Text: Dwight R. Thomas, “Chapter 05: [Part I: Jan-June] 1841,” Poe in Philadelphia, 1838-1844 (1978), pp. 186-306


∞∞∞∞∞∞∞


­ [page 186:]

CHAPTER V: 1841

 

January, 1841

CIRCA JANUARY 1: Poe writes Nathan C. Brooks, asking him for information on “a new Magazine to be established in Baltimore by a Virginian &a practical printer.”

NOTE: This letter has not been found; Poe dated it as “about a fortnight ago” in his January 17 letter to Joseph Evans Snodgrass. The magazine which aroused his curiosity may have been the Baltimore Phoenix &Budget, an inexpensive monthly which was issued from the printing office of the Baltimore Saturday Visiter from April, 1841, to March, 1842.

JANUARY 2: The Daily Chronicle, p. 2, col. 5, reports that “The Evening Star has changed its title, and is now published under the cognomen of ‘Metcalf’s Star and Democrat.’ Thomas Dunn English is the editor.”

NOTE: There are apparently no significant files of this paper. Joseph Metcalfe, a Philadelphia printer, later invited English to edit his Metcalfe’s Miscellany (see the chronology for March, 1841).

JANUARY 2: William B. Wood, a Philadelphia theatre manager, addresses a brief note to “E. J. [sic] Poe, Esqr.” He apologizes for his failure to see or write Poe “before the end of the-past week,” and he begs his correspondent’s ­[page 187:] “further patience for a few days.”

NOTE: MS, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The one-page letter bears neither an exterior address nor a postmark; the circumstances under which it was written are unknown.

JANUARY 2: Horace Greeley’s New-Yorker (Vol. 10, p. 253) reviews a new publication:

The Biographical Annual for 1841. — This valuable giftbook, to which we have frequently alluded during its publication, has just been brought out and is for sale by Linen &Fennell. The plan of the work and the character of its contents cannot fail to make it generally and deservedly popular. We are glad to see that its Editor, Mr. R. W. Griswold, proposes to continue its publication from year to year. The haste in which the present volume was necessarily prepared, is sufficient to excuse its occasional defects: the only wonder is that it should have been so well done in so brief a time.

JANUARY 6: Poe writes Nicholas Biddle, stating that he has been forced to postpone the Penn Magazine because of “a world of difficulties . . . . not the least of which has been a severe illness.” He has met with success where he least expected it, and failed where he was confident of doing well: “My cousins in Augusta, [Georgia,] who had led me to hope that they would aid me materially, have been unable to do so, and could not even obtain me a few subscribers in that place. On the other hand I have received a great many names from villages, in the South and West, of whose existence even I was not aware.” Poe recalls a previous meeting with Biddle: “The kind manner in which you received me when I called upon you at Andalusia — upon so very equivocal an errand — has emboldened me to ask of you a still greater favor than the one you then granted . . . . . The favor I would ask is that you would lend me the influence ­[page 188:] of your name in a-brief article for my opening number.” Poe discusses his reasons for making this request:

I need not suggest to you, as a man of the world, the great benefit I would derive from your obliging me in this matter. Without friends in Philadelphia, except among literary men as uninfluential as myself, I would at once be put in a good position — I mean in respect to that all important point, caste — by having it known that you were not indifferent to my success. You. will not accuse me of intending the meanness of flattery to serve as a selfish purpose, when I say that your name has an almost illimitable influence in the city, and a vast influence in all quarters of the country, and that, would you allow me its use as I propose, it would be of more actual value to me in my enterprise than perhaps a thousand dollars in money — this too more especially as the favor thus granted would be one you are not in the habit of granting.

NOTE: Letters, II, 693-95. Biddle, the President of the United States Bank, was Philadelphia’s most prominent citizen; Andalusia was his country estate on the city’s outskirts. On August 14 and 15, 1840, Poe had sent letters to his Georgia relatives Robert, Washington, and William Poe, asking them to enlist subscribers to the Penn Magazine. The present letter suggests that sometime after Poe wrote his cousins he called upon Biddle at Andalusia and discussed with him the prospects of the Penn Magazine. According to Ostrom, Letters, II, 695, the Charles Biddle collection contains a copy of Poe’s Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, inscribed “For Mr. N. Biddle, with the author’s respects,” and a Prospectus of the Penn Magazine, on which is written “N. Biddle subscribed four years in advance.”

JANUARY 15: Horace Greeley writes Rufus W. Griswold: “I learn that the Biographical Annual does not sell well — in fact, Gris, it is not well designed or got up. If it were to sell as a Gift-Book:, it ought to have been more richly ­[page 189:] embellished, and much better printed. It ain’t in good keeping. I have done all I could for it.”

NOTE: MS, Library of Congress

ANTE JANUARY 17: David Hoffman, a Baltimore lawyer, promises to aid the Penn Magazine.

NOTE: Poe mentioned Hoffman’s promise in his January 17 letter to Joseph Evans Snodgrass. Hoffman may have been one of the socially prominent authors whose contributions Poe sought as a means of providing “caste “ for the Penn Magazine.

ANTE JANUARY 17: Joseph Evans Snodgrass writes Poe, asking about the prospects of the Penn Magazine and offering to contribute to this journal. Snodgrass complains that William E. Burton has; never returned the article he entered in the unsuccessful premium contest held by the Gentleman’s Magazine.

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Poe’s January 17 reply. Snodgrass had previously written him in an attempt to retrieve his article from Burton (see the chronology for June 12 and 17, 1840).

JANUARY 17: Poe replies to Joseph Evans Snodgrass, discussing the prospects of the Penn Magazine: “They are glorious — notwithstanding the world of 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 enterprize, the fault will be altogether mine own. Still, I am using every exertion to ensure success, and, among ­[page 190:] other maneuvres, I have cut down the bridges behind me.” Poe thanks Snodgrass for his offer of aid; he is “overs[-lock]ed” with poetry, but will be glad to receive a prose article. In particular, he is “anxious for a paper on the International Copy-Right [l]aw, [or] on the subject of the Laws of Libel in regard to Literary Criticism.” As these topics may not appeal to Snodgrass, Poe asks him to contact David Hoffman, who may be willing to send “something o.-I one or the other of the heads in question.” Snodgrass must act rapidly because Poe is “about to put the first sheet to press immediately; and the others will follow in rapid succession.” He discusses the proposed format of the Penn Magazine —”clear type, fine paper &c — double columns . . . . with the poetry running across the page in a single column. No steel engravings; but now &then a superior wood — cut in illustration of the text.” He will endeavor “to give the Magazine a reputation for the having no articles but from the best pens “; and he adds:

“I have one or two articles of my own in statu pupillari that would make you stare, at least, on account of the utter oddity of their conception.” Poe states that “Burton . . . . is going to the devil with the worst grace in the world, but with a velocity truly astounding.” George R. Graham is “a very g[en]tlemanly personage”; Poe will see him tomorrow and ask for Snodgrass, essay, “although, to prevent detection, Burton may have destroyed it.” Poe asks Snodgrass to send him details on a new magazine which he has heard will be “established in Baltimore by a Virginian &a practical printer.” He wrote Nathan C. Brooks “about-a fortnight ago,” requesting information, but has received no reply.

NOTE: Letters, I, 151-53. Ostrom states that this letter is written on “the first leaf of the January 1, 1841, prospectus” of the Penn Magazine (see the Letters, II, 488). This version is reprinted by Heartman and Canny, pp. 62-63. The manuscripts sent to Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine for premiums passed into the possession of George R. Graham when he purchased the magazine (see the chronology for March 29, 1841).

JANUARY 22: Poe writes Robert T. Conrad, a prominent Philadelphian, on stationery bearing the Prospectus of the Penn Magazine: “As a man of the world you will at once understand that what I most need for my work in its commencement (since I am comparatively a stranger in Philadelphia) is caste. I need the countenance of those who stand well not less in the social than in the literary world. I, certainly, have no claim whatever upon your attention, and have scarcely the honor of your personal acquaintance — but if I could obtain the influence of your name in an article (however brief) for my opening number, I feel that it would assist me beyond measure . . . . .” Poe hopes to publish articles on “the International CopyRight Law, and The Laws of Libel in their relation to Literary Criticism”; he doubts that anyone is more qualified than Conrad to discuss these subjects. He is “rash, however, in making any suggestions”; he will be “only too much delighted” to receive “an article upon any question whatever.” The first number of the Penn Magazine “will be put to press on the first of February.”

NOTE: Letters, I, 153-55. Like David Hoffman, Conrad was a lawyer as well as an author, and presumably qualified to discuss laws regulating literary activity.

ANTE JANUARY 25: Poe writes Judge Joseph Hopkinson, asking him to contribute to the Penn Magazine. ­[page 192:]

NOTE: The contents of Poe’s letter are surmised from Hopkinson’s reply. This venerable Philadelphian was the author of “Hail, Columbia!”; his name would have certainly added prestige to the magazine. Like David Hoffman and Robert T. Conrad, he was a jurist; Poe may have suggested that he write on the laws governing copyright and libel (see the chronology for January 17 and 22).

JANUARY 25: Joseph Hopkinson replies to Poe:

Philad. Jany 25. 1841

Dear Sir

It has always been my desire that we should concentrate in Philadelphia as much literary talent as possible, and be distinguished by works of science and genius issuing from ourselves — I have therefore never been reluctant to afford the little aid in my power to such enterprizes — My time and attention, however, are much occupied by my official duties, so that I avoid making engagements which may interfare with them, or may themselves be neglected — I wish

your Magazine may succeed, and with the talent you can of yourself bring into it, your prospect is encouraging — I will keep it in my view, &shall be happy to contribute to its support when I have any communications which may be acceptable to your readers-Allow me to remind you that the ruin of our periodicals has been distant subscribers, who never send their money, and the collection of which costs more than is received — A late very popular work, that set out with great correctness in exacting punctual payment from its subscribers, had, nevertheless, thirty thousand dollars due to it in five or six years, and was compelled to stop, with an immense list of subscribers —

Very respectfully Your Obt Servt Jos. Hopkinson

NOTE: MS, Boston Public Library ­[page 193:]

February, 1841

FEBRUARY 4: In the morning Philadelphians learn that the United States Bank has suspended specie payments. The ensuing panic produces a run on the city’s other banks; by night most of these have “suspended paying notes, of a higher denomination than five dollars.” The Southern banks, “beginning at Baltimore,” follow the example of the Philadelphia banks and suspend payments.

