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The American Spirit in Literature : a chronicle of great interpreters
written by "Perry, Bliss, 1860-1954"
...ar the newly founded University of Virginia. He was a dark, short, bow-legged boy, with the face of his own Roderick Usher. He made a good record in French and Latin, read, wrote and recited poetry, tramped on the Ragged Mountains, and did not notably exceed his companions in drinking and gambling. But his Scotch foster-father disapproved of his conduct and withdrew him from the University. A period of wandering followed. He enlisted in the army and was stationed in Boston in 1827, when his first volume, "Tamerlane," was published. In 1829 he was in Fortress Monroe, and published "Al Aaraf" at Baltimore. He entered West Point in 1830, and was surely, except Whistler, the strangest of all possible cadets. When he was dismissed in 1831, he had written the marvellous lines "To Helen," "Israfel," and "The City in the Sea." That is enough to have in one's knapsack at the age of twenty-two. In the eighteen years from 1831 to 1849, when Poe's unhappy life came to an end in a Baltimore hospital, his literary activity was chiefly that of a journalist, critic, and short story writer. He lived in Baltimore, Richmond, Philadelphia, and New York. Authors who now exploit their fat bargains with their publishers may have forgotten that letter which Poe wrote back to Philadelphia the morning after he arrived with his child-wife in New York: "We are both in excellent spirits.... We have now got four dollars and a half left. To-morrow I am going to try and borrow three dollars, so that I may have a fortnight to go upon." When the child-wife died in the shabby cottage at Fordham, her wasted body was covered with the old army overcoat which Poe had brought from West Point. If Poe met some of the tests of practical life inadequately, it must be remembered that his health failed at twenty-five, that he was pitiably poor, and that the slightest indulgence in drink set his overwrought nerves jangling. Ferguson, the former office-boy of the "Literary Messenge...

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