Text: Susan Archer Weiss, “Chapter 06,” Home Life of Poe (1907), pp. 41-43


[page 41:]



Of Edgar Poe’s sister, Rosalie, it may be said that all accounts represent her as having been, up to the age of ten years, a pretty child, with blue eyes and rosy cheeks, and of a sweet disposition. Though evincing nothing of Edgar’s talent and quickness at learning, she was yet a rather better pupil than the average; and it had been Miss Mackenzie’s intention to give her every advantage of education afforded by her own school, so as to fit her for becoming a teacher.

But when Rosalie Poe was in her eleventh or twelfth year, a strange change came over her, for which her friends could never account. Without having ever been ill, a sudden blight seemed to fall upon her, as frost upon a flower, and she drooped, as it were, mentally and physically. She lost all energy and ambition, and thenceforth made little or no progress in her studies, growing up into a languid and uninteresting [page 42:] girlhood. Still, she was amiable, generous and devoted to her friends, who were generally chosen for their personal beauty, and for this reason my sister was a great favorite with her. To Mrs. Mackenzie she was always dutiful and affectionate, but her great pride and affection centered in her brother. She felt painfully, and would often allude to, the difference between them. Once she said to me, “Of course, I can’t expect Edgar to love me as I do him, he is so far above me.”

A peculiarity of Miss Poe is worth mentioning, because it is one shared by her brother, and must have been hereditary. She could not taste wine without its having an immediate effect upon her. She would, after venturing to take a glass of wine at dinner, sleep for hours, and awaken either with a headache or in an irritable and despondent mood. As is well known, the same effect was produced upon Edgar by a moderate indulgence in drink, such as would not affect another man; and this hereditary weakness should go far in accounting for and excusing those excesses of which all the world is unfortunately aware.

Of the elder brother of Edgar, William Henry, I have heard scarcely any mention until after Poe’s death, and few seemed to [page 43:] know that there was such a person. It seems, however, that in the summer, when Edgar was preparing for the University, this brother came to Richmond on a visit to himself and Rose. Edgar took him around to introduce to his young lady acquaintances, by one of whom he has been described as handsome, gentlemanly and agreeable. He died a year or two afterward, leaving some poems which show him to have been possessed of unusual poetic talent. Had he lived, he might have rivaled his brother as a poet.






[S:0 - HLFP, 1907] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Home Life of Poe (S. A. Weiss) (Chapter 06)