Text: John Ward Ostrom, “Letters: Chapter IX,” The Letters of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. II: 1846-1849 (1966), pp. 341-376 (This material is protected by copyright)


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[page 341, unnumbered:]

IX

FORDHAM

GRASPING AT STRAWS

February 1847 - July 1848

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[page 343, unnumbered:]

249 ⇒ TO GEORGE W. EVELETH [February 16, 1847] [CL 671]

New-York: Feb. 16. 47.

My Dear Sir,

Some weeks ago I mailed you two newspapers which, from what you say in your last letter I see you have not received. I now enclose some slips which will save me the necessity of writing on painful topics. By and bye I will write you more at length.

Please re-inclose me the slips, when read.

What you tell me about the accusation of plagiarism made by the “Phil. Sat. Ev. Post” surprises me. It is the first I heard of it — with the exception of a hint made in one of your previous letters — but which I did not then comprehend. Please let me know as many particulars as you can remember — for I must see into the charge — Who edits the paper? — who publishes it? etc etc. etc. — about what time was the accusation made? I assure you that it is totally false. In 1840 I published a book with this title — “The Conchologist’s First-Book — A System of Testaceous Malacology, arranged expressly for the use of Schools, in which the animals, according to Cuvier, are given with the shells, a great number of new species added, and the whole brought up, as accurately as possible, to the present condition of the science. By Edgar A. Poe. With Illustrations of 215 shells, presenting a correct type of each [page 2] genus.” This, I presume, is the work referred to. I wrote it, in conjunction with Professor Thomas Wyatt, and Professor Mc Murtrie of Pha — my name being put to the work, as best known and most likely to aid its circulation. I wrote the Preface and Introduction, and translated from Cuvier, the accounts of the animals etc. All school-books are necessarily made in a similar way. The very title-page acknowledges that the animals are given “according to Cuvier”.

This charge is infamous and I shall prosecute for it, as soon as I settle my accounts with the “Mirror.”

Truly your friend,

E A Poe [page 344:]

On July 9, 1848, Eveleth returned certain “slips” — perhaps those requested by Poe in the present letter and in that of January 4, 1848 (Letter 259). The Conchologist’s First Book (1839) was published under Poe’s name for the benefit of Thomas Wyatt; the body of the work is largely a paraphrase of Wyatt’s A Manual of Conchology (1838), and Poe’s own contribution is a close paraphrase of Thomas Brown’s The Conchologist’s Text-Book (1837) and, as he says, a translation from Cuvier (see W, I, 194-198; for the title page, see Quinn, Poe, p. 276). Poe never carried out his threat to prosecute the Post for charges of plagiarism. In this connection, see also Letter 252. [CL 671]

250 ⇒ TO HORACE GREELEY [February 21, 1847] [CL 672]

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 pretences, 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 pretences 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 [page 345:] 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

Poe’s “19th ult.” certainly refers to the Tribune article of February 19, 1847, “ult.” meaning “last,” not “last month.” Poe’s case against Fuller and Clason was settled February 17, 1847. On October 24, 1845, Greeley signed a 60-day promissory note made out to Edgar A. [page 346:] Poe to the value of $50 (see P, II, 1063), which, endorsed by Poe, was turned over to John Bisco on the same day as the down-payment on Poe’s purchase of the Broadway Journal (see W, II, 151-152, and Quinn, Poe, pp, 489-490). Greeley never collected the loan. [CL 672]

251 ⇒ TO JANE ERMINA LOCKE [March 10, 1847] [CL 677]

New-York, March 10. 1847

My Dear Madam,

<Your kind letter of Feb. 21>.

In <replying to> ans[w]eri[n]g your kind letter <of Feb. 21 >. permit me in the very first place to <say> absolve myself from <any> a suspicion <of discourtesy to yourself > — <in not hav> ing sooner <replied to yo>u. which, under the circumstances you could scarcely have failed to entertain- <a suspicion of in regard to> [Interlineated: in regard to m] me — and <suspicio> one <which it gives me the deepest regr>et a suspicion of my <my> very g[r]oss discourtesy towards yourself in not having more promptly replied <to the> to you. I assure you, madam, that your letter dated Feb. 21 — has only this moment reached me <, and through a channel and > A[l]though postmarked <in> Lowell &c in the ordinary manner, it was handed to <me> a friend of mine, for me, by Mr Freeman Hunt of the Merchants’ Magazine, without any explanation of the mode in which it came into his hands or of the cause of its detention. Being < too > still too unwell to leave my room I have been prevented as yet from <making inquiry respecting> satisfyi[ng] myself on these points, and of course cannot now delay replying to your <kind> noble and generous words even until I shall shall have an opportunity of <doing so.> making <the inv the investigation. inquiry.

Your beautiful lines <were written> appeared at a time when [Interlineated: be[c] ] [page 2] I was indeed very ill, and <I> might never have seen them but f[or th]e kindness of Mr Willis who enclosed them to me-and who knew me too well to suppose <that> as some of my friends did that I I would be pained by so sweet an evidence of interest on the part of one of whose <writings spirit> [Interlineated: with] writings — <of> [Interlineated: with esp[illegible]] whose <glowing> fervid and generous spirit which they evince he had so often heard me express sympathy.

At the same time I could not help <seeing and> fearing that [page 347:] should you see my letter to Mr Willis <published> (in “The Home journal” in which a natural pride which I feel you could not blame impelled me to <disavow my necessities> shrink from public charity even at the cost of <disavowing> [Interlineated: expense of truth at denying] those necessities which were but too real — and an illness which I t[h]en expectede would <a> soon terminate in death — I could not help fearing that <when you saw> should you see this letter you would yourself feel pained at having caused me pain — at having been the means of giving farther publicity to a <poverty> [Interlineated: n unfounded] report <which was unfounded> — at all events to <a> the report < of a poverty and a wretchedness > which <at all even>ts (since the world regards <it [illegible]> wretchedness as a crime) I had thought it prudent so publicly to disavow. In a word <judging> venturing to judge your noble nature by my own, I felt grieved lest my <denial lette> published <letter> denial <of> my cause you to regret what you had <written,> done and my first impulse was to write you and assure [Interlineated: yo[u]] you even at the risk of <speaking too war> doing so too warmly of the sweet <emotion of > emotion made up of respect and gratitude alone with which, <your poem [had] > my heart was filled to overflowing. <But> While I was hesitating, however, in regard [page 3] to the propriety of this step — I w[as o]verwhelmed by a <trial> sorrow so poignant as to deprive me for several weeks of all power of thought or action.

Your letter now lying before me, <assur assures me> tells me that I had not been mistaken in your nature and that I should not have hesitated to address you — but believe me, dear Mrs Locke, that I <shall> am alreading <begin[n]ing to> ceasing to regard those difficulties as misfortune which have led me to even this partial correspondence. with yourself.

[Here follow some scribblings by Poe:]

Ind Inde

Indeed In Indeed

Indee

Tri

I Inde

Ind

with

[No signature] [page 348:]

If corrected and sent, this is Poe’s first known letter to Jane E. Locke. Mrs. Ermina Starkweather Locke, a relative of Mrs. Frances Sargent Osgood, lived at Wamesit Cottage, Lowell, Massachusetts. At her invitation Poe delivered his lecture on the “Poets and Poetry of America” in Lowell, July 10, 1848 (see Quinn, Poe, pp. 565-566). Concerning Mrs. Locke, see the notes to Poe’s other letters to her, and also Letters 3o6 and 309. It is quite possible that Hunt gave Mrs. Locke’s letter to Willis, who transmitted it to Poe. Mrs. Locke’s “beautiful lines” seem to have been enclosed in Willis’ letter to Poe, [December 23, 1846] (see H, XVII, 272), which included also, apparently, a letter from her to Willis, and Willis’ editorial on Poe’s health and character printed in the Home Journal, December 26, 1846, available in advance of date (see the note to Letter 310) ; thus Poe’s letter to Willis (December 30, 1846), printed in the Home Journal, January 9, 1847, alludes to these matters in its attempt to deny the seeming hopelessness of his situation. His “sorrow so poignant” refers to the death of Virginia, January 30, 1847. [CL 677]

252 ⇒ TO GEORGE W. EVELETH [March 11, 1847] [CL 679]

New-York March 11. 47.

