Text: Hervey Allen, “Chapter 10,” Israfel: The Life and Times of Edgar Allan Poe (1926), volume 1, pp. 181-208


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[page 181, unnumbered:]

 

CHAPTER X
Alias Henri Le Rennét

 

SO the prodigal found himself, suddenly, in Richmond again. Ill at ease, too, for he had now given John Allan real cause for complaint, and his position in the household was essentially uncomfortable; lawyers were trying to force Mr. Allan to recognize his foster-son’s gambling debts which, it appears, in all totalled about $2500,(251) when the final sums came in. These John Allan resolutely refused to recognize, and his exasperation seems to have been so extreme then, or later, that he would not even settle for accounts that were legitimately contracted.(252) The greeting between the two could only have been curt.

Poe must have felt his position keenly. The other boys, to some of whom he doubtless owed money, were also home for the holidays. For them it was Christmas and a merry time. Poe, in his chagrin, would scarcely care to see them. There would be no happy return on a noisy coach to Charlottesville after New Year’s. He was no longer the brilliant young student and sport of his set, with a literary career ahead, but the prodigal whose brief career of glory was over, whose social position with his own friends was compromised by unpaid debts of honor, with the dubious prospects of perhaps a place on a stool in the counting house of Ellis & Allan. The pill was a bitter one, and it was made no easier by his discovery of the truth about Elmira. Luckily, it is not hard to piece out the events of the first day at home, the day before Christmas.

Edgar must have had a long talk with his “mother” and [page 182:] “Aunt Nancy”; that at least we can be sure was comforting. On his drive to the University, the February before, it seems that he had even then broached the subject to Frances Allan of leaving John Allan’s house, and making his own way in the world. She, however, had persuaded him to go on to Charlottesville.(253) The return of Poe in “disgrace” must have again aroused apprehensions that he would leave her, and she was anxious to soften the hard places of his fall, and make him welcome again by the fireside which she had done so much to make happy. Nothing is more indicative of her affection than the fact that she had arranged for him, that very night, a Christmas Eve party to which his friends were to be invited, as a formal advertisement of the fact that he was still at home as the beloved foster-son of a hospitable house. Nor was this in reality putting much of a strain on the circumstances surrounding Poe’s withdrawal. That John Allan permitted it, shows that even he acquiesced.(254) It must be remembered that Edgar had not in any official way disgraced himself.(255) That he had gambled, and upon occasions overstepped the mark in the drinking bouts, was true, but it was also true of nearly all the other students. He had not incurred the displeasure of the authorities, and been dismissed; his guardian had withdrawn him, not so much because of the “immorality” of his conduct, as on account of his debts.(256) In the final analysis this was what worried Mr. Allan most, as it would worry any Scotchman or commercial-minded man. Had Edgar’s waywardness been of an inexpensive type it might have been censured, but no very drastic action would have followed. The tune of $2500 [page 183:] for one term was a melody which did not appeal to a Scotch ear, however, and as Mr. Allan had to pay the piper, he had decided to put a period to the dance. It was, in the opinion of him who had to bear the expense, not worth the cost. At best, Mr. Allan’s enthusiasm over a liberal education for the foster-child must have been limited. That limit had already been exceeded during the first year of the cultural interlude, and, as a consequence, Master Edgar found himself suddenly very much at home. It was this financial aspect, too, in a more personal and proud way, rather than the pricking of bad conscience, which appears to have worried young Poe the most. The drinking escapades, on which so much emphasis has been laid, could not have caused him much self reproach at the time. He could not see them as the evil portents of the future. He must have been a little ashamed of the fact that his head was not as hard as the heads of his mates who could carry their liquor better than he, but, that he had taken a not unusual part in what was then expected and practised by every live young gentleman at college, did not cause him much spiritual dismay we may be sure. Drinking in all its aspects stood on a different moral plane in 1826 than in 1926. What did worry and cause him chagrin, perhaps even a feeling of disgrace, was the remembrance that a goodly number of ex-college mates possessed certain I. O. U.’s for not inconsiderable amounts, notes which his foster-father had refused to honor. These in the boy’s eyes were debts of honor; in Mr. Allan’s they were debts of dishonor, and in legal fact to him did not exist. The fact that his disappointing and troublesome foster-son might lose prestige among the members of a fast young set, whose good opinion Mr. Allan did not think worth having, especially at a great price, left him unmoved.

Edgar, on the other hand, like most boys of his age, probably felt, and valued more keenly, the attitude of his fellows than the opinions of his parents.(267) This, coupled with an inability to appreciate the nature and difficulty of acquiring what was so easy [page 184:] to spend, undoubtedly contributed the main stress in an already strained condition of affairs.

With the women of the household this monetary consideration could not have been the most important one. Like most women, they regarded the situation in its purely human and personal aspect as a conflict of personalities. They were more apt to condone what in their eyes was, at worst, the result of the natural exuberance and inexperience of a handsome boy under whose more manly clothes beat the romantic heart and pulsed the warm body which they had loved and cherished since childhood. It is scarcely possible that Mrs. Allan ever forgot the purple cap with the gold tassel, the Nankeen trousers and the buckled shoes. No good woman ever would.

So there was to be a party! We can imagine Edgar’s reception of the news, his appreciation of all that it meant, and his passionate gratitude to his “mother.” What would he do without her? She who was frail and ill, his “dear, dear Ma!” — Now he would run over and see Elmira. . . .

The blow was a staggering one. “No, she was not at home. Miss Royster has left Richmond.” The door closed, shutting out the little parlor where the flute had once warbled and the piano tinkled, leaving him, can we doubt it, in tears. Someone must have told him, and someone must have left him in despair.(258)

It was all plain now. He could hear John Allan and Mr. Royster talking it over, see all of his pathetic letters opened by an unfeeling hand, the amused grins over the ardent lines, and a little girl in tears. Then the advent of the unwelcome Mr. Shelton, his plausible talk, and Elmira at last sent away where her lover could not find her to tell her he still loved her, that it was all a cruel lie, and that her Prince Charming had come back to claim his princess after all. How dreary the Enchanted Garden now, and how cold the snow looked on the roofs as he looked across [page 185:] to the Roysters’ and saw the empty window where a handkerchief had once waved! It was all like a bad dream. As he unpacked the mementoes of his lost room at the University, who can doubt that the lines of certain manuscripts indited to a lost little lady swam dizzily before him through the mist of his despair. Could she, had she actually forgotten him? Most of Poe’s historians have dismissed the “Elmira incident” as an amusing story of puppy-love. They forget that in 1826-27, especially in the South, marriage took place commonly in the ‘teens. Poe had not simply lost a nice little sweetheart but his promised wife. Elmira married Mr. Shelton the next year. She had two children by him, both named Sarah Elmira, who died in infancy, and a son. This “affair” was in reality a great emotional crisis, and a frustration in the life of Edgar Allan Poe. The home-making instinct here received its deathblow, with a consequent tendency towards wanderlust. It was one of the deepest sources of Poe’s melancholy.

