Text: Edgar Allan Poe to Lewis J. Cist — September 18, 1841 (LTR-125)


Philadelphia — Sep: 18 — 41.

My Dear Sir,

I have only this moment received your letter of the 30th ult. having been absent from the city for some time. I feel that I have been guilty of a sad neglect in the matter of your poem; but my conscience absolves me of any intentional disrespect or discourtesy. The facts stand thus. Upon abandoning the design of “The Penn Magazine”, and joining Mr Graham in his own, I handed over to Mr Peterson (the then editor of that journal and who hereafter was to act as my associate; his especial duty being that of revising MSS for press and attending to the general arrangement of the matter) — I handed over to this gentleman your “Bachelor Philosophy” together with a large bundle of other articles — sent me for “The Penn.” — I assumed no right of transferring articles in this manner; and my intention was (as soon as I could steal a moment’s leisure from the world of business which just at that period overwhelmed me) to communicate by letter with each of my correspondents, requesting permission for such transfer. In many cases I lid write, and succeeded in obtaining the requisite permission. My impression was that I had secured your consent with that of others — your consent, I mean, for publishing the poem in Graham’s Magazine. It remained, therefore, with the rest, in M’ Peterson’s hands — but only for the purpose specified. Mr. Peterson, however, (who has a third interest in the “Saturday Evening Post” and superintends the “getting up” of that paper also) has taken the unwarrantable liberty, it seems, of using the poem to suit his own views — leaving out of question my positive understanding and intention on the subject. I seldom look at the paper, except occasionally at a proof of some of my own articles in it, and the publication of your verses did not meet my eye: otherwise I should have written you at once in explanation and apology. You will not be surprised that I failed to miss your article in the Magazine, or to make inquiry respecting it — if you comprehend the nature of the confusion attendant upon the joint issue of a paper and Magazine — especially when you consider that the disposition of the MSS — the drudgery of the business — does not fall to my share. I merely write the Reviews, with a tale monthly, and read the last proofs. As to the insertion of your poem in the “Saturday Evening Post” with the words — “written [page 2:] for The Post” — it is a downright falsehood on the part of Mr P. which nothing can extenuate — a falsehood wilfully perpetrated — of a kind which he is in the habit of perpetrating, and which have before involved me most disagreeably. Not long ago wishing to procure a printed copy of a poem of my own called “A Ballad”, and originally published in the “S. L. Mess.” I handed it to Mr P. for re-publication in the “Post” with the heading “From the South. L. Messenger”; and you may imagine my chagrin at seeing it appear with the same caption as your “Bachelor Philosophy.”

I make no scruple in thus indicating to you plainly the origin of the contre-temps which has so justly annoyed you. I must absolve myself, at all hazards, from suspicion of falsehood — let the charge fall upon whom it may. Of intentional discourtesy you will, of course, acquit me. To the accusation of neglect I plead guilty, offering only in extenuation, the press of business which has lately harassed and confused me.

With the highest respect
I am Yr Ob St.
Edgar A Poe

L. J. Cist Esqr





[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Letters - Poe to L. J. Cist (LTR125/RCL329)