Text: Jane Ermina Locke, “Letter from Mrs. Jane E. Locke,” the Waverley Magazine, and Literary Repository, August 5, 1854, 9:88


[page 88, column ?, continued:]


Letter from Mrs. Jane E. Locke.

MR. DOW, — Dear Sir, — Allow me gratefully to acknowledge from your hand, the kind favor of the last volume of your very popular magazine. Your gentlemanly courtesy I would fain return with interest. On looking over the pages of its numbers, I have found much to awaken peculiar as well as general attention. Among other things my eye has rested upon a somewhat singular controversy on the subject of Plagiarisms, a Plaigiarism [sic] between the late Edgar A. Poe, and Dr. T. H. Chivers.

Without intended or wishing to call up another discussion on this subject, which you, sir, very properly declined, I would here say that, from a personal acquaintance with the last mentioned individual, whom I know to have been a warm friend and admirer of Mr. Poe, I am surprised that he could admit an accusation of the kind to blot the literary fame of the greatest genius America has to boast, making claim though it does for the greater originality and power of his own pen. And I may say, from a long personal acquaintance with the former, (E. A. P.,) since Graham’s Magazine for May has claimed it for me, and which is somewhat dragged into Griswold’s Biography of the poet by frequent allusion to it, I am convinced there could have been no such thing as plagiarist in the character of the man. He was one of the few of the present age who wrote from deep inspiration and not for barter and sale. Hence he was little, too little appreciated by the many in his lifetime, of which he was too conscious, and which weighed upon his genius’ soul, and dragged him down to a degradation which fettered him, and to an unhallowed couch in his untimely death. But, as I have already sung —

Had the prayers of those availed him,

O’er whose path his shadow fell,

Dark’ning with its raven pinions

Life’s dim way — it had been well!


But yet strike the anthem, brothers,

Think not of his errors now,

Mourn him — mourn his harpstrings broken,

And the crushed wreath on his brow!


Nevermore shall strains so mighty

Wind along the lakelet dim,

Nevermore shall float such music —

None could sweep the Lyre like him!

On turning over Dr. Chivers’ published volumes, there are, in truth, some of the most beautifully original and wildly plaintive passages, full of richness and melody, and not unlike in vividness to the conceptions of Poe, yet easily accounted for, perhaps, without a denial to either of originality. At all events, private letters from the great poet assure me that he was in very truth an admirer of his powers, also, and placed as high an appreciation on the passages above referred to, as I have. And who did not wither under his criticism might be free to stand forever. While upon this topic I cannot omit a regret that a criticism on my own writings, delivered in public as a lecture, in a neighbouring city, for some unknown reason was omitted by his Biographer in his volume of “The Literati.” That another Biographical work on the life and character of the same individual is about to be published I am pleased to know, and am sure there is abundant matter for making it more agreeable and more complete. Wishing you the success that the merits of your Magazine demands, I am, sir,

Yours, very truly.  







[S:0 - WM, 1853] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - Letter from Mrs. Jane E. Locke (J. E. Locke, 1853)