Text: Orville James Victor (?), “Remembrance of the Dead,” Cosmopolitan Art Journal (New York, NY), vol. 1, no. 4, June 1857, p. 112


[page 112:]



IN the last number of the Art Journal we referred to the matter of a monument to the late EDGAR ALLAN POE. In response to that request for an expression of opinion by our readers, we have received many communications. All endorse the movement; but all do not agree upon the details of the Monumental Association, which must first be organized. That anything should be accomplished, it is necessary that a Committee be named who shall be empowered to act — first, in ordering the plan of action, and secondly, in carrying that plan into execution. We can, therefore, do no more at this time than to suggest the names of the gentlemen whom we deem the proper persons to take this matter in charge, viz.: — Gen’l. GEORGE P. Moan’s, New York; CHARLES SCRIBNER, New York; Louis A. GODEY, Philadelphia.

If these gentlemen will become that committee, and report to us their plan of action, we will cheerfully lend our whole influence to the matter, and we are sure the members of the “Cosmopolitan Association” will respond in a very hearty, generous way.

It is not our purpose to enter upon a defence of the life and character of Mr. Poe, against the heartless biography of the poet prefixed to the third volume of his “Works” published by Redfield; nor against the late cold, scalpel-like crusade of the “North American Review.” We feel that the great American public looks upon these notices of the dead with aversion and disgust — that it recognizes the genius of Poe as transcendent, and Will, therefore, willingly lend its material sympathy to any movement designed to perpetuate the memory of the man who has more real distinctiveness in our literature, than any other writer of his generation. There may be a propriety in dragging a man’s shortcomings before the public, when he is alive and able to defend himself; but to drag the dead from the grave, and assault the body as all of the man, is, to our mind, little else than literary cannibalism. Let these critics whose pens are dipped in gall be brought into the light, and show themselves pure, ere they dare to cover the grave of Edgar Allan Poe [column 2:] with infamy. We infinitely prefer the more charitable and Christian-like part of honoring the genius of him who is gone from our midst, and by treasuring up what was good, to let what was bad of him perish with the body. That there are thousands who think likewise, we well know, and are sure it only needs action on the part of the friends — and they are many — of the deceased to bring his mortal remains from their obscure resting place in Baltimore to Philadelphia, where, in Laurel Hill Cemetery, they may be permitted to sleep, honored and visited by those who would pay tribute to genius.

Of the resting place of the now un-honored dead, Rev. Dr. Snodgrass of Baltimore, who attended upon Mr. Poe in his last illness at Washington College Hospital, in Baltimore, says: — “The remains of the author of ‘The Raven’ do not ‘ lie mouldering in a corner of the Potter’s Field at Baltimore.’ The truth, as I remarked, is bad enough, and discreditable enough to his relatives, not to say to the city where he died. He was interred in an old Presbyterian burying-ground in Greene-street, which has not been much used for many years. On a portion of it a church has since been erected, but not over his grave. In the removal of the dead, which will sooner or later take place, it is quite probable the bones of ‘ Poor Poe’ will be collected among the remains of the friendless and the unknown, and removed beyond recognition, for nothing but a couple of pine boards were placed at his grave, in lieu of gravestones.’ “

Let us pray that no such disgrace may attach to us as a people, as surely will, if the remains of such a man should be suffered to pass into an unrecognized sepulchre !


Among the many letters which have come to us in response to the call for the feeling of the public in regard to the project of a monument to the deceased, we have tributes which it would give us great pleasure to publish, did space not forbid. We may be permitted to quote, however, the following from a distinguished citizen of South Carolina, as showing something of the spirit which prevails in this matter: —

“The March number of the Cosmopolitan Art Journal’ calls attention again to the Poe monument. Last year, in reply to Mr. Willis’s Idlewild letter, I [column 3:] wrote an appeal to the South for the Columbia (S. C.) Examiner. A portion of my article was re-published in the Providence (R. I.) Journal, but no results followed. The article of Mrs. Smith in the October number of the N. A. Review, feeble as it is, seems to have had considerable influence. I am preparing, an article now on Poe, which is to be more elaborate than my other, and the aim of it is to impress upon this portion of our country the claims to their regard which Poe had, and always must have. I consider him the clearest analytical critic the age — not country merely — his produced; the most purely ideal of the poets of our country; the most original fictionist; and, as a litterateur, not approached by any American. Boston, with a littleness far below her true position, has never ceased to testify her remembrance of her nick-name — Frog Pond — which Poe inflicted upon her with a brilliancy of bitterness which will make Boston immortalize him by her enmity! He will live when Boston will be remembered in tradition only. God grant that you may complete your noble design of rearing a suitable monument to his memory, at Laurel Hill, where his remains should go. It is a duty to her dead that our Literature owes, not to pay which will leave a troubled memory upon her conscience in other years.

“I will not cease to bring the matter again and again before the public of my State, through the newspapers. I will always be happy to serve your cause; and if, in my secluded village-home, I can do aught for the Poe Monument, command me.

“An admirer of Poe,

“And your ob’t. serv’t.,

* * * * [[James Wood Davidson]]”

The tone of this is patriotic, generous, just; and with hundreds of such workers in the field we see no reason why the Monument to Poe should any longer be delayed. We think the letter writer ascribes the North American Review article to the wrong person — certainly Mrs. E. Oakes Smith did not pen the paper. On the contrary, that lady, in the March number of the U. S. Magazine, of which she is one of the editors, wrote a very discrimating [[discriminating]] critique on Poe, and paid his genius a proper tribute.. We say this much in defence of Mrs. Oakes Smith, if it is to her the correspondent refers.




Although unsigned, the article is probably the work of Orville James Victor (1827-1910), the editor of the magazine.



[S:0 - CAJ, 1857] - Remembrance of the Dead Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - Remembrance of the Dead (O. J. Victor, 1857)