Text: James A. Harrison, “Chapter 05,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, Vol. XVII: Letters (1902), 17:81-107


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[page 81:]

CHAPTER V.

MARCH, 1841 - MAY, 1842.

EDITOR OF GRAHAM’S MAGAZINE.

——————

THOMAS TO POE.

[Griswold Collection.]

WASHINGTON CITY, March 7, 1841.

MY DEAR POE, — Your humble servant hails for the present from this land of excitement and rascality. I am here scribbling about matters and things. I have been in Washington this week past. Dow, whom I see frequently, told me that you had given up the idea of the Penn and was engaged with Graham. I regret that you have been prevented from carrying out that glorious enterprise at present, but you‘ll do it yet.

Poe, I want to make a bargain of this nature. I wish for value received to write for some periodical a novel in numbers, say two or three chapters per month, as Marryat and Boz write their novels. I have received a proposition of this nature from a certain periodical publisher, but I doubt if he is good pay. His proposition however stated the thought in my mind and I should like to write a novel in this way. What do you think of it, and what terms &c would your “Graham” give? Dow, to whom I mentioned the matter, suggested the magazine of which you are to be the editor. Let me hear from you on the subject. Write me, if you please, if Mr. Graham likes the proposition what he would give — all about it. 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 [page 82:] of it and consequently make him the purchaser of the subsequent numbers of the Magazine.

The novel will contain a greater variety than any of my others. I shall take my hero, through various adventures in the south east and west, and give a touch of matters and things about Washington, where I have seen much “character” after a sort, I assure you.

For the interest of your publisher I had better mention to you that Fowzer and Woodward, agents, of St. Louis have had a falling out. Of Woodward I know nothing. Fowzer called on me, hearing that I was on’ the eve of starting eastward, and requested that I would procure the agency for him of your publications referring me to gentlemen who would bear testimony to his character.

I made the inquiries and find his character good. This I promised to say to you for him.

I hope, my dear Poe, that you are well and doing well and before long, that is in a month or so, I hope to take you by the hand. My respects to your mother and lady. Dow is well — and I hope in spite of his Locofocoism will retain his office. Write me, if you please, soon as convenient, as I must answer the proposition I have spoken of above.

Truly your friend,  
F. W. THOMAS.

Please to direct to me to Washington and not St. Louis.

F. W. T.

TOMLIN TO POE.

[Griswold Collection.]

JACKSON, TENNESSEE,  
March 13th, 1841.

MR. EDGAR A. POE.

DEAR SIR, — Have you indefinitely postponed the publication of the “Penn Magazine”? If so, your friends here are grievously disappointed. I know, that if you [page 83:] have abandoned entirely the notion of ever commencing its publication — the abandonment was caused by no ordinary circumstances. Again I repeat that your friends here are disappointed. If you have come to the conclusion on mature deliberation, that this is not an auspicious period for the appearance of the journal, perhaps your friends here may possibly forgive you.

At any moment, that you may deem any service of mine, necessary in the aiding or the carrying out to the fulfillment, of any scheme or plan you may project, believe that a call from you, on me, will receive the best attention of

Your friend,
  JNO. TOMLIN.

POE TO GRISWOLD.

[Griswold Memoir.]

PHILADELPHIA, March 29, 1841.

R. W. GRISWOLD, Esq.

MY DEAR SIR, — On the other leaf I send such poems as I think my best, from which you can select any which please your fancy. I should be proud to see one or two of them in your book. The one called “The Haunted Palace” is that of which I spoke in reference to Professor Longfellow’s plagiarism. I first published the “H. P.” in Brooks’ “Museum,” a monthly journal at Baltimore, now dead. Afterwards, I embodied it in a tale called “The House of Usher,” in Burton’s Magazine. Here it was, I suppose, that Professor Longfellow saw it; for, about six weeks afterwards, there appeared in the “Southern Literary Messenger” a poem by him called “The Beleaguered City,” which may now be found in his volume. The identity in title is striking; for by “The Haunted Palace” I mean to imply a mind haunted by phantoms [page 84:] — 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, as you will see at once. Its allegorical conduct, the style of its versification and expression — all are mine. As I understood you to say that you meant to preface each set of poems by some biographical notice, I have ventured to send you the above memoranda — the particulars of which (in a case where an author is so little known as myself) might not be easily obtained elsewhere. “The Coliseum” was the prize poem alluded to.

