Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Quote of the Day

"There have been actors behind the scenes in all this business, whom we may yet have to call before the footlights. When a man has robbed you he will kill you also if he can, for the reason that 'dead men tell no tales.'"
-Hiram Fuller, in the New York "Evening Mirror," July 8, 1847

Fuller, the editor of the newspaper Edgar Allan Poe had recently successfully sued for libel, made these oddly sinister remarks in regards to the aftermath of the lawsuit. I would certainly like to know what, exactly--and whom--he was talking about. And while I'm on the topic of Poe's libel suit--a topic about which we know surprisingly little--why is it that we are never told, in "all this business," what Poe supposedly forged? Thomas Dunn English, and Edward Thomas before him, repeated vague charges of "forgery" against him, but that is nonsense. You cannot make generic charges that someone is a "forger"--it only follows that you have to make some specific accusation that they forged something in particular. If such specific charges were made, they were not preserved in the existing historical record. A transcript of the libel trial would probably tell us this information...but no such transcript is known to have survived.

That transcript is just one of the many, many, vital puzzle pieces that are missing from the giant strange jigsaw known as Poe biography.

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