Text: William Doyle Hull II, “Part III, Chapter I,” A Canon of the Critical Works of Edgar Allan Poe (1941), pp. 275-302


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[page 275:]

Part III: Graham’s Magazine
 
Chapter I: Variations on an Old Theme

“There is one thing more; I want you to take care of my young editor.”(1) So, reports Graham, said Burton on handing his magazine over to the new owner, who was at that time twenty-six years of age — four years younger then the “young editor” entrusted to his care.

George Rex Graham was born January 18, 1813. The death of his father in his fifteenth year forced him soon to apprentice himself to a cabinet-maker. By working over-time he read enough law to be admitted to the bar in March, 1839. His interests had shifted, however. In May of the same year he became assistant editor of Samuel C. Atkinson’s Saturday Evening Post and bought from Atkinson The Casket. In 1840 he bought a part interest in the Post and in November of that year paid Burton $3500 for the Gentleman’s Magazine.(2) The December, 1840, numbers of the Casket and Burton’s are identical, except that the last eight pages of the latter conclude a de Kock serial; both appeared under the title, “Graham’s Lady’s and Gentleman’s Magazine.” This periodical became in the next ten years perhaps the most popular magazine of its sort in America. In August, 1848, Graham was forced to turn his proprietary rights over to Samuel D. Patterson and Company, although [page 276:] he continued as editor. He had become involved in financial difficulties which resulted in his neglecting the magazine and in his turning to heavy drinking. In March, 1850, he made a come-back, and repurchased the magazine; but his energies had abated, and the magazine did not flourish. He sold out for good in December, 1853. His career was over. The rest of his life was a wretched affair. Finally some friends took him out of the gutters, and on their charity he lived until July 13, 1894.

It is probable, I think, that Graham acted at once on Burton’s suggestion; but if he did, the “young editor” declined to enter into an arrangement. His energies and attention were centered elsewhere. For long he had been planning for a magazine of his own. During the summer and fall of 1840 he worked feverishly to make his dream a reality. To Dr. Snodgrass he wrote on June 17, 1840:

Herewith you nave my Prospectus. You will see that I have given myself sufficient time for preparation. I have every hope of success. As yet I have done nothing more than send a fear prospectuses to the Philadelphia editors, as it is rather early to strike — six months in anticipation. My object, at present, is merely to call attention to the contemplated design. In the meantime be assured that I am not idle — and that if there is any impossibility about the matter, it is the impossibility of not succeeding.(1)

His extant correspondence for the rest of the year reveals him indeed not idle. By the last of November success seemed within reach:

. . . .I intend to speak. fully of the novel in the first number of the ‘Penn Magazine‘ — which I am happy to say will appear in January — I shall wait anxiously for the promised [page 277:] article. I should like to have it, if possible, in the first sheet, which goes to press early in December.(1)

Misfortune struck. Poe had an attack of illness in consequence of which it was necessary to postpone the first issue of the Penn to March, 1841. By December 30 he had recovered sufficiently to correspond in the interest of the magazine,(2) and his hopes were still high. On January 17 he wrote Snodgrass:

You write to know my prospects with the ‘Penn‘. They are glorious — notwithstanding the world difficulties under which I labored and labor. My illness (from which I have now entirely recovered) has been, for various reasons, a benefit to my scheme, rather than a disadvantage; and, upon the whole, if I do not eminently succeed in this enterprise the fault will be altogether mine own. Still, I am using every exertion to ensure success, and among other manoeuvres, I have cut down the bridges behind me. I must now do or die — I mean in a literary sense.(3)

Misfortune struck again. The Saturday Evening Post of February 20 carried an announcement under the heading “Penn Magazine”:

Mr. Poe, we are sorry to say, has been forced, at the last moment to abandon finally, or at least to postpone indefinitely, his project of the Penn Magazine. This is the more to be regretted as he had the finest prospects of success in the establishment of the Journal — such prospects as are seldom enjoyed — an excellent list of subscribers, and, what is equally to the purpose — the universal good-will of the public press. The south and west were especially, warm in his cause, and, under ordinary circumstances, he could not have failed of receiving the most gratifying support. in the present [page 278:] disorder of monetary affairs, however, it was but common prudence to give up the enterprise — in fact it would have been madness to attempt it. Periodicals are among the principal sufferers by these pecuniary convulsions, and to commence one just now would be exceedingly hazardous. It is, beyond doubt, fortunate for Mr. P. that his late illness induced the postponement of his first number; which, it will be remembered, was to have appeared in January.

It is with pleasure we add, that we have secured the services of Mr. Poe as one of the editors of Graham’s Magazine. As a stern, just and i:-partial critic Mr. Poe holds a pen second to none in the country, and we have the confident assurance, that with such editorial strength as the Magazine now possesses, the literary department of the work will be of the very highest character.(1)

Apparently, hearing of Poe’s situation, Graham had renewed his offer, and Poe was tempted back to security over one of the bridges he had burned. Poe’s only extant comment, of this time, is found in the April 1 letter to Snodgrass:

P.P.S. The Penn, I hope, is only ’scotched, not killed‘. It would have appeared under glorious auspices, and with capital at command, in March, as advertised, but for unexpected bank suspensions. In the meantime, Mr. Graham has made me a liberal offer, which I had great pleasure in accepting. The Penn project will unquestionably be resumed hereafter.(2)

Mr. Poe has become “one of the editors, ” said the Post. Many people have thought — and apparently did think in 1841 and 1842 — that Poe was the editor-in-chief of Graham’s. This was not the case. The October, 1841, issue explained:

Owing to the temporary absence of Mr. Poe, the reviews in this number are from another hand. That department is exclusively under the control of Mr. Poe. C. J. Peterson, his coadjutor, has charge of the other departments of the work.(3) [page 279:]

Snodgrass defined rather exactly Poe’s position:

With Mr. Graham, (with whom he had always maintained the most friendly relations,) he remained as critical editor, for a period of some fourteen or fifteen months; but is not to be considered responsible, (as some have held him) either for the external appearance, or the general internal character of that Periodical.

