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Tag late EDGAR ALLAN POE, who was the husband of my only daughter, the son of my eldest brother, and more than a son to myself, in his long-continued and affectionate observance of every duty to me,—under an impres
he left his home in Fordham, for the last time, on the 29th of June, 1849) requests that the Rev. Rufus W. Griswold should act as his literary Executor, and superintend the publication of his works ;—and that N. P. Willis, Esq., should write such observations upon his life and character, as he might deem suitable to address to thinking men, in vindication of his memory.
These requests he made with less hesitation, and with confidence that they would be fulfilled, from his knowledge of these gentlemen ; and he many times expressed a gratification of such an opportunity of decidedly and urequivocally certifying his respect for the literary judgment and integrity of Mr. Griswold, with whom his personal relations, on account of some unhappy misunderstanding, had for years been interrupted.
In this edition of my son's works, which is published for my benefit, it is a great pleasure for me to thank Mr. Griswold and Mr. Willis for their prompt fulfilment of the wishes of the dying poet, in labors, which demanded much time and attention, and which they have perwurmed without any other recompense than the happiness which rewards acts of duty and kindness. I add to these expressions of gratitude to them, my acknowledg. ments to J. R. Lowell, Esquire, for his notices of Mr. Poe's genius and wri tings which are bere published.
CONTENTS OF VOL. I.
THL situation of American literature is anomalous. It has no centre, or, if it have, it is like that of the sphere of Hermes. It is divided into many systems, each revolving round its several sun, and often presenting to the rest only the faint glimmer of a milk-and water way. Our capital city, un
radiate to the extremities, but resembles more an isolated umbilicus, stuck down as near as may be to the centre of the land, and seeming rather to tell a legend of former usefulness than to serve any present need. Boston, New York, Philadelphia, each bas its literature almost more distinct than those of the different dialects of Germany; and the Young Queen of the West has also one of her own, of which some articulate rumor barely has reached us dwellers by the Atlantic
Perhaps there is no task more difficult than the just criticism of cotempo
than where it is deserved, and friendship so often seduces the iron stylus of justice into a vague flourish, that she writes what seems rather like an epi. taph than a criticism. Yet if praise be given as an alms, we could not drop 80 poisonous a one into any man's hat. The critic's ink may suffer equally from too large an infusion of nutgalls or of sugar. But it is easier to be generous than to be just, and we might readily put faith in that fabulous directiun to the hiding-place of truth, did we judge from the amount of water which we usually find mixed with it.
Remarkable experiences are usually confined to the inner life of imaginative men, but Mr. Poe's biography displays a vicissitude and peculiarity of interest such as is rarely met with. The offspring of a romantic marriage, and eft an orphan at an early age, he was adopted by Mr. Alan, a wealthy Vir.
• The following notice of Mr. Poe's life and works was written at his own request, five years ago, a od accompanied a portrait of him. published in Grabam's Magazine for Feb ruary, 1845. It is here reprinted with a few alterations and omissions.