Text: Dwight R. Thomas, “Chapter 04: 1840,” Poe in Philadelphia, 1838-1844 (1978), pp. 106-185


[page 106:]



January, 1840

JANUARY: In Godey's Lady's Book (Vol. 20, p. 46) Morton McMichael reviews a recent publication:

Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque. By Edgar A. Poe. 2 vols. Lea &Blanchard, 1840.

Mr. Poe is a writer of rare and various abilities. He possesses a fine perception of the ludicrous, and his humorous stories are instinct with the principle of mirth. He possesses also a mind of unusual grasp — a vigorous power of analysis, and an acuteness of perception which have given to him high celebrity as a critic. These same faculties, moreover, aided by an unusually active imagination, and directed by familiar study of metaphysical writings, have led him to produce some of the most vivid scenes of the wild and wonderful which can be found in English literature. The volumes now published, contain favourable specimens of Mr. Poe's powers, and cannot fail to impress all who read them, with a conviction of his genius.

NOTE: Poe attributed this notice to McMichael, a Philadelphia editor, when he quoted it in the Saturday Museum, March 4, 1843, p. 1, col. 4.

JANUARY: In the Southern Literary Messenger (Vol. 6, p. 126) James E. Heath reviews a recent publication:


Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque. By Edgar A. Poe: 2 vols. — Philadelphia: Lea &Blanchard. [page 107:]

To say that we admire Mr. Poe's style, abstractly considered, is more than we can say and speak — truly; neither can we perceive any particular beneficial tendency that is likely to flow from his writings. This, of course, is a mere matter of opinion, and we may differ, in saying so, from many. At the same time, the possession of high powers of invention and imagination — of genius — is undoubtedly his. His productions are, many of them, in Literature, somewhat like Martin's in the Fine Arts. His serious sketches all bear the marks of bold, fertile genius. There is the dark cloud hanging over all — there are the dim, misty, undefined shapes in the back-ground. But amid all these arise huge and magnificent columns, flashing lamps, rich banquetting vessels, gleaming tiaras, and sweet, expressive faces. But the writings of Mr. P. are well known to the readers of the Messenger.

The volumes before us, with a rather singular title, are composed of tales and sketches, which have appeared at different times before the public: many of them, in this journal. We have read but a portion of them. Of these, we like, as a specimen of the author's powers of humor, “The Man that was used Up,” and “Why the Little Frenchman wears his hand in a Sling.” “Siope,” and “The MS. found in a Bottle,” afford good specimens of the author's stronger and more graphic powers.

We recommend Hans Phaal to every one who has not already read it — although our remembrance of it remains from a perusal some time since. The “opinions” prefixed to the second volume, are in bad taste. We do not intend to write a critique, but merely to bring to the notice of the public, the productions of a talented and powerful writer.

NOTE: This review is unsigned, but its critical assessments are similar to those Heath offered in his September 12, 1839, letter to Poe. According to F. DeWolfe Miller, “The Basis for Poe's ‘The Island of the Fay,” American Literature, 14 (1942), 135-40, John Martin, an English painter born in 1789, was “chiefly known for his dramatic episodes of history in which masses of tiny figures are overwhelmed by storming earth and sky.”

JANUARY: A notice of Poe's Tales appears at the very [page 108:] bottom of the last page of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine:

Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque. By Edgar A. Poe. Two volumes. Lea and Blanchard, Philadelphia.

Messieurs L. and B. have just issued twenty-five brief stories, having the above title, which pretty well indicates their general character.

NOTE: Heartman and Canny, p. 195, include this notice in their bibliography; but there is no evidence to support this attribution. Poe was a man given to self-advertisement: it is unlikely that he would have referred to his stories as “brief” or commented that his title “pretty well indicates their general character.” The author of this curt notice may have been William E. Burton. According to Johnson, “William E. Burton,” p. 130, the proprietor of the Gentleman's Magazine is not known to have had an acting engagement during the latter part of December, 1839, or during the first half of January, 1840; Johnson finds a “strong possibility that during . ... the periods unaccounted for, Burton may have devoted himself to his publishing business.”

