Text: George E. Woodberry, “Notes Vol. 02,” The Life of Edgar Allan Poe: Personal and Literary (1909), vol. II, pp. 419-454


[page 419, unnumbered:]



Page 4. POE AND HIRST. A sketch of Henry B. Hirst is given by Griswold, “Poets and Poetry of America,” 1855, and a biography of him is in preparation by Dr. Matthew Woods. He wrote “The Ante-Diluvians,” “Endymion,” “The Coming of the Mammoth,” “The Penance of Poland,” “A Book of Cage-Birds,” and, writes Dr. Woods, “much miscellaneous matter in prose and verse, including a couple of novels and some of the book reviews ascribed to Poe. ... He was a native of Philadelphia, and died here mad in 1874.” (Woods to the author, Oct. 14, 1894 ) Dr. Woods adds (Oct. 29, 1894), “Poe and Hirst became intimate in Philadelphia, so Thomas Dunn English, who told me he introduced them, says. I know also that Mr Hirst took breakfast with Poe quite frequently Sunday mornings preliminary to their spending the day in country strolls.” Theodore F. Wolfe, apparently on the same authority, wrote to the New York Times, Feb. 8, 1904: “Poe and Hirst were intimate friends and companions during the greater part of the period of the residence of the former in the Quaker City, and were closely associated not only in the follies and dissipations to which both were more or less addicted, but also in their literary work. Unto his dying day Hirst solemnly affirmed that he and not Poe was the writer of ‘The Raven,’ and that, at most, Poe had written but one stanza and part of another of the poem, the remainder of that stanza having been plagiarized by Poe from a poem well known to students of poetry. I saw in the hands of Dr. [page 420:] Matthew Woods of Philadelphia the materials for an as yet unpublished biography of Hirst, in which the doctor expects to substantiate Hirst's claim to the authorship of The Raven. Several of the poems which were published in Hirst's first volume had previously appeared in periodicals of which Poe was editor, and Poe's harsh criticisms of Hirst were subsequent to a quarrel with him and a rupture of the boon relation ship which had existed between the two “Poe wrote a notice of Hirst (Broadway Journal, July 12, 1845), and during that year had a poem by Hirst accepted for the Southern Literary Messenger at the same time that he reprinted “The Raven “there It seems likely that he may have had some hand in revising Hirst's lines. Mr. J. H. Whitty informs me that “through his [Poe s] efforts poems were published in the Messenger, 1843 to 1845, by Anna Marie Hirst, some relative of H. B. Hirst.” The cause of the later coolness of the friends, says T. H. Lane, was Hirst's parodying two lines of “The Haunted Palace” thus: —

“Never nigger shook a shin-bone

In a dance-house half so fair.”

Page 18. The statement of the financial agreement with regard to the Pioneer is from the Carter MSS.

Page 31. William Poe, formerly of Augusta, Ga., now resided in Baltimore, but soon removed South.

Page 35. POE AND REID. The most accessible account of the association of Poe with Mayne Reid is that by Howard Paul (Munsey's Magazine, Sept. 1892). Paul was a nephew of T C. Clarke and saw Poe in his boyhood. The reminiscences contain several curious Poe “legends,” such as the detailed narrative of the composition of “Israfel,” in less than an hour, for the afternoon paper, on the quotation by Clarke “from the Mohammedan Bible “of the well-known text as a possible subject of “a telling poem.” The writer also mentions an elsewhere unknown visit of Poe to the Harvard [page 421:] Library to consult “Trithemius, Vignere, and Niceron” on cryptography, and says that Poe had but one cryptograph (“a single response”) sent to him in answer to his challenge to contributors (cf. ii, 40). The paper is interesting as giving the only picture of Poe at dinner parties, “warmed with wine and in a genial, glowing mood,” and of his conversation and manner on such occasions. He describes his appearance at this time (1843): “Poe was a slight, small-boned, delicate looking man, with a well-developed head, which, at a glance, seemed out of proportion to his slender body. His features were regular, his complexion pale; his nose was Grecian and well-moulded, his eyes large and luminous, and when excited, peculiarly vivid and penetrating. He dressed with neatness, and there was a suggestion of hauteur in his manner towards strangers. He was impatient of restraint or contradiction, and when his Southern blood was up, as the saying goes, he could be cuttingly rude and bitterly sarcastic.” Mr. Paul also mentions a sketch of a scenario of a tragedy to be worked out with Dr. Bird, of which there is no other hint, and tells an anecdote of Poe and J. B. Booth, father of Edwin Booth, — the twain, on their walk after the theatre, seizing an offended Jew and suspending him “by his breeches on the spikes of a convenient area railing, where they left him kicking and howling while they pursued their torturous way in gladsome mood.” Poe's friendship with Booth is not elsewhere mentioned; but he seems to have been a playgoer both in Philadelphia and New York.

Page 37. A Charleston, S C, correspondent of the New York Times (no date, 1890?) gives the source of “The Gold Bug” as certain affidavits with regard to the wreck of the brigantine Cid Campeador, Julian de Vega, Commander, in the summer of 1745, off the South Carolina coast, preserved in the Probate Court Records. “It was also discovered,” says the writer, “that he [Poe] paid many a visit to the old books in the office [page 422:] of the Probate judge, — certainly he paid one visit, and saw,” etc. This was during Poe's soldier-days at Fort Moultrie. The papers were also published in Frank Leslie's and elsewhere, but no evidence is alleged except copies of the affidavits of the burying of the treasure.

Page 48. The Saturday Museum review was reprinted by Gill.

Page 64. POE IN 1843-44. There is much obscurity in Poe's movements toward the close of his residence in Philadelphia. He seems to have sojourned at times in New York; the only direct evidence, however, is contained in the reminiscences of Gabriel Harrison (New York Times, about March 1, 1899). Mr. Harrison was a young actor who had then forsaken the stage for “general merchandise,” and was later known as an artist, and was in his shop on Broadway when the acquaintance began: —

“One chilly evening I happened to glance through my window and saw a small man with a large head looking in rather wistfully at some beautiful plugs of tobacco I had displayed In a moment he entered and asked the price of tobacco. When I had told him he made no move to buy, and after a few general remarks started to leave. I was struck by a certain indefinite something in his manner, by his voice, and by his fine articulation. ... So I offered the man a piece of tobacco. He accepted, thanked me, and departed. Two or three weeks afterward he came in again.”

On the second occasion Poe composed for him a campaign song, of which Mr. Harrison remembered these lines:

“See the WhiteEagle soaring aloft to the sky,

Wakening the broad welkin with his loud battle cry;

Then here's the White Eagle, full daring is he,

As he sails on his pinions O'er valley and sea.”

Mr. Harrison continues: —

“I was delighted and wanted to pay him something for his trouble, but the only thing he would accept was a bag of my [page 423:] best coffee. As he was going I said that I should like to know his name.

“‘Certainly,’ he answered, with a faint smile. ‘Thaddeus Perley, at your service.’”

On the next occasion Mr. Harrison, after a brief absence with Halleck, found Poe standing by the counter, and he describes the dénouement:

“‘Why, good evening, Mr. Perley,’ I began. Halleck interrupted me. ‘Great heavens, Poe, is this you!’ he exclaimed. ‘Poe? This is Mr. Perley,’ I broke in.

“Poe looked at me and then at Halleck, and after an instant's hesitation said: ‘The fact of the matter is, Halleck, I have made this gentleman's acquaintance under the name of Perley; no harm was intended and none done. I knew that the facts would develop themselves. I have walked several miles through the sleet and rain, and, seeing a light in here, thought that perhaps Mr. Harrison would let me warm up some what.’