With high respect, I am your obedient servant,  
EDGAR A. POE.

POE TO SNODGRASS.

April 1, 1841.

See Volume I., Biography, pages 158-161.

THOMAS TO POE.

[Griswold Collection.]

WASHINGTON, May 20, 1841

MY DEAR POE, — 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. 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. [page 85:]

What with the failure of the banks and the death of General Harrison, which leaves the future operations of the present cabinet in the dark, I fear that it will be some time before publishing resumes its former busy existence. Dam Locofocoism — there was some little money to be made by books before that — but nowadays? Poe, go at the copyright law — Nicklin (I think is the name) has written a book upon the subject and that will give you all the necessary information.

Dow I wrote you was turned out. Well, he is getting along well as an agent for post-matters — 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. How would you like to be an office holder here at $i,oo 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.

Come on and apply for a clerkship, you can follow literature here as well as where you are, and think of the money to be made by it. “Think of that, Master Brooke,” as Sir John sayeth — write to me if you love me on the reception of this.

Jog Graham.

My tenderest regards to your mother and wife.

Your friend,  
F. W. THOMAS.

EDGAR A. POE Esqr.

Philadelphia.

[page 86:]

POE TO JOHN NEAL.

[Ingram.]

PHILADELPHIA, June 4.

MY DEAR SIR, — As you gave me the first jog in my literary career, you are in a manner bound to protect me and keep me rolling. I therefore now ask you to aid me with your influence in whatever manner your experience shall suggest. It strikes me that I never write to you except to ask a favour, but my friend Thomas will assure you that I bear you always in mind, holding you in the highest respect and esteem. — Most truly yours,

EDGAR A. POE.

JOHN NEAL, Esq.

POE TO LONGFELLOW.

[Griswold Collection.]

PHILADELPHIA, June 33, 1841.

DEAR SIR, — Your letter of the 19th May was received. I regret to find my anticipations confirmed, and that you cannot make it convenient to accept Mr. Graham’s proposition. Will you now pardon me for making another?

I need not call your attention to the signs of the times in respect to magazine literature. You will admit that the tendency of the age lies in this way — so far at least as regards the lighter letters. The brief, the terse, the condensed, and the easily circulated will take place of the diffuse, the ponderous, and the inaccessible. Even our Reviews (lucus a non lucendo) are found too massive for the taste of the day: — I do not [page 87:] mean for the taste of the tasteless, but 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 not any journal of the class, which either can alFord to offer pecuniary inducement to the highest talent, or which would be, in all respects, a fitting vehicle for its thoughts. In the supply of this deficiency there would be a point gained; and in the hope of at least partially supplying it, Mr. Graham and myself propose to establish a monthly magazine.

The amplest funds will be embarked in the undertaking. The work will be an octavo of 96 pages. The paper will be of excellent quality — possibly finer than that upon which your “Hyperion” was printed. The type will be new (always new) clear and bold, with distinct face. The matter will be disposed in a single column. The printing will be done upon a hand-press in the best manner. There will be a broad margin. There will be 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 decision and force. The price will be $5.

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 make arrangements with yourself, Mr. Irving, Mr. Cooper, [page 88:] Mr. Paulding, Mr. Bryant, Mr. Halleck, Mr. Willis, and one or two others. In fact, our ability to make these arrangements is a condition, without which the Magazine will not go into operation; and my object in writing you this letter is to ascertain how far I may look to yourself for aid.

In your former note you spoke of present engagements. The proposed journal will not be commenced until the 1st Jan. 1842.

