Text: William M. Griswold, “[Section 03],” Passages from the Correspondence and Other Papers of Rufus W. Griswold, Cambridge, MA: W. M. Griswold, 1898, pp. 108-158


[page 108, continued:]

Considering how often our literary periodicals proclaim this to be the age of magazines, it is interesting to notice that the same opinion was held, by the same class of persons, fifty years ago. Mr. J. Inman, who, after long service on a daily journal, took charge of ‘The Columbian Magazine’ in 1843, introduced it by the following remarks:

“We have said that this is the age of magazines; adverting not merely to their number, but even more especially to their excellence. They are the field, chiefly, in which literary reputation [page 109:] is won. . . In fact, the magazine is the true channel into which talent should direct itself for the acquisition of literary fame. The newspaper is too ephemeral; the book is not of sufficiently rapid and frequent production. The monthly magazine just hits the happy medium, enabling the writer to present himself twelve times a year before a host of readers, in whose memories he is thus kept fresh, yet allowing him space enough to develop his thought, and time enough to do his talent justice in each article. Then, too, on the score of emolument, justly recognized now as a very essential matter, and legitimately entitled to grave consideration, the magazine offers advantages not within the reach of either book or newspaper. . . . But the great point is, that magazines are more read than any other kind of publications. They just adapt themselves to the leisure of the business man, and the taste of the idler; to the spare half hours of the notable housewife and the languid inertia of the fashionable lady. They can be dropped into a valise or a carpet-bag as a welcome provision for the wants of a journey by steam-boat or railroad, when the country through which the traveller passes offers nothing attractive to be seen, or the eyes are weary of seeing; they while delightfully the tedious hours of a rainy day in summer, and afford the most pleasant occupation through the long evenings of winter.”

After quoting the above, the editor of ‘The Knickerbocker’ continues the subject as folios: — “touching the matter of payment for magazine articles: Mr. Willis informs us that many of the American magazines pay to their more eminent contributors nearly three times the amount for a printed page that is paid by English magazines to the best writers in Great Britain; and he instances Godey and Graham as paying often twelve dollars a page to their principal contributors. This [page 110:] refers to a few ‘principal’ writers only, as we have good reason to know, having been instrumental in sending several acceptable correspondents to those publications, who have received scarcely one-fourth of the sum mentioned. Mr. Willis adds, however, that many good writers write for nothing, and that ‘the number of clever writers has increased so much that there are thousands who can get no article accepted.’ All this is quite true. There is no magazine in America that has paid so large sums to distinguished native writers as the Knickerbocker. The books of this Magazine show that independent of the Editors’ division of its profits as joint proprietor, or his salary as editor, annual sums have heretofore been paid for literary materiel greater than the most liberal estimate we have seen of any annual literary payment by our widely-circulated contemporaries. To the first poet in America we have repeatedly paid fifty dollars for a single poem, not exceeding, in any instance, two pages in length; and the cost of prose papers from sources of kindred eminence has in many numbers exceeded fifteen dollars a page. Again: we have in several instances paid twice as much for the MS. of a continuous novel in these pages as the writer could obtain of any metropolitan book-publisher; and after appearing in volumes it has been found that the wide publicity given to the work by the Knickerbocker has been of the greatest service to its popularity. We should add, however, that we have had no lack, at any period, of excellent articles for our work at moderate prices; while many of our more popular papers have been entirely gratuitous, unless indeed the writers consider the honorable reputation which they have established in these pages as some reward for intellectual exertion.” [page 111:]

The editor discreetly avoids saying whether he means Bryant or Longfellow when he speaks of ‘the first poet in America.’ But while these authors, as well as Irving and Willis, got prices which were very large for the time, it appears from a letter of Thoreau that most writers got little or nothing: — “Literature,” he wrote on the 14 Sept. of the same year in which ‘The Knickerbocker’ made these boasts, “comes to a poor market here, and even the little that I write is more than will sell. I have tried the Democratic Review, the New Mirror, and Brother Jonathan. The last two, as well as the New World, are overwhelmed with contributions which cost nothing and are worth no more. The Knickerbocker is too poor, and only the Ladies’ Companion pays. O’Sullivan is printing the manuscript I sent him some time ago. . .”

Snowden, the owner and editor of the only periodical which paid, was joint owner of the Bowery Theatre. He died not long after, and it would appear from the remarks of the Knickerbocker on his death that his habit of paying was due to his good nature rather than to business exigencies. “Mr. Snowden,” it says, “was a frank, ingenuous man, and his death will be lamented by numerous contributors, good, bad and indifferent, whom his kindness has heretofore befriended.”


New York, June 8 [1842].

My Dear Sir [Graham]:

. . . I have been greatly annoyed and really kept ill by a false and unpleasant rumor, started in the Aurora of this city, that I bad become an editor of the Sunday News. This rumor has been copied and commented on throughout the Union once or twice in a manner that has wounded me very deeply, so deeply that if it were not that I am compelled to write for my bread I would never put my pen to paper again for an American paper [page 112:] after my present contract has expired. No one but myself knows how earnestly I have persevered in my profession, how much of mere profit I have sacrificed rather than sacrifice anything of its respectability. I have never yet written a line which it would give me pleasure to recall from a fear of the injury it may do and, knowing this, I feel indignant and wounded that any member of the press should believe me capable of accepting a situation proper only for the other sex.

. . . I know that I may be feeling this subject too sensitively but no one knows how keenly I feel anything calculated to represent me as unwomanly. My husband has purchased a share of the News and that is all.

I am grieved to see the review of Mrs. Ware [by Benjamin] and I am sure your own Onerous heart never prompted the publication. She is a woman, and to such, a poetical temperament brings its own curse without harsh criticism. The man who wrote that review should remember that a woman cannot strike back without unsexing herself.

Remember me to Mrs. G. and Mr. Peterson and let me hear from you all soon. You see I write in a fit of the blues.

Yours truly,
Ann S. Stephens.


[Referring to a short article on Niagara. It was published in the August number.]

Niagara, June 13th, 1842.

Dear Gris:

I have fulfilled my promise to you though at the cost of violating some other promises — or at least deferring their fulfillment. I hope this will reach you seasonably for August. . . It has been written very hastily and uncomfortably, but I think it will answer.

Horace Greeley.


[The spelling of these letters corresponds to that of the originals.]

Boston, June 18th, 1842. My Dear Sir, —

Agreeable to promise I take this early opportunity of transmitting to you the views of our firm, in reference to the subject of editing the [Boston] Miscellany.

We are decidedly of the opinion that a change of editor is nessessary for the permanent success of the work, and as Mr. Hale[’s] time expires with the Dec. no. of the present year we are anxious to make an early arrangement for the next. [page 113:]

We have no hesitation in saying that you possess our fulest confidence as being every way calculated to give a popularity to the work nessessary to ensure a large circulation. Will you do us the favour to address a line to the writer stateing your terms for furnishing the whole matter of the Miscellany and taking the e[n]tire charge of the editorial department of the same. . .

Your obedient Servant,
S. S. Soden.


Philadelphia, 10th July, ‘42.

My dear James [Fields]:

. . . I have been to New York for a few days and saw all the people, — breakfasted with Willis, smoked with Halleck, took tea with Keese, dined with Maria ‘del Occidente,’ chatted with Hoffman, Balmanno, Mrs. Embury, Seba Smith, Miss Thayer (an old Boston friend of yours, who is one of the greatest of living characters,) etc. Touching Maria Brooks — she is a wonderful woman — I have never seen her compeer. She talked as volubly as any woman, but not as women talk; but what I have to say of her must be addressed to Whipple, concerning whom, and Macaulay, we held appreciative converse. You have seen, I doubt not, the new arrangements for the magazine. I had little to do with the July No., as it was nearly all printed before I came hither; but the August is better, and the Sept. will be better still. Cooper, Bryant, Longfellow, all the while I besides Fields and Tuckerman! — of course you will send me something in time for it. Speaking of Longfellow — the MS. of his Spanish Student I shall have bound in green and gold — would you not like to have it? Such autographs are not to be picked up every day. . .

R. W. Griswold.


Boston, July 14th, 1842.

Dear Griswold:

. . . I sent White a brief notice of your book. What has become of it? . . . You have heard me speak of a poem prepared with some care, I believe. I am invited to deliver it before the “Literary Fraternity” of Waterville College in August, and have accepted the invitation. Rev. F. H. Hedge of Bangor is the orator. He is a very fine writer. Fields leaves tomorrow for an excursion to the White Hills. How beautifully Ticknor has published Tennyson. There are some most exquisite things in the work and some very careless ones. I had no idea until I read his collected poetry, how many bare-faced imitators he had in this country. F[ields] has made a very pretty affair of your “Poets” — having inserted about one hundred [page 114:] very appropriate engravings and made two volumes, elegantly bound. You remember my copy of the 1st never reached me. I understand Pierpont poetizes at Brown University this commencement, and Wm. Cutter at Dartmouth. J. Q. Adams is the orator at Bowdoin. . . Whipple is mightily amused at some lines addressed to me in the June Literary Messenger by a young lady. I suppose he thinks the title of “gifted English writer” belongs rightfully only to Babington! However, as the praise was as unexpected as flattering, it’s no fault of mine and was intended to be anonymous, I am told. White, indelicately enough, attached the real name of his correspondent to the lines!

Truly thine,
H. T. T[uckerman].


Otsego Hall, Cooperstown, August 7th, 1842.

Dear Sir,

. . . I never met with any person of so bad a memory as Mrs. Keen. I am glad to get the copy of the register, however, which determines one important fact about poor Vomers, concerning whdm so little is known. I fully appreciate your motives in what you say about Mr. Irving. Bryant, however, ddes not understand me, instead of my not understanding Irving. My opinion has been independent of what that gentleman might have said of me, or my writings, or character. It has been solely formed on what are admitted to be his acts and what I think of them. I never understood that Irving was severe on me, either as a man or an author; if I had, pride might cause me to suppress what I think of him, but, when we meet I will give you facts, and leave you to form your own opinion. A published eulogy of myself from Irving’s pen could not change my opinfon of his career. His course in politics is of a piece with all the rest, and was precisely what had been predicted of him, by those who knew him. Cuvier had the same faults as Irving, and so had Scott. They were all meannesses, and I confess I can sooner pardon crimes, if they are manly ones. I have never had any quarrel with Mr. Irving, and give him full credit as a writer. Still, I believe him to be below the ordinary level, in moral qualities, instead of being above them, as he is cried up to be. I believe the same to have been the case with Scott, whdm I know for a double-dealer. If you know the Carvllls, ask them to give you the history of the manner in which they re-sold to Irving their right in his Columbus. I did not get the circumstances from them, but they doubtless will recollect them, if they dare tell them. [page 115:]

Bryant is worth forty Irvings, in every point of view, but be runs a little into the seemly [Y] school. I see be begins to fire a little at Dickens, who, by the way, is doing precisely what I looked for, from him. This oouutry most outgrow its adulation of foreigners. Englishmen in particular, as children outgrow the rickets. It will not happen in your day, — much less In mine. . .

Very truly yours,
J. Fenimore Cooper.

Cooper used to call on Bryant when in New York, and Godwin, with happy alliteration, characterizes the effect he made on these occasions. He came in, he says, “burly, brusque and boisterous, like a bluff sailor, always bringing a breeze of quarrel with him.” Some observations of Mr. Dennett form an amusing commentary on Cooper’s remark condemning adulation of Englishmen. “It is so true,” says the ‘Nation’ writer,” as to be truismatically true that, to the end of their days, the writers who produced it [the Knickerbocker literature] were colonists and provincials; as literary men they had no right to any Fourth of July. . . Imitation was the life and breath of the Knickerbocker litemture. . . Cooper was Scott whenever he could be, so far as he could be, and was himself only when he came to backwoods and prairies which Sir Walter had not seen.”