JANUARY: The outside back wrapper of the Gentleman's Magazine carries William E. Burton's advertisement offering “A PREMIUM OF $1,000!”

NOTE: One unbound copy in the original wrappers is at the New York Historical Society; another, at the Philadelphia Free Library (Richard Gimbel Collection). See the chronology for November 20, 1839, and March and April, 1840.

JANUARY: Burton's Gentleman's Magazine publishes the first installment of “The Journal of Julius Rodman.”

NOTE: Poe's unfinished serial appeared monthly, January through June, 1840; the last installment closed in medias [page 109:] res because of his departure from the magazine. The story was not immediately recognized as a fiction. In reviewing the January Burton's, the Saturday Courier, January 4, p. 2, col. 3, commented: “the most interesting article . ... is . ... a preliminary chapter of the Journal of Julius Rodman, an account of the first passage ever made by white men across the Rocky Mountains, and an exploring tour through a portion of the wilderness, then, and in fact now, entirely unknown. From what we learn, this Journal is one of the most extraordinary narratives ever penned.” On February 1 the Courier, p. 2, col. 8, again mentioned the story, describing it as “A valuable piece of American history.” Without committing itself on the work's historicity, the Saturday Evening Post, February 22, p. 2, col. 3, found “Julius Rodman” to be “a singular thing.” In its review of the March number of Burton's, the Knickerbocker Magazine, 15 (April, 1840), 359, commented: “We observe . ... a continuation of the ‘Journal of JULIUS RODMAN, being a minute account of the first passage across the Rocky Mountains ever achieved by civilized man.’ We think we discover the clever hand of the resident editor of the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ Mr. E. A. POE, in these records; the more, perhaps, that the fabulous narrative of ‘Mr. ARTHUR GORDON PYM,’ of Nantucket, has shown us how deftly he can manage this species of [Robinson] Crusoe materiel.” By May 9, 1840, the Saturday Courier, p. 2, col. 7, also had its doubts about the serial's historicity: “Rodman's journey . ... is thought to bespeak the ready pen of Mr. Poe.”

JANUARY 4: The Saturday Courier, p. l, col. 5, publishes Poe's “Silence — A Sonnet.” [page 110:]

ANTE JANUARY 20: Joseph Evans Snodgrass writes Poe, asking him to discuss the American Museum in Burton's Gentleman's Magazine.

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Poe's reply.

JANUARY 20: During “a temporary lull in a storm of business,” Poe replies to Joseph Evans Snodgrass: “I am obliged to decline saying anything of the ‘Museum’ in the Gent's Mag: however much I feel anxious to oblige yourself, and to express my own views. You will understand me when I say that I have no proprietary interest in the Mag: and that Mr Burton is a warm friend of Brooks . ... .” Poe has heard “that an attempt is to be made by Some one of capital in Baltimore, to get up a Magazine”; and he asks Snodgrass to tell him “all about it by return of mail . ... how the matter stands — who are the parties,&c.”

NOTE: Letters, I, 127-28. Snodgrass and Nathan C. Brooks were the proprietors of the American Museum, which ceased publication in June, 1839; the two men later became enemies, as evidenced by this letter and by Snodgrass’ criticisms of Brooks in the Baltimore Saturday Visiter (see the chronology for April 22, 1843, and February 3, 1844).

JANUARY 29: Alexander's Weekly Messenger publishes Poe's “Instinct Vs. Reason — A Black Cat.” In this amusing sketch Poe describes himself as “the owner of one of the most remarkable black cats in the world.”

NOTE: Brigham, Poe's Contributions, pp. 29-32. When the Poe family lived in the Spring Garden district of Philadelphia in 1843 and 1844, they owned a favorite cat named Catterina (see the Letters, I, 251-53). The pet's name may well have [page 111:] been suggested to Poe by Mrs. Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poem “Caterina to Camoens,” which appeared in the October, 1843, number of Graham's Magazine (Vol. 23, pp. 208-09). Catterina was probably the “large tortoise-shell cat” which Mary Gove Nichols remembered seeing at the Poe cottage in Fordham in 1846; see her Reminiscences of Edgar Allan Poe (1863; rpt. Folcroft, Pa.: Folcroft Library Editions, 1973), p. 12.

