Text: Edgar Allan Poe to Joseph Evans Snodgrass — January 17, 1841 (LTR-107)


Jan. 17. 1841.

My Dear Sir,

Your letters are always welcome — albeit “few and far between” (what an infamous tautology is that by the bye, for visits that are few must be far between) — and your last letter was especially so. I thought you had forgotten me altogether.

You wish to know my prospects with the “Penn”. 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 other manÅ“uvres, I have cut down the bridges behind me. I must now do or die — I mean in a literary sense.

Thank you for your offer of aid. I shall be delighted to receive any prose article from your [p]en. As for poetry I am overs[[tock]]ed with it. I am particu[[l]]arly 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; but I believe these topics are not “in your line”. Your friend, David Hoffman Esqr, has been so kind as to promise me his aid; and perhaps he would not be unwilling to send me something on one or the other of the heads in question. Will you oblige me by speaking to him upon this subject? Above all things it is necessary that whatever be done “if done, be done quickly”; for I am about to put the first sheet to press immediately, and the others will follow in rapid succession.

In regard to my plans &c the Prospectus will inform you in some measure. I am resolved upon a good outward appearance — clear type, fine paper &c — double columns, I think, & brevier, 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. Thick covers. In the literary way, I shall endeavour, gradually, (if I cannot effect the purpose at once) to give the Magazine [page 2:] a reputation for the having no articles but from the best pens — a somewhat negative merit, you will say. In criticism I will be bold & sternly, absolutely just, with friend & foe. From this purpose nothing shall turn me. I shall aim at originality in the body of the work, more than at any other especial quality. 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. To carry out the conception is a difficulty which — may be overcome.

I have not seen the January Messenger; — but “Quotidiana” is a very good title[[.]] “Quodlibetica” is also good; and even more inclusive than the other. I am fond of such articles as these; and in good hands they may be made very interesting.

Burton that illustrious “graduate of St John’s College, Cambridge” is going to the devil with the worst grace in the world, but with a velocity truly astounding. The press here, in a body, have given him the cut direct. So be it — suum cuique. We have said q[[u]]ite enough about this genius.

Mr Graham is a very g[en]tlemanly personage. I will see him tomorrow, and speak to him in regard to your essay: although, to prevent detection, Burton may have destroyed it.

And now, my dear Snodgrass, will you do me a favor? I have heard some mention made of a new Magazine to be established in Baltimore by a Virginian & a practical printer. I am anxious to know all the de[[t]]ails of the project. Can you procure & send me (by return of mail) a Prospectus? If you cannot get one, will you write me all about it — the gentleman’s name &c &c &c?

I have underscored the word “anxious” because I really mean what I say, and because, about a fortnight ago, I made to the Hon. N. C. Brooks A. M. a request just such as I now make to yourself. He did not reply; and I, expecting of course the treatment which one gentleman naturally expects from another, have been put to the greatest inconvenience by the daily but fruitless expectation.

ery truly & respectfully yours.
Edgar A Poe.

Dr. J. E. Snodgrass.



This text has been carefully re-established from reading the facsimile given by Bixby in his collection of five Poe letters. It differs slightly from the text printed by Ostrom, most significantly in the use of parentheses in the fourth paragraph. The original has several creasing abrations, some of which are repaired with small paper patches. These defects account for the lack of single and small sets of letters within the text. Where these letters have been restored by obvious context, they are given in brackets.


[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Letters - Poe to J. E. Snodgrass (LTR107/RCL267)