“‘Why, of course,’ I answered; ‘here is the stove behind the tea boxes almost red hot. Take off your coat and dry it. What will you have, some of this old port?’ I spread out some crackers, an old English pineapple cheese, and we all nibbled and bent our elbows in homage to his crimson majesty the old port, and talked of pleasant things till my big clock struck the hour of midnight. Poe left with Halleck and stopped at his house that night. He returned to his home in Philadelphia the next day, I believe, but soon afterward came to New York to reside.” Cf. Mrs. Weiss (p. 99) in regard to Poe's “sharing the bachelor life and quarters of his associates who were not aware that he was a married man.” Du Solle, the informant, seems to be speaking of New York reminiscences of this period.

Mr. Harrison afterward saw Poe habitually in New York, and made a well-known portrait of him. Whether he properly [page 424:] dates the occurrence is uncertain, but the only reason for doubt is that the presidential campaign was in 1844; it may, however, have been a local campaign to which reference is made. Poe had business in Philadelphia in the fall of 1844, when he super intended the issue of the third edition, 1845, of the “Conchologist's First Book,” taking his name from the title-page, but signing the prefaces E. A. P. It was this edition which occasioned the charge of plagiarism in the Philadelphia news papers. The fact of Poe's superintendence of this issue rests on Mr. Whitty's authority, who had the statement from the printers concerned in the work.

Thomas Dunn English refers to the occasion of Poe's leaving Philadelphia as follows (“Reminiscences of Poe,” ii, The Independent, Oct. 22, 1896): “I happen to know why, and there were several others who knew all about it. They are all, I believe, dead. I am the sole possessor of the scandalous secret, and as its recital would do no good to any one, the whole affair shall be buried with me.” The reference appears to be to the Saratoga story, mentioned in the text (ii, 43, 48). Whatever may be the truth as to his motives for leaving, Poe appears to have been making New York connections at this period, and an inquiring and speculative mind might readily find traces of his presence there, or of that of his “double,” for example in the literary department of Brother Jonathan, 1843, Sept-Dec. There had been a favorable acquaintance between him and its editor, Park Benjamin, since 1841.

Page 91. It is singular that no record remains of these “whole months” or of shorter periods of rambling. The early rambles at Charlottesville, where his recitations ended at nine o clock in the morning, his walks with Wilmer at Baltimore and with Hirst at Philadelphia, and his solitary walks at Fordham by night, and his stay at Saratoga, comprise all that is known of these habits, except when he was irresponsible.

Page 100. This letter from Lowell to Poe, as well as all extracts [page 425:] from Stoddard's Memoir, is reproduced by the courtesy of G. P. Putnam's Sons (Poe's Works, New York).

Page 114. The story communicated to the New Orleans Times, about July 22, 1870, to the effect that “The Raven” was written by one Samuel Fenwick and came to Poe as a con tribution which he appropriated on the death of its author, is a plain hoax. It rests, professedly, on an alleged letter of Poe to Daniels, Sept. 29, 1849, which is quoted. Cf. Note on Poe's Death.

Page 138. Mr. Saunders, librarian of the Astor Library, related (New York Evening Sun, no date) that he met Poe in Broadway after the publication of “The Raven,” and describes him as “effusive” and “maudlin”; he gives a vivid anecdote of Poe's declaration of an intention to read the poem before the Queen, and says that “when he had been drinking, which was of frequent occurrence, he would talk of nothing but himself and his work, and the jealousy of other writers. ... I knew him quite well in those days,” he adds, and describes the next occasion. “The next time I saw him he was very much depressed, and was suffering from a fit of melancholia to which he was subject. He spoke of a conspiracy among the other authors of America to belittle his genius and to smother his work. ‘But posterity shall judge,’ he said, with a gleam of pride in his eye. ‘Future generations will be able to sift the gold from the dross, and then “The Raven” will be beheld, shining above them all, as a diamond of the purest water.’”

Page 144. The reference to “getting up books” is blind; he may refer to the proposed edition of his poems and to the “American Parnassus,” which is a natural interpretation. Mr. Whitty, however, whose opinion in this matter is entitled to great weight, writes to me that he believes the reference is to compiling — such books as “The Conchologist's First Book” and Lemonnier's “Natural History” of Philadelphia [page 426:] days; he thinks that Poe learned this art of compiling books with White, at Richmond, and did such hack-work more than has been thought, as a means of income, and some hints of such occupation may be found.

Page 146. Cf. for Poe's conversation on authors the “Poe-Chivers Papers” (Century, Aug. 1903). The final expression of Briggs's view of Poe is contained in “The Personality of Poe by the late Charles F. Briggs “(The Independent, Dec. 13, 1877): “But his dissipations — which were not intentional, for he was extremely temperate both in his diet and drink, unless he was subjected to strong temptations — were not the repulsive traits of his character. What rendered him so obnoxious to those who knew him intimately were his treachery to his friends, his insincerity, his utter disregard of his moral obligations, and his total lack of loyalty and nobleness of purpose. He aimed at nothing, thought of nothing, and hoped for nothing but literary reputation; and in this respect he gained all he aspired to, and his friends should be satisfied to know that he accomplished all he labored for, and not endeavor to compel the world to award him a character which he never coveted and held in supreme contempt,”

Page 152. The comment on Greeley's remarks is a letter from Poe to Greeley, Feb. 21, 1847, on the occasion of some unfavorable notice in the Tribune. I know the letter only by the following fragment which is printed in a catalogue (Goodspeed, Boston, 1905): —

“In the printed matter, I have underscored two passages. As regards the first: it alone would have sufficed to assure me that you did not write the article. I owe you money I have been ill, unfortunate, no doubt weak, and as yet unable to refund the money but on this ground you, Mr. Greeley, could never have accused me of being habitually unscrupulous in the fulfillment of my pecuniary engagements. The charge is horribly false I have a hundred times left myself destitute [page 427:] of bread for myself and family that I might discharge debts which the very writer of this infamous accusation (Fuller) would have left undischarged to the day of his death.

“The 2d passage underscored embodies a falsehood — and therefore you did not write it. I did not ‘throw away the quill.’ I arose from a sick-bed (although scarcely able to stand or see) and wrote a reply which was published in the Phil.'sp. of the Times,’ and a copy of which reply I enclose you. The ‘columns of the Mirror’ were tendered to me — with a proviso that I should forego a suit and omit this passage and that passage, to suit the purposes of Mr. Fuller.”

Page 161. Students of the sources of “The Case of M. Valdemar” and “The Imp of the Perverse” may compare “Rambles and Reveries of an Art Student in Europe” by Thomas T. Watts, Philadelphia, pp. 36, 37.

Page 162. The demise of the Broadway Journal is narrated in detail by English (The Independent, Oct 15, 1896). He says that Poe applied to him for advice, and that he influenced Lane to join Poe. The agreement between Lane and Poe, drawn by the latter, Dec. 3, 1845, and witnessed by Colton and George Sweet, transferred one half interest to Lane and left Poe in editorial charge. The office was removed to 304 Broad way, where English and Lane occupied adjoining rooms and had one servant in common. After the issue of number 24, Dec. 20, Poe “went off on one of his fits of drunkenness, leaving the material for number 25 partly finished. ... After vain attempts for several days to get Poe into sobriety, and failing in them, Mr. Lane determined to close the publication with the next number.” English furnished two articles, and the last number, 26, was issued Jan. 3, 1846. Mr. Lane certifies to the truth of this account. (Lane to English, The Independent, Nov. 5, 1896.)

