Text: George E. Woodberry, “Chapter 11,” The Life of Edgar Allan Poe: Personal and Literary (1909), vol. II, pp. 186-212


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­[page 186:]

Chapter XI

THE LITERATI

“THE LITERATI” was a series of papers, not called forth by current books, but a sort of “Autography” expanded, and probably, with the preceding critical papers, made up all Poe had yet written of his projected work on current American literature. It began to appear in May and continued through six numbers; it dealt with thirty-eight authors resident in New York, and Poe professed to give in the main not merely his own opinion of them, but that of literary society as expressed in private. The sketches themselves are distinctly the work of a magazinist, both in conception and execution; in fact, they are simply somewhat hurriedly recorded impressions of literary people and their works, interspersed, according to Poe’s inveterate habit, with extracts from, or paraphrases of, his old book reviews since the time of the “Messenger.” Being written with taking frankness, and in that spirit of oblivious indifference to what the ­[page 187:] world would say which had won a hearing for Poe’s criticism, the series was the literary hit of the season. Few of these characterizations (they include personal as well as literary qualities) are in any way humiliating to their subjects. None, it is true, not even that of Mrs. Osgood, is unreservedly laudatory; but if limitations of capacity are marked out sharply and freely, praise is, as a rule, generously given within the bounds. Against Lewis Gaylord Clark of “The Knickerbocker” Poe had an old grudge, and just at this time Briggs had succeeded to Fay and Griswold as the peculiar object of his spleen; but with these exceptions, although some of the nobodies might have been nettled at the cavalier manner in which their merits were circumscribed or themselves patronized, there were very few with any just cause for complaint, since Poe was not so much the prince of critics as to anticipate exactly the judgment of posterity by ignoring them. In respect to the more important ones, Willis, Halleck, and Margaret Fuller, his decisions were final and have been sustained. There was a good deal of discussion, however, among the disturbed mediocrities; Godey was implored by the honey-tongued and browbeaten by the loud mouthed, but he refused to be intimidated by ­[page 188:] either method, as he assured the public in a card; and, in particular, Thomas Dunn English was roused to open combat.

English, whom Poe facetiously called Thomas Dunn Brown,” was a doctor, lawyer, novelist, editor, and poet of twenty-seven years of age, and lived to be a representative to Congress in old age; Poe, despite his foolish disclaimer of personal acquaintance, had known him well in Philadelphia, and had associated with him in New York, now that both had come to that city. English had aided the last number of the “Journal,” when Poe left it. No mortal ever held a pen who would not resent such an article as was Poe’s in this instance, — a sort of grotesque in criticism. English secured forthwith the columns of the “Daily Telegraph,” from a friend, and poured out on Poe, at once, a flood of words. He reviewed his association with Poe from his Philadelphia days, and especially during the week already sufficiently described above by Chivers, the period of the Boston poem, and that of the imbroglio over the Osgood-Ellet letters, and described the personal encounter in which Poe’s last visit to him, relating to the last episode, ended on his refusal, as he later declared, to represent Poe in ­[page 189:] dealing with Lummis, Mrs. Ellet’s brother-in-law. He added, and this was the gravamen of the matter, a specific accusation of obtaining money from himself under false pretenses and a tale of forgery, — namely, that a respectable merchant of the city had circulated a story of that nature with regard to Poe, and that Poe, after demanding an explanation and receiving little, had abandoned the legal proceedings which English, who had been his intermediary with both the merchant and the lawyers, had suggested. Poe wrote a reply dated some days later, in which he exercised his powers of recrimination at a length and with an effect that makes one think of the lion and the jackal. He does not deny anything in respect to his own failings, and the passage in which he acknowledges them is the clearest statement he ever made publicly with regard to them: —

“The errors and frailties which I deplore, it cannot at least be asserted that I have been the coward to deny. Never, even, have I made attempt at extenuating a weakness which is (or, by the blessing of God, was) a calamity, although those who did not know me intimately had little reason to regard it otherwise than as a crime. For, indeed, had my pride, or that of my family ­[page 190:] permitted, there was much — very much — there was everything — to be offered in extenuation. Perhaps, even, there was an epoch at which it might not have been wrong in me to hint — what by the testimony of Dr. Francis and other medical men I might have demonstrated, had the public, indeed, cared for the demonstration — that the irregularities so profoundly lamented were the effect of a terrible evil rather than its cause. — And now let me thank God that in redemption from the physical ill I have forever got rid of the moral.”

