Lucy Holmes Balderston Album, 1826-1848, MS 1796

Lucy Holmes Balderston Album, 1826-1848, MS 1796 Maryland Historical Society


Collection Summary

Title                                          Lucy Holmes Balderston Album


Creator                                      Lucy Holmes Balderston


Call Number                                MS.1796


Span Dates                               1828-1848


Extent                                       The Album is a book, 8 x 5 inches, in full leather, containing 258 pages.


Abstract                                   Contains 258 pages, including 76 poems and drawings, mostly by Baltimore friends of Lucy Holmes, contributed 1826-1848. A poem on p.55, headed, `Original' (but later known under the title `Alone') is in the hand of Edgar Allan Poe, as is another untitled poem of three stanzas on p.51, by W.H. Poe - copied at his request by E.A. Poe - . Both are believed to have been written c. 1829.


Administrative summary

Repository                                H. Furlong Baldwin Library

                                                Maryland Historical Society

                                                201 W. Monument Street

                                                Baltimore, Maryland 21218




Access restrictions                    Access to this collection is restricted to microfilm.


Use restrictions                         Permission to quote from this collection must be received in writing from the Special Collections Librarian.


Provenance                              The Lucy Holmes Balderston Album was donated by Emma D. (Mrs. E.H.) Welbourn, of Catonsville, Maryland, in December 1969. The Album is a book, 8 x 5 inches, in full leather, containing 258 pages. Apart from Edgar Allan Poe, all contributors are comparatively obscure. On the strength of the two pages in the hand of Poe, Mr. Benjamin Swann, of Swann Galleries, Inc., New York, appraised the album for the sum of $9,000. All property rights belong to the Maryland Historical Society.


Accession number                    62692


Processing note                       


Biographical Note

Lucy Holmes (? - 1881), daughter of Dr. Oliver Holmes, of Baltimore kept an autograph album covering the years 1826-1848. On May 4, 1830, she married Isaiah Balderston (1806-1883), later Chief Judge of the Orphans Court in Baltimore. Isaiah Balderston was a contributor to the album.


Two pages in the hand of Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) are the only significant items in the Album.


The untitled three-stanza piece in the hand of E. A. Poe was written by William Henry Poe (1807-1831), brother of E. A. Poe.


Mrs. E. H. Welbourn, the donor of the Album is the granddaughter of Balderstons.


Scope and Content

The following pages are taken from an article by I.B. Cauthen, Jr., and from Thomas Ollive Mabbot's comments in his work on Poe, amply describe the Lucy Holmes Balderston's Album.


Of the 258 pages, some of which are unused, only two are of importance. There are 76 poems and drawings, mostly by Baltimore friends of Lucy Holmes, contributed 1826-1848. A poem on p.55, headed, `Original' (but later known under the title `Alone') is in the hand of Edgar Allan Poe, as is another untitled poem of three stanzas on p.51, by W.H. Poe - copied at his request by E.A. Poe - . Both are believed to have been written c. 1829.


Because of its fragile state, the two pages have been Xeroxed, and they are in an envelope labeled, Ms. 1796. The album has been placed in the Rare Book Room, with call # MP 3. P743 A. 1829.



The lines entitled “Alone”, first published in 1875, twenty-six years after Poe's death, have been generally accepted by his editors as an early Poe poem.


The following editors accept these lines as genuine: Richard Henry Stoddard, The Works of Edgar Allan Poe (Amontillado Edition, 1884), I, 35, 430; Edmund Clarence Stedman and George Edward Woodberry, The Works of Edgar Allan Poe (1895), X, 138, 237; R. Brimley Johnson, The Complete Poetical Works of Edgar Allan Poe (1909), 143; J. H. Whitty, The Complete Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (1911), 135, 283; Thomas Ollive Mabbott, Selected Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (1928), 93. For the comments of James A. Harrison, see The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (1902), VII, 227, and XVI, 378. Killis Campbell, in The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (1917), 299, places it under Poems Attributed to Poe, but he adds in a note that the poem is clearly in Poe's early manner. The poem is not included in Arthur Hobson Quinn and Edward H. O'Neill, The Complete Poems and Stories of Edgar Allan Poe (1946).


