Text: William F. Gill, “Appendix”, The Life of Edgar Allan Poe, New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1877, pp. 245-315


[page 245:]



How Griswold Secured Poe’s Papers — Ephemeral. Vindications of the Poet — George R. Graham’s Noble Tribute — Mrs. Whitman’s Memoir — Some Unpublished Collections — J. H. Ingram’s Memoir — Fairfield’s absurd Article in “Scribner” — Memoirs of Stoddard, Didier, and Memorial by Miss Rice — Extraordinary Catastrophe to the Original Monument to Poe — The Monument Erected November 11, 1875, in Baltimore — The Dedicatory Exercises — Addresses — Letters from Distinguished People.

FROM a correspondence with Mrs. Clemm, who, there can be no reasonable doubt, is correctly described by Willis as “one of those angels upon earth that women in adversity can be,” we find the most positive testimony that Dr. Griswold’s association with collecting the works of Poe, and of writing a memoir of the author, was purely voluntary and speculative.

It presents simply the fact of a designing and unscrupulous man, prompted by hatred and greed of gain, taking advantage of a helpless woman, unaccustomed to business, to defraud her [page 246:] of her rights, and gratify his malice and his avarice at her expense.

A small sum having been given to Mrs. Clemm in exchange for Poe’s private papers, Dr. Griswold draws up a paper for Mrs. Clemm to sign, announcing his appoinment [[appointment]] as Poe’s literary executor, not omitting, of course, a touching allusion to himself. This is duly signed by Mrs. Clemm, and printed over her signature in the published editions of Poe’s works. But if the wording of this curious paper be carefully observed, it will be noted that nothing whatever is said in it of any request by Poe that Dr. Griswold should write a memoir of his life. This duty was properly assigned to Mr. Willis — of all men familiar with the subject, the most competent to fulfil such a task, — and his tender and manly tribute to the stricken genius was all that could have been wished, all that the world called for.

Mrs. Clemm had no idea, at the time she signed the paper, which she scarcely understood, that Dr. Griswold had any intention of supplementing Mr. Willis’s obituary with any memoir by his own pen. It was a piece of gratuitous malice — [page 247:] the act of a fiend exulting over a dead and helpless victim.

The tone of Poe’s critique of Griswold, in his review of the” Poets and Poetry of America,” which unquestionably inspired the reverend doctor’s malignant hatred, scathing as it is, will impress the reader with its outspoken manliness and integrity of purpose. What a contrast to the biography that, while undermining the very foundations of Poe’s moral and social character, yet hypocritically professes to be dictated by friendship, and written in a generous spirit! We are convinced that Dr. Griswold’s precious specimen of his generosity will go on record in the history of literature as an everlasting monument of his despicable meanness.

It is certainly to be regretted that the vindications of the poet, after his death, were left to the ephemeral fate of newspaper issue only, and that no permanent place has, in any American memoir of Poe, been given to the manly and spirited defence of the poet, written by George R. Graham, and published in “Graham’s Magazine” in 1850.

Mr. Graham was peculiarly fitted to speak of [page 248:] the maligned poet, for no one of Poe’s literary contemporaries had known him as intimately, both in the mercantile and the domestic relations.

His testimony to the memory of the stricken genius will, it is to be hoped, be forever embalmed in all future biographies of the poet; for, without it, none would be complete.

We quote it here, as the most important tribute to the poet’s personal worth, ever offered by one of his contemporaries.


In an article of yours which accompanies the two beautiful volumes of the writings of Edgar Allan roe, you have spoken with so much truth and delicacy of the deceased, and, with the magical touch of genius, have called so warmly up before me the memory of our lost friend as you and I both seem to have known him, that I feel warranted in addressing to you the few plain words I have to say in defence of his character as set down by Mr. Griswold.

Although the article, it seems, appeared originally in the “New York Tribune,” it met my eye for the first time in the volumes before me. [page 249:] I now purpose to take exception to it in the most public manner. I knew Mr. Poe well, far better than Mr. Griswold; and by the memory of old times, when he was an editor of “Graham,” I pronounce this exceedingly ill-timed and unappreciative estimate of the character of our lost friend, UNFAIR AND UNTRUE. It is Mr. Poe as seen by the writer while laboring under a fit of the nightmare, but so dark a picture has no resemblance to the LIVING man. Accompanying these beautiful volumes, it is an immortal infamy, the death’s head over the entrance to the garden of beauty, a horror that clings to the brow of morning, whispering of murder. It haunts the memory through every page of his writings, leaving upon the heart a sensation of utter gloom, a feeling almost of terror. The only relief we feel is in knowing that it is not true, that it is a fancy sketch of a perverted, jaundiced vision. The man who could deliberately say of Edgar Allan Poe, in a notice of his life and writings prefacing the volumes which were to become a priceless souvenir to all who loved him, that his death might startle many, “BUT THAT FEW WOULD BE GRIEVED BY IT,” and blast the whole fame of [page 250:] the man by such a paragraph as follows, is a judge dishonored. He is not Mr. Poe’s peer, and I challenge him before the country even as a juror in the case:

“His harsh experience had deprived him of ail faith in man or woman. He had made up his mind upon the numberless complexities of the social world, and the whole system with him was an imposture. This conviction gave a direction to his shrewd and naturally unamiable character. Still, though he regarded society as composed altogether of villains, the sharpness of his intellect was not of that kind which enabled him to cope with villainy, while it continually caused him, by overshots, to fail of the success of honesty. He was in many respects like Francis Vivian in Bulwer’s novel of ‘The Caxtons.’ Passion, in him, comprehended many of the worst emotions which militate against human happiness. You could not contradict him, but you raised quick choler; YOU COULD NOT SPEAK OF WEALTH, BUT HIS CHEEK PALED WITH GNAWING ENVY. The astonishing natural advantages of this poor boy, — his beauty, his readiness, the daring spirit that breathed around him like a fiery atmosphere, had raised his constitutional self-confidence into an arrogance that turned his very claims to admiration into prejudices against him. Irascible, envious, bad enough, but not the worst, for these salient angles were all varnished over with a cold, repellant cynicism; his passions vented themselves in sneers. There seemed to him no moral susceptibility; and, WHAT WAS MORE REMARKABLE IN A PROUD NATURE, LITTLE OR NOTHING OF THE TRUE POINT OF HONOR. He had, too, [page 251:] a morbid excess, that desire to rise which is vulgarly called ambition, but no wish for the esteem or the love of his species; only the hard wish to succeed, — not shine, nor serve, — succeed, that he might have the right to despise a world which galled his self-conceit.”

Now this is dastardly, and, what is worse, it is false. It is very adroitly done, with phrases very well turned, and with gleams of truth shining out from a setting so dusky, as to look devilish. Mr. Griswold does not feel the worth of the man he has undervalued; he had no sympathies in common with him, and has allowed old prejudices and old enmities to steal, insensibly perhaps, into the coloring of his picture. They were for years totally uncongenial, if not enemies, and during that period Mr. Poe, in a scathing lecture upon “The Poets of America,” gave Mr. Griswold some raps over the knuckles of force sufficient to be remembered. He had, too, in the exercise of his functions as critic, put to death summarily the literary reputation of some of Mr. Griswold’s best friends; and their ghosts cried in vain for him to avenge them during Poe’s lifetime; and it almost seems as if the present hacking at the cold remains of him [page 252:] who struck them down, is a sort of compensation for duty long delayed, for reprisal long desired, but deferred. But without this, the opportunities afforded Mr. Griswold to estimate the character of Poe occurred, in the main, after his stability had been wrecked, his whole nature in a degree changed, and with all his prejudices aroused and active. Nor do I consider Mr. Griswold COMPETENT, with all the opportunities he may have cultivated or acquired, to act as his judge, to dissect that subtle and singularly fine intellect, to probe the motives and weigh the actions of that proud heart. His whole nature, that distinctive presence of the departed, which now stands impalpable, yet in strong outline before me, as I knew him and FELT him to be, eludes the rude grasp of a mind so warped and uncongenial as Mr. Griswold’s.