NOTE: This financial crisis was discussed by the Saturday Evening Post, February 13, p. 2, col. 2. On February 20 the Post, p. 2, cols. 4-5, reported: “The suspension of the Banks still continues, and;, as a consequence, the financial world is considerably embarrassed. Money is difficult to obtain, even at a high premium.”

POST FEBRUARY 4: Because of the financial uncertainty created by the suspension of specie payments, Poe is forced to postpone the first number of the Penn Magazine. He accepts an offer from George R. Graham to take charge of the critical department of Graham’s Magazine.

NOTE: In his April 1, 1841, letters to Thomas Wyatt and Joseph Evans Snodgrass, Poe explained that the Penn Magazine would have appeared on schedule except that the unexpected “bank suspensions” had made the commencement of any periodical impractical, and that consequently he had decided to accept an offer of employment made by Graham. Poe joined the staff of Graham’s Magazine prior to February 20 (see the chronology). His position on this monthly was that of book review editor; he had no control over its other departments (see the chronology for September 18 and October, 1841). ­[page 194:]

FEBRUARY 13: Horace Greeley’s New-Yorker (Vol. 10, p. 350) reports:

Literary Intelligence.

A splendid work will soon be published by Carey &Hart of Philadelphia, entitled the “Poets and Poetry of America.” It is to be edited by Mr. R. W. GRISWOLD, of the Daily Standard, who has been, perhaps, the most diligent and successful collector of American poetry in this country. It will contain copious selections from all our best poetical writers, both living and dead, the productions of each author to be prefaced by a biographical and critical sketch, and will make a large octavo volume of above six hundred pages. It will be brought out in nearly the same style as the magnificent Philadelphia edition of Wordsworth and will undoubtedly be the most copious and judicious compilation of American poetry that has yet been made.

FEBRUARY 18: Charles J. Peterson, an editor of Graham’s Magazine, sends a letter to “H. Perceval Esq.” of Cambridge, Massachusetts:

Philada. 18th Feb. 1841

Dear Sir

Finding among the papers of the Gentleman’s Magazine, — after that periodical had passed into our hands and been united to the Casket under the title of “Graham’s Magazine” — a poem, entitled Callirhoe, I have placed it in the March number of our periodical. I need scarcely say I admire it. It has imagination — a rare thing now-a-days. You tell Mr Burton that you are willing to become a contributor on fair terms of compensation. May we look for your aid? What do you consider fair? Please give an early answer, and name your terms. Our object is to have a magazine surpassed by none.

I send you by the same mail with this a copy of our magazine for March.

With great respect Chas. J. Peterson editor G’s Mag. ­[page 195:]

H. Perceval Esc;

NOTE: MS, Houghton Library, Harvard University. “Hugh Perceval” was a pseudonym used by James Russell Lowell, a member of the Harvard class of 1838 who was to become a frequent contributor to Graham’s Magazine. Peterson’s February 18 letter is the first item in their correspondence; the two men exchanged many letters during the next four years. Lowell celebrated his twenty-second birthday on February 22, 1841.

FEBRUARY 19: William E. Burton sues Charles W. Alexander for libel.

NOTE: Alexander’s Daily Chronicle, February 20, p. 2, col.4, published Burton’s summons, dated the previous day. From the Chronicle’s commentary on this document, it appears that Alexander may have been guilty of referring to Burton as “a low comedian.” Alexander had been the original publisher of the Gentleman’s Magazine; and his Daily Chronicle and Weekly Messenger had been consistently friendly to Burton, lauding his magazine and his theatre, and defending him against the attacks of other papers (see the chronology for May 30 and June 5, 1840). The comedian was prone to involvement in divorce and libel suits; Poe did not exaggerate when he discussed the disadvantage of taking Burton to court in his April 1, 1841, letter to Joseph Evans Snodgrass: “He would meet me with a cross action. . . . . If I sue, he sues; you see how it is.”

FEBRUARY 20: The Saturday Evening Post, p. 2, col. 5, carries an announcement:

The Penn Magazine.

Mr. Poe, we are sorry to say, has been forced, ­[page 196:] 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 disorder of all 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 impartial 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.

NOTE: Poe joined the staff of Graham’s too late to have a role in the preparation of the March number, which had been published by the time Charles J. Peterson wrote James Russell Lowell on February 18. Poe corroborated the Post’s statement that the Penn Magazine had “an excellent list of subscribers” in his July 6, 1842, letter to Daniel Bryan: “I had nearly 1000 subscribers with which to have started the ‘Penn’, and, with these as a beginning, it would have been my own fault had I failed.” In his August 14, 1840, letter to William Poe, he had claimed that only “500 names” would be sufficient to insure the magazine’s success.

FEBRUARY 26: Horace Greeley writes Rufus W. Griswold, discussing his protégé’s forthcoming anthology The Poets and ­[page 197:] Poetry of America:

Command me in all things. If I could do any thing for your work, I would with pleasure. We have announced it; if you will send me a Prospectus I will publish it. Aren’t you going to have an appendix to your volume containing one or more pieces from such writers as may have casually written a good thing or so, but have no claim or desire to be considered Poets? Depend on it this will be better than to cram them into such company as you must otherwise do. For instance, Edward Everett, J. Q. Adams, Flint, R. H. Wilde, A. H. Everett, etc., have written fair things; but to jumble them in with your Poets will be murder.

Then you should have another compartment, consisting of a selection or two from the writings of promising young writers, who deserve something better than absolute neglect; but who do not deserve a biographical notice with selections. This might be in smaller type and merely refer to the place of birth, time of ditto, and residence of these bardlings. Wm. Wallace, Mrs. Esling, G. P. Morris, etc. (specimens of different classes) will not do to run into the body of your work; nor will it quite do not to know them. I recommend a middle course, as at once politic and just. Think of it.

Greeley intends that The Poets and Poetry of America will be “the basis of fortune and fame” for Griswold; the anthology must be “not only good but in some respects original.”

NOTE: Passages from the Correspondence of Rufus W. Griswold, pp. 60-61. Greeley’s New-Yorker had announced The Poets and Poetry of America on February 13. Griswold adopted Greeley’s advice: he divided his anthology into two sections, entering the significant poets in the body of the work and relegating the lesser figures to an appendix. This division proved to be one of the-most controversial features of his anthology, which was issued by Carey &Hart around April 18, 1842 (see the chronology). ­[page 198:]

March, 1841

MARCH: Joseph Metcalfe, a Philadelphia printer, issues the first number of his Metcalfe’s Miscellany, a monthly magazine edited by Thomas Dunn English.

NOTE: Subscriptions to Metcalfe’s Miscellany were offered at one dollar per year. This small, inexpensive journal featured contributions by such lesser Philadelphia literati as English, Thomas H. Lane, and Andrew McMakin. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania holds a copy of the March, 1841, number in the original wrappers; no other copy is known to exist.

CIRCA MARCH 1: Poe’s friend Frederick William Thomas arrives in Washington.

NOTE: This entry is established by Thomas’ March 7 letter to Poe.

MARCH 4: William Henry Harrison is inaugurated as President of the United States. John Tyler becomes Vice-President.

MARCH 7: Frederick William Thomas, who has been in Washington “this week past,” writes Poe: “Dow, whom I see frequently, told me that you had given up the idea of the Penn and was [sic ] engaged with Graham. I regret that you have been prevented from carrying out that glorious enterprise at present, but; you’ll do it yet.” Thomas wishes “to write for some periodical a novel in numbers, say two or three chapters per month, as Marryat and Boz write their novels.” He asks Poe whether this serial would be appropriate for Graham’s Magazine: “Write me . . . . if Mr. Graham likes the proposition.[,] what he would give — all about it. ­[page 199:] Of course a continuous story is worth more per page than a mere sketch, as it would create a desire in the reader to see the conclusion of it and consequently make him the purchaser of the subsequent numbers of the Magazine.” He reports that “Fowzer and Woodward, agents, of St. Louis have had a falling out.” He knows nothing of Woodward, but can vouch for the good character of Fowzer. Thomas hopes, “in a month or so,” to take Poe “by the hand”; he sends his respects to Poe’s “mother and lady.”

NOTE: Works, XVII, 81-82. Thomas may have come to Washington for the inauguration of President Harrison; he soon received a clerk’s appointment, presumably as a reward for his services in the Harrison campaign (see the chronology for June 26 and July l, 1841). In the capital city Thomas renewed his acquaintance with Jesse E. Dow; Poe seems to have introduced these two men in Philadelphia in the preceding year (see the chronology for post May 7, 1840). During his sojourn in Saint Louis, Thomas had engaged Fowzer and Woodward as agents for Poe’s Penn Magazine (see the chronology for December 7, 1840).

MARCH 8: Joseph Evans Snodgrass writes Poe, giving him permission to publish in Graham’s Magazine the article he submitted for William E. Burton’s premium contest. Snodgrass states that he has heard slanderous rumors spread by Burton regarding Poe’s character and his use of alcohol.

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Poe’s April 1, 1841, reply. For information on Snodgrass’ article, see the chronology for June 12 and 17, 1840, and January 17, 1841.

MARCH 10: William. Davis Gallagher writes Poe: ­[page 200:]

Cincinnati, March 10 —’41.