February, 1840

FEBRUARY: Poe reviews Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Voices of the Night in Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, suggesting that this poet's “Midnight Mass for the Dying Year” is a “plagiarism, which is too palpable to be mistaken,” from Alfred Tennyson's “The Death of the Old Year.”

NOTE: This critique may be said to have been the opening shot in Poe's “Longfellow War,” which has been discussed by Sidney P. Moss, Poe's Literary Battles (Durham, N. C.: Duke University Press, 1963), pp. 132-89. His accusation of plagiarism evoked an angry response from Willis Gaylord Clark, the editor of the Philadelphia Gazette (see the chronology for February 4, 12, 1840).

FEBRUARY: Burton's Gentleman's Magazine publishes Poe's “Peter Pendulum, the Business Man.”

NOTE: The Saturday Courier, February 1, p. 2, col. 8, described this tale as “Funny and good, like all of Poe's writings”; and the Saturday Evening Post, February 22, p. 2, col. 3, found it “highly amusing.”

FEBRUARY 4: In the Philadelphia Gazette, p. 1, col. 1, Willis Gaylord Clark responds to the charge of plagiarism that Poe brought against Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his review of Voices of the Night:

A neighboring periodical [Burton's Gentleman's Magazine ], we hear, has been attempting to prove that Professor LONGFELLOW's sublime and beautiful “Midnight Mass for the Dying Year,” has been imitated from a poem by TENNYSON. Preposterous! There is nothing more alike in the two pieces than black and white, with the exception of the personification, — and that was LONGFELLOW's, long before the Scotch writer thought of “doing” his poem. Who does not remember that striking simile in one of the Professor's earlier lyrics, — “where Autumn, like a faint old man, sits down, By the wayside, aweary?”

This same beautiful piece was copied in Edinburgh, from an English periodical where it was altered, to suit the scenery of England; and it is fifty times more probable that TENNYSON thus got his idea, than that Mr. LONGFELLOW should have done more in the “Mass,” than repeat a favorite one of his thought[s]. On himself, one of the most strikingly original poets of this country, and the best translator of any nation known to our language, such a charge falls hurtless — and for the reputation of the maker, (acknowledged, we hear, among his friends) should be withdrawn. We ask the Weekly Messenger, who [which] has repeated the charge of abstraction, to clip this caveat, and give it utterance.

NOTE: Clark was Longfellow's friend and correspondent. They discussed Poe's unfavorable reviews of the New England poet's writings in two letters entered in the chronology for July 5 and 18, 1840.

FEBRUARY 12: Poe replies to Willis Gaylord Clark in an unsigned article in Alexander's Weekly Messenger. He reprints the Philadelphia Gazette's defense of Longfellow, and he comments:

In referring to the criticism mentioned [Poe's review of Voices of the Night ], we find that Mr. Clark [page 113:] has made a little mistake — at which we are not a little astonished. Mr. Poe does not say that Professor Longfellow's poem is “imitated” from Tennyson. He calls it a bare-faced and barbarous plagiarism “belonging to that worst species of literary robbery, in which, while the words of the wronged author are avoided, his most intangible, and therefore his least defensible and least reclaimable property, is purloined.” In support of this accusation he has printed the poems in question side by side — a proceeding, which, we must acknowledge, has an air of perfect fairness about it. That the reviewer, indeed, has nothing beyond truth as his object, is rendered quite apparent by the fact that nowhere has the fine genius of Professor Longfellow been so fully and so enthusiastically set forth, as in the earlier portion of the very critique now made the subject of comment. As regards the plagiarism, the critic calls attention to the circumstances that, in both cases, there is the same leading idea, or thesis, — (that of the personification of the Old Year as a dying old man,) that, in both, the same unusual march of rhythm is observable — that, in both, at the ends of the stanzas there is the very remarkable peculiarity of the absence of legitimate rhyme — that, in both, the words “Old Year” are capitalized — and that both are characterized by the same wild, quaint, fantastic, and interjectional manner. We mention that the critic has done all this, because we understand, from the opening words of the paragraph quoted above, that Mr. Clark, is only aware, as usual, through hearsay, of what is really written in the “Gentleman's Magazine.”