J. E. S.(1)

An examination of the contributor’s list(2) confirms this evidence. The back cover of the May, 1841, number lists seventeen names; Peterson is seven; Graham, nine; and Poe, twelve. There is nothing signed by the first two. Poe’s ‘Descent into the Maelstrom’ is signed. The August, 1841, list has fifteen names’ Graham, twelve; Poe, thirteen; Peterson, fourteen. The January, 1842, has twenty-five names; Poe, twenty-three; Graham, twenty-four; Peterson, twenty-five. Besides reviews Poe has only “Autography”; Graham and Peterson have nothing signed. The placing of Poe first here shows only that his value as a contributor has increased. The back cover of the issue for February, 1842, has: “Graham’s / Lady’s and Gentleman’s Magazine. / February, 1842. / Edited by / George R. Graham, Mrs. Ann S. Stephens / C. J. Peterson, Mrs. Emma C. Embury / Edgar A. Poe.” It is all clear enough. Graham, the proprietor and publisher, was also editor. Peterson and the two ladies were assistant editors. Poe was in charge only of the critical department. [page 280:]

As he did on the Messenger and on Burton’s, however, Poe tended to magnify his position in his correspondence; or rather — for that may be a little harsh — he took no pains to define it precisely. On November 10, 1841, he wrote Mrs. Sigourney:

Since my connection, as editor, with Graham’s ‘Magazine’ of this city, I have been sadly disappointed to find tcaat you deem us unworthy your correspondence. Month after month elapsed . . . His (Graham’s) compensation-for the days of gratuitous contributions are luckily gone by — will be at least as liberal as that of any publisher in America.(1)

There exist three letters from John Tomlin to Poe enclosing poems, and once, a letter from ‘Boz’ for publication.(2) None of these appeared in the magazine except the letter. On April 11 Thomas wrote:

As you say that you are sure Graham that Graham (sic) would be happy to have a detached tale or sketch from me — I send it to him and refer to you —(3)

“A Schoolboy’s Recollections, by F. W. Thomas appeared in the July number. Thomas wrote again on May 20:

More than a week ago I wrote you a long letter in which I stated that I had sent a communication to Graham and made the request of you, that as a fellow feloniously had taken my ‘monies’ you would suggest to your friend to let me have a remittance as soon as possible — As yet it has not come —(4)

There is another Thomas letter pertinent here. On November 6 he wrote Poe enclosing a letter from Judge Breckenridge, son of the novelist. [page 281:] Thomas has suggested to the Judge that Graham’s is the proper place for a brief life he has written of his father. Thomas recommends it to Poe. The Judge has: “ — hand over the MSS, to Mr. Graham, E. A. Poe, the editor of the Magazine”; Thomas has: . . . . in your magazine . . . that of which you are the editor . . . If it does not suit your magazine, let me know frankly . . .”(1) The article was never published in Graham’s. It seems unlikely that Thomas should have not been aware of Poe’s position in the office of the magazine. His language is rather a natural thing under the circumstances, for Poe would have been able to exert some influence in, recommending an article for publication. It may be, indeed, that Poe’s recommendations became too frequent or too urgent.

Two more letters should be examined here. C. W. Thompson [[Thomson]] writing Poe about the pay for his contribution, apologized:

I have preferred addressing you on this occasion, as we have before spoken together on the subject.(2)

Poe wrote Longfellow on June 22, 1841:

Your letter of the 19th stay was received. I regret to find my anticipations confirmed, and that you cannot Make it convenient to accept fir. Graham’s proposition.(3)

It should be noted that this letter — as is often the case when Poe seems to be doing editorial work — is written in his own interest. He is seeking Longfellow’s aid for the new Penn Magazine. There is some suggestion, however, in all of these letters that Poe was doing a certain amount of secretarial work for Graham. [page 282:]

Again, then, Poe had a subordinate position, although his editorin-chief was a more sympathetic, intelligent, and cultured man than either White or Burton, Graham was, though, it should be remembered, four years his junior. And again, as we shall soon see, Poe accepted the situation as a temporary arrangement. He still had bright visions of making actual his dream-magazine. These facts brood darkly in the background of what was, for a brief while, a period of brilliant success.

What Graham’s “liberal offer” was, it is not possible to be sure. There exist four receipts in Poe’s autograph for payments from Graham. Of these I have been able to see only copies of two:

February 28th 1842. Received of Mr. G. R. .Graham Fifty eight Dollars in full salary as Editor, up to this date.

Edgar A. Poe.

March 31st 1842. Received of Mr. G. R. Graham Fifty eight dollars in full for salary, up to this date.

Edgar A. Poe.(1)

Before the significance of these receipts can be ascertained, it is necessary to determine Graham’s rates for contributions. On August 10, 1847, Poe wrote someone, apparently the editor of Graham’s, who was then Bayard Taylor, about two articles he had submitted for the magazine; “The articles, at the old price ($4 per page) (2) will come to $90 — “.(3) In his defense of Poe, in the March, 1850, issue of the magazine, Graham quotes “an account sent to me in his own hand, long after he had left Philadelphia . . .”:

We were square when I sold you the ‘Versification’ article; for which you gave me first 25, and afterward 7 — in all [page 283:]

. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . ..3200

Then you bought ‘The Gold Bug’ for . . . .. . . .. . . . . .5200

I got both these back, so that I owed . . . .. . . . . ..8400

You lent Mrs. Clemm . . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . ..1250

Making in all . . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . . . .. 9650

The review of ‘Flaccus’ was 3; pp, which at

$4, is . . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .1500

Lowell’s poem(1) is . . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . . . ..1000

The review of Channing, 4 pp, is 16, of which I

got 6, leaving . . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .1000

The review of Halleck, 4 pp is 16, of which I

got 10, leaving . . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . . . .. 600

The review of Reynolds, 2 pp . . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . . 800

The review of Lougfellow(2) , 5 pp is 20, of which I

got 10, leaving . . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . . . ..1000

so that I have paid in all . . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . . . .5900

which leaves still due by me . . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .3750(3)

Graham’s rate, then, was four dollars a page for prose and ten dollars for a poem, though the prices for verse varied according to length and reputation.