But it may be said, my dear Willis, that Mr. Poe himself deputed him to act as his literary executor, and that he must have felt some confidence, in his ability at least, if not in his integrity, to perform the functions imposed, with discretion and honor. I do not purpose, now, to enter into any examination of the appointment of Mr. [page 253:] Griswold, nor of the wisdom of his appointment, to the solemn trust of handing the fail fame of the deceased, unimpaired, to that posterity to which the dying poet bequeathed his legacy, but simply to question its faithful performance. Among the true friends of Poe in this city — and he had some such here — there are those, I am sure, that he did not class among VILLAINS; nor do THEY feel easy when they see their old friend dressed out, in his grave, in the habiliments of a scoundrel. There is something to them in this mode of procedure on the part of the literary executor that does not chime in with their notions of “the true point of honor.” They had all of them looked upon our departed friend as singularly indifferent to wealth for its own sake, but as very positive in his opinions that the scale of social merit was not of the highest; that mind, somehow, was apt to be left out of the estimate altogether; and, partaking somewhat of his free way of thinking, his friends are startled to find they have entertained very unamiable convictions. As to his “quick choler “when he was contradicted, it depended a good deal upon the party denying, as well as upon the subject discussed [page 254:] He was quick, it is true, to perceive mere quacks in literature, and somewhat apt to be hasty when pestered with them; but upon most other questions his natural amiability was, not easily disturbed. Upon a subject that he understood thoroughly, he felt some right to be, positive, if not arrogant, when addressing pretenders. His astonishing natural advantages” HAD been very assiduously cultivated; his “daring spirit” was the anointed of genius; his self-confidence the proud conviction of both; and it was with something of a lofty scorn that he ATTACKED, as well as repelled, a crammed scholar of the hour, who attempted to palm upon him his ill-digested learning. Literature with him was religion; and he, its high priest, with a whip of scorpions, scourged the money-changers from the temple. In all else, he had the docility and kind-heartedness of a child. No man was more quickly touched by a kindness, none more prompt to return for an injury. For three or four years I knew him intimately, and for eighteen months saw him almost daily, much of the time writing or conversing at the same desk, knowing all his hopes, his fears, and little annoyances of life, as [page 255:] well as his high-hearted struggle with adverse fate; yet he was always the same polished gentlemen, the quiet, unobtrusive, thoughtful scholar, the devoted husband, frugal in his personal expenses, punctual and unwearied in his industry, AND THE SOUL OF HONOR in all his transactions. This, of course, was in his better days, and by them WE judge the man. But even after his habits had changed, there was no literary man to whom I would more readily advance money for labor to be done. He kept his accounts, small as they were, with the accuracy of a banker. I append an account sent to me in his own hand, long after he had left Philadelphia, and after all knowledge of the transactions it recited had escaped my memory. I had returned him the story of The Gold Bug,” at his own request, as he found that he could dispose of it very advantageously elsewhere: —

We were square when I sold you the “Versification” article; for which you gave me first 25, and afterward 7 — in all · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · $32.00

Then you bought ‘The Gold Bug’ for · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 52.00


I got both these back, so that I owed · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · $84.00

You lent Mrs. Clemm · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · - · · · · 12.50


Making in all · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · $96.50 [page 256:]

The Review of “Flaccus” was 3 ¾ pp, which at $4, is 15.00  

Lowell’s poem is 10.00  

The review of Channing, 4 pp is 16, of which I got 6, leaving 10.00  

The review of Halleck, 4 pp. is 16, of which I got 10, leaving 6.00  

The review of Reynolds, 2 pp. 8.00  

The review of Longfellow, 5 pp. is 20, of which I got 10, leaving 10.00  


So that I have paid in all 59.00 


Which leaves still due by me $37.50”

This, I find, was his uniform habit with others as well as myself, carefully recalling to mind his indebtedness with the fresh article sent. And this is the man who had “no moral susceptibility,” and little or nothing of the “true point of honor.” It may be a very plain business view of the question, but it strikes his friends that it may pass as something, as times go.

I shall never forget how solicitous of the happiness of his wife and mother-in-law he was whilst one of the editors of “GRAHAM’S MAGAZINE;” his whole efforts seemed to be to procure the comfort and welfare of his home. Except for their happiness, and the natural ambition of [page 257:] having a magazine of his own, I never heard him deplore the want of wealth. The truth is, he cared little for money, and knew less of its value, for he seemed to have no personal expenses. What he received from me, in regular monthly instalments, went directly into the hands of his mother-in-law for family comforts, and twice only I remember his purchasing some rather expensive luxuries for his house, and then he was nervous to the degree of misery until he had, by extra articles, covered what he considered an imprudent indebtedness. His love for his wife was a sort of rapturous worship of the spirit of beauty which he felt was fading before his eyes. I have seen him hovering around her when she was ill, with all the fond fear and tender anxiety of a mother for her first-born, her slightest cough causing in him a shudder, a heart-chill that was visible. I rode out, one summer evening, with them, and the remembrance of his watchful eyes eagerly bent upon the slightest change of hue in that loved face haunts me yet as the memory of a sad strain. It was the hourly ANTICIPATION of her loss that made him a sad and thoughtful man, and lent a mournful melody to his undying song. [page 258:]

It is true, that later in life Poe had much of those morbid feelings which a life of poverty and disappointment is so apt to engender in the heart of man — the sense of having been ill-used, misunderstood, and put aside by men of far less ability, and of none — which preys upon the heart and clouds the brain of many a child of song. A consciousness of the inequalities of life, and of the abundant power of mere wealthy allied even to vulgarity, to override all distinctions and to thrust itself, bedaubed with dirt and glittering with tinsel, into the high places of society, and the chief seats of the synagogues whilst he, a worshipper of the beautiful and true, who listened to the voices of angels and held delighted companionship with them as the cold throng swept disdaindfully [[disdainfully]] by him, was often in danger of being thrust out, houseless, homeless, beggared, upon the world, with all his fine feelings strung to a tension of agony when he thought of his beautiful and delicate wife, dying hourly before his eyes. What wonder that he then poured out the vials of a long-treasured bitterness upon the injustice and hollowness of all society around him. [page 259:]

The very natural question “Why did he not work and thrive?” is easily answered. It will not be ASKED by the many who know the precarious, tenure by which literary men hold a mere living in this country. The avenues through which they can profitably reach the country are few, and crowded with aspirants for bread, as well as fame. The unfortunate tendency to cheapen every literary work to the lowest point of beggarly flimsiness in price and profit, prevents even the well-disposed from extending anything like an adequate support to even a part of the great throng which genius, talent, education, and even misfortune, force into the struggle. The character of Poe’s mind was of such an order as not to be very widely in demand. The class of educated mind which he could readily and profitably address was small — the channels through which he could do so at all were few — and publishers all, or nearly all, contented with such peas as were already engaged, hesitated to incur the expense of his to an extent which would sufficiently remunerate him; hence, when he was fairly at sea, connected permanently with no publication, he suffered all the horrors of prospective [page 260:] destitution, with scarcely the ability of providing for immediate necessities; and at such moments alas! the tempter often came, and as you have truly said, “ONE GLASS” of wine made him a madman. Let the moralist who stands upon “tufted carpet,” and surveys his smoking board, the fruits of his individual toil or mercantile adventure, pause before he let the anathema trembling upon his lips, fall upon a man like Poe, who, wandering from publisher to publisher, with his fine, print-like manuscript, scrupulously clean and neatly rolled, finds no market for his brain — with despair at heart, misery ahead, for himself and his loved ones, and gaunt famine dogging at his heels, thus sinks by the wayside, before the demon that watches his steps and whispers oblivion. Of all the miseries which God, or his own vices, inflict upon man, none are so terrible as that of having the strong and willing arm struck down to a childlike inefficiency, while the Heart and the Will have the purpose of a giant’s out-doing We must remember, too, that the very organization of such a mind as that of Poe — the very tension and tone of his exquisitely strung nerves — [page 261:] the passionate yearnings of his soul for the beautiful and true, utterly unfitted him for the rude jostlings and fierce competitorship of trade. The only drafts of his that could be honored were those upon his brain. The unpeopled air — the caverns of ocean — the decay and mystery that hang around old castles — the thunder of wind through the forest aisles — the spirits that rode the blast, by all but him unseen — and the deep, metaphysical creations which floated through the chambers of his soul — were his only wealth, the High Change where only his signature was valid for rubies.

Could he have stepped down and chronicled small beer, made himself the shifting toady of the hour, and, with bow and cringe, hung upon the steps of greatness, sounding the glory of third-rate ability with a penny trumpet, he would have been fêted alive, and PERHAPS been praised when dead. But, no I his views of the duty of the critic were stem, and he felt that in praising an unworthy writer he committed dishonor. His pen was regulated by the highest sense of DUTY. By a keen analysis he separated and studied each piece which the skilful mechanist had put together [page 262:] No part, however insignificant or apparently unimportant, escaped the rigid and patient scrutiny of his sagacious mind. The unfitted joint proved the bungler — the slightest blemish was a palpable fraud. He was the scrutinizing lapidary, who detected and exposed the most minute flaw in diamonds. The gem of first water shone the brighter for the truthful setting of his calm praise. He had the finest touch of soul for beauty — a delicate and hearty appreciation of worth. If his praise appeared tardy, it was of priceless value when given. It was true as well as sincere. It was the stroke of honor that at once knighted the receiver. It was in the world of MIND that he was king; and, with a fierce audacity, he felt and proclaimed himself autocrat. As critic, he was despotic, supreme. Yet no man with more readiness would soften a harsh expression at the request of a friend, or if he himself felt that he had infused too great a degree of bitterness into his article, none would more readily soften it down after it was in type — though still maintaining the justness of his critical views. I do not believe that he wrote to give pain; but in combating what he conceived to be [page 263:] error, he used the strongest “word that presented itself, even in conversation. He labored not so much to reform as to exterminate error, and thought the shortest process was to pull it up by the roots.