It would be desirable that you should agree to furnish one paper each month — prose or poetry- absolute or serial — an of such length as you might deem proper. Should illustrations be desired by you, these will be engraved at our expense, from designs at your own, superintended by yourself. We leave the matter of terms, as before, to your own decision. The sums agreed upon would be paid as you might suggest. It would be necessary that our agreement should be made for one year — during which period you should be pledged not to write for any other (American) magazine.

With this letter I despatch one of the same tenor to each of the gentlemen before-named. If you cannot consent to 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,  
Yr. ob. st.  
EDGAR A. POE.

PROF. H. W. LONGFELLOW.

[page 89:]

POE TO FITZ-GREENE HALLECK.

[From the Collection of Mr. F. R. Halsey.]

PHILADELPHIA, June 24, 1841.

DEAR SIR, — Mr. George 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 upon 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 place of the diffuse, the ponderous, and the inaccessible. Even our Reviews are found too massive for the taste of 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 journal 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 time past, has been occupied in publishing. His experience of the periodical business is great. He is a gentleman of high social standing, and possessed of ample pecuniary means. Together, we would enter the field with a full understanding of the difficulties to be encountered, and, I trust, with ability to meet them. [page 90:]

The work will be an octavo of 90 pages. The paper will be excellent — 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 the best artists) 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 decision and force. The price will be $5.

The chief feature of the literary department will be that of contributions from the more distinguished pens (of America) exclusively. Or, if this plan cannot be wholly carried out, we purpose, 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 high order of excellence. We shall endeavor to procure the services of yourself, Mr. Bryant, Mr. Longfellow, Mr. Irving, Mr. Cooper, Mr. Paulding, Mr. Kennedy, 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 I may depend upon yourself for assistance.

It would be desirable that you agree to furnish one paper each month — either a complete poem, or a [page 91:] portion of one — and of such length as you deem proper. The terms will be left entirely to your own decision. The services specified will be paid as you may suggest — in advance if necessary. It would be advisable that an agreement be made for one year, during which you should be pledged to write for no 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 proper 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 me an unconditional reply, will you be kind enough to say whether you will write for us upon condition that we are able to engage others — specifying what others?

With high respect — y r ob. st  
EDGAR A. POE.

FITZ-GREENE HALLECK, Esqe.

POE TO THOMAS.

[Stoddard.]

Would to God I could do as you have done! Do you seriously think that an application 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 [page 92:] 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?

THOMAS TO POE.

[Griswold Collection.]

WASHINGTON, July 1st, 1841.

MY DEAR POE, — Yours of 26 June I received yesterday. I trust, my dear friend, that you can obtain an appointment. President Tyler I have not seen except in passing in his carriage — never having called at the White House since the death of Harrison except to see the sons of the President, and then they were not in — could n‘t you slip on here and see the president yourself — or if you would prefer it I will see him for you — but perhaps your application lead better be made through someone who has influence with the executive. I have heard you say that J. P. Kennedy has a regard for you — he is here a Congressman and would serve you — would he not? My employment is merely temporary. I had a letter of introduction to the Secretary of the Treasury, from my friend Governor Corwin of Ohio, merely introducing me as a “literary character” — I did not then expect to ask office, but finding that publishing was at a low ebb, I waited on Mr. Ewing and told him frankly how I was situated and that I should like to be making something; he with great kindness installed me here. There are thousands of applicants. My duty is to schedule their claims and present them to the Secretary. He reads the schedule and makes his decision, unless he has doubts about the matter, and then he sends on the papers. Let me hear from you in this matter of yours. The notice of the Intelligencer shall appear if I have influence enough with Mr. Gales to get it in. [page 93:]

The enclosed cryptograph is from a friend of mine (Dr. Frailey) who thinks he can puzzle you. If you decypher it then you are a magician — for he has used as I think much art in making it. Let me hear from you at your first leisure about the office.

Your friend,  
F. W. THOMAS.

[Part of the cryptograph is interlined in pencil as follows.]

