I GIVE the Allan in this name because it is generally so written; but I think the middle one should be at once and forever dropped; since it is that of a man who had befriended the poet-protected and educated him, but who finally abandoned him to his fate, leaving him to battle with the world as best he could, he, totally unable to compete with the world, with no understandable weapons for the contest, born with vast, gloomy premonitions, shadowy intimations of grandeur, stupendous day-dreams, which had no visible relation to what was passing around him — weird, unearthly visions which shut out the real — gorgeous idealisms overmastering the actual; a demonized man, in the fullest sense; and when his guardian — this wealthy, conventional, every-day man — assumed the responsibility of taking such a boy in charge, he had no right to abandon him.
It may be said that the errors of Poe drove his friends from him, compelled them to abandon him; this is no excuse at all to a TRUE man. The greater his faults the more need of the friend. I do not believe one tithe of what is said about the moral obliquities of Edgar Poe; and, even were he as guilty as his worst traducers represent him, there was that pale, sorrowful face of his always pleading for palliation, always seeming to say, “I do not comprehend it all; I am beyond, above, or below it; I am not of it!”
More than all this, the very appearance of the man gave the lie to these slanders. He was, to the last degree, refined in look and manner. I knew him for years—met him at my own house and in society, and never once saw any of those reprehensible aspects of character which have been imputed to him. I never once saw him when he bad even looked upon the wine–cup. With his delicate organization, I am sure that a very small quantity would affect him; but I am convinced he was not habitually addicted to any kind of intoxicating drink, and am well persuaded that a very little might excite nearly to madness a brain of such volume and delicacy of fiber.
Others have given currency to wild tales of orgies, in which they must have also partaken, or at least encouraged. I remember to have heard a Philadelphian poet, the author of Endymion, describe a scene of the kind. To him it was amusing—to me most painful. He remarked that, “the real contempt which Poe felt for his cotemporaries came out at once under the influence of the wine–cup, and he ridiculed, satirized, imitated and abused them right and left without mercy.” I did not think the presence of such a stimulant at all necessary for such a development; for the bearing of the man at all times, the curl of his lip, the cold sarcasm, the covert smile, each and all told of a man who measured himself with his fellows, only to feel his own superiority. And why should he not?