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Poe's second volume, which was by no means so puny and ill-looking as the inaccurate memory of his anecdotist would lead us to believe, was in a certain sense a re-issue of his first pamphlet of verse, of which it claimed to be a second edition. It contained “Al Aaraaf” and “Tamerlane," and omitted the lesser pieces, the omission being more than supplied by pieces of a later date. It was respectfully dedicated to "The U. S. Corps of Cadets," and was ushered into the world by a long rambling “ Letter," which purported to be written at West Point, 1831, and was addressed to “Dear B--" who was understood to be Mr. Edward Lytton Bulwer, the novelist, with whom, of course, the writer had not the slightest acquaintance! Why Poe's late comrades should have sneered at it as they did, except that they were enraged at the good taste which had discarded the local squibs by which they preferred to remember him, it is difficult to see. If they had possessed any real poetical taste, they could not have failed to detect its many indications of excellence. It was a young book, crude and immature, with an abundance of faults; but there was more than promise in it--there was achievement. There were, nearly as we have them now, “ Israfel,” “The City in the Sea,” and the beautiful stanzas "To Helen," besides the rough drafts, so to say, of "Lenore ” and “ The Sleeper.” Clearly, a new poet had risen.
But the cashiered cadetwhat was to become of him? He is said to have returned to Richmond, and to have been again received into the house of Mr. Allan; and he is also said to have returned, and to have been denied admittance. The latter circumstance, which appears the most probable one, is stated to have been caused by his own impudence. It is the recollection of the lady who was his playmate in childhood that he insisted on seeing Mr. Allan, who was confined to his bed by illness, and that Mrs. Allan, not being willing to risk the scene that was likely to have ensued, refused him admittance to her husband's room. This excited his wrath, and he broke forth into invectives against her of a nature so insulting that it became necessary Mr. Allan should know of them, and that he should be forbidden the house. There are other versions of this painful affair, but as none are more creditable to Poe, there is no occasion to repeat them now. Enough that he was discarded by his benefactor, who died three years afterwards, leaving a large fortune, and three children to inherit it.
Whither Poe went next, and how he earned his bread, are matters for conjecture. He is supposed to have gone to Baltimore, where his brother was, and where he had an uncle living, and to have tried to support himself by writing. If such was the fact, his chances were far from brilliant. It is the fashion with biographers of a certain sort to maintain that the contributions of the young geniuses whom they celebrate were eagerly sought for by publishers; but if they know anything of literature, they must know better. Poe had as much genius in his way as any American writer, but he was always poor, and I question whether at this time even newspapers wanted or paid for any articles that he may have written. That they could
not have done so to any great extent is proved, I think, by the next escapade which he is said to have made, and which ended in his enlisting in the army as a private soldier. He was recognized, we are told, by officers who had known him at West Point, and who interested themselves privately, and with prospects of success, in obtaining a commission for him. We are also told that he deserted before it could be obtained. No authority is given for this story, which I, for one, do not credit. It is too much like an adventure of Coleridge's, which probably suggested it to its first imaginative narrator, desertion being added in Poe's case to show how reckless he had become.
The obscurities of Poe's life began now to disappear, and his biographers find for the first time in two years something like solid ground before them. It is in Baltimore, where Poe is living from hand to mouthwith
very little in his hand to put into his mouth. It is the summer, or early autumn of 1833, and the proprietors of the Saturday Visitor have offered two prizes to the aspiring literati of America--one for the best tale that may be sent them, the other for the best poem. Among those who competed was Poe, who submitted a poem and six prose sketches. The elegance of his penmanship tempted one of the committee who was to make the award to read several pages of the MS. volume in which these sketches were written. He was interested in them, as were also the others, so much so that they decided to read no more of the manuscripts, but to give the prizes to “the first of geniuses who had written legibly.” When the confidential envelope was opened, it was found that the writer's name was Poe, and Mr. Poe was accordingly notified by advertisement of his success. He waited at once upon the publisher of the Saturday Visitor, who was moved by his appearance. This gentleman described Poe to one of the committee, Mr. John P. Kennedy, author of “Swallow Barn" and "Horse Shoe Robinson," whose sympathies were excited in his behalf, and who desired that he should call.upon him. He came just as he was (the prize money not having been paid him), thin, pale, with the