E. A. Poe, Esq. —

Dear Sir-

Will you be good enough to favor me so much as to enter the name of the Daily paper with which I am connected upon the exchange list of the “Penn Magazine?” The independence of critical remark which characterized the “Southern Literary Messenger” while under your control, and the individuality of that department of the work, make me anxious to get your new magazine.

If this proposition suit you, please direct “Daily Gazette.” If it do not, send me the work any how, and I will pay you in money, or, what is more plenty[ful] with me, scribbler-coin.

Very Respectfully,

Yours,&c.,&c.

W. D. Gallagher.

P.S. Accompanying this, I take the liberty of sending you a volume of “Selections from the Poetical Literature of the West,” which has just been issued in our Backwoods regions by an enterprising Western publisher. I trust you may find in it something to your liking.

NOTE: MS, Boston Public Library. Gallagher was the editor of the Cincinnati Gazette; Poe was unimpressed by his anthology of Selections from the Poetical Literature of the West (see the chronology for May 28, 1841).

MARCH 12: John Tomlin writes Poe, expressing his disappointment that the Penn Magazine has been “indefinitely postponed.” He offers his assistance in any future “scheme or plan” Poe may undertake.

NOTE: Works, XVII, 82-83. Ostrom corrected the date of Tomlin’s letter from March 13 to March 12 (see the Letters, II , 584). ­[page 201:]

MARCH 22: James Russell Lowell replies to Charles J. Peterson’s February 18 letter to “H. Perceval.” Lowell reveals his identity; he objects to the fact that his poem “Callirhöe” has been published in Graham’s Magazine without his consent. The poem was sent as an entry in the premium contest held by the Gentleman’s Magazine; William E. Burton should have returned it to its author. Lowell states that he is unable to become a contributor to Graham’s.

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Peterson’s March 29 reply.

CIRCA MARCH 25: Thomas Dunn English is received by President Harrison.

NOTE: In “Down Among the Dead Men,” The Old Guard, 7 (November, 1869), 827-33, English recorded his memories of meetings with three Presidents — William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, and James K. Polk. He had only one interview with Harrison: “I called on him a short while after his inauguration, — I think it was two days before he was taken ill with the sickness which resulted in his death. My business was not political. I had sent my letter of introduction, which was from one of his old friends, the night before . . . . . Our conversation on business lasted only five or six minutes . . . . . He detained me for an hour asking questions about certain people whom we both knew, but whom he had not seen for some time . . . . .” The President was taken ill on March 27. In spite of English’s disclaimer that his “business was not political,” the facts that he was given \ a .private interview with Harrison within days after the inauguration, and that the two men spent “an hour” discussing mutual acquaintances, suggest that he was rapidly rising to political prominence. For ­[page 202:] evidence of English’s activity in the Harrison campaign, see the chronology for May 19, July 4, and December 24, 1840. He later served the Tyler administration.

MARCH 25: Poe receives sixty dollars ($60.00) on account from George R. Graham.

NOTE: This is the first payment that Poe is known to have received for his services to Graham’s Magazine. Two one-page manuscript fragments of George R. Graham’s account book have been located: one is in the Gimbel Collection of the Philadelphia Free Library; another, in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. These two fragments together list nine payments, totaling $524.40, for which Poe signed between March 25, 1841, and March 31, 1842. The Gimbel Collection fragment is reproduced by courtesy of the Philadelphia Free Library:

Recd March 25th 1841

of Geo. R. Graham

Sixty dollars on acct

$60   Edgar A Poe

Recd April 3rd 1841

of Geo. R. Graham

Fifty four dollars on acct

$54   Edgar A Poe

Recd April 24th 1841

of Geo. R. Graham.

Forty dollars on acct

$40   Edgar A Poe

Recd July 2nd 1841.

of Geo R Graham

Fifty Five dolls on acct

$55   Edgar A Poe ­[page 202:]

Recd July 24th 1841

of Geo R Graham

One hundred & five on acct

$105 to November 17th 1841

  Edgar A Poe

The Humanities Research Center fragment is reproduced by courtesy of the University of Texas at Austin:

Recd Sep 25th 1841

of Geo R Graham

Thirty Three Dolls

and fifty Cents on

acct of editing Magazine

$33 50/100   Edgar A Poe

Recd Oct. 13, ‘41

of Geo. R. Graham

Sixty Dollars and Ninety

Cents on acct of editing Magazine.

$60 90/100   Edgar A Poe

February 28th 1842. Received

of Mr G. R. Graham Fifty eights

Dollars, in full for salary

as Editor, up to this date.

  Edgar A Poe

March 31rst 1842. Received

of Mr G. R. Graham Fifty

eight dollars in full

for salary, up to this date.

  Edgar A Poe ­[page 203:]

John Sartain in his Reminiscences, p. 200, claimed that Graham paid Poe “a salary of $800 a year.” This figure is plausible: although these two fragments account for only $524.40, they probably represent an incomplete record. There are, for example, no payments listed during the months of May, June, August, November, and December, 1841, and ­[page 204:] January, 1842. It is not known whether Graham paid Poe additional sums for his contributions to the magazine, over and above his salary as editor. The Humanities Research Center fragment clearly records only Poe’s “salary as Editor,” and the Gimbel Collection fragment seems to be an earlier page from the same account book.

MARCH 27: President Harrison falls ill from pneumonia.

NOTE: Gunderson, Log-Cabin Campaign, p. 273.

MARCH 29: Charles J. Peterson replies to James Russell Lowell’s letter of March 22, apologizing for inserting his poem “Callirhöe” in Graham’s Magazine without consulting him:

When Mr Graham purchased Burton’s Magazine he bought also a bundle of articles, many of which Mr B[urton] said he had already paid for. In this bundle I found yours. I was struck with it, and inserted it in March. Since, as you say, it was offered for a prize, Mr B had no right to dispose of it, but should have returned it to you. Believe me such a piece of (I must say it) fraud I could not knowingly countenance. You will do me the justice to exonerate me from any imputation of having participated in it. Of Mr B, or his magazine[,] I knew little more than yourself.

Peterson again expresses his admiration for Lowell’s verse: “The beauty, the freshness, the purity of your poetry charmed me. . . . . I do but echo the sentiments of every man of feeling or taste.” He regrets that Lowell is unable to become a contributor to Graham’s, but hopes that he “can find time to send . . . . a stray article”: “Mr G. will remunerate you as liberally as any other magazine publisher; and as poetry is not woolen-stuffs you have the right to name your own price. . . . . Certainly a magazine with a circulation of thousands presents no slight opportunity ­[page 205:] for one to become known.”

NOTE: MS, Houghton Library, Harvard University. Lowell eventually accepted Peterson’s invitation to contribute to Graham’s Magazine (see the chronology for August 18, 1841).

CIRCA MARCH 30: Thomas Wyatt, now in New Brunswick, New Jersey, writes Poe. Wyatt apparently wants Poe to contact Peter S. Duval, the engraver, and discuss with him the possibility of making alterations in a drawing by the Philadelphia artist E. J. Pinkerton.

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Poe’s April 1 reply.

April, 1841

APRIL: The inside front wrapper of Graham’s Magazine carries an announcement:

It is with pleasure the Proprietor announces, that he has made arrangements with EDGAR A. POE, Esq., commencing with the present number, by which he secures his valuable pen, as one of the editors of the Magazine. Mr. POE is too well known in the literary world to require a word of commendation. As a critic he is surpassed by no man in the country; and as in this Magazine his critical abilities shall have free scope, the rod will be very generously, and at the same time, justly administered.

With this additional editorial strength, the Magazine may be expected to take a high position in literary merit, among the periodicals of the day. In the beauty of its embellishments, it is now on all hands confessed, to be superior to any Magazine published in this country. It is the wish of the editors, however, to make the literary department the great attraction of the Magazine, and to enlist ­[page 206:] the pride of the American people and writers, in the support of a work creditable to National Literature.

NOTE: Unbound copy in original wrappers, Gimbel Collection, Philadelphia Free Library.

APRIL: Graham’s Magazine publishes “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.”

NOTE: Poe may have originally intended this tale to appear in the Penn Magazine. In any case, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” was quite popular, as evidenced by Poe’s comments in his July 12, 1841, letter to Joseph Evans Snodgrass and by his decision to reprint it in his Prose Romances, No. 1. Three Philadelphia papers alluded to the story in their notices of the April Graham’s. The Daily Chronicle, March 26, p. 2, col. 3, commented that one of the number’s “most interesting articles” was “from the pen of Edgar A. Poe, Esq.”; and The Pennsylvanian, March 27, p. 2, col. 3, found that Poe had contributed “a tale of powerful interest” to this issue. The Germantown Telegraph, March 31, p. 3, col. 1, was more laudatory than either of these papers. Praising the April Graham’s as “the best yet published,” the Telegraph gave much credit to Poe: “Among the number, there is a powerful article from Mr. POE, one of our very best writers . . . . . The Reviews which are from the pen of Mr. P., are of an able, spirited and independent order — such as all reviews ought to be.” Several journals outside of Philadelphia also commented on Poe’s story. In reviewing the April Graham’s, Horace Greeley’s New-Yorker, 11 (March 27, 1841), 29, found that “the article entitled ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’ is of deep but repulsive interest; . . . . and the Literary Notices are much more able and carefully prepared than usual.” On April 3 the Saturday Evening Post, p. 2, col. 7, quoted the Rhode Island Patriot, which had ­[page 207:] praised “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” as one of Poe’s “best efforts”; and on May 1 the Post, p. 2, col. 8, quoted the New York Evening Star, which had described this story as a “powerful article.” Frederick William Thomas favorably evaluated it in his May 11, 1841, letter to Poe. For several sources of this story, see the chronology for September, 1838, July 1 and August 20, 1839, and April 4 and September 30, 1840.

