Text: Phillip P. Cooke to Edgar Allan Poe — August 4, 1846


My Dear Sir, — Your letter of Apr. 16th is to this day unanswered! I have however the excuse to make that I have been a good deal away from home, and whilst at home greatly drawn off from literature and its adjuncts by business, social interruptions, &c, This much of explanation, no doubt, will satisfy one so well assured as you must be of my regard & admiration.

You propose that I shall take up your memoir where Lowell drops it, and carry it on to the present date of your publications. I will do so, if my long delay has not thrown the work into the hands of some other friend, with entire pleasure. I, however, have not Graham’s Mag. for February 1845, and if you still wish me to continue the memoir you must send that number to me. I some months ago procured your Tales & Poems, and have read them collectively with great pleasure. That is a wonderful poem ending

“Hell rising from a thousand thrones Shall do it reverence.”

“Lenore,” too, is a great poem. The closing stanza of “To one in Paradise” (I remember it as published in “The Visionary “) is the perfection of melody. “The Raven “ is your best poem.

John Kennedy, talking with me about your stories, old & recent, said, “the man’s imagination is as truth-like and minutely accurate as De Foe’s” — and went on to talk of your “Descent into the Maelstrom,” “MS. found in a Bottle,” “Gold Bug,” &c. I think this last the most ingenious thing I ever read. Those stories of criminal detection, “Murders of the Rue Morgue,” &c., a prosecuting attorney in the neighborhood here declares are miraculous. I think your French friend, for the most part, fine in his deductions from over-laid & unnoticed small facts, but sometimes too minute & hair-splitting. The stories are certainly as interesting as any ever written. The “Valdemar Case “ I read in a number of your Broadway Journal last winter — as I lay in a Turkey blind, muffled to the eyes in overcoats, &c., and pronounce it without hesitation the most damnable, vraisemblable, horrible, hair-lifting, shocking, ingenious chapter of fiction that any brain ever conceived, or hands traced. That gelatinous, viscous sound of man’s voice! there never was such an idea before. That story scared me in broad day, armed with a double-barrel Tryon Turkey gun. What would it have done at midnight in some old ghostly countryhouse?

I have always found some one remarkable thing in your stories to haunt me long after reading them. The teeth in Berenice -the changing eyes of Morella — that red & glaring crack in the House of Usher — the pores of the deck in the MS. found in a Bottle — the visible drops falling into the goblet in Ligeia, &c. &c. — there is always something of this sort to stick by the mind — by mine at least.

My wife is about to enter the carriage and as I wish to send this to the P.O. by her, I must wind up rapidly. I am now after an interval of months again at work in the preparation of my poems for publication. I am dragging, but perhaps the mood will presently come. I bespeak a review of my Book at your hands when I get it out. I have not time now to copy Rosalie Lee. It is in Griswold’s last edition. I am grateful to you for the literary prop you afford me; and trust to do something to justify your commendations. I talked recently with a little Lady who has heard a lecture of yours in which you praise my poetry — in New York. She had taken up the notion that I was a great poetic roaring Lion. Do with my MS. as you choose. What do you design as to the Stylus? Write to me without delay, if you can rob yourself of so much time.

[[Signature missing.]]
[[Philip Pendleton Cooke.]]  

E. A. Poe, Esq.

Millwood, Clarke Co. Va. Aug. 4th, 1846.





[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Misc - Letters - P. P. Cooke to Poe (RCL653)