Text: James R. Lowell to Edgar Allan Poe — May 8, 1843


Cambridge, May 8, 1843.

My Dear Friend, — I have been delaying to write to you from day to day in the expectation that I should have received an article from Hawthorne to send with my letter. I am now domiciled in the country & have been doing nothing but ramble about, gardening, farming, tending an increasing flock of poultry & in short, being out of doors & in active exercise as much as possible in order to restore my eyes effectually.

I have got the idea of Hawthorne’s article so fixed in my mind that I forgot that I did not send you a poem in my last. I have such a reluctance to go into the city that though I have been here nearly three weeks I have not even brought out my MSS. yet. But I mean to do it in a day or two & shall then send you something which I hope will be to your liking. You must forgive my dilatoriness, my dear friend, the natural strength of which is increased by the pressure of my debts — a source of constantly annoying thought which prevents my doing almost anything as yet.

With regard to a sketch of my own life my friend [Robert] Carter thinks that he can give it better than I — and perhaps he will send you one. Meanwhile I give a few dates. I was born Feby 22 1819 in this house at Cambridge — entered Harvard College in 1834 & took my degree as Bachelor of Arts in regular course in 1838 — my master’s degree in 1841. While in college I was one of the editors elected to edit the periodical then published by the undergraduates, & also to deliver the Class poem — a yearly performance which requires a poet every year who is created as easily by the class vote as a baronet or peer of the realm is in England. I was in the Law School under Judge Story for two years & upwards took a degree of Bachelor of Laws by force of having my name on the books as a student — & published a volume of rather crude productions (in which there is more of everybody else than of myself) in Jany., 1841. On the Mother’s side I am of Scotch descent.

I forgot to thank you for the biographical sketch of your own eventful life which you sent me. Your early poems display a maturity which astonished me & I recollect no individual (& I believe I have all the poetry that was ever written) whose early poems were anything like as good. Shelley is nearest, perhaps.

I have greater hopes of your “Stylus” than I had of my own magazine, for I think you understand editing vastly better than I shall for many years yet — & you have more of that quality — which is the Siamese twin brother of genius — industry — than I.

I shall write again shortly meanwhile,

I am your affectionate & obliged friend
J. R. L.



The journal which Lowell edited in college was “Harvardiana.”


[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Misc - Letters - J. R. Lowell to Poe (RCL433)