APRIL: In a review of R. M. Walsh’s Sketches of Conspicuous Living Characters of France, Poe offers to solve any cipher which the readers of Graham’s Magazine may send him: “the key-phrase may be either in French, Italian, Spanish, German, Latin, or Greek (or in any of the dialects of these languages), and we pledge ourselves for the solution of the riddle. The experiment may afford our readers some amusement; — let them try it.”

NOTE: In “A Few Words on Secret Writing,” published in Graham’s Magazine for July, 1841, Poe noted that his challenge “elicited but a single response,” from a correspondent who signed himself “S. D. L.” This response is entered in the chronology for April 21.

APRIL: Graham’s Magazine publishes Poe’s lengthy, perceptive critique of Bulwer-Lytton’s Night and Morning, in which he concludes that this novelist’s merits have been overrated: “the Bulwerian beauties are precisely of that secondary character which never fails of the fullest public appreciation.”

APRIL 1: Poe replies to Joseph Evans Snodgrass’ March 8 letter. He is grateful for permission “to hand over . . . . to Mr. Graham” the essay Snodgrass submitted in the premium ­[page 208:] contest held by the Gentleman’s Magazine. Because Graham’s Magazine goes “to press at a singularly early period,” this article will not appear until the June number. Poe will be “pleased to receive a brief notice of Soran’s poems” for the June Graham’s, if Snodgrass thinks “this will not be too late.” He appreciates “the kind interest” Snodgrass has shown in regard to the malicious rumors spread by William E. Burton: “My situation is embarrassing. It is impossible, as you say, to notice a buffoon and a felon, as one gentleman would notice another. The law, then, is my only resource.” Poe has no doubt that he would win a legal suit against Burton: “He would be unable to prove the truth of his allegations. I could prove their falsity and their malicious intent by witnesses who, seeing me at all hours of every day, would have the best right to speak — I mean Burton’s own clerk, Morrell, and the compositors of the printing office. In fact, I could prove the scandal almost by acclamation. I should obtain damages.” But Poe has good reason for not taking Burton to court: “I have never been scrupulous in regard to what I have said of him. I have always told him to his face, and everybody else, that I looked upon him as a blackguard and a villain. This is notorious. He would meet me with a cross action. The truth of the allegation . . . . would not avail me. The law will not admit, as justification of my calling Billy Burton a scoundrel, that Billy Burton is really such. What then can I do? If I sue, he sues . . . . .” Poe states that the rumors of his drinking spread by Burton are totally false; while on the staff of the Gentleman’s Magazine he has used no beverage “stronger than water.” He explains:

It is, however, due to candor that I inform you upon what foundation he has erected his slanders. At no period of my life was I ever what men call intemperate. I never was in the habit of intoxication. ­[page 209:] I never drunk drams,&c. But, for a brief period, while I resided in Richmond, and edited the Messenger, I certainly did give way, at long intervals, to the temptation held out on all sides by the spirit of Southern conviviality. My sensitive temperament could not stand an excitement which was an everyday matter to my companions. In short, it sometimes happened that I was completely intoxicated. For some days after each excess I was invariably confined to bed. But it is now quite four years since I have abandoned every kind of alcoholic drink — four years, with the exception of a single deviation, which occurred shortly after my leaving Burton, and when I was induced to resort to the occasional use of cider, with the hope of relieving a nervous attack.

Poe assures Snodgrass that at present his “sole drink is water.” He adds: “Will you do me the kindness to repeat this assurance to such of your friends as happen to speak of me in your hearing?” In a postscript Poe mentions the status of the Penn Magazine: “It would have appeared under glorious auspices, and with capital at command, in March, as advertised, but for the 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.”

NOTE: Letters, I, 155-58. William E. Burton, the professional comedian, was in his private life a quick-tempered, overly sensitive man with a history of marital difficulties and legal entanglements; at this time he was involved in a libel suit against another former associate, Charles W. Alexander, as Poe undoubtedly knew (see the chronology for February 19, 1841). Like Burton, Thomas Dunn English also accused Poe of excessive drinking while on the staff of the Gentleman’s Magazine (see the directory entry for English). In the present letter Poe may have felt a need to defend himself at length against Burton’s accusations of drunkenness, because Snodgrass was one of Baltimore’s best-known ­[page 210:] temperance advocates. After he assumed editorial control of the Baltimore Saturday Visiter on November 8, 1841, he quickly turned the paper into a temperance organ. Charles Soran was a Baltimore poet whom Snodgrass frequently praised in the Visiter. Charles R. Morrell, the clerk of the Gentleman’s Magazine, is identified in Burton’s letter of July 4, 1839.

APRIL 1: Poe replies to Thomas Wyatt:

Philadelphia, April 1. 1841.

My Dear Mr Wyatt,

I received your letter yesterday morning — and, believe me, I was delighted to hear from you — for we could not imagine what had become of you. Upon making inquiries for you at 8th &Chesnut I was told that you were gone South, and that Mr Ackerman was somewhere in N. Jersey — but both “the South” &”N. Jersey” are terms that include a good deal of space.

I am truly sorry to hear that Mr A. has been so ill — present our best respects to him.

I called yesterday upon Duval. He says that it will be impossible to execute the alterations mentioned in Prof. Millington’s letter, without ruining the drawing — and that the cost of them, even if executed, would exceed that of a new drawing. I am convinced that what he says upon this point is nothing more than fact. In truth the drawing by Mr Pinkerton is shockingly botched and “touched up” — so that it would be useless to attempt doing anything farther with it. Mr D. refuses to put his name to it — so you may imagine how bad it is — for Mr D. has put his name

to some of the most execrable things.

As the alterations cannot be made, Mr D. thinks it better not to put the writing at the foot of the, stone until he hears from you again — lest you might think it advisable to have the whole done anew. Were I in your place I would refuse to pay Pinkerton for what he has so botched, and get the design executed by some competent artist, who will ask you but little more than he does.

I hope you will not forget to call upon us as you pass through Philadelphia. We are still at the old place. ­[page 211:]

We have had Rose (my sister) on to spend a week with us, since I saw you. John McK. came with her, and left her with us while he went to Boston.

My Magazine project is only deferred —”scotched not killed”. Every thing was prepared for its issue. I had made a most advantageous arrangement with Mr Pollock to enter into partnership, and attend to the business department — when just as I was putting the first sheet to press — there came like a clap of thunder, the bank suspensions. No periodical could be commenced under such circumstances — and I therefore made up my mind to accept for the present year an engagement with Mr Graham, of Graham’s Magazine (3d &Chesnut). He gives me an excellent salary, far more than I had with Burton — and I have a good deal less to do — so that I can afford to lay on my oars for a time, as regards the “Penn Magazine” project.

Hoping to see you soon, I am,

Yours most cordially Edgar A. Poe

The ladies desire to be kindly remembered.

NOTE: MS, Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin. This letter, which is addressed to Wyatt in New Brunswick, New Jersey, was first published by Joseph J. Moldenhauer, “Beyond the Tamarind Tree: A New Poe Letter,” American Literature, 42 (1971), 468-77. It is the only extant letter known between Poe and Wyatt; the circumstances under which it was written are not fully understood. The letter gives definite evidence of Poe’s continued friendship with Wyatt, as does his February 25, 1843, letter to Frederick William Thomas. At present it is not clear whether Poe’s visit to the workshop of Peter S. Duval, the lithographer who had prepared the plates for The Conchologist’s First Book, was an errand kindly performed for a friend or a duty entailed by some new business arrangement he may have had with Wyatt. James Ackerman, ­[page 212:] another Philadelphia lithographer, had also worked with Poe and Wyatt on The Conchologist’s First Book (see the chronology for July and September 11, 1839). “Prof. Millington” was probably John Millington, a professor at William and Mary College who had previously lived in Philadelphia. “Mr Pinkerton” was almost certainly E. J. Pinkerton, a Philadelphia artist. John MacKenzie was the son of William MacKenzie, the Richmond merchant who adopted Poe’s sister Rosalie; he and Poe were friends from childhood. The “Mr Pollock” who was to “attend to the business department” of the Penn Magazine was almost certainly J. R. Pollock, 205 Chestnut Street. McElroy’s Philadelphia Directory for 1837 identifies Pollock as a periodical agent; between the years 1839 and 1845 he is listed as a publisher.

APRIL 1: Poe replies to Frederick William Thomas’ letter of March 7: George R. Graham does not wish to publish his novel serially. Poe asks Thomas to evaluate “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” in his “capacity of a lawyer,” and he asks his friend what he is doing in Washington.

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Thomas’ May 11 reply.

APRIL 3: Poe receives $54 on account from George R. Graham.

NOTE: For documentation, see the chronology for March 25, 1841.

APRIL 4: At 12:30 AM William Henry Harrison dies; he has been President less than a month.

NOTE: Gunderson, Log-Cabin Campaign, p. 273. ­[page 213:]

APRIL 5: The Philadelphia newspapers report the death of President Harrison. The Daily Chronicle, p. 2, col. 1, comments that this is “the first instance where a President has died, while in office.”

APRIL 6: John Tyler is sworn into the office of President.

NOTE: Oliver Perry Chitwood, John Tyler, Champion of the Old South (1939; rpt. New York: Russell &Russell, 1964), p. 203.

APRIL 15: Poe writes John Tomlin.

NOTE: This letter has not been found; Tomlin’s April 30 reply gives no clue to its contents.

APRIL 21: “S. D. L.” of Stonington, Connecticut, writes “the Editor of Graham’s Magazine “ in response to Poe’s offer, made in his April review of R. M. Walsh’s Sketches of Conspicuous Living Characters of France, to solve any cipher which the magazine’s readers may send him. “S. D. L.” encloses two ciphers.

NOTE: Poe printed thin letter and its ciphers in “A Few Words on Secret Writing” in the July Graham’s; see the Works, XIV, 124-26. He solved both cryptograms.