In one of those peripatetic circum [illegible] I obviated a rustic whom we subjected to catechetical interrogation respecting the [illegible] characteristics of the edifice to which he was approximate with a volubility uncongealed by the frigorific powers of villdt; in bashfulness he ejaculated a voluminous replication from the universal tenor of whose contents I deduct the subsequent amalgamation of heterogeneous facts without dubiety [illegible] in ginal vulgarity as [illegible] mountains [illegible] abortions. Yet the institution the subject of my remarks was not without cause the theme of the ephemeral columns of quotidian journalism and of enthusiastic encomiations in conventional intercourse.

POE TO THOMAS.

[Ingram.]

I wish to God I could visit Washington — but the old story, you know — I have no money — — not even enough to take me there, saying nothing of getting back. It is a hard thing to be poor — but as I am kept so by an honest motive, I dare not complain. Your suggestion about Mr. Kennedy is well timed; and here, Thomas, you can do me a true service. Call upon Kennedy — you know him I believe — if not, introduce yourself, he is a perfect gentleman, and [page 94:] will give you a cordial welcome. Speak to him of my wishes, and urge him to see the Secretary of War in my behalf — or one of the other Secretaries, or President Tyler. I mention in particular the Secretary of War, because I have been to W. Point, and this may stand me in some stead. I would be glad to get almost any appointment — even a $500 one — so that I may have something independent of letters for a subsistence. To coin one’s brain into silver, at the nod of a master, is to my thinking the hardest task in the world. Mr. Kennedy has been at all times a true friend to me — he was the first true friend I ever had — I am indebted to him for life itself. He will be willing to help me, I know — but needs urging, for he is always head and ears in business. Thomas, may I depend upon you?

[E. A. POE.]

[Signature missing.]

THOMAS TO POE.

July 6, 1841

See Appendix, p. 461.

THOMAS TO POE.

[Griswold Collection.]

WASHINGTON, July 7th 1841.

MY DEAR POE, — I did not see until this morning — you use generally such pale ink — the solitary line at the top of the third page of your letter where you say. — “State that I deciphered it by the return of mail — as I do.” Please alter the communication I sent you, so as to express the fact. [page 95:]

To-day it rains hard. Congress was in session last night until twelve o‘clock, and it may be a day or two before I see Kennedy. I wrote you that I had never seen the President. I shall see him on Friday, as his son has invited me to dine with him. If I had address now I might bring you up in a quiet way and pave the way — but as I have not, I must make the genius of Friendship my guide and trust to its [illegible] to make all right in your behalf. There are thousands of applicants, but I think the wants of a man like you, who asks only for a clerkship, should not be neglected. You will eventually succeed if you should not at first.

I know very few of the “bigbugs” here, having kept myself to myself, but I think I have skill enough to commit your merits to those, who, though not women, will be more skilful advocates of your claims.

I write in the greatest haste.

Your friend  
F. W. THOMAS.

THOMAS TO POE.

[Griswold Correspondence.]