In considering Poe’s parting and break with his guardian, during the months of December, 1826, and January, 1827, the fact of his broken engagement and the resulting irritation and wound to his pride and hopes must be included. The spectacle of a pretty young girl, from whose lips both the promises and pledges of affection have been freely received but a few months before, in the arms of an ardent young rival, is not one well calculated to sooth the smart of misfortune. For with even the affectation of Byronic pride and passion, and Poe had more than that, it was a choking piece of humble pie. Hence the little Song from poems written in youth and dated 1829.

I saw thee on thy bridal day — (259)

When a burning blush came o’er thee,

Though happiness around thee lay,

And the world all love before thee;

 

And in thine eye a kindling light

(Whatever it might be)

Was all on Earth my aching sight

Of loveliness could see. [page 186:]

Nor were a few rather poor lines the end of Elmira. After the exit of Mr. Shelton she was to come on the stage again with Israfel to take part in the last brief, hopeful, sunset glow of his final act. But in December, 1826, the end seemed inevitable — a merry Christmas, indeed! The scene now shifts to a little later on in the afternoon.

We are indebted to the testimony of Thomas Boiling,(254) a former schoolmate of Edgar’s, to whom Mr. Allan had extended a cordial invitation to call, sometime before when he was on a visit to the country, for a description of the events at the Allan house on Christmas Eve, 1826. The young man, who was about Edgar’s age, had taken the opportunity of paying his respects to Mr. and Mrs. Allan during the afternoon of the 24th, and was somewhat embarrassed to see that preparations for an entertainment were under way. He at once rose to leave, but was stopped by Mr. Allan, who cordially insisted upon his staying, explaining that Edgar had just returned from the University, and that some of his young friends and acquaintances had been asked in to meet him. Young Bolling replied that he was not suitably dressed, whereupon Mr. Allan bade him, “Go up to Edgar’s room. He will supply you with one of his own suits.” The remarkable extent of Poe’s wardrobe was now probably thoroughly impressed on Mr. Allan’s mind.

Upon going upstairs, Tom Bolling found Edgar lying on a lounge in his own room reading. “A handsomely furnished room, with books and pictures arranged in bookcases around the wall.” One cannot help wondering if the little picture of Boston with the pathetic lines on the back was among the rest. Edgar welcomed his friend cordially, and threw open the doors of his well-stocked wardrobe, giving Tom his choice. Both of them then went down stairs to the drawing room where Edgar did his part, in welcoming his guests. As the evening wore on, Poe seems to have become as impatient as usual with the formal social scene, and pulling young Bolling aside, he quietly proposed that they slip off down street and have a private spree of their own, Bolling replied at first “That it would never do,” but his friend was so urgent that he finally yielded, and the company was left to [page 187:] enjoy themselves as well as they could without the presence of the “honor guest.”

Just what led Poe to do this, it is not hard to guess. The reception of friends who knew the story of his fiasco at the University was probably no easy matter, Elmira must have been keenly on his mind, and the festivities of a Southern Christmas Eve thoroughly out of keeping with his mood. In company with Bolling, we can imagine him retiring to Mrs. E. C. Richardson’s tavern, a favorite haunt, where he may have found Ebenezer Burling, and over a few comforting cups confided the perplexities of his situation, while the festivities went on at home minus the presence of the young host.

Poe’s accounts to his friends of his University career were, as might have been expected, not the whole truth. In self defense he seems to have assumed a rather lofty indifference, and to have tried with a college boy’s braggadocio to impress his acquaintances with the “sporty” side of his life. His debts he explained by saying that he wanted to see how much of the old man’s money he could spend,(260) and the seventeen broadcloth coats were an item in his remarks. This, if it came to Mr. Allan’s ears, could not have helped to heal matters. Of the real reasons, neither he nor Poe would have been anxious to talk. The deserted party must also have been oil on the flames rather than a domestic lubricant. One is warranted in picturing Mr. Allan as very angry, and “Ma” perhaps in tears, when the boys returned that night, if either of the couple were inclined to sit up that long. The holly at the Christmas breakfast table could scarcely have expressed the spirit of the occasion for Frances Allan any more than the mistletoe did for Edgar.(261) It was all very tragic, and it was all very human. There was right and wrong on both sides, a determined, exasperated, and incensed older man, and a despairing, sensitive and love-sick boy. Out of such stuff the world’s tragedies are conveniently made.

The Christmas Holidays of 1826 marked the last passing phase [page 188:] of Poe’s boyhood. New Year’s, 1827, dawned and Poe was in reality, if not wholly in years, a man. Like everyone who is not born with at least a plated spoon in his mouth, he was now confronted with the prime question of every man’s life — “Wherewith should he eat and wherewithall should he be clothed?” The store of Ellis & Allan seems to have been the most obvious answer, but this distasteful solution was not offered him. Conditions at home must have been unusually uncomfortable and, for a time, probably during the last of the holidays, Poe went down to his “father’s” plantation, “The Lower Byrd” in Goochland County, to avoid the painful scenes in the big city house, and the trials of seeing his friends depart for the University leaving him behind. In the country, too, he could escape those who were hounding him for his debts, for he was now pursued by warrants.

He seems to have returned to Richmond sometime in January and to have talked about, and even begun the reading of law.(262) But this was not definite enough for Mr. Allan who seems to have considered that young Poe had forfeited his chance to become a professional man by his conduct. The older man on his part, however, offered no help in Poe’s attempts to obtain employment, although he reproached the boy for “eating the bread of idleness.” The stories, related by former biographers, that he was given work in the store of Ellis & Allan, are now shown by the dates of letters which have come to light, and the nature of their contents, not to be true. Poe’s situation was, indeed, desperate. John Allan would not pay off his debts, or make any compromise which would allow him to return to the University. Neither would he aid him in getting employment, while at the same time he excoriated him for being idle. In the household, Edgar’s position had become anomalous; he was, it appears, subject even to the whims, not only of the whites, but of the slaves, too. Indeed, he specifically complains of this. For a young Virginian this was the lowest rung of domestic tyranny. He was in fact trapped, and there is every indication that his foster-father took the occasion [page 189:] to rub it in. Probably he deliberately improved the opportunity to make clear to Poe the lesson that the way of the evil doer is hard, and to impress upon him the value of money by allowing him to remain without any at all, and no means of making any. Fiery interviews must have occurred upon the receipt of such letters as this from Charlottesville:

JOHN ALLAN, Esq., Richmond

DEAR SIR,

I presume when you sent Mr. Poe to the University of Virginia you felt yourself bound to pay all his necessary expenses — one is that each young man is expected to have a servant to attend his room. Mr. Poe did not board with me, but as I had hired a first rate servant who cost me a high price, I consider him under greater obligations to pay me for the price of my servant. I have written you two letters and have never received an answer to either. I beg again, sir, that you will send me the small amount due ($6.25). I am distressed for money and I am informed that you are Rich both in purse and Honor.