To return to the receipts: the phrase “for salary as Editor” must be accurate. As Poe was, officially at least, in charge only of the critical department, any contributions outside of reviews would have been paid for a the regular-rates. In the magazine for March, 1842, his only non-critical contribution is the fourteen-line “To One Departed“, printed in double column. One can not with surety say [page 284:] that eight dollars was not the price paid for it, though eight dollars is an odd figure. If, as does not seem likely‘, Graham said for verse by the line, this would be fifty-seven and one seventh cents a line. About the February number one can be more certain. “A Few Words About Brainard” is printed, under Poe’s name, as an article, not a review. Its three pages would bring twelve dollars. It may, then, be concluded that fifty-eight dollars was the regular salary paid the critical editor in February and March, 1842. This may have been the salary at which Poe began, six hundred and ninety-six dollars a year. It seems more likely, however, though there is no evidence, that Poe began at fifty dollars a month, six hundred dollars a year; and that his salary was raised, either in July or in January, or in both. The increase in circulation certainly warranted a raise. Poe wrote Thomas, September 1, 1841: “Our success (Graham’s I mean) is astonishing — are shall print 20,000 copies shortly. When he bought Burton out, the joint circulation was only 5000”;(2) and on October 27, 1841: “In January we print 25000. Such a thing was never heard of before.”(3)

A Prospectus of Graham’s Magazine in the Saturday Evening Post of December 26, 1840 states that the magazine will be published on the first day of each month, that it will be sent out early enough to reach the most distant subscriber by the first.(4) Poe wrote Richard [page 285:] Bolton of Pontotoc, Missippi [[Mississippi]], on November 18, 1841:

You must know, then, that our edition is, in fact, exceedingly large. The print (sic) 5000 copies. Of course much time is required to prepare them. Our last ‘form’ necessarily goes to press a full month in advance of the day of issue. It often happens, moreover, that the last for in order is not the last in press. Our first form is usually held back until the last moment on account of the ‘plate article‘.(1)

There is proof that on two occasions Graham’s was issued by the middle of the month before that whose date it carried, two occasions widely enough separated in time for one to assume that it was the common, if not the invariable, practice. Park Benjamin wrote to Graham from New York on October 19, 1841: “I thank Mr. Poe heartily for his just notice — just as regards censure.”(2) In the magazine for November, 1841, there is an article on Benjamin in “Autography“ — the only notice of Benjamin in Graham’s, at least prior to October, 1841. In the second letter of the “Doings of Gotham” series, dated May 21, 1844, New York, Poe wrote: “The Magazine for June is already out. “Graham“, I see has —— “.(3)

Poe’s engagement with Graham was announced on February 20, 1841. As the Post was a daily paper, and as Graham edited it, it seems likely [page 286:] that the arrangement would have been made public as soon as it went into effect. In that case, Poe could not have had anything to do with Graham’s in an official capacity before the April number, for that number would have tone to press by March 1. In fact he would have had little time to prepare anything for that issue, for “the last form” in order (which is the department of review) is not the last in press. Our first form is usually held back until the last moment“. One would expect, then, to find at least part of the April reviews from another hand; and that is the case.

The Saturday Evening Post for December 27, 1841,(1) gives a list of contributors to the new magazine, which includes Peterson and Graham, who have nothing in the number signed. Poe is not included. The back cover of the magazine for February, 1841, has a list of contributors, fourteen in all; Peterson is the fourth, Graham the ninth. Poe is not on the list. Again neither Peterson nor Graham have a signed article in the magazine. The question inevitably arises, who is responsible for prior to the time Poe took over. It will be demonstrated in another section of this study that three of the longer reviews are clearly the work of the critic who conducted the critical department in the Casket, while all of the others, judged solely on the basis of internal evidence, are probably his. By the lists of contributors his identity is narrowed to two, possibilities: Graham or Peterson. I am unwilling to make a decision. Peterson was associated with Graham on the Post [page 287:] and may well have been on the Casket. There is no evidence which is at all telling. This critic, is seems, is the one who contributed a review in June, 1841, another in July, and all of the notices in October, “owing to the temporary absence of Mr. Poe.”(1)

Poe wrote Snodgrass on June, 1842:

If you have not yet noticed my withdrawal from ‘Graham’s Magazine‘, I would take it as a great favor if you would do so in something like the following terms, even if you have noticed it, this alight go in.

We have it from Undoubted authority that Mr. Poe has retired from the editorship of ‘Graham’s Magazine‘, and that his withdrawal took place with the May number, notwithstanding the omission of all announcement to this effect is the number for June. We observe that the ‘Boston Post’ in finding just fault with an exceedingly ignorant and flippant review of ‘Zanoni‘, which appears in the June number, has spoken of it as from the pen of Mr. Poe. We will take it upon ourselves to say that Mr. P. neither did write the article, nor could have written such an absurdity. The slightest glance would suffice to convince us of this. Mr. P. would never be guilty of the grammatical blunders, to say nothing of the were twattle, which disgraces the criticism. When did he ever spell liaison, liason, for example, or make use of so absurd a phrase as ‘attained to’ in place of attained? We are also fully confident that the criticism is (sic) question is not the work of Mr. Griswold, who (whatever may be his abilities as the compiler of a Book of Poetry), is at all events a decent writer of English. The article appears to be the handiwork of some underling who has become imbued with the fancy of aping Mr. Poe’s peculiarities of diction. A pretty mess he has made of it! Not to announce Mr. P’s withdrawal in the June number was an act of the rankest injustice; and as such we denounce it. A man of talent may occasionally submit to the appropriations of his articles by others who insinuate a claim to the authorship, [page 288:] but it is a far different and vastly more disagreeable affair when he finds himself called upon to father the conceit, ignorance, and flippant impertinence of an ass.(1)

On May 21, 1841, Thomas wrote Poe: “Somebody told me, for I have not seen it in print, that you and Graham had parted company. Is it so.”(2) Poe’s relations, then, with the magazine were severed sometime between the middle of March and the first of Apri1, 1842; for the May number would have gone to press “a full month in advance of the day of issue.”