WASHINGTON, 3 August, 1841

“My family, by the father’s side, were among the early settlers of New England. Isaiah Thomas, the founder of the American Antiquarian Society at Worcester (Mass.), and the author of “The History of Printing,” was my father’s uncle. . . . My Father, E. S. Thomas, . . . emigrated to Charleston, S. C., where he, after establishing himself in the book-business, met my mother, who was then on a visit from Baltimore, of which city she was a native. Shortly after the marriage of my father he removed from Charleston to Providence, Rhode Island, where I was born in, I think, the fall of 1808. (Duyckinck says he was born in Baltimore, and Coggeshall that he was a native of Charleston.) I left Rhode-Island a child in the nurse’s arms and have never been back — so [page 96:] I hold myself to be a Southerner — as my parents returned to Charleston with me. (My family consists of myself, then Lewis, Frances, Susan, Mary, Martha, Belle and Calvin.) I was a delicate child, and, at the age of four, I fell from a furniture box on which I was playing, and injured my left leg. I went into the house crying, as a child would, and soon returned to play again. My limb, a few weeks afterwards, became very painful, my health gradually declined, and the physicians advised my parents to send me to a healthier climate. In charge of my aunt I was sent to Baltimore, and placed under the care of my aunt Foulke. There I grew robust and recovered from my lameness except an occasional weakness in my limb, when I over-exercised myself at play. When about eight or nine, in running to the window, over a wet floor, to look at the soldiers passing, I got a fall, which, after long confinement (a year or more), threw me, a skeleton, on crutches. I used them until five years since, when the contrivance I now use was suggested to me. I went to school very little in consequence of my lameness and frequent indisposition, and when I was seventeen I commenced the study of the law. I have never been to college. The first attempt I made at scribbling was at this time. I wrote a poetical satire on some fops about town, and they became exasperated with the printer of the paper, I forget its name. — a scurrilous penny-sheet — and tore his office to pieces, making Pi of his type. I attended at this time a debating society, which had a great many visitors, and there I used to hold forth with the rest. I was invited one Fourth of July to make a speech before the society on a steamboat excursion, and, getting some little credit for it I was invited by my political friends to address their meetings which I did, being then rated with Jacksonism. . . . Your brother and I were then intimate — and rather rivals in a love affair. Scott, my fellow student studied hard, — I often stole out to the Baltimore Library and devoured the works upon Poetry, Oratory and Biography. Just after I was admitted to practice, my [page 97:] father, who had lost a handsome fortune, emigrated with his family, leaving myself, to Cincinnati and established “The Commercial Advertiser.” I practiced a few months, and then from ill health, retired to the country, where, after a year’s sojourn, I emigrated to Cincinnati in 1832 and assisted my father in editing his paper. We soon differed upon political matters, and I commenced the practice of the law, but in bad health. I defended a great many criminals, I believe with some success, and lectured before the Lyceum. In descending the river I wrote several stanzas expressive of my feelings, which I published in my father’s paper. They were noticed and complimented by the contemporary press, and I wrote out some farther impressions which the new scenes had made on me, and upon invitation delivered them before the Lyceum, in the shape of a rambling poem called “The Emigrant, or Reflections in descending the Ohio.” This took, if I may so say, before the Lyceum and I was requested to publish it, which I did in 1833. . . .

After this, when judge McLean was brought out for the Presidency, I was selected to publish his organ in Cincinnati, which I called the “Intelligencer.” I had it for about six months, and was compelled to quit the editorial chair, in consequence of bad health. While confined to my house and bed, I remarked one day to any sister Frances that I felt like trying to write a novel. She insisted upon my doing it, and daily brought paper and pen to my bedside, where most of “Clinton Bradshaw” was written. I should have mentioned that my best friend in Cincinnati was Charles Hammond of the Cincinnati “Gazette,” who is now dead, but who was esteemed the best editor and lawyer in Ohio. To him I dedicated my “Emigrant,” and he defended me with true chivalry against all critical attacks. In his paper, too, I wrote many satires upon folks about town, which made me some enemies.

When I had finished “Clinton Bradshaw,” with letters of introduction in my packet to Mathew Carey, from Mr. [page 98:] Hammond and General Harrison, I started for Philadelphia which I reached in the dusk of the evening. Unknown and unknowing, in bad health and worse spirits, I wandered out not knowing what to do with myself, and shall never forget stopping before a house in Chestnut street struck with a tune that some fair one was playing, as if with a familiar voice. The discovery that the song was mine, “‘T is said that absence conquers love,” changed the whole current of my feelings.

Mr. Carey, (this was in 1835), introduced me to Carey, Lea & Co. and they undertook the publication of my work. Let me say that Mr. Carey treated me with the greatest kindness. He was lame too, but a philosopher, and he felt and expressed a real sympathy for me. I was frequently his guest, and he often came to see me. In proof of his benevolent character let me say that he often annoyed me, or rather provoked my sensitiveness, by sending some lame man or other whom he had picked up in the street, to consult with me upon my superior powers of locomotion. Most of the characters in “Clinton Bradshaw” were drawn from persons living in Baltimore. “Glassman” was meant for Charles Mitchell, a very distinguished lawyer, who was dissipated. “Old Nancy” for old Nelly, who is still an apple woman in Baltimore. “Cavendish” was drawn from a young, eccentric friend of mine, named Kelley, who is since dead. “Shaffer” was a portraiture of Jennings, etc.