Page 177. Of the various ladies whose names occur prominently in Poe's life, Miss Lynch (afterwards Mrs. Botta), [page 428:] Mrs. Hewitt, Mrs. Ellet, Mrs. Osgood, Mrs. Locke, Mrs. Lewis, Mrs. Oakes Smith, Mrs. Gove-Nichols, some account is given by Griswold, “The Female Poets of America,” 1854, and by Stoddard in his various articles and reminiscences. English gives (loc. cit. Oct. 29, 1896) the characteristic scene: “In the plainly furnished room at one corner stands Miss Lynch with her round cheery face, and Mrs. Ellet, decorous and lady-like, who had ceased their conversation when Poe broke into his lecture. On the sofa on the side of the room I sit with Miss Fuller, afterward the Countess Ossoli, on my right side, and Mrs. Elizabeth Oakes Smith on my left. At my feet little Mrs. Osgood, doing the infantile act, is seated on a footstool, her face upturned to Poe, as it had been previously to Miss Fuller and myself. In the centre stands Poe, giving his opinions in a judicial tone and occasionally reciting passages with telling effect.” Cf. Stoddard's review of the “Memoirs of Mrs. Botta,” The Independent, Feb. 1, 1894.

Page 185. “The Sphinx” appeared in Arthur's Magazine, Jan. 1846.

Page 190. POE AND OPIUM. This account of the source of Poe's ill-health, together with his letters to Snodgrass (i, 254) and to Eveleth (Jaa 4, 1848, Ingram, i, 215), which are the same in substance, makes his own statement of the case. There was always, as here, something enigmatical in the matter. Thus in writing to Chivers (July 22, 1846, “Poe-Chivers Papers,” Century, Feb. 1903) a declaration of his abandon ment of stimulants he expresses his desire to have a long talk some day, and adds, “there is much more in this matter than meets the eye.” T. C. Clarke, the anonymous author of “The Late N. P. Willis and Literary Men Forty Years Ago” (The Northern Monthly, Jan. 1868), who states Poe was engaged in his office, says: “On this subject [meaning apparently Poe's distress in general] I have some singular revelations which throw a strong light on the causes that darkened the life, and [page 429:] made most unhappy the death, of one of the most remarkable of all our literary men.” He does not further indicate the nature of this knowledge.

The earliest published statement, so far as I know, of the use of opium by Poe occurs in William Wallace's reply to John Neal, 1850 (no name nor date), where he uses this expression: “The poison, which, taken alternately with opium, kept him half his days in madness.” The only direct testimony is that of Miss Herring (Miss Poe to the author, Aug. 28, 1884): “She told me that she had often seen him decline to take even one glass of wine, but says that, for the most part, his periods of excess were occasioned by a free use of opium.” At my request Miss Poe had another interview with Miss Herring, and wrote again, Sept. 13, 1884, with reference to Miss Herring's acquaintance with the family at that time: “In 1840 or 41 her father, Mr. Herring, went to live in Philadelphia, and she was then a widow and lived with him. To her surprise one day she met Mrs. Clemm on Chestnut St., and then for the first time learned that the Poes were living in Philadelphia. After that she frequently went to see them, and had the misfortune to see him often in those sad conditions from the use of opium. ... During these attacks he was kept entirely quiet, and they did all possible to conceal his faults and failures. After recovery his penitence was genuine, but he made good resolutions only to be broken.”

The occasions on which opium is mentioned in his life are in June, 1846, on his return to Fordham, when Rosalie Poe says he “begged for morphine” (Mrs. Weiss, p. 128); in November, 1848, when he wrote Mrs. Richmond that he had taken laudanum in Boston (ii, 277); and in July, 1849, when Sartain says he begged for laudanum when in Philadelphia.

On the other hand, English says (The Independent, Oct. 15, 1896): “Had Poe the opium habit when I knew him, I should, both as a physician and a man of observation, have discovered [page 430:] it during his frequent visits to my rooms, my visits at his house, and our meetings elsewhere. I saw no signs of it.”

Dr. John Carter also wrote to me, June 16, 1884: “Poe never used opium in any instance that I am aware of, and if it had been an habitual practice, we certainly would have detected it, as he numbered amongst his associates half-dozen physicians. ... I never heard it hinted at before, and if he had contracted the habit, it would have accompanied him to Richmond.” These are all the facts known to me, bearing on the subject.

I may state, in a matter of so leading importance, that I incline to the view that Poe began the use of drugs in Baltimore, that his periods of abstinence from liquor were periods of at least moderate indulgence in opium, and that in 1846-47 under the advice of his physicians he abandoned the habit; that his physical state and mode of life in 1847 are connected with this attempt, and his “supposed success in it was the ground of his many statements that the “physical cause” of his fits of intemperance had ceased and the reiterated expressions of the excellence of his health; and that his begging for laudanum after his sprees was a sign of lapsing into an older habit, which he did not take with him to Richmond. This hypothesis seems to me to arrange the facts most harmoniously; but it is only a personal view, and may be erroneous. The student of the psychology of Poe should consult the elaborate work of fimile Lauvriere, “Edgar Poe. Sa Vie et son ceuvre. fitude de Psychologic Pathologique.” Paris, 1904. It is in teresting, also, to observe the effect of this aspect of his hero's life on Baudelaire, “LTnfluence d Edgar Poe sur Charles Baudelaire,” par Arthur S. Patterson, Grenoble, 1903.

Page 191. English gave the following account of this incident (The Independent, Oct. 29, 1906): —

“Poe came to 304 Broadway ... and entering Lane's room, adjoining mine, where I was chatting with John H. [page 431:] Tyler, a nephew of the ex-president, asked of me to lend him a pistol. I told him I had none, but he still insisted; and when asked what he wanted with it said that Colonel Lummis had threatened his life unless he showed him Mrs. Ellet's imprudent letters. I asked him why, if he had such letters, he did not produce them; and he rejoined that he had them, but would n't produce them under compulsion. I told him plainly that he had no such letters in his possession, in my belief, and that the best thing he could do would be to acknowledge that he had used the expression in a moment of irritation, and to make retraction and apology. One word led to another, and he rushed toward me in a menacing manner.” The fracas followed, the com batants were separated by Professor Ackerman “from the front room,” and Poe was “led away” by him.

On this Lane, in his letter to English, already cited, comments: —

“You had the capacity of being a perfect irritant to Mr. Poe, especially when the poet was lost in the inebriate. When entirely himself ... he was gentle and respectful to you as to his other acquaintances and friends. How often he had rushed into my room, excitedly exclaiming, Where is English? I want to kill him. He goes on to speak of Poe's conduct in this instance as his maudlin desire to attack you. English does not state that Poe was intoxicated; but this is implied in Mr. Lane's expressions, and it is agreed that Poe was never subject to such behavior except when so excited.”

Mr. Lane writes kindly of Poe, but the expression he uses in giving him the charity of silence is most unfortunate; to profess silence is at best a poor way of keeping silence, and in this case he certainly chose his words ill. He ascribes Poe's failings to his poverty, in similar terms to those used by Graham. English states that Poe's lapses were only occasional. “His offenses against sobriety were commited [[committed]] at irregular intervals. He had not that physical constitution that would permit him to be a [page 432:] regular drinker. ... He was not even a frequent drunkard when I knew him.” He testifies, as to two occasions, “that one glass of liquor would affect him visibly, and the second or third produce intoxication.” This statement is repeatedly made by others, and restricted to the effect of one glass. On the other hand, it is accompanied by the equally frequent statement that the effects of drinking were not observable in him after at least some degree of indulgence, and often showed only in his talk. More than one person states that he required to be warmed with wine in order to talk in company, and there are many notices of his wine-drinking without serious results, so far as appears. Thompson tells amazing stories of his capacity to stand a “tumbler-full” of brandy or even (on Poe's word, it is true) a score of juleps before breakfast. It is plain enough that no hard-and-fast limit of “a single glass” will stand examination, further than to sustain the belief that he was easily and immediately exhilarated by wine, and rapidly intoxicated by drams, maintaining a greater or less degree of concealing the fact; and at different times of his life and on different occasions there was considerable variability in the matter.