APRIL 23: George Roberts, publisher of the Boston Daily Times and the Boston Notion, writes Rufus W. Griswold: “I hasten to answer your letter. I am glad that you have at length made up your mind to come with me, for I truly believe it will prove to be to your own interest as well as mine. . . . . I shall expect you will consider it a permanent berth, for I shall. I prefer you would commence ­[page 214:] on Saturday, May 8th .

NOTE: Passages from the Correspondence of Rufus W. Griswold, pp. 65-66. Griswold had been employed on the staff of the Philadelphia Daily Standard. The Boston Notion was a weekly newspaper of folio size.

APRIL 23: The Daily Chronicle, p. 2, col. 2, reports that “F. W. Thomas . . . . is lecturing in Washington, D.C.”

APRIL 24: Poe receives $40 on account from George R. Graham.

NOTE: For documentation, see the chronology for March 25, 1841.

APRIL 30: John Tomlin writes Poe:

Jackson, Tennessee,

April 30th 1841

My dear Sir,

Will Mr Graham publish the “Devil’s visit” in his Magazine? Show him the M.S. — and get his consent to publish it in the June or July No.

Your Letter of the 15th instant was received on yesterday. Whenever I can be of any Service to you — be not backward in letting me know it, for I will, if in my power, always do any thing in aid of any enterprise or scheme you may have in view.

If John Tyler Esq, President of the United States, removes me from office for being a loco-foco, I will certainly be opposed to him — and the measure.

Truly yours.

Jno Tomlin

Mr Edgar A Poe. ­[page 215:]

NOTE: MS, Boston Public Library. Tomlin’s tale of “The Devil’s Visit to St Dunstan” was originally intended for the Penn Magazine (see the chronology for September 16, 1840). The Whig victory in the Presidential election was expected to result in the removal of the federal officeholders who had been appointed during the preceding Democratic administrations; Frederick William Thomas discussed this situation in his May 11 and 20, 1841, letters to Poe. John Tomlin had been appointed the postmaster of Jackson, Tennessee, on February 24, 1841, by President Van Buren; he retained his office during the Tyler Presidency. A “loco-foco “ was a member of the radical wing of the Democratic party.

May, 1841

MAY: The inside front wrapper of Graham’s Magazine carries an announcement for prospective contributors: “Writers who send articles to this Magazine for publication, must state distinctly at the time of sending them, whether they expect pay. We cannot allow compensation unless by special contract before publication. This rule will hereafter be rigidly enforced.”

NOTE: Unbound copy in original wrappers, Gimbel Collection, Philadelphia Free Library. Charles West Thomson discusses this notice in his May 1 letter to Poe.

MAY: Graham’s Magazine publishes “A Descent into the Maelström.”

NOTE: Poe discussed this story and its reception in his July 12, 1841, letter to Joseph Evans Snodgrass: “You ­[page 216:] flatter me about the Maelström. It was finished in a hurry, and therefore its conclusion is imperfect. Upon the whole it is neither so good, nor has it been ½ so popular as ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’.” In alluding to this tale’s lack of popularity, Poe may have been thinking of the notice of the May Graham’s published by the Daily Chronicle, April 28, p. 2, col. 5; the paper commented that “The ‘Descent into the Maelstroom’ [sic ] by Edgar A. Poe, Esq., is unworthy of the pen of one whose talents allow him a wider and more ample range.” Certainly he was mindful of the lukewarm reaction contained in Frederick William Thomas’ June 14, 1841, letter to him. “A Descent into the Maelström” received at least one favorable notice; the Saturday Evening Post, May 1, p. 2, col. 8, quoted the New York Evening Star, which had found that it “appears to be equal in interest with the powerful article . . . . in the last number, ‘The Murder[s] in the Rue Morgue.’”

MAY: Poe reviews Charles Dickens’ Master Humphrey’s Clock and The Old Curiosity Shop for Graham’s Magazine. He contrasts Dickens with the author of Night and Morning: “Mr. Bulwer, through art, has almost created a genius. Mr. Dickens, through genius, has perfected a standard from which Art itself will derive its essence, its rules.”

MAY 1: The Saturday Evening Post, p. 4, cols. 3-4, publishes Poe’s “Prospective Notice” of Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge, which was then appearing serially.

NOTE: The review is reprinted in “Edgar Allan Poe on ‘Barnaby Rudge,”’ The Dickensian, 9 (1913), 173-78. In a second review of Barnaby Rudge, published in Graham’s Magazine in February, 1842, Poe claimed that in the “prospective notice “ in the Post he had accurately predicted ­[page 217:] the novel’s denouement; the validity of his boast has been examined by Gerald G. Grubb, “The Personal and Literary Relationships of Dickens and Poe,” Nineteenth-Century Fiction, 5 (1950), 8-15. Mabbott, Poems, pp. 355-56, accepts Barnaby Rudge’s raven Grip as a source for Poe’s “The Raven.”

MAY 1: Charles West Thomson writes Poe, discussing the compensation given contributors to Graham’s Magazine:

I observe a notice on the cover of the May Mag. in reference to writers, which perhaps may be intended for my information — I have merely to remark in regard to the matter, that I do not expect payment for anything heretofore published or now in your possession, but I should like to know from Mr. Graham whether he is willing to pay for future contributions and at what rate. It is time for me to think of making my efforts a little more productive than they have heretofore been — I have preferred addressing you on this occasion, as we have before spoken together on the subject. —

NOTE: Thomas Ollive Mabbott, “An Unpublished Letter to Poe,” Notes and Queries, 174 (May 28, 1938), 385.

MAY 3: Poe, acting on behalf of George R. Graham, writes Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, inviting him to become a regular contributor to Graham’s Magazine: “I should be overjoyed if we could get from you an article each month — either poetry or prose — length and subject à discretion. In respect to terms we would gladly offer you carte blanche — and the periods of payment should also be made to suit yourself.” Poe is forwarding the April and May numbers of Graham’s Magazine in order that Longfellow “may form some judgment of the character of the work.” If he decides to contribute, ‘it would be an important object with us to have something, as soon as convenient, for the ­[page 218:] July number, which commences a new volume, and with part of which we are already going to press.” Poe expresses his “fervent admiration” for Longfellow’s writings.

NOTE: Letters, I, 158-59. Longfellow, like James Russell Lowell, was invited to establish his own rate of compensation (see the chronology for February 18 and March 29, 1841); other contributors to Graham’s were not so fortunate.

ANTE MAY 8: Poe meets Rufus W. Griswold.

NOTE: This dating is established by George Roberts’ April 23, 1841, letter to Griswold, which indicates that the anthologist would have left Philadelphia for Boston shortly before May 8. There is no reason to doubt Griswold’s account of his first meeting with Poe, which is given in the “Memoir” included in his edition of The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe, Volume I: Tales (New York: Redfield, 1855), p. xxi: “My acquaintance with Mr. POE commenced in the spring of 1841. He called at my hotel, and not finding me at home, left two letters of introduction. The next morning I visited him, and we had a long conversation about literature and literary men, pertinent to the subject of a book, ‘The Poets and Poetry of America,’ which I was then preparing for the press.” In the spring of 1841 Poe and Griswold would have found an association to be to their mutual advantage. Poe would have wanted his poems to figure in The Poets and Poetry of America; and Griswold would have realized that a favorable review of his anthology by Poe, who had acquired a national reputation as a critic and who was an editor of the widely circulated Graham’s Magazine, would enhance its chances of success.

ANTE MAY 8: Poe writes Rufus W. Griswold shortly after their first meeting: ­[page 219:]

Dr Griswold,

Will you be kind enough to lend me the No. of the Family Magazine of which we spoke — if you have received it?

I wd be much obliged, also, if you cd let me take a peep at Stephens’ “Yucatan”, if you have it, or, if not, at any new book of interest.

Truly yours

Poe

NOTE: Letters, I, 159-60. The fact that Poe addresses Griswold familiarly by his surname and casually asks to borrow several books seems to indicate that the two men were initially on good. terms.

ANTE MAY 8: Rufus W. Griswold leaves Philadelphia for Boston. He begins an editorial engagement on the Boston Notion.

NOTE: His “editorial presence” has been “readily detected” in the May 15 issue of the Notion by B. Bernard Cohen and Lucian A. Cohen, “Poe and Griswold Once More,” American Literature, 34 (1962), 97-101.

MAY 10: Thomas Dunn English is among the speakers who address a “great and overflowing meeting” of the “Friends of Ireland “ held at the County Court House. Their speeches are “enthusiastically cheered.”

NOTE: This event was reported by the Daily Chronicle, May 12, p. 2, col. 3. English was a member of the Irish Repeal Association in Philadelphia, an organization largely composed of Irish immigrants and their descendants; it advocated political independence for Ireland, which was then united to Great Britain. English may have been originally attracted to the cause of home rule for Ireland ­[page 220:] by his own Irish ancestry, which has been documented by Gravely, “Thomas Dunn English,” pp. 3-4, 7. In 1843 and 1844, when the Tyler administration sought political support from recent Irish immigrants, English,.as one of the President’s leading backers in Philadelphia, had additional reason to participate in the Repeal Association. For additional information on his involvement with Irish affairs, see the chronology for May 31, 1841, July 3, 10, 1843, and January 10, March 20, 1844.

MAY 10: The Washington Daily National Intelligencer, p. 3, cols. 45, publishes a lengthy review of “a lecture upon oratory” given on Thursday evening, May 6, “by F. W. THOMAS, Esq. of Cincinnati.” This lecture “was a repetition, for the third time, of a sort of extemporaneous address upon the same subject, made at the request of a literary society . . . . in this city.” The reviewer adds that Thomas held “the rapt attention of an unusually thronged auditory,” and he praises him as a model of eloquence: “Mr. THOMAS . . . . governs a voice equally remarkable for power and sweetness with surpassing skill; and his manner may be profitably studied by many who forget that, where a public speaker puts forth so much force as to make it painfully evident that he can roar no louder, what he means as a show of vigor often betrays to the listener the reverse.”

