Text: John Carl Miller, “Chapter VII,” Building Poe Biography (1977), pp. 195-234 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 195, unnumbered:]


George W. Eveleth Adds His “Mite”

EARLY IN 1874 Ingram learned from Sarah Helen Whitman that George W. Eveleth of Lewiston, Maine, had corresponded with Poe and after Poe's death had become something of his self-appointed champion. Ingram addressed to Eveleth on March 10 the earnest appeal for help that appears in the biographical sketch of Ingram in this volume. Eveleth did not reply directly, but he did send Ingram's letter with added remarks of his own to William Hand Browne, editor of the Southern Magazine, in Baltimore. Browne published Ingram's letter in the magazine for October, 1874 (XV, 428-30), and added his appeal to Ingram's and Eveleth's for all persons who could aid in the work of redeeming Poe's name to put themselves in communication with Ingram. Browne himself became one of Ingram's most valuable and enthusiastic correspondents.

Four years later, on October 1, 1878, Eveleth answered Ingram's letter by mailing to him a package containing forty-four pages of closely written copies of letters, a bundle of newsclippings, some of which had been sent to him by Poe, and a copy of Poe's addenda to Eureka. The letters were copies of those, or extracts from them, that had been sent to Eveleth in reply to his questions; from 1850 to 1875 he had corresponded with Mrs. Clemm, Mrs. Lewis, Mrs. Ellet,M Miss Anne E. Lynch, Mrs. Shelton, Mrs. Whitman, John H. B. Latrobe, John P. Kennedy, and James Wood Davidson, in his efforts to collect material to refute Griswold's scandals about Poe's life. Also, there was a copy of a letter Eveleth had addressed on October 7, 1877, to the editor of Scribner's Monthly, protesting the validity of an article about Poe's drinking habits that had been published in that magazine. However good his intentions, Eveleth in fact never did present to the [page 196:] public an organized defense of Poe. Perhaps this is the reason he went to the great trouble of copying his materials and sending them to Ingram.

Eveleth was originally from Maryland, but he was a student in the Maine Medical School at Brunswick and his home was in Phillips, Maine, when he began writing to Edgar Poe in 1845. During the next four years he wrote at least thirteen letters to Poe; his last letter was returned to Mrs. Clemm after Poe's death. Poe replied to Eveleth at least seven times. Had not this unusual correspondence taken place, we would be without much valuable information about Poe; for Eveleth was intensely interested in Poe as a person as well as an artist, and his many questions were direct and extremely candid. Poe replied to them surprisingly enough in high spirits and with remarkable candor himself; it seemed he enjoyed Eveleth's brashness, a challenge from a highly intelligent young student.

Eveleth included in the package to Ingram copies of six of the seven letters he had received from Poe; at another time he sent a copy of the first letter he received, a short note in which Poe returned Eveleth's subscription money for the Broadway Journal.

The newsclippings enclosed in Eveleth's package to Ingram are in the Ingram Poe Collection. Copies of Maria Clemm's letters to Eveleth have been reproduced in this volume as Letters 9, 10, 11, and 12. The remaining nineteen letters and portions of letters are here printed as Eveleth copied them for Ingram, not as Ingram printed portions of them in his volumes on Poe.

Eveleth was strangely unwilling to appear before the public in his own name. When he forwarded Ingram's first appeal to him for help to the Southern Magazine in 1874, he signed his letter to the editor as “E. V. Theglew,” which is, of course, an anagram of his real name. When he sent his materials to Ingram in 1878, he gave full permission for their use but forbade the use of his name in connection with them. Instead, he chose to use the initials “H.B.W.” in his letters to Ingram and in signing many of his interpolated comments within the letters themselves. Eveleth's own explanation of why he chose these particular initials is given at the close of his letter to Ingram accompanying his package of Poe materials and is here printed as he wrote it.

Bracketed comments signed “H.B.W.” are Eveleth's. Editorial comment is, in this one instance in this volume, enclosed in double brackets. [page 197:]

Letter 66. Stella Anna Lewis, Brooklyn, N.Y., to George W. Eveleth. Copied by Eveleth from the autograph letter. First complete printing. [Item 82]

Jan. 3, 1854

Your letter is before me. I am happy to say that Mrs. Clemm has been a member of my family for several months. She is in every way comfortable.

I knew much of Poe. As I knew him, I will speak of him. In my presence, he was always the refined gentleman — the scholar — the Poet. I place him among the greatest minds that this country has produced. Let me know precisely what you are going to write, and I will furnish you with any biographical items in my possession.

I know Griswold. I do not think he is in consumption. Though he may be.

Please tell me what condition Neal's work is in at present. My prenomen is not Sarah Anna — though once or twice thus printed. It was a mistake. It is Stella Anna, or Estella Anna.

It is my intention to place the remains of Mr. Poe and his wife in Greenwood Cemetery [[Brooklyn]]. This much done, I think the literary friends would erect a monument over them. What do you think of this plan?

Will you be in Maine next summer? Tell Mr. Neal I should like to see him before he writes. I should like to see you before you publish anything about Poe. Who wrote that in Graham, for Feb? (P.S. The portrait of Poe in his works is the best).

[John Neal, of Portland, Maine. He proposed to make a critical survey of American Literature in general. Poe being one of his subjects. The design was not carried out — H.B.W.]

Sarah Anna Robinson Lewis was a minor poetess and the wife of a Brooklyn lawyer, Sylvanus D. Lewis. The Lewis family lived at 125 Dean Street at the time Poe was acquainted with them. Poe reviewed very favorably Mrs. Lewis’ poems, apparently because she had already advanced payment to Mrs. Clemm, and he addressed to Mrs. Lewis a sonnet entitled “An Enigma,” which embodied a “riddle” that could be solved by juxtaposing the first letter of the [page 198:] first line with the second letter of the second line, and so on until “Sarah Anna Lewis” was spelled out. It is a poor specimen of Poe's art. Poe apparently disliked Mrs. Lewis, and she felt his dislike; but his finances were in worse shape than usual at this time, and he grasped at straws. Mrs. Lewis pledged herself to take care of Mrs. Clemm while Poe was to be in Richmond in the summer of 1849, and Poe did leave her at the Lewis’ home when he said his last goodbye, on June 29, but that arrangement did not work out; after perhaps a week, Mrs. Clemm betook herself home to the cottage at Fordham. She did, however, live in the Lewis household at various times during the 1850s, until she unfortunately took Mr. Lewis’ side in a family argument that he lost, whereupon Mrs. Lewis ejected her permanently. Mr. and Mrs. Lewis were divorced in 1858. Mrs. Lewis traveled on the Continent for a while, finally settling in England where she lived until her death on November 24, 1880; her body was returned to America for burial.

Rufus Griswold died of a “throat infection” on August 27, 1857. Mrs. Lewis’ name was Sarah Anna; after publishing her poems several times, she decided her name was unsuited to her personality and “fame.” Mr. Lewis paid Rufus Griswold to change her name in the notice of her poetry scheduled to appear in Griswold's forthcoming The Female Poets of America; Mrs. Lewis wanted to be known as Estelle Anna, and the type had already been set. She later vacillated between Estelle Anna and Stella Anna, and finally settled on Stella. Her plan to move Poe's remains from Baltimore to Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn never succeeded, although at one time Neilson Poe, who had been in charge of burying Poe in Westminster churchyard, gave his consent, if Mrs. Clemm desired it.

Letter 67. Stella Anna Lewis, Brooklyn, to George W. Eveleth. Copied by Eveleth. First complete printing. [Item 83]

11 Feb., 1854

Your's of the 21st Jan. is before me. I have not time to write the Sketch of Poe now. I will prepare it the first leisure moment.

I do not believe that he was a drunkard. I do not believe that he could have been a very vulgar man under any circumstances. That Despair did sometimes lay her dark clutch on his heart and drag him to the very precipice of insanity, I have no doubt. That he shed bitter tears — that he heaped fiery curses on the heads of Wrong and Perfidy, at [page 199:] such hours, I have no doubt. But when I recall the depth of my agony, when wrong and misrepresentation have wound up my nerves to their highest tension, and remember that he was thus finely organised, I wonder that he was able to comport himself as well as he did. May the God of Heaven be merciful to all liars!

Edgar Poe dined with me at 3 o’clock, P.M., on the 29th of June, 1849, and left at 5, the same afternoon, for Richmond, Virginia. He never returned to New York again. He died on the 7th of the Oct. following, while on his way from Richmond to meet his mother at my house. She waited for him one long week; but alas! he never came.

Ingram used portions of these letters from Stella Lewis both in his Life of Poe (1880) and in a highly derisive article he wrote twenty-seven years later, “Edgar Allan Poe and ‘Stella’,” published in the Albany Review, July, 1907 (I, 4, pp. 417-23). He followed his usual method by breaking the letters up at will, failing to use quotation marks, and generally using the texts to make it quite clear to his readers that he distrusted if not despised Mrs. Lewis. He certainly made it clear that her word could not be trusted about Poe and his family, either when she knew them at Fordham or in her verbal and written communications about them when be met her in London.

Letter 68. Stella Anna Lewis, Brooklyn, to George W. Eveleth. Copied by Eveleth. First complete printing. [Item 86]

6 Nov., 1854

Your favor of the 16th ult. is at hand. ...

After looking over a bushel of letters, I found one from you dated Jan. 23 and one, Mar. 1st. I am almost certain that I replied to both.