Page 219. The reminiscences of Mrs. Gove-Nichols ascribed to her, so far as I know, only on internal evidence, afford the only intimate portrait of the cottage at Fordham, and are both in vividness and tone so natural and true that I subjoin from the original the entire article, marking with asterisks the passages used in the text, in which these verbal errors occur owing to my imperfect copy, namely, — read almost before petite, p. 214; spread for counterpane, p. 218; first before saw, p. 219.

(REMINISCENCES OF EDGAR POE (Sixpenny Magazine, Feb. 1863).

Some sixteen years ago, I went on a little excursion with two others — one a reviewer, since dead, and the other a person [page 433:] who wrote laudatory notices of books, and borrowed money or favours from their flattered authors afterwards. He was called unscrupulous by some, but he probably considered his method a delicate way of conferring a favour upon an author or of doing him justice without the disagreeable conditions of bargain and sale. It is certain that he lived better and held his head higher than many who did more and better work. The reviewer petted him, and relied upon him, and gave him money when he failed to get it elsewhere.

We made one excursion to Fordham to see Poe. We found him, and his wife, and his wife's mother — who was his aunt — living in a little cottage at the top of a hill. There was an acre or two of greensward, fenced in about the house, as smooth as velvet and as clean as the best kept carpet. There were some grand old cherry-trees in the yard, that threw a massive shade around them. The house had three rooms — a kitchen, a sitting-room, and a bed-chamber over the sitting-room. There was a piazza in front of the house that was a lovely place to sit in in summer, with the shade of cherry-trees before it. There was no cultivation, no flowers — nothing but the smooth greensward and the majestic trees. On the occasion of this my first visit to the poet, I was a good deal plagued — Poe had somehow caught a full-grown bob-o -link. He had put him in a cage, which he had hung on a nail driven into the trunk of a cherry-tree. The poor bird was as unfit to live in a cage as his captor was to live in the world. He was as restless as his jailer, and sprang continually in a fierce, frightened way, from one side of the cage to the other. I pitied him, but Poe was bent on taming him. There he stood, with his arms crossed before the tormented bird, his sublime trust in attaining the impossible apparent in his whole self. So handsome, so im passive in his wonderful, intellectual beauty, so proud and reserved, and yet so confidentially communicative, so entirely a gentleman on all occasions that I ever saw him — so tasteful, [page 434:] so good a talker was Poe, that he impressed himself and his wishes, even without words, upon those with whom he spoke. However, I remonstrated against the imprisonment of “Robert of Lincoln Green.”

“You are wrong,” said he, quietly, “in wishing me to free the bird. He is a splendid songster, and as soon as he is tamed he will delight our home with his musical gifts. You should hear him ring out like a chime of joy bells his wonderful song.”

Poe's voice was melody itself. He always spoke low, even in a violent discussion, compelling his hearers to listen if they would know his opinion, his facts, fancies, or philosophy, or his weird imaginings. These last usually flowed from his pen, seldom from his tongue. * * * [See ii, 213-215.]

It was very flattering. She told Poe that his “poem of the Raven had awakened a fit of horror in England.” This was what he loved to do. To make the flesh creep, to make one shudder and freeze with horror, was more to his relish (I can not say more to his mind or heart) than to touch the tenderest chords of sympathy or sadness,

On the book-shelf there lay a volume of Poe's poems. He took it down, wrote my name in it, and gave it to me. I think he did this from a feeling of sympathy, for I could riot be of advantage to him, as my two companions could. I had sent him an article when he edited the Broadway Journal, which had pleased him. It was a sort of wonder article, and he published it without knowing the authorship, and he was pleased to find his anonymous contributor in me. He was at this time greatly depressed. Their extreme poverty, the sickness of his wife, and his own inability to write, sufficiently accounted for this. We spent half an hour in the house, when some more company came, which included ladies, and then we all went to walk.

We strolled away into the woods, and had a very cheerful [page 435:] time, till some one proposed a game at leaping. I think it must have been Poe, as he was expert in the exercise. Two or three gentlemen agreed to leap with him, and though one of them was tall, and had been a hunter in times past, Poe still distanced them all. But alas! his gaiters, long worn and carefully kept, were both burst in the grand leap that made him victor. I had pitied the poor bob-o -link in his hard and hopeless imprisonment, but I pitied Poe more now. I was certain he had no other shoes, boots, or gaiters. Who amongst us could offer him money to buy a new pair? Surely not the writer of this, for the few shillings that I paid to go to Fordham must be economized somewhere and somehow, amongst my indispensable disbursements. I should have to wear fewer clean shirts, or eat a less number of oyster stews. In those days I never aspired to a broil. It is well that habit is a grand ameliorator, and that we come to like what we are obliged to get accustomed to. But if any one had money, who had the effrontery to offer it to the poet? When we reached the cottage, I think all felt that we must not go in, to see the shoeless unfortunate sitting or standing in our midst. I had an errand, however — I had left the volume of Poe's poems — and I entered the house to get it. The poor old mother looked at his feet with a dismay that I shall never forget.

“Oh, Eddie!” said she, “how did you burst your gaiters?”

Poe seemed to have come into a semi-torpid state as soon as he saw his mother.

“Do answer Muddie, now,” said she, coaxingly.

“Muddie” was her pet name with her children.

I related the cause of the mishap, and she drew me into the kitchen.

“Will you speak to Mr. ——,” said she, “about Eddie's last poem?”

Mr. —— was the reviewer.

“If he will only take the poem, Eddie can have a pair of [page 436:] shoes. He has it — I carried it last week, and Eddie says it is his best. You will speak to him about it, won't you?

We had already read the poem in conclave, and Heaven for give us, we could not make head or tail to it. It might as well have been in any of the lost languages, for any meaning we could extract from its melodious numbers. I remember saying that I believed it was only a hoax that Poe was passing off for poetry, to see how far his name would go in imposing upon people. But here was a situation. The reviewer had been actively instrumental in the demolition of the gaiters.

“Of course they will publish the poem,” said I, “and I will ask C —— to be quick about it.”

The poem was paid for at once, and published soon after. I presume it is regarded as genuine poetry in the collected poems of its author, but then it bought the poet a pair of gaiters, and twelve shillings over.

At my next visit Poe grew very confidential with me.

“I write,” said he, “from a mental necessity to satisfy my taste and my love of art. Fame forms no motive power with me. What can I care for the judgment of a multitude, every individual of which I despise?”

“But, Mr. Poe,” said I, “there are individuals whose judgment you respect.”

“Certainly, and I would choose to have their esteem un mixed with the mean adulation of the mob.”

“But the multitude may be honestly and legitimately pleased,” said I.

“That may be possible,” said Poe, musingly, “because they may have an honest and legitimate leader, and not a poor man who has been paid a hundred dollars to manufacture opinions for them and fame for an author.”

“Do reviewers sell their literary conscience thus unconscionably?” said I.