New. York, Aug. 8, 1842.

Rufus W. Griswold, Esq.

. . . You asked me for some autobiographical notes, which I promised. I do not expect ever to have more leisure than now — and now I have not half an hour. But you do not want much on so obscure a subject. So here I map you the voyagings of my little cock-tail boat thus far.

Born Feb. 12, 1804, — South Canaan, Ct. Removed to Ohio, 1810. Learned letters, figures, etc., from my father and his books. He has been a bookish man — rather mathematical — a classmate of Chancellor Kent. Still lives in Elyria, Ohio. He was one of the most active and liberal of the founders of the Western Reserve College, though with a large family and [page 116:] not a man of wealth. I loved reading, but had no ambition for a college education till friends, working on the religious enthusiasm which was kindled in me at about the age of 16, persuaded me to fit for college, in order to become a preacher — a vocation for which I never considered myself naturally qualified. I labored in summer and studied in Winter, attending the Tallmadge Academy which my father generally taught. In the summer of 1822, being considered “fit for college” the question was, how to get there. The Erie Canal was not then done. Farmers in Ohio had no market for their wheat or anything else. Money was out of the question. My father gave me a deed of 100 acres of wild land and five dollars — one brother added another dollar, another gave me a horse, and my mother, God bless her, gave me lots of good things for the journey. two other chaps who were bound on the same errand, furnished a wagon and harness. We accomplished the pilgrimage to Canaan in three weeks — partly on the plan which is described by the phrase “ride and tie.” That is to say, two of us started at the crack of day from the lodging place, leaving the other two, — (for we had taken in a passenger) — 15 follow with the wagon. They overtook us at the end of two or three miles and, having gone ahead as much further, tied the horse in some safe place by the roadside and walked on. Overtaking the horse, we untied him, rode on, overtook, passed by, tied etc. Our expenses In cash were $8.47 each, as near as I can remember, and I seldom forget figures. By the sale of my horse, mortgaging my land to some benevolent person for perhaps $150, ringing the college bell, sawing wood, keeping school two quarters, and running in debt considerably, I attained to the dignity of the first sheep-skin. After this important achievement, I became preceptor of the Academy in Groton, Mass., at the salary of $600 per annum, where I remained two years, and nearly ruined my health.

I then travelled in Pennsylvania six months as an agent for the American Tract Society. From this I was appointed Prof, in Mathematics, etc., in the W. R. College at Hudson, Ohio — then in the bud. In Sep., 1829, I was married to Miss Susan Clark, (one of my former pupils in the Academy) of Groton, Mass. Her constitution was not suited by the climate of Ohio, and regard for her health at last obliged us to return to the sea air.

In the year 1832 I had become interested in the Anti-Slavery question and the advocate of immediate emancipation, so that in 1838, when I had concluded to resign my place, half the trustees, who were the opponents of that doctrine, were quite willing I should go. I was appointed secretary of the American Anti-Slavery Society at its formation and continued so till [page 117:] 1839. Then removed to Dorchester, Mass., where I now live. I am not a rhymer, much less a poet, by nature. Indeed the only attempt which I made at rhyming before beginning to “fit for college” was so unpromising that I threw my verses away and never after thought of repeating it, till about five years ago, when I did it to gratify my family. The translation of La Fontaine was undertaken purely as a little sidewise pecuniary adventure for the benefit of my family, and its completion and publication are altogether due to the untiring perseverance and self-denial of my wife. My hope of a sale was built on the pictures with which it was possible to adorn the work.

No doubt there are many other particulars of my life very important and interesting to the public, but they do not occur to me. If the mighty achievements which I have already recorded have wrongfully abstracted me from the plough-tail, one thing is certain, I am sincerely anxious to get back there.

Yours cordially,
E. Wright, Jr.


If we may trust ‘The Tribune’s’ opinion, published 1 October 1842, Griswold was a successful editor; but as Greeley and Raymond were disposed, from friendship, to say the best they could of him, their evidence is not, perhaps, to be deemed decisive:

Graham’s Magazine, under the editorial supervision of Mr. Griswold, has become one of the very best monthlies in the country. It contains, regularly, the contributions of the best and most popular American writers, and presents monthly many articles not only well fitted for a leisure hour’s pleasant recreation but conferring honor on the literature of the land. The plates . . . have ceased to be the chief attraction; puerile love tales, maudlin sentiment and stupid verse are not allowed to monopolize its pages. The nervous pen of Cooper, the classic verse of Bryant and the delicate but powerful genius of Longfellow are enlisted in its support and furnish a work fitted to please the taste and delight the mind of the most fastidious reader. Mr. Griswold has done much in this way to elevate the standard of our periodical literature: he has already greatly raised its tone and increased its worth while he has preserved all its pleasing and popular features.

The leading article in the present number is a valuable biography by Cooper of Richard Somers. . . The best thing in the number is the continuation [page 118:] of the Spanish Student, by Longfellow. Bryant contributes a thoughtful Poem, and Mrs. Kirkland . . . furnishes a racy and amusing Sketch. . . [Th. S.] Fay comments on Macbeth, not half as well, to be sure, as it has been done a dozen times before — and Mrs. Embury writes a very pleasant tale. Besides these articles there Is a thrilling tale of a ‘Night at Haddon Hall’ a Criticism by Poe of Dawes’ Poetry [the same which Burton refused to publish, and which Lowell objected to. It was doubtless filed for insertion before Griswold became editor.] true in the main but supercilious and rather commonplace; an ‘Essay on Characterless Women,’ by Mrs. Seba Smith, and several other brief and agreeable papers.

The Editor’s Table contains two interesting features; first, to our minds, and of most value, the announcement that the Magazine will in future contain papers from the pen of Blchard H. Dana, in our judgment the most powerful and gifted writer of prose and poetry in this country. There are few things in the language which seem to us half so worthy a comparison with Hamlet, in the thrilling power of its delineations and the profound philosophical insight with which the most subtle passions of the soul are traced to their home, and developed in all their strength and terror, as the wild and sombre tale of Paul Felton. Mr. Dana has written but little for many years, and we shall look with deep and delightful interest for his re-appearance in the pages of this Magazine. . .”

[In the same issue is to be found a criticism of ‘Graham’s’ chief rival:] The Lady’s Book seems to us sadly misnamed, for it is of late uniformly filled with trash, — the most unmeet offering in the world for those to whom the book is professedly addressed. . . The Editor’s Table seems uniformly written for children under twelve years old, and sadly lacks both dignity and sense.

Poe expressed his opinion of Griswold and his brother editors in ‘The New World’ of 11 March 1843. He had previously sent the same remarks, except that he then professed to hold ‘The Knickerbocker’ in hi esteem, to that periodical, but Clark refused to print them, and in mentioning their rejection added a few contemptuous words relative to their author, though without naming him.

We commence our article with a list of the most prominent monthly periodicals of the country, which are as follows: The Democratic Review, [page 119:]

The Knickerbocker, Graham’s Magazine, The Lady’s Book, Sargent’s Magazine, The Pioneer, The Lady’s Companion, and the Southern Literary Messenger. In the above order we purpose to offer a few thoughts concerning the character of each, and shall conclude with a remark or two touching the tendency of this kind of literature. . . The glory of the Knickerbocker is forever departed. Once it was a thrice welcome messenger of intellectual entertainment to everybody, ladies, gentlemen, and all. Nearly all our distinguished literary men have at times made it the medium of their communications to the public. But, alas! the good names now connected with it are few and far between. . . But the principal cause of its melancholy decline may be traced to the peculiar and unappreciated talents of its editor, Lewis G. Clark. The only redeeming quality which we (mind we don’t say the public) can find in this gentleman is in the fact that he is the brother of the late Willis G. Clark, who was one of the most gifted of our poets, and an exceedingly pleasant prose writer. Mr. Lewis Clark has made a considerable noise in the literary world, but how he has made it would be difficult for his best friends to explain. One of our readers might remark, ‘Why, don’t you know, it was by a long newspaper discussion, several years ago, between, himself and his partner, Mr. Edson, wherein each one called the other all the hard names in the world.’ Another, and a friend of his, points us to the Editor’s Table of the Knickerbocker, with the significant assertion, ‘That is the monthly production of Mr. Clark.’ Our answer to this remark is that it is not so. But allowing it to be true; what is the ‘Table’ but a lot of detached sentences culled from various newspapers, together with extracts from rejected articles which the gentleman passes off as original? The present condition of this periodical is that of a poorly cooked-up concern, a huge handsome-looking body, but without a soul. The sooner it dies, the better will it be for the proprietors; but if they will secure an able and efficient editor [Edgar A. Poe, for instance], we doubt not but that it might be placed in the noble station which it once occupied. The most popular of all the magazines is that published by Mr. Graham, who is a practical business man and a friend to men of talents of every cast. Every article which he prints is liberally paid for and he has the honor of patronizing a large[r] number of eminent writers, in prose and verse, than any other publisher in the country. Can we say more in his favor or in favor of his magazine? But a word or two on the other side. The embellishments of Graham are not quite as good as they might be, because they are too many. It would suit our fancy better, though perhaps not that of the public, to receive one gem [page 120:] of an engraving every month, instead of three or four of an inferior quality. Neither do we like the nominal editor of Graham’s Magazine. And why? Because, though a pretty good compiler, he possesses too many of the peculiar characteristics of Mr. Lewis 6. Clark. Mr. Bufus W. Griswold is wholly unfit, either by intellect or character, to occupy the editorial chair of Graham’s Magazine. . . The Lady’s Companion is a milk and water concern edited by a penny-a-liner and foreigner named Hamilton. It is a receptacle of nonsense from first to last, of picture nonsense, fashion nonsense, poetical nonsense, and prose nonsense. Of course we do not allude to the occasional productions of Mr. and Mrs. Seba Smith, Mrs. Embury, and one or two other writers of reputation. It is a work of no beneficial influence whatever, and ought to be annihilated. . .


Philadelphia, Sept. 7, 1842.

My Dear Fields:

Yours per Ticknor was received this morning, and I sit down to write a hasty expression of thanks for all your good offices in my behalf. Perhaps Poe’s article will not affect the book at all, but I am rather pleased that it is to appear, lest Poe should think I have prevented its publication. The review in The Examiner, I infer from what Ticknor says, and from your own brief notice, is a ‘scorcher.’ I am sorry Dwight had not the second edition, which has been a long time printed, but will not yet be issued for a week or two. The N. A. I anticipate with as much dread as I can feel In regard to any criticism. If I supposed it was yet unwritten I would send the corrected edition to Dr. Palfrey. Do you see Simms’ Magnolia? He is very severe, though courteously so, on me for omitting Southern Poets! Ditto the Southern Quarterly Beview. I hope Palfrey will find something omitted so that the wind may come in from all quarters. The Christian Examiner has not yet arrived in our city, which will account for my not having seen it. Our October number is good — very — with Bryant, Cooper, Longfellow, Hoffman, etc. That Peterson imposed on me a Clam Bake — the most wretched stuff. Your ‘To Ahneda’ is in, with ‘James’ over it, in full, for your letter of the 16th came to me only yesterday.

In November we have Longfellow, Cooper, Bryant, R. H. Dana, Sr., Tuckerman, Hoffman, Osgood, etc. In October read my notes on the Minstrelsy of the Revolution, and see if you cannot get from friend Ditson those ballads he promised me, for a second article. [page 121:]

Present my regards to Tuckerman, Macaulay [Whipple] and others, and believe me,

Very sincerely, your friend,
R. W. Griswold.