The forces which led inexorably to the dissolution of Poe’s engagement to Graham form a pattern strange and meanful [[meaningful]], in their reflection, varying only here and there in degree, of those forces which precipitated the breaks with White and Burton. Here again, Poe entered the relationship enwrapt in visions of “The Magazine”; his dreaming, recently tinctured with actuality, had even -more of ardor than. before. Here, however, Graham was aware of Poe’s plans. He even held out prospects of backing the enterprise.

In June, 1841, Poe sent out a series of curcular [[circular]] letters, detailing plans for the Penn, and proposing that the addressees agree, at their own rate, to contribute solely to his magazine. Extant are copies to Longfellow(3) , Halleck(4) , and Kennedy. This last is the most personal in tone. One paragraph should be noted:

Mr. George R. Graham, of this city, and myself, design to establish a monthly Magazine upon certain conditions — one of which is the procuring your assistance in the enterprise . . . Mr. Graham is to furnish all supplies and will give me merely for editorial services and my list of subscribers to the old ‘Penn’ a half interest in the proposed Magazine, but he gill only engage is the enterprise on the conditions [page 289:] before stated — on condition that I can obtain as contributors the gentlemen above named or at least most of them — giving them carte blanche as to terms.(1)

The proposed Journal was to be commenced in January, 1842.

On September 1, 1841, Poe wrote Thomas:

I am still jogging on in the same old way, and will probably remain with Graham, even if I start the ‘Penn’ in January . . . I have had some excellent offers respecting the ‘Penn’ and it is more probable-that it will go on.(2)

On September 19 he wrote Snodgrass:

We have no news here just yet — something may turn up by and bye. It is not impossible that Graham will join me in ‘The Penn‘. He has money. By the way, is it impossible to start a first-class Mag. in Baltimore? Is there no publisher or gentleman of moderate capital who would join me in the scheme? — publishing the work in the City of Monuments?(3)

Again, Poe wrote Thomas on October 27:

Ah, if we could only get up the ‘Penn‘! I have made a definite arrangement with Graham for 1842 — but nothing to interfere with my own scheme, should I be able by any good luck, to go into it. Graham holds out hope of his joining me in July. Is there no one among your friends at Washington — no one having both brains and funds who would engage in such an enterprise? Perhaps not. I comfort myself, however, with the assurance that the (time) must come when I shall have a journal under my own control. Till then — patience.(4)

Graham has declined, apparently, to supply the capital at the present moment. The frist [[first]] issue of the magazine has been postponed to July. [page 290:] Poe seems to feel, somehow, that Graham will not actually come through.

Thomas asked Poe on January 13, 1842: “Poe, how do you get on with Graham?”(1) The answer to this question is rich with meaning:

You ask me how I come on with Graham? Will you believe it Thomas? On the morning subsequent to the ;accident I called upon him, and, being entirely out of his debt, asked an advance of two months salary — when he not only flatly but discourteously refused. Now that man knows that I have rendered him the most important services; he cannot help knowing it, for the fact is rung in his ears by every second person who visits the office, and the comments made by the press are too obvious to be misunderstood. The project of the new Magazine still (you may be sure) occupies my thoughts. If I live, I will accomplish it, and in triumph . . .

He suggests that Thomas interest Robert Tyler in backing the magazine.

If, instead of a paltry salary, Graham had given me a tenth of his Magazine, I should feel myself a rich man today. then he bought out Burton, the joint circulation was 4,500, and we have printed of the February number last, 40,000. Godey, at the period of the junction, circulated 30,000, and, in spite of the most tremendous efforts, has not been able to prevent his list from falling. I am sure that he does not print more than 30,000 to-day. His absolute circulation is about 20,000. Now Mr. Godey, in this interval, has surpassed Graham in all the externals of a good Magazine. His paper is better, his type far better, and his engravings fully as good; but I fear I am getting sadly egotistical. . .

Those articles [“Autography”] have had a great run — have done wonders for the Journal — but I fear have also done me, personally, much injury. I was weak enough to permit Graham to modify my opinions (or at least their expressions) in many of the notices. In the case of Conrad, for example; he insisted upon praise and worried me into speaking well of such ninnies as Holden, Peterson, Spear, &c, &c. I would not have yielded had I thought it made much difference what one said of such puppets as these, but it seems the error has [page 291:] been made to count against my critical impartiality. Know better next time. Let no man accuse me of leniency again.(1)

Almost every strand of our pattern is here: an irate employer; an employee who feels he is underpaid, that his critical freedom is hampered, and that is general, he is treated intolerably; an employee who is motivated by a surging; ambition to establish a magazine of his own, where he will be free from supervision.

