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Bells, Bells, Bells, Bells, Bells, Bells, Bells JEFFREY A. SAVOYE I n his definitive edition of Poe’s poetry, Thomas Ollive Mabbott states that Annie Richmond did not have a manuscript of “The Bells.” Listing and describing the various known texts for the poem, Mabbott suggests that “a reference by Phillips, II, 1295, to a manuscript of ‘The Bells’ in Annie ’s family . . . probably represents confusion of memory” [CW, 1:431 n. 7]. Mabbott subsequently identifies a manuscript in the Pierpont Morgan Library, previously printed in facsimile by J. H. Ingram, as being the manuscript sold to John Sartain for publication in Sartain’s Union Magazine, where it appeared in the issue for November 1849. (Mabbott labels this manuscript version E of the copy-text.) There are, however, problems with Mabbott’s presumed chain of provenance. To begin with, a fuller examination of the surviving documentation strongly indicates that Mrs. Richmond did indeed own a manuscript of “The Bells.” Ingram wrote to Mrs. Sarah Helen Whitman on 14 February 1877, “I have heard several times lately from Mrs. Richmond . . . & the MS. of ‘The Bells,’ which he [W. F. Gill] announced himself owner of, was only borrowed from Mrs. R.” [see Poe’s Helen Remembers, ed. John Carl Miller (Charlottesville: Univ. Press of Virginia, 1979), 474]. In his first edition of The Life of Edgar Allan Poe, William Fearing Gill presented a facsimile of one manuscript page and asserted, “The original MSS. of ‘The Bells,’ in its enlarged form, from which the draft sent to ‘Sartain’s’ was made, is in our possession at this time” [(New York: D. Appleton, 1877), 207]. Note that Gill describes the manuscript as the one “from which the draft sent to ‘Sartain’s’ was made” rather than the draft itself. Whether Gill intended to imply ownership or merely temporary possession of the manuscript among the materials then being used to prepare his book is a matter of interpretation. Mrs. Richmond explained how Gill came to borrow the manuscript in a letter to Ingram of 31 January 1877: “You have several times mentioned Mr. Gill . . . . At the time he went to Baltimore to attend the Memorial services, he borrowed my manuscript of ‘The Bells,’ which he said he wished to have that he might read the poem with more effect! Since then I have heard (though not from him) that he was preparing a Memoir that would come out this spring—he very likely has a photographic copy of my manuscript, taken while it was in his possession, but I certainly have the C  2012 Washington State University 108 P O E S T U D I E S , VOL. 45, 2012 B E L L S , B E L L S , B E L L S one written by Mr. Poe, which he gave me before it had appeared in print” [see John Carl Miller, Building Poe Biography [Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1977), 161]. On 8 January 1878 and 5 February 1878 [Miller, Building Poe Biography, 182–84], Mrs. Richmond wrote to Ingram that she was having manuscripts photographed for him, specifically naming them as “The Bells” and “[A] Dream within a Dream.” (These manuscripts were mailed to photographer N. C. Sanborn, in Lowell, Massachusetts, and were briefly lost but ultimately found among the “dead letters.”) Ingram reproduced these manuscripts, respectively, in the Bookman (London, January 1909) and the Bibliophile (London, May 1909). Although Mabbott cites Ingram’s Bibliophile article, he apparently misread it. Discussing “The Bells,” Ingram says, “Various changes had been made in the penultimate draft of the poem, and Poe having preserved a copy of the piece as revised, which copy eventually passed into our hands, these alterations are available for inspection” [“Variations in Edgar Poe’s Poetry,” Bibliophile 3 (May 1909): 130]. Ingram, much like Gill, is clearly describing a “copy of the piece” that was “preserved” by Poe, and not the actual draft sent to Sartain. This accumulation of evidence should conclusively establish the fact that Miss Phillips, at least in this matter, was correct and Mabbott is in error. Mrs. Richmond did own a draft manuscript of “The Bells”; this manuscript is the one now in the Morgan...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1754-6095
Print ISSN
1947-4644
Pages
pp. 108-109
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-09
Open Access
No
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