Very respectfully,  
GEO. W. SPOTSWOOD(229), (263)

From later indications it appears that this bill, along with the others, was never paid. John Allan at one time seems to have planned a public career for Poe, but in his indignation he allowed his foster-son to hang about the house, subject to the petty tyranny of his servants and his own reproaches, and pursued by warrants, which, about the middle of January, it appears began to make Poe’s future residence in Richmond, without the aid of his guardian, an impossibility.

Poe was not merely passive under this. He is known to have written a letter to the Mills Nursery Company of Philadelphia, a firm with which Ellis & Allan had dealings, asking them for employment in that city.(264) His letter was, it appears, referred back to his guardian, who with the written evidence in his hands [page 190:] of Poe’s intentions to leave the house, seems to have precipitated a scene more violent than any which had preceded it. Even with a full knowledge of John Allan’s character, it would seem impossible that he should be keeping Poe at home merely to make him suffer. He may have had some plan in mind for the boy later, and have simply used the opportunity to impress Poe with the results of extravagance. A little pursuit by bailiffs might perhaps, he may have thought, be a salutary lesson to be more careful in the future, but the evidence all points to the fact that this was not the case. He must have known that his own parsimony was, in the final analysis, the cause of Poe’s having run into debt, and, as he made no move to secure his “son” any employment, nor to save him from impending imprisonment, while he continued to reproach him for not paying for his keep, the inference is forced upon us that he desired to have him out of the house; to have done with his interference in the discords of the family; and be rid of the young upstart, “the black-heart,” as he called him later, who could if he desired make the family skeletons dance. The scene now shifts again to the library of the Allan house sometime after supper in the evening of March 18, 1827.

The great quarrel, resulting in his leaving the house of John Allan, was the crisis of Poe’s life. In point of time it falls about midway in his span of days. In a certain sense, all the events of his youth led up to it, and its results never ceased to affect his manhood. Things were said by both men, which could never be forgiven; it was the decisive turning point in Poe’s career. From the mass of evidence now at hand, and the knowledge of the personality and character of those involved, it is amply possible to reproduce what took place.(265) [page 191:]

John Allan must have confronted Poe with the Mills Nursery letter, and have demanded of him whether it was his intention to leave Richmond as he indicated, or stay and work off his debts. Stared in the face by his own handwriting, Poe took the bit in his teeth and spoke his mind, reproaching his guardian for his parsimony to him at the University. John Allan could counter this by denouncing Edgar’s extravagance and dissipation there, which must have brought up the subject of the gambling debts, a sore point with them both. This seems to have been the main bone of controversy. Poe urged that he be allowed to continue his course at the University by having his just debts paid there; the rest he felt he could shoulder later himself. His conduct during the last three months at the University, probably since John Allan’s visit, had, he represented, been exemplary, and he had stood high in his classes. John Allan absolutely refused to send him back to Charlottesville. He seems to have had an idea that Poe should have continued at home to complete his studies. “French, mathematics, and the classics,” he afterward specifically mentions. Evidently he had some vague idea of a professional career for Poe still in mind. It was this rock upon which their further possibility of voyaging together split. From Poe’s and John Allan’s letters of the two days immediately following the quarrel it is quite evident that Poe desired to continue his course at the University with the idea of a literary future in mind. Even while so harassed in Richmond between January and March, 1827, it is probable that he continued to work upon his poems. John Allan regarded his time spent on these as idling, and he seems to have made it a condition that if Poe remained in the house it must be on his guardian’s terms. Poe could either remain and pursue the studies which would “promote the end,” — the “eminence” in public life to which John Allan says he had taught him to aspire, — or he could get out! For a literary career the older man had no sympathy and he would not permit his “son to idle around the house while engaged in any scribbling, nor would he make it possible for him to return to the University with such an end in view, indeed, he would not permit that at all. The reading of law is rather clearly implied, and Poe, it seems, was given the night [page 192:] to think it over. He was left for a few hours definitely at the parting of the ways.

During the night of March 18, 1827, Edgar Allan Poe lying in his bed in his room in the Allan house after the momentous interview with his guardian, made the great decision of his life. He decided not to submit to John Allan’s dictation of his future, nor to accept the conditions laid down, even if forced out upon the world. Let us be fair, there were some ugly connotations to this determination; it was “ungrateful,” and it would bring pain to several yearning hearts, among them Poe’s, but it was nevertheless a great decision and a brave one. Comfort had been weighed in the balance with pride and the potentialities of genius, and comfort had been found wanting. The possibility of fame and honor had deliberately been preferred to wealth. More, although, perhaps he could not know it, starvation and poverty had been chosen. That they were risked, Poe must have known.

From his letter to John Allan later, on the afternoon of the same day, it is plain that the final break occurred on the morning of the nineteenth of March. The discussion was probably resumed at the breakfast table. No doubt John Allan asked for Poe’s decision and Poe told him what it was. In addition he said that it was his opinion that John Allan’s real reason for not sending him back to the University was that he was too parsimonious to do so. This declaration seems ‘to have been followed by an outburst of extreme anger on the part of the older man, who had a violent temper and a sharp tongue. By this time the whole house must have been in an uproar, the harsh voice of the furious Scotchman and the pounding of his cane on the floor advertised to the household the extremity of his anger, nor could the shrill strained tones of Edgar’s replies have reassured the frightened ladies and scared servants. That the young upstart whom he regarded as the object of his charity was about to shake off his dominance, must have come as a terrible shock to the older man. The scene seems to have ended in a furious round of mutual insults; both had a gift of irony and were in possession of facts that hurt. Poe’s self-confidence in his future seemed insufferable — “let him find out what it means to starve,” thought John Allan — predicted that [page 193:] Poe would soon be starving in the streets — and ordered him to quit the house. His command was carried out immediately and literally, for Poe dashed out of the door with nothing but what he had on.