“East and West” was published in 1836. It was an attempt to pourtray the every day scenes of life occurring to a fallen family emigrating from the east to the west, most of the characters there were from life. “Howard Pinckney” was published in 1840. I have by me in MS. the poem which you have seen called — (I believe I will so call it) — “The Adventures of a Poet,” which consists of 1800 lines; and two volumes of sketches of such persons as Wirt, John Randolph, Simon Kenton, (the Last of the Pioneers), with tales, etc. . . . [page 99:]

In the May number of “The Southern Literary Messenger,” for 1838, you will find a sketch of your humble servant by Ingraham.

While writing my books I travelled through the west to Louisville, St. Louis, &c., and in the last canvass held forth in those places on the Harrison side. Sometimes upon invitation, in these cities and in Cincinnati, I delivered lectures upon literary subjects such as Oratory, Poetry, etc., Odd-Fellow addresses, and Fourth of July addresses. I was a delegate to the Baltimore May convention in ‘40, where I held forth, and after which I made your acquaintance in Philadelphia and got pelted by the people as you remember — or rather by the Locos.

I carne on East last March to get my books out, but the death of General Harrison, and the uncertainties about the currency and the batik have prevented my publishing. Here I was invited to lecture before different societies, and in Alexandria, and did so to full houses, gratis — which were followed by empty puffs; but you know what Goldsmith says about the Muse —

“Thou source of all my bliss and all my woe

That found me poor at first and keeps me so.”

(Don’t say of me that I am in office, as it is only a temporary appointment.)

I am now engaged in writing a novel upon the events of the present day, many of the scenes of which are laid in Washington. My object is to describe life in the varieties in which I have seen it in Missouri, New Orleans and here among the holders and seekers. I have written occasionally for these three or four years past for the Knickerbocker, Graham’s, the Ladies Companion and the Southern Literary Messenger. . . .

One of the first persons who noticed me in the West was General Harrison, who shortly after my arrival in Cincinnati invited me to the Bend, where I went and was his guest for some weeks, — I was engaged there in one of my first law cases against his eldest son (now dead), William Harrison. [page 100:]

It is singular that my great uncle, my father, my brother and myself have all played editor.

Yours,  
F. W. T.

POE TO McJILTON.

[Griswold Collection.]

PHILADELPHIA, August 11, / 41.

DR SIR, — Your letter of yesterday is this moment received. A glance at the cipher which you suppose the more difficult of the two sent, assures me that its translation must run thus —

“This specimen of secret writing is sent you for explanation. If you succeed in divining its meaning I will believe that you are some kin to Old Nick.”

As my solution in this case will fully convince you of my ability to decipher the longer but [torn] more simple cryptograph, you will perhaps ex[cuse] me from attempting it — as I am exceedingly occupied with business.

Very truly yours,  
EDGAR A. POE.

[Griswold Collection.]

TIMOTHEUS WHACKEMWELL Esqr.

This is certainly intended for some one else, I know nothing of the matter whatever, nor should I be able to tell how the thing happened, but having seen the piece headed secret writing pubs in Graham’s mag. noticed somewhere, I suppose some wag has addressed you anonymously whom you have mistaken for me.

I [[J.]] N. M.(1)  
[I. [[J.]] N. MCJILTON.]

[page 101:]

POE TO LEA & BLANCHARD.

[Drexel Institute Collection.]

MESS. LEA & BLANCHARD.

GENTLEMEN, — I wish to publish a new collection of my prose Tales with some such title as this —

The Prose Tales of Edgar A Poe, Including ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue.’ The ‘Descent into the Maelström,’ and all his later pieces, with a second edition of the ‘Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque.’ ”

The “later pieces” will be eight in number, making the entire collection thirty-three — which would occupy two thick novel volumes.