My Dear Sir,

I am still quite sick and overwhelmed with business — but I snatch a few moments to reply to yours of the 21rst ult.

I really forget whether I did mail you one or two papers — but presume that the slips enclosed in my letter, covered all.

The “scholar and gentleman” referred to, is Evert A. Duyckinck, of this city, formerly editor of “Arcturus” now of “The Literary World”.

I fear that according to the law technicalities there is nothing “actionable” in the Post’s paragraphs — but I shall make them retract by some means.

My suit against “The Mirror” has terminated, by a verdict of $225, in my favor. The costs and all will make them a bill of $492. Pretty well — considering that there was no actual “damage” done to me.

I enclose you my reply to English — which will enable you to comprehend his accusations. The vagabond, at the period of the suit’s coming on, ran off to Washington for fear of being criminally prosecuted. The “acknowledgment” referred to was not forthcoming, and [page 349:] “the Mirror” could not get a single witness to testify one word against my character.

[page 2] Thank you for your promise about “The Stylus”. I depend upon you implicitly.

You were perfectly right in what you said to Godey.

I cannot tell why the review of Hawthorne does not appear — but I presume we shall have it by and bye. He paid me for it when I sent it — so I have no business to ask about it. <When>

Most truly your friend

Edgar A Poe

P. S. “The Valdemar Case” was a hoax, of course.

For the papers and slips, see Letter 249. Arcturus, edited by Evert A. Duyckinck and Cornelius Mathews, was founded in New York, December 1840, and merged with the Boston Miscellany, June 1842 (Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 713-714); Duyckinck edited the Literary World for its first three issues, February-April 1847 (see also, the note to Letter 320). For Poe’s reference to the Post, see Letter 249. Concerning the suit against the Mirror, see the Poe-English controversy, H, XVII, 233-255. For Eveleth’s “promise” regarding the Stylus and what he wrote to Godey, see Eveleth to Poe, February 21, 1847 (EP (reprint), pp. 13-14) . Poe’s article on Hawthorne appeared in Godey’s, November 1847 (reprinted in H, XVII, 141-155). For the “Valdemar Case,” see also Letter 245. [CL 679]

253 ⇒ TO J. F. REINMAN & J. H. WALKER [March 11, 1847] [CL 680]

New-York March 11. 1847

Gentlemen,

Very serious illness has hitherto prevented me from replying to your most flattering letter of the 24th ult.

May I now beg you to express to your society my grateful acceptance and appreciation of the honor they have conferred on me?

With respect & esteem I am, Gentlemen,

Yr. mo. ob. St

Edgar A Poe

To Mess J. F. Reinman

& J. H. Walker [page 350:]

In various letters Poe speaks of his serious illness before and after Virginia’s death, January 30, 1847. [CL 680]

254 ⇒ TO MARIE LOUISE SHEW [May 1847] [CL 683]

[Fordham] Sunday night [May 1847]

My dear Friend Louise

Nothing for months, has given me so much real pleasure, as your note of last night. I have been engaged all day on some promised work — otherwise I should have replyed immediately as my heart inclined. I sincerely hope you may not drift out of my sight before I can thank you. How kind of you to let me do even this small service for you, in return for the great debt I owe you. Louise — my brightest — most unselfish of all who ever loved me, I should return the money, if I did not know it would grieve you, as I shall have so much pleasure in thinking of you & yours, in that Music Room & Library. Louise — I give you great credit for taste in these things, & I know I can please you in the purchases. During my first call at your house after my Virginia’s death, I noticed with so much pleasure the large painting over the Piano which is a masterpiece indeed deserving a place in a palace or church & I noticed the size of all your paintings[.] The scrolls, instead of set figures — of the drawing room carpet — the soft effect of the window shades also the crimson & gold &c & I was charmed to see the Harp & Piano uncovered. The pictures of Raphael & the Cavelier I shall never forget — their softness & beauty. The Guitar with the blue ribbon, music stand & antique jars. I wondered that a little country maiden like you had developed so classic a taste & atmosphere. Please present my kind regards to your uncle & say that I am at his service any or every day this week & ask him please, to specify time & place[.]

Yours sincerely

Edgar A Poe

According to Ingram (II, 154), Mrs. Shew invited Poe to help her uncle select furnishings for a new house and “gave him carte blanche to furnish the music-room and library as he pleased.” Mrs. Shew (letter [page 351:] to Ingram, February 16, 1875 (?), in the Ingram collection) identified her uncle as Hiram Barney, senior member of the New York law firm of Barney, Butler, and Parsons. [CL 683]

254a ⇒ TO G. P. BRONSON [June 1847] [CL 685a]

[Fordham, June 1847]

I wish to ascertain if the poem which, at your suggestion, I have written is of the lenth, the character &c. you desire: — if not, I will write another . . .

[Edgar A. Poe]

According to the Dodd, Mead catalogue (see Note 254a), Bronson was an elocutionist. The poem referred to is unidentified. [CL 685a]

255 ⇒ TO ROBERT T. CONRAD

New-York August 10. 1847.

Dear Sir,

Permit me to thank you, in the first place, very sincerely, for your considerate kindness to me while in Philadelphia. Without your aid, at the precise moment and in the precise manner in which you rendered it, it is more than probable that I should not now be alive to write you this letter. Finding myself exceedingly ill — so much so that I had no hope except in getting home immediately -I made several attempts to see Mr Graham and at last saw him for a few minutes just as he was about returning to Cape May. He was very friendly — more so than I have ever known him, and requested me to write continuously for the Mag. As you were not present, however, and it was uncertain when I could see you, I obtained an advance of $10 from Mr G. in order that I might return home at once — and thinking it, also, more proper to leave you time in which to look over the articles.

I would be deeply obliged if you could now give me an answer respecting them. Should you take both, it will render me, just now, the most important service. I owe Mr G. about $50. The articles, at the old price ($4 per page) will come to $90 — so [page 2] that, if you write me that they are accepted, I propose to draw on Mr G. for $40 — thus squaring our account. [page 352:]

P.S. I settled my bill with Arbuckle before leaving Phil. but am not sure <whether it included> how much I owe yourself for the previous bill etc. Please let me know.

Very gratefully your friend

Edgar A. Poe

No articles by Poe of such length as Poe indicates appeared in Graham’s after the date of this letter. Judge Robert T. Conrad was an editor of the North American and was assisting in the editing of Graham’s (see Quinn, Poe, p. 531). [CL 687]

256 ⇒ TO ROBERT T. CONRAD [August 31, 1847] [CL 688]

New York Aug. 31 — 1847

My Dear Sir,

It is now a month since I wrote you about the two articles I left with you — but, as I have heard nothing from you, I can only suppose that my letter has not reached you — or, at all events, that, in the press of other business, you have forgotten it and me.

In it, after thanking you (as I do again most sincerely) for your late kindness to me in Phila, I begged an answer in respect to the articles — mentioning $40 as the sum in which the Magazine would be indebted to me in case of their acceptance, and asking permission to draw for that amount. — I owed Mr Graham $ 50 (as nearly as I can remember) and the papers, at the old price, would come to 90.

May I beg of you to reply, as soon as convenient, and oblige

Yours very cordially

Edgar A. Poe

Hon R. T. Conrad.

