Text: Anonymous, “Edgar A. Poe,” Eastern Clarion (Paulding, MS), vol. XXIII, no. 28, April 25, 1860, p. 2, col. 9


[page 2, column 9, continued:]

Edgar A. Poe

To all who admire Poe — and who does not? — the following from the critic of the Illinois State Journal, will be of interest:

Another book has found its way to my desk, which if it be of less importance, has at least performed the office of recalling more in love and sorrow than in anger, the sad misguided career of one of America’s foremost minds. “Edgar Poe and his critics,” is by no means an elaborated performance, and should be judged by ordinary rules. It is really what it professes to be — no common merit by the way — a cordial heartfelt tribute by a dear friend, to the memory of one who surely needs all the charity and pitying kindness friends can bring. Mrs. Whitman has accomplishedd [[accomplished]] her task gracefully and well, and deserves, and will receive, the thanks of every admirer of him upon whose grave she has laid this simple wreath of remembrance and affection. It is some years since, in these columns, I ventured to espouse the cause of Poe against what I then as now deemed that most unjust and unfortunate biography of Dr. Griswold, and it is consequently with no little satisfaction that I have watched the gradual softening of public feeling and opinion upon the subject of Poe’s character and the rapid growth of its literary fame. Great as this had been at home, it is much greater abroad: the peculiar grasp and originality of his genius is much better appreciated and rated at a far higher standard in England and on the continent than here.

A gentleman who had known Poe intimately the last two years of his life, informed me that during a recent visit to London he happened to dine with a member of the literati of the capital, among whom were Mr. Thackeray and several of the contributors to “Punch.” He was a stranger to all but the former. Singularly enough the conversation turned upon Poe, and an animated argument sprung up between two gentlemen in regard to him. Thackeray, turning to my informant, remarked, “you can settle this at once, you knew Poe.” “What, sir, did you know Mr. Poe?” asked half a dozen in a breath; “tell us all about him,” and for an hour no one else was allowed to talk. He was astonished, he said, to see the deep interest felt in everything connected with the author of the “Raven,” and entirely unprepared for the estimation in which he was held by men of letters. Poe’s greatest admirer and most ardent champion among all whom he met was Elizabeth Barrett Browning. From the same source I learned some personal characteristics of the man which, as they may not be devoid of interest, I will embody in this hasty sketch.

Poe was the moodiest of men, rarely indulging in smiles or jest, and always overshadowed by the deep, relentless gloom which is so marked a peculiarity of his writings. At all times save under the influence of that malignant power which Shakspeare apostrophizes, “O, thou invisible spirit, if thou hast no name to be known by, let us call the devil,” he was the high-bred scholar and gentleman, never indulging in profanity, and with an utter abhorrence of anything like “slang.” After a day’s abandonment to his besetting sin, he would enter the office attired with scrupulous neatness and nicety, without a flush or mark of indulgence on his pale face, and after passing the usual compliments of the morning, launch at once into the most brilliant disquisition upon art, and poetry and literature. His conversation — “unequalled,” said my informant, “by any I ever listened to save Macauly [[Macaulay]], and the comparison is hardly a fair one, because the styles were so dissimilar” — flowed without an apparent effort. It was a monologue rather than a conversation: he asked no questions, waited for no remarks, and scarcely seemed conscious that anyone beside himself was in the room. His words were the simplest and most unpretending, and there was no attempt at ostentatious display.

His works are a reflex of his character. Two ballads were especial favorites of his, and he was continually repeating them over in an undertone to himself. — One was Longfellow’s, beginning —

“The day is done, and the darkness

Falls from the wings of Night,

Like a feather wafted downward

From the eagle in his flight.”

The other was Tennyson’s “Princess,” and although familiar perhaps to many, is worthy a repetition here:

“Tears, idle tears, I know [[not]]what they mean,

Tears from the depth of some despair

Rise in the heart, and gather in the eyes,

In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,

And thinking of the days that are no more.


Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,

That brings our friends up from the underworld,

Sad as the last which reddens over one

That sinks with all we love below the verge;

So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.


Ah, sad and strange, as in dark summer dawns

The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds

To dying ears, when [[unto]] undying eyes

The casement slowly grows the [[a]] glimmering square;

So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.


Dear as remembered kisses after death,

And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned

On lips that are for others; deep as love,

Deep as first love, and wild with all regrets [[regret]];

O Death is [[in]] Life, the days that are no more.”

Poe used to say that he considered the lines which I have italicised the finest simile in the language.

He lies buried, after his fitful and most unhappy life, in the grounds of the Westminster Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, and a plain marble slab has recently been erected bearing this inscription:

Hic, tandem felicis,

Conduntor relinquiæ


Aet. 38.

Jam paros sepulto.




Although it was stated that the tombstone described above had been placed on Poe’s grave, it was supposedly prepared but never quite made it to its intended destination. According to Neilson Poe, the finished stone was destroyed by a train that ran off the track and crashed through the momument maker’s yard. The story has often been repeated, although never verified.


[S:0 - EC, October 1860] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - Edgar A. Poe (Anonymous, 1860)