MAY 11: Frederick William Thomas replies to Poe’s April 1 letter: he regrets that George R. Graham does not wish to publish his novel serially. Thomas encloses a contribution for Graham’s Magazine, and he asks Poe to have Graham send “a remittance for it as soon as convenient . . . . . A gentleman of address, if not of character . . . . did me the honor to borrow feloniously my coat with an ­[page 221:] hundred and ten dollars in it — This has shortened my finances[.]” He answers Poe’s question: “You ask me what I am doing. Why I have been lecturing upon ‘oratory.’ . . . . if you wish to see how I am glorified just refer . . . . to the National Intelligencer of May 10th.” Thomas thinks that he may move to New Orleans, where he would practice law. “Speaking of law reminds me of your tale ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’ and your wish to know how I like it in ‘my capacity of a lawyer’ — I must speak frankly, and without flattery[.] I think it the most ingenious thing of the kind on record — It is managed with a tact, ability and subtlety that is wonderful — I do not know what in the devil to make of your intellectuals.” Yesterday Thomas read Poe’s critique of Barnaby Rudge in the May 1 issue of the Saturday Evening Post, but he will not comment on it because he has not yet read Dickens’ novel. He suggests an article for his correspondent: “Poe[,] don’t forget that Henry Clay said that at the extra. session of Congress he meant to bring up the copy right law — Are you not going to give an editorial on the subject — Do prick the Senator’s memory and I will have the article copied here — I think when Congress meets that your humble servant will lecture on the subject . . . . .” Thomas reprimands Poe for not keeping his promise to review Howard Pinckney: “By the bye you are a shabby fellow — Do you think by love! that I thought you . . . . to get over ‘Howard Pinckney’ with out ‘abusing it’ — No sir, and be it known to you that I consider this no good reason in the eye of friendship why you should not notice it — Better be damned &c — Don’t you know that to be before the public is-the thing — Poe I don’t like that — and that’s flat . . . . .” Jesse E. Dow has been removed from office: “I am more than sorry for it — It is though what he ought to have expected . . . . . Dow has a wife and three children, with ­[page 222:] soon [to] have a fourth, and yet he bears up like a man . . . . .” Since his removal, Dow has stopped drinking, avoiding even “hard cider”; he now “stimulates only with tea and coffee — He boards next door to me. I see him daily. We walk often together and I do not think we have ever taken a walk without speaking of you . . . . .” Thomas requests: “Poe you must remember me most affectionately to your wife and mother — Tell Mrs Clemm that my mother and sisters often speak of her. I live in the hope of seeing you out in ‘The Penn’ yet — Can I be of any service to you here?”

NOTE: MS, Boston Public Library. Thomas dated this letter April 11, but it is postmarked May 11. In his March 7, 1841, letter to Poe, Thomas had offered to contribute a novel to Graham’s Magazine in monthly installments. He did not make the journey to New Orleans which he discussed in the present letter. In his November 23, 1840, letter Poe had promised to _review Howard Pinckney in the first number of the Penn Magazine. Jesse E. Dow, a Democrat of the Loco-Foco faction;, had held a clerkship in the Post Office Department under the Van Buren administration (see the chronology for June 3, 1840, and September 25, 1841); many Democratic officeholders lost their positions as a result of the Whig victory in the Presidential election. Thomas’ mother, Ann Fonerden Thomas, and his sisters had almost certainly made the acquaintance of Mrs. Maria Clemm during the years that his family lived in Baltimore (1816-1828).

MAY 15: In the “Literary Notices” of the Boston Notion, Rufus W. Griswold publishes a “puff” of his forthcoming anthology The Poets and Poetry of America and a scathing review of Pliny Earle’s Marathon, and Other Poems. ­[page 223:]

NOTE: Cohen and Cohen, “Poe and Griswold Once More,” 97-98.

MAY 19: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow replies to Poe’s letter of May 3:

I am much obliged to you for your kind expressions of regard, and to Mr. Graham for his very generous offer, of which I should gladly avail myself under other circumstances. But I am so much occupied at present that I could not do it with any satisfaction either to you or to myself. I must therefore respectfully decline his proposition.

You are mistaken in supposing that you are not “favorably known to me.” On the contrary, all that I have read from your pen has inspired me with a high idea of your power; and I think you are destined to stand among the first romance-writers of the country, if such be your aim.

NOTE: The Letters of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, II, 302. Longfellow agreed to become a regular contributor to Graham’s Magazine during Rufus W. Griswold’s editorship (see the chronology for November 27, 1842).

MAY 20: Frederick William Thomas writes Poe, complaining that he has not yet received payment for the article he submitted to Graham’s Magazine on May 11. Thomas reminds Poe that he needs a remittance “as soon as possible” because his money has been stolen. He adds: “I have been disappointed in receiving a remittance from St. Louis from an editor for whom I have been writing and I feel constrained to request, my dear friend, that you would jog Mr. Graham’s memory. Don’t fail me — for my pocket is at a low ebb.” Thomas fears that “with the failure of the banks and the death of General Harrison. . . . . it will be some time before publishing resumes its former busy existence. Dam[n] Locofocoism — there was some little money to be made by books before that — but nowadays!” Jesse E. Dow, who has ­[page 224:] been “turned out,” is now doing well as “an agent for postmasters — or rather for those who wish to make contracts with the post office department. He seems cheerful and has quit drinking even hard cider. The Locofocos here seem to think or wish to think that President Tyler will go with them — or at least be half and half.” Thomas suggests that Poe come to Washington and apply for a clerkship:

How would you like to be an office holder here at $1500 per year payable monthly by Uncle Sam who, however slack he may be to his general creditors, pays his officials with due punctuality. How would you like it? You stroll to your office a little after nine in the morning leisurely, and you stroll from it a little after two in the afternoon homeward to dinner, and return no more that day. If during office hours you have anything to do it is an agreeable relaxation from the monstrous laziness of the day. You have on your desk everything in the writing line in apple-pie order, and if you choose to lucubrate in a literary way, why you can lucubrate.

NOTE: Works, XVII, 8485. In this letter Thomas proposes, for the first time, that Poe seek a government office, although he is vague about the particular position involved and the means of obtaining it. A year later, on May 21, 1842, Thomas specifically stated that “a situation in the Custom House, Philadelphia,” could be obtained for Poe, through the intercession of Robert Tyler, the President’s son. Information on Dow’s Post Office agency may be found in the chronology for September 25, 1841.

MAY 22: In reviewing the June number of Graham’s Magazine for the Boston Notion, Rufus W. Griswold criticizes Poe for his favorable notice of Pliny Earle’s Marathon, and Other Poems: “We alluded to this book by ‘Doctor Earle,’ several days ago, and recur to it only to point out the extreme worthlessness of the attempts of criticism in a certain class of magazines. . . . . we never saw anything more ­[page 225:] ineffably senseless and bombastic, than these verses so lauded by the editor of Graham’s Magazine — the same editor who pronounced Charles Sprague’s Shakspeare Ode ‘a specimen. of commonplace,’ and Curiosity a ‘tolerable occasional poem’’”

NOTE: Griswold’s review is reprinted by Cohen and Cohen, “Poe and Griswold Once More,” 98-99; they find evidence that Poe saw Griswold’s attack in the Boston Notion and that he “replied to it indirectly” in “Autography.” Charles Sprague was a Boston poet; Poe contributed an unfavorable review of his Writings to the May number of Graham’s Magazine. Pliny Earle had been an early supporter of the Penn Magazine (see the chronology for October 2, 10, 1840); Poe’s favorable notice of his Marathon, and Other Poems appeared in the June Graham’s.

MAY 26: Poe replies to Frederick William Thomas’ letters of May 11 and 20. He expresses his approval of the article Thomas submitted to Graham’s Magazine on May 11; and he encloses George R. Graham’s draft on Franck Taylor, a Washington periodical agent, for twenty dollars. Poe asks Thomas for information on George G. Foster.

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Thomas’ May 28 reply. Franck Taylor appears in the Washington Directory for 1843. George G. Foster, a journalist, was a contributor to Graham’s Magazine; Poe later considered starting a periodical with him (see his September 12, 1842, letter to Thomas).

MAY 28: Frederick William Thomas writes Poe: “Yours of the 26 enclosing a draft upon F Taylor, periodical agent of this place, drawn in my favour by Mr Graham for ­[page 226:] twenty dollars, I received yesterday.” Urgently needing the money, Thomas went “forthwith to Mr Taylor’s book store and presented the draft — He said he had not that amount . . . . due Mr Graham, and that he could not consequently cash the draft . . . . .” Thomas again reminds his correspondent that his purse has been stolen and that he is in dire need of money. He is glad that Poe likes his article: “I don’t know why it is, but frankly I like your approval of my little efforts better than any other critic’s whatsoever — firstly because you are a critic-and secondly because you are outright[,] downright and upright in your criticism . . . . .” Thomas, in turn, has praise for Poe’s contributions to the June number of Graham’s Magazine: “I like your ‘Island of the Fay’ . . . . . You have struck a new vein — and I must moreover say to you that your criticisms are better now-a-days . . . . because they are more profound — with less attempt at severity with much more of it.” Thomas endorses Poe’s unfavorable verdict on William Davis Gallagher’s Selections from the Poetical Literature of the West: “I am glad you ‘rapped Gallagher over the knuckles[’] — He deserved it — If his merit is as great as his modesty . . . . how much merit has he? He is between you and me as morbid an egotist and as envious a fellow as you will find in the sea’s compass — He is no friend of mine an[d] never was . . . . .” In response to Poe’s query, Thomas describes George G. Foster:

All I know of him [Foster] is, that, when I visited St Louis last, I found him there editing a paper. I was introduced to him and was struck with his talent — I know that his initials a[re] G G — but furthermore I know not — His life has been excentric and wild I should judge; he seems careless of money, often in want of it (no sin that!) and I understood that he made his first appearance in St Louis as a flutist[,] upon which instrument he is a most accomplished performer — I have heard him say that he formerly edited ­[page 227:] a paper in the south, and furthermore think I have heard him say that he came from the east — He is a short thin man with a very upright walk . . . . has a large black eye, hooked or rather arched nose, and speaks quick and impulsively — showing his teeth, which are uneven, very much when he speaks — His hair is very black and is turning grey here and there. — He is married and has a wife and child — I believe too that he was once on the stage —

In a postscript Thomas asks if he can be of service to Graham’s Magazine in Washington: “it will give me pleasure to do so — for anything with which you are connected I need not tell you I take a deep interest in — Dow is well . . . . . “

NOTE: MS, Boston Public Library. Thomas dated this letter May 29, but it is postmarked May 28. He presumably made the acquaintance of William Davis Gallagher, a Cincinnati editor, when he lived in that city during the 1830’s. Poe reviewed Gallagher’s Poetical Literature of the West in the June number of Graham’s Magazine: although he praised individual poems by Thomas, George G. Foster, William Ross Wallace, and Gallagher himself, he commented that the anthology contained “a great deal of trash with which the public could well have dispensed.”