No letter is known from Conrad to Poe, though Poe wrote three to him. In connection with the above letter, see Letter 255. [CL 688]

257 ⇒ TO SARAH ANNA LEWIS

[New York] Nov. 27. [1847]

Dear Mrs Lewis —

A thousand thanks for your repeated kindness, and, above all, for the comforting and cheering words of your note. Your advice I feel as a command which neither my heart nor my reason would venture to disobey. May Heaven forever bless you and yours! [page 353:]

A day or two ago I sent to one of the Magazines the sonnet enclosed. Its tone is somewhat too light; but it embodies a riddle which I wish to put you to the trouble of expounding. Will you try?

My best regards, with those of Mrs Clemm, <to Mr Lewis,> and believe me, with all the affection of a brother,

Yours always,

Edgar A Poe.

Sarah Anna Lewis, whose pen name was Estelle Anna Lewis, was the wife of Sylvanus D. Lewis, a lawyer, and lived at 125 Dean Street, Brooklyn. According to Mr. Lewis, he and Poe became personal friends in 1845 (see P, II, 1374). For Poe’s favorable reviews of Mrs. Lewis’ poems, “for a consideration,” see the note to Letter 321; and for Poe’s comments in such reviews, see H, XIII, 155-165, 215-226. In connection with Mrs. Shew’s report to Ingram in a letter of April 3, 1875 (University of Virginia), that Poe avoided such persons as Mrs. Lewis (quoted by Quinn, Poe, p. 563), must be kept in mind the apparent gratitude he felt toward her for her care of Mrs. Clemm during his absence from New York in the summer of 1849 (see letters to Mrs. Clemm and to Mrs. Lewis at this time). According to Mrs. Lewis (see Ingram, II, 219), “My girlish poem — ‘The Forsaken’ — made us acquainted. He had seen it floating the rounds of the press, and wrote to tell me how much he liked it: ‘It is inexpressibly beautiful,’ he said, ‘and I should like much to know the young author.’ “ Though the italicized clause can be found in Poe’s review of Mrs. S. Anna Lewis’ Child of the Sea and Other Poems, which appeared in the SLM, September 1848 (reprinted in H, XIII, 155-165), the rest of the sentence suggests a letter from Poe, which is unlocated. “The sonnet enclosed” refers to Poe’s “An Enigma” (see Note 257); the “riddle” consists of reading out of the poem Mrs. Lewis’ name by juxtaposing the first letter of the first line with the second letter of the second line the third of the third line and so on. [CL 691]

258 ⇒ TO NATHANIEL P. WILLIS [December 8, 1847] [CL 693]

Fordham, December 8 [1847]

My dear Mr. Willis,

Many thanks for the kind expressions in your note of three or four weeks ago.

I send you an “American Review” — the number just issued — in which is a ballad by myself, but published anonymously. It is called [page 354:] “Ulalume” — the page is turned down. I do not care to be known as its author just now; but I would take it as a great favor if you would copy it in the H. J., with a word of inquiry as to who wrote it: — provided always that you think the poem worth the room it would occupy in your paper — a matter about which I am by no means sure. Always yours gratefully,

Edgar A. Poe.

Willis reprinted “Ulalume” in the Home Journal, January 1, 1848 (see Campbell, Poems, p. 265), anonymously, with an introductory paragraph in which he spoke of the poem as an “exquisitely piquant and skilful exercise of rarity and niceness of language . . . Who is the author?” (ibid., p. 268). Subsequently, the poem was reprinted and commented upon by various publications, and finally Poe saw to it that he was identified as its author (for a full discussion, see Campbell, Poems). [CL 693]

259 ⇒ TO GEORGE W. EVELETH

New-York — Jan. 4, 1848.

My Dear Sir —

Your last, dated July 26, ends with — “Write will you not”? I have been living ever since in a constant state of intention to write, and finally concluded not to write at all until I could say something definite about The Stylus and other matters. You perceive that I now send you a Prospectus-but before I speak farther on this topic, let me succinctly reply to various points in your letter. 1. — “Hawthorne” is out — how do you like it? 2 — “The Rationale of Verse” was found to come down too heavily (as I forewarned you it did) upon some of poor Colton’s personal friends in Frogpondium — the “pundits” you know; so I gave him “a song” for it & took it back. The song was “Ulalume a Ballad” published in the December number of the Am. Rev. I enclose it as copied by the Home Journal (Willis’s paper) with the Editor’s remarks — please let me know how you like “Ulalume”. As for the “Rat. of Verse” I sold it to “Graham” at a round advance on Colton’s price, and in Grahams bands it is still — but not to remain even there; for I mean to get it back, revise or rewrite it (since “Evangeline has been published) and deliver it as a lecture when I go South & West on my Magazine expedition. 3 — I have been “so still” on account of preparation for the magazine campaign [page 355:] — also have been working at my book — nevertheless I have written some trifles not yet published — some which have been. 4 — My health is better — best. I have never been so well. 5 — I do not well see how I could have otherwise replied to English. You must know him, (English) before you can well estimate my reply. He is so thorough a “blatherskite” that [to] have replied to him with dignity would have been the extreme of the ludicrous. The only true plan — not to have replied to him at all — was precluded on account of the nature of some of his accusations — forgery for instance. To such charges, even from the Auto[crat] of all the Asses — a man is compelled to answer. There he had me. Answer him I must[.] But how? Believe me there exists no such dilemma as that in which a gentleman [is] placed when he is forced to reply to a blackguard. If he have any genius then is the time for its display. I confess to you that I rather like that reply of mine in a literary sense — and so do a great many of my friends. It fully answered its purpose beyond a doubt — would to Heaven every work of art did as much! You err in supposing me to have been “peevish” when I wrote the reply: — the peevishness was all “put on” as a part of my argument — of my plan: — so was the “indignation” with which I wound up. How could I be either [peev-]ish or indignant about a matter so well adapted to further my purposes? Were I able to afford so expensive a luxury as personal and especially as refutable abuse, I would [w]illingly pay any man $2000 per annum, to hammer away at me all the year round. I suppose you know that I sued the Mirror & got a verdict. English eloped. 5 — The “common friend” referred to is Mrs Frances S. Osgood, the poetess. — 6 — I agree with you only in part as regards Miss Fuller. She has some general but no particular critical powers. She belongs to a school of criticism — the Göthean, asthetic, eulogistic. The creed of this school is that, in criti[-] [page 2] cizing an author you must imitate him, ape him, out — Herod Herod. She is grossly dishonest. She abuses Lowell, for example, (the best of our poets, perhaps) on account of a personal quarrel with him. She has omitted all mention of me for the same reason — although, a short time before the issue of her book, she praised me highly in the Tribune. I enclose you her criticism that you may judge for yourself. She praised “Witchcraft” because Mathews (who toadies her) wrote it. In a word, she is an ill-tempered and very inconsistent old maid — avoid her. 7 — Nothing was omitted in “Marie Roget” but what I omitted myself: — all that is mystification. [page 356:] The story was originally published in Snowden’s “Lady’s Companion”. The “naval officer” who committed the murder (or rather the accidental death arising from an attempt at abortion) confessed it; and the whole matter is now well understood — but, for the sake of relatives, his is a topic on which I must not speak further. 8 -“The Gold Bug” was originally sent to Graham, but he not liking it, I got him to take some critical papers instead, and sent [i]t to The Dollar Newspaper which had offered $100 for the best story. It obtained the premi[u]m and made a great noise. 9 — The “necessities” were pecuniary ones. I referred to a [s]neer at my poverty on the part of the Mirror. 10 — You say — “Can you hint to me what was the terrible evil” which caused the irregularities so profoundly lamented?” Yes; I can do more than hint. This “evil” was the greatest which can befall a man. Six years ago, a wife, whom I loved as no man ever loved before, ruptured a blood-vessel in singing. Her life was despaired of. I took leave of her forever & underwent all the agonies of her death. She recovered partially and I again hoped. At the end of a year the vessel broke again — I went through precisely the same scene. Again in about a year afterward. Then again — again — again & even once again at varying intervals. Each time I felt all the agonies of her death — and at each accession of the disorder I loved her more dearly & clung to her life with more desperate pertinacity. But I am constitutionally sensitive — nervous in a very unusual degree. I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity. During these fits of absolute unconsciousness I drank, God only knows how often or how much. As a matter of course, my enemies referred the insanity to the drink rather than the drink to the insanity. I had indeed, nearly abandoned all hope of a permanent cure when I found one in the death of my wife. This I can & do endure as becomes a man — it was the horrible never-ending oscillation between hope & despair which I could not longer have endured without the total loss of reason. In the death of what was my life, then, I receive a new but — oh God! how melancholy an existence.