“A literary critic must be loth to violate his taste, his sense [page 437:] of the fit and the beautiful. To sin against these, and praise an unworthy author, is to him an unpardonable sin. But if he were placed on the rack, or if one he loved better than his own life were writhing there, I can conceive of his forging a note against the Bank of Fame, in favour of some would-be poetess, who is able and willing to buy his poems and opinions.”

He turned almost fiercely upon me, his fine eyes piercing me, “Would you blame a man for not allowing his sick wife to starve?” said he.

I changed the subject and he became quiet, and we walked along, noting beauties of flowers and foliage, of hill and dale, till we reached the cottage.

At my next visit, Poe said, as we walked along the brow of the hill, “I can't look out on this loveliness till I have made a confession to you. I said to you when you were last here, that I despised fame.”

“I remember,” said I.

“It is false,” said he. “I love fame — I dote on it — I idolize it — I would drink to the very dregs the glorious intoxication. I would have incense ascend in my honour from every hill and hamlet, from every town and city on this earth. Fame! glory! — they are life-giving breath, and living blood. No man lives, unless he is famous! How bitterly I belied my nature, and my aspirations, when I said I did not desire fame, and that I despised it.”

Suggestive that the utterance on both occasions might be true to the mood that suggested them (sic) . But he declared that there was no truth in his first assertion. I was not as severe with him as he was with himself.

The autumn came, and Mrs. Poe sank rapidly in consumption, and * * * [See ii, 218, 219.]

“My poor child,” said Mrs. Clemm, “my blessed and beloved, who has gone before me. Mrs. —— was so good to her. She tended her while she lived, as if she had been her dear [page 438:] sister, and when she was dead she dressed her for the grave in beautiful linen. If it had not been for her, my darling Virginia would have been laid in her grave in cotton. I can never tell my gratitude that my darling was entombed in lovely linen.”

It seemed to soothe the mother's sorrow in a wonderful way, that her daughter had been buried in fine linen. How this delicate raiment could add so much to her happiness, I was not able to see, but so it was.

The same generous lady gave the bereaved mother a home for some time after the death of the poet. I think she only left her house to go to her friends in the South.

Soon after Poe's death, I met the aged mother on Broadway. She seized me by both my hands, regardless of the passers by.

“My Eddie is dead,” she sobbed, hardly able to speak. “He is gone — gone, and left his poor Muddie all alone.”

And then she thought of his fame, and she clung to me, speaking with pathetic and prayerful earnestness. “You will take care of his fame,” said she; “you will not let them lie about him. Tell the truth of my Eddie. Oh, tell the truth — tell the world how great and good he was. They will defame him — I know they will. They are wicked and envious; but you will do my poor, dear Eddie justice.” She pressed my hands convulsively. “Say that you will take my Eddie's part,” said she, almost wildly.

“I can never do him injustice,” said I; “I assure you I never will.”

“I knew you never would,” said she, seeming greatly comforted.

I have said nothing of Poe's genius. His works are before the world. Those who are able to judge of them will do so. There is no need to manufacture fame for the poet now. He cannot be pleased or benefited by it.

Poe has been called a bad man. He was his own enemy, it is true; but he was a gentleman and a scholar. His clear and [page 439:] vivid perception of the beautiful constituted his conscience, and unless bereft of his senses by some poison, it was hard to make him offend his taste.

People may be starved, so that they will eat coarse, disgusting, and unhealthy viands, and a poet has human liabilities. We may be sure if Poe sold his poems, to be printed as the productions of another, or if he eulogized what he despised, that the offence brought with it sufficient punishment. Poor Poe! If the scribblers who have snapped like curs at his remains, had seen him as his friends saw him, in his dire necessity and his great temptation, they would have been worse than they deem him to have written as they have concerning a man of whom they really knew next to nothing.

Requiescat in pace!

The poem which is described above as sold to Colton, editor of the Whig Review, and soon published presents a difficulty. No poem was published in the Whig until “Ulalume”; the words apply to that poem; but “Ulalume “has hitherto always been referred to a date later than the death of Poe's wife, in 1847. “Ulalume” was, therefore, if these facts be correctly stated, written before the summer of 1846, being a poem, like “The Raven,” without reference to a real loss, or else the poem, like “The Bells,” was rewritten after this. No other reference to Poe's selling poems to be published under an other's name is known. It is plain that the author confuses Mrs. Shew and Mrs. Lewis. Mrs. Clemm lived with the latter at one time after Poe's death.

Other Fordham reminiscences are mainly by the neighbors, brief and simple annals of a poor family in need, and by a priest at Fordham, kindly in recognition of Poe's gentler nature and the pathetic side of his temperament and charitable in mention of his failings; these together with the recollections of the canal -boat boy (a companion piece with those of Poe's [page 440:] office-boy), are given in “Myths about Poe's Habits Refuted (New York Press, April 4, 1897), and “Poe Not a Drunkard,” by Appleton Morgan (New York Commercial Advertiser, Feb. 11, 1899). Cf. also “Fordham Home of Poe,” by T. Waters (New York Times, Feb. 14, 1897), and “Edgar Allan Poe” (North Side Board of Trade, Jan. 19, 1909), from which it also appears that Poe was accustomed to row on the East River and swim near the islands south of Blackwell's in 1845-46.

Page 226. POE AND VIRGINIA. The view that the devotion of Poe to Virginia was rather of the nature of family affection than of wedded love was held in his immediate circle and has been much emphasized by Mrs. Weiss; it is, in fact, the substance of her book. Such intellectual sympathy as Poe found in his home, he sought from Mrs. Clemm, to whom he seems to have read his writings habitually in the course of their composition; Virginia, apparently, was not interested in such matters. Mrs. Clemm was credited with having made the marriage to keep the family united. Mrs. Phelps (Newark Courier, July 19, 1900) says, sustaining this view, — “Mrs. Clemm, his aunt, was my mother's dear friend ... I know something about that [the marriage], having heard my mother and Mrs. Clemm discuss it. He did not love his cousin, except as a dear cousin, when he married her, but she was very fondly attached to him and was frail and consumptive. While she lived he devoted himself to her with all the ardor of a lover.” Mrs. Osgood expressed (Griswold, liii) her conviction that Poe's wife “was the only woman whom he ever truly loved.” His own words to Lowell (ii, 104) should be noted. Yet the impression prevailed among the relatives and family friends that the marriage was originally one of arrangement and had not proved the best.

The story of the accidental preservation of the remains of Virginia by Mr. Gill, when the tomb of the Valentines was abandoned, and of his keeping them in his room in a box, and [page 441:] finally reinterring them in Baltimore by Poe's grave, after a night-visitation from a raven, is a characteristic Poe “legend” which in this case seems to be the truth. (Boston Herald, Jan. 20, 1909.)

Page 236. The view of Poe held in New York at the time that he was engaged upon “Eureka” is indicated by two letters published by Eveleth (“Edgar A. Poe,” Portland Transcript, June, 1849). The first is from the editor of the New York Weekly Universe (Aug. 1847): “Mr. Poe, in our estimation, holds a high rank, regarded either as an elegant tale-writer, a poet, or a critic. He will be more fairly judged after his death than during his life. His habits have been shockingly irregular, but what amendment they have undergone within the past six months, we cannot say, for Mr. Poe, during that time, has been in the country. We know him personally — he is a gentleman — a man of fine taste and of warm applause, with a generous heart.” The second is from Colton (Oct. 1847): “I hope Mr. Poe has done drinking. I don't think he has drank anything this long time. He is living in a quiet way in the beautiful county of Westchester.” Poe, in a letter to Eveleth (Feb. 1848), quoted in the same article, denies any acquaintance with the editor of the Weekly Universe, and adds: “My habits are rigorously abstemious, and I omit nothing of the natural regimen necessary for health: i. e. I rise early, eat moderately, drink nothing but water, and take abundant and regular exercise in the open air. But this is my private life — my studious and literary life — and, of course, escapes the eye of the world. The desire for society comes upon me only when I have become excited by drink. Then only I go — that is, at these times only I have been in the practice of going among my friends; who seldom, or, in fact, never having seen me unless excited, take it for granted that I am always so. Those who really know me, know better. But enough of this: the causes which maddened me to the drinking [page 442:] point are no more, and I am done drinking forever. My health is better — best — I was never so well.”