From the letters between the two which immediately followed, it is now possible for the first time to follow Poe’s movements accurately.(265) Poe left John Allan’s house on the morning of Monday, March 19, 1827. Having no place to go, characteristically enough, his first place of refuge was a tavern. On the afternoon of the same day he writes John Allan from the Court House Tavern, Richmond, a three page letter. The letter is headed “Richmond, Monday,” and is undated.(265) He addresses his “father” as “Sir.”

Poe says that after his treatment of the day before and the quarrel which had taken place that morning, that he hardly expects John Allan to be surprised at the contents of the letter. His determination is at last taken unalterably, however, to find some place in the wide world where he will not be treated as his guardian has treated him, and that, as he has been long considering such a move, Mr. Allan need not think that his departure is the result of passion, and that he is already hoping to return. Poe then proceeds to rehearse his reasons for his decision.

From the time he has been able to think on any subject he says, he had been ambitious, and had been taught by John Allan himself to hope for a high position in public life. Therefore, a college education was what he most ardently desired. He continues by asserting that this had been denied him in a moment of caprice because he disagreed with his guardian in an opinion. This meant that he told John Allan the real reason for his keeping him from college was that he was too parsimonious to send him there. Naturally enough the older man would not have agreed to that, in spite of the fact. Poe also tells his “father” that he has overheard him telling others that he had no affection for his ward, and as John Allan could not have known that Poe was listening, his assertion could only be taken to be true. Furthermore, John Allan had ordered him to quit the house (“often” seems to be understood here) and had continually upbraided him for eating the bread of charity while at the same time refusing to remedy [page 194:] the conditions by obtaining work for him. Lastly, — and the charge is significant from as proud a spirit as Poe’s, — his guardian had taken a cruel delight in exposing the boy before those from whom he hoped to obtain advancement, and had subjected him, he says, completely, not only to the members of the white family, but to the slaves.

He ends by entreating his “father” to at least send him his trunk containing his clothes and books, and a sum of money sufficient to pay his way to some Northern city and support him there for a month until he can obtain a position and earn enough to keep himself at the University. He asks that his trunk and effects be sent to him at the Court House Tavern with some money, as he is in dire need, and he adds, that if the request is not complied with, he trembles at the consequences. A postcript informs his guardian that it depends upon him whether he sees or hears from the writer again.

The letter bears every impress of being written by one who found himself insulted and wronged beyond all bearing. The hint of suicide is significant; evidently Poe would rather kill himself than return. He was already undergoing the pains of hunger.

Having received no answer to this, the next day, Tuesday, Poe writes John Allan again. He begs him to send him his trunk and his clothes, doing his guardian the grace to say that, as he had not received his clothes, he must suppose John Allan had not gotten his first letter. His necessity, he says, is extreme. He has not tasted any food since the morning before, has no place to sleep and is roaming about the streets almost exhausted. His guardian’s prediction will be fulfilled unless he obtains his trunk and clothes and enough money to go to Boston, $12.00. If John Allan will not give the money to him, Poe asks him to lend it till he can obtain a position. He says he sails Saturday, — the day he refers to in 1826 fell on March 26th, — and he closes by a pathetic message of affection and love to all at home, and a postscript saying he has not a cent in the world with which to buy food.

John Allan sent neither the trunk nor the money. Before receiving the second of Poe’s letters, he had replied to the; first. [page 195:] In justice to the older man it must be said that his letter shows no trace of passion, it is, indeed, so calm and judicial as to be utterly cold. Its studied periods, to one who had been without food for a day when he received it, must have been far from satisfying.

Mr. Allan says that he is not surprised at anything that Poe may do or say, he reminds him of his debt for his rearing and education already received and admits that he had taught him to be ambitious for a high place in public life, but he adds, Don Quixote, Gil Blas, Joe Miller and such books could not be expected to promote such a career. Evidently these had been a bone of contention, and John Allan did not approve of reading “novels.” We also learn elsewhere that he abhorred Byron. He defends himself from Poe’s charges (and he is distinctly on the defensive in this letter) by saying that his reproaches for Poe’s idleness were only made to urge him to perfect himself in the mathematics and the languages. That Poe has not shown any intention to comply with his wishes, (evidently in the matter of the direction which his studies were to take) is the only subject upon which he says he cares to be understood. He also adds, and we are bound to credit him in this with being sincere, that unless Poe’s heart is made of marble, he can judge for himself whether he has not given his foster-father good reason to fear for him in more ways than one. He insists that his only reason for reprimanding his son was to correct his faults, and that for the rest of the charges he has no answer, as the world will reply to them. But he ends with a taunt. Now, he says — since Poe has declared his independence — the first result is that he must tremble for the consequences unless the man, whose support he has just shaken off, will send him some money. With that word his correspondence with his foster-son ceased for two years.

If any doubt remains, this letter makes ultimately clear that the cause of Poe’s final break with John Allan was the latter’s determination to force Poe into a career he did not care to follow. As one reads the confident and admonitory periods of this selfcontained letter, addressed by the man in the comfortable house in Richmond to the youth who was hungry on the city streets, it is only natural to recall the remark of Cromwell made upon [page 196:] another pregnant occasion to some self-righteous gentlemen, “Bethink you, bethink you, in the Bowels of Christ, ye may be wrong!” Such a possibility seems never to have troubled John Allan. Strangely enough, in the matter of his choice as to the future career and the treatment of his foster-son, he appeals in the same letter to the judgment of the world. All the world now knows the answer. But, perhaps, this is unfair, — what could one expect of a youth who deliberately preferred Don Quixote to insults and mathematics?

Poe says that he is sailing for Boston on the next Saturday, March 24th, after the writing of the letter, but he also says he is penniless. It would seem as if his sailing were largely contingent upon the receipt of the $12 which he says the passage will cost. From the copy of John Allan’s letter, originally in the Ellis & Allan Files, it is evident he sent Poe no money. The immediate sailing for Boston must, therefore, have been deferred. Tradition, circumstantial evidence and direct testimony all point to the fact that it was.(266)

Poe tells his “father” that he will receive letters at the Court House Tavern, evidently this was a temporary arrangement, as he had no money, he could not have stayed there. He seems to have gone to stay at Mrs. Richardson’s tavern where he was known, and where his friend Ebenezer Burling was an habitue about the bar. That Richardson’s Tavern was Poe’s hiding place during the few days that he remained in Richmond after the quarrel with John Allan, rests on direct testimony, for Dabney Danbridge, one of the slaves of the Allan household, told persons still living in Richmond that he carried packages from the Allan household to Poe while he was there, but “Dab” did not dare to reveal the fact to the members of the family. “Mars Eddie” was a favorite with the servants, and it is probable, that finding [page 197:] John Allan would not send him his clothes, he prevailed on the house servants to bring them to him. In this way, too, he must have gotten the manuscripts of his poems published a month or so later. These he would hardly have had in his hand when he ran out of the house. Dabney Danbridge also said that during this time he carried notes for Poe to a young lady of the neighborhood whom his young master admired. She was at that time boarding with a Mrs. Juliet J. Drew nearby.