And now, having replied to all your queries let me refer to The Stylus. I am resolved to be my own publisher. To be controlled is to be ruined. My ambition is great. If I succeed, I put myself (within 2 years) in possession of a fortune & infinitely more. My plan is to go through the South & West & endeavor to interest my friends so as to commence with a list of at least 500 subscribers. With this list I [page 357:] can take the matter into my own hands. There are some few of my friends who have sufficient confidence in me to advance their subscriptions — but at all events succeed I will. Can you or will you help me? I have room to say no more.

Truly Yours —

E A Poe.

[Please re-enclose the printed slips when you have done with them. Have you seen the article on “The American Library” in the November No. of Blackwood, and if so, what do you think of it? E. A. Poe.]

Poe’s long review of Hawthorne appeared in Godey’s, November 1847 (reprinted in H, XIII, 141-155). “Ulalume” was first published in Colton’s American Whig Review, December 1847 (see Campbell, Poems, p. 265). “Frogpondium” refers especially to Boston, center of the transcendentalists. The Home Journal printed “Ulalume” in the issue of January 1, 1848 (Campbell, ibid.). The “Rationale of Verse,” in its earlier title, “Notes on English Verse,” appeared in Lowell’s Pioneer, March 1843; then, elaborated, was published in the SLM, October-November 1848 (see head-note and reprinting in H, XIV, 209-265). For Poe’s “book,” see the note to Letter 240. The Poe-English controversy is reprinted in H, XVII, 233-255; see also Letter 252. Margaret Fuller’s criticism of Poe appeared in the New York Tribune, November 26, 184 5 (see Quinn, Poe, p. 538, n.), prior to her Papers on Literature and Art, 1846 (see Cambridge History of American Literature, I, 343) . “Marie Rôget” was published in Snowden’s Ladies’ Companion in the issues of November and December 1842, and February 1843 (see Wyllie, Poe’s Tales, p. 332). Contrary to Poe’s statement, Graham bought The Gold Bug for $52 (see George R. Graham’s “defense of Poe,” “The Late Edgar Allan Poe,” Graham’s, March 1850, reprinted in H, I, 399-410) ; then, apparently, at Poe’s request returned it so that Poe could enter it in the Dollar Magazine contest, in which newspaper it was published, June 21 and 28, 18 “The American Library” appeared in Blackwood’s Magazine, LXII (November 1847), 574-592; it discussed Poe’s Tales (1845) and praised it. [CL 694]

260 ⇒ To H. D. CHAPIN [January 17, 1848] [CL 696]

Fordham — Jan. 17 — 48.

My dear Sir,

Mrs. Shew intimated to me, not long ago, that you would, perhaps, lend me your aid in my endeavour to re-establish myself in the literary world; and I now venture to ask your assistance. When I last spoke [page 358:] with you, I mentioned my design of going to see Mr. Neal at Portland, and there, with his influence, deliver a Lecture — the proceeds of which might enable me to take the first steps towards my proposed Magazine: — that is to say, put, perhaps, $100 in my pocket; which would give me the necessary outfit and start me on my tour. But, since our conversation, I have been thinking that a better course would be to make interest among my friends here — in N. Y. city — and deliver a Lecture, in the first instance, at the Society Library. With this object in view, may I beg of you so far to assist me as to procure for me the use of the Lecture Room? The difficulty with me is that payment for the Room is demanded in advance and I have no money. I believe the price is $15. I think that, without being too sanguine, I may count upon an audience of some 3 or 4 hundreds — and if even 300 are present, I shall be enabled to proceed with my plans.

Should you be so kind as to grant me the aid I request, I should like to engage the Room for the first Thursday in February.

Gratefully yours,

Edgar A. Poe.

I am deeply obliged to you for your note of introduction to Col. Webb. As yet I have not found an opportunity of presenting it — thinking it best to do so when I speak to him about the Lecture.

Mr. Chapin seems to have been a friend of the Poe family in New York. He is probably the Mr. C ——— spoken of by Mrs. Clemm in her letter to Mrs. Shew, Friday Evening [1847], printed in H, XVII, 390-391. “Mr. Neal of Portland” was John Neal, former editor of the Yankee, with whom Poe had some correspondence, q.v. Early in 1848 Poe was planning a trip through the South in the interests of launching his Stylus. Poe’s lecture on the universe was delivered before the small audience that gathered in the Library of the New York Historical Society, February 3, Thursday. [CL 696]

261 ⇒ TO LOUIS A. GODEY

[New York] Jan. 17, 1848

Dr Sir

What do you say to an article? I have one which I think may please you. Shall I send it and draw as usual? . . . Please reply. . . . The article is imaginative — not critical.

[Signature missing] [page 359:]

The article was probably “Mellonta Tauta,” Poe’s last contribution to Godey’s, and appeared February 1849. The article or tale is dated April 2848, as if Poe in sending it in January 1848 expected it to be published in the April number, 1848, of Godey’s, but being an imaginative article it is dated ahead a thousand years. If this supposition be true, Godey probably replied to the present letter. [CL 697]

262 ⇒ TO NATHANIEL P. WILLIS

Fordham, January 22, 1848.

My dear Mr. Willis: —

I am about to make an effort at re-establishing myself in the literary world, and feel that I may depend upon your aid.

My general aim is to start a Magazine, to be called “The Stylus;” but it would be useless to me, even when established, if not entirely out of the control of a publisher. I mean, therefore, to get up a journal which shall be my own, at all points. With this end in view, I must get a list of, at least, five hundred subscribers to begin with: — nearly two hundred I have already. I propose, however, to go South and West, among my personal and literary friends — old college and West Point acquaintances — and see what I can do. In order to get the means of taking the first step, I propose to lecture at the Society Library, on Thursday, the 3d of February — and, that there may be no cause of squabbling, my subject shall not be literary at all. I have chosen a broad text — “The Universe.”

Having thus given you the facts of the case, I leave all the rest to the suggestions of your own tact and generosity. Gratefully — most gratefully —

Your friend always,

Edgar A. Poe.

For similar remarks on the Stylus, see the last paragraph of Letter 259. Poe delivered the lecture on “The Universe,” on February 3, at the Society Library in New York before a small audience; he read Eureka, on which he had been working for some time (see Quinn, Poe, p. 539). Willis wrote a very complimentary notice of the forthcoming lecture in the Home Journal, ante February 11, 1848 (see Quinn, Poe, pp. 539-540 [CL 698] **[[missing ending parenthesis]]** [page 360:]

263 ⇒ TO GEORGE W. EVELETH [February 29, 1848] [CL 700]

New-York — Feb. 29 — 48.

My Dear Sir,

I mean to start for Richmond on the 10th March. Every thing has gone as I wished it, and my final success is certain, or I abandon all claims to the title of Vates. The only contretemps of any moment, lately, has been Willis’s somewhat premature announcement of my project:-but this will only force me into action a little sooner than I had proposed. Let me now answer the points of your last letter.