MAY 29: Poe writes Rufus W. Griswold in Boston, forwarding a number of his poems for possible inclusion in The Poets and Poetry of America: “I should be proud to see one or two of them in your book.” Poe alludes to a discussion he had with Griswold about a plagiarism perpetrated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “The one [of the poems accompanying; the letter] called ‘Haunted Palace’ is that of which I spoke in reference to Prof. Longfellow’s plagiarism. I first published the H. P. in Brooks’ ‘Museum’ . . . . . Afterwards, I: embodied it in a tale called ‘The ­[page 228:] House of Usher’ in Burton’s Magazine. Here it was, I suppose, that Prof. Longfellow saw it; for, about 6 weeks afterwards, there appeared in the South. Lit. Mess: a poem by him called ‘The Beleaguered City’ . . . . . The identity in title is striking;; for by the Haunted Palace I mean to imply a mind haunted by phantoms — a disordered brain — and by the Beleaguered City Prof. L. means just the same. But the whole tournure of the poem is based upon mine . . . . . Its allegorical conduct, the style of its versification &expression — all are mine.” As Poe understands that Griswold intends “to preface each set of poems by some biographical notice,” he is enclosing a “memo” outlining “the particulars” of his life.

NOTE: Letters, I, 160-61. Presumably Griswold indicated that Poe’s poems would be welcome in his anthology when the two men saw each other in Philadelphia shortly before May 8, 1841 (see the chronology). “The Haunted Palace” was first published in the April, 1839, number of the American Museum, edited by Nathan C. Brooks and Joseph Evans Snodgrass; it was incorporated in “The Fall of the House of Usher,” which appeared in the September, 1839, number of Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine. Poe’s biographical “memo,” which contains errors and fabrications, is printed in the Works, I, 344-46.

MAY 31: A large meeting of the “Friends of Ireland” is held in the evening at the District Court Room, which proves “incapable of containing the many hundreds . . . . in attendance to participate in the proceedings of the Repeal Association.” Thomas Dunn English is one of the speakers who, “being severally called upon,” give the “most eloquent and glowing pictures of the misgovernment of Ireland, enriched with facts striking illustrative of the ­[page 229:] hardships and oppressions of the Irish people since the union of their country with England.” Their speeches are “listened to with marked attention, and concluded amidst the most rapturous applause!” During this meeting seventy-four Philadelphians are “unanimously elected” to membership in the Irish Repeal Association; one of these is Henry B. Hirst, who pays a subscription of one dollar. His election is greeted by “cheers.”

NOTE: The rally was discussed at length by The Spirit of the Times, June 3, p. 1, cols. 4-5, p. 4, col. 1. This newspaper’s report provides the earliest definite evidence of Henry B. Hirst’s association with Thomas Dunn English; these two young poets became frequent companions. Hirst often attended political rallies at which English was a speaker (see the chronology for May 23, 30, July 4, and October 24, 1842).

June, 1841

JUNE: Graham’s Magazine publishes Poe’s tale “The Island of the Fay.”

NOTE: The frontispiece for the June number was John Sartain’s engraving of “The Island of the Fay.” In “The Basis for Poe’s ‘The Island of the Fay,’” F. DeWolfe Miller suggested that Poe’s tale was written on order as an illustration of Sartain’s mezzotint of the same title.

ANTE JUNE 8: Rufus W. Griswold in Boston writes Poe, asking his assistance in obtaining biographical sketches of Edward Coote Pinkney and Amelia Welby for the forthcoming Poets and Poetry of America. ­[page 230:]

NOTE: This letter seems to be implied by Frederick William Thomas’ June 8 letter, to Griswold. Edward Coote Pinkney (1802-1828) was a Maryland poet; Amelia Welby (1819-1852) was a popular Kentucky poetess.

ANTE JUNE 8: Poe replies to Rufus W. Griswold: his friend Frederick William Thomas should be able to furnish sketches of these two poets for The Poets and Poetry of America. Poe sends a letter to Thomas in Washington, asking him to write Griswold about this matter.

NOTE: The contents of these two letters are surmised from Thomas’ June 8 letter to Griswold.

JUNE 8: Frederick William Thomas writes Rufus W. Griswold:

My friend Edgar A. Poe, of Graham’s Magazine, Philadelphia, wrote me the other day informing me that you were about publishing a volume of American poetry, and that you were desirous of having sketches biographical of Pinckney [Edward Coote Pinkney] of Baltimore and “Amelia” [Amelia Welby] of Kentucky. He also stated to me that he had replied to you that I could furnish you the sketches, and he advised me to write to you on the subject.

Pinckney I formerly knew, and I have the pleasure of knowing personally as well as poetically “Amelia.” Having been a Baltimorean and being lately of the West I feel a natural interest in the fame of both those individuals.

It would give me pleasure to furnish you the sketches, as my friend Poe writes me that you “pay well and promptly.” A thing as excellent in a man, as silence, according to old Lear, is excellent in a woman. If you should like me to furnish you the sketches aforesaid I should be glad to hear from you in the premises.

If Griswold intends to publish The Poets and Poetry of America on his “own account,” Thomas may be able to provide him with useful information on the Western publishers: ­[page 231:]

“I know the editors ‘all along shore’ there, and, in any event, for the sake of western literature I should be happy to advance your interests.”

NOTE: Passages from the Correspondence of Rufus W. Griswold, pp. 66-67. Thomas would have welcomed literary work which paid “well and promptly”; he discussed his urgent need for money in his May 11, 20, and 28, 1841, letters to Poe.

ANTE JUNE 14: Poe writes Frederick William Thomas, enclosing an order on Thomas R. Hampton, a Washington periodical agent and bookseller. Apparently, he invites Thomas to join him in establishing a new magazine. He requests Thomas’ opinion of “A Descent into the Maelstrom” and of his offer to solve ciphers for the readers of Graham’s Magazine.

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Thomas’ June 14 letter, which is a reply to at least two letters from Poe. The letter containing the draft on Hampton may be identical to the letter in which Poe asked Thomas to write Rufus W. Griswold (see the chronology for ante June 8 and June 8), or it may be a separate item. The draft would have been payment for the contribution to Graham’s Magazine Thomas forwarded in his May 11 letter; the draft Poe sent him on May 26 was not honored (see Thomas’ May 28 letter). Thomas R. Hampton appears in the Washington Directory for 1843.

ANTE JUNE 14: Poe writes Frederick William Thomas, forwarding proof sheets. A portion of Thomas’ article is missing, and Poe asks him to furnish the “lost copy.”

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Thomas’ June 14 reply. ­[page 232:]

JUNE 14: Frederick William Thomas, who has been ill with a fever “these four days past,” replies to two letters from Poe. “Owning to indisposition, which prevented my going a-broad, I did not receive your letter, containing the proof sheet of the lost [copy?] until yesterday, too late for the mail.” Thomas explains: “To require me to furnish that lost copy would be like requiring me without the aid of astronomy or telescope to discuss the lost Pleiad.” He has therefore simply added several lines to his article. Thomas states that the order on Thomas R. Hampton “(at least the last ten dollars of it) . . . . was paid just four days since.” He continues: “Now for a reply to your letter inclosing the order! I would like to join you very much! . . . . Let me hear from you again on the subject — I have friends throughout the broad west, [who] would be glad to advance my literary interest in the west — and who have a high regard for your literary reputation . . . . .” Thomas responds to two questions from Poe:

Yes I have read your “Descent into a Maelstrom”: I did not like it as much as several of your other articles; but I must say to you that a friend, of mine, whose ability I respect, in the highest degree, thinks it one of your best papers — and he has the “tallest” kind of opinion of you —

I saw your challenge about deciphering — I feel satisfied that you can fullfil [sic ] it — so do it and excite the wonder of the people.

Thomas apologizes for his handwriting, which has been adversely affected by his fever. In a postscript he adds that “Dow is well — and send[s] regard[s] — is soon to have a third (3d)[;] no mistake, he is . . . . .”

NOTE: MS, Boston Public Library. In his May 11 letter Thomas stated that Jesse E. Dow was expecting his fourth child; this earlier source is probably correct. By his own admission, Thomas was ill with a fever when writing the ­[page 233:] present letter.

JUNE 15: The Philadelphia Gazette, p. 2, col. 1, reports the death of its editor Willis Gaylord Clark on June 12 at 10 PM. The paper is offered for sale.

NOTE: Clark had been suffering from tuberculosis.