He was a worshipper of intellect — longing to grasp the power of mind that moves the stars — to bathe his soul in the dreams of seraphs. He was himself all ethereal, of a fine essence, that moved in an atmosphere of spirits — of spiritual beauty, overflowing and radiant — twin-brother with the angels, feeling their flashing wings upon his heart, and almost clasping them in his embrace. Of them, and as an expectant archangel of that high order of intellect, stepping out of himself, as it were, and interpreting the time he revelled in delicious luxury in a world beyond, with an audacity which we fear in madmen, but in genius worship as the inspiration of heaven.

But my object, in throwing together a few thoughts upon the character of Edgar Allan Poe, was not to attempt an elaborate criticism, but to say .what might palliate grave faults that have been attributed to him, and to meet by facts unjust [page 264:] accusation; in a word, to give a mere outline of the man as he lived before me. I think I am warranted in saying to Mr. Griswold that he most review his decision. It will not stand the calm scrutiny of his own judgment, or of time, it must be regarded by all the friends of Mr. Poe as an ill-judged and misplaced calumny upon that gifted son of genius.

Yours truly  

Philadelphia, February 2, 1850.

To N. P. WILLIS, Esq.

Numerous other memoirs and biographies of Poe have also appeared since his death. Many of them have been founded upon Griswold’s, and have already been alluded to. Such should be dismissed without other consideration than that they have unquestionably had, aside from the unjust estimate which they have conveyed of the poet, a deteriorating effect upon the popularity of his works, both in America and England. The effect of the Griswold biography upon the’ intelligent reader may be exactly measured by the impression formed by an English reviewer of [page 265:] Hannay’s biography, founded upon Griswold’s; to wit, —

“Should any man of taste and sense, not acquainted with Poe, be so unfortunate as to look at Dr. Griswold’s preface before reading the poetry, it is extremely probable he will throw the book into the fire, in indignation at the self-conceit and affected smartness by which the preface is characterized.”

In 1859, Mrs. S. H. Whitman, in her volume “Edgar Poe and his Critics,” which we have had occasion to repeatedly commend in this volume, made a most valuable contribution to literary biography, and offered a significant tribute to the memory of Poe, which was probably not fully appreciated, issued, as it was, at a time when the country was disturbed and unsettled by the excitements of the impending civil war.

Mr. James Woods Davidson made a very complete collection of Poe material, which was, unfortunately, destroyed during the seige [[siege]] of Charleston.

Mr. Thomas Cottrell Clarke made a collection which he eventually disposed of, and to which we have had access in the preparation of this work. [page 266:]

It is not to be regretted that Mr. Clarke never completed and published his memoir, for although a near personal friend of the poet, he was lacking in the enterprise and determination necessary to the adequate fulfilment of such a task.

Mr. J. H. Ingram, of London, possessing both enterprise and determination, has written and published a memoir of Poe, which, considering the disadvantage of collecting literary material at the distance of three thousand miles from the poet’s birthplace, is a creditable work, although, in some essential points, it is unreliable.

Mr. R. H. Stoddard wrote an interesting memoir for Routledge’s London edition of the poet’s works.

Mr. Thomas C. Latto, now of Brooklyn, New York, has made a collection, designing, it is understood, to write a memoir of the poet.

Francis Gerry Fairfield wrote a paper, entitled “A Mad Man of Letters,” for “Scribner’s Magazine,” October, 1875, which he presumed to class the author of “The Raven” as an epileptic. The article was written, like many others concerning Poe, with a reckless disregard of facts, and was unanswerably controverted by Mrs. S. H. [page 267:] Whitman, in a letter published in “The New York Tribune.”

Mr. Eugene Didier, of Baltimore, has written a biographical sketch of the poet, to preface a new edition of Poe, issued by W. J. Widdleton, of New York.

Miss Sarah E. [[S.]] Rice, of Baltimore, aided by Wm. Hand Browne, Esq., of that city, has prepared a memorial volume, containing an account of the monument erected in Baltimore to the memory of the poet, and some interesting reminiscences of Poe by one of his schoolmates.

The late J. P. [[R.]] Thompson wrote a lecture on Poe, which was, we are informed, delivered in Baltimore. These, with our lecture, “The Romance of Edgar A. Poe,” our vindication of the poet originally published in “Lotos Leaves,” and subsequently in the Diamond edition of Poe’s poems, issued by Widdleton, and our reminiscences of the poet in “Laurel Leaves;” comprise the principal isolated papers on Poe, not founded on Griswold, that have been published, aside from the sketches to be found in the cyclopaedias, and the numerous contributions that have, from time to time, appeared in the newspapers. [page 268:]

Before alluding to the most significant public tribute ever offered to the memory of Poe, the erection of the monument dedicated at Baltimore in November, 1875, it should be stated that impression that no fitting marks of respect to the dead poet, have ever been offered by his relatives, is erroneous. A suitable slab, bearing the inscription, “Hic tandem felice conduntur Reliquiae, Edgar Allan Poe,” was prepared by the order of Neilson Poe, Esq.

But the relentless fate that pursued the unhappy poet during his lifetime, followed him after death, and a phenomenal catastrophe prevented the erection of the slab over his grave.

On the day before it was to have been erected, a freight train on the Northern Central Railroad jumped the track, and ran into the marble yard, near by the depot, in which the slab was placed, awaiting transportation to the cemetery. The slab was directly in the course of the heavy train, and was shivered to atoms.

Poe’s grave, therefore, remained neglected until efforts of the Baltimore School Teachers Association, and the munificence of George W. Childs, Esq., of Philadelphia, secured the substantial [page 269:] monument now placed over his tomb. The interesting ceremonies of the dedication took place November 17, 1875. The account here given is gathered from the graphic description published in ‘’The Cincinnati Commercial,” and from the Baltimore papers of November 18.

“For several years, the school teachers of this city have been accumulating a fund for the purpose of erecting a suitable memorial above the last resting-place of this rare genius, and they were generously aided in their efforts by Geo. W. Childs, of Philadelphia, whose donation amounted to nearly half the cost of the monument. The ceremonies of unveiling this memorial to-day were most interesting. Crowds were assembled at the western female high school, adjoining Westminster Church, where, ten years ago, the first entertainment on behalf of the movement was given.

“Professor Elliott gave a history of the movement, while Professor Shepherd’s scholarly production treated more exclusively of ‘Poe as a poet and man of genius.’

“The reminiscences of Mr. Latrobe were delivered in a most impressive manner, and were received with the greatest enthusiasm. [page 270:]

“Miss Rice, who has always been most active in the work, read letters from our own poets who were unable to attend, and also one from Alfred Tennyson; and Mr. W. F. Gill, of Boston, who has done much, by his earnest vindication of the poet’s memory, to remove false impressions, gave the finest rendition of ‘The Raven’ to which we ever listened. The large audience was absolutely spell-bound by his perfect elocution; and his resemblance to the recognized ideals of Mr. Poe himself, made the personation of his horror and despair almost painful.

“A few words by Mr. Neilson Poe, cousin of the poet, who was present at his burial, twenty-six years ago, expressing gratification at the completion of the work undertaken by the committee, concluded the exercises in the hall.

“While the monument was being unveiled, a dirge was sung, and a superb wreath of laurel and choice flowers, the contribution of the dramatic profession, of which Poe’s mother was a member, was placed upon it; after which “Annabel Lee” was recited in the same masterly manner by Mr. Gill, and a lady gave a very good rendition of ‘The Bells.’ [page 271:]

“The monument is a plain Grecian obelisk of purest marble upon a granite base, and at present is only ornamented with a medallion bust of the poet, with his name and the dates of his birth and death. An inscription written by Tennyson is to be added hereafter.

“The day was lovely, though rather windy and cold, and, to-night, the pale beams of the moon will shine on the grave — no longer neglected — of Edgar Allan Poe.”