Colton acted pretty much as all mere men of the world act. I think very little the worse of him for his endeavor to succeed with you at my expense. I always liked him and I believe he liked me. His intellect was o. His “I understand the matter perfectly,” amuses me. Certainly, then, it was the only matter he did understand. “The Rationale of Verse” will appear in “Graham” after all: — I will stop in Phil: to see the proofs. As for Godey, he is a good little man and means as well as he knows how. The editor of the “Weekly Universe” speaks kindly and I find no fault with his representing my habits as “shockingly irregular”. He could not have had the “personal acquaintance” with me of which he writes; but has fallen into a very natural error. The fact is thus: — My habits are rigorously abstemious and I omit nothing of the natural regimen requisite for health: — i,e — I rise early, eat moderately, drink nothing but water, and take abundant and regular exercise in the open air. But this is my private life — my studious and literary life — and of course escapes the eye of the world. The desire for society comes upon me only when I have become excited by drink. Then only I go — that is, at these times only I have been in the practice of going among my friends: who seldom, or in fact never, having seen me unless excited, take it for granted that I am always so. Those who really know me, know better. In the meantime I shall turn the general error to account. But enough of this: the causes which maddened me to the drinking point are no more, and I am done drinking, forever. — I do not know the “editors & contributors” of the “Weekly Universe” and was not aware of the existence of such a paper. Who are they? or is it a secret? The “most [page 361:] distinguished of American scholars” is Prof. Chas. Anthon, author of the “Classical Dictionary”.

I presume you have seen some newspaper notices of my late lecture on [page 2] the Universe. You could have gleaned, however, no idea of what the lecture was, from what the papers said it was. All praised it — as far as I have yet seen — and all absurdly misrepresented it. The only report of it which approaches the truth, is the one I enclose — from the “Express” — written by E. A. Hopkins — a gentleman of much scientific acquirement — son of Bishop Hopkins of Vermont — but he conveys only my general idea, and his digest is full of inaccuracies. I enclose also a slip from the “Courier & Enquirer”: — please return them. To eke out a chance of your understanding what I really did say, I add a loose summary of my propositions & results:

The General Proposition is this: — Because Nothing was, therefore All Things are.

1 — An inspection of the universality of Gravitation — i.e, of the fact that each particle tends, not to any one common point, but to every other particle — suggests perfect totality, or absolute unity, as the source of the phaenomenon.

2 — Gravity is but the mode in which is manifested the tendency of all things to return into their original unity; is but the reaction of the first Divine Act.

3 — The law regulating the return — i.e, the law of Gravitation — is but a necessary result of the necessary & sole possible mode of equable irradiation of matter through space: — this equable irradiation is necessary as a basis for the Nebular Theory of Laplace.

4 — The Universe of Stars (contradistinguished from the Universe of Space) is limited.

5 — Mind is cognizant of Matter only through its two properties, attraction and repulsion: therefore Matter is only attraction & repulsion: a finally consolidated globe of globes, being but one particle, would be without attraction, i e, gravitation; the existence of such a globe presupposes the expulsion of the separative ether which we know to exist between the particles as at present diffused: — thus the final globe would be matter without attraction & repulsion: — but these are matter: — then the final globe would be matter without matter: — i,e, no matter at all: — it must disappear. Thus Unity is Nothingness. [page 362:]

6. Matter, springing from Unity, sprang from Nothingness; — i,e, was created.

7. All will return to Nothingness, in returning to Unity.

Read these items after the Report. As to the Lecture, I am very quiet about it — but, if you have ever dealt with such topics, you will recognize the novelty & moment of my views. What I have propounded will (in good time) revolutionize the world of Physical & Metaphysical Science. I say this calmly — but I say it.

I shall not go till I hear from you.

Truly Yours,

E A Poe

[By the bye, lest you infer that my views, in detail, are the same with those advanced in the Nebular Hypothesis, I venture to offer a few addenda, the substance of which was penned, though never printed, several years ago, under the head of — A Prediction.[ . . . ] How will that do for a postscript?]

Apparently Poe did not leave for Richmond until July, probably on the 17th (see Letters 274 and 278). George H. Colton, first editor of the American Whig Review, was sketched by Poe in “Literati,” May 1846 (see H, XV, 7-9). “The Rationale of Verse” did not appear in Graham’s (see the note to Letter 259). Louis A. Godey was the owner and publisher of Godey’s Lady’s Book. The editors of the New York Weekly Universe wrote Eveleth, August 17, 1847, praising Poe as a writer, critic, and gentleman, and adding that any magazine conducted by him “could hardly fail of success”; they also said that “his habits have been shockingly irregular” (see P, II, 1236-1237). Poe’s identification of E. A. Hopkins is incorrect; see Letter 265 and note. [CL 700]

264 ⇒ TO GEORGE E. ISBELL [February 29, 1848] [CL 701]

New-York; Feb. 29 — 48.

Geo. E. Irbey Esqr

Dear Sir,

A press of business has hitherto prevented me from replying to your letter of the 10th.

“The Vestiges of Creation” I have not yet seen; and it is always unsafe and unwise to form opinions of books from reviews of them. The extracts of the work which have fallen in my way, abound in [page 363:] inaccuracies of fact; — still these may not materially affect the general argument. One thing is certain; that the objections of merely scientific men — men, I mean, who cultivate the physical sciences to the exclusion, in a greater or less degree, of the mathematics, of metaphysics and of logic — are generally invalid except in respect to scientific details. Of all persons in the world, they are at the same time the most bigoted and the least capable of using, generalizing, or deciding upon the facts which they bring to light in the course of their experiments. And these are the men who chiefly write the criticisms against all efforts at generalization — denouncing these efforts as “speculative” and “theoretical”.

The notice of my Lecture, which appeared in the “New-World”, was written by some one grossly incompetent to the task which he undertook. No idea of what I said can [page 2] be gleaned from either that or any other of the newspaper notices-with the exception, perhaps, of the “Express” — where the critique was written by a gentleman of much scientific acquirement — Mr E. A. Hopkins, of Vermont. I enclose you his Report — which, however, is inaccurate in numerous particulars. He gives my general conception so, at least, as not to caricature it.

I have not yet published the “Lecture[“], but, when I do so, will have the pleasure of mailing you a copy. In the meantime, permit me to state, succinctly, my principal results.

GENERAL PROPOSITION. Because Nothing was, therefore All Things are.

1 — An inspection of the universality of Gravitation — of the fact that each particle tends not to any one common point — but to every other particle — suggests perfect totality, or absolute unity, as the source of the [p]haenomenon.

2. Gravity is but the mode in which is manifested the tendency of all things to return into their original unity.

3. I show that the law of the return — i.e the law of gravity — is but a necessary result of the necessary and sole possible mode of equable irradiation of matter through a limited space.

4. Were the Universe of stars — (contradistinguished from the universe of space) unlimited, no worlds could exist.

5. I show that Unity is Nothingness.

6. All matter, springing from Unity, sprang from Nothingness. i e, was created. [page 364:]

7. All will return to Unity; i e — to Nothingness.

I would be obliged to you if you would let me know how far these ideas are coincident with those of the “Vestiges”.

Very Respy Yr. Ob. St

Edgar A Poe

P.S. Please return the printed slip when you have done with it.

The present prospectus was printed prior to January 4, 1848 (see Letter 259). For Poe’s lecture, see Letter 262. and note; and for his mistake in identifying John H. Hopkins as “E. A. Hopkins,” see Letter 265. For the publication of the lecture as Eureka, see the note to Letter 269. No letter from Isbell returning the “printed slip” is known. In the present prospectus Poe implies that he will have correspondents in London, Paris, Rome and Vienna”; he does not say when the magazine will be first published. [CL 701]

265 ⇒ TO MARIE LOUISE SHEW

[New York]

Thursday, March 30. [1848]

Dearest Louise, —

You see that I am not yet off to Richmond as I proposed. I have been detained by some very unexpected and very important matters which I will explain to you when I see you. What is the reason that you have not been out? I believe the only reason is that you suspect I am really anxious to see you.

When you see Mr. H. — I wish you would say to him that I would take it as an especial favor if he would pay me a visit at Fordham next Sunday. I have something to communicate to him of the highest importance, and about which I need his advice. Won’t you get him to come — and come with him to show him the way?