He was in a sense precluded from any detailed denial of incidents or words that occurred when he was intoxicated, as in severe attacks he had no memory of them. On the occasion when he visited English in his office and the personal encounter took place, in which both claimed the victory, he was apparently suffering from such an attack, accompanied, as on other occasions, by fear; he was in an irresponsible state, and the brother of Mrs. Ellet was then an object of apprehension to him. This is the natural explanation of what is now known of the entire affair. On recovering himself he “did not remember,” as his friends were accustomed to say of his excesses, and the incident with English was ­[page 191:] recent and notorious. He could not deny; and he confined his defense to an explanation of the tale of forgery, and printed a letter, dated July 5, 1845, in which the merchant withdrew the charge as having been due to some misunderstanding of the words of his informant, who denied having uttered it or having any knowledge about it. In consequence of this retraction Poe had given up his idea of a suit-at-law. Had he not himself indulged in intemperate personal abuse of English, there would have been nothing to mar his rejoinder. He submitted the reply to Duyckinck and asked him to show it also to the latter’s partner, Cornelius Mathews, in a letter, June 29,(1) and sent it to Godey, who published it in the “Philadelphia Spirit of the Times,” July 10, at a cost of ten dollars. Poe wrote to Godey with regard to it a few days later: —

NEW YORK, July 16, 1846.

MY DEAR SIR, — I regret that you published my “Reply” in “The Times.” I should have found no difficulty in getting it printed here in a respectable paper and gratis. However, as I have the game in my own hands, I shall not stop to complain about trifles. ­[page 192:]

I am rather ashamed that, knowing me to be as poor as I am, you should have thought it advisable to make the demand on me of the $10. I confess that I thought better of you but — let it go it — is the way of the world.

The man or men who told you that there was anything wrong in the tone of my “Reply” were either my enemies, or your enemies, or asses. When you see them, tell them so from me. I have never written an article upon which I more confidently depend for literary reputation than that “Reply.” Its merit lay in being precisely adapted to its purpose. In this city I have had upon it the favorable judgments of the best men. All the error about it was yours. You should have done as I requested — published it in the “Book.” It is of no use to conceive a plan if you have to depend upon another for its execution.

Please distribute twenty or thirty copies of the “Reply” in Philadelphia, and send me the balance through Harnden.

What paper, or papers, have copied E.’s at tack?

I have put this matter in the hands of a competent attorney, and you shall see the result. Your charge, $10, will of course be brought ­[page 193:] before the court as an item when I speak of damages. In perfect good feeling, yours truly,

POE.(1)

It would be as well to address your letters to West Farms. Please put “Miss Lynch” in the next number. I enclose the “Reveillé” article. I presume that, ere this, you have seen the highly flattering notices of the “Picayune,” and the “Charleston Courier.”

Poe also brought suit against the “Mirror,” which copied the libel; no witnesses appearing, he was adjudged damages, February 17, 1847, in the sum of $225, with costs to the defendant.

Notwithstanding wrath, Poe’s “Literati” was not a prose Dunciad; and the impression that his criticism in general was an anathema on American mediocrity is an entirely false one. Not infrequently, indeed, he exposed some fool’s folly with the raillery and zest of a boy’s untroubled enjoyment in the low comedy of the situation; now and then, in a more bitter mood, he could with deliberate leisure pull some insect of the hour to pieces, or impale a Bavius or two upon the highway. He looked on himself as a ­[page 194:] public executioner, and was proud of the office. On the whole, however, his commendation equaled, if it did not exceed, his condemnation, and more than one of those whom he extolled to the skies has long since sunk back to the dust. The peculiarity of his position was, not that he was an unjust judge, but that he was the only judge; not that his censures were undeserved, but that he seemed to pronounce a sentence without fear or favor. He thus drew about him self a swarm of enemies; and as his life offered only too fair an opportunity they used their ad vantage to take revenge in scandal, as did English, but in secret. In these critical decisions of Poe’s, speaking generally, he was not habitually actuated by any unworthy motive, any personal consideration of friendliness or enmity, or any hope of gain or fear of loss. Now and then, as in the case of Griswold, he was stung into telling truth when he might otherwise have held his peace; or he apologized, as to Mathews, for the violence of some earlier critique, or lowered the key of his laudation when friendship ceased, as with Lowell. Worldly motives swayed his mind, now more, now less; personal feelings entered into his verdicts; but his claim to impartiality, sincerity, and integrity seems to be generally ­[page 195:] sustained, or to be invalidated by the praise he gave to his feminine friends rather than by the contempt he poured out on his masculine foes.