It is very likely that Frances Allan saw Poe’s letters to her husband. At any rate she seems to have become aware of Poe’s intentions to leave Richmond, and must have created a scene, for she prevailed on Mr. Allan to stop Poe’s departure and the captains of the ships about the port were warned not to take him. Not caring to offend the head of a great firm with whom many of them traded, the avenue of departure was closed to Poe by the ship captains. Frances Allan must have been hoping for a reconciliation, and her husband doubtless thought that his recalcitrant ward would soon be starved into submission. Both Mrs. Allan and Miss Valentine appear to have supplied Poe with some small sums of money, as he must have had some upon which to live during the interim.(267) John Allan did not send it, and in Poe’s condition of debt he could scarcely have borrowed any. The amount at best was small, and only sufficed to last him for a few weeks, until May twenty-sixth to be exact.

In order to save himself from being arrested on a debtor’s warrant, and to conceal his departure, Poe now assumed the name of Henri Le Rennet, and having persuaded Burling to join him, left Richmond, probably on some coastwise vessel for Norfolk. Burling had a small boat on the James in which the two boys had formerly made many a “voyage,” and they seem now to have joined company for a real adventure.

Exactly what took place in Norfolk will probably never be known. Burling was drunk when he left Richmond, and he began to take a melancholy view of the future as he sobered up. Probably there was some difficulty in obtaining a berth aboard a ship. [page 198:] Burling returned to Richmond, evidently before Poe sailed, saying he had gone abroad. Either there had really been some talk of this, or the tale had been agreed upon to throw the family off the scent, and to put a quietus on the warrants. The latter was probably the main factor in Poe’s incognito, then and for sometime afterward. That Frances Allan thought Poe had gone abroad is shown by the fact that four or five persons afterward saw two letters which she wrote to him with a foreign address. Burling simply got “cold feet” and dropped out. He was a weak and dissipated youth who died some few years later of cholera, and disappears from the record. Poe, however, did not go abroad, but persisted in his decision to get to Boston, probably because of its being a literary center, where, if his contemplated book of poems was published, it would receive a better chance of being noticed than if it emanated from Richmond. He may also have been influenced in his decision by his mother’s injunction “to cherish the city of his birth,” and have intended to look up the old friends of his parents. At any rate he arrived in Boston certainly by the middle of April, 1827. There is some evidence that he worked his way north on a coal-ship.(268)

Frances Allan is said to have been heart-broken; to one in her condition, the bitter quarrel between the two men of her household, followed by the loss of her “dear boy” must have been crushing. Poe never saw her again.(269) Her affection attempted to follow him across the sea where she and John Allan thought he had gone,(270) for Poe received from her, sometime during 1827, two letters which are said by those who saw them to have exonerated him from all blame in the dissensions of the Allan household. These may have reached him at Boston or Fort Moultrie, or he [page 199:] may have received them after their return to the writer when he came back home. At any rate their existence is too well established to doubt.(271) Poe’s arrival in Boston sometime in the early part of April of 1827 is now no longer a matter of conjecture and all stories about his going to Greece, getting in trouble over passports at St. Petersburg, Russia, and being rescued by the intervention of the American Consul, Henry Middleton, the visit to France, and having his portrait painted by Inman while in London, are at once and forever dismissed as legends. Poe’s movements from January, 1827, to February, 1829, are no longer “mysterious” but a matter of record.

In the meantime things at the Allan house in Richmond seem to have taken their usual way — that of John Allan’s. Mrs. Allan grew feebler, and the master of the establishment went grimly about his affairs, except for the anxiety of his wife, taking matters very coolly. In a letter written from Richmond, March 27, 1827, to one of his sisters in Scotland, he covers three pages defending his administration of his uncle’s will and ends with a few significant sentences about domestic affairs:

. . . though Mrs. Allan (is) occupying one of the airiest and pretty places about Richmond, it seems to make no improvement in her — it is indeed a lovely spot. . . . Miss Valentine is as fat and hearty as ever, I’m thinking Edgar has gone to Sea to seek his own fortunes. . . . (272)

How obstinate of Mrs. Allan not to improve in so “airy” a mansion when her sister was heartier than ever! What could be the reason? Perhaps the air was not so salubrious after all; even Edgar seems to have sought a different atmosphere.”I’m thinking,” [page 200:] says John Allan — one wonders. By this time he knew most of the story of the runaway, even to the name which Poe assumed, for on the very desk upon which he wrote the “airy” letter to Scotland, was some mail which the fortune-hunting Edgar never received. Among it was this letter:(273)

Dinwiddie County, March 25, 1827

(Mr. EDGAR A. POE)

DEAR SIR:

When I saw you in Richmond a few days ago I should have mentioned ffce difference between us if there had not been so many persons present. I must of course, as you did not mention it to me, enquire if you ever intend to pay it. If you have not the money, write me word that you have not, but do not be perfectly silent. I should be glad if you would write to me as a friend. There can certainly be no harm in your avowing candidly that you have no money, if you have none, but you can say when you can pay me if you cannot now. I heard when I was in Richmond that Mr. Allan would probably discharge all your debts. If mine was a gambling debt I should not think much of it. But under the present circumstances I think very strongly of it. Write to me upon the receipt of this letter and tell me candidly what is the matter.

Your friend EDWARD G. CRUMP

Under the endorsement “to E. A. Poe” John Allan has added in his own hand “alias — Henri Le Rennét.” Poe never got the letter, and it remains to this day in the file where his guardian quietly placed it. Meanwhile, what of Henri Le Rennét?

Upon his arrival in Boston, Poe probably tried to look up some of the old friends of his mother and father. His knowledge of such, at best, must have been slight; his parents had been obscure, and they had been forgotten in Boston for sixteen years.

