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Old Maryland, Vol. 4

Excerpt from Old Maryland, Vol. 4: Dec;, 1908 Jan;, 1909 While there may be room for controversy as to the frequency and extent of the dominion which stimulants had acquired over him, and as to the errors he committed whilst under their maddening influence, assuredly he was wholly free from the vices that stain the soul. There was in him no dissimulation, nor deceit, nor concealment of his frailties. Conscious of his own splendid powers, no ignoble envy of the success of others ever degraded his haughty spirit. "On desperate seas long wont to roam," he endured with proud reticence the extreme pangs of poverty and destitution. He saw his idolized wife wasted by illness and disease passing through the dark valley of the shadow of death, suffering from the want of comforts which he was powerless to supply and when "Her high-born kinsman came And bore her away from me." his reason for a time tottered and fell, but no pressure of grief, or sorrow or privation ever betrayed or drove him into the crooked paths of dishonesty or fraud. There may be some who think that after all the facts of his private life are of no consequence and that in the enjoyment of the rich fruits of his great genius it matters little what kind of man he was, whether good or bad, honorable or depraved, in the ordinary relationships of life or society. I do not agree with this view. Deep and ardent as may be our love of the beautiful; keen as may be our enjoyment of the consummate work of those who portray or depict it in its highest developments, whether with pen, or brush, or chisel, our pleasure in the contemplation and study of its most artistic manifestations cannot fail to be intensified and exalted by the consoling knowledge that the towering genius whose soul speaks to us from the past in the entrancing melody and commanding power of glowing words, or in the subduing fascination of breathing canvas, or in the potent spell of majestic marble, was animated, not alone by the dominating sense of the beautiful, but was imbued also with a reverential love of the good and true. From the authentic, extrinsic evidence of his life and the resistless intrinsic evidence of his imperishable works, of such lofty nature was, I verily believe, the soul of Edgar Allan Poe. And surely we can appreciate the better his exquisite poetry and read with increased admiration and delight his marvelous prose creations if, while our minds and souls are aglow with their beauty and power, we can truly picture their author as the unfortunate victim "Whom unmerciful disasterFollowed fast and followed faster," but all the while pure in heart and undeflled by the deadly pollution of immorality and vice. And so, too, on the other hand, if it be indeed true that the life of this man of transcendent powers was disfigured by deplorable lapses from the path of honor and virtue, which justice requires us to censure and condemn, may we not in our own hours of weakness and failure; of pitiable yieldings to temptation; of gloom and despondency, be stimulated to renewed and continuous struggle out of darkness into light by the knowledge that he, even in the immensity of his vastly superior gifts, was unable to stand where we fell? In the contemplation of his infirmities may we not find for ourselves hope and encouragement in our strivings after the kingdom of righteousness and peace? We should not then, as some have done, dissociate Edgar Allan Poe, the poet, from Edgar Allan Poe, the man, and whilst extolling the one with the highest encomiums, turn from the other with aversion or reproach. Rather should we study the poet and the man together and upon the gratifying results of this study rest his right to stand upon the pinnacle of glory where for all time the verdict of the civilized world has placed him. Knowledge, we are told, is like the mystic ladder in the patriarchs dream. Its base rests upon the .
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