[C. J. Peterson was Graham’s man-of-all-work, and a novel by him was running when Griswold took charge. It is evident from Griswold’s letter of 7 Sept. that he was blind to Peterson’s merits.]


Poe privately agreed with Simms; writing to Daniel Bryan, 6 July 1842, he said: “I shall make war to the knife against the New England assumption of ‘All the decency and all the talent’ which has been so disgustingly manifested in the Rev. Rufus W. Griswold’s ‘Poets and Poetry of America.’ ”

The history of Poe’s article, or what he wishd to pass for its history, is very curious. He wrote at least two reviews of Griswold’s book, the second of which, publishd in the ‘Saturday Museum,’ in 1843, is referred to on page 90. The first came out in ‘The Boston Miscellany’ for October 1842. On September 12th, Poe had written to Thomas as folios: —

He [Griswold] is a pretty fellow to set himself up for an honest judge or even as a capable one. About two months since [say July] we were talking of the book, when I said I thought of reviewing it in full for the Democratic Review, but found my design anticipated by an article from that ass O’Sullivan, and that I knew no other work in which a notice would be readily admissible. Griswold said In reply: ‘You need not trouble yourself about the publication of the review, should you decide upon writing It, for I will attend to all that. I will get it into some reputable work, and look to it for the usual pay. In the meantime handing you whatever your charge would be.’ This, you see, was an ingenious insinuation of a bribe to puff his book. I accepted his offer forthwith, and wrote the review, handed It to him, and received from him the compensation, — he never daring to look over the MS. In my presence, and taking it for granted that all was right. But that review has not yet appeared, and I am doubtful if it ever will. I wrote It precisely as I would have written under ordinary circumstances, and be sure there was no predominance of praise. [page 122:]

Dr. T. Dunn English, in ‘The Independent’of 5 Nov. 1896, describes the incident thus: —

But while his occasional lapses from sobriety may be readily excused, his constant mendacity and deceit are capable of only one explanation. The intellectual faculties of Poe overbalanced all the rest, and the animal faculties dwarfed the moral. A reference to some of his acts will show that he had little sense of right and wrong whenever need or resentment provoked him, and could no more be held responsible for many things that he did than could a lunatic or an idiot. His audacity in asserting that I had borrowed money from him from time to time when he, poor fellow, rarely received five hundred dollars a year for his work, and I, especially at the time he lays his charge, was in receipt of a large salary and perquisites from official sources; when all our common acquaintances knew the facts, shows that he was perfectly reckless in his statements — a recklessness only excusable on the ground of moral idiocy. Two instances selected out of others are quite enough, as in these he himself furnishes the evidence.

One of these was his obtaining under a false pretense, through Griswold, a sum of money from the publishers of the latter’s book, “The Poets and Poetry of America.” One day in Philadelphia Poe met me, and said: “I have a good joke on Griswold;” and then proceeded to detail it. “I told him,” said he, “that I thought he had made a capital book of his ‘Poets and Poetry of America,’ and I’d like to write a favorable review of it; but I was pressed for money, and couldn’t afford the time. He bit at the bait like a hungry gudgeon, and told me to write the notice, and as his publishers could use it he would pay for them my price. So I wrote, and handed it to him, and he paid me.”

“Well?” I asked; for I saw nothing In that but one of the tricks of the trade.

“I knew he wouldn’t read it until he got home,” continued Poe; “but I should like to have seen his face when he did,”

”Wasn’t it favorable, then?”

“Favorable? Yes, to the amateur in scalping. I abused the book and ridiculed him, and gave him the most severe using up he ever had or ever will have, I fancy. I don’t think he’ll send that to his publishers; and I’m quite sure they wouldn’t print it if he did.”

“It is a good joke — of its kind,” was my answer. “You did not keep the money?”

“Keep it? No, indeed; I spent it at once.” [page 123:]


New York, Sept. 8, 1842.

My dear Sir,

The recollection of my unperformed promise of sending you a short note on the subject of the establishment and history of the Democratic Review at this moment recurs to me, and I lay aside the occupation of the hour, while the idea is fresh in my mind.

The project of establishing a work of this kind, to strike the hitherto silent string of the democratic genius of the age and the country as the proper principle of the literature of both, had often been a subject of conversation between Mr. Langtree and myself, both very young, very sanguine and very democratic. Being, as you know, brothers-in-iaw, and resident in Washington, we at last felt induced to start it in the fall of 1837, the year of the total prostration of our party, and the first No. was issued in October of that year. Our resolution to undertake it had been matured in the spring of that year. Old General Jackson took a great deal of interest in it, and was Its first subscriber. More than any other individual Mr. B. F. Butler, an intimate personal as well as political friend, sympathized with the views which animated us, and united with us in the counsels which resulted in our determination. . . The disasters which everywhere at about that period overthrew our party stimulated us to strenuous efforts to counteract the influences that produced them. The testimony of friends and foes was pretty general that these labors were very influential on public opinion. . . The truth is that we spoke from convictions and feelings equally strong and enthusiastic. Mr. Langtree attended chiefly to the publishing business; the political editorship was entirely mine — the literary editing being divided between us. From inexperience, dishonest agents, widely extended credit in the subscriptions, and the depreciation and irregularity of the currency in which we received payment (often at 50 per cent, discount) we sustained very heavy losses, though with a large circulation, and sank a great deal of money. We had expected to receive a sufficient amount of the printing patronage of the public offices, in accordance with the immemorial practice prevailing there of giving itto political friends, to cover these risks and losses of the enterprise; but as we never could nor would take the means necessary to get this, and as, from a proper delicacy in a matter of that kind, Mr. Van Buren, who could alone control it, would not interfere to direct it even if we had asked him to do so, these expectations were for the most part disappointed, and we suffered in no slight degree in the possession and management of an extensive printing establishment through which our publication [page 124:] and business were conducted. . . Private circumstances led me to remove from Washington to the North in the summer of 1839 [Mr. O’Sullivan was appointed secretary of legation at Paris in June of that year] of course withdrawing my active attention from the work, though I retained my interest in it. So it continued through 1840. After this period, I determined to resume its publication and remove it to New York. Being elected to the Legislature . . . I determined to intermit a half-year in the course of the work, and to recommence in July with a new series. The Langleys became the publishers. In the new series there is a much larger proportion of general literary matter, though there is a certain general pervading political tinge or bearing through the whole work. . . A Whig competitor started once in Washington, but it was in poor hands and soon broke down. Since its removal to New York, Mr. Langtree has had nothing to do with it. . .

J. L. O’Sullivan.

Mr. J. L. O’Sullivan was born in 1813, and died, in his 82d year, 24 March 1895. Poe refers to him as “that ass O’Sullivan,” but Hawthorne had a different opinion. The following lines are abridged from ‘The Evening Post’: — “He was born on an English war-ship in the Bay of Gibraltar, and received his earlier education at the military school of Loreye. He completed his education at Columbia College. In the Legislature, he made persistent efforts to obtain the passage of a measure abolishing capital punishment. He was appointed minister to Portugal in 1854, and relinquished that office in 1863. He afterwards spent several years in England and France, returning to New York in 1881. He was intimately associated with Hawthorne, and his friendship with that author is frequently spoken of in Bridge’s ‘Recollections of Hawthorne.’ ” Mr. Langtree died the day this letter was written.


New Orleans, Sept. 29, 1842.

Dear Brother:

. . . The Santa Fe Expedition well nigh broke my constitution, but I have some hope that the wild breezes of Texas will soon, in a great measure, restore me. There is a little fun now going on with a few hundred Mexicans, and if we can believe reports from Mexico the Mexicans will give us a plenty of amusement this winter. I hope it will be so, for if they attempt to reconquer Texas I will have my turn with the yellow skins and show them how good it is to march 40 miles a day. I shall give them a turn as soon as I am able to take the field. I am no soldier and can boast of no [page 125:] uncommon courage, but I believe I can risk my life in the defence agalnfl lucb beings as Mexicans witli as much nerve as ahnost any other man. You have probably, ere the receipt of this, seen the account of their having taken Bejar, and their determination to blockade all our ports. The latter there will be two to talk about. Com. Moore will be out in a few days, and if the Mexicans show themselves in this part of the Gulf you may look for a total defeat of the Mexican fleet. . .

Yours truly,
S. P. Griswold.


New York, Oct. 21, 1842.

My dear Griswold: —

I will write you the notice of which you speak and send it to you as soon as Wednesday at any rate. Will you want it sooner? I hardly know in what shape you want it — but will try and suit you.

I have just finished my Life of Clay for Swain. It makes 196 octavo page. It has been written in haste and “to order” — but it has merits of impartiality, of better method, etc., which previous biographies have lacked. That article in the Foreign Quarterly [on the newspapers of the U. S.], I suppose, is written by Dickens beyond all doubt. . . Greeley is in Albany preaching the Tariff, though I’m sorry to say he cannot speak of the “acceptable year” in connection with it so far as Clay is concerned. Prof. [Tayler] Lewis has been writing a pamphlet about Government, but it will not be published soon. He told me about it and wants to lecture it. . .

Yours truly,
H. J. Raymond.

The Boston Miscellany, I see, has a good puff of your Poets by Poe.


In the following note to Fields, Mr. Griswold refers to his wife’s death.

196 Clinton St., New York, Nov. 10, 1842.

The kindness of your former friendship leads me, my dear James, to believe you will sympathize with me in my present terrible affliction. . . Five years ago last March, since we were married!


Newark, New Jersey, Nov. 26, 1842.

My dear Sir [Graham]:

I have this evening seen a copy of your December number, and I cannot avoid expressing to you my surprise at what I have observed therein. I know myself not to be in the least degree jealous of the literary reputation of others, or captious concerning my own, but the total omission of all mention [page 126:] of my name either in your title page whereon you have published the names of all your principal subscribers, or in your editor’s table, is so remarkable that it is scarcely possible for me to believe that it is not intentional. Its being also coupled with the fact that you have suppressed a story of mine which you have in your hands, and which is probably not inferior to the bulk of your magazine, makes it the more extraordinary. You have unquestionably in your list of contributors some two or three names with which I have not the presumption to class my own, but with the remainder of your principal contributors I must claim at least an equality. You must pardon my requesting some explanation of this strange omission; I have no wish whatever to take offence, nor can I conceive any motive on your part for wishing to hurt my feelings, but you must permit me to say that I cannot write for any work in which I am considered a secondary writer, not worthy to be classed with the other contributors; and further I believe that, both in merit and quantity, my contributions to this volume are superior to several of those set above me. I understood moreover, that you had no regular literary subscribers for the ensuing year, although this a matter with which I have nothing to say.

I shall hope to hear from you at your convenience, and have the honor to remain.

Your obedient servant,
Henry Wm. Herbert.

We read with amusement of the eagerness with which strolling actors gaze at the posters of their troop to learn the exact size of type used to announce their names, but it is uncommon for authors to show such vanity even if they have it. Two years after this, Willis (no other could have done it with equal grace) wrote in The Mirror: “The list of contributors to Graham is a particularly strong one, but, while touching it, may we venture to insinuate a suggestion? It occurs to us now, and has often occurred to us, and to others before. Authors are sensitive plants, — and for this reason there should be no list of principal contributors. The omitted, rightfully or wrongfully, will be sure to feel the sting of the insult.”

Herbert’s career was almost as wretched as that of Poe, and [page 128:] apparently, without the excuse of inability to withstand the grosser temptations. His father (1778-1847) was the third son of the earl of Carnarvon, and he was born in 1807. He came to this country in 1831, and till 1839 was teacher of Greek in a private school. He married twice in this country, but his second wife deserted him, and shortly after (17 May 1858) he killd himself. Tho he wrote a great number of books, — all in this country — he is not mentioned in Beers’, Hawthorne’s, Pattee’s, Richardson’s or Underwood’s ‘American Literature;’ his name is to be found in Stedman’s.


