"I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge.  It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been a desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some impending doom."  (Letter from Poe to Sarah Whitman, 1848)

Edgar Allan Poe, the man who invented the written mystery. The man who authored the most read and quoted poem ever written, The Raven. A man who's beleaguered body  stopped working before his grand mind was able to run its course. At forty he died younger than any of his fellow scribes yet he left a far richer written legacy. We shall have him nevermore. Ah Eddie, we hardly knew Ye. . . .

 

History reveals this unusual, often distressed, tormented soul, at one time or another experienced every emotion known to man, save the feeling of being financially comfortable. Many wish they could  walk into one of Mr. Poe's haunts and tipple with this great scribe who's soul lives in his prose and poetry.  If you have not read the writings and history of this enigmatic gentleman, then you have deprived yourself of a great learning experience. If you could have been one of those to tipple with one of America's greatest minds, there is a good chance you would not have joined a morose depressed man but rather a cheerful spirit. Poe had manic depressive tendencies. It is fair to say that he had reason for his depressive bouts, including liquor itself, however history rarely records that Poe was a cheerful child and also so in his younger manhood. He was often a light hearted companion.

There are those who claim to have enjoyed drinking a while with Poe and none of the horrible things ascribed to him took place. This is more likely to have happened when Poe was in good spirits, could afford a few drinks and certainly dined.

It is the hard core dedicated swilling sans eating that sullied his reputation. His depressive argumentative bouts with his unofficial infidel stepfather John Allan, who seemed to resent his presence in the family and the death of Fanny Allan, his total love and true representative mother. His discovery of John Allan's infidelity to Fanny and the resulting offspring infuriated him and the pain of mental injury this knowledge caused to Fanny in effect ruined his life as he knew it, as a younger man.

Disinherited and banned from the Allan clan, left to live on the skills of his mental abilities sent Eddie into a search for a family environment and female love. His poverty decimated his past cheerfulness and life became serious and morose. Eddie had been surrounded by drinking in his early life. He served John Allan as a child toastmaster often when there were frivolities and drinking with guests in the Allan home. His articulation was seen as brilliant in such a young lad as he coaxed his elders to raise their glass.

 

Of course his reputation as a drinker comes in tandem with knowing his work. In search of his drinking preferences, we read he favored whiskey, however research shows the American Whiskey available in Baltimore in Poe's time was no more than unpalatable white lightening. Not a good choice for anyone except mountain folk and their downtrodden customers.  American Whiskey came unto its own after Poe's death. More likely the reference was to Irish Whiskey or other strong spirits. In Poe's time the term Whiskey could mean any strong drink.  Whether Eddie was a drinking guest or he drank at his own expense had everything to do with his choice, which certainly varied. He did not drink every day. He was continuously poor. 

  

He often drank ale. The lesser strength gave him longer staying power and it was affordable. Also perhaps ale had some food value. Poe seldom ate when drinking leaving him with tormented intestines. Alcohol is a depressant. Some say Poe drank because he was depressed, making a dog chasing his tail situation, which is not a new thing for problem drinkers. Poe had quite an active mind which was soothed by drink.  

  

Note in the rhyme that follows, how Poe found humor in his alcohol laced "hilarious"visions conjured up while meditating during his drinking leisure. He was actually laughing at himself and having a good time in his solace. He tells us he did not care how time slipped  by as he was happily "drinking ale today". Also note the message, "I will drain that glass again." Of course, and with Poe, again and again. What remarkable self revealing statements are found in this genus poem. It certainly reveals he found joy in drinking and thinking. Do not for a moment believe Poe's work was done while drinking.  Some writers will claim inspiration while drinking but truthful writers will tell you quality writing does not travel with quality drinking. The following quote from Poe seems to well set up his rhyme: 
           

"They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night."

  

Filled with mingled cream and amber;

I will drain that glass again;

Such hilarious visions clamber;

Through the chamber of my brain;

Quaintest thoughts, queerest fancies;

Come to life and fade away.

What care I how time advances?