The platform at the head of the hall was filled with a number of gentlemen. Principals of the high schools, those who were to take part in the exercises, gentlemen who had been acquaintances or associates of the poetic genius in honor of whose memory the meeting was held, and other invited guests. Among them was prominent the venerable head of Walt Whitman, the poet, his silver hair sweeping his shoulders; Prof. John Hewitt, once editor of the “Saturday Visitor,” in which Poe’s .weird story of “The Manuscript Found in a Bottle “first appeared; Dr. John H. Snodgrass, also a former editor of the “Visitor,” Prof. N. C. Brooks, who edited the” American Magazine,” in’ which some of Poe’s earliest [page 272:] productions appeared, and Prof. Joseph Clarke, a very venerable gentleman, whose school at Richmond, Virginia, had been attended by Poe when a boy, were also upon the platform. Among others were Prof. J. C. Kinear, of Pembroke Academy; Dr. N. H. Morison, provost of Peabody Institute; John T. Morris, Esq., president of the School Board; the Rev. Dr. Julius E. Grammer, Judge Garey, Joseph Merrefield, Esq., Dr. John G. Morris, Neilson Poe, Esq., Ichabod Jean, Esq., Summerfield Baldwin, Joseph J. Stewart, Esq., Professors Thayer and Hollingshead, John T. Ford, Esq., George Small, Esq., the Faculty of the Baltimore City College, M. A. Newell, Esq., State School Superintendent, as well as those who were to take part in the proceedings. The exercises began shortly after two o’clock with the performance of the “Pilgrims’ Chorus” of Verdi, by the Philharmonic Society, who occupied raised seats in the rear of the hall, under the direction of Professor Remington Fairlamb.

At the close of the music, Professor William Elliott, Jr., president of the Baltimore City College, delivered the following address, containing the [page 273:]


“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, — I purpose, in discharging the duty assigned me on this occasion, to give a brief historical sketch of the movement which culminates, to-day, in the dedication of a monument to the memory of the great American poet, Edgar Allan Poe, the first and only memorial expression of the kind ever given to an American on account of literary excellence.

This extraordinary and unique genius, born in Boston, January 20, 1809, during a brief sojourn of his parents in that place, died on the 7th of October, 1849, in this city, which is undoubtedly entitled to claim him as one of her distinguished sons. Two days thereafter, on the 9th of October, his mortal remains were interred in the cemetery attached to the Westminster Presbyterian Church, adjoining the building in which we are now assembled.

“In this connection, acting as a truthful chronicler, I deem it proper to state some facts in relation to the circumstances of the interment. The reliability of the statement I shall now make is sufficiently attested by. the evidence of at least three of the gentlemen present on that occasion — possibly the only three who yet survive. [page 274:]

“I have been informed that the day was, for the season, more than ordinarily unpleasant, the weather being raw and cold; indeed, just such a day as it would have been more comfortable to spend within than without doors.

“The time of the interment was about four o’clock in the afternoon; the attendance of persons at the grave, possibly a consequence of the state of the weather, was limited to eight, certainly to not more than nine, persons, one of these being a lady.

“Of the number known to have been present were, Hon. Z. Collins Lee, a classmate of the deceased at the University of Virginia; Henry Herring, Esq., a connection of Mr. Poe; Rev. W. T. D. Clemm, a relative of Mr. Poe’s wife; oui well-known fellow-citizen, Neilson Poe, Esq., a cousin of the poet; Edmund Smith, Esq., and wife, the latter being a first cousin of Poe, and at this time his nearest living relative in this city, and possibly Dr. Snodgrass, the editor of the ‘’Saturday Visitor,” the paper in which the prize story written by Poe first made its appearance. The clergyman who officiated at the grave was Rev. W. T. D. Clemm, already mentioned, a [page 275:] member of the Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, who read the impressive burial service used by that denomination of Christians, after which, all that was mortal of Edgar Allan Poe was gently committed to its mother earth.

“Another item, which it may not be inappropriate to record in this historical compend, I will now mention, namely, that George W. Spence, who officiated as sexton at the burial of Mr. Poe, is the same person who, after the lapse of twenty-six years, has superintended the removal of his remains, and those of his loving and beloved mother-in-law, Mrs. Clemm, and their re-interment in the lot in which the monument now stands.

“For a number of years after the burial of the poet, no steps seem to have been taken toward making his grave, until, at length, a stone was prepared for this purpose by order of Neilson Poe, Esq. Unfortunately, however, this stone never served the purpose for which it was designed. A train of cars accidentally ran into the establishment of Mr. Hugh Sisson, at which place the stone was at the time, and so damaged it as to render it unfit to be used as intended. [page 276:]

“Another series of years intervened, but yet no movement to mark the grave. True, articles almost innumerable, ad nauseam, made their appearance at short intervals during that time in different newspapers, but the authors of those articles were mostly of that class of persons who employ their energies in finding fault with others, totally oblivious of the fact that they themselves, no less, deserved the censure they so liberally meted out to others.

“ ‘Poe’s neglected grave’ was the stereotyped expression of these modem Jeremiahs. Nor were they content to indulge in lamentations; not unfrequently our good city was soundly berated because of its alleged want of appreciation of the memory of one whose ashes, they intimated, had he been an Englishman, instead of filling an unmarked grave in an obscure cemetery, would have had accorded to them a place in that grand old abbey which England has appropriated as a mausoleum for her distinguished dead.

“But the ‘neglected grave ‘ was not always to remain such. At a regular meeting of the Public School Teachers’ Association, held in this hall, October 7, 1865, Mr. John Basil, Jr., principal of [page 277:] No. 8 Grammar School, offered a paper, of which the following is a copy: —

“ ‘Whereas it has been represented to certain members of the Association that the mortal remains of Edgar Allan Poe. are interred in the cemetery of the Westminster Church, without even so much as a stone to mark the spot; therefore,

“ ‘Resolved that a committee of five be appointed by the president of this Association to devise some means best adapted, in their judgment, to perpetuate the memory of one who has contributed so largely to American literature.’

‘This resolution was unanimously adopted, and a committee, consisting of Messrs. Basil, Baird and J. J. G. Webster, Miss Veeder and Miss Wise, appointed to carry out the purpose named.

“This committee reported in favor of the erection of a monument, and recommended that measures be at once taken to secure the funds necessary to accomplish this object. This recommendation was heartily indorsed by the Association, and, without delay, the committee entered upon the work of raising the funds.

“In this work the young ladies of the western female high school took an active and, as will be seen, a successful part. An entertainment of select readings by the pupils of that school, held [page 278:] in this hall, on the evening of October 10, 1865, under the superintendence of Miss S. S. Rice, yielded the handsome sum of $380. A literary and musical entertainment, held in Concordia Hall, December 7, 1865, in which the pupils of the eastern and western female high schools and those of Baltimore City College took part, increased the fund by the addition thereto of $75-92. May 15, 1866, a contribution of $50 was received from Prof. Charles Davies, of New York, and on the 19th of the same month a donation of $54 was received as an offering of the young ladies of ‘Troy Female Seminary.’ These sums, with interest added, amounted, as per report of Thomas D. Baird, treasurer submitted March 23, 1871, to $587.02. The enthusiasm that characterized the undertaking at the outset seemed now to have greatly abated, and serious thoughts were consequently entertained of abandoning the project. At this juncture, a new committee, consisting of Messrs. Elliott, Kerr and Hamilton, Miss Rice and Miss Baer, was appointed to consider the matter.

“After mature deliberation this committee reported, April 15, 1872, as follows: “First, resolved, [page 279:] that the money now in the hands of the treasurer of the ‘Poe Memorial Fund,’ be appropriated to the erection of a monument, the same to be placed over Poe’s remains. Second, that a committee of five be appointed by the president, with power to act as stated in the first resolution.” These resolutions were adopted, and the committee therein provided for, appointed as follows: Wm. Elliott, Jr., A. S. Kerr, Alexander Hamilton, Miss S. S. Rice and Miss E. A. Baer. September 2, 1874, committee received, from the estate of Dr. Thomas D. Baird, deceased, the late treasurer of the ‘Poe Memorial Fund,’ $627.55, amount of principal and interest to that date, which was immediately deposited in the Chesapeake Bank, of this city. Believing that this amount could be increased to $1000 by donations from some of our fellow-citizens who favored the project, the committee applied to Mr, George A. Frederick, architect of the City Hall, for the design of a monument to cost about that sum.

“Mr. Frederick, in due time, submitted a design ‘at once simple, chaste and dignified,’ but requiring for its realization much more than the [page 280:] amount included in the expectations of the committee. Moreover, a new feature was now introduced that of placing a medallion likeness of the poet on one of the panels of the monument, which would still further increase the cost. With a view of determining whether the amount necessary to complete the monument, according to the proportions it had now assumed, could be raised, applications were made to a number of our citizens for contributions. From one, of acknowledged æsthetic taste, a check of $100 was promptly received. Two other gentlemen contributed $50 each, while Miss S. S. Rice a member of the committee collected in small sums [[of]] $52 more.

“A knowledge of the ‘world-wide’ known liberality of Mr. George W. Childs, of Philadelphia, formerly one of cur fellow townsmen, induced the chairman of the committee to drop him a note on the subject. Within twenty-four hours, a reply was received from that gentleman, expressive of his willingness to make up the estimated deficiency of $650.