To the letter of Mar. 1st, I reply thus: 1. I was in the habit of seeing Mr. Poe once or twice a month from Jan. 1847, to the 29th of June, 1849, on which day he dined with me, as I have previously informed you. I did see him in March, 1848. He did not leave for the South in Aug., but in June, /49. His last letter to you was three days prior to his departure. 2. I did tell Griswold that Mr. Poe expressed a desire that he should [page 200:] become his editor, in case of his death. I did this in compliance with Mr. Poe's own request. He had great confidence in Griswold's editorial ability; and as they had become friends prior to Poe's departure for the South, I do not wonder at the appointment. I do not comprehend Griswold, therefore could not tell you what kind of man he is.

[“Sketch of Poe” never came — H.B.W.]

In this letter there is indeed an important and heretofore virtually unknown fact to add to Poe biography: Stella Lewis here admits freely that she, as well as Mrs. Clemm, told Griswold that Poe wanted him to edit his works, in the event of his death. Ingram had this copy of her letter, used portions of it in his Life, II, 219-20, but he did not bring out this fact. Mrs. Clemm has alone borne the blame for delivering such a message to Griswold and, it would seem, quickly and eagerly delivering to Griswold all of Poe's literary remains. She did these things, but it now is clear that she was encouraged, as was Griswold, by Stella Lewis.

Mrs. Lewis might not have “comprehended” Griswold, but she was on his side of things, even after his Memoir of Poe appeared. But Griswold died in 1857; the climate of opinion about Poe's deeds and misdeeds slowly began to change, largely due to Ingram's publications and the publications he evoked. By the late 1870s Poe was considered a celebrated American poet, even if not quite a socially acceptable one in his time. Mrs. Lewis had little trouble in switching sides smoothly, and addressing the following letter to Ingram. This is a first complete printing [Item 344]:

8 Bedford Place Russell Square

15 April, [18]79

Dear Ingram,

I read your Memoir of Edgar A. Poe in Black's Complete Edition of his works with profound pleasure. It is a noble vindication of the genius and character of the most cruelly slandered man since Lord Byron.

I have heard that you are now writing an exhaustive Life of the Author of “The Raven”, in which Poem his name will live as long as the language.

I saw much of Mr. Poe during the last year of his life. He was one of the most sensitive, gentle, and refined gentlemen I ever knew.

My child-Poem — “The Forsaken”, made us acquainted.

He had seen it floating the round of the Press, and wrote to tell me how much he liked it — “It is inexpressibly beautiful,” he said, and I should like [[much]] to know the young author.” [page 201:]

After the first call, he frequently dined with us, and passed the evening in playing whist or in reading to me his last poem.

The day before he left New York for Richmond, he came to dinner and stayed the night. He seemed very sad, and retired early. On leaving the next morning, be took my hand in his, and looking in my face said, with tears in his eyes, “Dear Stella — my best and most beloved friend on this earth, the only being that truly understands and appreciates me — I have a presentiment that I shall never see you again.

I leave for Richmond at 2 P.m. today. If I never return, write my life. You only can do me justice.”

“I will!” I exclaimed. And we parted to meet no more in this life. You, Dear Ingram, have done it far better than I could.

You have nobly vindicated his character, and placed him in his true light before the world. [[The letter breaks off, unsigned.]]

In Mrs. Lewis’ letter of February 11, 1854, to George W. Eveleth, she says, “Edgar Poe dined with me at 3 o’clock P.m. on the 29th of June, 1849, and left at 5, the same afternoon, for Richmond, Virginia.” When she wrote this to Eveleth, only four years had passed since the event; but when she wrote to Ingram thirty years had elapsed, and Poe's last visit to her bad become an overnight one and he had left in the morning, saying he was leaving for Richmond at 2 P.m.

Poe's letter to Mrs. Lewis telling her how much he liked her child-poem is unlocated.

Mrs. Lewis died in London on November 24, 1880. Her obituary was printed in the Athenaeum, December 4, 1880. It is unsigned, but Ingram wrote it.

Letter 69. Elizabeth Frieze Ellet, New York, to George W. Eveleth. Copied by Eveleth. First printing. [Item 87]

April 5, 1856

... I always understood that Mr. E. A. Poe, though a man of genius, was intemperate, and subject to attacks of lunacy. He was frequently in the asylum . ... [Take notice that every statement of the author's bad habits is simple hearsay — H.B.W.]

Mrs. Elizabeth Frieze Lummis Ellet was a sentimental minor poetess and translator who pursued Poe with her attentions until he scorned her. She then [page 202:] became his bitter, implacable enemy, persecuting him relentlessly, vocally and in print. After his death, and until her own in 1877, she never ceased her attacks.

That Poe was intemperate at times, and perhaps emotionally unstable at others, it is needless to deny. But he was never confined in any asylum.

Letter 70. Miss Anne C. Lynch, New York, to George W. Eveleth. Copied by Eveleth. First printing. [Item 84]

March 8, 1854

In reply to your letter of Feb. 27th, I would say that for the last two or three years of Mr. Poe's life, I saw very little of him — in consequence of a wide difference of opinion between us in reference to his treatment of another lady.(1) During the time that he habitually visited me, a period of two or three years, I saw him almost always on my reception evenings, when many other guests were present; and my relations with him were rather superficial than intimate.

In answer to your queries as to his private habits, I can only say that I never saw him under the influence of wine; and, with the exception of his course towards the lady alluded to, I knew nothing personally of him that was discreditable or unworthy of his remarkable genius. Mrs. Sarah H. Whitman, of Providence, to whom he was engaged after the death of his wife, would probably be the person to give you any information you might desire in respect to him.

Mrs. Anne Charlotte Lynch Botta (November 11, 1815-March 23, 1891) contributed undistinguished prose and verse to various magazines in America. Poe attended the soirees held at her home in 116 Waverly Place, near Washington Square, New York City, in 1846. After her marriage in 1855 to Professor Vincenzo Botta, she became the brilliant and popular hostess of what has been termed America's first literary salon. At one period in her life she had lived in Providence, Rhode Island, and had known Sarah Helen Whitman quite [page 203:] well. Mrs. Whitman characterized her to Ingram, in a letter dated June 25, 1875, as “eminently practical, enterprising, prudent, circumspect and cautious.” On March 10, 1874, Mrs. Whitman had written Ingram that Miss Lynch (Mrs. Botta) was “very much afraid of being compromised socially and likes to keep the peace with everybody.” The “wide difference of opinion” between Poe and Miss Lynch was over Poe's angry reaction to Mrs. Ellet's interference with his correspondence with Mrs. Frances Sargent Osgood. On a visit to the Poe cottage at Fordham, Mrs. Ellet had seen a letter from Mrs. Osgood to Poe lying opened on the table. Mrs. Ellet returned to the city and persuaded Mrs. Osgood to send Anne Lynch and Margaret Fuller’ to Fordham to reclaim her letters. Outraged, Poe retorted to them, “Mrs. Ellet had better come and look after her own letters.” The affair caused quite a stir. Sarah Helen Whitman identified Miss Lynch as one of the two ladies who had called on Poe for the purpose of recovering Mrs. Osgood's letters, but Miss Lynch denied, in the 1870s, that she had ever heard of the episode. It is obvious in this letter, written in 1854, and in those that follow, that Miss Lynch is anxious to disassociate herself from Poe and to shunt Eveleth over to Mrs. Whitman. In spite of Poe's admitted genius, it was not quite respectable in some circles, for many years after his death, to have one's name associated with his. Miss Lynch belonged to one of those circles.

Letter 71. Miss Anne C. Lynch, New York, N.Y., to George W. Eveleth. Copied by Eveleth. First printing. [Item 85]

March 19th, [18]54

In reply to your last, I regret that I am unable to give you any further satisfaction, since I am obliged to confess that I never read the Memoir written by Griswold, therefore cannot judge of the spirit in which it was written. I know Mr. Griswold, personally, but have not spoken with him in reference to Poe for a long time. I did not see Poe at all, after he became acquainted with Mrs. Whitman; and it was not to me that he made the remark alluded to, though I did hear of his making it to another in reference to Mrs. Whitman.

In society, so far as my observation went, Poe had always the bearing and manners of a gentleman — interesting in conversation, but not monopolising; polite and engaging, and never, when I saw him, abstracted or dreamy. He was always [page 204:] elegant in his toilet, quiet and unaffected, unpretentious, in his manner; and he would not have attracted any particular attention from a stranger, except from his strikingly intellectual head and features, which bore the unmistakable character of genius. As I said before, I had no particular intimacy with him myself, but those who had, or many who had, were personally attached, and some devoted, to him. For myself, I was never under the influence of the fascination which he exercised over many; and, while I liked him and appreciated his genius, it was always with a certain degree of coldness, or at least, not enthusiasm. If he had any faults, I, for one, would let the grave cover them and let them be “interred with his bones”, and the light of his genius alone “live after him”. I do not believe that the interests of truth require that the aberrations of genius should be held up to the gaze and criticism of those who can appreciate only the faults and errors of genius.

Mrs. Whitman I know personally. I know that she had, at one time, certainly, the highest admiration and regard for Poe; and I have no doubt that you would receive from her many interesting facts connected with him.