 I am drinking ale today.*

~ Edgar Allan Poe

 

Eddie, as he was known to friends,  went as long as eighteen months without drinking. There is a letter where Poe claims to have gone several years, however this is in doubt. We do know He had no tolerance for alcohol but was drawn like a moth to a flame, looking for relief from his tormented thoughts. One drink set his eyes to glaze.  He would take to bed for a lengthy stay after a serious drinking bout.  The claim to alcoholism is not accurate by our definition.**  Many drinkers of many styles are often referred to as alcoholics and they are not. Nor was he a regular user of opiates. There are reports he enjoyed absinthe which was often the choice of artistic types during that period.  We believe he did not drink absinthe. One often quoted reference is,  "History In A Bottle' by Barnaby Conrad" and we hold that Poe indulged in absinthe in dispute. Poe's use of absinthe is a nonsense that has grown as a written rumor will often do, like so many other inaccurate sensational-isms about Poe that only serve the author, not history and certainly not the memory of Eddie Poe.  

References are sparse that touch upon Poe's personal drinking choices. We know he enjoyed Port Wine, champagne and  often laced his coffee with Jamaican Rum. He enjoyed the sweeter wines and used hard cider to temper his long spells of self induced abstinence. Mint Julep's he enjoyed but the sugar was as much of a physical problem for him as the Algol being hypoglycemic.

He never rejected a proffered drink, thus he was well acquainted with the spirits of his time and wrote about many, all of which he consumed. His reputation suffered due to drink, however much falling down gutter drunkenness ascribed to him is out of proportion. It is fair to say, he was often a compulsive binge drinker, once started he did not stop until he was either out of money or totally inebriated.  History is not kind to Eddie. He was genuine gentleman and intellect who had a genetic problem, not recognized as it is today. Ah Eddie, we hardly knew Ye. . . .  

      

The mystery surrounding Poe's death is still fresh today with speculation. Research reveals there is no evidence he was drunk or even under the influence while being treated, just prior to his death. It could be claimed that the pitiful condition in which he was found came about because of drink, as that was the time he was most vulnerable. He was found in tattered clothing that was not at all normal and certainly not his own. Poe was rather proud and like most, hated to be demeaned or seen in a poor light.  So it can be safely assumed his dress, when he was found, was not of his choice. This opens the door to speculation of outside influence. We must leave it at that, except to give more credit to the thought that Poe was put upon by scoundrels, rather than the thought that he died as a gutter bound drunk, as is often stated.  The next page will give you the clearest explanation we have found and we find it quite credible.  Ah Eddie . . . .

 

*"I am drinking ale today" This last line of Eddie's rhyme sends a strong message from his drinking personality. He is drinking ale today. This can mean it is an all day project or it can mean that tomorrow he may be drinking something else. Poe was the wordsmith king. He did not have to end the poem with "today", he could have used another time frame, but in his mind there was no other time frame. This was a project for the day. Not for now, not for evening tide, but for today.

 

**Was Eddie Poe an alcoholic? While he certainly fit the pattern to a casual observer, further investigation makes his situation seem far different than the typical alcoholic.  He called himself, "sensitive to spirits". Actually, he was a great deal more than just sensitive, he had zero tolerance from birth. We can liken him to the American Indian who inherited none of the drinking stability of the Europeans. The White Man, after introducing alcohol to these uninitiated souls, coined the phrase "Like a drunken Indian." Should we call all American Indians alcoholics because their bodies found alcohol to be an invading overwhelming spirit which left them out of control?  In the Indian ancestry the body had never coped with alcohol, thus it was a poison to the system. Alcoholic is a term not at all considerate of this type condition. 

Poe has said he only seeks out his friends when he drinks thus they only know him to drink, ergo they think he drinks constantly and so say, negating his stature. The point is he spent months without drink or those friends. He was not known to stash bottles or have tremors or lie, cheat or steal just to get a drink, or suffer many of the other marked maladies alcoholics often have. One thinly diluted drink set the tone for him to then drink well beyond most any capacity because his mind and body were chemically placed past the reach of his conscious control. He hated the fact he could not behave as others when drinking. Seldom was there stopping by for a drink with the boys, in Eddie's life.  He did not like drink nor did his system. Unfortunately it gave him solace during times of grief and despair, which times were too often visited upon his being. He was a man who wanted the fine things money brings. He belongs to the exclusively few who ever missed an appointment to see an aide to the President of The United States, due to drink. Picture a man who had the personal attributes which made him known to The President, however none of the attributes it took to gain money. A built-in formula for despair. Ah Eddie, we hardly knew Ye. . . .