“The necessary amount having now been secured, the committee proceeded to place the construction [page 281:] and erection of the monument in the hands of Mr. Hugh Sisson, his proposal being the most liberal one received. How faithfully he has executed his commission will be seen when the covering that now veils the monument is removed. No one, so well as the chairman of the committee, knows how anxious Mr. Sisson has been to meet even more than the expectations of those most concerned. To his generous liberality are we largely indebted for the reproduction of the classic lineaments of the poet, in the beautiful and highly artistic medallion that adds so much to the attractiveness of the monument.

“To most of those present, I presume, it is known that the lot in which the monument is now located is not the one in which it was first placed. In deference to what was considered by the committee the popular wish, the monument was removed from its first location to its present one. The remains of Mr. Poe, and also those of his mother-in-law, were, as before intimated, removed at the same time. The new lot was secured mainly through the efforts of Mr. John T. Morris, president of the school board, to whom, and to all others who have in any way [page 282:] contributed to the consummation of this undertaking, I wish here, on behalf of the committee, to render thanks.

“In conclusion, allow me to congratulate all concerned that Poe’s grave is no longer a neglected one.”

Upon the conclusion of Professor Elliott’s address, which was listened to with deep attention, Miss Sarah S. Rice was introduced to the audience. To this lady, well known to the public from her elocutionary attainments, the greatest possible credit is due for the successful completion of the enterprise. The first money raised for the erection of the monument was through her personal efforts, and the entire monument, from its inception to the close, has enjoyed the benefits of her unremitting attention and effort. Miss Rice read the following


In response to Invitations to be present on the Occasion.


CUMMINGTON, Mass., September 18, 1875. Dear Madam, — I return my thanks for the obliging invitation contained in your letter of the 14th, and for the kind words with which it is accompanied. For various reasons, [page 283:] however, among which is my advanced age, it is not in my power to be present at the ceremonies of which you speak, and I have only to make my best acknowledgment to those who have done me the honor to think of me in connection with them. I am, madam, truly yours,


Miss S. S. RICE.



CAMBRIDGE, 18th October, 1875.

Dear Madam, — I regret very much that it will be quite impossible for me to be present at the very interesting ceremony of unveiling the monument to Poe. I need not assure you that I sympathize very heartily with the sentiment which led to its erection.

I remain very truly yours,  

Miss SARAH S. RICE, Cor. Sec. of the

Poe Monument Association, Baltimore.



PROVIDENCE, R.I., November 5, 1875.


My dear Madam, — Your most kind and gratifying letter, conveying to me an invitation to be present at the unveiling of the monument to the memory of our great American poet, was duly received. I need not say to you that the generous efforts of the association in whose behalf you write have called forth my warmest sympathy and most grateful appreciation. The work was long delayed, and has been consummated [page 284:] at the right time, and through the most congenial and appropriate agencies.

I am, most sincerely and most gratefully, yours,  



AMESBURY, 9th mo., 21, 1875.


Dear friend, — The extraordinary genius of Edgar A. Poe is now acknowledged the world over, and the proposed tribute to his memory indicates a full appreciation of his own intellectual gifts on the part of the city of his birth. As a matter of principle, I do not favor ostentatious monuments for the dead, but sometimes it seems the only way to express the appreciation which circumstances, in some measure, may have denied to the living man.

I am not able to be present at the inauguration of the monument. Pray express my thanks to the ladies and gentlemen for whom thy letter speaks, for the invitation. Acknowledging the kind terms in which that invitation was conveyed on thy part, I am very truly thy friend,




BOSTON, September 18, 1875.

Dear Miss Rice, — In answer to your kind invitation, I regret that I cannot say that I hope to be present at the ceremony of placing a monument over the grave of your poet. Your city has already honored valor and patriotism by the [page 285:] erection of stately columns. Republics are said to be ungrateful, perhaps because they have short memories, forgetting wrongs as quickly as benefits. But your city has shown that it can remember, and has taught us all the lesson of gratitude. No one, surely, needs a mausoleum less than the poet.

His monument shall be his gentle verse,

Which eyes not yet created shall o’erread;

And tongues to be, his being shall rehearse

When all the breathers of this world are dead.

Yet we would not leave him without a stone to mark the spot where the hands that “waked to ecstacy the living lyre “were laid in the dust. He that can confer an immortality which will outlast bronze and granite deserves this poor tribute, not for his sake so much as ours. The hearts of all who reverence the inspiration of genius, who can look tenderly upon the infirmities too often attending it, who can feel for its misfortunes, will sympathize with you as you gather around the resting place of all that was mortal of Edgar Allan Poe, and raise the stone inscribed with one of the few names which will outlive the graven record meant to perpetuate its remembrance.

Believe me very truly yours,  



BOSTON, Mass., October 10, 1875.

SARAH S. RICE, Cor. Sec.

Dear Madam, — I hasten to acknowledge the receipt of your letter inviting me to attend the inaugural ceremonies of the monument to Edgar Allan Poe. It is with the deepest regret [page 286:] that I find myself unable to accept the invitation. !have just returned from a long absence abroad, and my private affairs demand my closest attention. The duties and engagements which I have been obliged to put aside during the past six or seven months leave me no time to write anything that would serve your purpose. But for this, I would come in person to lay my tribute, with the other more worthy offerings, on Poe’s grave. Your desire to honor his genius is in the heart of every man of letters, though perhaps no American author stands so little in need of a monument to perpetuate his memory as the author of “The Raven.” His imperishable fame is in all lands. With thanks for your courtesy, I remain,

Very truly yours,  



LEXINGTON, Virginia, October 8.


Dear Madam, — Your note and request, so complimentary to myself, has been received.

I thank you for the good opinion which led you to propose the writing of a poem on my part for the prospective inauguration of the Poe Memorial. While it is not in my power to comply with the flattering request, or to be present at the ceremonial, I tender to the committee my thanks, nevertheless, for the honor thus conferred on me.

There would seem to be a slight appropriateness in the proposal made to me, inasmuch as my husband (Colonel Preston, of the Virginia Military College) was a boyish friend ctf Poe’s when they went to school together in Richmond: [page 287:] who used to sit on the same bench with him, and together pore over the same pages of “Horace.” To him, as his earliest literary critic — a hoy of fourteen — Poe was accustomed to bring his first verses. Even then, youth as he was, he was distinguished by many of the characteristics which marked his after-life.

With every good wish for the entire success of your memorial services, and with renewed thanks to your committee for this mark of regard, believe me, my dear madam, sincerely yours,




BROOKLYN, N.Y., October 10, 1875.

To SARAH S. RICE, Professor of Elocution, Baltimore, Maryland: — Of all my letters received during a long confinement by sickness, yours of the 5th instant is the first I have attempted to answer. I employ the hand of another (for I am not yet able to write) to thank you for the kind invitation you send me to assist at the Poe Monument ceremonies, on the 15th instant.

As I cannot hope to be present on that, occasion, I avail myself of your friendly note to express my interest in the event, and my admiration of the noble-hearted men and women of Baltimore, who, by the creation of a beautiful and appropriate monument to the memory of Edgar A. Poe, perform a patriotic ofiice which was primarily and peculiarly the duty, as it should have been the pride, of the American uterati toward one whose original genius has done so much to adorn and distinguish American literature.

Yours very truly,  

[page 288:]

Prof. Elliot read the following letter from G. W. Childs, of Philadelphia, regretting that he could not be present: —

PHILADELPHIA, November 15, 1875.

It would be very agreeable to my regard for the memory of Edgar A. Poe to accept your invitation to be present at the dedicatory ceremonies of the Poe Monument, on the 17th inst., but it is quite improbable that I can be with you on that occasion. There is a mournful satisfaction, even in this late tribute to one whose rare genius and sensitive nature were accompanied by so many unhappy experiences of life. Poor Poe! His working-day world was more than full of sorrows, and he seems to have been happy only in his visions outside of real life, or in his dream of a world beyond that in which we all live.

What is now being done by the affectionate friends, and by those who feel that injustice has been done to his memory, may prove to be the starting point of a changed and juster view of his life and character. Although it is far too late to be of service to him, it is not too late to be of benefit to ourselves and others. Those of us who may have felt disposed to censure him, can read with profit the following lines from his “Tamerlane,” and especially the last couplet: —

“I firmly do believe —

I know — for Death, who comes for me

From regions of the blest afar,

Where there is nothing to deceive,

Hath left his iron gate ajar,

And rays of truth you cannot see

Are flashing through eternity.”