I am anxious that your firm should continue to be my publishers, and, if you would be willing to bring out the book, I should be glad to accept the terms which you allowed me before — that is — you receive all profits, and allow me twenty copies for distribution to friends.

Will you be kind enough to give me an early reply to this letter, and believe me

Yours very respt.  
EDGAR A. POE.

PHILADELPHIA,

Office Graham’s Magazine,

August 13, / 41

LEA & BLANCHARD TO POE.

[Griswold Collection: MS.]

DEAR SIR, — We have yours of 13th int in which you are kind enough to offer us a “new collection of prose tales.”

In answer we very much regret to say that the state of affairs is such as to give little encouragement to new undertakings. [page 102:] As yet we have not got through the edition of the other work & up to this time it has not returned to us the expense of its publication. We assure you that we regret this on your account as well as our own, as it would give us great pleasure to promote your views in relation to publication.

We are  
Very Resp  
your obt St  
LEA & BLANCHARD.

EDGAR A POE Esq

Office of Graham’s Magazine.

PHILAD. Aug. 11, [sic] 1841.

THOMAS TO POE.

[Griswold Collection.]

WASHINGTON, August 30th, 1841.

MY DEAR POE, — I have been indisposed for some time, which prevented my writing to you, as I had nothing to communicate, and the exercise of my pen was painful.

I wrote you that I saw Kennedy and that he expressed his willingness to aid you in any way in his power.

Sure I have conversed with the President’s sons about you — they think the president will be able and willing to give you a situation, but they say, and I felt the truth of the remark before it was made, that at the present crisis when everything is “hurlyburly” it would be of no avail to apply to him. He is much perplexed, as you may suppose amidst the conflicting parties, the anticipated cabinet break up, etc.

As soon as times get a little more quiet I will wait on the President myself and write you of the interview. Your cryptography makes quite a talk here. Hampton tells me he had quite a demand for your August number containing it. I send you enclosed a letter from my friend Frailey on the matter of his communication. The [page 103:] enclosed secret writing in figures is from Chief Clerk of the Treasury, a gentlemanly, clever fellow. It is totally unlike the cryptography you speak of, but he handed it to me, with the remark that you could not make the re motest guess of what it meant. Of that I am satisfied myself — for the idea is as foreign to the plan you discuss as can be. He requested me to send it to you, saying that it was impossible for you to surmise anything about it — and I send it to you satisfied of the truth of his remark. I fear I bore you on the subject — but really you have no idea of the talk it makes here.

I wish that you would send me by return mail the August and July numbers of your magazine. I am particularly anxious to have them forthwith. Don‘t fail me in this point.

Poe, let me hear from you as soon as you get this, write me a long letter and tell me how literature flourishes in the brotherly city. My respects to your wife and mother.

Your friend,  
F. W. THOMAS.

[Cryptograph]

This is Mr. Young’s — the chief clerk’s secret writing — of course as it has not the remotest analogy with your proposed cryptography — we do not expect you to decypher it — but can you surmise anything about it — that’s the point.

F. W. T.

Write me as soon as you get this and send me the Magazine — don‘t fail me.

Poe, I have a song that has been set to a very pretty tune, by a gentleman here. I would like to have it published, and will give it to any music publisher who would undertake it. Can you manage it for me? My song of “absence” sold remarkably well — and I think this would sell as well. Will you make some inquiry with regard to the publishing it for me and oblige your friend

F. W. THOMAS.

[page 104:]

WILLIS TO POE.

[Griswold Collection.]

GLENMARY, Nov. 30, 1841.

MY DEAR SIR, — You cannot have received my letter written in answer to yours some time since (say a month ago) in which I stated that I was under contract to Mr. Godey to write for no other periodical in Philadelphia than the Lady’s Book, for one year — 1842. I said also that if he were willing, I should be very happy to send you poetry, (he bargaining for prose,) but that without his consent I could do nothing. From a very handsome notice of Graham’s Maga which I saw in the Lady’s Book, I presumed Godey & Graham were the best of friends & would manage it between them. Still I do not understand your request — for the Lady Jane will be finished (all they agreed for — 100 stanzas) in their own paper before Jan. 1. & of course any extract would not be original. Any periodical is at liberty to copy, for tho’ Wilson has taken out a copyright, I should always consider copying it too much of a compliment to be resented.