In some way or other he became acquainted with a youth of about his own age of the name of Calvin Thomas. There was said to have been some connection between the families of the two boys which was not a pleasant one. A Miss Thomas had at one time [page 201:] been in the same theatrical company with the Poes.(274) Young Thomas and his people had at one time lived in Norfolk and came later to Boston, with their grandmother, who wished to educate them there. They were originally New Yorkers. Whether there had really been any family intimacy between the Poes and Thomases seems very doubtful. One thing is certain, however, the two youths became friends, the result of which was the publication of Poe’s first volume.(275)

Calvin F. S. Thomas was the proprietor of a little job printing shop at “No. 70, Washington Street, Boston, Corner of State Street.” The style of type fonts and printers ornaments which he used show that he had newly set up in a small business, which he had probably recently bought from someone else. He was about nineteen years old and could have had little more than an apprentice’s brief experience at his trade. To the hands of this tyro Poe confided the printing of a book which is now one of the most sought-after and most costly in the English language. It was Tamerlane and Other Poems. This was probably sometime about the beginning of May, 1827. The time of Poe’s arrival in Boston precludes its being much earlier, and the date of his ensuing enlistment in the army fixes it as being sometime within the month of May. [page 202:]

Where and how Poe was living at this time is unknown. Probably on the remnants of his Richmond money. There is a story of his having obtained work on a Boston newspaper. The preparation of even this little volume for the press, together with the inevitable revision of the text, must have consumed considerable time and have precluded other work. By the time the book was printed he must have been penniless. Thomas, of course, was only a printer and had no means of publishing, so that the bulk of the edition, — said to have been forty or fifty copies at most, — remained on his hands. Poe probably bought a few copies himself with the last of his dwindling stock of coins; two books are known to have been sent out to reviewers.(276) Poe afterward said that the edition “was suppressed for private reasons.” The “private reasons” are not hard to guess! There was no way to distribute the book when it was printed; no one who would buy it, if it had been put on sale; and the author was out of funds. Tamerlane and Other Poems was a pamphlet of about forty pages, 6 3/8 by 4 1/8 inches, bound in yellow, tea-colored covers. There have been at least three reprints but only four genuine copies of the first edition are known to exist. The author’s name is not printed, the title page giving only “By a Bostonian,” and a motto which happens to be the same as that chosen for Tennyson’s first book, Poems by Two Brothers.

Just why Poe published the book anonymously is an interesting speculation. Evidently from this, and the fact that he later enlisted under an assumed name, he was very anxious not to have his whereabouts known, probably mainly to prevent his being followed by duns and warrants. “By a Bostonian,” certainly looks as if he did not desire to hail from Richmond. Poe knew that the book would have a better chance of being reviewed in the Northern magazines if it came from Boston, or it may have been merely a sentimental compliment to his mother and the lines she had written on the back of her picture of that city. It was, of course, the city of his birth, but the place where he was starving could have been little more. [page 203:]

We would like very much to know just what Edgar Poe carried with him from the house of John Allan in Richmond. He must have rescued from his room the manuscripts of the poems which appeared in Boston a few months later. Among them were probably some of those which Mr. Allan had shown a few years before to the schoolmaster, Mr. Clarke. There were enough of them, and some of them were of such length, as to show conclusively that their composition must have covered a period of several years prior to their printing. They prove Poe to have been hard at work at his craft, consciously and determinedly a poet. In his preface he says in part:

The greater part of the poems which compose this little volume were written in the year 1821-2, when the author had not completed his fourteenth year. They were of course not intended for publication; why they are now published concerns no one but himself. Of the smaller pieces very little need be said, they perhaps savour too much of egotism; but they were written by one too young to have any knowledge of the world but from his own breast. . .

It is chiefly for the knowledge of that young breast, which they reveal, that the poems are of value now. Tamerlane is an ambitious piece, which seems to have been written later than the others, at the University,(277) as it bears the ear-marks of the type of verse and the kind of semi-classical theme which the influences of the formal education of the day would supply to scribbling youth. It is chiefly of interest, though, in the light of what followed later, and as an indication of the kind of material which attracted Poe. For the rest, they show us a sensitive boy with an innate sense of melody, a surprising order of technique for one so young, and a spirit, which, while it found great charm in nature and the people with whom it came in contact, valued landscapes and persons less for themselves, than for the dreams and moods which they invoked. Thus Poe already possessed the two main artistic factors that make a poet. He had mQods which were of enough value to be worthy of being recorded; and he had the artistry to record them successfully. In Tamerlane and Other [page 204:] Poems these qualities are best exhibited in The Dreamer, and The Lake

In spring of youth it was my lot

To haunt of the wide world a spot

The which I could not love the less —

So lovely was the loneliness

Of a wild lake, with black rock bound,

And the tall pines that towered around.

 

But when the Night had thrown her pall

Upon the spot, as upon all,

And the mystic wind went by

Murmuring in melody —

Then — ah then I would awake

To the terror of the lone lake.

 

Yet that terror was not fright,

But a tremulous delight —

A feeling not the jewelled mine

Could teach or bribe me to define —

Nor love — although the lover were thine.

 

Death was in that poisonous wave

And in its gulf a fitting grave

For him who thence could solace bring

To his lone imaging —

Whose solitary soul could make

An Eden of that dim lake.

This poem is doubly interesting because it is the first which shows definitely how early the strange spell of melancholy and the preoccupation with death entered into his work. The young boy who wrote it must clearly have periods of extreme sensitivity when physical existence became actually painful, together with a weird sense of the mystery of inanimate things that was to haunt him through life. So far as we know, his real mother and Mrs. Stanard were the only two instances in which he had actually, thus far, experienced the trial of death. That a sense of grief and a feeling of brooding sorrow was thus early engraved on him, the lines bear witness. It is true that early youth is more often preoccupied by the themes of death and mutability than middle [page 205:] age, but there seems to be an unusual sense of them expressed here.

The realization that his poems were to become irrevocable in print, would spur Poe to further revisions, so that while he tells us that, “the greater part of the poems which compose this little volume were written . . . when the author had not completed his fourteenth year,” we can take this with a grain of salt, as they undoubtedly had been much revised at home, at the University, and in Boston where they went to the press. The format, printing, and punctuation(278) of the book show that Poe appreciated the importance of the mechanical side of his art, and possessed both the education and the inclination to turn out a literate, although a typographically bungled piece of work. Thomas, the printer, who was only a year older than Poe, could not have been a past master in his art(279) and the passable result, despite some mistakes, must largely be attributed to the active collaboration and supervision of Poe himself.

With the publication of Tamerlane and Other Poems, Poe’s funds (or the patience of his landlady) seem to have been completely exhausted. His situation was desperate; he was not capable of sustained physical labor, even if he could have secured employment, and an appeal to Richmond was unthinkable. In this extremity of pride and hunger he remembered his former military episodes in the “Junior Richmond Volunteers,” or on the drill ground at the University, and joined the army.