Brooklyn, Nov. 28th, 1842.

Dear Sir:

I see Willis writing every month for three mugaztnes — this grasping disposition as you might call it, or as he and I might designate it, industry — I thought was the cause of his exclusion from Graham’s. I was surprised therefore to see that he is to be a regular contributor, a monopolizer of four magazines. Hamilton, some time since, told me Willis drew $1200 per annum from three periodicals — he is likely to be well informed being editor of one of them [‘The Ladies’ Companion’]. For the future we may safely say when he writes for Mr. Graham that he will draw $1600, or, say he gives one up, then he would have doubtless more than $1200, or what does he gain by the exchange? Now rating my merit to be as compared with Willis’ as 6 is to 12, — that is that I have half the ability of Willis, I find myself continually grumbling that I can only earn, as hitherto, at the rate of $28 per month average, or 276$ or 280$ per annum, not the fourth of Willis’ earnings. . . Here is another matter which would go far to make me reconciled to restricted space, and that is, if the payments were monthly, say by the 15th of each month, three weeks after the appearance of the article. . .

Yours very truly, Dear Sir,
J. H. Mancur.

[Not even the name of Mancur is now familiar, but he must have been a writer of importanoe at this time, for he is among those ‘principal contributors’ whose honors Herbert envied. The other men authors in the list were, in this order, Bryant, Cooper, Dana, Longfellow, Hoffman, and Fay.] [page 128:]


New York, Dec. 12th, 1842.

My dear Cousin [Mrs. Osgood]:

I enclose first number of my new magazine. I very much covet the beautiful poem you sent me for my magazine — bat our expenses for plates, etc., at present are so enormous, that I feel compelled to reduce our editorial expenses to their lowest possible scale — in fact to get along for a few months as I best can with such articles as are gratuitously furnished. I will therefore re-enclose you your piece, as I know it is worth to you, at least its weight in gold. By and by I hope to offer you solid inducements to aid me with your contributions. I am, my dear cousin,

Yours Faithfully,
Epes Sargent.


Boston, Dec. 19, 1842.

Dear Sir:

I send you herewith my paper on Longfellow to which you may prefix such title as you think proper. I have spent a good deal of time upon it and have written it with much care, and it has turned out much longer than I expected, but you must contrive to find room for the whole. In regard to Compensation, I have only to say that that was by no means the motive from which I wrote, but after having written it for love, I know not why I should not be paid for it, and without afiixing any price to it, I will thank you to send me such sum by way of compensation as you may think proper. I also depend upon seeing a proof. . . Being an intimate personal friend of Mr. Longfellow I might seem to have spoken of him in terms of praise too strong for good taste.

Yours truly,
Geo. S. Hillard.


Dear Griswold:

You cannot think how very disagreeable it is to tease you, particularly when you have been so kind to me, but the truth is that I am very poor. The little balance between us for the review . . . would just settle this. Pray do not think me unkind, troublesome you must think me, but I cannot help it.

Ever Yours,
H. W. H[erbert].


My dear Sir:

I was very sorry not to see you on Friday, and hope that you will give us the pleasure of your company whenever you find it convenient [page 129:] to do so, as we always dine at home and shall always be but too happy to see you.

With regard to the little ballad, I beg you to settle therefor definitely with Mr. Graham tSday. It is at his service at the price I mentioned to you the other day. My terms for that which I write are necessarily in these hard times cash on delivery, dealing as I am dealt with — and allowing due time for examination of the article I must abide by it.

Unfortunately for me my pen is strictly my profession, and when I am in want of money (instead of drawing a draft) I write an article, and if I cannot sell it to one I can to another at better or worse terms.

I enter into these little explanations to you, which I would not of course do except to a friend, and to excuse myself from the appearance of importunity, and further, in plain English, these Publishers show no indulgence in money matters to us authors and I cannot to them. . .

Yours Ever,
Henry Wm. Herbert.


My dear Griswold:

The cause of my wishing to see you was as follows. We are Invited tonight to a great ball and fete champetre at Woodvale Cottage and I am particularly anxious to take Sarah to it, as it is the only gaiety she has had an opportunity of seeing this winter, and as I am very glad of an occasion of her being introduced a little into society here.

I cannot however manage this without a little ready money of which I am at this moment utterly short. . . My object was to entreat you to devise some means of advancing me the loan of ten dollars until Monday next on which day I can most certainly repay you.

Ever Yours,
Henry Wm. Herbert.


January 1, 1843.

Dear Griswold:

I have obtained for you a copy of Mrs. Smith’s “Captive.’“ It was, you know, written some years since, but only printed within the last two or three. I think it shows in many parts the promise of the remarkable powers she has since developed, and is daily maturing. As for good grounds to put her in the book — the fact of so few of her things having been collected into a volume, I think, has nothing to do with-it. That is an affair of Booksellers, not of Editors. It belongs to the trade of publishing, not the art of writing. [page 130:]

I yesterday looked over a bundle of her printed articles which would fill several volumes, though less than half of what she has written. Her finest tale is, I think “The Flower Girl of Antioch” (in the Opal). Her most original one “Machineton” while “The Love Quarrel,” differing as much from both of them as they do from each other, maken a remarkable trinity of varied powers In this department of art. Her “Riches Without Wings,” one of the first of those little books for young people which have since become so popular, still continues to run, I am told, side by side with the best of them. Yet how different the style and object of this little treatise from those of her multitudinous essays!

No, I think the author of “Riches Without Wings,” “The Sinless Child “and “The Western Captive” (three regular volumes) upon the score of delicate humor alone, the rarest trait among American authors, — will have no occasion to feel awkward on your list.

Why, Charles King, one of the most fastidious critics I know, thought “The Witch of Endor” “perfectly sui generis,” and I should like to know another woman in the country, (or man out of it since Charles Lamb is dead) who could have written “the Sentiment of Friendship.” See, too, the graceful and tender metaphysics of the “Sentiment of Self Sacrifice.” I send you herewith all of these pieces, and I have tried, but in vain, to get her essay on “Egypt,” which for richness and fullness of language and description would make a fine oriental accompany ment of “The Flower Girl of Antioch.” I have been unable to get either of her papers upon Shakspere, which, though unsatisfactory from their brevity, are singularly happy. I do hope you will find room for all I have mentioned, for “fame is money” to an author, and so much industry and so much desert with all the surroundings so uncheering make — but I know your feelings about this matter — and that the fact of Mrs. S. having none of those advantages of position which enable her to command a publisher, and being therefore compelled to “utter” herself in the magazines, derogates with you in no way from her claims as an approved woman of genius.

Thine ever,
[C. F. Hoffman.]


Poe, as well as Hoffman and C. King, held a high opinion of Mrs. Smith’s merits; but it may well be doubted any of the forgotten writers of Griswold’s graveyard, as his “Poets” has been aptly called, is more totally forgotten. That she was an [page 131:] interesting character is evident from the obituary notice publishd in the local paper of Patchogue, Long-Island, 24 November 1893:

The modest announcement of the death of Mrs. Elizabeth Oakes Smith and her burial in Patchogue Sunday would not suggest to the casual reader that the varied life of one of the most extraordinary women of the century had at last gone out.

When only sixteen years of age, at the time she was married to Seba Smith, she contributed poems to the magazines, and later on achieved a national reputation as an authoress and lecturer. She and her husband came here about 1860. . . Mrs. Smith was a woman of aristocratic mien and a woman of surpassing talent not always directed to noble ends. She stopped at nothing in carrying out her plans. Ail was not lovely in the family circle, and when the gallant Mr. Smith died here in 1868 his wife refused to come to his death bed. When she married him she objected to the name of Smith and wanted him to change it, but he refused to do so, saying it was good enough for him. When her children were born she got a special permit from the Legislature to change the names to Oaksmith. Her four sons married and the mother had a lively time in running the four household to suit herself. Alvin married a Spanish lady in Monte Video, but he maltreated her so shamefully that the law stepped in and separated them, giving, however, all the children to their father. Afterward they all ran away from him and returned to their mother. Strange to relate, Alvin and his wife are now living together in Maryland, having recently met and agreed to let the dead past bury the dead.

Appleton Oaksmith, the gentlemanly desperado, highly educated, and a man of daring projects, was a picturesque figure during the stirring times of the war. He is said to have owned several slave vessels and to have scuttled one with two hundered slaves on board when pursued, while he escaped on his consort ship. He was captured at Fire Island, while waiting for the bark Augusta which was supposed to be fitted out for a slaver. He was in Fort Lafayette, Fort Warren and the Boston jail. While in Lafayette an interesting story is told of how his mother visited the Commandant to plead for her son. She denied every thing and refused to believe the charts against her boy. At last Gen. Burke Idsing his patience said, “Well madam if you don’t believe it look at the positive proof in those papers.” Mrs. Smith took them, called the general’s attention to something and coolly [page 132:] threw them into the fire, saying, “Well, general, if these papers are proofs we will burn them.” [A good story, bat why should the commandant of a fort hay soch papers?] Appleton escaped from the Boston jail and a great faror was occasioned throoghoat the country by the rumor that a fellow Mason had helped the prisoner escape. It was thought, however, that the woman he afterwards married gave him assistance. It is Raid that Mrs. Smith appealed to Lincoln to pardon Appleton but he refused to do so. When Lincoln was shot Mrs. Smith said she was glad of it and that J. Wilkes Booth was a gentleman. Some place a good deal of credence in the statement that possfbly Edward Oakesmith was one of the conspirators who assassinated Lincoln. After the war Appleton was prominent in the South, representing the New Berne district in Congress. He died some years ago.

Madam Oakes Smith was a prominent figure in Patchogue history during the time she liyed here. She was interested in all the enterprises of the town, and at one time was Critic of the Patchogue Lyceum. She gaye the ‘Band Boys a grand supper, and distributed blankets and rubber coats to the army boys, who were about to go to the front. When Appleton’s schemes fell through, and the family became impoverished, they lived in the little “green house,” but she never lost her queenly bearing, even though her throne was nothing but a soap box. So notorious became the actions of Appleton, in the interests of the South, while her sympathies became so antagonistic to the sentiment of the community, that audiences would leave a hall if she arose to speak. The schemes she carried out in separating her sons and their wives, and in cruelly taking the latter’s children away, would make rich material for a sensational novel. . .

The history of the family would make a book of intense interest. Whatever their opinions of the character of the Madam every one agrees that intellectually she was the most remarkable woman they ever knew. About 1876 the Madam went South, to Hollywood, N. C, and afterward returned and resumed her literary work. About 1888 she again went to Hollywood and died there last week Thursday. . . After a varied life of 87 years this strange woman, who had many friends, and whose intense affection for her sons was her chief virtue, was buried unattended by a single mourner.


New York, Jan. 6, 1843.

Dear Griswold:

You left me very abruptly when you were last here, when I was expecting to have a farther conversation with you, much to my disappointment [page 133:] . . . I had seen Atwell at New Hayen some days before, and learned of him your intention to go to Europe next Spring.