ANTE JUNE 21: Poe reaches agreement with George R. Graham to issue a new “Monthly Magazine” on January 1, 1842. The journal will be “an octavo of 96 pages” and will cost five dollars per year; it will preserve the name and “the general intentions” of the Penn Magazine. Its “chief feature will be that of contributions from the most distinguished pens (of America) exclusively; or if this plan cannot be wholly carried out . . . . at least . . . . [from] some five or six of the most distinguished — admitting few articles from other sources . . . . .” Graham and Poe hope “to engage the permanent services” of John P. Kennedy, Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, James K. Paulding, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant, FitzGreene Halleck, Nathaniel P. Willis, and possibly “one or two more.” These writers are to be given “carte blanche as to terms”; but they must consent to be bound by contract for one year, during which time they shall be “pledged not to write for any other (American) Magazine.” Graham will “furnish all supplies” for the new Penn Magazine, and he will give Poe “a half interest” in the journal “merely for editorial service” and for his “list of subscribers to the old ‘Penn.’” Graham will, however, participate in this project only on the condition that Poe obtains “as contributors the gentlemen above named — or at least the most of them . . . . .

NOTE: The details of Poe’s agreement with Graham are given ­[page 234:] most completely in his June 21 letter to his early benefactor, John P. Kennedy. Poe also wrote Irving, Cooper, Paulding, Longfellow, Bryant, Halleck, and Willis: in each letter he outlined at length his proposal for a new magazine of high literary quality, and he asked his correspondent to contribute to it under a one-year contract which would give him “‘carte blanche as to terms” but would not permit him “to write for any other (American) Magazine.” Nothing came of this attempt to issue the Penn Magazine. Poe discussed the scheme again in his July 6, 1842, letter to Daniel Bryan, stating that Graham failed to keep their “bargain (a verbal one).” It is more likely that Poe did not succeed in enlisting these noted literati as contributors and thus failed to meet Graham’s stipulation.

CIRCA JUNE 21: Poe writes Bryant, Paulding, and Willis, asking each to contribute to the new monthly magazine which he and George R. Graham will issue on January 1, 1842.

NOTE: These letters have not been found; they are cited in Poe’s letters to Cooper, Irving, Kennedy, Longfellow, and Halleck.

CIRCA JUNE 21: Poe writes James Fenimore Cooper:

Dear Sir

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. Will you pardon me for saying a few words on the subject?

I need not call your attention to the signs of the times in respect to Magazine literature. You will admit the tendency of the age in this direction. The brief, the terse, and the easily circulated will take the place of the diffuse, the ponderous, and the inaccessible. Even our Reviews are found too massive for the taste of ­[page 235:] the day — I do not mean for the taste of the merely uneducated, but also for that of the few. In the meantime the finest minds of Europe are beginning to lend their spirit to Magazines. In this country, unhappily, we have no journals of the class, which can either afford to compensate the highest talent, or which is, in all respects, a fitting vehicle for its thoughts. In the supply of this deficiency there would be a point gained; and the project of which I speak has originated in the hope of supplying it.

Mr. Graham is a lawyer, but for some years past has been occupied in publishing. His experience of the per[i]odical business is great. He is a gentleman of high social standing, and possessed of ample pecuniary means. For myself — you will perhaps remember me as the original editor of the South. Lit. Messenger of Richmond, Va.; and I have had, otherwise, much to do with the conduct of Magazines. Together, we would enter the field with a full understanding of

the difficulties to be encountered, and, I trust, with entire ability to meet them.

The work will be an octavo of 96 pages. The paper will be, excellent — very far superior to that of the N. A. Review. The type will be new (always new) clear and bold, with distinct face. The matter will be disposed in single column. The printing will be done upon a hand press, in the best manner. There will be a broad margin. We shall have no engravings except occasional wood-cuts (by Adams) when demanded in obvious illustration of the text; and, when so required, they will be worked in with the type — not upon separate pages, as in “Arcturus.” The stitching will be done in the French style, permitting the book to lie fully open. Upon the cover, and throughout, the endeavour will be to preserve the greatest purity of taste, consistent with force and decision. The price will be $5.00.

The chief feature in the literary department will be that of contributions from the most distinguished pens (of America) exclusively; or, if this plan cannot be wholly carried out, we propose, at least, to procure the constant aid of some five or six of the most distinguished; and to admit few articles from other sources-none which are not of a very high order of merit. ­[page 236:] We shall endeavour to engage the services of yourself, Mr. Irving, Mr. Paulding, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Longfellow, Mr. Bryant, Mr. Halleck, Mr. Willis, and, perhaps, one or two others. In fact, as before said, our success in making these engagements is a condition without which the Magazine will not go into operation; and my immediate object in addressing you now, is to ascertain how far we may look to yourself for aid.

It would be desirable that you agree to furnish one paper each month — either absolute or serial — and of such length as you might deem proper. We leave terms entirely to your own decision. The sums specified will be paid as you may suggest. It would be necessary that an agreement be made for one year, during which period you should be pledged not to write for any other American Magazine. The journal will be commenced on the first of January, 1842, and (should we be so fortunate as to obtain your consent to our proposal) it would be best that we should have in hand, by the first of December next, at least two papers from each contributor.

With this letter I despatch one of similar tenor to each of the gentlemen above named. If you cannot make it convenient to give an unconditional reply, will you be kind enough to say whether you will write for us upon condition that we succeed in our, engagements with the others — specifying what others?

With high respect Y’r ob’t S’t Edgar A. Poe

NOTE: Poe’s letter to Cooper is not included in the Letters; it is reproduced from a transcript of the manuscript given in Stan V. Henkels’ Catalogue No. 628: The Collection of Autographs Belonging to Joseph Henry Dubbs . . . . To Be Sold . . . . March 21 and 22, 1893 (Philadelphia: Stan V. Henkels, 1893) PP. 152-53, where it is dated as “June, 1841.” A copy of this catalog is held by the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia. The “Adams” whom ­[page 237:] Poe named as the illustrator of his Penn Magazine was probably Joseph Alexander Adams, a wood engraver living in New York City.

JUNE 21: Poe writes Washington Irving, asking him to contribute to the new magazine which he and George R. Graham will issue on January l, 1842.

NOTE: Letters, I, 161-63.

JUNE 21: Poe writes John P. Kennedy, asking him to contribute to the new magazine which he and George R. Graham will issue on January 1, 1842.

NOTE: Letters, I, 163-66.

JUNE 22: Poe writes Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, asking him to contribute to the new magazine which he and George R. Graham will issue on January 1, 1842.

NOTE: Letters, I, 166-68.

JUNE 24: Poe writes Fitz-Greene Halleck, asking him to contribute to the new magazine which he and George R. Graham will issue on January 1, 1842.

NOTE: Letters, I, 168-70.

JUNE 24: Washington Irving replies to Poe’s letter of June 21.

NOTE: According to Ostrom, Letters, II, 586, Irving noted the date of his reply on Poe’s letter.

JUNE 26: The Baltimore Saturday Visiter, p. 2, col. 2, reports that “F. W. Thomas, Esq., the author of several [page 238:] popular novels, and a fine poet withal, has recently received an appointment in the Treasury Department. We are glad to find that this administration is inclined to reward literary as well as political talent; for in our opinion

a literary man may confer as much honor on his native country as a politician — the united strength of both form national character.”

NOTE: The Visiter was then edited by John Beauchamp Jones.

JUNE 26: Poe writes Frederick William Thomas, enclosing the July number of Graham’s Magazine: “If you can get us a notice in the Intelligencer, as you said, I will take it as

a particular favor — but . . . . do not put yourself to any trouble about it.” Poe congratulates Thomas; he has just heard from George R. Graham that his friend has “stepped into an office at Washington — salary $1000.” Poe adds:

For my own part, notwithstanding Graham’s unceasing civility, and. real kindness, I feel more &more disgusted with my situation. Would to God, I could do as you have done. Do you seriously think that an application on my part to Tyler would have a good result? My claims, to be sure, are few. I am a Virginian — at least I call myself one, for I have resided all my life, until within the last few years, in Richmond. My political principles have always been as nearly as may be, with the existing administration, and I battled with right good will for Harrison, when opportunity offered. With Mr Tyler I have some slight personal acquaintance — although this is a matter which he has possibly forgotten. For the rest, I am a literary man — and I see a disposition in government to cherish letters. Have I any chance?

Poe has reviewed Joseph Holt Ingraham’s novel The Quadroone unfavorably in the June number of Graham’s, and he regrets that this writer is now “in high dudgeon” because of the critique: “As a man I like him much, and wherever I could do so, without dishonor to my own sense of truth, I have ­[page 239:] praised his writings. His’south-West,’ for example, I lauded highly. His ‘Quadroone’ is, in my honest opinion, trash.”

NOTE: Letters, I, 170 — 71. The “Intelligencer” Poe mentioned was the Daily National Intelligencer, Washington’s most influential newspaper. The fact that in this letter Poe does not mention his recent agreement with Graham to issue the Penn Magazine and expresses his readiness to accept a government position may indicate that he had already received one or more negative replies to the letters he sent to the nation’s most prominent literati around June 21. It is not clear whether the “Mr Tyler” with whom Poe had “some slight personal acquaintance” was President John Tyler or his son Robert, who was a minor poet and a friend of Thomas. There is no evidence that Poe actively participated in the Presidential campaign of 1840. His claim that he “battled with right good will for Harrison” may refer to his satire of Van Buren and his Vice-President Johnson in such stories as “The Devil in the Belfry” and “The Man That Was Used Up”; see William Whipple’s article on “Poe’s Political Satire.” Joseph Holt Ingraham, a popular novelist, was a close friend of Thomas (see Thomas’ January 13-14, 1842, letter to Poe, and see Passages from the Correspondence of Rufus W. Griswold, pp. 296-97).


∞∞∞∞∞∞∞


Notes:

None.


∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

[S:0 - PIP, 1978] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - Poe in Philadelphia, 1838-1844 (D. R. Thomas) (Chapter 05, Part 01)