The War Department records show that Poe enlisted in the United States Army on May 26, 1827, under the assumed name of Edgar A. Perry.(280) He gave his age as twenty-two years, although he was only eighteen, and stated that he was born in Boston and was by occupation a clerk. The enlistment records describe him as having grey eyes, brown hair, a fair complexion [page 206:] and a height of five feet, eight inches. Without further delay the new recruit was assigned to Battery “H,” of the First Artillery then stationed in Boston Harbor at Fort Independence.(281) In the barracks there, Poe spent the time from the end of May to the end of October, 1827. During this period he must have undergone his training as a recruit, but he seems early to have gravitated into the quartermaster’s department where his clerical training and mercantile experience with Ellis & Allan would recommend him. The assertion that Poe enlisted in the army as a result of a spree had no foundation in fact and little probability behind it. From the time of his enlistment to his discharge we know that his conduct was so exemplary as to lead to his rapid promotion, and he was officially recommended upon discharge as being “sober,” an unusual military virtue at that time.

Nevertheless, Poe’s enlistment is significant of the fact that he already found himself unable to cope with the world in civilian life. His tender rearing, his education, his desire for leisure and solitude and, above all, his nervous, impulsive and erratic characteristics, which the events of the last few years had tended to accentuate, now undoubtedly began to be tremendous handicaps in a world which despises a dreamer, and puts a premium on physical endurance and insensibility. Poe was stretched from now on between two drums of a rack that kept turning slowly, torturing him until they pulled him apart. Every turn of the screw of the one to which his feet were bound, was bent on dragging him down to the callous level of the mediocrity about him, while the cords about his head dragged him ever upward, insisting that to be a poet and a dreamer, he must become hyper-sensitive, see colors beyond the visible spectrum, and hear whispers of voices inaudible to the average ear. It was to the latter world that he belonged. Stretched between the two he was torn apart; occasionally relieving the tension of the unremitted torture by the anæsthetics of feminine sympathy, alcohol and, towards the last, — opium. The result of each attempt at relief being, of course, a lowering of his power to withstand. Combined with this was, perhaps, an unfortunate heredity. [page 207:]

Of the life of the young artilleryman at Fort Independence, Boston Harbor, in the Summer of 1827, there is very little trace. It was afterward said that at some time during the army episode he wrote letters to his foster-mother dated from St. Petersburg, Russia (sic). Some record of his doings at this time have recently come to light due to the discovery of an old Baltimore publication of 1827 called The North American.

To this obscure periodical the elder Poe brother, William Henry Poe, contributed steadily from the Summer of 1827 to the end of the year and the demise of the magazine. His contributions were in both prose and poetry, usually signed “W. H. P.” From the nature of these it now seems certain that he was in touch with his brother Edgar in Boston and, perhaps, later from Charleston, for more particularly in a story called The Pirate, W. H. Poe treats romantically the episode of the love affair of Edgar with Elmira Royster, and republishes in two instances poems from Tamerlane over his own initials and as extracts. Dreams in a new version appears signed “W. H. P.”

From this evidence, it seems undeniable that Edgar, while in the army, corresponded with Henry and sent him a copy of Tamerlane from Boston.(282)

It is possible that if, at this period of his life, Poe could have found the shelter of some sympathetic and understanding influence capable of imparting a feeling of calm and security to his intellect, and physical comfort conducive to the free working and growth of his mind, this continent might have seen the flowering of a genius which would have demanded a respectful and unqualified admiration for its unblighted blossoming, rather than a belated recognition in which scorn and pity have slowly given way to acceptance. Instead of that, the most sensitive nervous system, and one of the keenest intellects then extant in North America, was treated to a round of spiritual and mental outrage [page 208:] inherent for any higher nature in the ranks of a regular artillery regiment lying idle in barracks during a time of profound peace. The army of one of the most warlike republics which has ever troubled the world, is not to be blamed if it is not so organized as to provide an ideal home for neurasthenic young poets; its domestic economy is bound to be of a different order. That Poe did not die at about the same age, and of similar complaint to Chatterton’s, in a garret in Boston, Massachusetts, is due to the food, clothes, shelter and refuge from the civil society of the time provided by Battery “H” of the First Regiment of United States Artillery. Of his not unimportant adventures under the eagle, under various circumstances and upon distant shores, we shall shortly learn. In the meantime his physical continuity was assured, but —

The happiest day — the happiest hour(282)

My sear’d and blighted heart hath known

The highest hope of pride and power,

I feel hath flown.

 

Of power! said I? yes! such I ween;

But they have vanished long, alas!

The visions of my youth have been —

But let then pass.

 

And pride, what have I now with thee?

Another brow may even inherit(283)

The venom thou hast poured on me —

Be still, my spirit!

It is a pitiful farewell to youth, an acknowledgment of the futility of the Byronic formula, and a foreboding of the future. The shades of the prison house had begun to descend upon Israfel, but in them his spirit was never to be “still.”

On October the 31st, 1827, his Battery was ordered to Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island at the mouth of Charleston Harbor, in South Carolina.

 


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 181:]

251.  Statement made by Col. Thomas H. Ellis in a letter to the editor of the Richmond Standard, April 22, 1881. Lawyers’ letters relating to collection of these debts are still extant in Richmond, Virginia.

252.  See specifically the letter of Edward G. Crump to Poe, March 25, 1827 on page 200.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 182:]

253.  Statement made by James Hill, the Allan’s coachman, who drove Mrs. Allan and Poe to Charlottesville in 1826. See Whitty Memoir, large edition, page xxvii. Also close of Chapter IX, this volume.

254.  Thomas Bolling, a young friend of the Allan family and an acquaintance of Poe, visited the Allan house in Richmond the day before Christmas and was invited to this party. The Bolling family was settled in Goochland County at “Bolling Hall,” and “Bolling Island” Plantations. John Allan’s plantation was in the same neighborhood. See page 859.

255.  See John Allan’s letter to the Secretary of War from Richmond, May 6, 1829. “I have much pleasure in asserting that he (Poe) stood his examination at the close of the year with great credit to himself.”

256.  John Allan says in the same letter referred to in note 255, “He left me in consequence of some gambling at the University at Charlottesville,” etc.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 183:]

257.  One of the main motives for Poe’s leaving Richmond and assuming an alias was undoubtedly his desire to avoid the unbearable contacts with those to whom he owed debts of honor.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 184:]

258.  There is, of course, no “document” describing this visit to the Royster’s. Poe may have learned of Elmira’s plight even before he left the University, or from the servants or his foster-mother. In any event, the result of the news would have been the same. If the story was held from him, as seems likely, his first instinct would have been to visit Elmira. At the Royster house further concealment would have been impossible.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 185:]

259.  written after the marriage of Elmira to Mr. Shelton and undoubtedly addressed to her.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 187:]

260.  R. H. Stoddard Memoir. See note 146, ante.

261.  Christmas breakfast in the South often assumes the importance of the Christmas dinner in the North.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 188:]

262.  Poe’s visit to the country and his attempt to read law are given on the double evidence of James Galt, and Poe himself in one autobiographical story published in Richmond, 1835, see note 150, ante.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 189:]

263  The date of this letter is 1st of May, 1827. The other letters, before, were written a month apart. The photostat of one written April 2nd, 1837, is also in the possession of the author. Poe may have received the first himself. It has not been found.