Tdday I met at dinner at our house Mrs. Ann S. Stephens, a lady of your sometime acquaintance, and learned from her, (by getting up a shamfight with her in regard to your merits and starting her temper a little) that she is very intimately apprised of the internal politics of your office by some good friend in Philadelphia. I learned from her not only that you were to leave for Europe in March, but that Graham would edit the Magazine himself after that time; but she evidently anticipates having her finger very prominently inserted in one comer of it. All this is none of your business nor mine; I know you will have too much sense to say anything to Grahamabout it; and if any letter is written to Philadelphia relative to my criticisms on Graham, Peterson, Weld [now editor of Graham’s ‘Post’], etc., you simply know nothing of the matter. I was only curious to know, like Paul Pry, how much this lady knew of your business, and how she came to know it. I was satisfied. After you have gone, I will help Mr. Graham to see the difference in his circulation between your editing and his. Say nothing.

Write me a line to say what you think of dding, how and why; and when you will be here. How does the ‘Poets’ travel off? I am deeply interested in that. . . You must have small editions of that book printed, revising and extending it every year, so as to keep it the Poets for ten years yet. . .

I want you to prepare for me before you leave the country an edition of Praed’s Poems, with a Biography; and I will get it published somehow if I have to run in debt for it. Can you add to it The Poems of Barry Cornwall? I mean to get them printed here yet. Is there anything you think of that you would like to get published? Can you pick up any materials for a Life of Randolph in Philadelphia? But don’t trouble yourself about this, for very likely I shall never attempt it.

Now, Gris, write me as promiscuous a letter as this — directly, mind — and let me realize that you are still in the Land of the Living.

I have finished my Lecture on ‘Human Life’ to my liking. It has some criticisms on Education that I know you would like, and is fearless and dashing throughout. I suppose I can never get a chance to Lecture in Philadelphia, and I don’t care; for Lecturing is said to be down at the heel there. . .

H. Greeley.

[page 134:]


Philadelphia, Jan’y 8th, 1843.

Frances S. Osgood, Dear Madam:

. . . I sometimes wish that I had gone on quietly in my little law office, using my pen modestly as a writer for a few more years, instead of embarking, on the stormy sea of publishing, heart and — I sometimes fearSoul. I do not expect I should have made much more in the world, either as a lawyer, or a writer, — certainly I should not as both — for I had a happy faculty of shoring off the responsibilities of one onto the shoulders of the other, but I fancy, I should hare had more moments of delight than can be possibly stolen from the bustle of an active and successful business life. Do you know, that among my forty thousand readers, there are but few, and among seyeral score of agents, there are none, who do not think a publisher bound to answer all their impertinence, as well as to furnish them books for their money?

If you should see me, with from 30 to 40 business letters daily, on an average, before me to read and answer, you would not only understand the necessity of my turning over all proper correspondence to others, but would pity as well as forgive me.

I have written you a long letter as a sort of atonement for a very short, and I fear, as I have no copy, a tart one to Mr. Osgood. Will you explain to him, and give him my respects. . .

Yours truly,
Geo. R. Graham.

I shall be happy to receive stories at $25., and poetry at $10. per article, one or the other monthly.


Tribune Office, Jan. 10, 1843.

Dear Gris:

Only a word: Mac [Elrath] and I think of publishing an Edition of d’lsraeli’s Curiosities of Literature in numbers next summer. Will you just do us $100 worth of work toward the Curiosities of American Literature as an Appendix? The manner and length will be pretty much as you choose. Please do it before you leave for Europe, — the money may be a comfort to you at some odd spell. I know you will be here soon, but I thought you might want to ransack something in Philadelphia first. There is no hurry; take your time, even if it runs into your voyage, unless you would like the money sooner. It shall be paid on the receipt of the MS. . .

H. Greeley.

[page 135:]


Cambridge, Jan. 10, 1843.

My dear Sir:

I am sorry I have not a portrait by Cheney in readiness. Most the engraving be ready for the April No.? Would the delay of a month or two make any difference to Mr. Graham?

As soon as I received yoar letter I went into town to see Cheney. He is confined by indisposition; and I do not know when he can get the likeness ready. Let us not do the matter in haste. I certainly do not wish to have Thompson’s head engraved again. My friends all dislike it; and I am anxious now to have something that will please them. I will therefore have a portrait painted at my own expense, and as soon as possible. Will you wait? and not hurry the matter? If you can, we shall get something worth having. Do you prefer Parker to Cheney as an Engraver?

I fear I can send you nothing for the March No. but will send a poem as soon as I can. I have several in my mind; but have not yet felt in the right mood to put them upon paper.

Thanks for your word about the “Poems on Slavery.” I hope, however, you have said nothing to injure your Magazine; for I should be sorry to do that; and I did not think you would like to speak of the book in any way.

Very truly yours,
Henry W. Longfellow.


New York, 31st Jan’y, 1843.

Dear Sir,

. . . I frankly confess, I don’t like Mr. Cooper’s agreement with you, and though having expressed myself willing to be placed on the same footing with him, I am bound to stand to my word, yet I would much prefer the original terms proposed, namely: — ten dollars a page for all contributions, within the compass of five page, or not exceeding it, and five dollars a page for all over that number; by which I understood that the former sum was to be allowed for the first five pages, and the latter for the remainder; not that the whole should be averaged at Five Dollars. I don’t know now, whether to understand you so or. not; but will express myself fully and frankly on the subject.

It is my design, while I remain in my present state of idleness, to devote my leisure hours to your Magazine exclusively, though I may possibly occasionally apply them to other objects not interfering with this. It is therefore my wish to contribute an article to every number, to be regularly [page 136:] inserted, if transmitted in time, and approved by you, as containing nothing unfit for a respectable periodical, or which may probably injure its circulation. I am in the habit of condensing my ideas in few words, and it will be seldom my articles exceed four or five page; and for all within, or not exceeding that limit, I should prefer being paid the price you settled at our first interview. For all beyond this limit you may allow what you please. The last article, and one on a somewhat similar subject, will considerably exceed five pages, and the same rule may be applied to these. After that, I shall probably seldom transgress in this way. I am Dear Sir, Your Friend and Servant,

J. K. Paulding.


West Chester, Feb’y 3, 1843.

Chas. R. Grayham, Esq., Dear Sir:

I did not distinctly understand at the short conversation of Mr. Cooper and Mr. Griswold on the morning of Mr. Cooper’s departure for home, at what time his article [?] in answer to Mr. Kinsey’s life of Perry and of [illegible] Burgess’s Lecture on the battle of Lake Erie would appear in your Saturday Courier. It is my wish to have a copy sent to each member of the Legislature of the two states of Pennsylvania and New York with many other persons both In and out of our Country. . . I have neither seen the manuscript, nor the Diagrams which Mr. Cooper informed me would accompany them, thus I can’t be charged, as in the compilation of his Naval History, of dictating to him. Had I, surely I would not have placed myself on board the ‘Madison’ of which ship I was fiag captain, then drawing too much water to join in the attack on the batteries [?] After landing Pike and his Brigade, 600 of which I had on board my ship, I volunteered to lead in all the schooners to the assault of the Batteries in the Conquest, did so, and lost one fine young officer killed, Hatfield [?] of Albany, and four men wounded, here we were opposed to the fire of the Forts on beating up to the head of the Harbor, and when fired on were called on patiently to brave [illegible]. Would not a Knowledge of this fact tend to fix the seal of falsehood indelibly on McHenry? Be pleased to mention this subject to my old friend Mr. Weld.

Very Respectfully Yours,
J. D. Elliott.

[Jesse Duncan Elliott, second in command at the battle of Lake Erie. Cooper ascribed to him a larger share in the victory than other writers had done. He died in 1846.] [page 137:]


New York, Feb. 4, 1843.

Dear Sir:

You requested me some months since to furnish you with an occasional contribution for the magazine of which you are editor. Having just finished a poem of some hundred and fifty or sixty lines, I venture to make you the first offer of it, though not as a gratuity. It has cost me some considerable time, and not a few “poetic pains,” to reader it worthy your magazine; and though I should be sorry to be deemed a mercenary — a mere mercenary — rhymer, yet these are trying times, and certain little folks at home must he cared for. . .

W. P. Palmer.


Providence, Feb. 6, 1843.

[To Mrs. Osgood]:

Do you see the Boston Pioneer? It is very fine. I. B. Wright is W. W. Story. I have lately written two or three “Sketches” which have been published — but am too much ashamed of them to let you see them. . . I am yours,

H. Fuller.


Washington, 6 Feb. 1843.

Dear Sir:

. . . My contributions to journals, reviews and magazines have always been gratuitous. I have not time for such engagements, and shall soon have less than ever, for I am about to change my residence and resume my profession, a source of income too important to be neglected in the present depressed state of the country, when all property is unproductive.

The uninterrupted and laborious course of study which my new career will require on a theatre [Louisiana] and under a system of law utterly unfamiliar, must necessarily cut my literary amusement off at once and entirely. It might very possibly be years ere I take pen in hand for any such purpose, even to finish the ‘Italian Lyrics’ or the ‘Life and Times of Dante.’ Under such circumstances all I can do to evince my sense of your too flattering interest in my pursuits, is to send you the enclosed specimen of the former, a brick from the edifice, which may perhaps be built into the pages of your magazine without disturbing its symmetry. . .

You are mistaken In supposing the bill has passed allowing me a copyright altho’ my work should first be published in England. [page 138:]

It has merely passed the Senate. Whether it will go thro’ the ordeal of the House I know not and since it became apparent that I must devote all my time to other occupations, it has ceased to interest me. . .

Very truly yours,
R. H. Wilde.


New York, Feb. 10, 1843.

Dear Griswold:

I am pained to have you write so about your health. “Death,” as you say, may be “no unwelcome friend of yours.” But your living friends think so much more of you than he can that he has no claim upon our hospitality or good feeling. Death and you friends! The proposition ‘s absurd. Think only of the lives you have attempted, and the many more you will yet succeed in taking! You are rivals, man! and must keep as far aloof from each other as possible.

Seriously, though, you are just at the period of life when a man’s constitution chants, and if you fight the next 18 months through with a stout heart, you will live to be as burly as a Bishop, and publish at 80, “Griswold’s Recollections of His Own Times.” “This,” says a review of 1890, “is one of the most curious works that the venerable and respected author has given to the public. The two or three great poems which the present generation has produced has not made us unmindful of that genial glow of letters which suffused the face of the country during the youth and memorable early manhood of the illustrious writer. Poetry seems then to have been so universally the language of sentiment that the semi-fabulous stories of the Italian improvisatori of a former age became almost realized in that springtime season of our yet nascent Republic. . . Perhaps, indeed, no fraction of the present work will more interest the philosophical reader than Mr. Griswold’s curious account of the sudden and wonderful growth of that periodical literature which now constitutes the greater portion of American letters. Our readers must examine for themselves to see how this venerable authority disposes of the much vexed question whether or not his associate Graham was really the founder of a system of publication [See page 86] which produced such wonderful results, or only attained his present celebrity by conveying it farther than others. As is the case with all other distinguished names we think it can be shown that much of Graham’s reputation is owing to circumstances of which he had the energy and ability to take advantage. Mr. G. admits that in the year 1842 his famous magazine had not yet attained [page 139:] a circulation of above 100,000 copies. It was at time merely a work of taste and entertainment, but early in the year 1848 a now forgotten publication which we learn from these memoirs was entitled “The Lady’s World of Fashion” having attempted to compete with him in the matter of fictional illustration, he instantly took new and stronger ground and became, through his vigorous corps of contributors, the leader of literary opinion instead of the successful follower of public taste. It would seem that at that time there was really no other acknowledged organ of literary opinion in the country, and the coolness with which Graham seized upon the position and the almost miraculous success with which he maintained it has indissolubly interwoven his name with the existence of American letters.”

Ever yours,
C. F. H[offman].

P. S. — do send me that [Saturday] Museum. I had so much fun in laughing at the first one that I must see the second. . . If funds are floating about you I wish you would send me $25. I owe my cook for the last dinner I gave to poor critics, and my banker is out of town.


