Text: J. R. Lowell to Edgar Allan Poe — June 27, 1844


Elmwood, June 27, 1844.

My Dear Friend, — I have been stealing a kind of vacation from the pen during the last month, & I hope that my lying fallow for a time will increase my future crops, though, I cannot bring myself to use the farmer’s phrase & wish them to be ‘heavier.’ Now I ought by this time to have finished the article to accompany your head in Graham, but I have been unable to write anything. I have fits of this kind too often owing to a Constitutional indolence which was not counteracted by proper training in my childhood. You may be sure I am not one of those who follow a fashion which is hardly yet extinct, & call upon the good, easy world to accept my faults in proof of my genius. I can only mention it to ask forgiveness for my dilatoriness which springs from no want of interest but from sheer indolence — a fault — which your acquaintance with Life & Biography must have convinced you is one of the most incurable. However, I am resolved to set about it now in good earnest — & I have one or two preliminary requests to make. I wish you would (if you can) write me a letter giving me in some sort a spiritual autobiography of yourself. The newspaper l you sent me will give me enough outward facts — but I want your own estimate of your life. Of course you need not write it as if for my use merely in the — writing of this article — but as to a friend. I believe that the opinion a man has of himself (if he be accustomed to self analysis) is of more worth than that of all the. rest of the world. If you have a copy of your first volume (of poems) will you send it to me by Harnden, directing it to be kept till called for & writing me a line by mail to warn me of its being on the way. I will return it to you by the same conveyance — as it must be valuable to you & as you have not probably more than one copy. I never saw it, nor can I get it. If you would send at the same time any other of your writings which I could not readily get you will oblige me very much & they shall be safely returned to you.

I agree with you that the article on Griswold’s book in the Foreign Quarterly Review was fair enough as far as the Conclusions the author came to were concerned though at the same time I think him as ignorant in political matters as a man can well be — in short ignorant to the full to be a Reviewer — But you are mistaken as to the authorship of it. It was not I am quite sure written by Dickens, but by a friend of his named Forster (or Foster) — the author of a book named “Statesmen of the time of Cromwell.” Dickens may have given him hints. . . . .

I shall send you my sketch of course before it is printed, so that you may make any suggestions you like or suppress it altogether. I wish it to please you rather than the public.

Affectionately your friend
J. R. L.





[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Misc - Letters - James R. Lowell to Poe (RCL489)