Page 258. Another tradition of “The Bells,” current several years ago, was revived in “Poe, the Weird Genius” (Cosmopolitan, Feb. 1909): —

“On one of these Baltimore visits he wrote the world-famous poem, The Bells. Perhaps Mrs. Houghten had in spired him with the germ of the poem in New York, but the house where it was written in Baltimore still stands, a mute testimony of its Baltimore birth. Tradition treasures this story of The Bells: One winter night Poe had been to the public library and was walking home down Saint Paul's Street. It was snowy, and sleigh-bells made merry music. Their lilt and swing got into his brain, and he searched his pockets for pencil and paper. He had none. Stores were closed, and mean while exquisite phrases were being lost. He rushed up the steps of Judge A. E. Giles's residence, and rang the bell. The judge himself opened the door, and Poe requested paper and ink. The judge saw that he was a gentleman, invited him into the library, and courteously withdrew. After a time he looked in after his strange guest, only to find him gone; but there, lying on the table, were the first three stanzas of The Bells, which the judge afterward had framed and hung in his office.”

Page 273. Some glimpses of Poe's life in “bachelor quarters” are afforded by Col. John H. Montague (Richmond Times-Despatch, Jan. 17, 1909), a gentleman some ten or twelve years his junior, who hearing one evening a great noise there near nightfall, entered. He says: —

“I went through the first entrance, and, as the sound came from above, I started up the stairway. I had not gone many steps before I saw Poe standing at the top landing, half dressed, and with a gun in his hand, which he was leveling at me. [page 443:]

“I was almost paralyzed with apprehension, but dared not turn and run back. Being very young and active, I dived under the gun, and embracing him, said: —

“Mr. Poe, can you give me a drink? The question and my expression touched his heart, and he replied: —

“‘Certainly, my boy, come in; we are glad to see you.’

“On another occasion my old schoolmate, John R. Thompson, the poet, suggested a call on Mr. Poe, who was then well known as a sometime contributor to the Southern Literary Messenger. He invited us in with politeness, and for a time his conversation was most brilliant and interesting. After a while he lapsed into a wild, unearthly, and wonderful rhapsody, while his great eyes glared and scintillated, and he seemed to be talking more to a peopled atmosphere than to a brace of youngsters.”

Mr. John W. Ferguson (ditto), the old employee of the Messenger, who knew Poe from 1835 in that office, says very succinctly: “Mr. Poe was a fine gentleman when he was sober. He was ever kind and courtly, and at such times every one liked him. But when he was drinking he was about one of the most disagreeable men I have ever met.”

The story of the challenge to Daniels is told by J. H. Whitty (Richmond Times-Despatch, Jan. 1909), who kindly allows me to reprint the material portion of it:

(Copyright, 1909, by J. H. Whitty.)

“While in Richmond during the summer of 1848, Poe spent most of his time in the company of newspaper writers or about resorts frequented by them. He roomed most of this time with a Richmond newspaper editor. Among others he had met John M. Daniel, of the Examiner, and bad blood was shown between them from the start. They had talked about literary matters and did not agree. There also had been a debt transaction, which was a disputed matter. Daniel was also acquainted with some member of the Whitman family and made disparaging [page 444:] allusions to Poe and his intentions toward Mrs. Whitman, which came to the poet's ears.

“He became infuriated and at once sent a challenge to Daniel to fight a duel. Judge Robert W. Hughes, who wrote for the Examiner and had a personal acquaintance with Poe, remembered the affair well and told the particulars. The newspaper friends of Poe did not regard the affair as serious, and knew that it would soon blow over. Poe's challenge, written on the letter head of a sheet of one of the Richmond newspaper offices, was taken to Daniel, who also regarded the matter lightly. An arrangement was effected by which Poe was to seek satisfaction from the fiery editor in his sanctum. Poe was informed that Daniel would not meet him on the outside in the usual way, but preferred to settle matters between them alone in the Examiner office. While Poe was hardly in any condition to fight a duel, he was induced to go to the Examiner office, where Daniel awaited him alone by appointment.

“When he entered and saw Daniel he drew himself up to full height and demanded, in his haughty manner, why he had sent for him. Daniel was sitting near a table on which was displayed two very large, old-fashioned pistols, which the quick glance of Poe soon espied. Daniel in a cool and quiet manner asked Poe to be seated. Then he told him that he did not care to have the matter get to the police authorities, and suggested that instead of the usual formalities of the code they settle the dispute between them then and there. They were alone, the room was large and he pointed to the pistols ready for use. The quietude of the place, Daniel's demeanor, and this strange request tinged something of the grotesque. Poe began to sober up. He asked some questions about their difficulty and soon became convinced that matters were exaggerated.

“Then he told Daniel, in his characteristic way, of the challenge sent by the Maryland poet, Edward Coate Pinkney, [page 445:] to his former early benefactor, John Neal, editor of the Boston Yankee, and how the young poet had walked for a week before Neal's office in order to meet him. Daniel evinced much interest in the story, and Poe remarked to him that he hoped that he would not turn matters into ridicule in the next issue of the Examiner, like Neal did in his journal.

“Friends who had stood not far away, knowing there was little likelihood of any bloodshed, then broke in upon the scene. Matters were explained in a friendly way, and Poe was called upon by Daniel to finish his story about Pinkney, which he did, and recited as he only could: —

“I fill this cup to one made up

Of loveliness alone;

A woman, of her gentle sex,

The seeming paragon;

To whom the better elements

And kindly stars have given

A form so fair that like the air,

‘T is less of earth than heaven.

“After this they all repaired to a nearby popular resort, where there were more ‘healths.’”

Mr. Whitty maintains that it was to this incident that Poe referred in writing later to Mrs. Whitman that her lines reached him when he was “about to enter upon a course that would have borne me far, far away from you, sweet, sweet Helen, and the divine dream of your love,” — words that have hitherto been referred to his intention to offer his hand to Mrs. Shelton. It falls in with this view that Mr. Daniels was an acquaintance of the Whitmans, and that Mrs. Shelton in her reminiscences does not speak of meeting Poe before the next year, 1849, and then speaks as if she met him for the first time. It is, nevertheless, proper to observe that the affair with Mrs. Whitman had not gone beyond an anonymous exchange of her valentine and his lines to her privately, though the former had been published by Willis in the Home Journal; that it is singular that he should not have met Mrs. Shelton in his stay in the [page 446:] city; that she is said by Mrs. Weiss (on hearsay) to have at tended the public reading in the Exchange Hotel, and that the latter states positively that Poe came to Richmond in 1848 to make the match with Mrs. Shelton at the suggestion of Mr. MacKenzie, who told her so. There is, however, except the last statement, nothing first-hand told by Mrs. Weiss, and Poe should have the benefit of any doubt.

Page 293. The only facts that might be held to support Poe's words are the publication by Mrs. Whitman of her poem, “The Island of Dreams,” in February, 1848, and of her “Song” (“I bade thee stay”) in June, 1849.