New York [22 Feb., 1843.]

Dear Griswold:

The hand of Affliction is upon me. I have had one of the hardest sieges over a ‘cold’ as it is called, I ever heard of; and now I have a severe ear-ache, a constant ringing in the ear, and a general debility which causes me to fear that I shall be compelled to break my appointment in Philadelphia. The left side of my head is all one maze and crowd, as though it had been struck by the falling wall of a house; and I have been operating upon it for days with no hope as yet. I still hope that a tumor in my ear will break by tomorrow, and thus enable me to fulfil my Philadelphia appointment; if not, God help me! You know how anxious I am to improve this opportunity, which has. occurred so accidentally, and which may never be renewed. . .

How could you go off without seeing me?

H. Greeley.


Dorchester, Feb. 24, 1843.

Dear Sir,

Would anything I could write, either in prose or rhyme, be considered worth printing and paying somewhat for, by the editors of Graham’s Magazine? I send a thing (which has amused my wife, at whose suggestion It was written) as a sort of sample, which, if you want it you may have for [page 140:] whatever you think it is worth. I am so little acquainted with Graham’s Magazine, that I hardly know whether I am doing a thing mal apropos or not.

Have you seen the extermination I have met with at the hands of the New York Observer? It has finished old Jean and me at one blow, and when my flesh quivered a little after death, then the pious editor raised his serpent-crushing heel and trod into the dust my mortal remains.

So I am doubly dead. If you have seen or can see these papers (Jan. 14 and Feb. 4th) and can say anything anywhere in favor of my resurrection, I shall be much obliged to you to do so. Observe, you are in the same condemnation. You are one of my “endorsers” and the Observer has a rod in pickle for your special use. You must look out or you will be squelched — or perhaps you will be set upon the dunce-block with a split pen upon your nose, — or perhaps you will have your nose rubbed in your own article in which you recommended the “filthy” fables of La Fontaine for the young! Bah! It was in the Evening Post that I ventured to say a word in my own behalf. The Observer itself was far too pure and pious to admit a reply from my corrupt pen. I have sent another piece ‘to Bryant which he will probably insert.

For the present, the Observer has frightened away my customers very much. I am going to expurgate, but with very little hope of satisfying my censors who seem to have the gift of smelling obscenity afar off. . .

Very respectfully and cordially yours,
Elizur Wright, Jr.

[The “thing” was probably the poem called
A Eulogy
On the Great Unknown Mr. John Frost
which was published in the magazine for March, 1844.]

It was about this time that Griswold’s acquaintance with Taylor began. The latter, we are told in Scudder’s Life, “had published several poems in the ‘Saturday Evening Post’ . . . and out of the correspondence with Mr. Griswold there came the first literary friendship which the young poet formed. When writing in March, 1843, to a school friend, he speaks with a shy and happy pride of the little opening which he had made: — ‘I have met with strange things since I wrote last. Last November I [page 141:] wrote to Mr. Griswold, sending a poem to be inserted in the ‘Post’ [owned by Graham, and edited in connection with his magazine]. However, I said that it was my highest ambition to appear in ‘Graham’s Magazine.’ Sometime ago I got an answer. He said he had read my lines ‘To the Brandywine,’ which appearecl in the ‘Post’, with much pleasure, and would have put them in the magazine if he had seen them in time. He said the poem I sent him would appear in April in the magazine, and requested me to contribute often and to call on him when I catne to town. I never was rflore surprised in my life.’ Mr. Griswold was one of the literary magnates in that thin but promising period of our literature. He was editor of the leading literary magazine, he had edited “Poets and Poetry of America,” and if his dimensions have shrunk in the course of time he was then an important personage, whose advice and help were sought and valued. To Bayard Taylor he was a serviceable friend just wlien the young author desired introduction to the larger world of literature, and he helped him to the publication of his first volume of verse. ‘I called on Griswold,’ he writes October 10, 1843, ‘and had an interview with him. He had part of a Romance in poetry [‘Rosalie,’ renamed ‘Ximena’] which I have been writing, and strongly advised me to publish it with my other poems in a volume. I have it nearly done, — about a thousand lines; I have not concluded whether to do so or not. . . I place great confidence in his judgment.” It appeared in February 1844. “It was dedicated to Rufus W. Griswold, as an expression of gratitude for the kind encouragement he has shown the author.” [page 142:]

New York, April 6, 1843.

R. W. Griswold, Dear Sir:

I regret to say, what you will doubtless have heard before directly, that Ralph W. Emerson has concluded not to deliver his Lectures in Boston till next Fall, and so declines to let his Introductory be printed in your Magazine at present. This is too bad, but how can I help it? He wrote me to this effect yesterday. I suppose I am more vexed than you are, but I had set my heart on your having it, and am sorely disappointed.

I wish my own lecture on ‘Human Life’ would answer instead, but it won’t. Some parts of it would read well; others are unfitted.

I have threatened to write a Sketch of the leading Transcendentalists, after the manner of John Neal; but I don’t know that I could make it attractive. Yet Emerson, and Bronson Alcott and Margaret Fuller are great characters if a body could only bring them out in bold colors. If I were not to be known as the writer, I could do a tall thing; but, being known, I should be very apt to fail. So let it go.

Horace Greeley.


Boston, April 12th, 1848.

My Dear Griswold:

My heart beat as the familiar hand writing of my old friend met my eye at the Post Office just now, and I hasten to say, this very hour, that so far from your being forgotten by me, there is not a day during some part of which your name is not mentioned at the Corner. Forgotten I no indeed never for a moment! . . .

We are about as usual here. H. T. T. is in N. Y. and Whipple is writing clever articles for the papers. Often, very often we talk of you and how much we wish to see you cannot be written down in ink.

Ever Yours,
J. T. F[ields.]


New York, May 1, 1848.

Dear Sir:

I am extremely obliged to you for your kind notice in the Magazine, and for your very friendly letter. . . I was afraid that some of the piratical publishers, who abound in these days, might . . . get out a very incorrect edition.

I thank you for the good opinion so courteously expressed in your letter. Of course, I am perfectly aware what is the reason that I am not invited to write for the popular periodicals of the day; for it requires no [page 143:] extraordinary vanity to suppose that I could write better articles than some who are invited.

Bat this effect of unpopularity is no inconvenience to me; for I could not write for such publications if I were ever so much urged. Life is growing too earnest with me to admit of my writing “pretty stories.”

The Letters probably will not be out till the middle or last of June; as I am obliged to be out of the city a few weeks.

Yours very gratefully and respectfully,
L. M. Child.

A somewhat different tone is struck in a letter from Poe’s friend Wilmer to a Mississippi poet named Tomlin: —

Philadelphia, May 20, 1843.

Dear Sir:

I have not heard from you for several weeks. I dent on in various packages, a dozen copies of Recantation which I hope came to hand. Any numbers of that, or the “Quacks” are always at your service.

Literary affairs are at a very low ebb in this city at present. Sumner Lincoln Fairfield, who once ranked high among the writers of our country, has become a common loafer about the streets. It is distressing to view such a change.

Edgar A. Poe (you know him by character, no doubt, if not personally), has become one of the strangest of our literati. He and I are old friends, — have known each other since boyhood, and it gives me inexpressible pain to notice the vagaries to which he has lately become subject. Poor fellow! he is not a teetotaller by any means, and I fear he is going headlong to destruction, moral, physical and intellectual.

T. S. Arthur, another old friend of mine, has acquired great popularity by a certain kind of writing and is getting along prosperously.

The “Philadelphia Clique” as it is called, composed of Robt. C. Conrad, R. Morris, J. C. Keale and several others, has seen its palmiest days and is falling into disrepute; — their association to hold each other up will not avail them. Jos. C. Neale, nevertheless, is a man of splendid talents, and Conrad has some excellent points; but the political unpopularity of the latter affects his literary reputation. Neale is indolent.

My next publication will be “Preferment,” a political satire, not partisan or very slightly so. Much of it is already written and I expect to bring [page 144:] it out sometime within the present year. Favor me with a few lines whenever you have time to waste.

Your obliged and sincere friend,
L. A. Wilmer.


New York, June 12, ‘43.

Dear Griswold:

. . . Mrs. Oaksmith’s story was also duly attended to — what a grand affair it is! Most affluent in language, most finished in expression. She must, according to your prophecy, take a stand out of hooting distance of any other of our writing women. That is if her constitution be strong enough for the necessary mechanical labor of triumphant authorship. . .

Ever yours truly,
C. F. H[offman].


Concord, July 2d, 1848.

My dear Sir,

There is a mistake as to my having refused to write for Graham’s Magazine; the truth is, I have heretofore had no opportunity to refuse, even had I been so inclined — your own letter being the first intimation that any contributions might be acceptable.

I am never a very diligent penman in the summer time; and, moreover, I had projected a little work for children as this summer’s literary labor and amusement, which is still to be begun. I have likewise one engagement to fulfill for a Magazine, before I can undertake any other of the kind. These matters being first disposed. of, I shall be very willing to send you an article, and will agree to the terms you propose, rather than take upon myself to settle the marketable value of my productions.

I am advised that the publishers of Magazines consider it desirable to attach writers exclusively to their own establishments, and will pay at a higher rate for such monopoly. If this be the case, I should make no difficulty in forswearing all other periodicals for a specified time — and so much the more readily, on account of the safety of your Magazine in a financial point of view. Should you desire an arrangement of this kind, be pleased, at your leisure, to state the terms of it. I hope to free myself from other engagements by October, at furthest, and shall then be happy to become one of your contributors. With much respect, truly yours,

Nath. Hawthorne.

[page 145:]

It would appear from the above that Hawthorne had a very short memory. We are informd by Mr. Albert H. Smyth, in his book on Philadelphia Magazines, that “Lowell was a subordinate editor of the magazine [Graham’s] as early as 1843, and in April of that year communicated to Nathaniel Hawthorne the desire of the editor, Edgar Allan Poe, that he too should become a contributor.” Mr. Smyth further tells us that “Hawthorne included many of his early contributions to this magazine in his Twice Told Tales.” This shows great industry on Hawthorne’s part, for he was not asked to contribute (Smyth) before April 1848 (or, himself, June 1843), while the second and last series of Twice Told Tales was published in 1842. The Student is under obligations to Mr. Smyth, also for discovering that Poe edited the magazine in 1843, and that Lowell, at any time, was his assistant.


Washington, August 4, 1848.

Dear Griswold:

Perhaps jou will remember an old acquaintance when jou glance your eye at the bottom of this, or at the top of the opposite page. I know you will, and therefore I can, with the utmost propriety, ask you to publish the lines herewith sent, in Graham’s Magazine. But, in the first place,! should have consulted your judgment, for which I have much respect. You know that when we lived together, “long time ago” I used to carpenter a little in verse. I do little of it now, for various reasons. The lines before you were written by request of a friend, somewhat reluctantly, I confess; for I feared that I might mar beauty, or “blot the rainbow.” But what’s the use of all this talk. If you think the humble lay worthy of an obscure comer in your able magazine, please let it appear. If you reject my attempt, please return it to me as soon as you shall have considered about the matter and compared it with the scripture.

I should be pleased to receive a letter from you at any time. Yours respectfully,

L. A. Gobright.

[page 146:]


Boston, Sept. 1st, 1848.

My dear Sir:

I read a Poem at the dinner table of the Phi Beta Kappa at Cambridge the other day which I should like to publish in Graham’s Magazine if the Editors want it and are willing to pay for it.