It is thought in some quarters that Poe’s criticism, in general, and particularly its destructive portions, was very valuable. It is even said that he raised the level of our current literature. The race of chameleon poets, however, is not yet ex tinct, and they feed on the green trees of Tenny son, Browning, and Swinburne as once on those of Moore, Mrs. Hemans, and Keats. Reputations are still made by the coteries of a publisher’s anteroom and sustained by mendacious advertising. The motives that influence the editorial judgments of the press have changed but little in two generations. If, as is true, mediocrities of our time are more clever in their imitation and more painstaking in their drudgery, this is rather to be ascribed to the general rise of the standard of literary excellence, due to the intellectual movement of the age, than to the influence of a single free lance like Poe. The good that criticism can do to the producers of literature is trifling; its work is to improve the popular taste, and to make the best that is written widely known and easily apprehensible; to authors it is, for many reasons, well-nigh useless. ­[page 196:]

Destructive criticism of imaginative work, especially, is ordinarily futile, and in Poe’s case no exception need be made. The good he did was infinitesimal; it would have been far better to leave such work to the scythe of Time.

Of the excellence of Poe’s criticism in itself, however, there can be no question. He was the disciple of Coleridge; and, being gifted with something of Coleridge’s analytic powers, he applied the principles he thus derived with skill and effect. No one, too, could subject himself to so long a self-training, and become so perfect in his own subtle art, without developing a refined taste of the highest value in criticism. The test of his ability as a critic, the severest test to which a man can be put, is the quickness and certainty of his recognition of unknown genius. In this Poe succeeded; the rank he gave to the American poets, young and old (and in the case of the best of them he had only their earliest work to judge by), is the rank sustained by the issue, and his success in dealing with the English reputations of the future was not less marked. To Tennyson, Dickens, and Longfellow he brought early applause; Mrs. Browning, Lowell, and Hawthorne were foreknown by him when their names were still in doubt. It is no diminunition ­[page 197:] of his just praise that he so far shared in human weakness as to obey an obscure jealousy, notably in Longfellow’s case; or to be misled by a prejudice, as with Emerson or any other transcendentalist; or to hail many a poetaster, particularly in petticoats, as of Apollo’s band. He was as extreme in eulogy as in denunciation; and, especially in the case of Southern writers, he sometimes indulged in so laudatory a strain as to be guilty of absurdity. His decisions in more than one instance, like those on Moore, and in a less degree on Dickens, were merely contemporary; and in other cases, like that of Home’s “Orion,” were esoteric and whimsical. His silence, too, regarding the great men of the past, such as Shakespeare, and the unanimous report of his violent depreciation of them in conversation, must count in settling his own virtues as a critic. He was, it is easy to see now, prejudiced here and partial there; foolish, or interested, or wrong-headed; carping, or flattering, or contemptuous. Yet he was the first of his time to mark the limitations of the pioneer writers, such as Irving, Bryant, and Cooper, and to foresee the future of the younger men who have been mentioned; he was, too, though he originated no criterion, the first to take criticism ­[page 198:] from mere advertising, puffery, and friendship, and submit it to the laws of literary art. This was much to do, and in his lifetime, whatever were his deficiencies, was regarded as his great distinction; it was the more honorable because of the offense that was now and then bound to be given, even if Poe had been the wisest and kindest of men instead of the reckless, erratic, and unscholarly judge he was. For, to come to the rationale of the matter, it was by no means learning, in which he was a charlatan, nor in born sense, nor intellectual honesty, nor moral insight, nor power of imaginative sympathy, that gave his criticism value, in all these he was deficient; but it was merely the knowledge v of the qualities and methods of artistic effect, which came to him in the development of his own genius under the controlling influence of Coleridge’s reason and imagination. His criticism is thus largely a series of illustrations of literary art as he himself practiced it.

