Text: Edgar Allan Poe to Sarah H. Whitman — about January 21 (although dated January 25) (LTR-302)


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Fordham Jany. 25th / 49

Dear Madam,

In commencing this letter, need I say to you, after what has passed between us, that no amount of provocation on your part, or on the part of your friends, shall induce me to speak ill of you even in my own defence? If to shield myself from calumny however undeserved, or however unendurable, I find a need of resorting to explanations that might condemn or pain you, most solemnly do I assure you, that I will patiently endure such calumny, rather than avail myself of any such means of refuting it — You will see then, that so far I am at your mercy — but in making you such assurances, have I not a right to ask of you some forbearance in return? My object in now writing you is to place before you an extract from a letter recently addressed to myself —”I will not repeat all her vile & slanderous words — you have doubtless heard them — but one thing she says that I cannot deny though I do not believe it — viz — that you had been publisher to her once, & that on the Sat. preceding the Sabbath on which you were to have been published for the second time, she went herself to the Rev Mr Crocker’s, & after stating her reasons for so doing, requested him to stop all further proceedings” — That you Mrs W — have uttered, promulgated or in any way countenanced this pitiable falsehood, I do not & cannot believe — some person equally your enemy & mine has been its author — but what I beg of you is, to write me at once a few lines in explanation — you know of course that by reference either to Mr Pabodie (who at my request forbore to speak to the minister about publishing the first banns on the day I left) or, to the Rev. Mr Crocker himself, I can disprove the facts stated in the most satisfactory manner — but there can be no need of disproving what I feel confident was never asserted by you — Your simple disavowal is all that I wish — You will of course write me immediately on receipt of this — only in the event of my not hearing from you within a few days, will I proceed to take more definite steps — Heaven knows that I would shrink from wounding or grieving you! I blame no one but your Mother — Mr Pabodie will tell you the words which passed between us, while from the effects of those terrible stimulants you lay prostrate without even the power to bid me farewell — Alas! I bitterly lament my own weaknesses, & nothing is farther from my heart than to blame you for yours — May Heaven shield you from all ill! So far I have assigned no reason for my declining to fulfil our engagement — I had none but the suspicious & grossly insulting parsimony of the arrangements into which you suffered yourself to be forced by your Mother — Let my letters & acts speak for themselves — It has been my intention to say simply, that our marriage was postponed on account of your ill health — Have you really said or done anything which can preclude our placing the rupture on such footing? If not, I shall persist in the statement & thus this unhappy matter will die quietly away —

E. A. Poe


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Notes:

Ostrom adheres to a date of January 21, 1849, based on his presumed date of composition. The letter may have been dated ahead, in part because Poe sent the letter to Mrs. Richmond and expected it to be forwarded to Mrs. Whitman.


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[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Letters - Poe to S. H. Whitman (LTR302/RCL769)