Text: John H. Ingram, “Edgar A. Poe’s Biographer [A Reply from J. H. Ingram to W. F. Gill],” American Bookseller (New York, NY), vol. I, No. 7, April 1, 1876, pp. 233-234


[page 235, column 2, continued:]




Editor of The American Bookseller:

SIR — As Mr. W. F. Gill, of Boston, in his so-called “Reply” to my repudiation of his claim of having furnished me information for my “Memoirs of Poe,” really admits the accuracy of my statements, and, what is more important, as Mr. Widdleton, the publisher, has publicly stated that his seeming recognition of Mr. Gill’s pretensions was made without my knowledge, any further discussion on my part may be deemed supererogatory. Mr. Gill, however, has contrived to involve his confession in so much irrelevant matter that the real points at issue are in danger of being lost sight of; permit me, therefore, to reiterate them:

1. That I have never received a single item of information about Edgar Poe from Mr. Gill.

2. That I have never made use of anything written by him on the same subject.

3. That his sketch in Lotos Leaves contained information previously incorporated in my publications, copies of which I had sent Mr. Gill.

Nos. 1 and 2 are corroborated by his public acknowledgment that the extracts I have published from his letters are “substantially correct” These extracts prove that up to August 27, 1874, Mr. Gill had neither sent me any information about Poe, nor, unless he wrote what was not correct, had he then written anything about the poet. But Mr. Gill, taking advantage of the unwonted, luxury of getting into print, avers that, as early as September, 1873, he had written a “lecture” about Poe, and had advertised this embryo lecture earlier still. No amount of sophistry can extricate him from the horns of the dilemma upon which he thus so recklessly fixes himself. About “the summer” of 1874, this lecture, Mr. Gill states, was metamorphosed into an essay and submitted to the editor of the Atlantic Monthly. Unfortunately, the manuscript had to be returned unpublished, and unless Mr. Gill can prove that Mr. Howells allowed me to peruse it, or in any way gather information from it, the mere fact of its existence is of no value. From what American friends tell me, I should fancy every editor of position in the States rejects manuscript every week about Edgar Poe. Am I to be deemed conversant with the contents of all this unpublished rubbish?

Unable to soften editoral [[editorial]] hearts into printing his paper, Mr. Gill finally hit upon the plan of publishing it himself. Accordingly, the long delayed “lecture-essay” appeared in Lotos Leaves, heralded by its author’s remark that it had been prepared at “a somewhat brief notice.” Gibbon took twenty-three years for his History, so we must not begrudge Gill a less number of months for his, nor, [page 234:] merely regarding the quantity of matter he has compiled, exclaim “Pasturiunt montes, nascitur ridiculus mus!

As regards the date of the Lotos Leaves publication, I may mention, for Mr. Gill’s information, that my copy bears this imprint: “Boston: William F. Gill & Co., 1875.” If this date be false the fault is not mine.

Mr. Gill’s declaration that I promised not to publish my “Memoir of Poe” in America is not only an insult to me but to common-sense, and is unsupported by a tittle of fact. He, forsooth, might publish his diluted copies of my papers in England, whilst I, even if I could have prevented it, was not to allow the publication of my works in America! I never did, and never would give Mr. Gill, or anyone else, such a promise.

Having said so much for Mr. Gill, allow me to say a few words about myself, and my third point. In response to Mr. Gill’s request I sent him the following papers, which I had written, about Edgar Poe: “New Facts about Edgar Poe,” and “More New Facts,” published in the London Mirror January 24 and February 21, 1874, respectively; a life of Edgar Poe, published in Temple Bar Magazine, June, 1874, and an account of Poe’s poetry and Life at West Point, published in the Gentlemen’s Magazine for May, 1874. When these papers were written is of little consequence as evidence, but I may remark that the Temple Bar manuscript was sent to Messrs. Bentley & Son on December 1, 1873, long before I knew of Mr. Gill’s existence, whilst the last proof of my “Memoir of Poe” was sent to Messrs. A. & C. Black on the l8th of July, 1874. Some of the above-named papers did reach Mr. Gill; all of them, I believe, have been reprinted in America; and every fact of: interest in Mr. Gill’s sketch had already appeared in them; indeed, I think he will find it as difficult to prove the originality of his letterpress as of the engraving which accompanies it — both had done duty previously in England. It is hard for Mr. Gill to find that “the ancients have stolen his ideas,” but, as it is to be presumed that he is still very young, he may have another opportunity of appearing in print, in which case let me advise him to steer clear of all chances of what which, in the words of Byron, is likely to prove.

“A ‘strange coincidence,’ to use a phrase

By which such things are settled now-a-days.”


LONDON, March 6, 1876.







[S:0 - AB, 1876] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - Edgar A. Poe's Biographer (J. H. Ingram, 1876)