These particular articles upon his contemporaries in the same city, however, did him no ser vice and were ill-advised. They were vulnerable on both sides, both in friendship and in enmity. The censorious spirit had grown upon him, and his reluctance to admit excellencies in any but ­[page 199:] the mediocre, with a few exceptions, was marked. The papers showed in many places an unamiable character, and fell in only too readily with his depreciation of Longfellow and others to make for him a reputation for ill-nature. In fact, personal feeling entered into his critical writing, in the later time, to a degree that makes it a part of the autobiography of the man. The inexpediency of these articles, however, was pointed out to him, and other advice given, by William Gilmore Simms, in a letter, July 30, 1846, which again illustrates the attitude of the literary men of his country toward him:

NEW YORK, July 30, 1846.

DEAR SIR, — I received your note a week ago, and proceeded at once to answer it, but being in daily expectation of a newspaper from the South, to which, in a letter, I had communicated a paragraph concerning the matter which you had suggested in a previous letter, I determined to wait until I could enclose it to you. It has been delayed somewhat longer than I had anticipated, and has in part caused my delay to answer you. I now send it you, and trust that it will answer the desired purpose; though I must frankly say that I scarcely see the necessity of noticing the ­[page 200:] sort of scandal to which you refer. I note with regret the very desponding character of your last letter. I surely need not tell you how deeply and sincerely I deplore the misfortunes which attend you — the more so as I see no process for your relief and extrication, but such as must result from your own decision and resolve. No friend can well help you in the struggle which is before you. Money, no doubt, can be procured; but this is not altogether what you require. Sympathy may soothe the hurts of self-esteem, and make a man temporarily forgetful of his assail ants; but in what degree will this avail, and for how long, in the protracted warfare of twenty or thirty years? You are still a very young man, and one too largely and too variously endowed not to entertain the conviction as your friends entertain it — of a long and manful struggle with, and a final victory over, fortune. But this warfare the world requires you to carry on with your own unassisted powers. It is only in your manly resolution to use these powers after a legitimate fashion, that it will countenance your claims to its regards and sympathy; and I need n’t tell you how rigid and exacting it has ever been in the case of the poetical genius, or, indeed, the genius of any order. Suffer me to tell ­[page 201:] you frankly, taking the privileges of a true friend, that you are now perhaps in the most perilous period of your career — just in that position — just at that time of life — when a false step be comes a capital error — when a single leading mistake is fatal in its consequence. You are no longer a boy. “At thirty wise or never.” You must subdue your impulses; and in particular, let me exhort you to discard all associations with men, whatever their talents, whom you cannot esteem as men. Pardon me for presuming thus to counsel one whose great natural and acquired resources should make him rather the teacher of others. But I obey a law of my own nature, and it is because of my sympathies that I speak. Do not suppose yourself abandoned by the worthy and honorable among your friends. They will be glad to give you welcome if you will suffer them. They will rejoice — I know their feelings and hear their language — to countenance your return to that community — that moral province in society — of which, let me say to you respectfully and regretfully, you have been, according to all reports, but too heedlessly, and perhaps too scornfully, indifferent. Remain in obscurity for a while. You have a young wife, — I am told a suffering and an interesting one, — let me entreat ­[page 202:] treat you to cherish her, and to cast away those pleasures which are not worthy of your mind, and to trample those temptations under foot which degrade your person, and make it familiar to the mouth of vulgar jest. You may [do] all this by a little circumspection. It is still within your power. Your resources from literature are probably much greater than mine. I am sure they are quite as great. You can increase them so that they shall be ample for all your legitimate desires; but you must learn the worldling’s lesson of prudence — a lesson, let me add, which the literary world has but too frequently and unwisely disparaged. It may seem to you very impertinent — in most cases it is impertinent — that he who gives nothing else should presume to give counsel. But one gives that which he can most spare, and you must not esteem me indifferent to a condition which I can in no other way assist. I have never been regardless of your genius, even when I knew nothing of your person. It is some years since I counseled Mr. Godey to obtain the contributions of your pen. He will tell you this. I hear that you reproach him. But how can you expect a Magazine proprietor to encourage contributions which embroil him with all his neighbors? These broils do you ­[page 203:] no good — vex your temper, destroy your peace of mind, and hurt your reputation. You have abundant resources upon which to draw, even were there no Grub Street in Gotham. Change your tactics, and begin a new series of papers with your publisher. The printed matter which I send you might be quoted by Godey, and might be ascribed to me. But, surely, I need not say to you that, to a Southern man, the annoyance of being mixed up in a squabble with persons whom he does not know, — and does not care to know, and from whom no Alexandrine pro cess of cutting loose would be permitted by society, — would be an intolerable grievance. I submit to frequent injuries and misrepresentations, content — though annoyed by the [illegible] — that the viper should amuse himself upon the file, at the expense of his own teeth. As a man, as a writer, I shall always be solicitous of your reputation and success. You have but to resolve on taking and asserting your position, equally in the social and the literary world, and your way is clear, your path is easy, and you will find true friends enough to sympathize in your triumphs. Very sincerely though sorrowfully, Your friend and ser’vt,

