another coffin; I am told this by his great-grandson, Oscar S. Benson, D.D.S.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 570:]

1  The earliest fully authenticated picture is that used by J. H. Whitty as a frontispiece in Complete Poems; Whitty found the glass photographic plate made from a lost miniature that once belonged to Rosalie Poe. The engraved fashion plate in Graham’s for June 1841, the woodcut in the Philadelphia Saturday Museum of March 4, 1843 (a very bad picture but not a deliberate caricature), the engraving in Graham’s for February 1845, and the fine oil portrait by Samuel Stillman Osgood, who saw Poe only in 1845 and 1846, all show Poe without a mustache. Osgood’s, which was bequeathed to the New-York Historical Society by Rufus Wilmot Griswold, is decisive on Poe’s coloring, about which there has been debate.

2  See his own letter to J. M. Field, June 15, 1846, and Hirst’s sketch in the Saturday Museum, March 4, 1843. But even in medical examinations, a man’s statement about his height is often accepted; and Eugene L. Didier’s description in The Life and Poems of . . . Poe, pp. 123ff, certainly based on information from many people who saw Poe, said five feet, six inches. Poe may have been slightly bowlegged. Edward Wagenknecht, Edgar Allan Poe, pp. 44ff., has a discussion of Poe’s appearance. The poet’s voice was low and musical, and he spoke with a slight Southern drawl.

3  See the Ingram List, no. 728, and Wagenknecht, pp. 79 and 237.

4  See Woodberry, Life, II, 429f., for medical opinions of doctors — one was Thomas Dunn English — who knew Poe. I have consulted physicians who assure me that Woodberry (who held a contrary view to mine) was unaware of how decisive the testimony he quoted and dismissed really is.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 570, running to the bottom of page 571:]

5  See the Ingram List, no. 283. Dr. Unger in the letter frequently cited tells a pertinent story he had from Mary Nelson, who kept a house in 1847 to 1851 at what was then 1 Tripolet’s Alley. On one occasion Poe came there with William M. Smith, a printer of 72 French Street, who had a bottle of champagne to share in the parlor with two of the inmates. One girl, Leonora Bouldin (nicknamed “Lenore”) was only sixteen. The poet kissed her and urged her to reform. The ­[page 571:] addresses have been found in the Directories, Smith’s first in that for 1849, hence the most probable time of the incident is Poe’s visit in 1848. (Dr. Unger’s letter is that described in the Ingram List as no. 402.)

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 571:]

6  See Quinn, p. 644, for some short notices; Harrison, I, 348ff., reprinted the “Ludwig” article and other early material.

7  Catterina, the poet’s cat, who had eaten little during her owner’s absence, was found dead the last time Mrs. Clemm visited Fordham. See the Ingram List, no. 226.

8  The appointment has led to much discussion; the most reasonable view is that Poe had wished Griswold, a very able man, to be his editor, and had even mentioned the possibility to him, but in a way that Griswold had not thought a firm commitment.

9  In a letter of February 19, 1850, to John R. Thompson, Griswold said that the first two volumes were not selling well (see Thompson, Genius and Character, appendix). See also Ingram List, no. 197, on Griswold’s remark that the work would sell best as it was, with the “Memoir.”

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 572:]

10  See Sara Sigourney Rice, Edgar Allan Poe: A Memorial Volume (Baltimore, 1877), and Gill’s Life, pp. 276ff., for full accounts.

11  This is now the Emma Willard School at Troy, New York. As a girl Mrs. Lewis had been a special student there, and she presumably arranged for the donation. Her divorced husband, Sylvanus D. Lewis, sent a long letter to be read at the unveiling of the monument.

12  The ceremony came too late for the poet’s sister, Rosalie, whose death had occurred in Washington on July 21, 1874, and for Mrs. Clemm, who had died in Baltimore on February 16, 1871, and whose body now rests beneath the monument. But Neilson Poe spoke, W. F. Gill took part, and Poe’s old schoolmaster, Joseph H. Clarke, attended, as did Dr. Snodgrass, John H. B. Latrobe, John H. Hewitt, and N. C. Brooks. A letter from the poet Swinburne came too late to be read at the unveiling but was facsimiled in Miss Rice’s memorial volume.

 


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Notes:

Errata:

On page 534, in the entry for 1815: Isle of Skye / Isle of Syke

On page 537: Rees’s Cyclopaedia / Rees’ Cyclopaedia (although the title may be given in various forms, TOM gives it as Rees’s Cyclopaedia several times in the two volumes of Tales and Sketches, and it is thus changed here for the sake of consistency)

On page 545: Hans Pfaall / Hans Pfaal (as it appeared in the Southern Literary Messenger the name was spelled Hans Phaall, being changed to Pfaall in later versions)

On page 549, in the paragraph beginning In May: to New York and elsewhere, / to New York and elsewhere.

On page 551: Maelström / Maelstrom

On page 559, footnote 11, last sentence: version / verison


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[S:1 - TOM1P, 1969] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (T. O. Mabbott) (Annals)