Page 316. Of George Lippard and C. Chauncey Burr only brief bibliographical notices have come under my observation. Lippard was the more intimate with Poe; he wrote some novels and a revolutionary history, and contributed to the first number of Burr's Nineteenth Century an article, “The Heart Broken,” a story of Charles Brockden Brown's career.

Page 325, POE AND MRS. LEWIS. Mrs. Lewis was one of the ladies who relieved Poe in 1847 (Poe to Mrs. Lewis, Nov. 27, 1847), and he gave much attention to noticing her poems in 1848-49. Stoddard writes (“Edgar Allan Poe,” 1889), in connection with a curious account of visiting her home while Mrs. Clemm lived there, that Mrs. Lewis “paid him (Poe) one hundred dollars to review one of her books” and that “on his neglecting to do so” she “very naturally complained of him. He did not deny her charges, but simply remarked that if he reviewed her rubbish it would kill him. Nevertheless he did review it in the Southern Literary Messenger [Sept. 1848] and in Graham's Magazine, sending his notes to Bayard Taylor with the request that he would insert as his own production.” Stoddard possessed this note. Taylor, temporary editor of the Union, 1848, held only a nominal editorship of Graham's for a brief time in the late fall of that year. Besides these notices Poe sent one to Thomas in Louisville, Feb. 14, 1849 (ii, 300), [page 447:] and apparently also to the Western Quarterly Review (ii, 327), and one to Griswold (Poe to Griswold, June 28, 1849). With regard to the latter, cf. Mrs. Lewis to Griswold, Sept. 20, (Century, Oct. 1894). Stoddard does not specify the source of his information with regard to the alleged payment.

Stoddard was a frequent writer on Poe, and, besides his memoir, originally written for the English edition of Poe's poems (Routledge, 1874) and republished in America (Widdleton, 1874), and the articles already noted in the text, wrote papers in The Independent (“Some Myths in the Life of Poe,” June 24, 1880: “Ingram in re Poe et al.,” ditto, editorial unsigned), and occasional editorials in the New York Mail and Express during his long association with that journal.

Page 342. POE'S DEATH. Griswold, whom later writers have followed, derived his information, obviously incorrect as to dates, probably from Neilson Poe, who, at least, offered it (Neilson Poe to Griswold, Nov. i, 1849, MS. copy): “The history of the last few days of his life is known to no one so well as to myself, and is of touching and melancholy interest as well as [of] the most admonitory import. I trust that I can demonstrate that he passed, by a single indulgence, from a condition of perfect sobriety to one bordering upon the madness usually occasioned only by long continued intoxication, and that he is entitled to a far more favourable judgement upon his last hours than he has received. All this I will make the subject of a deliberate communication.”

It is open to conjecture that Poe did not leave Richmond on the boat, as Mrs. Shelton and other friends were told, but this hypothesis has never been put forward, nor is there anything substantial to sustain it. The tale (generally regarded as a hoax) that Poe ascribed the authorship of “The Raven” to Fenwick rests on his alleged letter, which is given, to Daniels, dated Sept. 29, 1849. If there was ever an original for that letter, this date would indicate that he remained in some [page 448:] resort in the vicinity, and wrote the letter under such circum stances.

The only account of Poe's last days not referred to in the text is an interview with “a former Baltimorean recently living in San Francisco” which was widely published in 1889 by Didier and others, in the press. It contains the description of the “widow Meagher's * place, said to have been a resort of Poe, and a detailed narrative of his being drugged and taken from one polling-place to another. It is full of impossible statements of fact. The same interview reappeared in new form and again went the rounds of the press, especially in St. Louis, San Francisco, and the southwestern states. The “Baltimorean” is variously described as residing in Dakota and on the Pacific coast, and is named as Dr. Snodgrass. This interview found its last victim in Mrs. Weiss (p. 205), who takes from it her account of Poe's last days. The Dr. Snodgrass, who was Poe's friend and found him, died long before 1889, and whoever the reminiscent Bohemian may have claimed to be, the story appears merely a fabrication on the basis of the old rumor.

Page 349. POE'S GRAVE. On the occasion of the erection of the Baltimore monument to Poe, in 1875, Mr. Henry Herring wrote to the Baltimore American as follows: “He was buried in his grandfather's (David Poe) lot near the centre of the graveyard, wherein were buried his grandmother and several others of the family. I furnished a neat mahogany coffin, and Mr. Nelson Poe the hack and hearse. Mr. Nelson Poe, Judge Nelson and myself, together with Mr. Charles Suter, the undertaker, were the only persons attending his funeral.” A headstone was provided by Neilson Poe, but was broken by accident before it was set up, and the grave remained unmarked except by a fragment of sandstone used for numbering lots, with the figure “80” on it, placed there by the sexton, George W. Spence. This was the only memorial, if it can be [page 449:] called so, for twenty-six years. Mrs. Clemm was buried beside Poe. When the new monument was erected it was necessary to remove the remains to the grave of Mrs. Clemm; the disinterment was made, the bones examined by a curious group, and the coffin enclosed in another and reinterred (Baltimore American, Oct. 1, 1875). The new monument was dedicated Nov. 17, 1875.

Page 340. POE AND GRISWOLD. The letters of Poe to Griswold, prefixed to the latter's Memoir of Poe, are the main source of information as to their personal relations. Of these letters two originals only were among the Griswold MSS., and both varied materially from the printed text (cf. “The Virginia Poe,” xvii, 200, and 169, 202); but, however garbled the letters, the relations of the two men are plain. The story of these has been told in the text to the time of the breach of their acquaintance in 1843. Poe made advances toward reconciliation in 1845. He desired to be represented in Griswold's new compilation, “Prose Writers of America,” and wrote with regard to that subject; their personal relations were renewed, and their correspondence was confined to the business of Poe's texts in Griswold's new work and in his revision of his former work on the American poets, and to a loan of fifty dollars in 1845, when Poe applied in all quarters for money to carry on the Broadway Journal; these business communications contain expressions of regard for Griswold's work and apologetic expressions for censure, which may or may not be garbled or interpolated, but which are sustained by Poe's public notices of Griswold in the press. Griswold had great control over literary reputation through his compilations and other publishing connections, and also Poe's pen, critically, was to be feared. The two lived on terms of worldly amity, but each had a private opinion of the other in reserve. Outside of literary affairs, it has been charged that they were rivals in the favor of Mrs. Osgood (cf. Potter's American Monthly, July, 1877, in reply [page 450:] to an article by Mrs. M. (Hewitt) Stebbins in the New York Tribune of about the same date); but it is plain from the Memoir that the influence of her friendship with Griswold was thrown in defense of Poe, and this intimacy appears to have been of a date somewhat later than 1845. She died May 12, 1850, and was buried at Mt. Auburn. The letters, it should be noted, cease after 1845, with the business of the “Prose Writers” and the Broadway Journal, and begin again only in 1849 with the business of the new edition of the “Poets and Poetry of America.” There is no mention of any request of Poe to Gris wold to serve as his literary executor; but Poe is said to have written to Griswold, and also to have expressed the request verbally through the Lewis family, and Mrs. Weiss says that he showed her a letter in which Griswold accepted the duty. The last letter of Poe to Griswold, June 28, 1849 (“The Virginia Poe,” xvii, 362) was printed by Griswold, unless it be regarded as the original of the letter on the same subject given by him, to which it bears the faintest resemblance. Griswold, so far as Poe's judgment was concerned in selecting him as literary executor, was by far the best man in the country for the work.