NOTE: Brigham, Poe's Contributions, pp. 33-35.

FEBRUARY 29: Poe writes Dr. John Kearsley Mitchell: “It will give me great pleasure to accept your invitation for Feb: 29th — this evening.”

NOTE: Letters, I, 128. Poe's letter provides the first evidence of his acquaintance with Dr. Mitchell, a Philadelphia physician, poet, and scientist. Mitchell became the Poe family's physician during the Philadelphia period. [page 114:]

March, 1840

MARCH: A notice appears on the inside front wrapper of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine:


It is with the utmost regret that we announce to our friends that our liberal offer of Premiums, to the amount of One Thousand Dollars, has not been sufficiently attended to by the auctorial world. That the honesty of our intentions was thoroughly appreciated, is evident from the various letters received from some of the most distinguished writers of the day; we have been complimented by the very highest members of the craft for the liberality of our scheme — and many cheering encomiums have been passed upon our plan as ore divested of the usual humbug of the day. We have received a few manuscripts of invaluable worth, touching some of the subjects named; but we have nothing in the way of competition; our scheme or scale of premiums embraced a variety of sums and subjects — for various of these items we have no claimants; for others we have no competitors. We cannot award a premium for the best article, when we are without means of comparison. It has been suggested that the time originally allowed (to the end of February) was too short for the production of the articles required; as it is our earnest wish to carry our original plan into execution, we hereby extend the date of reception to the end of March — when, if we should still be unable to obtain a sufficiency of competitors, the articles sent will be returned to their owners, if a negotiation for their insertion should be unsuccessful in its issue.

NOTE: Unbound copy in original covers, New York Historical Society. The wrappers of the March number have also been preserved in a bound volume of Burton's held by the American Antiquarian Society. This notice, although unsigned, should be attributed to William E. Burton.

MARCH: The April number of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine is announced on the inside front wrapper: [page 115:]


Is the subject of an excellent Mezzotint, engraved by Sartain, in his best manner, for the April number of BURTON's MAGAZINE, the Gentleman's. This plate will equal in beauty the celebrated picture of “The Pets,” given in the last volume of the above work, and universally acknowledged to be the most elegant illustration that ever graced a periodical in this country. “Assignation” will be printed on the best paper, and sent only to the cash or paying subscribers to the Magazine. All new subscribers, paying in advance, or those who have paid, may depend upon receiving the plate uninjured. Our debtors will please to observe that they cannot obtain the above picture unless all arrears are paid up before the expiration of the present volume, in June. When the cash is forwarded, the plate will be sent in the ensuing number; but the April number will be sent without a late to all who are indebted to Burton's Magazine.

NOTE: This notice does much to explain Poe's disdain of Burton's, Graham's Magazine, and other popular monthlies. For William E. Burton, as for other publishers, plates were the most important components of a magazine. Poetry and fiction could be had gratis. Engravings were expensive but essential, because an unsophisticated reading public paid more attention to Sartain's sentimental mezzotints and to colored fashion plates than to Poe's stories and reviews.

MARCH 18: In Alexander's Weekly Messenger Poe notices the Virginia Star: “This is the title of a new weekly and tri-weekly paper, published at Petersburg, Va., by H. Haines, Esq.[,] late editor of the Petersburg ‘Constellation.’ Mr. Haines is a gentleman of education and of unusually fine talents. He is, moreover, a sternly independent man; and this is saying a great deal in these days of universal subserviency and tergiversation.”

NOTE: Brigham, Poe's Contributions, pp. 58-59. [page 116:]

MARCH 24: Hiram Haines, editor of the Virginia Star, writes Poe, sending his paper and offering a fawn for Virginia Poe.

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Poe's April 24 reply.