It is difficult to believe that curiosity did not impel Miss Lynch to read Griswold's biography of Poe. She knew both Griswold and Poe quite well, and she could be certain that her name would be mentioned in it. Poe became acquainted with Sarah Helen Whitman in 1848. The “remark alluded to” was a slighting reference Poe was supposed to have made regarding his intentions of marrying Mrs. Whitman. Miss Lynch's word picture of Poe is especially pleasant and engaging, coming as it does from one who knew him well and saw him quite often during the last years of his life. Her remark about Poe's “intellectual head and features, which bore the unmistakable character of genius” echoes the age's preoccupation with phrenology. Miss Lynch's anxious disavowal of any intimacy with Poe or fascination with him fits poorly with this portion of Mrs. Osgood's letter, printed in the correspondence of Rufus Griswold (Cambridge, 1898, pp. 256-57) and reproduced in Quinn, p. 499: “It is too cruel that I, the only one of those literary women who did not seek his acquaintance, — for Mrs. Ellet asked an introduction to him and followed him everywhere, Miss Lynch begged me to bring him there and called upon him at his lodgings; Mrs. Whitman besieged him with valentines and letters long before he took any notice of her; and all the others wrote poetry and letters to [page 205:] him, — it is too cruel that I should be singled out after his death as the only victim to suffer from the slanders of his mother.”

Miss Lynch is using in this letter to Eveleth the weapons of hauteur and pretended ignorance, or, if one prefers bluntness, lying, to try to dissociate her name from Poe's. She might have succeeded, too, had not her letters been so carefully preserved, to be collated with other letters written by members of her circle. Ironically, too, it is Poe's fame that has given her almost all of the literary notice she now has.

Letter 72. Sarah Elmira Shelton, Richmond, Va., to George W. Eveleth. Copied by Eveleth. First printing. [Item 78]

Richmond, Virginia

December 22nd, 1852

Your's of the 10th, together with a short communication from Mr. Nelson Poe, not received until yesterday, owing to my absence from the city.

My acquaintance with the person in question commenced at a very early period in my life. I have always felt a deep interest in him, and still have the deepest respect for his memory. I have every reason to believe that he has been misrepresented, but would beg to be excused from communicating anything which might bring me before the public in any form whatever.

A few weeks since, I received a letter from Mrs. Clemm, similar to those sent to yourself; and I intend, as soon as an opportunity offers, to render her some assistance.

Sarah Elmira Royster possibly was Poe's boyhood sweetheart and it is possible they considered themselves engaged to be married when he left Richmond to enter the University of Virginia in February, 1826; however, when he returned to Richmond in December, he found her engaged to marry Mr. Shelton, whom she did marry when she was seventeen. Twenty-two years later Poe certainly asked her to marry him, for she was a widow with property and he was desperately following Mrs. Shew's advice to marry a woman strong enough and fond enough to take care of him and his affairs. After Poe's death, Mrs. [page 206:] Shelton denied that she and Poe were planning to be married, but she certainly adopted a daughter-in-law-to-be attitude and tone in her letter to Mrs. Clemm on September 22, 1849 (see Quinn, 634-35). Her polite but definite refusal, in her letter to Eveleth, to allow her name to be used in connection with Poe's, or, for that matter, even to name Poe in her letter, may reflect, in part, the Virginia gentlewoman's traditional shrinking from public notice, but perhaps it indicates more strongly how aware she was of the unpleasant notoriety surrounding Poe's name in 1852. Twenty-eight years later Poe's literary fame was firmly established, and her attitude had changed markedly, when she wrote the following letter to Ingram: First printing. [Item 356]

414 North 10th Street

Richmond, Virginia

June 30th 1880

Mr. J. H. Ingram Dear Sir:

I take the earliest opportunity to acknowledge the receipt of your valuable, (and to me) very interesting book, on The Life, Letters, and Opinions of The Lamented Edgar A. Poe — I should have done so before this, but my health is extremely delicate, and I have been very sick recently — I assure you, that I am reading it, with deep interest, and find much in it, which revives many sad remembrances, as well as very pleasant ones, and am glad (after so many years) that one, has been found, to do him the justice, which he, (I believe) truly deserves — Please accept my warmest thanks, and believe me (Dear Sir)

Yours Very truly

Sarah E. Shelton

Mrs. Shelton died in Richmond in 1888, and was buried in Shockoe Hill cemetery. The letter Mrs. Shelton mentions having received from Mrs. Clemm certainly contained a request for money, and since it was similar to those sent to Eveleth, the elisions he made in Mrs. Clemm's letters that he copied for Ingram must have been those requests.

Mrs. Shelton did not respond as often or as generously as did Mrs. Whitman to Mrs. Clemm's pressuring letters, a fact that did not go unnoticed or uncommented upon by Mrs. Clemm.

Letter 73. John H. B. Latrobe, Baltimore, to George W. Eveleth. Copied by Eveleth. First complete printing. [Item 77] [page 207:]

Dec. 7th, 1852

I have your note of yesterday referring to Mr. Griswold's statement of the circumstances under which the late Edgar A. Poe received the prize offered by the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, at the hands of a committee, of which I was a member. The point to which you call attention particularly, is the assertion that “it was unanimously decided that the prizes should be paid to the first of geniuses who had written legibly. Not another manuscript was unfolded.” [[See Griswold's Memoir, xii]].

Certainly, the fact is not as is here asserted. I cannot be mistaken; for I was the reader on the occasion. The Mss., as received from the Editor, were laid in a pile upon the table. Each one was opened, as it came to hand. Sometimes, the first few sentences would condemn it as unworthy. Sometimes several pages were borne with. In some cases, the whole production was read. Two only of the prose pieces were laid aside for re-examination. I recollect them well. One was clever, but watery — evidently a woman's work. The other was terse — and the denouement terribly original. The poems were treated in the same way. But two of these were put by for review — one, “The Coliseum,” by Poe; the other, to which the prize was awarded, by Mr. J. H. Hewitt,* though the authorship was not known till afterward. The loose Mss. having been gone through, I turned to the Book, which contained many tales, and read it from beginning to end. It was so far — so very far — superior to anything else before us, that we had no difficulty in awarding the first prize to the author. Our only difficulty was in selecting from the rich contents of the volume. We took the “MS. Found in a Bottle.”

This was eighteen years ago, about. But the impression made on my mind by the wonderful power and originality of the writer is as vivid as an occurrence of yesterday. The calligraphy, to which Mr. Griswold refers, was certainly remarkable. It was not writing — it was printing with a pen. But it imparted no interest to the productions in the volume. It formed no part of the consideration on which the prize was bestowed — so far, at least, as I understood at the time, and [page 208:] now believe. The prize was recognized, and given, as the right of Genius. I have taxed my memory more than once, since Mr. Griswold's Memoir first appeared; but I can recall nothing that corresponds with his statement of the grounds on which Mr. Poe received the prize — not one thing.

The author of a new style, if it is a good one, or even, an exciting one, gives to us a new taste, which craves nourishment of the same sort — Originality creates its market, only to destroy it. The “MS. Found in a Bottle,” “The Maelstrom”, “The Murders of the Rue Morgue” are now every-day affairs [if the letter of the declaration carries the exact spirit intended, I enter a dissent — H.B.W.] To the Committee they were novelties, for which they were wholly unprepared. Hence, the admiration which, I well remember, the reading of them produced.

In this statement, I hardly think I can be mistaken, so far as the action of the Committee can be looked upon as a recognition of Mr. Poe's merits. Mr. Kennedy sent for him at once, and became his most valued friend. At my instance [sic], he called upon me sometimes, and entered at length into the discussion of subjects on which he proposed to employ his pen. When he warmed up, he was most eloquent. He spoke, at that time, with eager action; and, although, to judge from his outward mien, the world was then going hard with him, and his look was blasé, yet his appearance was forgotten, as he seemed to forget the world around him, as wild fancy, logical truth, mathematical analysis and wonderful combination of facts flowed, in strange commingling, from his lips, in words choice and appropriate, as though the result of the closest study. I remember being particularly struck with the power that he seemed to possess of identifying himself with whatever he was describing. He related to me all the facts of a voyage to the Moon, I think (which he proposed to put upon paper), with an accuracy of minute detail, and a truthfulness as regard philosophical phenomena, which impressed you with the idea that he had himself just returned from the journey, that existed only in his imagination.

I have been led into this detail, as a corroboration of my impression that Mr. Poe's merits as an author, on the occasion [page 209:] referred to were certainly not overlooked in the Committee's regard for his penmanship.

Here was victory indeed for John Ingram! He now had written proof, from an unimpeachable source, that Griswold had lied about Poe! And Ingram used this testimony for all it was worth, over and over again, in his future publications about Poe.

John Hazlehurst Boneval Latrobe was a lawyer, an inventor, and a distinguished public servant in Baltimore; he was joined on the committee to award the prizes offered by the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, by an equally distinguished lawyer, John Pendleton Kennedy, and J. H. Miller.

Poe always insisted that he did not win the prize offered for the best poem was simply that his tale had already been selected for the prize offered for prose, “A MS Found in a Bottle.” When the winner of the prize for poetry,

Henry Wilton, with a poem called “The Song of the Winds,” was revealed to be John Hill Hewitt, an editor of the Saturday Visiter submitting an entry under a pseudonym, Poe was indignant.

The book containing “many tales” was Poe's unpublished “Tales of the Folio Club.” Poe's handwriting has always excited much admiration; the beauty and symmetry of it certainly helps account for so many of his letters having been carefully preserved.