Comments of Poe's eyes in 1849, the year of his death.

"Poe's eyes were his most striking feature, and it was to these that his face owed its peculiar at  faction. I have never seen other eyes at all resembling them. They were large with long jet-black lashes, dark steel-gray, possessing a crystalline clearness and transparency, through which the jet black pupil was seen to expand and contract with every shade of thought or emotion. I observed that the lids never contracted, as is so usual in most persons, especially when talking, but his gaze was ever full, open and unshrinking. His usual expression was dreamy and sad. He had a way of sometimes turning a slightly askance look upon some person who was not observing him, and, with a quiet , steady gaze, appear to be mentally taking the caliber of the unsuspecting subject. "What awful eyes Mr. Poe has" said a lady to me. It makes my blood run cold to see him slowly turn and fix  them on me when I am talking." 
 

* Text: Mrs SusanA. T. Weiss, "The Last Days of Edgar A, Poe, " Scribner's Magazine, March 1878.  ( Editor's note: When one uses intoxicants the eye pupils do not vary with emotion but stay pinpoint. An indication Poe was often seen socially without substances.)

Note Eddies Mother to the left. See the similarity of the forehead, eyes, nose, set of the mouth. She started performing at age nine. Talented in the arts and quite intelligent, she passed on these traits to Eddie. From the age of three death moved into Eddie's life. He would lose his next mother, his young wife and other loves to come. Death was all around with fever epidemics and lack of proper medicines. Traipse through the next very old cemetery and see how few buried there lived to age 20.  

Edgar Allan Poe was born January 19, 1809 in Boston, where his mother had been employed as an actress. Elizabeth Arnold Poe died in Richmond on December 8, 1811. This makes Eddie Poe one month short of being three years old. It cannot be ignored that a smart three year old will understand the impact of the death of his mother and that he and his siblings are three children without a Mum now.

The tiny family was on the charity of anyone who would help. There were benefit performances by her theater friends. Elisa Poe had been a star stage name since she was merely nine. She performed with the best and her name was well known among theater goers. Thus a group of ladies of charity attended Eliza and her children with morsels and treats. Poe's second Mother, Francis (Fannie), was one of the women of charity who became familiar with Eddie through helping the family. Herself barren, she persuaded John Allan to take Eddie into their home. The best education money could buy followed.

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This site was built with the student in mind. Reading of Poe also benefits the reader of the struggle our ancestors faced in just plain staying alive in the civilized history of man. The entertainment was moved from the campfires to the teller of tales to the written word and the theater and gatherings in private homes for the wealthy.

Bodies went unwashed, clothes uncleaned and personal body odor covered with perfumes. Germs filled the air, fleas and parasites were in great supply and mosquitoes did their thing, carrying epidemics. The printed word was the only serious media. People held onto prose and poetry as their form of entertainment and the educated used proper language as a tool to communicate fully.

The life we live today is deeply seeped in technology. There is little pride in vocabulary or proper decorum. The thing is, our technology today has been built upon the bricks of the past. The intent should be that our personal character is also built upon bricks of the past. History allows you to build a good foundation.

If you are a student you should stay with Eddie Poe for a while. Many millions of people have been born, lived their lives and died since the early 1800's. One bedeviled unfortunate human left a bread trail that has been followed for one hundred fifty years by millions..In effect Poe was an entertainer, struggling to leave morsels of his mind for the entertainment and edification of others. If you do not know of Eddie Poe, you have not been educated.

  

  

The Troubled Mind

You are three years old. You are standing at the foot of the bed looking at your dead mother. Your brother and best pal is gone. Your sister is gone. Ladies are walking around making over you and talking about you. It is overwhelming for a three year old mind. You feel lost, alone. Suddenly there are tears in your throat. Your chest aches. Your heart is turning to stone. The demons.

