Text: Edgar Allan Poe to Horace Greeley — February 21, 1847 (LTR-250)


New-York: Feb. 21 — 47,

My Dear Mr Greeley,

Enclosed is an editorial article which I cut from “The Tribune” of the 19th ult. When I first saw it I did not know you were in Washington and yet I said to myself —”this misrepresentation is not the work of Horace Greeley”.

The facts of my case are these: — In “Godey’s Magazine” I wrote a literary criticism having reference to T. D. English. The only thing in it which resembled a “personality,” was contained in these words — “I have no acquaintance, personally, with Mr English” — meaning, of course, as every body understood, that I wished to decline his acquaintance for the future. This, English retaliates by asserting under his own name, in the Mirror, that he holds my acknowledgment for a sum of money obtained under false presences, and by creating the impression on the public mind that I have been guilty of forgery. These charges (being false and, if false, easily shown to be so) could have been ventured upon by English only in the hope that on account of my illness and expected death, it would be impossible for me to reply to them at all. Their baseness is thus trebly aggravated by their cowardice. I sue; to redeem my character from these foul accusations. Of the obtaining money under false presences from E. not a shadow of proof is shown: — the “acknowledgment” is not forthcoming. The “forgery,,’ by reference to the very man who originated the charge, is shown to be totally, radically baseless. The jury returned a verdict in my favor — and the paragraphs enclosed are the comments of the “Tribune”!

You are a man, Mr Greeley — an honest and a generous man — or I should not venture to tell you so, and to your face; and as a man you must imagine what I feel at finding those paragraphs to my discredit going the rounds of the country, as the opinions of Horace Greeley. Every body supposes that you have said these things. The weight of your character — the general sense of your truth and love of justice — cause those few sentences (which in almost any other paper in America I would treat with contempt) to do me a vital injury — to wound and oppress me beyond measure. I therefore ask you to do me what justice you can find it in your heart to do under the circumstances. (over[[)]] [page 2:]

In the printed matter I have underscored two passages. As regards the first: — it alone would have sufficed to assure me that you did not write the article. I owe you money — I have been ill, unfortunate, no doubt weak, and as yet unable to refund the money — but on this ground you, Mr Greeley, could never have accused me of being habitually “unscrupulous in the fulfillment of my pecuniary engagements.” The charge is horribly false — I have a hundred times left myself destitute of bread for myself and family that I might discharge debts which the very writer of this infamous accusation (Fuller) would have left undischarged to the day of his death.

The 2d passage underscored embodies a falsehood — and therefore you did not write it. I did not “throw away the quill”. I arose from a sick-bed (although scarcely able to stand or see) and wrote a reply which was published in the Phil. “Sp. of the Times”, and a copy of which reply I enclose you. The “columns of the Mirror” were tendered to me — with a proviso that I should forego a suit and omit this passage and that passage, to suit the purposes of Mr Fuller.

I have now placed the matter before you — I should not hope or ask for justice from any other man (except perhaps one) in America — but from you I demand and expect it. You will see, at once, that so gross a wrong, done in your name, dishonors yourself and me. If you do differ then, as I know you do, from these editorial opinions supposed to be yours — I beg of you to do by me as you would have me do by you in a similar case — disavow them.

With high respect Yours [tr]
Edgar A. Poe





[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Letters - Poe to H. Greeley (LTR250/RCL672)