MARCH 28: The Saturday Evening Post, p. 2, col. 2, informs its readers that “JOHN S. DU SOLLE, ESQ. has withdrawn from this establishment, intending to devote his time hereafter, solely to the conducting of a daily paper of this city. Charles J. Peterson, Esq. will hereafter be associated . ... in the management of this paper. ... . The business will hereafter be conducted under the firm of G. R. GRAHAM &CO.” Under “its present editors and proprietors,” the Post “shall be peculiarly fitted for the family perusal. It shall not contain one paragraph, with the spirit of which a father would not wish to have his daughter familiar. It shall never call the blush to the cheek of innocence, or furnish material for the growth of a vicious thought. — With this view, it will ever be firmly, and studiously, OPPOSED TO THEATRES, as things calculated to injure the healthy action of an honest mind — as creative of exhibitions demoralising in tendency, and fearfully pernicious, in fact.”

NOTE: The March 28 issue is misdated “March 21” on the second page. Du Solle's paper was The Spirit of the Times. Peterson held “a third interest” in the Post; see Poe's comments in his letter to Lewis J. Cist, September 18, 1841. [page 117:]

April, 1840

APRIL: A lengthy notice on the inside front wrapper of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine announces the failure of the proprietor's premium scheme:


It is with the utmost regret that we announce to our friends that our liberal offer of Premiums, to the amount of One Thousand Dollars, has not been sufficiently attended to by the auctorial world. That the honesty of our intentions was thoroughly appreciated, is evident from the various letters received from some of the most distinguished writers of the day; we have been complimented by the very highest members of the craft for the liberality of our scheme — and many cheering encomiums have been passed upon our plan as one divested of the usual humbug of the day. We have received a few manuscripts of invaluable worth, touching some of the subjects named; but we have nothing in the way of competition; our scheme or scale of premiums embraced a variety of sums and subjects — for various of these items we have no claimants; for others we have no competitors. We cannot award a premium for the best article, when we are without means of comparison.

We published the above statement on the cover of our last number, and, conceiving that the time originally fixed for the presentation of the articles was somewhat too brief for the purpose, we extended the date of reception to the end of March — but we might as well have settled the affair at the original period, for we have received but TWO articles during the whole of the month. We have therefore no resource but to acknowledge the failure of our plan, and to return, upon application, the few MSS. to their respective writers, who will individually be addressed by private letter from the editors.

We say again, that our scale of Premiums was liberal and comprehensive. It was promulgated as an evidence of our determination to increase, if possible, that excellence and variety which heretofore have distinguished the papers of our Magazine. We were not compelled to resort to a promise of Premiums from any want of Original articles; our list of contributors is [page 118:] unequalled; and the talent and industry of the writers regularly attached to the work never fail to produce the requisite quantity of original matter. We imagined that a series of handsome prizes distributed to the writers of articles on various literary and national matters, would have induced a competition among the master spirits of the day; and that we should thereby be placed in possession of several excellent papers on subjects never used by the ordinary run of Magazine writers. The scheme has failed; partly, as we conceive, from the universal confusion of all wor[l]dly matters that more or less affects all circles, and partly from the general idea of humbug which is yet attached to all premium schemes, and is the result of the conduct of certain publishers in years bygone. We endeavored, in the various provisos of our scheme, to avoid the objectionable plans and moves of our predecessors, but we are now satisfied that however popular the idea of Premiums may be with the reading public, the talented writer would rather take a moderate certainty for his production than submit to the risk of competition, however valuable may be the offered prize.

NOTE: Unbound copy in original covers, New York Historical Society. This notice should be attributed to William E. Burton, who did not keep his promise to return the manuscripts submitted to “their respective writers”: for additional information, see Poe's letters to Joseph Evans Snodgrass, June 17, 1840, and January 17, 1841, and Charles J. Peterson's letters to James Russell Lowell, February 18 and March 29, 1841.

APRIL 4: The Philadelphia Gazette, p. 2, col. 2, recommends the benefit performance of “Signor Hervio Nano, the dwarf, who is performing at the Chestnut Street Theatre . ... this evening. His strength and agility, notwithstanding his peculiarities of figure, are very extraordinary, and his-feats, especially as the ape, are of a surprising character.” An advertisement, p. 3, col. 2, promises that “SIG. HERVIO NANO, The celebrated Metem[p]sychosian Actor, the greatest wonder of the day,” [page 119:] will star as “Bibboo, the Island Ape, or Ourang Outang,” in the new drama of The Shipwreck.