A nice smelling lady takes your hand and says, "Of course you are sad little one.  Go ahead and cry Eddie. We are all sad at losing your wonderful and talented mother." You cannot cry. This nice lady does not know about the demons. 

"Come with me child." She does not smell like Mum did, It is not such a sweet scent. Her hand is cold. You are in a nice carriage and she has tucked you under her arm. It feels good. You want to sleep now. The demons have left and your heart is no longer so heavy. You believe however, the demon left a tiny stone in your heart.

  

 

Poe's Death

The only accurate description of what happened to Eddie.

Eddie Poe's young reality.

 

It is a cold December 8, 1811. On January 19th you will be three years old. You are standing at the foot of the bed looking at your dead mother. She seems to be sleeping but you heard one of the ladies say she was dead. You have heard of dead and you don’t like it. It scares you. You do not understand but you know it is bad. Dead is where the demons live. A demon is the worst thing there is. A demon could eat you.

Your brother is not here. Your sister has been taken away and you are alone, all alone. You loved Mum and you can’t understand why she would go and die and leave you. Ladies are walking around talking about you to other ladies in whispers.  You are terribly afraid. Suddenly there are tears in your throat. Your chest aches. Your heart is turning to stone. It’s The demons. They are squeezing your heart. They are going to make you dead and eat you.

A nice smelling lady takes your hand and says, "Of course you are sad little one.  Go ahead and cry Eddie. We are all sad at losing your wonderful and talented mother." You cannot cry. This nice lady does not know about The Demons, but she took your hand just in time. She saved you.

"Come with me child." She does not smell like Mum did, it is not such a sweet scent. Her hand is cold. You are in a nice carriage and she has tucked you under her arm and covered you with a warm blanket. It feels good. You want to sleep now. The Demons have left and your heart is no longer so heavy. You believe however, a demon left a tiny stone as there is still a distant ache.

You are off to enjoy the benefits of a rich man’s life. Both you and your sister Rosalie were taken in by neighbors in a well-to-do section of town. Your memory of Mum will quickly fade from you but The Demons will come around still bringing death.

One day the open buggy trotted past a cemetery where you had learned the dead people live. The Demons caused you to have tremors and upset you for the rest of the day. Your mother Fanny could not understand what had happened to her young lad and marked it off to your being more sensitive than most children, but you know why you carry fear, it is The Demons. They will leave another stone in your heart when your brother dies and another when your sister dies. That makes three stones and more death is to come. They are waiting around taking their time, but they shall come for you too one day before you get old.

Your early years were all any child could wish for, but of course you did not realize that. Your mother, Fannie and her sister Nancy doted upon you to the point Pa would speak to them about making you a sissy. They bathed and freshly clothed you every day. Your food was the best of the times. Pa complained of not being fortunate to have a good education so he was determined to enable you to have the benefit of the education he missed.

Being Scottish and a merchant, he valued learning the ledger, mathematics, reading and the mastery of language. You never were formally adopted, but in the early years Pa called you “Son” and so treated you. He was on a mission to give you the best and wished the best for you. Will you disappoint him terribly? Well unfortunately you will. Did he teach you the wonders of drink and frivolity as a child? Yes he most certainly did. Did drink, gambling and frivolity bring you down in Pa’s eyes? Did Pa, being Scottish, not give you enough money to get through school? Well that was your excuse for gambling, anyway. Did your lavish lifestyle, as a boy, cause it to be impossible for you to hunker down with a tight budget?

Did the young life of having no responsibility except to make good at school, deter you from wanting employment of consequence? Sadly these problems brought about an unhappy split between yourself and Pa, who was no longer “Pa” but “Sir”. It seemed John Allan could take out his heart and put it in his pocket, only using it from time to time. After your disappointing actions while away getting the education promised, John Allan never took his heart out of his pocket for you again.

It was in your genes to be an entertainer or performer. You migrated toward becoming a wordsmith and soaked up the teachings from your tutors, one of which noted your natural bent for poetry when only five years old. Knowing how to speak and becoming an author was a form of entertainment. Again, entertainment was your birthright. You started well by being a Toastmaster for Pa at age five.

