Text: Edgar Allan Poe to Richard Bolton — November 18, 1841 (LTR-130)


Philadelphia Nov. 18. 41.

Dear Sir,

Yours of the 4th is this moment received; and I hasten to exonerate myself from a very unpleasant suspicion — the suspicion, no doubt long since entertained by yourself, that I wished to deny you the honors of victory — and a participation in its spoils.

A word in explanation will suffice. You must know, then, that our edition is, in fact, exceedingly large. We print 25000 copies. Of course much time is required to prepare them. Our last “form” necessarily goes to press a full month in advance of the day of issue. It often happens, moreover, that the last form in order is not the last in press. Our first form is usually held back until the last moment on account of the “plate article.” Upon this hint you will easily see the possibility of your letter not having come to hand in season for acknowledgment in the November number. Otherwise, I should have had high gratification in sharing with you then, the reputation of a bottle-conjurer — for thus the matter seems to stand. In our December number, (which has been quite ready for ten days) you will find an unqualified acknowledgment of your claims — without even allusion to the slight discrepancies for which I believe the printer is chargeable. I mean to say that you have (I believe) solved the cypher as printed. My solution follows the MS. — both are correct.

Allow me, Dear Sir, now to say that I was never more astonished in my life than at your solution. Will you honestly tell me? — did you not owe it to the accident of the repetition of the word “itagi?” for “those”? This repetition does not appear in the MS. — at least I [page 2:] am pretty sure that it was interpolated by one of our compositors — a “genius” who takes much interest in these matters — and many unauthorized liberties.

In Dr Frailey’s MS. were many errors — the chief of which I corrected for press — but mere blunders do not really much affect the difficulty of cypher solution — as you, no doubt, perceive. I had also to encounter the embarrassment of a miserably cramped & confused penmanship. Here you had the advantage of me — a very important advantage.

Be all this as it may — your solution astonished me. You will accuse me of vanity in so saying — but truth is truth. I make no question that it even astonished yourself — and well it might — for from among at least 100,000 readers — a great number of whom, to my certain knowledge busied themselves in the investigation — you and I are the only persons who have succeeded.

It is unnecessary to trouble yourself with the cipher printed in our Dec. number — it is insoluble for the reason that it is merely type in pi or something near it. Being absent from the office for a short time, I did not see a proof and the compositors have made a complete medley. It has not even a remote resemblance to the MS.

I should be delighted to hear from you at all times — Believe me —

Yours very resply
Edgar A Poe  

R. Bolton Esqr





[S:0 - MS, 1841] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Letters - Poe to R. Bolton (LTR130/RCL346)