NOTE: Signor Hervio Nano is a probable source for Poe's story “Hop-Frog,” whose title character is a crippled dwarf. Possibly Poe had Nano's portrayal of “Bibboo” in mind when writing “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”; certainly both men were trying to capitalize on the contemporary fascination for ourang outangs and other large primates. See the chronology for July 1 and August 20, 1839.

APRIL 20: William E. Burton begins a long successful engagement at the American Theatre, Front Street, in Baltimore. Originally scheduled for six nights, Burton is re-engaged twice and is given two benefit performances. His last appearance occurs on May 6.

NOTE: The Baltimore Sun carried the American Theatre's daily advertisements and reported the success of Burton's performances (see the issues from April 15 through May 6). The comedian's favorable reception in Baltimore may have influenced his decision to sell his Gentleman's Magazine (see the chronology for May 21, 1840).

APRIL 24: Poe replies to Hiram Haines, editor of the Petersburg Virginia Star, stating that he has been “absent from the city for a fortnight” and has therefore just received his March 24 letter. Poe thanks him for sending the Star. He promises to attend to what Haines has said “respecting exchanges” and to promote the paper's interests in Philadelphia. The family appreciates his “offer of the fawn for Mrs P.” Unfortunately, Poe knows no “mode of conveyance” for the deer unless a friend from Petersburg visits the city: “In the meantime accept our best acknowledgments, precisely as if the little fellow were [page 120:] already nibbling the grass before our windows in Philadelphia.” Poe adds: “It is not impossible that I may pay you a visit in Petersburg, a month or two hence.”

NOTE: Letters, I, 128-29. Poe's statement that he was “absent from the city for a fortnight” has not been confirmed; he may have been pleading absence to excuse his failure to reply promptly. There is no evidence that he visited Petersburg in 1840. In his “Reminiscences of Poe” Thomas Dunn English recalled that Poe lived in a small house with “a grassplot” in front during his editorship of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine; his account is reprinted in the directory.

APRIL 27: Poe writes Roland S. Houghton, who has submitted an article in the premium contest held by Burton's Gentleman's Magazine:


April 27. 1840.

Dr Sir,

Your very clever article, “John a’ Combe,” was duly received, but your request, that we should notice its reception in the Magazine, was overlooked. By reference to the last number (for April) you will perceive that the Premium scheme has proved a total failure, and that the M.S.S. sent await the commands of their authors. We should be glad, of course, to publish the piece, but are grieved to say that the absurd condition of our present copyright laws will not permit us to offer any compensation. We shall be pleased to hear from you in reply.

Yours &.

Edgar A Poe

R. S. Houghton Esqr. University of Vermont

NOTE: MS, Richard Gimbel Collection, Philadelphia Free Library. The letter was first printed in Ostrom's “Fourth Supplement,” 518-19. In the advertisement which appeared in the November 20, 1839, issue of Alexander's Weekly Messenger and on the wrappers of the December, 1839, and January, 1840, numbers of the Gentleman's Magazine, William E. Burton had promised that no article submitted for a premium would be printed “without some return being made to the writer.” Poe's letter to Houghton establishes that Burton did not keep this promise. Houghton, then only fifteen years old, was a student at the University of Vermont; his “John A’ Combe, A Character, By an Undergraduate,” appeared in the September, 1840, number of Burton's.

May, 1840

MAY: Poe contributes “A Notice of William Cullen Bryant” and “The Philosophy of Furniture” to Burton's Gentleman's Magazine.

EARLY MAY: William E. Burton, believing that Poe owes him “a hundred dollars,” has his clerk Charles R. Morrell withhold three dollars each week from his assistant editor's salary.

NOTE: In his June 1 letter to Burton, Poe stated that “Within the last 3 weeks, 3$ each week have been retained.” Possibly Burton ordered this reduction upon his return from Baltimore, which would have occurred shortly after May 6 (see the chronology for April 20).