Yours respectfully,  

[page 289:]



New York, Oct. 11, 1875. Dear Madam — On the 15th of this month I am to be in Wilmington, Ohio, for a lecture; and on the eve of a long Western trip I find myself so crowded with important duties that I cannot even write the letter I h ve in my heart. I in very glad the genius of Poe is to be formally recognized by ceremony and monument, as it has been long appreciated by untold thousands of people wherever the English language is spoken. I am sorry I cannot be present at the inaugural ceremonies; but you will not miss me. I shall only miss you, and the loyal throng who will gather to bring the dead poet their honors. Thanking you kindly for your invitation,

I am yours truly,  



Faringford, Freshwater, Isle of Wight, Jan. 12, 1875. I have long been acquainted with Poe’s works and am an admirer of them. I am obliged to you for your expressions about myself, and your promise of sending me the design for the poet’s monument, and beg you to believe me,

Yours very truly,  



Cambridge, August 20, 1875. Dear Madam, — The only lines of Mr, Poe that I now recall as in any way appropriate to the purpose you mention are from a poem entitled “For Annie.” They are, — “The fever called living Is conquered at last.” [page 290:]

But I dare say you will be able to find something better.

In great haste, Yours truly,  



BROOKLYN, N.Y., October 11, 1875.

My Dear Miss Rice, — My friend John G. Saxe, to whom you wrote in regard to the “Poe Monument Association,” is quite unwell; indeed, is confined to his room, and fears he will not be able to answer your kind request. If, however, he shall be able, he will at least write you. In the mean time, at his suggestion, allow me, a personal friend and warm admirer of both the genius and personal worth of our lamented friend, to say to you and to the association a few words.

I have resided and practised my profession of the law in Brooklyn for about thirty years. Shortly after I moved here, in 1845, Mr. Poe and I became personal friends. His last residence, and where I visited him oftenest, was in a beautiful secluded cottage at Fordham, fourteen miles above New York. It was there I often saw his dear wife during her last illness, and attended her funeral. It was from there that he and his “dear Muddie” (Mrs. Clemm) often visited me at my house, frequently, at my urgent solicitation, remaining many days. When he finally departed on his last trip South, the kissing and hand-shaking were at my front door. He was hopeful; we were sad, and tears gushed in torrents as he kissed his “dear Muddie”and my wife “good-bye.” Alas! it proved, as Mrs. Clemm feared, a final adieu.

A few months afterwards, on receipt of the sad news of his death, I offered Mrs. C. a home in my family, where she resided till 1858, when she removed to Baltimore to lay her ashes by the side of her darling Eddie. I hold many of her [page 291:] precious, loving, grateful letters to me from there, up to a few days before her death.

And now, as to Mr. Poe, he was one of the most affectionate, kind-hearted men I ever knew. I never witnessed so much’ tender affection and devoted love as existed in that family of three persons.

His dear Virginia, after her death, was his “Lost Lenore.” I have spent weeks in the closest intimacy with Mr. Poe, and I never saw him drink a drop of liquor, wine or beer, in my life, and never saw him under the slightest influence of any stimulants whatever. He was, in truth, a most abstemious and exemplary man. But I learned from Mrs. Clemm that if, on the importunity of a convivial friend, he took a single glass, even wine, it suddenly flashed through his nervous system and excitable brain, and that he was no longer himself, or responsible for his acts. His biographers have not done his virtues or his genius justice; and to produce a startling effect, by contrast, have magnified his errors and attributed to him faults which he never had. He was always, in my presence, the polished gentleman, the profound scholar, the true critic, and the inspired oracular poet; dreaming and spiritual; lofty but sad. His memory is green and fresh in many admiring and loving hearts, and your work of erecting a monument over his grave, if it adds nothing to his fame, reflects honor on you and your association, and upon all who sympathize or assist in your noble work.

I am proud to assure you, and the association through you, that his many friends are grateful and thank you.

“What recks he of their plaudits now?

He never deemed them worth his care,

And death has twined around his brow

The wreath he was too proud to wear.”

Yours truly,  

[page 292:]



(From the N. Y. Tribune, Nov. 37, 1872.)

The following letter from the poet Swinburne — addressed to Miss Sarah S. Rice, the director of the Poe Memorial Committee — was received in Baltimore too late to he read at the dedication of the monument. It indicates the sympathy of genius with genius; and it affords another illustration of the high estimate that English critical thought has placed upon the writings of Poe: —


HENLEY-ON-THAMES, Nov. 9, 1875. }


Dear Madam, — I have heard, with much pleasure, of the memorial at length raised to jour illustrious fellow-citizen.

The genius of Edgar Poe has won, on this side of the Atlantic, such wide and warm recognition that the sympathy, which I cannot hope fitly or fully to express in adequate words, is undoubtedly shared at this moment by hundreds, as far as the news may have spread throughout, not England only, but France as well; where, as I need not remind you, the most beautiful and durable of monuments has been reared to the genius of Poe, by the laborious devotion of a genius equal and akin to his own; and where the admirable translation of his prose works — by a fellow-poet, whom also we have to lament before his time — is even now being perfected by a careful and exquisite version of his poems, with illustrations full of the subtle and tragic force of fancy which impelled and moulded the original song; a double homage, due to the loyal and loving co-operation of one of the most remarkable younger poets, and one of the most powerful leading painters in France — M. Mallarnlé and M. Manes. [page 293:]

It is not for me to offer any tribute here to the fame of your great countryman, or dilate, with superfluous and intrusive admiration, on the special quality of his strong and delicate genius — so sure of aim, and faithless of touch, in all the better and finer part of work he has left us.

I would only, in conveying to the members of the Poe Memorial Committee my sincere acknowledgment of the honor they have done me in recalling my name on such an occasion, take leave to express my firm conviction that, widely as the fame of Poe has already spread, and deeply as it is already rooted in Europe, it is even now growing wider and striking deeper as time advances; the surest presage that time, the eternal enemy of small and shallow reputations, will prove, in this case also, the constant and trusty friend and keeper of a true poet’s full-grown fame.

I remain, dear madam, yours very truly,  

After the conclusion of the letters the following poem, contributed by the well-known dramatic critic and litterateur Mr. William Winter, was read by Miss Rice, with exquisite delicacy and utterance, and received with a burst of applause:


Cold is the pæan honor sings,

And chill is glory’s icy breath,

And pale the garland memory brings

To grace the iron doors of death. [page 294:]


Fame’s echoing thunders, long and loud,

The pomp of pride that decks the pall.

The plaudits of the vacant crowd —

One word of love is worth them all.


With dews of grief our eyes are dim;

Ah, let the tear of sorrow start,

And honor, in ourselves and him.

The great and tender human heart!


Through many a night of want and woe,

His frenzied spirit wandered wild —

Till kind disaster laid him low,

And heaven reclaimed its wayward child.


Through many a year his fame has grown. —

Like midnight, vast, like starlight, sweet. —

Till now his genius fills a throne,

And nations marvel at his feet.


One meed of justice long delayed,

One crowning grace his virtues crave: —

Ah, take, thou great and injured shade.

The love that sanctifies the grave!


God’s mercy guard, in peaceful sleep,

The sacred dust that slumbers here;

And, while around this tomb we weep,

God bless, for us, the mourner’s tear!


And may his spirit, hovering nigh.

Pierce the dense cloud of darkness through,

And know, with fame that cannot die.

He has the world’s affection, too! [page 295:]

The Philharmonic Society then rendered the grand chorus, “He, Watching over Israel,” from the “Elijah” of Mendelssohn, with fine effect.


“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, — It is my purpose to speak of Edgar A. Poe, principally as a poet and as a man of genius. I shall abstain, for the most part, from personal incidents or biographical details. These, though not devoid of interest, pertain properly to the historian of literature or to the biographer. Let his ‘strange, eventful history’ be reserved for some American Masson, Boswell or Morlen.

“Edgar A. Poe was born in 1809, the birth year of Alfred Tennyson, and of Mrs. Browning, the most gifted poetess of any age. The third great era in English letters had then fairly commenced. The spirit of the elder day was revived; the delusive splendor that had so long gilded the Augustan age of Addison, of Bolingbroke and of Johnson, paled before the marvellous intellectual expansion, the comprehensive culture, that distinguished the first thirty years of the present, century; the genius of poesy, no longer circumscribed [page 296:] by artificial limits, no longer restrained by the arbitrary procedures of a reflective age, ranged in unchecked freedom, reviving the buried forms of mediaeval civilization, the lay of the minstrel, the lyric of the troubadour, the forgotten splendors of the Arthurian cycle. One day was as a thousand years in the growth and development of the human mind.

