Text: Frederick W. Thomas to Edgar Allan Poe — May 21, 1842


Washington, May 21, 1842.

My Dear Poe, — I fear you have been reproaching me with neglect in not answering yours of March 13th before. If you have you have done me an injustice.

I knew it would be of no avail to submit your proposition to Robert Tyler, with regard to any pecuniary aid which he might extend to your undertaking, as he has nothing but his salary of $1500 and his situation requires more than its expenditure. In a literary point of view he would gladly aid you, but his time is so taken up with political and other matters that his contributions would be few and far between.

I therefore thought I could aid you better by interesting him in you personally without your appearing, as it were, personally in the matter. In consequence I took occasion to speak of you to him frequently in a way that friendship and a profound respect for your genius and acquirements dictated. He thinks of you as highly as I do.

Last night I was speaking of you, and took occasion to suggest that a situation in the Custom House, Philadelphia, might be acceptable to you, as Lamb (Charles) had held a somewhat similar appointment, etc., and as it would leave you leisure to pursue your literary pursuits. Robert replied that he felt confident that such a situation could be obtained for you in the course of two or three months at farthest, as certain vacancies would then occur.

What say you to such a place? Official life is not laborious, and a situation that would suit you and place you beyond the necessity of employing your pen, he says, he can obtain for you there. Let me hear from you as soon as convenient upon this subject. — I assure you, Poe, that not an occasion has offered when in the remotest way I thought I could serve you that I did not avail myself of it — but I would not write upon mere conjectures that something available was about to occur. So my motives must be my apology, my friend, for my long silence.

Besides I could not obtain for you, and I have tried repeatedly, Clay’s report on the copyright question. I may be yet successful. If I had obtained it I might have written sooner — having that to write about. Yes, I saw Dickens, but only at the dinner which a few of us gave him here — I liked him very much though. You certainly exhibited great sagacity in your criticism on “Barnaby Rudge.” I have not yet read it but I mean to do so, and then read your criticism, which I have put by for that purpose.

Somebody told me, for I have not seen it in print, that you and Graham had parted company. Is it so? —

Poe, though I am as steady as clock work somehow or other my hand is so nervous this morning that I can scarcely hold the pen. How is the health of your lady? I have often, often thought of her and sympathised with you. Make my warmest respects to her and your mother, and write me the moment you receive this.

Your friend,
F. W. Thomas.  

Edgar A. Poe, Esq.





[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Misc - Letters - F. W. Thomas to Poe (RCL364)