Sincerely yours,

Edgar A. Poe

For his trip to Richmond, see Letters 259 and 269. The “important matters” referred to his preparation of Eureka for publication by George P. Putnam (June 1848). “Mr. H. ——— “ was John Henry Hopkins, Jr., son of Bishop Hopkins; at the time of the present letter, he was a student of the General Theological Seminary in New York. He [page 365:] had reviewed for the Express Poe’s lecture on “the Universe” at the Society Library, February 3 (see Letter 263). According to an un published letter in the Ingram collection, University of Virginia, dated February 9, 1875, Hopkins wrote to Mrs. Shew (then Mrs. Roland Houghton) that he visited Fordham, at Poe’s request, in 1848, at the time Poe was planning to publish Eureka, and that they argued about its pantheism. But an unpublished letter from Hopkins to Poe, dated May 15, 1848 (MS. in the Boston Public Library), speaks of having seen, a few days before, the MS. of Eureka in Putnam’s office, and protests against a “new developement” (probably concerning the pantheistic views against which he had argued at Fordham), which, if left in, he will be forced to attack. Thus Hopkins visited Poe at Fordham, perhaps alone, prior to May 15, and possibly on the Sunday suggested in the present letter. [CL 703]

266 ⇒ TO HENRY B. HIRST [May 3, 1848] [CL 705]

New-York: May 3, 48.

My Dear Hirst,

Your letter came to hand but not your Prospectus — so that I am still in the dark as to what you mean to do. Send me a Prospectus in a letter — envelope. It is more than possible, however, that I will be in Philadelphia before the week is out: — but at all events send the Prospectus.

I am glad to hear that you are getting out “Endymion”, of which you must know that I think highly — very highly — if I did fall asleep while hearing it read.

I live at Fordham, Westchester Co: — 14 miles from the city by rail-road. The cars leave from the City Hall. Should you have any trouble about finding me, inquire at the office of the “Home Journal” — or “Union Magazine.”

Truly your friend

Edgar A Poe.

There is no evidence that Hirst visited Poe at Fordham, and Poe’s correspondence of this period does not indicate that Poe went to Philadelphia. Endymion, a Tale of Greece, a poem in four cantos, was published in 1848 (Dictionary of American Biography, IX, 68-69). N. P. Willis was editing the Home Journal, and Bayard Taylor, the Union Magazine (see Letter 271). [CL 705] [page 366:]

267 ⇒ TO JANE E. LOCKE [May 19, 1848] [CL 708]

Fordham May 19 48

My Dear Friend,

Several times since the day on which your last kind and noble letter reached me I have been on the point of replying to it — but as often have been deterred through a consideration which you would not be likely to surmise, and which, most assuredly, had never influenced me in the slightest degree at any previous period of my life — at the very least since the epoch at which I attained “years of discretion”: — it was simpy that I knew not what to say — that, in spite of your generous assurances, I feared to offend you, or at least to grieve you, by saying too much, while I could not reconcile myself to a possibility of saying too little. I felt, and still do feel, an embarrassment in writing to you that surprises me even more than it will surprise yourself. But for duties that, just now, will not be neglected or even postponed — the proof-reading of a [page 2] work of scientific detail, in which a trivial error would involve me in very serious embarrassment — I would, ere this, have been in Lowell — to clasp you by the hand — and to thank you personally for all that I owe you: — and oh, I feel that this is veryvery much.

There are some passages in your letter which fill me with a pleasure inexpressible — but there are others which would wound me to the heart were it possible for me, even for a single moment, to suppose you in earnest — “They attach to the brief page of my own history an importance — an ‘all’ that while it surprises, grieves me”. And again — “But what it can be? again I ask. Is it Glyndon’s ‘great fear’ — a fear of the world? Can it be that because you absolutely know ‘nothing’ of me — because of what seems to you my obscurity there may be something wrong that makes you secretly hesitate to call me friend.” Sweet friend, dear friend, these are your words but are they not very cruel? You have spoken of me, too, as “a poet” and yet you would accuse me — if even only impliedly, — of “a fear of the world”. You cannot mean this in your heart, or you can know nothing of my “personal history”. Alas, my whole existence has been the merest Romance — in the sense of the most utter [page 3] unworldliness. I have never regretted this before, but there is something which whispers to me that an hour has come, or may speedily come, in which I shall most bitterly regret it. [page 367:]

You will not suspect me of affectation, dear friend, or of any unworthy passion for being mysterious, merely because I find it impossible to tell you now — in a letter — what that one question was which I ‘dare not even ask’ of you. It is your own kindness — you own manifestation of a chivalrous nature — your own generous sentiment about which I am not and cannot be mistaken — it is all this, of good and loveable, existing in yourself, which have insensibly brought about in me this “fear”. Will you not remember that the hermit life which for the last three years I have led, buried in the woods of Fordham, has necessarily prevented me from learning anything of you, and will you still refuse to tell me at least one particular of your personal history? I feel that you cannot misunderstand me. Tell me nothing — I ask nothing — which has any reference to ‘worldliness’ or the ‘fear of the world’. Tell me only of the ties-if any exist — that bind you to the world: — and yet I perceive that I may have done very wrong in asking you this: -now that I have asked it, it seems to me the maddest of questions, involving, possibly, the most visionary of hopes. (over[) ]

[page 4] I have seen much that you have written, but “now that I know you” I have a deep curiosity to see all. Can I procure in N. York the volume of poems to which you refer in your second letter? [space for address]

A Critical and Biographical Memoir of myself appeared in “Graham’s Mag:” for Feb. 45 -also one in the “Phil. Saty Museum” the year previous: — one also in the “Boston Notion” I forget exactly when: — and one also in the last January number of the “South. Litery Messenger”. The only portrait, I believe, was in “Graham”. I have no copy & have made several ineffectual efforts to get one. I do not think the portrait would be recognized.

Truly — most truly yours always.

EAP.

For Jane E. Locke, see the note to Letter 251. Poe’s indiscretion in this letter, together with his going to Lowell, at Mrs. Locke’s invitation (see Quinn, Poe, p. 565), to lecture in July, and his later interest in Annie L. Richmond, led to unfortunate circumstances, about which he wrote to Annie (see Letter 306). Poe’s book of “scientific detail” was Eureka, published by Putnam, probably in June 1848 (see the note to Letter 269). Poe’s statement that he has been buried “for the last three years” in Fordham is incorrect (see the note to Letter 239). The critical article on Poe in Graham’s was by James R. Lowell (reprinted in [page 368:] H, I, 367-383); the one in the Saturday Museum, undoubtedly by both Henry B. Hirst and Poe, appeared with a portrait, February 25, 1843 (see Letter 153; and Quinn, Poe, p. 370) ; the one in the Boston Times and Notion, an abridgment by Robert Carter of the sketch in the Saturday Museum, appeared April 29, 1843 (see Carter to Poe, June 19, 1843, in H, XVIII, 146-148) ; and the one in the Southern Literary Messenger for January 1848, was by P. P. Cooke (see H, I, 383-392). [CL 708]

268 ⇒ TO CHARLES H. MARSHALL [May 1848] [CL 710]

Fordham N. Y. May 48

Dr Sir,

Learning from Doctor Freeman that he is an applicant for the post of Surgeon on board the Steam-Packet “United States,” I have great pleasure in mentioning that he has attended my family for the last two years, and that I believe him in all respects qualified for the office which he seeks.

Very Respy

Yr. Ob. St

Edgar A. Poe.

To Chas. H. Marshall Esqr

Charles Henry Marshall (1792-1865), a sea captain and later owner of the Black Ball Line, mentioned in the Dictionary of American Biography, XII, 305-306, may have been Poe’s present correspondent. The letter is interesting for the only reference in Poe’s correspondence of the name of his family physician during his New York period. [CL 710]

269 ⇒ TO CHARLES ASTOR BRISTED [June 7, 1848] [CL 711]

Fordham — June 7 — 48.