“Edgar was in his childhood when our last great literary epoch had attained the full meridian of its greatness. He spent five years at school in England, from 1816 to 1821. The term of Edgar’s school life in England was a period of intense poetic activity and creative form, heroic emprise, knightly valor, and brilliant achievement. In 1822, Edgar, then in his fourteenth year, returned to his native land. He attained to manhood at a time when, by a revolution familiar in the history of every literature, the supremacy was reverting from poetry to prose. The cold generalizations of philosophy chilled the glowing ardor of the preceding epoch. The publication of Macaulay’s [[‘]]Essay on Milton’ in 1825 marks the transition from the sway of the imaginative faculty to the present unsurpassed period in our prose literature. [page 297:]

From this desultory outline of English literature during the early years of the poet, you will observe that his intellectual constitution was formed under peculiar circumstances. He does not belong chronologically to the age of Shelley, Byron and Keats; his position is one of comparative isolation, like that of Wyatt, Sackville or Collins, in the midst of an unpoetic generation, unsustained by the sweet consolations of poetic association, of the tender endearments of poetic sympathy. When he attained to the consciousness of his great powers, none of those stimulating influences existed, save as matters of history or poetic tradition. Tennyson in England was viewing nature in perspective, and involving his critics in mazes as tangled as the web which enveloped the fated Lady of Shalott. Wordsworth had abjured the teachings of his early manhood. Shelley, Keats and Byron were dead. Morris and Swinburne were yet unborn, and the thrones of the elder gods were principally filled by the ‘Idle singers of an empty day.’ American poetry had then produced little that ‘future ages will not willingly let die.’ [page 298:]


“Having traced the conditions of the ora during which the poet’s mind was blooming into maturity, we are now prepared to appreciate the distinctive characteristics of his genius, as revealed in his prose, and especially in his poetry. It is known to students of our literature that in all ages of our literary history, from the time that our speech was reduced to comparative uniformity by the rare perception and philological discrimination of Chaucer, there have existed two recognized schools of poet, the native or domestic, and the classical. In some poets the classical element is the animating principle, as in Milton, whose pages, ‘sprinkled with the diamond dust of classic lore,’ ‘thick as autumnal leaves that strew the brooks in Vallambrosa,’ afford the most impressive illustration of its power. A wonderful impulse was communicated to the development of classical poetry, by that ‘morning star of modem song,’ the poet Keats, and since his advent our poetry has tended, more and more, to divest itself of native sympathies, and to assume an artistic or literary character. Our poetry may have lost pliancy. [page 299:] but it has gained in elaboration and perfection of structure. Genius and imagination are not repressed, but are regulated by the canons of art, and from their harmonious alliance arises the unsurpassed excellence of Poe’s poetry. In the school of literary or classical poets he must be ranked in that illustrious procession which includes the names of Milton, Ben Jonson, Herrick, Shelley and Keats. Having assigned to Poe an honorable eminence in the school of classical poets, I proceed to speak of the originality, the creative power, displayed in his poetry, as well as his brilliant achievements in metrical combination. Specific points of resemblance may be discovered between his poetry and that of his contemporaries or predecessors, but no general or well-defined likeness, and few poets have displayed a more surpassing measure of creative power. Some of his maturer poems are almost without precedent, in form as well as in spirit. The ‘Legend of the Raven,’ related by Roger De Hoveden, and referring to the era of the Latin conquest of Constantinople, nor the Legend of Herod Agrippa,’ cited by De Quincey in his celebrated ‘Essay on Modem Superstition,’ [page 300:] furnishes an adequate foundation for the text of Poe’s masterpiece. The raven has constituted a prominent character in English poetry for many ages. In ‘Hamlet’ in ‘Macbeth’ in ‘Sir David Lindsay’ in Tickell’s exquisite ballad of ‘Collin and Lucy’ the appearance of this ominous bird of yore will readily suggest itself to all lovers of our dramatic and lyric poetry. But none of these can be considered as the precursor of Poe’s ‘Raven.’ The nearest approach to any distinctive feature of ‘The Raven’ is to be found, I suspect, in the dramas of Shakspeare, those unfailing sources of intellectual nutriment. The one word, ‘Mortimer,’ of Harry Percy’s ‘Starling,’ presents a marked phonetic resemblance to the ‘Nevermore’ of ‘The Raven’ whose melancholy refrain seems almost the echo of the ‘Starling’s’ unvarying note. No poem in our language presents a more graceful grouping of metrical appliances and devices. The power of peculiar letters is evolved with a magnificent touch; the thrill of the liquids is a characteristic feature, not only of the refrain, but throughout the compass of the poem, their ‘linked sweetness, long drawn out,’ falls with a mellow [page 301:] cadence, revealing the poet’s mastery of those mysterious harmonies which lie at the basis of human speech. The continuity of the rhythm, illustrating Milton’s ideal of true musical delight, in which the sense is variously drawn out from one verse into another, the alliteration of the Norse minstrel and the Saxon bard, the graphic delineation and sustained interest, are some of the features which place ‘The Raven’ foremost among the creations of a poetic art in our age and clime.

“Another distinguishing characteristic of Poe’s poetry is its rhythmical power and its admirable illustration of that mysterious affinity which binds together the sound and the sense. . Throughout all the processes of nature, a rhythmical movement is clearly discernible. Upon the conscious recognition of this principle are based all our conceptions of melody, all systems of intonation and inflection. In this dangerous sphere of poetry, he won a mastery over the properties of verse that the troubadours might have aspired to emulate.


“Permit me next to direct your attention to the [page 302:] classic impress of Poe’s poetry, its blending of genius and culture, and to the estimation in which his productions are held in other lands. The Athenian sculptor, in the palmiest days of Grecian art, wrought out his loveliest conceptions by the painful processes of unflagging diligence. The angel was not evolved from the block by a sudden inspiration or a brilliant flash of unpremeditated art. By proceeding upon a system corresponding to the diatonic scale in music, the luxuriance of genius was regulated and directed by the sober precepts and decorous graces of formal art. No finer illustration of conscious art has been produced in our century than ‘The Raven.’ In all the riper productions of our poet, there is displayed the same graceful alliance of genius, culture and taste. He attained a mastery over the most difficult metrical forms, even those to whose successful production the spirit of the English tongue is not congenial. The sonnet, that peculiarly Italian type of verse immortalized by the genius of Petrarch, a form of verse in which few English writers have succeeded, has been admirably illustrated in Poe’s ‘Zante.’ Indeed, much of the acrimony of his [page 303:] criticism arose from his painful sensitiveness to artistic imperfection and his enthusiastic worship of the beautiful. The Grecian cast of his genius led to a pantheistic love of beauty incarnated in palpable or material forms. This striving after sensuous beauty has constituted a distinctive characteristic of those poets who were most thoroughly imbued with the Grecian taste and spirit. It has left its impress deep upon the texture of our poetry, and many of its most silvery symphonies owe their inspiration to this source. In addition to the classic element, his poetry is pervaded by that magic of style, that strange unrest and unreality, those weird notes, like the refrain of his own ‘Raven,’ ‘so musical, so melancholy,’ which are traceable to the Celtic influence upon our composite intellectual character. The quick sensibility, the ethreal temper of these natural artists, have wonderfully enlivened the stolid character of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors, and much of the style and consecutive power that have reigned in English poetry from the days of Lajamon, Walter Mapes, and of Chaucer, nay be attributed to the Celtic infusion into the Teutonic blood. Conspicuous examples [page 304:] of its power may be discovered in Shakspeare, in Keats, in Byron and in Poe.


“I have thus endeavored to present to you the intellectual character of Edgar A. Poe as it has revealed itself to me from the diligent study of his works, and from many contrasts and coincidences that literary history naturally suggests. I have attempted to show the versatile character of his genius, the consummate, as well as conscious, art of his poetry, the graceful blending of the creative and the critical faculty, — a combination perhaps the rarest that the history of literature affords, — his want of deference to prototypes or models, the chaste and scholarly elegance of his diction, the Attic smoothness and the Celtic magic of his style. Much of what he has written may not preserve its freshness, or stand the test of critical scrutiny in after-times, but when subjected to the severest ordeal of varying fashion, popular caprice, the ‘old order changing, yielding place to new,’ there is much that will perish only with the English language. The riper productions of Poe have received the [page 305:] most enthusiastic tributes from the sober and dispassionate critics of the Old World. I shall ever remember the thrill of grateful appreciation with which I read the splendid eulogium upon the genius of Poe in ‘The London Quarterly Review,’ in which he is ranked far above his contemporaries, and pronounced one of the most consummate artists of our era, potentially the greatest critic that ever lived, and possessing perhaps the finest ear for rhythm that was ever formed. You are doubtless familiar with the impressions produced by ‘The Raven’ upon the mind of Mrs. Browning, ‘Shakspeare’s daughter and Tennyson’s sister.’ It is but recently that one of the master spirits of the new poetic schools has accorded to Poe the pre-eminence among American poets. Alfred Tennyson has expressed his admiration, who, with true poetic ken, was among the first to appreciate the novelty and the delicacy of his method, and who, at a time when the laureate’s fame was obscured by adverse and undisceming criticism, plainly foresaw the serene splendor of his matured greatness. An appreciative and generous Englishman has recently added to the treasures of our literature [page 306:] a superb edition of his works,* in which ample recognition is accorded to his rare and varied powers, and the slanders of his acrimonious biographer are refuted by evidence that cannot be gainsaid or resisted. No reader of English periodical literature, can fail to obscure the frequent allusions to his memory, the numerous tributes to his genius, that have appeared in ‘The Athenæum,’ ‘The Academy,’ the British quarterlies, and the translations of the new Shakspeare Society. Nor is this lofty estimate of his poems confined to those lands in which the English language is the vernacular speech; it has extended into foreign climes, and aroused appreciative admiration where English literature is imperfectly known and slightly regared [[regarded]].

