Text: Anonymous, “Edgar Allan Poe — Some Reminiscences by One Who Knew Him,” State (Richmond, VA), February 26, 1878


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EDGAR ALLEN [[ALLAN]] POE — SOME REMINESCENCES [[REMINISCENCES]] BY ONE WHO KNEW HIM. — A resident of Manchester who from early manhood has been, and still is, an admirer of Poe’s genius, has been kind enough to furnish our reporter with the following reminiscences: Poe visited Richmond in ‘45 or 46. His presence there soon became known to old friends and acquaintances. Our informant, who was then a clerk in a commercial house of long standing on Thirteenth street, between Main and Cary, was roused from his slumbers and told by a youthful friend that the poet was to be seen at “Our House,” then kept by Charlie Thompson, a public-spirited and honorable citizen of Richmond. Wishing much to see the author of the “Raven,” the reminiscent donned his finest suit and was escorted by an acquaintance, who duly presented him to Poe. The poet — alas! — was in his cups — the hour was midnight — the awful figure dismissed his admirer with a “How de do; glad to see you, Mr. ——.” Then his talk ran wild concerning a new work which he had just finished, and which he declared would explain the mystery of the beginning and ending of all earthy things. “Yes,” Mr. Poe said, “my ‘Eureka’ is the greatest work of my literary life.” Turning to an old friend who had been a college chum, he said: “Billy, you must read it when it comes out; it will bother the metaphysicians; it will et the world ablaze.” Thus he discoursed, when suddenly he thought of the lateness of the hour, and possibly of the knot of enthusiastic admirers who were scanning his motions and drinking in his wild words with wonder, and withdrew to a convenient locality, but here the reminicent [[reminiscent]] interposes a veil before the infirmities of genius, and leaves us to idle conjecture. The poet was at times as worldly-minded as the most vulgar mortal, and when tipsy was not altogether a seeming gentleman.

His “Raven” first appeared, the reminiscent thinks, in the North American Review for 1845 or 1846, under the authorship of one —— Quarles. Why it should so have appeared is probably known to those wo are versed in Poeana.

Poe was a favorite with young and old — with white and black — particularly with barbers. When the tidings of his death came to Richmond and Manchester a well-known clipper of hair and shaver of beards, in the former city — a portly darkey of distingué air and bearing — who had lathered the wild bard many a time as he sat in his barber chair, dreaming possibly dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before — remarked to our reminiscent, in lugubrious tone, “Edgar A. Poe is dead, sir. The shock, sir, is too much for me. The greatest poet and the kindest-hearted gentleman in America is dead. I cannot do any work to-day; I am too nervous, sir, to trust my hand.”

What a wonderful being the man must have been to have so impressed every romantic and unromantic personage with whom he held direct or indirect converse. If he was not a hero to his valet, was he not one to his barber?



The present article survives as a clipping in the Ingram Collection, item #728.

The comments about Eureka would necessarily date the reminiscences, if they are to be accepted as true, to 1848 (as that was the year in which Poe wrote and published that work). Poe is known to have travelled to Richmond in both 1848 and 1849. “The Raven” appeared in the American Review for February 1845, under the pseudonym of Quarles. (The line about “dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before” is one of the better known quotations from the poem, and was presumably used in the present article for the very effect of recognition.)


[S:0 - RS, 1880 (I)] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - Edgar Allan Poe: Some Reminicsences by One Who Knew Him (Anonymous, 1880)