Letter 74. John P. Kennedy, Baltimore, to George W. Eveleth. Copied by Eveleth. First complete printing. [Item 80]

Baltimore, Maryland

April 13, 1853

. ... I had no time last winter, to write to you on the subject of your inquiries about Poe [He was, at the time, one of the President's Secretaries — Sec. of the Navy, I think — H.B.W.]. I coincided in the statement Latrobe sent me; and 1 suppose he so informed you.

As to the other questions respecting Poe, I can not say much. I lost sight of him after he broke off from Mr. White.* I have heard stories that he was dissipated and given to drink. White told me he could not be relied on for work; and Burton* has told me the same.

I did not see him when he was last in Baltimore, and know nothing of the facts to which you refer. [page 210:]

Excuse the brevity of this — I am too much of an invalid to to without pain.

Here, from a second eminent, highly respected man was corroborative evidence that Griswold had lied deliberately in his account of Poe's winning the 1833 Saturday Visiter prize for the best prose tale. Ingram was delighted. The rest of Kennedy's remarks about White's and Burton's testimony as to Poe's unreliability on the job, Ingram ignored.

John Pendleton Kennedy was a biographer, novelist, and an eminent lawyer. He had been of material help to Poe in Baltimore, after helping to award the prize to him, and had been instrumental in getting Poe his first job on a magazine, Thomas W. White's newly started Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond.

“Burton” was William E. Burton, owner and editor of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine.

Letter 75. James Wood Davidson, New York, to George W. Eveleth. Copied by Eveleth. First complete printing. [Item 101]

28th May 1866

I have just read the memoranda in The Old Guard for June [[1866]] under the title of “Poe and his Biographer, Griswold”. I am grateful to you for putting in this form what I always felt to be true — that so much of Griswold's Memoir is utterly untrue. The fires of truth are gathering round, closer and closer, hemming in to consume him — this serpent-biographer — this Reverend Memoirist. I feel as if you had done me a personal favor; and you have, for somehow Poe-truth is personal to me.

Ingram could relish and respect this language! James Wood Davidson (1829-1905) was an author and journalist in Columbia, South Carolina , until his library was burned during Sherman's march to the sea. After the war, Davidson migrated to Washington, D.C. and then to New York City, where at one time he was a staff member of the New York Evening Post. He published Living Writers of the South in 1869. Much interested in Ingram's efforts to redeem [page 211:] Poe's name, he became one of Ingram's most devoted helpers in the United States, and was himself active in print in Poe's defense: in November, 1857, he had published “Edgar Allan Poe,” a thirteen-page unsigned article in Russell's Magazine (II, 2, pp. 161-73);(2) on September 27, 1860, he had published a broadside of thirty-four lines addressed “To Mrs. M.C.” — The “More than Mother” of Edgar Poe;(3) and in 1871, ca. March 20, he published in the New York Home Journal a three-quarter column obituary of Maria Clemm, entitled “Poe's Guardian Angel.”(4) Mrs. Clemm had died in Baltimore on February 16, 1871. Eveleth's series of letters to editors, paragraphs, and short articles in Poe's defense had begun even before Poe's death.

Letter 76. James Wood Davidson, New York, to George W. Eveleth. Copied by Eveleth. First complete printing. [Item 105]

8th Feb. 1869

... Mrs. Clemm told me, years ago, that E. A. Poe never was out of America, except while at Dr. B's school — that it was his brother who was the actor in the St. Petersburg affair — that he (E.A.) permitted the error to continue, from motives of delicacy, in that it was rather a rum affair — that St. P. bout. In connection with this view, do me the favor to remember (1) that such a course toward his brother was eminently in keeping with his mental bent; (2) that it is hard to fix upon a convenient time for this episode; (3) that he cared not a button for the Greeks, and still less, if possible, for liberty; (4) that he never mentions it; and (5) that St. Petersburg does not lie in the way of one going from America to Greece.

Griswold had written in his Memoir that Poe had been arrested for dissolute behavior in St. Petersburg, Russia, and had been rescued from the consequences by the American minister to St. Petersburg, Mr. Middleton of South Carolina. Ingram had had the files of the American consulate in St. Petersburg searched by staff members, but they had found no reference to Edgar or [page 212:] William Henry Leonard Poe. It is extremely doubtful that either was ever in Russia.

But for Ingram's purposes, this letter was a welcome addition to the bulk of evidence he was building against Griswold. It added strength from another source that Griswold's derogatory statements about Poe's personal behavior were all suspect. But Griswold had known what he was doing, for there was just enough truth in some of his statements about Poe to make it extremely difficult to clear Poe of all complicity in all of his charges. He had not, of course, counted on an English lad of eight years who would devote his life to proving him to be a liar and a forger.

“Dr. B.” was Dr. Bransby, Headmaster of the Stoke Newington school which Poe attended while living in England with the Allan family.

Letter 77. James Wood Davidson, New York, to George W. Eveleth. Copied by Eveleth. First complete printing. [Item 114]

26th Nov., 1872

... concerning Poe's Eureka, I once felt that I knew what he means in it, but am not sufficiently familiar now to give you any clear reply to your criticism. It strikes me, however, I am free to confess, that the criticism is well put, and the point well taken. [The matter objected against is to be found in my friend's Living Writers of the South — page 464 — in this passage: — “The author of Eureka held that the Creator of the Universe is ‘one, individual, unconditional, irrelative and absolute Particle Proper’, which, by radiation, fills its sphere — the universe — with subdivisions of itself.” My point was that matter and mind — the particles created and the the Creator of them — are kept entirely distinct all through the work quoted from — that Poe, himself, says, reverently, in substance: — “Of the awful nature of the ether (the Soul) separating the distributed atoms, I venture not to speak” — H.B.W.]

As to your own chirograph, you know that we — Mrs. Whitman and I — regarded it as almost identical with Poe's. That says a great deal. I think that your hand indicates less ego-personality than his; consequently you should bring in — lug in — personalities far less than he did. [Here, too, I have a [page 213:] criticising suggestion to throw in. The chirograph-reader has taken, unwittingly, of course, the very cue supplied to him by the Griswold School of Memorialists. He implies a charge that Poe was accustomed to “lug inhimself on on every possible occasion. Where, except in that School, does he get his support for the charge? Not in his own prior remark touching the same subject. On page 348 of Living Writers is, this opinion: — “Captain McCabe's chirograph is one of the finest that I have seen. It indicates liberal and careful culture, an acutely sensitive aesthetical mind, and more originality than any other young writer in the South. In the quality of isolation of mind and in the faculty of forgetting personalities” (the italics are mine) “in literary estimates, and in literary work generally, I have not seen it surpassed since Edgar A. Poe.” There we have the Chief of Egotists; here, the Standard of Impersonalities! — H.B.W.].

Stoddard's article in Harper is very readable. In a private letter since, he writes me: — “If I hadn’t seen Poe personally, I don’t know that I should believe in his existence.” [This reference to that article, which I purpose to send to you, Mr. Ingram, gives excuse for another parenthesis. Stoddard employs the adjective “brutal”, in commenting upon The Literati of New York City. I feel sure that the expression was not chosen in any, even remote, connection with a careful reading of the subject of the commentary, but was caught, as a kind of parrott-echo from the Griswold — Chimney Sweepings — H.B.W.].

Poe's Eureka had been published in the summer of 1848, probably in June. Eveleth was much interested in it, and in his letters to Poe he questioned sharply many of Poe's ideas expressed therein. In replies, Poe discussed his ideas and sent to Eveleth an addenda to Eureka. Eveleth was very proud of his handwriting resembling Poe's. Poe's series of personality sketches, The Literati of New York City, ran serially in Godey's Lady's Book from May through October, 1846.

Letter 78. Sarah Helen Whitman, Providence, R.I., to George W. Eveleth. Copied by Eveleth. First complete printing. [Item 96] [page 214:]

Dec. 15th, 1864

I left Providence for New York the day after I sent you the little volume — Edgar Poe and his Critics — and have been at home only a few days. I am glad to know that it interested you, as I learn by a letter from Phillips which I found on my return.

The quotation from Mr. Poe's writings which you have italicised, you will find in the Tale of the Ragged Mountains. I almost despaired of finding it, and had looked all through the Marginalia and the stories of Ligeia, Morella, Eleanora and Berenice, when I happened to remember some analogous speculations and experiences in the tale first named; and there I found the passage.

I cannot tell you, for I do not know, the time when the marginal note [numbered sixteen in Griswold's Collection — H.B.W.], to which you refer was first published.

You will have learned, from my little offering, how little reliance can be placed on Dr. Griswold's Memoir — I have abundant proof that Griswold purposely falsified every anecdote and altered nearly every purported note or assumed Ms of his much maligned author. The reason of his treachery is indicated in my work. I have been permitted to see a note which he wrote to a friend in New York, in the spring of 1850, in which he says: — “I am getting on rapidly with my Life of Poe, and am trying hard to do him justice; for Fanny's (Frances Sargent Osgood's) spirit looks down on me while I write.” The task was evidently too great for him. He could not forgive Poe the interest which he inspired in the person he [Griswold] most wished to please.

You will perhaps remember a paragraph in the Memoir in which it is said: — “He would have graduated with the highest honors, had not his gambling, intemperance and other vices induced his expulsion from the University”. This passage, blindly accepted on the authority of Griswold, has passed through nearly all the European reviews, and has been again and again cited in proof of Poe's early and hopeless depravity. I have been favored with the perusal of letters from Dr. Maupin, Mr. Wertenbaker and other gentlemen of the Faculty of Charlottesville University, in which they affirm that he [page 215:] never at any time came under the censure of the University and that he did not graduate there, simply because the University, at that time, conferred no degree. I have also in my possession a letter from one of his class-mates (Mr. John Willis, of Orange County, Virginia), written on the 8th of April, 1861, confirmatory of their favorable statements.

