Text: Edgar Allan Poe to Jedediah Hunt, Jr. — March 17, 1845 (LTR-195)


New-York March 17- 45

Dear Sir,

There is something in the tone of your article on “The Broadway Journal” (contained in the “Archives” of the 13th.) which induces me to trouble you with this letter.

I recognize in you an educated, an honest, a chivalrous, but, I fear, a somewhat over-hasty man. I feel that you can appreciate what I do — and that you will not fail to give me credit for what I do well: — at the same time I am not quite sure that, through sheer hurry, you might not do me an injustice which you yourself would regret even more sincerely than I. I am anxious to secure you as a friend if you can be so with a clear conscience — and it is to enable you to be so with a clear conscience that I write what I am now writing.

Let me put it to you as to a frank man of honor — Can you suppose it possible that any human being could pursue a strictly impartial course of criticism for Io years (as I have done in the S. L. Messenger and in Graham’s Magazine) without offending irreparably a host of authors and their connexions? — but because these were offended, and gave vent at every opportunity to their spleen, would you consider my course an iota the less honorable on that account? Would you consider it just to measure my deserts by the yelpings of my foes, indepently of your own judgment in the premises, based upon an actual knowledge of what I have done?

You reply —”Certainly not,” and, because I feel that this must be your reply, I acknowledge that I am grieved to see any thing (however slight) in your paper [page 2:] that has the appearance of joi[n]ing in with the outcry so very sure to be made by the ‘less[’] honorable portion of the press under circumstances such as are my own.

I thank you sincerely for your expressions of good will — and I thank you for the reason that I value your opinion — when that opinion is fairly attained. But there are points at which you do me in justice.

For example, you say that I am sensitive (peculiarly so) to the strictures of others. There is no instance on record in which I have ever replied, directly or indirectly, to any strictures, personal or literary, with the single exception of my answer to Outis. You say, too, that I use a quarter of the paper in smoothing over his charges — but four-fifths of the whole space occupied is by the letter of Outis itself, to which I wish to give all the publicity in my power, with a view of giving it the more thorough refutation. The charges of which you speak — the charge of plagiarism &c — are not male at all. These are mistakes into which you have fallen, through want of time to peruse the whole of what I said, and by happening upon unlucky passages. It is, of course, improper to decide upon my reply until you have heard it, and as yet I have only commenced it by giving Outis’ letter with a few comments at random. There will be four chapters in all. My excuse for treating it at length is that it demanded an answer & no proper answer could be given in less compass — that the subject of imitation, plagiarism, &c is one in which the <subject> public has lately taken much interest & is admirably adapted to the character of a literary journal — and that I have some important developments to make, which the commonest principles [page 3:] of self-defence demand imperatively at my hands.

I know that you will now do me justice — that you will read what I have said & may say — and that you will absolve me, at once, of the charge of squirmishness or ill nature. If ever man had cause to be in good humor with Outis and all the world, it is precisely myself, at this moment — as hereafter you shall see.

At some future day we shall be friends, or I am much mistaken, and I will then put into your hands ample means of judging me upon my own merits.

In the meantime I ask of you, justice.

Very truly yours
Edgar A Poe.

To J. Hunt Jr.

P.S. I perceive that you have permitted some of our papers an[d t]he Boston journals to give you a wrong impression of my Lecture & its reception. It was better attended than any Lecture of Mr Hudson’s — by the most intellectual & refined portion of the city — and was complimented in terms which I should be ashamed to repeat, by the leading journalists of the City. See Mirror, Morning News, Inquirer New World &c. The only respectable N. Y. papers which did not praise it >>w<< throughout, was the Tribune whose transcendental editors or their doctrines, I attacked. My objection to the burlesque philosophy, which the Bostonians have adopted, supposing it to be Transcendentalism, is the key to the abuse of the Atlas & Transcript. So well was the Lecture received that I am about to repeat it.





[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Letters - Poe to J. Hunt, Jr. (LTR195/RCL529)