It consists at present of 166 lines in the heroic measure — but I should be Inclined to make it about two hundred, or very nearly that, by certain additions. I belteve that for me it was remarkably happy, but you may think it no great thing. At any rate it has more point in it than most things of the kind I hare done lately.

two or three weeks ago Mr. Frost, on the part of Godey’s Lady’s Book, made me some liberal offers for anything I would give him. I answered that I felt bound to offer them to you first but without the least idea that I should so soon have anything to publish. I therefore mention it to you and end my proposals with these questions.

1.  Do you want such a poem?

2.  What will you give me for it?

3.  Are you afraid of a hit at repudiation in it?

4.  Can it be published in your Magazine “word for word, letter for letter, comma for comma?”

6.  Do you want to see it before you meddle with it?

This is a very straightpforward business letter, and does not require any answer unless you want the Poem. If so I shall hear from you. Believe me very truly, Your Friend,

O. W. Holmes.

P. S. — No tender feelings are concerned which might interfere with Editorial interests.

[The poem, then called ‘Terpsichore,’ appeared in the magazine for January 1844.]


New York, Nov. 18, 1848.

R. W. Griswold, Esq., Old Friend,

I want to thrash you for the way you have done Béranger [published by Carey, 148 pages]. O Gris., you have not taken sufficient time with that work! Your choice of translations is often dreadful. ‘The Garret’ kills me. Jo Price’s version

— ‘espying the world with its sages and asses.

In a Garret at twenty how cheerly time passes!’

is worth a million of that you have given. [page 147:] Then ‘My Old Coat,’ ‘And part shall we never, my trusty old Friend!’ by Falconer is better than that you give.

So Falconer’s ‘My Vocation’ is probably less faithful but a great deal more spirited than the one you have.

So ‘The Cossack’ (‘Come forth, my proud steed,’) is better than the one you have. Where is ‘Gaols and Franks, Close your ranks!’

‘A song for Bonaparte returned from Elba?’ Gris. you must not get up books so jobbingly. You never will get above Journeyman’s wages unless you amend. O if you only caught me once reviewing you in right earnest, you would imagine your hide was off and you in a hogshead of brine. Now if Béranger goes to a second edition you must mend it. I will [illegible] it if you don’t

What about Praed? As he is English, you haven’t a chance to show your bad taste or carelessness by choosing wrong translations. But you may omit something, and completeness is vital. Don’t overlook the gem of all ‘Josephine’. . .

As to letters, let us have them as soon as may be. About half a column in length — spirited and lively, but not spiteful. Satirize Society and customs, if you must, but don’t touch individuals. two a week will be about right.

Horace Greeley.


Fort Columbus, New York, Dec. 12, 1843.

Dear Sir:

. . . My fever of last summer, with many other circumstances, has prevented me from doing much that I wished to do in this country; if however, you will do me the favor, sir, of attending a little to it, I will endeavor to forward a bill of exchange after my arrival for the purpose of getting out an edition of “Idomen” either in Philadelphia or Washington. The Harpers say “it is too elevated to sell” — an expression which is rather libelous to the American public. I think, however, it will be read if proper means are taken. . . I do not think that any effort of my humble imagination can be” too elevated,” or even elevated enough, for the better part of the public as it really is in these North American States, but I absolutely know that my little works have been nearly suppressed by the vilest impositions which can possibly be practiced.

In the words of poor Spurzheim (which were uttered a very ‘short time before his death occurred in New England) I solace myself by saying. [page 148:] “stupidity! stupidity! the knowledge of that alone has saved me from misanthropy!”

I feel for you sir, a sincere gratitude on account of your haring taken pains to see me in person after having read a few of the effusions of my solitude. Whatever I may write to you in private letters you are at perfect liberty to publish (in case you may wish to do so); I look upon myself as a being out of this world, yet in it at the same time. The few pleasures accorded to me have been absolutely heavenly in their natures; and ‘in all the creation of this world, there is scarcely a pain which my heart has not proved, either in reality or apprehension.

If Heaven permit me to arrive safely at Cuba, I may commit to paper my epic poem, which I now call ‘Beatriz, the beloved of Columbus;’ if death come before the completion of my intention, what exists only in my mind will of course be naught, and the little, the very little, I leave will be so spoiled and mutilated by this steam-engine generation as to be good for nothing to those who may respire, afterwards, the breath of the land where I was born. From the Heavenly powers, alone, comes all that is possible on earth! That these powers may protect and make you happy is the heartfelt wish of Sir, your obedient servant,

Maria Brooks.

P. S. — Mr. Wordsworth has sent to this country for all the letters of the late Dr. Robert Southey, and particularly mentioned those few in my possession. I cannot part with the originals; for it soothes me whenever I read them; but I have Just got copies of them made. . .

“ ‘Zophiel, or the Bride of Seven,’ is by far the most original poem that this generation has produced.’ So said (writes Andrew Lang, in 1896) the British Poet Laureate, the late Mr. Robert Southey. The author of ‘Zophiel’ was Mrs. Brookes of New England. Remembering all this, I [Lang] turned eagerly to Professor Brander Matthews’ ‘Introduction to the Study of American Literature’ in search of facts about ‘The Bride of Seven’ . . . for Southey did not praise all poetry at random . . . Therefore it is extraordinary that Professor Matthews leaves ‘Zophiel’ out of his ‘Introduction’ in which I expected ‘The [page 149:] Bride of Seven’ (what a woman) to be the most conspicuous Jewel. Mrs. Brookes, of New England, is not in the Index; not with Priscilla Alden, Charles H. Farnham, John Jay, E. P. Whipple and the other literary swells [Priscilla Alden a literary character!] I call it cruel! I demand justice for Mrs, Brookes and ‘The Bride of Seven.’ ”

A very interesting, (chiefly because of its original letters) though fragmentary, account of Mrs. Brooks, by Mrs. Zadel Gustafson, was published in Harpers’ Magazine in 1879.


New York, Jan. 24, ’44.

My dear Griswold:

. . . I really have a great curiosity — no, an interest — to see yon just at this moment. How go the sentimentalities? How the women have affected your condition it irks me to know. They handle all of ns hardly enough, but God! when they get hold of a chap of your poetic temperament they use him up completely — at least for a while. But it is in that interval, those off days of the ague of female bedevilment, that you . . . doth the most work. A capital relief you have from the excitement [of] Turning round at once to attempt peoples’ lives. How many biographies have you written? But I won’t say a word more lest you forget that this is a business letter, although from lack of change it will cost you a shilling.

Ever yours truly,
C. F. Hoffman.

P. S. — I received lately a letter from Mr. Graham which I have deferred answering only because I wished to write to him at length. The story he asks for shall be forthcoming.

C. F. H.


New York, Jan. 27, ‘44.

My dear Griswold:

I was just roaring over an article in the Foreign Quarterly upon “The Poets and Poetry” when I received your melancholy letter. I pray you turn to that paper at once and it will put you in good humor. John Bullism in perfection is th me always the most amusing thing in the world. My bump of benevolence is unfortunately so great that fond as I am of the grotesque, human absurdity more often awakens compassion than fun in me. [page 150:]

I feel greater pity than diversion at Don Quixote’s troubles, but the fanatical conceit of a real Sancho Panzoac Englishman is to me always delicious. I have only as yet read the first part of the article as copied (“to be concluded”) into the New World. Bryant tells me that I get a more savage mauling than anyone else in the article. I plagiarize, it seems, from Tom Moore! a devilish good fellow to steal from: shows my taste. I wonder they don’t appreciate him more in that way at home. Hope the article will bring Moore into notice there. I must tell you though, that this mad Bull — who, with the most solemn unconsciousness lashes his brother Briton, of the N. T. Herald, for writing with the same choice reserve of language that he himself uses — this mad Bull, I say [illegible] upon our capital while thrusting his horns into you: — “Mr. Griswold admits that in America utility was all in all at the beginning and Poetry nothing. They began at the wrong end! In all other countries poetry appears first and utility afterward, the slow fruit of necessity and experience.”

But you must read the article, — ‘tis the best advertisement of your book yet out, for the fellow abuses the country so roundly that the people, roused to a discriminating ire, must at last take the Poets under their protection, as a part of themselves. Here’s a remark that will show you the fellow’s frantic stupidity. “This journal failed, and Freneau went to sea in command of a Merchant vessel; qualification being as little required in commanding an American vessel as in writing American poetry.” Ah, my nervous friend, our corners are rubbed off so in this country by habitual attrition with emigrants from every nation that we should not judge these redoubtable islanders too harshly. Yet I admire your boldness in going as missionary among them — what in God’s name can you do for them? Take them out of their mechanicism and shop-keeping, and they are of Beotian stupidity. Qenius, transcendant as it has been there, is but an excrescence, refinement but a veneering, neither of them permeating or forming any •essential part of the coarse grained character of the noble, useful and most powerful, but most ungenial race that the world has ever produced. You should ask your friend Herbert about this matter before you go there. Any Englishman of Rank (that is, belonging to the “exorescency” or the “veneery”) will tell you the same thing when put upon his “voir dire” over a cup of mononghelela, though he might fight you the next morning for reminding him of it. . .

Ever yours,

[page 151:]


This article in ‘The Foreign Quarterly’ attracted great attention. Lowell comments on it in a letter to Poe dated “Elmwood, June 27, 1844”: —

. . . 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 poetical 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. Forster is a friend of some of the Longfellow clique here which perhaps accounts for his putting L. at the top of our Parnassus. These kinds of arrangements do very well, however, for the present. . .


[Boston, 12 Feb. 1844.

Fields to Griswold.]

Distant, secluded, down in the isle of Manhattan, lives Rufus the thoughtfull

Into the hands of the parson from Newport many days since placed he a letter

For one he regardeth. The Doctor, fat, fruitful, forgetful, failed then to deliver it.

But coming to Boston on business parochial he took from his pocket the glorious hexameters. Thanks reverend and learned! Thanks most grave and most potent! thanks, Gallic Translator!

I thought thee dead, — dead, Rufus, and Doge-like declined to the dust, Sir.

But at sight of thy writing I leaped like a man in a mad fit.

Sometime in the Spring, that is coming upon us I go to the city.

The city of New York. There hoping to meet thee, and pour in thy bosom Fresh comfort and whiskey, we’ll talk of old times, Rufe

And banish our sorrow. Bespeak me some oysters and hot steaks from Florence,

Some liquor Falemian and fixings to match them. Adieu, Gentle Doctor, we meet at Phillippi. [page 152:]


Philadelphia, to April, 1844.

Mrs. F. S. Osgood, Dear Madam:

. . . I cannot really afford to pay my new ones more than I pay Miss Orne, Miss Davenant, and indeed all my other writers, except you and Mrs. Stephens, who are above all rule. For prose I give them $2.00 per printed page: for poetry $5.00 a poem. This is, perhaps, no remuneration for them; but it is all the publishers here, excepting Graham, give, and all we can afford. . .

Very respectfully,
Chas. J. Peterson.


New York, Apr. 20, ’44.

My dear Sir:

. . . What a warm, earnest and excellent friend that gentlemanly young Janvier is of yours. If you can get a woman VS understand you as thoroughly, and be at the same time as really attached as he is, you will not have loved the sex in vain.

Tuckerman and I have both taken to him exceedingly. I pray you write soon to

Yours ever,
C. F. Hoffman.


Miss Smith, a sister of Thomas H. Smith, connected with the N. Y. Hospital, long a distinguished merchant and member, subsequently, of the legislature, and as an author connected with Wm.,the brother of Wash. Irving, who was two terms in Congress.

The Morning Chronicle, projected in 1802 by Dr. Irving, was long marked for the elegance of its manner, its literary tone, and indeed occupied a position not unlike that of Mr. Charles King’s ‘American’ in a subsequent period. Among the contributors to the Chronicle were many who afterward became eminent.