In turning over the volume of “Tales” and “Poems”, to find the passage quoted in your letter, I paused to read again a short sketch called “Landor's Cottage”, with which some interesting memories are, in my mind, associated. In one of Mr. Poe's earlier letters to me, he spoke of the “Domain of Arnheim” as embodying some of his most interior and familiar tastes and aspirations. Two months afterward, while sitting with me in a room whose very simple and inexpensive arrangement and decoration seemed to charm his fancy, he expressed to me his intention of writing a “pendant” to the “Domain”, in which the most charming effects should be attained by artistic combinations of familiar and unvalued materials. I remember that he noticed the delicate tints of the paper on the wall and spoke of the fine relief it gave to the pictures and to an antique oval mirror framed with evergreens. When his collected stories were published, after his death, I saw, for the first time, “Landor's Cottage” — A Pendant to the Domain of Arnheim”, and found that he had introduced into it the paper he had praised so much, with its “silver ground and faint-green cord running zig-zag throughout”. I do not know whether the story (or sketch) had been previously published, but think not.

About my theory of the “correlation” and derivation of surnames (which furnished you with a theme for a humorous and ingenious article in one of the New York periodicals, some years ago), I might present a very plausible show, which might at least serve to amuse you. Assuming, for the present, a common derivation for the names Poe and Poer, which can be incontestibly established, I would remind you that Mark Anthony Lower, in his work on surnames, states that the name of Power [Mrs. Whitman's maiden name — H.B.W.], variously written as Le Poer, Power, Poure, and Poore, is of Norman origin. Gilbert de la Poree was the philosophical friend and colleague of Abelard. Again, the French Memoirs speak of [page 216:] Gilbert Poret. Now, from Poret to P’ret the transition is easy — don’t you see? [The name of my mother before her marriage was Pratt. I had traced this, and kindred words, to the Dutch prat, and so on, through various connections, to the Welsh pert, which, by transposition of the letters, becomes pret; and, upon the strength of the literal similarities, had claimed blood-relationship to her and Poe — H.B.W.].

Sarah Helen Power Whitman (1803-1878) was a highly intelligent poetess of Providence, Rhode Island. She was married in 1828 to a young lawyer who died in 1833. She was nearly forty-five when she met Poe and was seemingly content caring for her mother and mentally unbalanced sister, writing her verses, and sharing in the intellectual and literary life of her time. She was on friendly if not intimate terms with the more important literati of the day. After her brief engagement to Poe was dissolved in 1848, and his death in 1849, she became an ardent champion of Poe's reputation, working for many years with various would-be biographers, vainly hoping some one of them would one day be able to mitigate the slanders Griswold had so securely fastened to Poe's name. Her “little volume” forwarded to Eveleth was her book Edgar Poe and his Critics, dated 1860, but actually brought out late in 1859. Dr. Socrates Maupin, presiding officer of the University of Virginia faculty, directed William Wertenbaker, the university librarian (who had known Poe) on May 12, 1860, to draw up a statement about Poe's scholarship and behavior at the university in 1826. Included in this statement was the fact that Poe was entered on the university register as having been born on January 19, 1809. On May 22, 1860, Dr. Maupin appended a note attesting the validity of Wertenbaker's statements. Mrs. Whitman received these letters, or copies of them, from Sallie E. Robins, a young Ohio enthusiast who planned to write a complete vindication of Poe. “Landor's Cottage” had been published in The Flag of Our Union on June 9, 1849, before its inclusion in Griswold's edition.

Letter 79. Sarah Helen Whitman, Providence, to George W. Eveleth. Copied by Eveleth. First complete printing. [Item 98]


... It gratifies me that you liked my defense of “The Raven” [her appellation for the author of the poem thus entitled — H.B.W.], and that you read again the stories — Ligeia, Eleonora, etc, — “with renewed interest”, also that you [page 217:] found them enlightened by the “spiritual rays” thrown on them by my suggestions. It is strange that, in no notice of my book have I ever seen, an allusion, the most distant, to this part of the volume, which, to me, is the most significant and important feature in it [the feature associating Poe, somehow, with “spirit-manifestations” — H.B.W.]. Do you remember that I once wrote you a letter, in answer to some enquiries and suggestions of your's, in which I spoke of the strange spiritual energy or effluence which seemed to surround or ensphere “The Raven”, and which acted on those who were en-rapport with him enhancing and intensifying the spiritual faculties of insight an impression, which suddenly flashed on me while in his presence, of the original identity of the names Power and Poe, an impression which I told you was afterward corroborated, if not authenticated? [The substance of her statement was that she was sitting with her eyes down-cast; that, upon the coming of the sudden thought, she looked up and met the fixed, intent gaze of Poe; and that, when she expressed to him her conviction of their kinship, he said: — “Helen, you startle me — therewith hangs a history!” Then he went into the genealogy already indicated — H.B.W.].

Mrs. Whitman was a firm believer in spirit manifestations and spiritualism in general, but she was careful not to associate herself with the then popular seances and mediums. Poe's humoring and playing up to her beliefs was, of course, part of his courtship.

Ingram had small patience with Mrs. Whitman's ideas about spiritualism; once when she told him that she had three initial letters that a spirit hand had written for her, he informed her bluntly that he wanted to hear no more of the matter.

Letter 80. Sarah Helen Whitman, Providence, to George W. Eveleth. Copied by Eveleth. First complete printing. [Item 99]

Feb. 27th,1865

You ask so many questions in your letter of the 19th, that I am at a loss where to begin with my answers. Perhaps it were best to take them in their order. — [page 218:]

Thirdly, “The Raven” was written before my acquaintance with its author. I think the line about the footfalls was altered by Mr. Poe himself, from the earlier version.

Fourthly: It is true, I believe, that Mr. Poe first saw me in 1845, when passing a night in Providence, on his way from Boston to New York. I think it was not after the delivery of his poem before the Boston Lyceum, but earlier in the season. Probably Dr. Griswold learned all that he knew of the matter from Mrs. Osgood, who was at the hotel in Providence, where Mr. Poe stopped on that “July midnight.” Her account of the incident, given me in the autumn of 1848, agreed with what Mr. Poe had himself told me. Mrs. Osgood informed me that the night was exceedingly hot and sultry; that Mr. Poe told her, in the morning, he had passed the greater part of the night in rambling over the hills that command a fine view of the City from the east; that, at a late hour, he passed the house where I then lived, whose situation he had previously ascertained from her, and saw me walking up and down the lime-shaded side-walk in the neighborhood of my home. He told her that I wore a white dress, with a thin white shawl or scarf thrown over my head, and that he knew me through her description of me. The moon was at, or near, the full. I knew nothing of his having seen me at that time, till the summer of 1848, when he sent me, anonymously, the poem (in Ms) beginning: — “I saw thee once, once only — “. About the same time (I think it was in June, 1848), he wrote a letter to my friend, Miss Anna Blackwell, then spending the summer in Providence, speaking of his interest in my writings, and saying that he had once seen me. In allusion to the “July Midnight”, Mr. Poe afterward wrote: — “The poem which I sent you contains all the incidents of a dream which occurred to me soon after I first saw you”.

Fifthly: Am I not “younger” than the “grim and ancient Raven”? If I am to believe the assertions of my “friends, lovers and countrymen”, generally, I should answer “Yes.” If I am to believe the written asservations of “The Raven”, in particular, I should still answer, “Yes”. But if I am to believe the figures, somewhat variously stated, of Dr. Griswold I should answer, “No.” Or, if I am to believe “The Raven's” age to be correctly given by himself in the matriculation books of [page 219:] the University of Virginia, which made him four years older than (one of) the dates given by Dr. Griswold, I should still answer, “No”. Or, more especially, If I am to believe the partially obscured date on the torn fly-leaf of an old family Bible, just come to light, I should say that I am, at least ten years older. The fly-leaf seems to indicate that I was born on the 19th of January 1803. The figure 3 is, to be sure, a little indefinite, and might be construed as an 8 or a 0 (an eight or a naught); but the three first figures 1 8 0, are perfectly distinct, and would seem to show, conclusively, that I was born sometime within the present century. You will perceive, from what I have told you, that “The Raven” himself was of a very “uncertain age”, and seems at times to have affected the Mephistophelian longevity of Cagliostro, Cartaphilus, and other wandering Jew-ish celebrities.

Poe saw Mrs. Whitman for the first time in the summer of 1845, but he did not speak to her. He was in Providence, busily pursuing Mrs. Frances S. Osgood. He sent the manuscript of his second poem, later named “To Helen,” to Mrs. Whitman early in June, 1848; his first meeting with her took place on September 21, 1848.

Poe's letter to Anna Blackwell, an English poetess he had met in New York City, was dated June 14, 1848; Miss Blackwell was spending the summer in Providence.

Poe's lecture before the Boston Lyceum was delivered on the evening of October 16, 1845.

On occasions, Poe gave 1809, 1811, and 1813 as the years of his birth. The matter was finally settled by Ingram in 1874, who, helped by documents sent to him by Mrs. Whitman, proved that Poe was actually born in 1809.