EARLY MAY: Construction begins on William E. Burton's [page 122:] National Theatre, located on Chestnut Street near Ninth.

NOTE: The Daily Chronicle, May 30, p. 2, col. 4, reported that “workmen have been busily employed” on the theatre “these three weeks.”

MAY 4: The Philadelphia Daily Chronicle, a new paper owned by Charles W. Alexander and Andrew Scott, begins publication.

NOTE: Poe seems to have been on good terms with both proprietors of the Chronicle. In his “Reminiscences of Edgar A. Poe” which appeared in The American, 13 (February 26, 1887), 296, Horace Wemyss Smith recalled that Poe was a frequent companion of “Andy Scott” while “in the employ of Burton.” Alexander had been the original publisher of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, and he spoke of his “long and familiar intercourse” with Poe in his October 20, 1850, letter to Thomas C. Clarke (see Quinn, pp. 296-97). Poe's contributions to Alexander's other publication, the Weekly Messenger, have been collected by Clarence S. Brigham. Heartman and Canny, p. 177, describe the Daily Chronicle as “an important and as yet not properly evaluated Poe source”; the only contribution they list is Poe's “Prospectus of the Penn Magazine,” which first appeared in the Chronicle on September 11, 1840. Two previously unidentified articles by Poe are reprinted in the chronology for May 19, 1840.

MAY 4: The United States Gazette, p. 2, col. l, reports: “This day the Grand National Convention of Young Men of the Whig party will assemble in Baltimore. Of the numbers which will be there, we venture no prediction.”

NOTE: This convention, attended by thousands of Whigs from [page 123:] throughout the country, marked the roisterous beginning of the Harrison campaign for the Presidency. The political turmoil in Baltimore intensified on the following day, when the Democrats opened their national convention in the city. In Philadelphia, the United States Gazette, a Whig paper, faithfully reported the activities of “Old Tippecanoe” and his supporters.

MAY 4: The United States Gazette, p. 2, col. 1, reports: “A naval court martial for the trial of Commodore J. D. Elliott, and other officers of the Navy, will convene at one o’clock to-day, at the Navy Yard in this city . ... . All the members of the Court, we learn, are in attendance.”

NOTE: The opening of this court martial was also reported by The Pennsylvanian, May 6, p. 2, col. 4, and by other Philadelphia newspapers. The trial is noteworthy because Poe's friend Jesse E. Dow had served as Commodore Jesse D. Elliott's private secretary and he was to be an important witness in his former commander's defense. Newspaper reports of Dow's testimony provide significant information on his early career, and they establish his presence in Philadelphia during May and June, 1840. Presumably, Dow had arrived in the city by May 4; for additional information, see the chronology for post May 7, May 19, 23, and June 3, 15, 1840.

MAY 5: The Democratic delegates convene at Baltimore; they nominate Martin Van Buren for a second term, leaving the nomination for Vice-President to the “party organizations in the several states.”

NOTE: Gunderson, The Log-Cabin Campaign, pp. 78-91. Colonel Richard M. Johnson was retained as Van Buren's [page 124:] running mate.

MAY 5: The Whig delegates assembled in Baltimore are addressed by many speakers, including “E. S. Thomas, of Ohio.”

NOTE: United States Gazette, May 7, p. 2, col. 1. Ebenezer Smith Thomas had been a wealthy farmer in Baltimore County, Maryland, and a newspaper editor in Charleston, South Carolina, and Cincinnati, Ohio; he was the father of Frederick William Thomas, a young novelist who became Poe's closest friend. For additional information, see the chronology for post May 7, May 19, 21, 1840.

MAY 5: The United States Gazette, p. 2, col. 2, reports that Neilson Poe, a Baltimore Whig, has addressed “the Delegates for Dorchester County . ... on behalf of the Committee of Reception.”