Irving published here his “Olddstyle’ Letters, Paulding his first assays, and Dr. James Smith, the brother of the historian, imitated Anacreon in clever epistles to women and wine.

But the chief star of the Chronicle was a lady who wrote under the signature of “Clara”, and she was as celebrated there as “Amelia” or “Norma” or “Kate Cleveland” have ever been since. This was Miss Smith, who married Mr. Will Lucius Rose, whose irregular habits brought him to beggary, and for his abilities and his connections with the old associates of other Burrites, was connected in sympathy with the Burr faction. [page 153:]

The marriage of Miss Smith was not a happy one, and it is unnecessary here to lift the veil from her domestic life further than to disclose her subsequent divorce from Rose, intimacy and marriage with the late Justice Wyman. She died within the past two years.


New York, June 11, 1844.

My Dear Griswold:

. . . Don’t sneer at my ruled paper — ‘Tis the latest “fashion,” as Willis may perhaps tell the world in his lecture tonight on that Estate at the Tabernacle. I do hope you have not abandoned the idea of coming to live in Brooklyn. ‘Tis delightful there now though we really miss Janvier; cool, fragrantly airy, and no mobs! I am really in a state of anxiety in expectation of a paragraph like this: —

“Signal vengeance and irremediable devastation! The destruction of Dr. Moriarty’s library wounded most deeply the literary sensibilities of our Irish population, and though from policy hitherto silent upon the subject, we have rightly anticipated such a catastrophe as that which it is our sorrowful duty to have to commemorate.

The valuable library of the Reverend R. W. Griswold, the distinguished Protestant clergyman, who lately abandoned all his other literary labors to devote himself to an anti-Catholic Review [The Quarterly Review of the American Protestant Association: Phi’a, Hooker.] was last night consumed by an Irish mob. The light from the blazing books and MSS. illuminated the Delaware and part of Chestnut Street, and was seen by every train within a mile of Philadelphia. We regret to hear that Mr. G. was slightly injured by throwing himself into the scene of devastation. It seems that some of the most precious MSS. were kept in a bathing tub, and attempting to gain the house through the back way, his hands were terribly cut while in the act of dashing in the windows. The presence of mind of his friend D. H. Janvier, Esq., in seizing him by the skirts of his coat at this instant, alone prevented the Reverend Gentleman from being smothered by the tainted smoke which at once poured through the aperture.

N. B. — Since writing the above we learn that at least one half of Mr. G’s MSS. are safe. They were in the pockets of old coats, hats, etc., left from time to time at the houses of friends. We need not say that all good citizens should frown upon this not unprovoked but somewhat disorderly conduct of our generous but somewhat excitable adopted citizens. The [page 154:] exemplary character of our beloved city most ultimately suffer from these occasional outbursts of misdirected energy.”

C. F. H[offman].


Thursday, June 12, [’44?]

My dear Griswold:

. . . I send you today a copy of Monday’s Gazette with my remarks on Scott, regarding when I know you have never been at the pains to form an opinion, though you have permitted yourself to imbibe a prejudice from some of the shallow dogmas of the critics, of Poedom and the Lowell Institute. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest what I have written here. The critics upon Scott make exactly the same blunders that they do about Cooper’s genius. They call Cooper, too, “only a daguerreotype painter of external life.” Now to prove that he is a creator by a brace of arguments that would mortally offend Mr. Cooper himself: —

Imprimis — One of the most sailor-like old salts in the navy once said in my hearing — “Sir, Mr. Cooper is one of the first geniuses that ever lived. He is no sailor sir, no sailor at all, but his sea scenes are so much like truth, and they give so much poetry to the details of my profession that I love every line he writes.”

Again — A Vermonter, who is a great Hunter and Woodman, called In my office last week with a note of introduction and at once commenced talking about Cooper. “People,” said he, “don’t dream what that man’s genius is — why now, for instance, he is a mighty poor Woodman and often wrong, wrong altogether, but I take his books with me on my tramps, and whenever he gets in the woods I could read what he has to say forever. That’s what I call genius. He makes a Nature of his own that you are willing to substitute for real Nature.”

Read my paragraph about Scott, and you will see the application of these remarks to his poetry.

Your indulgent friend,
C. F. Hoffman.


Saint Louis, 19th June, 1844.

My dear Mrs. Osgood,

Mrs. Bill informs me in a recent letter, that yon have done me the honor to request my autograph. Will you pardon the method I take in conveying it to you, when I confess that the selfish desire of numbering among my correspondents one with whose pure and beautiful thoughts I [page 155:] have long been familiar, has often crossed my mind? Many years ago, Mrs. Gilman pointed out to me, in the Boston papers, several poems under the signature of “Florence” as “the productions of a little girl about my own age, whom I would do well to keep before my mind as a model” if I wished to write for the public. Now you must know, I always love those VS whom I look up with anything like respect and admiration; and the natural result of seeking out every thing from your pen has been, to draw me towards you as invisibly as the magnet draws the steel. How far Mrs. Bill’s charming letters, (in many of which you are so fully discussed) have contributed to strengthen my predilections, I leave you to determine; only adding, as a conclusive motive for this letter, the wish I feel to thank you for the kindness you have extended to me by interesting yourself in my behalf with Messrs. Graham and Peterson.

Mrs. Bill tells me you are desirous of obtaining some description of “Amelia” [Welby]; an elderly gentleman, a friend of mine, speaks of her thus in a letter I received yesterday: —

“I saw Amelia at Louisville, and had the honor of being presented to her by one of the most elegant and accomplished ladies in the City, Mrs. G. D. Prentice. She lives in a sweet little cottage, in the midst of a small court beautifully cultivated in flowers and shrubbery, some of the flowers she did me the honor to present me with her own poetical hand! I shall preserve them. Her parlour is plainly but neatly furnished, a well toned piano is one of the ornaments, and a neat round table well filled with choice works, among which is a small volume of her own poems. Amelia’s figure is slender aAd tall, but her manners are not graceful, indeed there is a rusticity and awkwardness about them that plainly indicates the want of early culture and good society. She required too much persuading to sing, for one who sings 80 well, and would only consent after Mrs. Prentice had sung some thing from Norma. Amelia has a fine, liquid, silvery voice, and need not fear to sing before Kings. She warms up with her singing, and her eye, which is a large dark hazel, tells as plainly as eye can tell the emotions of her heart. She sang several of her own pieces, among the number, “Sweet memories of thee.” While at the piano I had an opportunity of examining her head, as far as the fascination of her music would allow. She has a glorious head! a forehead broad and expansive like that of the Gods. The upper head capacious, evincing an ample development of the moral and intellectual organs. The posterior portions of the brain would point her out as a genuine daughter of Eve; having all the qualities necessary to make her [page 156:] an affectionate wife and fond mother. If my theory is correct, she is naturally religious, and has a lively sensibility to the beauty and grandeur of God’s glorious works. Her head is very much like that of the lion S. S. Prentissy the orator of Mississippi. If I have not impressed you with the belief that she is a favorite with me, I wish now to state it. I like her exceedingly, and have only to regret that she has not those elegant and comely manners that would so well become her genius and her fame; for I am compelled to say in all truth and solemnness, that she has an awkward way of putting her fingers in her mouth, and other little unbecoming ways which do not impress one with a high idea of her merits.” Pardon me, my dear Mrs’ Osgood, this long extract, but it may serve better than a less minute detail to give you an accurate idea of our “Western Star.” . . .

Your sincere friend,
Anna Peyre Dinnies.


Ingress Abbey, Greenhithe, Kent, Sunday, July 25, 1844.

[To Mrs. Osgood]:

And so at last you did remember that Eliza Cook was alive? Oh I should so like to scold you for the uncivil forgetfulness with which you have treated my poor name. If I had known where to address a letter I should certainly have inflicted a yam on you long since, but America is a big pkice, and so I was forced to be content with thinking of you now and then. Right glad am I of this opportunity to gossip with you. How are you getting on? How is Mr. Osgood and how is little Ellen? — the fairy imp who was Just beginning to walk into the rough road of Life? I should so like to come to the land of Washington but my lungs will not look “old Nep” tn the face, and “I guess” if I ventured to float in his large pickling tub I should soon be salted down myself. Even the soft breezes of the Isle of Wight and the still more southern clime of Jersey are poison to me. I cannot live where saline particles are found, so I never hope to reach your land. If I could breathe on the blue wave, this coming summer would find me at Hew York, and you would see that your old friend would be Just the same “Strange fish” as ever.

You have told me nothing of yourselves. I want to learn how you are thriving — whether Dame Fortune is “smiling or smiting or kissing or biting.” Do not think I am rude or impertinent in this curiosity. I am certain there is much in our natures and feelings to promote sympathy, and nothing would be more grateful to my feelings than to hear that you were happy and prosperous. You must write a very long letter and tell me more of yourselves. [page 157:] I have not seen the youth who bore your welcome favoor yet, but I intend to ask him to meet me if agreeable to himself, and then I may gain a little more Yankee news than you have afforded me. Now to tell you how the world treats me. I believe you have a kind interest in my fame, and I shall rattle on Just as the humour prompts. Fortune has never once knit her brow when gazing at me. I may consider myself blest as far as poetic success can bless.

The Editions of my work have sold well, and my last Edition is just out of print. But I must tell you that Bogue, the successor of my late publisher, has not used me fairly. Letters were received by him from the Langleys in your city relative to an Edition of the plates in my volume being sent them. One letter addressed to me, containing a fair and flattering arrangement as regarded my own views, was detained by Mr. Bogue for two months and at length given to me opened, thereby shutting me out from all co-operation with the American people, when I should have been most happy to have aided them in any way. But Mr. Bogue availed himself of the correspondence, and entered into agreements which I dispute the justice of.

I instantly wrote to “Langley,” New York, explaining the whole affair in, as I thought, a very frank and kindly manner, requesting an answer as soon as convenient — this I have never had, and my opinion is that some dishonourable and secret jockeying has taken place between them and Bogue. Now surely, as a lady, I have a right to some consideration, and a formal acknowledgment should have at least been allowed me. I am strongly prejudiced in favour of the Americans, and extend my warmest wishes to them — they are heartily welcome to any use of my works, and the more my poems are promulgated among them, the better I am pleased. . . If you see Mr. Griswold, present my compliments, with the assurance that he has highly flattered me by deeming my simple compositions worthy his attention. . .

The English are crammed to the skull top with Daniel O’Connell, Irish Repeal, League Meetings, Cornlaws, and Mesmerism, slightly relieved by Concerts, new Operas, Charles Kean and Charity Balls. Thomas Campbell has gone to reside in Boulogne, being much shattered in health. Dickens is a vast “lion” here, but I presume he has done for himself with your people — indeed I think his “American Notes” a very inferior work, even in a literary point of view, and I suppose the detail of matter is not quite just. He [page 158:] has published a “Carol” this Christmas which is “a rare bit,’ ” and has very considerably advanced his reputation thereby. . .

They say I write such stem and sometimes horrible things, but I like such things best. If I could but get into some of the American dells and dingles and forest shades, how I should become imbued with the beauty of the vast country, and what huge overgrown stanzas I should commit! What a monster sonnet I should get up! . . .

I must cut and run, for my brother has just entered my “sanctum” with my American style of pet “Tell,” who stands something about even with the table, and threatens to blot this with his mighty tail. . .

Give my love to Mr. Osgood, and tell him he is not forgotten by me. . .

Eliza Cook.







[S:0 - WMG, 1898] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - Passages from the Correspondence and Other Papers of Rufus W. Griswold [Section 03] (W. M. Griswold, 1898)