Mrs. Whitman's delightful persiflage notwithstanding, her date of birth was January 19, 1803, making her exactly six years older than Poe.

Letter 81. Sarah Helen Whitman, Providence, to George W. Eveleth. Copied by Eveleth. First complete printing. [Item 100]

Jan. 17, 1866

— I cannot, I think, stay long on this “bank and shoal of time.” Before I go, I wish to put into your hand the [page 220:] accompanying statement about one of Griswold's myths. It is a statement which I have made, in writing, to but one person — and that one has met with a sad, strange fate; and the record is lost in oblivion. A rough sketch of it, made in 1860, follows. If you will, at some time when you are quite at leisure, copy it for me, and send me the copy, I shall be glad:

To S.E.R.* — Dear Sir: It is not a little singular that, within a few days of your note, enclosed to me by Messrs. [[Rudd & Carleton]], of New York, I received a note from a gentleman of Philadelphia (who was to have been associated with Mr. Poe in the publication of The Stylus), announcing that he had prepared, and was intending soon to publish, a vindication of Edgar Poe. I do not think, from its scope and purpose, it will very soon make an appearance in print. He questioned me in regard to some of the charges brought against Mr. Poe by Dr. Griswold, and especially with respect to the story of his riotous conduct at the house of a New England lady, rendering necessary a summoning of the police, etc., etc!!

You will have seen that some of the critics of my little book have chosen to assume that, since I make no reference to this pleasant and piquant fiction, the story was undoubtedly a true one! If I had not wished my vindication of Edgar Poe to be entirely impersonal, in so far as regarded my own relations to him, I could most certainly have acquitted him of all the grosser charges brought against him in this most improbable narrative.

Mr. Poe came to Providence, on the occasion alluded to, by invitation of the Providence Lyceum, to deliver the second lecture of their course (Daniel Webster having delivered the first). Before leaving New York, Mr. Poe said to a lady of that city: — “I am going, this evening, to Providence”. “To be married, I learn”, rejoined the lady. “No — to deliver a lecture before the Providence Lyceum”. On this slender foundation Dr. Griswold raised a fabric — a temple of fame — that has made me immortal — “You will go down to posterity”, said a witty friend, “as the brilliant New England lady who sent her Raven lover to prison on the evening of her bridal”.

Now for the facts of the case. In an interview with Mr. Poe, [page 221:] some three or four weeks previous to the giving of this lecture, he had vehemently urged me to an immediate marriage. As an additional reason for delaying a marriage which, under any circumstances, seemed to all my friends full of evil portents, I read to him some passages from a letter which I had recently received from one of his New York associates. He seemed deeply pained at the result of our interview, and left me abruptly, saying that, if we should meet again, it would be as strangers. He passed the evening in a bar-room of his hotel, and, after a night of delirious phrenzy, returned the next day to my mother's house in a state of great mental excitement and suffering, declaring that his welfare for time and eternity depended on me. A physician — Dr. A. H. Oakie — was sent for, by my mother, who, perceiving indications of brain-fever, advised his removal to the house of his friend W. J. Pabodie, of this city, where he was kindly cared for until his recovery. The incident naturally caused much talk and gossip, and was, I suppose, the basis of Dr. Griswold's distorted statement. “Only this, and nothing more.”

It was soon after his return to New York, that he wrote me, in reference to these events, under date of Nov. 24, 1848, the words I have quoted on the 74th page of my book.

This further proof of Griswold's lying, written out by the lady referred to in Griswold's Memoir simply made Ingram's case against him the stronger.

Mrs. Whitman received a number of warning letters from various “friends” about the inadvisability of her marrying Poe. She was much influenced by her mother's strong opposition to the match also.

The statement in writing to “S.E.R.” was to Sallie E. Robins. Her note to Mrs. Whitman was forwarded by Mrs. Whitman's New York publishers, Rudd & Carleton, as was John Ingram's first letter to that lady, in late 1873.

Thomas Cottrell Clarke was the “gentleman from Philadelphia” who was to have joined Poe in publishing the Stylus and who was gathering information also for a vindication of Poe's name; his plans did not materialize either.

William J. Pabodie was really a close friend and perhaps ardent admirer of Mrs. Whitman's. He was Poe's courteous host on his visits to Providence. Mrs. Whitman eagerly looked forward to her death, or “de-materialization,” as the spiritualists preferred to call it; but in spite of these anticipatory remarks, she still had twelve and a half years left to live. Death came for her on June 27, 1878. [page 222:]

Letter 82. Sarah Helen Whitman, Providence, to George W. Eveleth. Copied by Eveleth. First complete printing. [Item 103]

March 2nd, 1867

— You spoke of a paragraph in The Round Table in relation to “The Mystery of Marie Roget”. By a strange coincidence, just after receiving your letter, I happened to see a number of that paper lying on the table of a friend. I borrowed it, and, on reverting to your letter, found that it was the one to which you referred me as containing your paragraph. It was the only copy of The Round Table that had ever chanced to fall my way!

Mr. Poe told me the fact there stated by you, and stated, moreover, that the name of the young “naval officer” was Spencer. I had entirely forgotten this, till your item brought it to my mind.

Poe had told Eveleth in his letter of January 4, 1848, that the “naval officer who committed the murder (rather, the accidental death arising from an attempt at abortion) confessed it. ...

Poe had evidently told Mrs. Whitman the same thing, and Eveleth's unlocated paragraph almost certainly was built around this fact concerning Poe's “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt.”

Letter 83. Sarah Helen Whitman, Providence, to George W. Eveleth. Copied by Eveleth. First complete printing. [Item 173]

Sept. 30th,1874

In your letter of Aug. 2nd, you asked whether I considered the picture of Poe, given with Stoddard's biographical sketch in Harper's Magazine, like him, as I knew him. It was taken from an engraving, which engraving was taken from a photograph which does resemble him, though never to me a satisfactory likeness; but in the woodcut in Harper, an impression [page 223:] from the steel engraving, all likeness is lost. Poe had two daguerreotypes taken in Providence, one of which will appear in Mr. Ingram's volume.(5) He thinks the engraving good. I hope it will prove so. This picture was once lithographed and enlarged by a Boston picture-dealer, I think, though the lithograph bears the name of a French artist. I have a copy of the enlarged lithograph, also a photograph of a carte visite size, which I had taken by a Providence photographer, last winter, from the large lithograph. But it gives no adequate idea of Poe's beautiful face and head. I will enclose you one — but, remember, it is not good. [I do, and shall, to the end of all the chapters, “remember” this, at any rate — that it is no true lens through which for me to peer into the wondrous, far-down depths of the mind-and-soul of him with whom I thought I was somewhat acquainted (from his writings, only — not personally), as “Edgar Allan Poe.” If it is, really, a likeness of any Poe, I trust not that one — H.B.W.].

When Eveleth writes of the small photograph Mrs. Whitman sent to him being “a likeness of any Poe,” he is toying with the fantastic idea that perhaps when Edgar posed for the picture, the likeness of his brother William Henry Leonard was actually recorded by the photographer! See Letter 84.

Letter 84. Sarah Helen Whitman, Providence, to George W. Eveleth. Copied by Eveleth. First complete printing. [Item 266]

Nov. 30th, 1875

I was very glad to receive your letter of the 19th inst. reminding me that I had not yet replied to your's of a year ago.

I think I can answer all your questions satisfactorily; and will do so seriatim.

In the first place, “Where did Mr. Stoddard and Mr. Ingram obtain the information that Poe's birth occurred in [page 224:] 1809?” From the matriculation books of the University at Charlottesville. The only wonder is, that this source of information should have been so long overlooked by his biographers. I received the fact in 1860, from a correspondent in Ohio,(6) who sent me an autograph note from Dr. Stephen Maupin,(7) referring to and authenticating an account (accompanying the note) from Mr. Wertenbaker, Secretary of the Faculty of the University. ...

Now, as to the discrepancy in dates respecting the year of the birth, I admit there is a difficulty. Mrs. Clemm wrote me that Poe never could retain dates in his memory, and always had to apply to her. There is no reason to doubt her own fallibility [It is this, or is it in — “fallibility” which is meant? — H.B.W.] on statistical matters. Poe had not seen Mrs. Clemm until after he left West Point, since his earliest years. She must (or may) have told him that he was two years younger than he imagined. And on her authority the dates given in Griswold's American Poets may have been founded. The subsequent story, in Griswold's “Memoir”, may have been, probably was, a fabrication. I cannot think that Poe would consciously have misrepresented his age, when he knew that the Charlottesville record was open to all enquirers. What think you? [I am of opinion that, if he held out the idea that his birth took place at a time not the actual one, he did so “consciously” — deliberately — for a purpose — just as he was accustomed to bring up to sight the points in his veritable narratives — the “Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym”, for instance. Touching the fact of his birthday, I lean toward the belief — nay, am convinced — that its rightful place upon the record is that which was given in the first statement seen by me, before he, his friends and his enemies took into their individual and collective heads the freak of leading the public imagination by the nose (see number 27 of the Marginalia) — that is, the place between the names of Henry and Rosalie, Henry — 1809; Edgar — 1811; Rosalie — 1813. I don’t accept, at [page 225:] all, the information of Mrs. Clemm (I mean, as this was applied by her), that one who dealt so carefully, so effectively, in details regarding other matters as Edgar A. always did deal, was at a loss when he came to guessing about his own age-H.B.W.].