Thomas asked Poe on May 20, 1841: “How would you like to be an office holder here at $1500 per year payable monthly by Uncle Sam . . .”(2) The Poe-Thomas Correspondence for the next two years is filled with the attempt to secure a government job for Poe. In itself the effort is a cogent on Poe’s dissatisfaction with his salary and his situation. One [[On]] June 26, 1841 he wrote Thomas:

For my own part, nothwithstanding Graham’s unceasing civility and real kindness, I feel more and more disgusted with my situation.(3)

In a letter of May 25, 1842, Poe explained to Thomas:

The report of my having parted company with Graham is correct; although in the forthcoming June number there is no announcement to that effect; nor had the papers any authority for the statement made. My duties ceased with the May number. I shall continue to contribute occasionally. Griswold succeeds me. My reason for resigning was disgust with the namby-pamby character of the Magazine — a character which it was impossible to eradicate. I allude to the contemptible pictures, fashion-plates, music, and love-tales. The salary, moreover, did not pay me for the labor which I was forced to bestow. With Graham, who is really a very gentlemanly, although an exceedingly weak man, I had no misunderstanding.(4) [page 292:]

A few days later he wrote Snodgrass the letter, already quoted, requesting an announcement of his break with Graham.

Gill has an account of Poe’s withdrawal which has been widely copied:

Mr. Poe was from illness or other causes, absent for a short time from his post on the magazine. Mr. Graham had, meanwhile, made a temporary arrangement with Dr. Griswold to act as Poe’s substitute until his return. Poe came back unexpectedly, and, seeing Griswold in his chair, turned on his heel without a word, and left the office, nor could he be persuaded to enter it again . . .(1)

Griswold came to Philadelphia in late 1840 to edit The Daily Standard.(2) In late 1841 he became one of the editors of the Philadelphia Gazette.(3) In November of that year Greeley warned him: “Be careful of what life is left in you and turn Grahamite“.(4) Graham wrote him on April 20, 1842, nearly a month after Poe had resigned:

Have you fully determined on assuming the Chaplaincy and to abandon the editorial chair? Or could you find it in your heart to locate in Philadelphia? Let me hear from you as I have a proposal to make.(5)

The transactions were completed by May 3:

I am glad that you agree to our proposal, and we shall be ready to give you the ‘right hand of fellowship’ as soon as ‘orders are taken‘. Mr. P (eterson) (6) is right. The salary (is) to be $1,000 per annum. We shall hope to see the light of your countenance soon.(7)

Griswold wrote to James-Fields July 10, 1842: [page 293:]

You have seen, I doubt not, the near arrangements for the magazine. I had little to do with the July No., as it was nearly all printed before I came hither; but the August is better, and the September will be better still.(1)

Apparently Graham, from whom Gill got his story in 1873, suffered from a memory confusion. The only absence of Poe from the Magazine for which there is a suggestion of evidence is that during August, 1841, which affected the October magazine. The Casket reviewer took over then. Poe had been gone from the magazine almost a month, if not a full month, before Graham even approached Griswold.

There, may, on the other hand, have been some sort of unpleasantness between Peterson and Poe. The February 3 letter to Thomas calls him a “ninnie”; and it is possible that the announcement he sent Snodgrass for insertion in the Visitor [[Visiter]] was aimed at Peterson. Poe ewould have been certain, I think, to resent Peterson. The part any such resentment played in the final break, however, is only a matter of speculation. Peterson, at any rate, seemed to bear no hard feelings. On May 31, 1842, he wrote Lowell: “Poe is a splendid fellow, but as unstable as water.”(2) Years later he wrote in Poe’s defence:

Mr. Poe and I were associated, in the editing of a magazine, for some two years, and after Poe left, Mr. Griswold succeeded him, so that I saw a good deal of both, and I [page 294:] think I understand their several characters thoroughly . . . Griswold’s biography of Poe was . . . a malicious libel, and that he knew this when he printed it . . . The truth is that Griswold hated Poe, but also feared him, hence this libel on Poe was kept back till the latter’s death . . . Griswold was a coward, among other things. . .(1)

He continues to praise Poe.

But to return to the resignation, one other condition should be emphasized: it was in the fall of 1841 that Virginia Poe ruptured a blood-vessel while singing. Poe wrote James Herron in June, 1842:

You have learned, perhaps, that I have retired from Graham’s Magazine. The state of my mind has, in f act, forced me to abandon all mental exertion. The renewed and hopeless illness of my wife, ill-health on my own part, and pecuniary embarrassments have nearly driven me to distraction.(2)

The February 3 letter to Thomas, as I have said, reveals most of the underlying causes for Poe’s resignation — except his disgust with the character of the magazine and his inability to alter it, and his state of mind resultant from Virginia’s illness. Mr. Graham’s response to Poe’s request for an advance may have acted as the spark to set off the flame. Poe took the refusal as a personal. affront. On February 26(3) Thomas wrote a letter, which, if Poe had not already decided on resigning, might have spurred him to it:

Poe, if an enterprising printer was engaged with you, a magazine could be put forth under your control which would soon surpass any in the United States. Do you know of such a man? Certainly with your reputation there are many printers who would gladly embrace such an opportunity of fortune. In whatever magazine you are engaged editorially you should [page 295:] have an interest. Working at a salary, an editor feels not half the motive that he would if his emolument increased with the popularity of the work, the permanent success of which would be to him a source of pecuniary capital and support. Speaking of the autographs: I must confess that I was more than surprised at the eulogistic notices which you took of certain writers — but I attributed it to a monomania partiality. I am glad to see that you still retain the unbiassed possession of your mental faculties. But, Poe, for the sake of that high independence of character which you possess you should not have let Graham influence you into such notices. There, that in complete imitation of your frankness.(1)

It seems to me that Poe’s resignation was not a matter of impulse in a moment of anger or of resentment, but rather a calculated move to enable Poe to concentrate more on the Penn Magazine and to relieve him from what he must have felt was becoming an intolerable situation. In any event, by March 1 his resignation was effective. Graham’s for July, 1842, printed these announcements:

Rufus Wilmot Griswold, a gentleman of fine taste and well known literary abilities, has become associated with us as one of the editors of this Magazine. The extensive literary knowledge of Mr. G. renders him a most valuable coadjutor.