Dr Sir,

I fear that, on reading this note, you will think me (what God knows I am not) most ungrateful for your former kindness — and that I presume upon it more than I should, in asking you to aid me again. My only excuse is, that I am desperately circumstanced — in very bitter distress of mind and body — and that I looked around me in vain to find any friend who both can and will aid me, unless it be yourself. My last hope of extricating myself from the difficulties which are pressing me to death, is in going personally to a distant connexion near Richmond, Va, and endeavoring to interest him in [page 369:] my behalf. With a very little help all would go well with me — but even that little I cannot obtain; the effort to overcome one trouble only serving to plunge me in another. Will you forgive me, then, if I ask you to loan me the means of getting to Richmond? My mother in law, Mrs Clemm, who will hand you this, will explain to you the particulars of my situation.

Truly & gratefully yours

Edgar A Poe

C. A. Bristed Esqre

Mr Putnam has my book in press, but he could make me no advance, beyond $14 — some weeks ago[.]

Charles Astor Bristed, grandson of John Jacob Astor and one of the trustees of the Astor library, was a writer of some prominence, though his chief publications came at a date later than this letter. Poe in “Marginalia” (Graham’s, January 1848) spoke somewhat favorably of Bristed’s article, “The Scotch School of Philosophy and Criticism,” in Colton’s Review, October 1845 (see also Quinn, Poe, pp. 566-567). Accompanying the letter in the sale, cited in Note 269, was one of Poe’s calling cards with black mourning border (reproduced in Quinn, Poe, p. 567); below his name Poe wrote: “Will Mr Bristed honor Mr Poe with a few minutes of private conversation?” Perhaps the card was used at the time of Bristed’s “former kindness” (see also, Letter 247). The Koester collection, which has the original letter, also includes the original MS. of a receipt that explains the postscript of the above letter: “Received of George P. Putnam Fourteen Dollars money loaned, to be repaid out of the proceeds of the Copyright of my work entitled “Eureka, a Prose Poem”; and I hereby engage, in case the sales of said work do not cover the expenses, according to the account rendered by said Putnam in January 1849, to repay the said amount of Fourteen Dollars; and I also engage not to ask or apply for any other loans or advances from said Putnam in any way, and to wait until January 1849 for the statement of account as above, before making any demand whatever. Edgar A. Poe. New York, May 23, 1848. Witness, Maria Clemm, Marie Louise Shew.” [CL 711]

270 ⇒ TO ANNA BLACKWELL [June 14, 1848] [CL 712]

Fordham — June 14 — 48

My Dear Miss Blackwell

I fear you have been thinking every thing ill of me, and especially that I lack common courtesy — since your letter of three weeks ago remains unanswered.

The truth is, I have been absent from home rather more than that [page 370:] time. Yours came a day or two after my departure and I have only this moment received it.

And now how am I to answer it? You could not have applied for advice to any one more utterly incompetent to give it. Think, for a moment, how long I have been out of the literary world altogether. I have no influence — none. Your poems are, in my honest opinion, admirable — infinitely superior to many — to most of those which have succeeded in America: — but you will find difficulty in getting them published — for Copyright-Law [page 2] reasons, needless to specify. The Appletons will publish them, leaving you the eventual copyright, but binding you to supply all loss resulting from the publication: — and they will allow you ten per cent on all values effected after all expences are paid — so long as they continue to publish the book. No publisher will make better terms with you than these — and even these will be more advantageous to you than printing on your own account.

If there is any service I can render you, critically or otherwise, after issue of your book or before, command me without scruple[.]

I would be gratified if you would reply to this note. How happens it that you have flown away to Providence? or is this a Providential escape? Do you know Mrs Whitman? I feel deep interest in her poetry and character. I have never seen her — but once. Anne Lynch, however, told me many things about the romance [page 3] of her character which singularly interested me and excited my curiosity. Her poetry is, beyond question, poetry — instinct with genius. Can you not tell me something about her — any thing — every thing you know — and keep my secret — that is to say let no one know that I have asked you to do so? May I trust you? I can — and will.

Believe me truly your friend

Edgar A. Poe

Miss Anna Blackwell

P.S. Perhaps it would be advisable for you to defer your volume until after issue of “The Painters of America” — so as to take advantage of any impressions which may be made by your “Legend of the Waterfall” — but I am talking nonsense — you will do this of course.

I have no doubt whatever of the literary success of your book.

Anna Blackwell and her sister Elizabeth were English. During their visit to America in 1847-1848, Poe had met them in New York. Poe had no correspondence with Elizabeth (see her letter to Ingram, February [page 371:] 12, 1877, Ingram collection, University of Virginia). Poe’s known letters during May and June belie his absence from Fordham. (The uncertain movements of Poe during May-June 1847 suggest that the present letter might belong to that year; however, available evidence, none of it conclusive, to be sure, tends to support the 1848 dating.) No reply by Miss Blackwell is known. Poe saw but did not meet Mrs. Whitman during his visit to Providence with Mrs. Osgood in 1845 (Quinn, Poe, pp. 572-573) ; and in the first half of 1848, Mrs. Whitman sent Poe, indirectly, some valentine verses, and Poe replied with his two poems entitled “To Helen.” [CL 712]

271 ⇒ TO BAYARD TAYLOR [June 15, 1848] [CL 713]

[New York] June 15 — 48

Bayard Taylor Esq.

Dr Sir,

I would feel greatly indebted to you if you could spare time to look over the lines enclosed and let me know whether they will be accepted for “The Union” — if so, what you can afford to pay for them, and when they can appear.

Truly Yours,

Edgar A. Poe.

P.S. I feel that I have been guilty of discourtesy in not sooner thanking you for your picturesque and vigorous “Views A-Foot” — but when they reached me, and long afterwards, I was too ill to write — and latterly I have been every day hoping to have an opportunity of making your acquaintance and thanking you in person.

Post’s Union Magazine of Literature and Art was sold to James L. DeGraw in 1848, and was edited by Caroline Kirkland (see Mott, History of American Magazines, I, 769); but P, II, 1288, and Quinn, Poe, p. 573, show Taylor as the editor; Poe’s present letter suggests that Taylor was at least a co-editor. According to Quinn (ibid.), the “lines” referred to above were the second version of “To Helen,” in blank verse, and appeared as “To ——— ‘ in the Union, November 1848. The acceptance of the poem implies a letter, perhaps from Taylor, though it is unlocated. Taylor’s “Views A-Foot” was published in 1846 (see Walter C. Bronson, American Literature, p. 262); for Poe’s comment on Taylor, see “Marginalia” in SLM, April 1849 (reprinted in H, xv1, 145148). [CL 713] [page 372:]

272 ⇒ TO SARAH ANNA LEWIS [June 21, 1848] [CL 714]

[New York] June 21 [1848]

[Dear Mrs. Lewis]

I have been spending a couple of hours most pleasantly . . . in reading and re-reading your “Child of the Sea.” When it appears in print-less enticing to the eye, perhaps, than your own graceful MS. — I shall endeavor to do it critical justice in full; but in the meantime permit me to say, briefly, that I think it well conducted as a whole — abounding in narrative passages of unusual force — but especially remarkable for the boldness and poetic fervor of its sentimental portions, where a very striking originality is manifested. The descriptions, throughout, are warmly imaginative. The versification could scarcely be improved. The conception of Zamen is unique — a creation in the best poetic understanding of the term. I most heartily congratulate you upon having accomplished a work which will live.

Yours most sincerely,

Edgar A. Poe.