As to the portrait in Harper, I know nothing. I supposed it to have been taken from the engraving prefixed to Redfield's illustrated octavo edition of Poe's poems, published in 1858. It does not resemble either of the Daguerreotypes taken in Providence. The one of those two which was taken expressly for me, was photographed (also in Providence) by Coleman and Remington sixteen months ago, and a copy of the photograph was sent to Mr. Ingram, and selected by him (from among a number of others) to illustrate his Memoir prefixed to Black's Edinburgh edition of Poe's complete works. It has been admirably engraved, and is thought, by those who remember Poe, to be more like him that any other of the portraits extant.

I fancy that Stoddard was right in saying that the daguerre, prefixed to his article, was taken in Richmond ten days before Poe's death. It resembles the portraits published in the Illustrated Papers, to accompany reports of the recent celebration at Baltimore [on occasion of the unveiling of Poe's monument], which portraits are claimed to have been taken from a daguerre in the possession of the original's Baltimore relatives “ten days before his death” [It seemed (and seems) to me that the portrait represented a much more youthful person than Poe was at the time indicated. Besides, the whole out-look of the countenance, general and particular, even including feature, as well as expression, struck me as being very different from what it ought to be, judging from other pictures which I had seen previously — for example, the picture in the first volume of Griswold's edition (which, as I infer, was taken when its subject was quite a young man) and that accompanying Lowell's biography, published in the number of Graham's Magazine for February, 1845. I confess that the last-named suits better my mental vision of him who etched so aptly the Literati; laid open all the heart of his matter, in his Criticisms generally; pulled out so skillfully the tangles in the Murders of the Rue Morgue; probed with so [page 226:] great effect the horrors of the Man of Usher; gave bodies so beautiful to the Souls of the Northern Lights, in Ulalume. Query — Whether it was not the image of the spirit of Henry Poe, which was caught upon that plate in Richmond, on Thursday, Sept. 27th, 1849 — whether, indeed, it was not that same spirit, “materialized”, that got into all the scrapes and cut all the curious capers put to the account of Edgar A.? — H.B.W.].

I agree with you in doubting Poe's habitual resort to intoxicating liquors. I think Mr. Ingram admits too much, and will see occasion to qualify his statement.

I find your question as to the disagreement in the item about Ligeia a very natural and pertinent one. Mr. Poe brought me, in the autumn of 1848, two bound volumes of The Broadway Journal. In these volumes were a few marginal notes penciled by him. Prefixed to the letter-press of the page on which was commenced the story of Ligeia were these lines, in pencil: — “The lines I sent you contained all the events of a dream which occurred to me soon after I knew you through Mrs. O's description. Ligeia was also suggested by a dream. Observe the eyes in both tale and poem” — that is to say, “soon after I recognized you through Mrs. O's description.”

I had been so importuned by friends and strangers for some single line (or even word) of Poe's writing, that, over-persuaded, I had often clipped to [sic] or three words from some fragment, to oblige the soliciter. In this instance, I had cut the passage: — “through Mrs. O's description” from the penciled lines on the upper margin of the page. In sending these volumes to Mr. Ingram, I pointed out the mutilated sentence, and gave him the concluding words. Probably, in his haste in preparing his notes for the press, he had mislaid my letter explaining the matter, and had published what he thought an interesting item without reflecting that, in their incomplete meaning, they contradicted the fact that the lines were written before our introduction by letter from Miss M. G. McIntosh. I noticed this apparent discrepancy, on reading Mr. Ingram's narrative, and long ago intended to point it out to him, but neglected to do so because the intention was frustrated by a press of other matters. [page 227:]

The registration entry for Poe at the University of Virginia was not in Poe's handwriting; it was probably written in by a proctor: “Edgar A. Poe,” born “19 Jan. 1809.”

Mrs. Clemm's positive statement that Edgar had to depend on her for accurate dates has caused much comment. She was herself notoriously inaccurate. But perhaps age and many troubled years were partially responsible. Poe was twenty-two when he left West Point and renewed his acquaintance with Mrs. Clemm.

Griswold's The Poets and Poetry of America, published in Philadelphia on April 18, 1842, contained three of Poe's poems and a brief, inaccurate sketch of Poe's life, which Griswold had paraphrased from notes given to him by Poe himself. At this time, Poe was better known in America as a critic and a tale writer than as a poet.

Eveleth's independence of thought notwithstanding, William H. L. Poe was born in 1807, Edgar in 1809, and Rosalie in 1810. Mrs. Poe had died on December 8, 1811.

The portrait of Poe used by Stoddard in his Harper's article had been reproduced from a daguerreotype of Poe made by Pratt in Richmond, sometime in September, 1849, perhaps three weeks before Poe's death. The portrait used by Griswold in his 1850 edition of Poe's works had been reproduced from the painting of Poe made by Samuel S. Osgood, husband of Frances S. Osgood, in New York about 1844; this painting is now owned by the New York Historical Society, and is supposed to represent Poe at thirty-five years of age. The reproduction used by Lowell in his biographical sketch of Poe in Graham's Magazine, February, 1845, was from a painting of Poe done by A. C. Smith. Many pictures of Poe, reproduced from daguerreotypes and paintings, were published in various magazines and newspapers reporting the ceremonies of Poe's monument unveiling in Baltimore in 1875.

The two bound volumes of The Broadway Journal given by Poe to Mrs. Whitman in 1848, were “lent” by her to Ingram in mid-1874, to be returned to her when she asked for them, which she said would probably not be before the “breaking of the seventh seal.” Apparently Ingram thought this event remote enough to sell them to a London bookseller in the 1880s, after Mrs. Whitman's death. Frederick J. Halsey bought the volumes for $240 at a sale by Thomas J. McKee in 1909, in New York. They are now in the Huntington Library, San Marino. California.

Letter 85. H.B.W. [[George W. Eveleth]], Nemonia [[Maine?]], United States, to the editor of Scribner's Monthly. Copied by Eveleth from the autograph letter. First printing. [Item 323] [page 228:]

October 7th, 1877


In your last (Oct.) number, you have a notice of Mr. Gill's Life of Poe, to the following passage from which I wish to call your attention: — “It is now well ascertained that Poe's intoxication was a thing caused by even the smallest quantity of wine, and took the form of terrible despondence or of strange and highly intellectual but deranged orations on abstruse subjects.”

How has it been ascertained? From what source or sources, and through what channels, has the item of information come? Which are the witnesses to the “intoxication”, and where — in whose keeping — are to be found the “deranged orations”?

As I have read the testimony — even that put in by Griswold himself, who is charged with having had a desire and a design to show the case of his subject in as bad a light (as black a shadow) as possible — no habitual use of intoxicating liquors is indicated — much less, proved. All the persons who are introduced upon the stand, whose names are vouchers for the truthfulness of their statements and for their ability to judge of the matter in hand — Willis, Graham, Mrs. Osgood, Mrs. Whitman-say, in substance, that during no one of their frequent interviews with their acquaintance did they discover a sign of the effects of strong drink in him, but that he was always the sober (in two senses, sober), rather sad, genial-hearted, intelligent (clear — not wine — or brandy — muddled — , headed) refined gentleman.

Those are only a few, from among the many, names which might have been (doubtless, now might be) cited. The evening literary gatherings, spoken of in Griswold's Memoir and in Mrs. Whitman's Edgar Poe and his Critics imply that a considerable number of the poet's associates are living, and could give evidence of his habits, particularly, evidence touching his sensitiveness to wine; for it is to be presumed that the spirit constituted a part of the furniture of the assemblies.

Then there are The Literati of New York City. In his “few words of personality” thus entitled (Godey's Ladies Book for 1846), Poe said that, with one or two exceptions, he was [page 229:] personally acquainted with those about whom he was gossiping. What answer to the question before the public have those deponents? Especially, what is their knowledge (or, lacking that, what their opinion) of this “smallest quantity of wine” affair? In my estimation, if it proves anything, it proves too much; for lo! — the man swallowed the first drop, which set him athirst — wild, craving, raving — for still other drops upon drops — and so on, hurrying, rushing, through his brief course. The natural inference is that his life would have been an almost unbroken series of confused, disconnected, unmeaning harangues from the way-side ditches.

But who, again, is the revelator of those harangues (“deranged orations”)? Did the orator himself, or did any one for him, put the effusions in writing? If so, are they a portion, or all, of the contents of his printed volumes? If so, once more, then I join issue immediately, and declare that the disorder assumed — disorder, whether of thought or of expression — is nowhere throughout those contents manifest. Even where slackest rein is given to the imagination (say, in “The Black Cat”), there the regulator, analysis, keeps pace abreast, the two combining to throw a wonderful semblance of reality, yet a vivid strange coloring, about the narrative.

Professor Lowell says (not in the mangled mess which is offered under his name by Griswold, but in the original, genuine article, as it was printed in Graham's Magazine (No. for Feb., 1845) that Poe had two gifts which are rarely found united — those of analysis and imagination. It was the former ingredient that made its possessor so good a critic, Nothing (save now and then a pet prejudice) could drive him off his scent — He watched, with an eye serene the very pulse of the machine; for such the thing under examination was to him, with wheels and cogs and piston-rods all working to a determinate end.