264  J. H. Whitty Memoir, large edition, page xxix.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 190:]

265.  The publication of the Valentine Museum Poe Letters on September, 1925, including correspondence between Poe and John Allan the two days immediately after the quarrel show exactly what took place. The story of this momentous event in Poe’s life has hitherto, of necessity, rested on guesswork. The exact date of the quarrel is arrived at by a series of deductions from the dates of correspondence during this period of the end of March, 1827, viz: a letter written by John Allan to a sister in Scotland, March 27, 1827. A letter from Poe’s creditor Crump, dated March 25, 1827, Poe’s two letters to John Allan after the quarrel, and the tatter’s reply. For the deductions from these I am frankly indebted to Prof. Killis Campbell, and Mrs. Mary Newton Stanard’s excellent comments in the Valentine Museum Poe Letters.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 196:]

266.  The editor of the Valentine Museum Poe Letters, Mrs. Mary Newton Stanard, has very cleverly, and in a scholarly way, suggested that Poe sailed from Richmond on the ship “Carrier,” Captain Gill. The deduction is made from the dates of letters and the files of the Boston Commercial Gazette between March 26 and April 7, 1827. If so, Poe arrived in Boston on April 7, 1827. The author, here, is inclined to think that, for the reasons given in the text, the weight of evidence is against Poe’s having sailed on the “Carrier” as early as March 24th.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 197:]

267.  The traditions to this effect seem to have come later from Miss Valentine herself.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 198:]

268.  In many of the stories which Poe afterward told of these adventures, a “coal-ship” remains a constant factor among much romance. See specifically Woodberry, 1909, vol. I, page 67 Poe’s story in Baltimore to Nathan C. Brooks. Not much stress can be laid on this evidence, however.

269.  Poe returned just too late to attend her funeral. See Chapter XII, page 232.

270.  In his letter to his sister in Scotland, dated March 27, 1827, John Allan specifically says “I’m thinking Edgar has gone to sea . . . etc.” This looks as if at that date Mr. Allan was not at all sure where Poe had gone, despite Poe’s earlier statement. John Allan never trusted Poe’s statements then or later, especially in letters.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 199:]

271.  These letters were long cherished by Poe. His wife, Virginia, is known to have had them about the time of her death, when she read them to Mrs. Shew. See the letter from Mrs. Shew to Ingram, Poe’s biographer, now in the Ingram collection, University of Virginia. In this, Mrs. Shew (then married a second time) says these letters were the second Mrs. Allan’s. This is an obvious error, although she is quoting from her diary (sic). It can positively be stated that the second Mrs. Allan never wrote any letters to Poe.

272.  From the Ellis & Allan Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D. C., photostat in possession of the author. Also referred to in connection with the William Galt will, Chapter VII, page 117, this volume. Also for further quotation, see note 165.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 200:]

273.  Crump’s letter was written in Dinwiddie County on March 28th and must have taken a day or so for transmittal and delivery at Richmond. John Allan writes his sister from Richmond on March 27th. Both letters therefore must have been in his hands about the same day.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 201:]

274.  The Norfolk Herald, July 6, 1811 From this probable accidental resemblance of names there has been an attempt in some quarters to connect the name of David Poe and the actress, Miss Thomas. There is no evidence that this Miss Thomas was a relation of Calvin Thomas, the printer. Poe may never, as Prof. Woodberry thinks (Atlantic Monthly, December, 1884) have told his real name to Thomas. The printer never seems to have known that he had known Poe despite the latter’s great fame afterward. Thomas was a very obscure person. He later moved to New York, Buffalo, and Springfield, Missouri, where he died in 1876. Communications from a Miss Martha Thomas, daughter of Calvin, elicited the information that the Thomases knew nothing about Poe and had no records of the Boston print shop nor any copies of Tamerlane and Other Poems. See letter of Miss Martha Thomas to Prof. Woodberry — Woodberry, vol. I, 1909, Notes, page 360. Also Atlantic Monthly, December, 1884. The matter is very obscure and equally unimportant. The fact that both Poe and Thomas had lived in Virginia may have brought them together. The real point is that Calvin Thomas was a printer who printed Poe’s first book.

275.  Poe’s idea of earning money to go back to the University seems to have quickly disappeared at this time under the stress of poverty and no work. That he persevered in publishing his poetry shows how vital a place his desire for literary recognition held in his mind. The pitiable result of this sacrifice was the practical suppression of the volume.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 202:]

276.  The United States Review and Literary Gazette, August, 1827. The North American Review for October, 1827. For a full description of Tamerlane see Killis Campbell, Poems of Poe, New York, 1917.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 203:]

277.  Its connection with Elmira has already been noted. This also helps to place it as later work.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 205:]

278.  The punctuation already shows many of Poe’s peculiarly individual ideas about this “art,” later developed to a “science” after his connection with the Southern Literary Messenger.

279.  Thomas was not even a member of the local printers’ union.

280.  All of the War Department records relative to Poe’s connection with the United States Army, are taken from the text of the documents as given by Prof. Woodberry in his article in the Atlantic Monthly for December, 1884. The search for this material was made by direction of the President of the United States.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 206:]

281.  Poe seems to have joined his command about June 1, 1827.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 207:]

282.  The Happiest Day, the Happiest Hour, from Tamerlane and Other Poems, 1827. Republished by Henry Poe, 1827. The credit for the discovery of The North American containing the work of Henry Poe belongs to Dr. Thomas Ollive Mabbott and Captain F. L. Pleadwell. It is possible that portions of The Pirate are Edgar Poe’s. Dr. Thomas Ollive Mabbott and I have collected all this material in Poe’s Brother, Doran, 1926, a book to which the reader is referred.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 208:]

283.  This line and the one following can refer only to the fact that Poe felt that a possible heir of his guardian might “inherit” the “venom” which had been heaped on him. It seems to be a patent reference to conditions “at home.”

 


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - HVA26, 1926] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Israfel: The Life and Times of Edgar Allan Poe (H. Allen) (Chapter 10)