W. GILMORE SIMMS.(1) ­[page 204:]

P. S. If I could I should have been to see you. But I have been, and am still, drudging in the hands of the printers, kept busily employed night and day. Besides, my arrangements are to hurry back to the South where I have a sick family. A very few days will turn my feet in that direction.

Poe had also written to Cooke earlier in the spring, on April 16, and requested that he would continue the biography written by Lowell and bring it up to date. He received an answer almost at the same time as the letter from Simms: —

August 4, 1846.

MY DEAR SIR, —. . . 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 Magazine” 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 and Poems, and have read them collectively with great pleasure. That is a wonderful poem ending — ­[page 205:]

“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 and 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 Maelström,” “MS. Found in a Bottle,” “Gold Bug,” etc. I think this last the most ingenious thing I ever read. Those stories of criminal detection, “Murders of the Rue Morgue,” etc., a prosecuting attorney in the neighborhood here declares are miraculous. I think your French friend, for the most part, fine in his deductions from overlaid and unnoticed small facts, but sometimes too minute and 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, etc., and pronounce it without hesitation the most damnable, vraisemblable, horrible, hair-lifting, shocking, ingenious chapter of fiction that any brain ever conceived, ­[page 206:] or hand traced. That gelatinous, viscous sound of the man’s voice! There never was such an idea before. That story scared me in broad day, armed with a double-barrel Tyron turkey-gun. What would it have done at midnight in some old ghostly country-house?

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 and 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,” etc., etc., — 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 ­[page 207:] lady who had heard a lecture of yours in which you praised 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 with out delay, if you can rob yourself of so much time.(1)

Poe at once replied: —

NEW YORK, August 9, 1846.

MY DEAR SIR, — Never think of excusing yourself (to me) for dilatoriness in answering letters — I know too well the unconquerable procrastination which besets the poet. I will place it all to the accounts of the turkeys. Were I to be seized by a rambling fit, one of my customary passions (nothing less) for vagabondizing through the woods for a week or a month together, I would not — in fact I could not — be put out my mood, were it even to answer a letter from the Grand Mogul informing me that I had fallen heir to his possessions.

Thank you for the compliments. Were I in a serious humor just now, I would tell you frankly how your words of appreciation make my nerves ­[page 208:] thrill — not because you praise me (for others have praised me more lavishly), but because I feel that you comprehend and discriminate. You are right about the hair-splitting of my French friend — that is all done for effect. These tales of ratiocination owe most of their popularity to being something in a new key — I do not mean to say that they are not ingenious — but people think them more ingenious than they are on account of their method, and air of method. In the “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” for instance, where is the ingenuity of unravelling a web which you yourself (the author) have woven for the express purpose of unravelling? The reader is made to confound the ingenuity of the supposititious Dupin with that of the writer of the story.

Not for the world would I have had any one else to continue Lowell’s memoir until I had heard from you. I wish you to do it (if you will be so kind) and nobody else. By the time the book appears you will be famous (or all my prophecy goes for nothing), and I shall have the éclat of your name to aid my sales. But, seriously, I do not think that any one so well enters into the poetical portion of my mind as yourself — and I deduce this idea from my intense appreciation of ­[page 209:] those points of your own poetry which seem lost upon others.

