It is always tempting to peep behind the scenes of a poet's workshop. Such a peep is afforded us in recollections of Poe by Mrs. Susan Archer Weiss, one of the few surviving friends of the author of what is regarded by many as the greatest American poem. To his biographer, it is true, Poe is not clothed in a mantle of mystery and romance; she has seen him in his frolicsome moods; she has also seen him in the sordid embarrassments of poverty and of drink. It takes a poet's eye and intellectual subtlety"To trace under the common thing the hidden grace,"and the lady whose chief distinction it is to have been on intimate terms with Poe is neither poetic nor subtle. She tells us that Poe's child-bride, the lovely Virginia Clemm, was not the delicate creature we have fancied, but a plump little girl, with the undeveloped mind of a child who had never read half his poems. And "The Raven," perhaps the New World's most celebrated single contribution to literature, is marred in her mind by imperfections because its author, in a hypercritical moment, revealed its "knotty points" to her and asked her advice in the matter.
ere baptized as Edgar Allan and Rosalie Mackenzie, their ages were also recorded, though whether in church or family records is not known; and it is not likely that Mrs. Byrd, who was brought up with Rosalie Poe, could be mistaken on this point.
Were Woodbury correct in assuming that William Henry, the eldest child, "may have been born" in October, 1807, and Edgar, January 19, 1809, it would follow that the latter, when taken charge of by the Allans in December, 1811, was less than two years old; an impossibility, considering that his sister was then over one year old and running about playing with other children. As to Mr. Poe's claim to October 12 as his birthday, it is not likely that, howsoever often he may have given a false date to others, he would have ventured upon it to the daughter of Mrs. Mackenzie, the latter of whom would have detected the error.
It must be accepted as a final conclusion that, as Mrs. Byrd states, Edgar was born in 1808 and Rosalie in 1810. Her positive