In connection with Poe’s favorable comment upon Mrs. Lewis’ work, see the note to Letter 321. [CL 714]

273 ⇒ TO MARIE LOUISE SHEW [June 1848] [CL 716]

[Fordham, June, 1848]

Can it be true Louise that you have the idea [fixed] in your mind to desert your unhappy and unfortunate friend and patient. You did not say so, I know, but for months I have known you was deserting me, not willingly but none the less surely — my destiny —

Disaster following fast, following faster &c.

I have had promonitions of this for months I [say] my good spirit, my loyal heart! must this follow as a sequel to all the benefits and blessings you have so generously bestowed?, are you to vanish like all I love, or desire, from my darkened and “lost Soul” — I have read over your letter again, and again, and can not make it possible with [page 373:] any degree of certainty, that you wrote it in your right mind (I know you did not without tears of anguish and regret), Is it possible your influence is lost to me? Such tender and true natures are ever loyal until death, but you are not dead, you are full of life and beauty! Louise you came in with the parson, in your floating white robe “Good morning Edgar” There was a [touch] of conventional coldness in your hurried manner and your attitude as you opened the kitchen door to find Muddie is my last remembrance of you of you, There was love, hope, and sorrow in your smile, instead of, love, hope & courage, as ever before, Oh Louise how many sorrows are before you, your ingenuous and sympathetic nature, will be constantly wounded in contact with the hollow heartless world, and for me alas! unless some true and tender and pure womanly love saves me, I shall hardly last a year longer, alone! a few short months, will tell, how far my strength — (physical, and moral) will carry me in life here, How can I believe in Providence when you look coldly upon me, was it not you who renewed my hopes and faith in God? . . . & in humanity Louise I heard your voice as you passed out of my sight leaving me with the Parson, “The man of God, The servant of the most High.” He stood smiling and bowing at the madman Poe! But, that I had invited him to my house, I would have rushed out into Gods light and freedom! but I still listened to your voice! I heard you say with a sob “dear Muddie,’ I heard you greet my Caterina, but it was only as a memory of . . . . nothing escaped my ear, and I was convinced it was not your generous self that was repeating words so foreign to your nature, to your tender heart! . . I heard you sob out your sense of duty to my mother, and I heard her reply — “yes Loui “yes, “it was the mother of Alma, that child with the madonna eyes! she is good and pure, and passably loving, but she is of her fathers type, she has not your nature, Why sacrifice your angelic perogative for a common place nature?, Why turn your soul from its true work for the desolate, to the thankless and miserly world! Why I was not a priest is a mystery, for I feel I am now a prophet and I did then, and toward in mind, and body, over my invited guest in spite of the duties of hospitality and regard for your feelings, Louise when he said grace and you said a low “amen,” I felt my heart stop, and I was sure I was then to die before your eyes. Louise it is well, it is fortunate you looked up, with a tear in your dear eyes, and raised the window and talked of the [guava] you “had “brought [page 374:] for my sore thoat” your instincts are better than a strong mans reason — for me, I trust they may be for your self! Louse I feel I shall not prevail a shadow has already fallen upon your soul and is reflected in your eyes. It is too late you are floating away with the [cruel] tide. I am a coward to write this to you, but it is not a common trial, it is a fearful one to me. Such rare souls as yours, so beautify this earth! So releave it of all that is repulsive and sordid. so brighten its toils, and cares, it is hard to loose sight of them even for a short time, Again I say I am a coward, to wound your loyal unselfish and womanly heart, but you must know and be assured, of my regret, my sorrow, if aught I have ever written has hurt you! My heart never wronged you. I place you in my esteem in all solemnity beside the friend of my boyhood, the mother of my school fellow, of whom I told you, and as I have repeated in the poem the “Beloved Physician,” as the truest, tenderest, of this worlds most womanly souls, and an angel to my forlorn and darkened nature, I will not say “lost soul” again, for your sake. I will try to overcome my grief for the sake of your unselfish care of me in the past, and in life or death, I am ever yours gratefully & devotedly

Edgar A. Poe

June, 1849 [1848]

According to her letter to Ingram (cited in Note 273), Mrs. Shew, “a mere country-girl,” became alarmed at Poe’s eccentricities and decided to define her position. Thus, she added, the letter was written “after my visit with Mr. Hopkins, the last time.” The clarification of her position was due not so much, as the biographies imply, to Poe’s “romantic” tendencies, but to the insistence on the part of the Reverend John H. Hopkins, Jr., who objected vigorously to Poe’s ideas expressed in Eureka (see the note to Letter 265) and who felt that Mrs. Shew’s duty to family and church was endangered by a continued association with Poe (see the Shew-Houghton-Ingram correspondence in the University of Virginia). In the same letter to Ingram, Mrs. Shew said, “Mr. Poe always treated me with respect and I was to him a friend in need and a friend indeed . . . and after he was dead I deeply regretted my letter to him.” Poe’s “Muddie” was, of course, Mrs. Clemm, and “Catarina” was the cat. The “Parson” was the Reverend John H. Hopkins, Jr. According to Mrs. Shew’s letter to Ingram, April 3, 1875 (?), Hopkins “went twice to see Poe” (for the first visit, see the note to Letter z65). Poe’s composition that “hurt” Mrs. Shew must refer to Eureka. Poe’s unpublished poem to Mrs. Shew, the “Beloved Physician” (“The Beautiful Physician,” see Campbell, Poems, p. 264), is lost. [CL 716] [page 375:]

274 ⇒ TO DR. THOMAS H. CHIVERS [July 14, 1848] [CL 718]

Fordham — Westchester Co —

July 13. [14] 48.

My Dear Friend,

I have just returned from an excursion to Lowell: — this is the reason why I have not been to see you. My mother will leave this note at your hotel in the event of your not being in when she calls. I am very anxious to see you — as I propose going on to Richmond on Monday. Can you not come out to Fordham & spend tomorrow & Sunday with me? We can talk over matters, then, at leisure. The cars for Fordham leave the dépôt at the City Hall almost every hour — distance 14 miles[.]

Truly Yours

Poe.

Poe’s “excursion to Lowell” was the occasion of his lecture on “The Poets and Poetry of America,” July 10, 1848 (see Quinn, Poe, p. 565). Poe’s trip to Richmond was for the purpose of furthering his interest in establishing the Stylus; he hoped by his trip through the South and West to secure a subscription list of 500 (see Letter 259). [CL 718]

275 ⇒ TO MARY OSBORNE [July 15, 1848] [CL 719]

Fordham — July 15 — 48.

I return, dear Madam, with many thanks, the volumes you were so kind as to lend me, and which have increased even the respect and admiration I have been so long entertaining for the unknown author of “Praise and Principle”. “Charms and Countercharms” — “as it is last so is it best”. May I beg of you to make my acknowledgments as warmly as possible — or as admissible — to Miss McIntosh, for the favor she has done me in sending me the book — rendered doubly valuable by her autograph? Will you request for me, also, her acceptance of a late work of my own — “Eureka” — which accompanies this note? I have ventured to send with it, too, a duplicate copy, in the hope that Mrs Osborne will honor me by receiving it as an expression of my very sincere esteem and friendship.

Most truly and respectfully

Edgar A. Poe.

Mrs Mary Osborne. [page 376:]

Mrs. Mary Osborne lived in Fordham, and at her house Poe met Maria J. McIntosh, of Providence (see P, II, 1287). Miss McIntosh was a friend of Sarah Helen Whitman and Anna Blackwell, to whom Poe wrote, June 14, 1848; she was also the author of Two Lives (see P, II, 1287). Poe’s Eureka had just been published (see Letter 269). [CL 719]

 


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Notes:

In the original printing, an unusal special character is used between the number of the letter and the text describing the correspondents. In the current presentation, this special character has been rendered as a double right-pointing arrow. For the sake of the reader, the line that identifies a letter is given in a larger font, and in bold. The date of the letter, the letter number and check list number have also been added.


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[S:0 - OLT66, 1966] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Letters of Edgar Allan Poe (J. W. Ostrom) (Letters: Chapter IX)