Against all odds you chose to become a poet, despite the fact that none of the great writers of your time could earn a living on their writing talent alone. You chose writing for a living, which was more difficult than your parents who chose acting for a living. While it was a noble desire it was a terrible choice for the times.

It was that choice which was the final break between Eddie and John Allan. Many think of John Allan as being an ogre and casting away Eddie, however there is another side to that thought. Eddie played a large hand in his future. John Allan could not stand the thought of all the fine educational exposures he had given Eddie. The finest tailored clothes, the finest schools, even when John was having a cash problem. Then having the boy turn out to be such an ingrate and cast it all away to become a poet was just more than the man could stomach.

 

Chapter 1

 

You are headed for all the benefits that could be bestowed upon you by a wealthy family. You shall travel across the sea to begin your education in Europe where the history of mankind is everywhere and civilization is at its peak.

John Allan, the man Eddie was to refer to as Pa, was a gregarious Scotsman who enjoyed giving parties and establishing himself in society. Being a Scotsman and merchant he watched his ledgers carefully, thus he was never extravagant with money; however he considered his social gatherings a good will promotion for his import and tobacco business.

He was a handsome sort and enjoyed charming the ladies. This led to other joys with the ladies. John and Fanny had been married seven years when Fanny discovered John had fathered an illegitimate boy, also a girl.  Thus she had no problem in getting John to go along with bringing Eddie into the family. It became obvious Fanny would remain barren. It also was during this period that he ceased to pay for the illegitimate son’s education. He had been discovered, thus he coldly ceased educational support. This coldness by John Allan about money would trouble Eddie in years to come. In the early years, Eddie benefited beyond his understanding of how fortunate he really was. These were the good times; however when you are raised with everything you could need and make no effort to earn these privileges you are not being prepared to sail alone.

“Ma, when are you and Aunt Nancy going to quit bathing me? I want to bathe myself.” “Well Eddie, I never thought of it, dear. Are you telling me you do not like to bathe?” “No I do not mother. When I have to stand up, it makes me feel like everyone is watching me naked. I dream about being naked and folks see me and laugh. I don’t feel right when Aunt Nancy washes me and it makes me feel funny.”

“Alright Eddie, from now on you can bathe yourself, but I will have to check behind your ears and you will have to promise me to use soap everywhere, on your hair and face; wash well under your arms and your behind and your privates, alright? When you wash your behind and your privates you must stand up to make sure the soap gets everywhere. For a while I will check you very carefully.” “Does Aunt Nancy have to see me naked?” No dear, not since it seems to bother you.”

“You know how much your father enjoys your being the toastmaster of his dinner parties. We both would be horrified if you were not clean.” “Yes Ma.”

Eddie was almost six and quite glib for a boy his age. John Allan was a people person. He and his stepmother Fanny loved to entertain. Accordingly Mr. Allan was quite proud to call upon his son Edgar for a toast.

Eddie was dressed perfectly. His glass of port held high, he bestowed the group with his talented verbosity. Eddie never failed to get applause after he drank and smacked his lips as if to appreciate the quality of the wine. He liked that glass of wine as it made him feel warm toward father’s friends, who fawned over him and occasionally gave him another glass. The second glass made Eddie drunk and while that was a source for humor for the guests, he tottered off to bed, feeling a bit unsettled and not at all well the next morning. Of course, no one thought a glass or two of wine would have any effect upon Eddie; however drink never suited Eddie’s physical being.

In early June, 1815, Eddie learned he would be sailing to London. “Ma, why do we have to go to London? I like it fine here.” “We all like it here dear, however your father intends to open an office in Europe and we will be there quite some time I’m afraid.” “You don’t want to go either, Ma?” “Well Eddie, Aunt Nancy and I like it here also; however it will be a wonderful opportunity for you to get a well rounded education and learn about other parts of the world. We both love you so very much and we take heart in the fact that this trip will be of great benefit to you. Of course we all need Father to prosper so we can continue to enjoy our present lifestyle. We are all fortunate your father is a good provider.”

 

“Pa, how long are we going to be on the boat?” “It is referred to as a ship, son. We will be under sail a month.” “That sounds like a long time Pa. I don’t think I like this trip. Ma doesn’t want to go and neither does Aunt Nancy.”