Horace Greeley, in an editorial note in the Tribune, 1850, says: “We learned by telegraph the fact of Poe's death at Baltimore, in the afternoon following its occurrence and soon after, meeting Dr. Griswold, and knowing his acquaintance with Poe, asked him to prepare some account of the deceased for the next morning's paper. He immediately and hastily wrote in our presence his two columns or more.” This was the obituary notice, signed “Ludwig” (New York Tribune, Oct. 9, 1849). Griswold maintained that he did not become the literary executor of Poe until after this was written. He received the papers of Poe from Mrs. Clemm and Neilson Poe. The latter writes (Neilson Poe to Griswold, Nov. i, 1849, MS. copy), referring to Poe's trunk which had been forwarded from [page 451:] Richmond by Thompson: “I have opened his trunk and find it to contain very few manuscripts of value. The chief of them is a lecture upon the poetic principle and some paragraphs pre pared, apparently, for some literary journal. There are, how ever, a number of books, his own works, which are full of corrections by his own hand. These ought, undoubtedly, to be placed in your hands.” These volumes were the copies of the Tales and Poems, now known as the Lorimer-Graham copies, the copy of “Eureka,” now known as Hurst's copy, and possibly others, all afterwards sold with Griswold's library. J. C. Derby, in “Fifty Years Among Authors, Books, and Publishers,” 1884, gives the account of the publication: “Dr. Griswold had offered the works to nearly all the leading publishers, who declined to undertake the publication. He finally persuaded Mr. Redfield to try the experiment of issuing two volumes first, which were published and had a fair sale — then the third, and finally the fourth, volume were added to complete the works. The sale reached about fifteen hundred sets every year.”

The two volumes appeared early in 1850, with Lowell's article from Graham's, revised, and the obituary notice by Willis from the Home Journal, Oct. 13, 1849, as prefatory matter. Willis had quoted in this article from the Tribune notice, and remonstrated against it. The Tribune notice had been widely reprinted in the press, but Griswold's remarks were first read by Graham, says the latter, in these volumes. Graham addressed an open letter to Willis (Graham's, March, 1850) on the subject of Poe's career and Griswold's notice, since often republished as “Graham's Defence of Poe.” John Neal wrote a characteristic review of the two volumes, “Edgar A. Poe” (Portland Daily Advertiser, April 23, 1850), which, though often referred to, seems seldom to have been seen. It is written in a rambling and vituperative manner, and contains nothing valuable except the account of Neal's early correspondence [page 452:] with Poe. Neal never saw Poe, and claims no direct knowledge of him or his affairs.” The following brief paragraphs contain his view of Poe's character and career: “My notion of the poor fellow has been from the first that he was always taken advantage of by others, and therefore he got soured, resentful, and suspicious. I do not mean by this that everybody cheated him, for he was, to my knowledge, handsomely paid for some of his writings; but that he was not discouraged in the very outset by two or three very foolish enterprises, by his friend Graham and others, who knew that he would never be a popular Magazine-writer. ... I believe that after he had to do with the Southern Literary Messenger, and failed in two or three literary adventures, one after an other, which as a matter of business, ought never to have been thought of seriously, for a single day, nor ever entered upon, but with a large capital, and a party who would like to spend a few thousands just for the fun o the thing, his whole outward character changed. ... I believe, too, that he was by nature, of a just and generous temper, thwarted, baffled, and self-harnessed by his own wilfulness to the most unbecoming drudgery. ... I believe, too, that he was a very honest fellow, and very sincere, though incapable of doing justice to anybody he might happen to dislike no matter why; or to anybody he thought over-cuddled by the monthlies or over-slobbered by the weeklies. ... That his natural temper changed before death, and that he saw the world at last, with other eyes than he was born with; and that, instead of the unearthly brightness that broke forth, in flashes, every time he lifted the wings of his boy hood, like a seraph, he delighted for the last few years of a weary life, in raying darkness upon the people about him, is clear enough.”

William Wallace (cf. i, 336) soon replied to this in an article, “John Neal “(the clipping is without name or date), and had little difficulty in exposing the weak points of Neal's remarks, [page 453:] while he reviewed the connection of Poe and Griswold as evinced by the former's public notices. The controversy was bitter in tone, as was the habit of that day. On the announcement of the third volume of Poe's works, containing “The Literati,” a New York correspondent of the Sentinel of Freedom thus spoke of Poe as a blackmailer — “a plunderer by profession, — a sort of privateers-man,” and he continues with as violent expressions as were ever used of Poe. On the other hand, others, editorially, defended him. It was at this time, probably, that Wilmer also wrote, in Philadelphia, his article, “Edgar A. Poe and His Calumniators,” which has not been found, but probably does not differ from Wilmer's later utterances. Such was the atmosphere in which Griswold wrote his Memoir, prefixed to the third volume, signed Sept. 2, 1850, and first published in the International, Oct. 1850.

Griswold maintained that he had done a kindly act, in writing the Memoir as he did. Others agreed with him, as, for example, Redfield: “Griswold never received a cent for his labors. Poe named him as his literary executor shortly before he died, although they had quarreled not long before. Griswold's labor was no joke. Few men would have undertaken it with no hope of reward. It is fashionable nowadays to throw mud at him. Knowing, as I did, both of the men, and knowing, also, how assiduously Griswold labored to say everything he could in the biography in Poe's favor, it is very annoying to read these things. The matter of the biography was all read over to me, talked and discussed before printing, and I know he did his best to'set down naught in malice.’ He was obliged, as he thought, to state the facts in all cases, and he did state them, favorably as he could to Poe. I know he tried to do so Now he is accused everywhere, by people who know nothing about it, of vilely slandering Poe. I had a better opportunity than any one else to know all about it, and I know he did not.” (Redfield to Derby, loc. cit.) [page 454:]

Charles Godfrey Leland, “Memoirs,” 1893, bore precisely the same testimony, and adds this: “One day I found in his [Griswold s] desk, which he had committed to me, a great amount of further material collected to Poe's discredit. I burnt it all up at once, and told the Doctor what I had done, and scolded him well into the bargain. He took it all very amiably.” (Cf. Appendix A, “Griswold's World.”) Mrs. Clemm stated that she destroyed all letters from women to Poe; and Mrs. Richmond destroyed, before her death, the originals of Poe's letters to her, though copies made apparently without her knowledge may be in existence.

To Griswold's memoir no reply, so far as I know, was made by Poe's friends, except in so far as Burr's article (1852) was a plea in mitigation of judgment, and, long afterwards, Clarke's article (1868) quoted, with cordial endorsement, the testimony of Willis, and added a few words of the writer's own. On the other hand, Thompson, Thomas, and Kennedy, and Mrs. Lewis remained on friendly terms with Griswold; English, Briggs, and Wallace sustained him, Redfield and Leland defended him, and Stoddard wrote often and much to substantiate his statements, It is also just to add that the characterization that Griswold gave, in substance though not in feeling, was the same as that which uniformly prevailed in tradition in the best-informed literary circles in this country. The rebirth of Poe's reputation took place in writers of the next generation.



Clarke's article (1868) was “The Late N. P. Willis, and Literary Men Forty Years Ago,” Northern Monthly Magazine (Newark, NJ), January 1868, pp. 234-242. The article is assigned in the volume index as by “T. Cottrell Clark” [[Clarke]]. In his article, Clarke cites Willis’ October 17, 1858 Letter from Idlewild, published in Home Journal, October 18, 1856.


[S:0 - LEAPPL, 1909] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - The Life of EAP (G. E. Woodberry) (Notes Vol. 02)