Text: Anonymous, “[Review of] Edgar Poe and His Critics,” Tribune (Chicago, IL), March 16, 1860, p. 2, col. 4


EDGAR POE AND HIS CRITICS. BY SARAH HELEN WHITMAN. New York: Rudd & Carleton. Chicago: SC. Griggs & Co.

It is rarely indeed that a writer whose entire works, both in prose and poetry, are comprised in two octavo volumes, continues a dozen years after his death to be a subject of controversy on so plain a question as to whether he was a kind husband, a good neighbor, and a generous friend. The fact that a volume of eighty pages, vindicating the memory of poor Poe, has found a publisher at this day, attests the abiding intarest [[interest]] felt by the public in all things related to that gifted though unhappy man. Edgar Poe is a charmed name in literature. Three poems — the Raven, the Bells, and Annabgel Lee — all of which might be put in two of these columns, have given him immortality; and the brief remainder of his works might themselves suffice to constitute a respectable fame. In all that makes an imperishable name among literary marvels, Poe is beyond the reach of those who would do him harm, and it only remains for those who loved him in life to show us that he had human feelings — that he who interpreted so vividly the hear, had one in his own breast. The writer of this volume has sought to show that the author of the “Raven” loved as deeply as the youth whose spirit was extinguished in the floating shadow — that he was a man as well as a lover — that he was a brother as well as a man. In this she has succeeded indifferently well. What evidence may be drawn from the wonderful pathos of his writings she has made the most of, and many ruthless slanders which have ascribed to Poe the heartlessness of a demon, seem to be disposed of by palpable facts. But we have nothing amounting to proof, which sets aside the generally received opinion concerning these unfortunate traits of character which repelled the friendship of those with whom he was associated. The following fine anecdote is new to us, and cannot fail to be interesting to all the readers and admirers of the poet:

“So far from being selfish or heartless his devotional fidelity to the memory of those he loved would by the world be regarded as fanatical. A characteristic incident of his boyhood will illustrate the passionate fidelity which we have ascribed to him. While at the academy in Richmond, which he entered in his twelfth year, he one day accompanied a schoolmate to his home, where he saw for the first time Mrs. H— S— [[Helen Stanard]], the mother of his young friend. This lady, on entering the room, took his hand and spoke some gentle and gracious words of welcome, which so penetrated the sensitive heart of the orphan boy as to deprive him of the power of speech, and, for a time, almost of consciousness itself. He returned home in a dream, with but one thought, one hope in life — to hear again the sweet and gracious words that had made the desolate world so beautiful to him, and filled his lonely heart with the oppression of a new joy. This lady afterwards became the confidant of all his boyish sorrows, and hers was the one redeeming influence that saved and guided him in the earlier days of his turbulent and passionate youth. After the visitation of strange and peculiar sorrows she died, and for months after her decease it was his habit to visit nightly the cemetery where the object of his boyish idolatry lay entombed. The thought of her — sleeping there in her loneliness — filled his heart with a profound, incommunicable sorrow. When the nights were very dreary and cold, when the autumnal rains fell and the winds, wailed mournfully over the graves, he lingered longest and came away most regretfully.”



The quote selected seems to be the one that caught the attention of most reviewers.


[S:0 - CT, 1860] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - Review of Edgar Poe and His Critics (Anonymous, 1860)