The connection of E. A. Poe, Esq., with this work ceased with the May Number. Mr. P. bears with him our warmest wishes for success in whatever he may undertake.(2)

The fact that Griswold’s names appeared on the title-page of the second volume, “George R. Graham and Rufus W. Griswold, Editors“, and that his salary was $1000 a year must have annoyed Poe. [page 296:]

Such a feeling is apparent in a letter to Daniel Bryan, a young poet of Alexandria. Bryan had sent Poe some verses, believing him still editor, on May 13. On June 27, having learned that Poe w as no longer on the magazine he emote again. Poe answered, on his return from a “brief visit to New York“.(1)

What you say in respect to ‘verses’ enclosed to myself has occasioned me some surprise. I have certainly received none. My connection with ‘Graham’s Magazine’ ceased with the May number, which was completed by the lst of April — since which period the editorial conduct of the journal has rested with Mr. Griswold. You observe that the poem was sent about three weeks since. Can it be possible that the present editors have thought it proper to open letters addressed to myself, because addressed to myself as ‘Editor of ‘Graham’s Magazine“? I know not how to escape from this conclusion; and now distinctly remember that, although in the habit of receiving many letters daily before quitting the office, I have not received more than a half dozen during the whole period since elapsed; and none of those received were addressed to me as ‘Editor of ‘G’s Magazine‘. What to say or do in a case like this I really do not know. I have no quarrel with either Mr. Graham or Mr. Griswold — although I hold neither in especial respect. I have much aversion to communicate with them in any way, and, perhaps, it would be best that you should address them yourself, demanding the MS.(2)

Poe contributed nothing to the magazine after the June number, until the October number. He increased his efforts to obtain a civil service job, in the Philadelphia Customs House now. He secured the influence of Robert Tyler, and Thomas did all in his power to help, but nothing came of it. One Smith, the head of the Customs House failed to be moved by influence.(3) Meanwhile again he was working on the Penn. Another [page 297:] passage from the Poe to Bryan letter is of importance, not only for its information in regard to Poe’s plans for the Penn, but for its details on Poe’s relations with Graham, emphasing [[emphasizing]] something we have already seen:

I am making earnest although secret exertions to resume my project of the ‘Penn Magazine‘, and have every confidence that I shall succeed in issuing the first number on t he first of January. You may remember that it was my original design to issue it on the first of January, 1841. I was induced to abandon the project at that period by the representations of Mr. Graham. He said that if I would join him as a salaried editor, giving up for the time my own scheme, he himself would unite with me at the expiration of six months, or certainly at the end of a year. As Mr. Graham was a man of capital and I had no money, I thought it most prudent to fall in with his views. The result has proved his want of faith and my own folly. In fact, I was constantly laboring against myself. Every exertion made by myself for the benefit of ‘Graham’ by rendering that Mag. a greater source of profit, rendered its owner at the same time less willing to keep his word with me. At the time of our bargain (a verbal one) he had 6000 subscribers — when I left him he had more than 40,000. It is no wonder that he nas been tempted to leave me in the lurch . . . I feel that now is the time to strike. The delay, after all, will do me no injury. My conduct of ‘Graham’ has rendered me better and (I hope) more favorably known than before . . . I shall make war to the knife against the New England assumption of ‘All the decency and all the talent’ which has been so disgustingly manifested in the Rev. Rufus W. Griswold’s ‘Poets and Poetry of America‘. But I am boring you with my egotism.(1)

Obviously Poe has found a sympathetic ear and is making the most of it. Graham was note of course, responsible f or the first postponement; Poe’s view of Graham’s motive for leaving him in the lurch is a little illogical. [page 299:]

The Penn was announced as forthcoming in the New York Mirror, July, 30, 1844; a prospectus was enclosed in a letter to Washington Poe asking for aid in the project.(1) On June 6 Poe has suggested to Chivers that he put up the capital and become a partner in the enterprise. On September 27 he repeated this suggestion. A capital of only one thousand dollars was necessary. His plans for publishing the magazine are complete in detail:

As yet I have taken no overt step in the measure, and have not even printed a Prospectus. As soon as I do this I will send you several. I do not wish to announce my positive resumption of the original scheme until about the middle of October.(2)

The announcement in the Mirror(3) rather closely approximates an overt step.

There is no space here nor any need to trace in detail the course of this attempt to establish the Penn and its transformation into the Stylus. It was impossible to bring out the magazine in January, 1843, but in that month Poe and Thomas C. Clark, his partner, signed an agreement with Darley for illustrations. The subscription list was steadily being built up, and Poe was lining up contributors. But again something happened. Poe wrote Lowell, June 20, 1843: [page 299:]

. . . but alas! my Magazine scheme has exploded — or, at least, I have been deprived, through the imbecility, or rather through the idiocy of my partner, of all means of prosecuting it for. the present, Under better auspices I may resume it next year.(1)

Meanwhile, if one is to believe Poe, Graham had changed his mind about Griswold:

Graham has made me a good offer to return. He is not especially pleased with Griswold, nor is anyone else, with the exception of the Rev. gentleman himself, who has gotten himself into quite a hornet’s nest by his ‘Poets and Poetry‘.(2)

Poe, however, was busy about the Penn. There is some evidence to support his statement. The title-pages for volumes twenty-one and twenty-two had “George P. Graham and Rufus a. Griswold, Editors.” That for volume twenty-three had only “George R. Graham, Editor and Proprietor.” Greeley wrote Griswold, January 5, 1843:

I learned from her (Mrs. Stephens) not only that you were to leave for Europe in March, but that Graham would edit the Magazine himself after that time. . .After you have gone, I will help Mr. Graham to see the difference in his circulation between your editing and his. Say nothing.(3)