“Let us rejoice that Poe’s merits have found appropriate recognition, and that the Poets’ Corner in our Westminster is rescued from the ungrateful neglect which, for a quarter of a century, has constituted the just reproach of our State and metropolis. I recognize in the dedication of this monument to the memory of our [page 307:] poet an omen of highest and noblest import, looking far beyond the mere preservation of his fame by the ‘dull, cold marble’ which marks his long-neglected grave. The impulse which led to its erection coincides in form and spirit with those grand movements which the zeal and enthusiasm of scholars and patriots in Great Britain and in America have effected within the past ten years for the perpetuation of much that is greatest in the poetry of the English tongue. At last, we have the works of Geoffrey Chaucer, restored to their original purity by the praiseworthy diligence of Skeats, Furnival, Child and Bradshaw. At last, we are to add to the golden treasury of our literature genuine editions, of Shakspeare, in which the growth of his genius and his art will be traced by the graceful scholarship and penetrating insight of Ingleby, Tennyson, Spedden and Simpson. Ten years have accomplished what centuries failed to achieve, in rescuing from strange and unpardonable indifference the masterpieces of our elder literature, the Sibylline leaves of our ancient poesy. This graceful marble, fit emblem of our poet, is the expression — perhaps unconscious, undesigned, [page 308:] but none the less effective — of sympathy with this grand intellectual movement of our era. I hail these auspicious omens of the future of our literature with gratitude and delight. But while we welcome these happy indications, while we rejoice in the critical expansion of our peerless literature, let us not disregard the solemn injunction conveyed by this day’s proceedings. While we pay the last tributes of respect to the memory of him who alone was worthy, among American poets, to be ranked in that Illustrious procession of bards around whose names is concentrated so much of the glory of the English tongue, from Chaucer to Tennyson, let us cherish the admonition to nurture and stimulate the poetry of our land, until it ascend, ‘with no middle flight,’ into the ‘brightest heaven of invention,’ and the regions of purest phantasy.”

Professor Shepherd was frequently interrupted with applause during the delivery of his eloquent address. Poe’s famous poem of “The Raven” was then read by Mr. William F. Gill, who was made the recipient of an ovation at its close, at the hands of the audience. The “Inflammatus,” [page 309:] from Rossini’s “Stabat Mater,” by Miss Ella Gordon and the Philharmonic Society, followed John H. B. Latrobe, Esq., then gave his interesting personal reminiscences of Poe,* which were received with peculiar acceptance,


After Mr. Latrobe had concluded his remarks, Mr. Neilson Poe, Sr., a cousin of the poet, was introduced by Prof. Elliott.

Mr. Poe, upon being introduced, said the relatives of the late poet would indeed be wanting in sensibility, as well as gratitude, if they let this occasion pass without some acknowledgment of their special obligation to those who have reared the memorial soon to be unveiled over the grave of their kinsman. It is impossible that they can be indifferent to the increasing fame of one whose ancestry is common to themselves, and who share his blood. They cannot but look with gratification at the fact that the imputations on the personal character of Poe, which envy [page 310:] has invented and malice magnified, can now, under a closer investigation and an impartial criticism, be judged with charity and justice, Person animosity may have created slanders which a kindlier spirit is now rejecting, and the good and noble traits of character of the dead are being recognized by an impartial public.


Those present then repaired to Westminster Churchyard, where all that is mortal of Poe reposes. The remains have been removed from their first resting-place, in an obscure comer of the lot, to the corner of Fayette and Greene streets, where the monument now covering the grave can be seen from Fayette street.

While the Philharmonic Society rendered the following dirge, written for the occasion by Mrs. Eleanor Fullerton, of Baltimore, known in the literary world under the pseudonym of “Violet Fuller,” the Committee on the Memorial, and others, gathered around the monument.

Softly sleep, softly sleep,

Sleep in thy lowly bed, [page 311:]

Sleep, sleep in slumbers deep.

Waked not thy earthly tread.

Over thy grave let the wild winds moan.

Under this fair memorial stone,

Poet, thou slumberest well;

All thy sorrows o’er, sleep for evermore, sleep!


Peace and rest, peace and rest,

O weary soul, be thine;

Rest, rest, in earth’s cool breast.

Sheltered from storm and shin

Darkness no more obscures thy way,

Out of the night, eternal day

Beams forth with power divine.

All thy sorrows o’er, sleep for evermore, sleep!

The dirge is an adaptation of Tennyson’s “Sweet and Low,” by Mrs. Fullerton. Prof. Elliott and Miss’ Rice removed the muslin in which the memorial was veiled while the dirge was being sung, and the memorial was then, for the first time, presented to the gaze of the public. The monument was crowned with a wreath composed of ivy, and another of lilies and evergreens. After the dirge, Mr. William F. Gill, of Boston, recited Poe’s poem, “Annabel Lee,” and Mrs. Dillehunt, a former school teacher, selections from “The Bells.” This concluded the exercises, [page 312:] and the throng which had collected in the graveyard came forward to view the monument. During the exercises a large throng was gathered in the vicinity of Fayette and Greene streets, unable to gain admission to the female high school or the churchyard.


The monument is of the pedestal form, and is eight feet high; the surbase is of Woodstock granite, and six feet square, the balance being of Italian marble. The pedestal has an Attic base, three feet ten inches square; the die block is a cube three feet square and three feet two inches high, relieved on each face by a square-projecting and polished plane, the upper angles of which are broken and filled with a carved rosette. On the front panel is the bas-relief bust of the poet, modelled by Frederick Volck from a photograph in possession of Mr. Neilson Poe. The other panel contains an inscription of the dates of the birth and death of Poe. The die block is surmounted by a bold and graceful frieze and cornice four feet square, broken on each face, in the centre, by a segment of a circle. [page 313:] The frieze is ornamented at the angles by richly carved acanthus leaves, and in the centre by a lyre crowned with laurel. The whole is capped by a blocking three feet square, cut to a low pyramidal form. The monument is simple and chaste, and strikes more by graceful outline, than by crowding with unmeaning ornament. It was designed by Geo. A. Frederick, architect, and built by Col. Hugh Sisson.


A pleasing feature of the ceremonies was the placing upon the monument of a large wreath of flowers, made up principally of camelias, lilies and tea roses. Together with this, was deposited a floral tribute in the shape of a raven, made from black immortelles. The large petals of the lilies suggested the “bells” immortalized by Poe’s genius, the significance of the other emblems being obvious. These were tributes from the company at Ford’s Grand Opera House, Mrs. Germon being mainly instrumental in getting them up. Poe’s mother had been an actress at Holliday-Street Theatre, which fact had been preserved in the traditions of the stage, and had something to do with inspiring this tribute. [page 314:]


The inscriptions upon the monument have yet (1875) to be determined upon. Various suggestions have been received, among them that from the poet Longfellow, read as a portion of the exercises. Oliver Wendell Holmes has suggested the following, taken from Poe’s verses, “To one in Paradise:”

“Ah, dream too bright to last —

Ah, starry hope that didst arise

But to be overcast”

James Russell Lowell, in a letter to Miss Rice, has recommended that some passage from Foe’s works be selected, in allusion to the self-caused wretchedness of his life, and suggests the stanza of “The Raven” beginning, “An unhappy master,” &c., to the end of the verse. Together with this, he recommends a selection expressing the peculiar musical quality of Foe’s genius, and suggests a verse of the “Haunted Palace,” beginning, “And all with pearl and ruby glowing.”

In response to a letter of inquiry, the venerable poet Bryant furnishes the following as a suitable inscription: — [page 315:]



Author of the Raven

And other poems,

And of various works of fiction,

Distinguished alike

For originality in the conception,

Skill in word painting,

And power over the mind of the reader.

The Public School Teachers

Of Baltimore,

Admirers of his genius,

Have erected this monument.



[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 306:]

*  Edition of Adams and Charles Black, Edinburgh.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 309:]

*  Given in connection with the account of the Baltimore prizes in our memoir.






[S:0 - WFG, 1877] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - The Life of Edgar Allan Poe [Chapter 03] (W. F. Gill, 1877)