The Complete Poetical Works of Edgar Allan Poe Including Essays on Poetry

By Edgar Allan Poe

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find that when her
husband died, after a few years of married life, the young widow had a
vain struggle to maintain herself and three little ones, William Henry,
Edgar, and Rosalie. Before her premature death, in December, 1811, the
poet's mother had been reduced to the dire necessity of living on the
charity of her neighbors.

Edgar, the second child of David and Elizabeth Poe, was born at Boston,
in the United States, on the 19th of January, 1809. Upon his mother's
death at Richmond, Virginia, Edgar was adopted by a wealthy Scotch
merchant, John Allan. Mr. Allan, who had married an American lady and
settled in Virginia, was childless. He therefore took naturally to the
brilliant and beautiful little boy, treated him as his son, and made him
take his own surname. Edgar Allan, as he was now styled, after some
elementary tuition in Richmond, was taken to England by his adopted
parents, and, in 1816, placed at the Manor House School,

Under the Rev. Dr. Bransby, the future poet spent a lustrum of his life
neither unprofitably nor, apparently, ungenially. Dr. Bransby, who is
himself so quaintly portrayed in Poe's tale of 'William Wilson',
described "Edgar Allan," by which name only he knew the lad, as "a quick
and clever boy," who "would have been a very good boy had he not been
spoilt by his parents," meaning, of course, the Allans. They "allowed
him an extravagant amount of pocket-money, which enabled him to get into
all manner of mischief. Still I liked the boy," added the tutor, "but,
poor fellow, his parents spoiled him."

Poe has described some aspects of his school days in his oft cited story
of 'William Wilson'. Probably there is the usual amount of poetic
exaggeration in these reminiscences, but they are almost the only record
we have of that portion of his career and, therefore, apart from their
literary merits, are on that account deeply interesting. The description
of the sleepy old London suburb, as it was in those days, is remarkably
accurate, but the revisions which the story of 'William Wilson' went
through before it reached its present perfect state caused many of the
author's details to deviate widely from their original correctness. His
schoolhouse in the earliest draft was truthfully described as an "old,
irregular, and cottage-built" dwelling, and so it remained until its
destruction a few years ago.

The 'soi-disant' William Wilson, referring to those bygone happy days
spent in the English academy, says,

"The teeming brain of childhood requires no external world of incident
to occupy or amuse it. The morning's awakening,

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Text Comparison with The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 1

Page 2
A brother and sister, the remaining children, were cared for by others.
Page 24
In the meantime the balloon arose like a lark, and, soaring far away above the city, at length drifted quietly behind a cloud similar to that from which it had so oddly emerged, and was thus lost forever to the wondering eyes of the good citizens of Rotterdam.
Page 27
This knowledge, and some of another kind, came afterwards in the course of an eventful five years, during which I have dropped the prejudices of my former humble situation in life, and forgotten the bellows-mender in far different occupations.
Page 30
I also secured in the car a pair of pigeons and a cat.
Page 47
In the meanwhile I could not help making anticipations.
Page 55
At length, while, stupefied and terror-stricken, I stood in expectation of I knew not what hideous destruction, the car vibrated with excessive violence, and a gigantic and flaming mass of some material which I could not distinguish, came with a voice of a thousand thunders, roaring and booming by the balloon.
Page 56
It was impossible that human nature could endure this state of intense suffering much longer.
Page 64
power of 42,000 times.
Page 86
I shall not pretend to describe the feelings with which I gazed.
Page 93
Again I placed it in the pan, and suffered it to remain another minute.
Page 107
' They have encored his effusion, and do you hear?--he is singing it over again.
Page 108
--_Sir Thomas Browne.
Page 119
was locked on the inside when the party reached it.
Page 146
Meantime, the excitement increased hourly.
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The bodies of fat and fleshy persons, with small bones, and of women generally, are lighter than those of the lean and large-boned, and of men; and the specific gravity of the water of a river is somewhat influenced by the presence of the tide from sea.
Page 164
'A piece,' it says, 'of one of the unfortunate girl's petticoats, two feet long, and one foot wide, was torn out and tied under her chin, and around the back of her head, probably to prevent screams.
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three or four large stones, forming a kind of seat with a back and footstool.
Page 176
But do they not rather demonstrate the absence of a gang? What struggle could have taken place--what struggle so violent and so enduring as to have left its 'traces' in all directions--between a weak and defenceless girl and the gang of ruffians imagined? The silent grasp of a few rough arms and all would have been over.