The omission of Griswold’s name from the title-page for this volume way be explained simply by the fact that Graham thought Griswold was leaving him. There seems to have been some kind of trouble, though, or Greeley’s last sentences do not make sense. Griswold did not go to [page 300:] Europe apparently. The October, 1843, numbered announced:

Mr. Griswold, who during the publication of the last three volumes of Graham’s Magazine, has been united with the proprietor in Its management, withdraws after the present number from the editorial connection, but will continue to be an occasional contributor to its pages. Mr. Griswold devotes, hereafter, until its completion, his exclusive attention to the Biographia Americana, mentioned elsewhere in this number as in the press.(1)

Lowell wrote Poe, March 6, 1844:

Writing to him (Graham) a short time ago I congratulated him upon having engaged you as editor again. I recognized your hand in some of the editorial matter (critical) — & missed it in the rest. But I thought it would do no harm to assume the fact, as it would at least give him a hint. He tells me I am mistaken & I am sorry for it.(3)

There is evidence, however, that Poe assisted Graham in the critical department from the time of Griswold’s departure until the March, 1844, number.

Soon after this, in the first week of April, Poe left Philadelphia for New York — carrying with him his dreams for an independent magazine. For the rest of his life he contributed at intervals to Graham’s. His relations with the proprietor seem to have been quite pleasant. Two more documents should be examined before this section of our tale is over. On August 10, 1847, Poe wrote someone, probably Bayard Taylor, then editor of Graham’s:

I made several attempts to see Mr. Graham and at last saw him for few minutes just as he was about returning to Cape May. He was very friendly — more so than I have ever known him, and requested me to write continuously [page 301:] for the Mag. As you were not present, however, and it was uncertain when I could see you, I obtained an advance of $100 from Mr. G. In order that I might return home at once — and thinking; it, also, proper to leave you time to look over the articles.

I would be deeply obliged if you could now give me an answer respecting them. Should you take both, it will render me, just now, the most important service. I owe Mr. G. about $50. The articles, at the old price ($4 per page) (1) will come to $90 — so that, if you write me that they are accepted, I propose to draw on Mr. G. for $40 — thus squaring our account.

P.S. I settled my bill with Arbuckle before leaving Phil. but I am not sure how much I owe yourself for the previous bill etc. Please let me know.(2)

In reply to Griswold, after Foe’s death, Graham paid Poe one of the most manly tributes he has received:

I knew Mr. Poe well — far better than Mr. Griswold; and by the memory of old time;, when he was an editor of ‘Graham‘, I pronounce this exceedingly ill-timed and unappreciative estimate of the character of our lost friend unfair and untrue . . . Now this is dastardly, and, what is worse, it is false. It is very adroitly done, with phrases very well turned, and with gleams of truth shining; out of a setting so dusky as to look devilish . . . Nor do I consider Mr. Griswold competent . . . to dissect that subtle and singularly fine intellect — to probe the motives and weigh the actions of that proud heart . . . Literature with him was religion; and he, its high priest, with a whip of scorpions scourged the money-changers from the temple. Ia all else he had the docility and kind-heartedness of a child. No man was more quickly touched by kindness — none more prompt to atone for an injury. For three or four years I knew aim intimately, and for eighteen months saw him almost daily; much of that time writing or conversing at the same desk; knowing all his [page 302:] hopes, his fears, and little annoyances of life, as well as his high-hearted struggle with adverse fate — yet he was always the same polished gentleman — the quiet, unobtrusive, thoughtful scholar — the devoted husband — frugal in his personal expenses — punctual and unwearied in his industry — and the soul of honor in all his transactions. This, of course, was in his better days, and by them we judge the man. But even after his habits had changed, there was no literary man to whom I would more readily advance money for labor to be done . . .

His mind was not of the sort widely in demand, and he refused to cater to the popular taste, that, says Graham, was his tragedy.

 


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 275:]

1.  Smyth, 22. op. cit., p 217.

2.  Dictionary of American Biography, VII, (1931) 473.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 276:]

1.  Poe-Snodgrass, Philadelphia, June 17, 1840. Ostrom, op. cit., p.23.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 277:]

1.  Poe-Thomas, Philadelphia, November 23, 1840, Gr. MSS. Phot. in WL.

2.  See Poe-Kennedy, Philadelphia, December 30, 1840, Woodberry, op. cit. I, 266-67.

3.  Poe-Snodgrass, Philadelphia, January 17, 1841. Ostrom, op cit. p. 26. Could this turning bridges be a reference, in part at least, to his having refused Graham’s offer of editorship?

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 278:]

1.  SEP, February 20, 1841.

2.  Poe-Snodgrass, “Philadelphia, April 1, 1841. Ostrom, op. cit. p.30.

3.  GM, XIX, 189, ftn.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 279:]

1.  ‘‘American Biography. Edgar Allan Poe“, Baltimore Saturday Visitor, July, 29, 1843. In Ingram Collection, UVL.

2.  I have been able to see single copies only for certain months; the bound copies are lacking the covers.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 280:]

1.  Poe-Sigourney, Philadelphia, November 10, 1841. Facsimile, Harvard, MSS. Phot. in UVL.

2.  See Tomlin-Poe, Jackson, Tenn., October 29, December 1 and 12, 1841. Gr. MSS. Phot. in UVL.

3.  Thomas-Poe, Washington, April 11, 1841. Gr. MSS. Phot. in UVL.

4.  Thomas-Poe, Washington, May 20, 1841. Gr. MSS. Phot. in UVL.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 281:]

1.  Thomas-Poe, Washington, November 6, 1841. GR. MSS. Phot. in UVL.

2.  Thompson-Poe, May 1, 1841. GR. MSS. Phot. in UVL.

3.  Poe-Longfellow, Philadelphia, June 22, 1841. GR. MSS. Phot. in UVL.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 282:]

1.  Printed in the American Clipper, March, 1940.

2.  The parentheses are Poe’s.

3.  Poe —— , New York, August 10, 1847. Original is UVL.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 283:]

1.  This cannot refer to the March, 1844, review of Lowell’s poems, which would bring, at two pages, only $8. These articles are arranged in order as they appeared in the Magazine. Between “Flaccus” and “Charming“, and in the same month with the litter, there is a poem of Lowell’s, “In Sadness“, which Poe must have purchased for Graham.

