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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Took command of the Sicilian insurgents


Death of Poe]

[Sidenote: Posthumous poems]

[Sidenote: "The Conqueror Worm"]

The death of Edgar Allan Poe, the American poet, was as tragic as his life had been. After the death of his wife, Poe had engaged himself to marry a wealthy lady in Richmond, and the wedding day was fixed. On his way to New York to settle up affairs in anticipation of his marriage, Poe fell in with some of his companions in dissipation at Baltimore. He became drunk, wandered through the streets, and was finally taken to a hospital in an unconscious condition. Later he became delirious and finally expired, saying: "Lord, help my poor soul!" After Poe's death the simplest and sweetest of his ballads, "Annabel Lee," and the wonderful poem of "The Bells," were published. His former friend and editor, Griswold, published a scathing denunciation of the dead man in the New York "Tribune." Poe's fame as a master of the weird and fanciful in literature was already established wherever his thrilling tales and superb poem "The Raven" had penetrated. He was one of the few poets of America at that period who had succeeded in achieving an international reputation. The best of his poems were rendered in choice French by Baudelaire, while his short stories were translated into almost all European languages. As his biographer, Woodberry, has said: "On the roll of American literature Poe's name is inscribed with the

few foremost, and in the world at large his genius is established as valid among all men. Much as he derived nurture from other sources, he was the son of Coleridge by the weird touch in his imagination, by the principles of his analytic criticism, and the speculative bent of his mind." Most characteristic of Poe's genius perhaps are these lines from his famous poem "The Conqueror Worm":

Lo! 'tis a gala night Within the lonesome latter years! An angel throng, bewinged, bedight In veils, and drowned in tears, Sit in a theatre, to see A play of hopes and fears, While the orchestra breathes fitfully The music of the spheres.

* * * * *

That motley drama--oh, be sure It shall not be forgot! With its Phantom chased for evermore By a crowd that seize it not, Through a circle that ever returneth in To the self-same spot, And much of Madness, and more of Sin, And Horror the soul of the plot.

* * * * *

Out--out are the lights--out all! And over each quivering form The curtain, a funeral pall, Comes down with the rush of a storm, And the angels, all pallid and wan, Uprising, unveiling, affirm That the play is the tragedy "Man," And its hero the Conqueror Worm.

[Sidenote: Abortive Spanish rising]

[Sidenote: Italian republics]

[Sidenote: Situation in Sicily]

In Europe, the startling upheavals of the previous year were followed by an aftermath no less startling. Even in Spain, where a first attempt at revolution had easily been crushed at Madrid, Don Carlos deemed the time ripe to join Cabrera's revolutionary rising in Catalonia. On his way there he was arrested at the French frontier. Deprived of his support, Cabrera himself had to remove his forces to French soil. In Italy, the revolutionary movement spread. On February 7, Duke Leopold of Florence was driven out of Tuscany. A republican government was established at Florence under the triumvirate of Guerazzi, Montanelli and Manzoni. Taking refuge on a British man-of-war, the Duke of Tuscany fled to Gaeta to share the Pope's exile there. On the same day that the new republic was proclaimed at Florence a popular assembly at Rome formally deposed the Pope from temporal power and proclaimed the Republic of Rome. The armistice in Sicily was about to expire. King Ferdinand's final concessions to his rebellious subjects were repudiated. Lord Palmerston, who had vainly offered British mediation to Ferdinand, on the floor of Parliament openly defended the uncompromising attitude of the Sicilians. In preparation for the inevitable conflict, Filangieri gathered an army of 20,000 Neapolitans, while Mierolavsky, a Pole, took command of the Sicilian insurgents.

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