“Son, you and your mother and Nancy need to be thinking about seeing other parts of the world and enjoying the nice things my business earns for our family. I didn’t get the education I am seeing you get, yet I am proud of my accomplishments. This business is being built larger so we may have nice things, and this trip is necessary in order to keep earning money, Eddie. When you get older you will understand more about what one must do in order not to be poor, like so many folks we see. Well, I guess your life is a bit different. You hardly ever see the poor side of life.”

The ship, Lothair was a double deck passenger sailing ship built near Boston in 1810. She was built of white oak with pine sides. She had been making her scheduled trips for five years, half of her life expectancy.  John Allan was ready. He had arranged with his partner to sell one of the slaves and rent out the others. He had sold the family furniture and arranged for the family stores and luggage to be brought aboard.

The Allan family would board the pilot boat at the dock the following day. They would board June, 22nd 1815. The trip would last 36 days. They rode the pilot boat to the Lothair which took more than an hour. The pilot boat was rather small and the waters were choppy. The sea spray was quite abundant and one had to hold on to keep ones seating..

From this time on, Fanny would remain continuously ill. Her sister Nancy also was uncomfortable a good bit of the time. All of them, except John, were seasick for about three days. The Lothair was in choppy seas and intermittent  weather for half of the voyage. The passengers remained in their cabins often during the day and were anxious to arrive at Liverpool.

There would be a different life for the Allan family the next thirty-six days; living in a tiny cabin, unable to have fine food prepared and being waited upon by the house slaves as they had been used to for years. As was customary they had brought their own stores and would do their own food preparation, which was a problem right from the start.

Immediately after boarding John Allan sought out Captain Stone. “Captain Stone, I arranged passage on your ship with the express understanding there would be sufficient sleeping arrangements and cooking facilities. We only have three births while there are four of us. Additionally there is not as much as a place to boil a slice of bacon. Your steward must have given us the wrong cabin.”

“Sir you purchased quarters for three adults and there was no mention of cooking facilities. If you expected more you should have been more specific. We did not charge you for the child and accordingly we do not furnish separate sleeping quarters for those who pay no fare.” We can accommodate you with a way to cook, however we shall charge for that. As for additional sleeping, there is nothing I can do. There is only the cabin deck for sleeping I’m afraid.”

John was thoroughly irritated and marked Captain Stone down as extremely cheap. It must be noted however, that John Allan was also penurious and this is most likely why he did not get exactly what he wished. He loved Eddie enough however to see he got one of the three bunks while he himself took to the cabin deck for a bed. He stemmed his anger by writing the owners of the vessel complaining of sleeping on the cabin deck.

The Lothair was a bit over 300 tons. Therefore it was not as smooth a sail as  a heaver ship would be and a choppy sea was with them the entire journey. The two women were never so happy to see the shore. It was immediately to a hot bath as soon as possible, thinking they never would wash away the smell of being only partially clean. John however, seemed to enjoy the trip as did Edgar. Being young and well mannered he was a favorite of many of the passengers, which delighted John.

It was a terribly hot day in July when the Lothair docked at Liverpool.

 MyManJones@gmail.com

  

EDDIE'S DEATH >>>>

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

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We best understand Eddie Poe through this remarkable verse:

                "ALONE"

From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were — I have not seen
As others saw — I could not bring
My passions from a common spring —
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow — I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone —
And all I lov'd —
I lov'd alone —
Then — in my childhood — in the dawn
Of a most stormy life — was drawn
From ev'ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still —
From the torrent, or the fountain —
From the red cliff of the mountain —
From the sun that 'round me roll'd
 
In its autumn tint of gold —
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass'd me flying by —
From the thunder, and the storm —
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
 Of a demon in my view — 

  

Edgar Allan Poe

 
 

On this site we bring you the true reality of our Mr. Poe's world of drink. A space in history never before quite filled, except with curiosity.

At the bottom of this page you willl find a link to the actual scenario surrounding Eddie's death. There are several suppositions by writers trying to get a bit of fame. This is the one to believe....