2.  Two Poe-Lowell letters, October 19, 1843 and July 2, 1844, reveal that Graham has s review by Poe of The Spanish Student. It was written for the December, 1843, number; in July it still had not appeared. “. . . which I have ‘used up‘, and in which I have exposed some of the grossest plagiarisms ever perpetrated” (Poe-Lowell, July 2, 1844. Harvard MSS. Phot. in UVL). Longfellow was a regular contributor to the magazine; Graham was probably afraid the article would offend him.

3.  GM, XXXIV, 225.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 284:]

1.  The Lowell poem is ten stanzas long, each stanza containing six lines. No sort of rate by stanza or by line is logical for these two poems.

2.  Poe-Thomas, Philadelphia, September, 1841, Huntington MSS. No. 284. Phot. in UVL.

3.  Poe-Thomas, Philadelphia, October 27, 1841. Chase, L., “A New Poe Letter“, AM. Lit., VI, 66.

4.  SEP, XX, No. 1013.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 285:]

1.  Poe-Richard Bolton, Philadelphia, November 18, 1841. “Ancient Letter of Poe Shows Origin of Gold Bug“, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, November 15, 1:25. Section IV, p. 7. Phot. in UVL of the newspaper article which photographs the letter.

2.  Griswold, Passages From the Correspondence of Rufus Wilmot Griswold, p.100.

3.  Spannuth and Mabbott (eds), Doings of Gotham, p. 35.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 286:]

1.  SEP, XX, No. 1012.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 287:]

1.  This absence I am unable to explain, It must have occurred in August. Letters revealing nothing out of the ordinary exist dated August 11 and 13. in September 1, 1841, Poe wrote Thomas (GR. MSS), but there is no hint of an absence. He may have been ill; or, more likely, he may nave made a trip in convection with the magazine he was still planning for.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 288:]

1.  Poe-Snodgrass, Philadelphia, June 4, 1842. Ostrom, op. cit., 37.

2.  Thomas-Poe, Washington, May 21, 1842. GR. MSS. Phot. in UVL.

3.  Gr. MSS.

4.  Huntingdon MSS.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 289:]

1.  Poe- (Kennedy), Philadelphia, June, 1841. Gr. MSS. Phot. is UVL.

2.  Poe-Thomas, Philadelphia, September 1, 1841. Gr. MSS. Phot. in UVL.

3.  Poe-Snodgrass, Philadelphia, September 19, 1841. Ostrom, op.cit., 34.

4.  Poe-Thomas, Philadelphia, October 37, 1841. Gr. MSS. Phot. in UVL.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 290:]

1.  Thomas-Poe, Washington, January 13, 1842. GR. MSS. Phot. in UVL.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 291:]

1.  Poe-Thomas, Philadelphia, February 3, 1842. The Autograph, 1, 42-3. In Ingram Col. UVL.

2.  Thomas-Poe, Washington, May 20, 1841. GR. MSS. Phot. in UVL.

3.  Poe-Thomas, Philadelphia, June 26, 1841. Woodberry, op cit., I , 209.

4.  Poe-Thomas, Philadelphia, May 25, 1842. Ibid., I, 325.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 292:]

1.  Gill, Life of Poe, 110-11.

2.  Griswold, W.M. op. cit. 47

3.  Ibid., 101

4.  Ibid., 103

5.  Ibid., 106

6.  The parentheses are Griswold’s.

7.  Ibid., 106-7

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 294:]

1.  Ibid., 113

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 294:]

1.  Peterson-Ingram, Philadelphia, March 3, 1880, Ingram Collection. UVL.

2.  Poe-Herron, Philadelphia, June 30, 1842. The World, May 1, 1921. Ingram Collection. UVL.

3.  Woodberry misdates this to February 6. op. cit., I, 318.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 295:]

1.  Thomas-Poe, Washington, February 26, 1842. Gr. MSS. Phot. in UVL.

2.  GM, XXI, 60.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 296:]

1.  See Bryan-Poe, Alexandria, D. C., May 13, and June 27, July 11, 1842. Gr. MSS. Phot. in UVL.

2.  Poe-Bryan, Philadelphia, July 6, 1842. Woodberry, op. cit., I, 331

3.  See Poe-Thomas, Philadelphia, November 15, 1842. Gr. MSS.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 297:]

1.  Poe-Bryan, Philadelphia, July 6, 1842. Woodberry, op. cit., I, 332-334

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 298:]

1.  See Gill, op. cit., 114

2.  Poe-Chivers, September 27, 1842, Huntington MSS. Phot. in UVL.

3.  See Woodberry, op. cit., I, 335. I have been unable to check with the Mirror.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 299:]

1.  Poe-Lowell, Philadelphia, June 20, 1843. GR. MSS. Phot. in UVL.

2.  Poe-Thomas, Philadelphia, September 12, 1842. Woodberry, op. cit., I, 352-53.

3.  Griswold, W. M., op. cit., 133.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 300:]

1.  GM, XXIII, 216.

2.  The parentheses are Lowell’s.

3.  Lowell-Poe, Cambridge, March 6, 1844. GR. MSS. Phot. in UVL.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 301:]

1.  The parentheses are Poe’s.

2.  Poe ———, New York, August 10, 1847. Original in UVL.


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[S:0 - CCWEAP, 1941] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - A Canon of the Critical Works of EAP (W. D. Hull) (Part III, Chapter I)