Mr. Godey has been very liberal with me & pays me quite enough for the exclusive use of my name in Philadelphia, and I can do nothing unless you procure his written agreement to it of course. I am very sorry to refuse anything to a writer whom I so much admire as yourself, & to a Magazine as good as Graham’s. But you will acknowledge I am “in a tight place.” Begging my compliments to Mr. Graham I remain

Yours very truly  
N. P. WILLIS.

EDGAR A. POE, Esq.

Did you ever send me the Maga. containing my autographs? I have never seen it. [page 105:]

THOMAS TO POE.

[Griswold Collection.]

WASHINGTON, February 6, 1842.

MY DEAR FRIEND, — Yours of the 4 inst I duly received. It was not from forgetfulness, I assure you, that I have delayed writing so long. I was in hopes that I could make some suggestions to you with regard to a Magazine on your “own hook.” Mr. Robert Tyler would assist you with his pen all he could, but I suppose he could not assist you in any other way, unless government patronage in the way of printing blanks &c could be given to you. Anything that I could do for you you know will be done. Robert Tyler expressed himself highly gratified with your favorable opinion of his poem which I mentioned to him. He observed that he valued your opinion more than any other critic’s in the country — to which I subscribed. I am satisfied that any aid he could extend to you would be extended with pleasure. Write me frankly upon the subject.

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 not 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 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 T attributed it to a monomania partiality. I am glad to see that you still retain the unbiassed possession of your mental faculties. [page 106:] 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. Truly I thought your notice of me a handsome one.

Ingraham is here. He is trying hard to get a situation abroad — and I trust he may succeed. I have not read Barnaby Rudge — and therefore I determined not to read your criticism on it until I had. Nor have I read the “Curiosity Shop.” To speak the truth I glanced at several chapters of those works and did not get interested in them. Nickleby, The Pickwick Papers, and the Sketches I think Box’s best works.

It gave me sincere sorrow to hear of the illness of your dear little wife.” I trust long ere this she has entirely recovered. Though I have no wife, yet I have sisters, and have experienced the tenderness of woman’s nature.

I can therefore, in part, sympathise with you. Express my regard to your lady and mother. Poe, I long to see you. I assure you I never canvass a literary opinion in my mind without saying to myself: “I wonder what Poe will say of the book.”

Dow is well — I saw him at the theatre last night. What are the prospects of the book trade for the spring? Have you heard, or have you formed an opinion? Judge Breckenridge’s biography of his father was, as I suppose you have seen, published in the Messenger. It took amazingly.

White of the Messenger is here. He called to see me yesterday. He has been very ill. What kind of a chap is he? as Sam Weller would ask.

Write a long letter, Poe, on the reception of this. If you have any prospect of starting a magazine on your “own hook” let me know so that I may help you on in this quarter.

Your friend  
F. W. THOMAS.

EDGAR A. POE Esq. [page 107:]

DICKENS TO POE.

[Century Magazine.]

UNITED STATES HOTEL, March 6, 1842.

MY DEAR SIR, — I shall be very glad to see you whenever you will do me the favor to call. I think I am more likely to be in the way between half-past eleven and twelve, than at any other time. I have glanced over the books you have been so kind as to send me, and more particularly at the papers to which you called my attention. I have the greater pleasure in expressing my desire to see you on this account. Apropos of the “construction” of “Caleb Williams,” do you know that Godwin wrote it backwards, — the last volume first, — and that when he had produced the hunting down of Caleb, and the catastrophe, he waited for months, casting about for a means of accounting for what he had done?

Faithfully yours always,  
CHARLES DICKENS.

 


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 100:]

1.  McJilton was a well-known Baltimore litterateur. — ED.


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - CWEAP, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - Complete Works of E. A. Poe (Vol. 17 - Letters) (J. A. Harrison) (Chapter 05)