Should you undertake the work for me, there is one topic — there is one particular in which I have had wrong done me, and it may not be in decorous in me to call your attention to it. The last selection of my Tales was made from about seventy, by Wiley & Putnam’s reader, Duyckinck. He has what he thinks a taste for ratiocination, and has accordingly made up the book mostly of analytic stories. But this is not representing my mind in its various phases — it is not giving me fair play. In writing these Tales one by one, at long intervals, I have kept the book-unity, always in mind — that is, each has been composed with reference to its effect as part of a whole. In this view, one of my chief aims has been the widest diversity of subject, thought, and especially tone and manner of handling. Were all my Tales now before me in a large volume, and as the composition of another, the merit which would principally arrest my attention would be the wide diversity and variety. You will be surprised to hear me say that (omitting one or two of my first efforts) I do not consider any one of my stories better than another. There is a vast variety of kinds, and, in degree of value, these ­[page 210:] kinds vary — but each tale is equally good of its kind. The loftiest kind is that of the highest imagination — and for this reason only “Ligeia” may be called my best tale. I have much im proved this last since you saw it, and I mail you a copy, as well as a copy of my best specimen of analysis — “The Philosophy of Composition.”

Do you ever see the British papers? Martin F. Tupper, author of “Proverbial Philosophy,” has been paying me some high compliments — and indeed I have been treated more than well. There is one “British opinion,” however, which I value highly — Miss Barrett’s. She says [the letter has been printed above] . . . Would it be in bad taste to quote these words of Miss B. in your notice? Forgive these egotisms (which are rendered in some measure necessary by the topic), and believe me that I will let slip no opportunity of reciprocating your kindness.

Griswold’s new edition I have not yet seen (is it out?), but I will manage to find “Rosalie Lee.” Do not forget to send me a few personal details of yourself — such as I give in “The New York Literati.” When your book appears I propose to review it fully in Colton’s “American Review.” If you ever write to him, please suggest to him that I wish to do so. I hope to get your volume ­[page 211:] before mine goes to press — so that I may speak more fully.

I will forward the papers to which I refer in a day or two — not by to-day’s mail.

Touching “The Stylus”: this is [the] one great purpose of my literary life. Undoubtedly (unless I die) I will accomplish it — but I can afford to lose nothing by precipitancy. I cannot say yet when or how I shall get to work — but when the time conies, I will write to you. I wish to establish a journal in which the men of genius may fight their battles upon some terms of equal ity with those dunces, the men of talent. But, apart from this, I have magnificent objects in view. May I but live to accomplish them! Most cordially your friend,

EDGAR A. POE.(1)

A single letter from Hawthorne also belongs to this period.

SALEM, June 17, 1846.

MY DEAR SIR, — I presume the publishers will have sent you a copy of “Mosses from an Old Manse” the latest (and probably the last) collection of my tales and sketches. I have read your occasional notices of my productions with ­[page 212:] great interest — not so much because your judgment was, upon the whole, favorable, as because it seemed to be given in earnest. I care for no thing but the truth; and shall always much more readily accept a harsh truth, in regard to my writings, than a sugared falsehood.

I confess, however, that I admire you rather as a writer of tales than as a critic upon them. I might often — and often do — dissent from your opinions in the latter capacity, but could never fail to recognize your force and originality in the former. Yours very truly,

NATH. HAWTHORNE.(1)

While this episode of “The Literati “was going on, the private fortunes of Poe, as has been seen, had fallen to a low ebb; he was struggling with poverty, and was disabled by ill-health; his wife grew no better in the cottage at Fordham, and penury starved their home.


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page ??:]

1  xxxxxxxxxxxx.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 191:]

1 Poe to Duyckinck, loc. cit. p. 9.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 193:]

1 Griswold MSS.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 203:]

1 Griswold MSS.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 207:]

1 Griswold MSS.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 211:]

1 Griswold MSS.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 212:]

1 Griswold MSS.


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - LEAPPL, 1909] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - The Life of EAP (G. E. Woodberry) (Chapter 11)