Various details concerning the background of this poem and bearing on its attribution to Poe have not previously been known, for the correspondence of John Ingram, the English biographer of Poe, seems never to have been examined for the light it throws on the poem.


The Ingram correspondence, purchased after the removal of some of its more valuable letters, is now in the manuscript holdings of the Alderman Library of the University of Virginia. The letters cited in this paper are from that collection.


In addition to discussing the prepublication background of “Alone” and the source from which the poem is derived, this paper will present information concerning the manuscript of the poem which only recently has been definitely located.


The poem was first published in Scribner's Magazine for September, 1875, with a prefatory note by Eugene L. Didier, who claimed to have found the poem in the album of a lady of distinguished social position.


Scribner's Magazine, X (September, 1875), 608.

The poem is reproduced in what Didier calls fac-simile, but very likely it is a reproduction either by wood-cut or zinc-plate; this is different in several ways from modern


Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe; ed. by T.O. Mabbott.

Vol. 1, 145-147, 518-519.


This remarkably fine poem was written without title, but marked Original and signed E.A. Poe, in the album of Lucy Holmes, who later became the wife of Judge Isaiah Balderston of Baltimore. In the album is another poem, I have gazed on woman's cheek, By W. H. Poe - copied at his request by E. A. Poe. Edgar Poe's striking verses have been in print since 1875, but the manuscript was first thoroughly discussed by Irby Bruce Cauthen, Jr. (Studies in Bibliography, Charlottesville, 1950-51, III, 284-291), who examined the album. It is now in the possession of the first owner's granddaughter, Mrs. Emma D. Welbourn of Catonsville, Maryland. The manuscript is holographic and the doubts expressed about it in the past are to be firmly dismissed.


The doubts arose because of the way the poem was given to the world by Eugene L. Didier. He found the piece in the album owned by Mrs. Dawson, daughter of Lucy Holmes Balderston, and arranged to publish the poem in Scribner's Monthly for September 1875. There he gave a facsimile made from a photograph which he retouched by adding a title - and a conjectural date line, Baltimore, March 17, 1829. J. H. Ingram denounced it as a bold forgery. Pique perhaps played a part in this, but we must remember that Ingram was wholly unfamiliar with Poe's early handwriting. Readers interested in the defunct controversy can find a great deal about Ingram's doubts in the Ingram List, and even in Killis Campbell, The Mind of Poe and Other Studies (1933), p. 204.


The metrical structure of the verses, with the many run-on lines, is one of Poe's earliest bold experiments and a most successful one.


Cauthen sees the influence of Byron's Manfred, II, ii, 50-56:


From my youth upwards

My Spirit walked not with the souls of men,

Nor looked upon the earth with human eyes;

The thirst of their ambition was not mine,

The aim of their existence was not mine;

My joys - my griefs - my passions - and my powers,

Made me a stranger.


There is also a pertinent passage in The Prisoner of Chillon, X, 44-49:


This copy, in a handwriting which is probably 19th century and female, upon watermarked paper which appears to be 19th century, was found by Miss Grace Turnbull in her library, September 1969. The sheet was folded between the pages of an edition of Poe's works which she describes as rather old. From the documentary evidence available it seems probable that this copy was made by a lady of the Turnbull family, from the album owned by Mrs. Lucy Holmes Balderston of Baltimore. The copyist misspelled Poe's name. Album and poem are described and commented on by K. Campbell and Didier.


There are four variations from the text printed in Killis Campbell's edition of Poe's poems (p.138). ms. Campbell


Line 2   are were

Line 9   then is italicized


Line 18             flashing flying


Line 20             which that


Our manuscript copy is untitled. The poem has been variously titled “Alone” and “From Childhood's Hour.”


Information issued by Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore Feb. 1970. 10-2-70


Processed by: P.W. Filby

Date: February 1970.