Text: Edgar Allan Poe to Abijah M. Ide, Jr. — October 19, 1843 (LTR-163d)


Philadelphia, Octo. 19. 1843

My Dear Sir,

Upon returning to town after a short absence I find your letter of the 1st and regret that you should have considered it necessary to apologize for addressing me. It will give me true pleasure to hear from you at all times, and I hope you will believe me in earnest when I say so. You ask me for my hand in friendship. I give it with the deepest sincerity. Had I met the few lines you send me, in any journal in the country, I should at once have felt myself the friend of the author — as I am unfeignedly of every man of genius. You well know that I am not given to flattery.

I would say to you, without hesitation, aspire. A literary reputation, it is true, is seldom worth much when attained — for by this time the appetite for applause is sated — but in the struggle for its attainment is the true recompense. You are young, enthusiastic, and possess high talents. You will not fail of success. Be bold — read much — write much — publish little — keep aloof from the little wits, and fear nothing.

I hope you will write me frequently and freely, [page 2:] and regard me as your friend, and consider me bound to further your literary interests as far as lies in my power. That power, at present, is little. By and bye it may be more. In the meantime I may treat you as frankly as you have treated myself, and call upon you for aid in a good cause — in a very bold and comprehensive enterprise — to aid in which I am already privately marshalling the true talent and chivalry of the land — I mean an enterprise which shall elevate this true talent upon the throne of the great usurper called Humbug. At present, the Bobby Buttons rule the world of American Letters — but we must change all that — and if no one else will stir effectively in the task, I must and will.

I write these few words in extreme haste, and merely to say that I feel honored by your demand. At some future day I will communicate with you more fully.     

Believe me

Yours most sincerely
Edgar A, Poe

A. M. Ide Jr



The original manuscript of this letter was sold at auction on November 10, 2001 by Skinner, Inc. (Boston) for $36,800 (as lot 76).

The reference to “Bobby Button,” mentioned in Ide’s October 1, 1843 letter to Poe, is from Poe’s long article on William Ellery Channing (Graham’s Magazine, August 1843).

The letter is addressed, on the back: “A. M. Ide Jr. [[/]] South Attleboro [[/]] Mass” with his initials “EAP” in the lower left corner. The circular postmark reads: “Philadelphia, Oct. 19.” In writing the double-s of “Mass,” Poe uses the old-fashioned “ƒ.”

Sold along with this letter, and another from Poe to Ide, were several others to Ide of about the same time. There were three letters by Henry W. Longfellow (June 5 and July 4, 1843, items 63 and 64), one by James Russell Lowell (June 13, 1843, item 65) and a somewhat later one from Horace Greeley (December 11, 1844, item 35). A number of letters written long after Poe’s death, from Ralph W. Emerson, Bayard Taylor and N. P. Willis, show that Ide made some effort to continue his literary connections.


[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Letters - Poe to A. M. Ide, Jr. (LTR163d/RCL456)