That mental “eye serene” (always keen, as well as steady, never clouded by liquor-fumes) looks on me from out all its owner's productions which I have read. Mind, I am not to be understood as claiming that no inaccuracies ever occur in them. I do claim, however, that, when there are any, they are such as the productions of any well-balanced intellect will show. For instance, the errors (of calculation, simply); — [page 230:] Eureka are of the same nature as those which can be found in Newton's Principea. Indeed, the most notable of them grew out of the fact that too much reliance was place in the unprovedprinciple of Gravitation” — the later theorist took, for a part of his foundation, the reckoning of the earlier, without first having brought that analytic knife of his, ever sharp and sure, to bear upon it.

So I conclude with a reintimation of my unbelief in the story of common drunkenness and of the crazing power of a drop of wine.

[I will add here, and now (Oct. 1st, 1878), the opinion; formed long ago and still held by me, that Poe was willing — yes, that he coolly planned — to leave behind him the impres sion (for such as might be glad to receive it) of his having been almost anything or everything that was bad — a malign, unhealthful product of the soil of the evil latter times. I will state, farther, my strong persuasion, if not my full conviction, that those remarkable events (remarkable, from whatever point of view considered), which have been designated by many sincere people as messages from the “spirit world”, had, somehow, their advent through the strange processes of his mental chemistry. My supposition is that the coming was foretokened in those “physical shadows of shadows” spoken of in the sixteenth number of the Marginalia. It was upon this supposition that I made inquiry (as indicated in one of the foregoing letters of Mrs. Whitman) about the time when the note first appeared in print. I have a half-recollection of seeing it in Graham in 1846 or ‘7. Perhaps some one can give the date; also can tell when, and upon the margin of what book, it was penned or penciled — ?


Eveleth was much interested in Poe's Eureka, and he brings it into his writings about Poe wherever possible. We can be grateful to him for his pointed questions to Poe about it and his challenges, which led to Poe's writing out for Eveleth a long explanation and discussion of his theories contained therein. Poe's reply has been reprinted in ten closely reasoned pages as “Poe's Addenda to Eureka” in Harrison, XVI, 337 seq.

Poe writes about “shadows of shadows” in the fifth number of the [page 231:] “Marginalia” in Graham's, March 1846.

“‘Nemonia,’ United States” is very likely an anagram for Maine.

Letter 86. George W. Eveleth, Lewiston, Maine, to John Ingram, London. First printing. [Item 340]

Oct. 1, 1878

John H. Ingram, Esqre,

There, my friend and partner in the Good Cause, you have my contribution toward the making-up of something like a true estimate of Poe. You will not complain of any lack in quantity of matter. Of quality, I will say nothing.

You say in your letter (which came duly) that Mrs. Whitman posted you pretty thoroughly about her relations with him. Nevertheless, I thought I would give you such of her letters in my possession, as have a bearing on the case — you may find an item or a hint which will be new.

I have written on both sides of the leaves, and with lines near together, in order that the bill for postage might be not very large, having taken for granted that you would re-copy for the press.

You perceive that I have taken the initials H.B.W., instead of giving either my own initials or my full name. I ask you to follow the same course — that is, not to present me, in proper person, at all before the public. I have my reasons. It is fair that you should know whose initials I have appropriated — they are owned by a Mrs. Helen Bullock Webster. Mrs. Whitman once sent me a very interesting letter (to me interesting) which the lady had written her. I have a suspicion (it may be groundless) that Mrs. Webster is the author of Prometheus in Atlantis — Did you ever read it?

I did not see (in Aps. Journal) “Unknown Correspondence of Poe” — How, unknown?

I received your letter (‘74); but was situated so (with no documents within reach) that I couldn’t supply you with any information. Davidson* was so kind as to lend me your article in Int’l Rev. I am glad to put in this (my mite) without [page 232:] reference to pay; yet, if you can well afford, a trifle would be acceptable; for, as the Fates know, I am poor enough.

I mail, with this, a package of clippings — among them English vs Poe, and Poe in rejoinder.

Cordially — G. W. Eveleth

The clippings, “English vs. Poe and Poe in Rejoinder,” enclosed in this package to Ingram, had to do with accusations made by Thomas Dunn English* against Poe and Poe's reply to them; these clippings had appeared in the New York Mirror, June 23, 1846, and in the Philadelphia Spirit of the Times, July 10, 1846. Poe brought legal suit against the Mirror, and was awarded $225 damages.

Ingram replied quickly to Eveleth after receiving these forty-four closely written pages; for on October 30, 1878, Eveleth wrote him: “You ‘presume’ rightly that ‘no one but ‘Myself’ possesses or may use — copies of ‘those letters’ — that is no one may use, unless with my permission given hereafter, which I have now no thought of giving. I have not ‘parted with’ the originals — prefer not to part with them just yet — think I shall send them to you by and by, if you intimate an acceptation of them. The matter of remuneration lies wholly with you — if none, no grumbling.”

Ingram did not receive the autograph Poe letters. It is to be hoped, however, that he did send something more than “a trifle” to Eveleth for the work he had done for him, and for us.

Professor James Southall Wilson published Poe's letters to Eveleth from the copies Eveleth made for Ingram, and thus unadvoidably reproduced errors in the letters made by Eveleth. John Ostrom first printed the letters correctly, from photostats of the originals which are now in the William H. Koester Collection, Baltimore, the Berg Collection in the New York Public Library, the Rosenbach Collection in Philadelphia, and the Morgan Library in New York City.

After his letter of October 30, 1878, written from Lewiston, Maine, to Ingram, Eveleth wrote at least six more letters to Ingram, dated between December 28, 1881 and April 24, 1889. All of these were written from Denver, Colorado, and all of them were consistently sharp, acrid comments on Ingram's writings about Poe. Then Eveleth was heard from no more.

Prometheus in Atlantis: a Prophecy of the Extinction of the Christian Civilization was published anonymously in New York City by G. W. Carleton in 1867.

The most important and valuable letters in this forty-four-page package received from Eveleth for Ingram's purpose of building Poe biography [page 233:] were, of course, the seven letters Eveleth copied for Ingram that he had received from Poe. Next in value, for Ingram's purposes, were the two flat denials by the judges of the contest for the prize story offered by the Saturday Visiter that the prize had been given to Poe in 1833 simply because his manuscript was the first legible one the judges picked up, as Griswold had stated as a fact in his Memoir. Equally as important, too, for controverting Griswold's statement that Poe's riotous conduct at the house of a New England lady had rendered necessary a summoning of the police, was Mrs. Whitman's denial of the statement and her account of what really had happened, in her letter to Sallie E. Robins, Letter 81 in this volume.

Portions of some of the other letters in this group served Ingram as he pleased to use them here and there in his Life, giving strength and depth wherever he felt his volumes needed them. The one letter from Mrs. Ellet, Letter 69, in which she accuses Poe of being frequently in the asylum for his attacks of lunacy, Ingram, of course, loftily ignored — but he filed it.

Ingram's handling of the seven letters Eveleth had received from Poe is nothing less than a study in confusion. Poe had answered Eveleth's brash, pointed questions generously; he wrote freely to the young man about his tales and poems, his criticisms, The Conchologist's First Book, Eureka, the libel suit he had initiated against Thomas Dunn English, his hopes and plans for his future, as well as his own personal affairs and his health. The peculiar intimacy with which Poe carried on his correspondence with his personally unknown admirer makes this segment of his personal letters striking and most unusual. Ingram was extraordinarily fortunate that Eveleth had made it possible for him to be the first to publish these letters.

Even though Ingram had complete copies of all seven of Poe's letters to Eveleth before him and was free to use them as he pleased, he by no means reprinted them in his 1880 Life as complete letters: he dismembered them into fourteen extracts which he quoted as having been written to “an unnamed correspondent,” making it impossible to piece together the original letters in sequence; in some cases he left out places and dates, as well as phrases; in one instance, he even rearranged the paragraphs in one of Poe's letters. When Ingram's Poe papers reached the University of Virginia, this incredible mess was partially cleared up when Professor James Southall Wilson edited the seven letters Poe had written to Eveleth, exactly as Eveleth had copied them for Ingram. These letters were published in the University of Virginia [page 234:] Alumni Bulletin, XVII, January, 1924, as “The Letters of Edgar A. Poe to George W. Eveleth”; later they were reprinted separately.(8)

In addition to these letters Eveleth copied serving Ingram's purpose of proving that Griswold had lied about Poe by providing three strong witnesses to that fact, they also serve to introduce the reader to Sarah Helen Whitman's charming, intelligent letter-writing style.


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

1.  This “treatment of another lady” refers to Miss Lynch's being one of a party of three who called at Poe's house in Fordham with the intention of securing the letters written to Poe by Mrs. Frances S. Osgood. Poe's angry reaction and subsequent regret for his remarks are told in the editorial commentary at the end of this letter.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 211:]

2.  [Item 525]

3.  [Item 528]

4.  [Item 555]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 223:]

5.  This was used as a frontispiece to Volume I of Ingram's 1874 edition of Poe's works.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 224:]

6.  This correspondent was Sallie E. Robins.

7.  Mrs. Whitman gave Dr. Maupin's name incorrectly to Eveleth, and Ingram picked it up from this letter. His name was “Socrates,” not “Stephen,” and Ingram later had to make a correction in print.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 234:]

8.  The late Professor T. O. Mabbott edited twelve of the thirteen letters Eveleth wrote to Poe and published them as “The Letters of George W. Eveleth to Edgar Allan Poe” in the Bulletin of the New York Public Library. This article, too, was separately reprinted.






[S:0 - JCMBPB, 1977] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Building Poe Biography (J. C. Miller) (Chapter VII)