MAY 6: The United States Gazette, p. 2, col. 4, estimates that twenty-five thousand persons are attending “the Great Whig Convention.” The Gazette describes a Whig procession “four miles long, marching in close platoons eight deep. ... . We have, however, to state while the procession was moving there was a gang of Loco-focos come into the street to insult them. They were some forty or fifty in number, and one of them bore upon a pole a figure with a petticoat. It would seem that some of the young men in the Whig ranks stepped out of the ranks and caused confusion, in which the petticoat and figure were torn from the pole . ... whereupon the Van Buren standard bearer struck the marshal of the Whig division with the pole so violently that he was almost immediately killed.” This account cites other disturbances caused by the Loco-Foco [page 125:] “sons of Belial.”

NOTE: “Loco-Foco” was the current term for a member of the radical wing of the Democratic party.

MAY 6: The Daily Chronicle, p. 3, col. l, reports “a rumor . ... that Mr. Neilson Poe, of Baltimore, . ... met his death, some time in the afternoon of Monday [May 4,], from a weapon in the hands of a member of the [Whig] procession.”

NOTE: Although the Chronicle retracted its report the following day, violence and vituperation remained constant in this Presidential election. On May 8 the United States Gazette, p. 2, col. 2, reported the “wanton murder of Laughlin, one of the Marshals in the grand Whig Procession . ... by some Loco Focos, who attempted to create a disturbance in the procession.” This report was confirmed.

MAY 7: The Whig Convention having ended, the Philadelphia delegates return from Baltimore and march through the city, rolling a “Great Ball” before them.

NOTE: United States Gazette, May 8, p. 2, col. 1.

POST MAY 7: Frederick William Thomas, a delegate to the Baltimore Whig Convention, comes to Philadelphia, carrying the manuscript of his new novel Howard Pinckney. He introduces himself to Poe, and the two men soon become close friends.

NOTE: Thomas was born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1806; his childhood-and youth were passed in Charleston, South Carolina, and Baltimore, Maryland. During the 1830's he was a journalist and lawyer in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he became a personal friend of General William Henry Harrison, [page 126:] the Whig candidate for the Presidency. Thomas’ first novel Clinton Bradshaw, or the Adventures of a Lawyer (1835) was very popular, and it gave him a national reputation. In his “Recollections of Edgar A. Poe,” quoted by James H. Whitty in his edition of The Complete Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1911), pp. xxi, xxxi-xxxiv, Thomas recalled that when he was living in Baltimore in 1828, he had been an intimate friend of Poe's brother Henry (1807-1831). Thomas probably called upon Poe and introduced himself as a former friend of Henry Poe. In his September 3, 1841, letter to Poe, Thomas mentioned the circumstances under which they became acquainted: “I was a delegate to the Baltimore May convention in ‘40, where I held forth, and after which I made your acquaintance in Philadelphia and got pelted by the people as you remember — or rather by the Locos.” Poe contributed a favorable notice of Thomas to the May 19, 1840, issue of the Daily Chronicle. In the evening of May 19 Thomas spoke at a Whig rally which was interrupted by stone-throwing Loco-Focos. Poe described the novelist as “my friend Thomas” in his June 3, 1840, letter to John Neal.

POST MAY 7: Poe introduces his new friend Frederick William Thomas to Jesse E. Dow, a Washington journalist and poet who is a major contributor to Burton's Gentleman's Magazine. The three man become companions. They meet at such fashionable Philadelphia resorts as John Sturdivant's Congress Hall Hotel and Robert Harmer's Cornucopia Restaurant; they have lively discussions about literature, politics, and cryptograms.

NOTE: Thomas and Dow became close friends after the former settled in Washington around the first of March, 1841. It is unlikely that the two men knew each other before May, [page 127:] 1840, when Dow came to Philadelphia to testify in the court martial of Commodore Elliott, and when Thomas came to the city to deliver the manuscript of Howard Pinckney to his publishers Lea &Blanchard. In all probability, Poe had previously made Dow's acquaintance through their mutual connection with Burton's; he presumably introduced Thomas to Dow. The three men were almost certainly acquainted by May 19, when Poe favorably noticed both his friends in the Daily Chronicle. Additional information on the close association of these three authors during May and June, 1840, may be found in Poe's November 23, 1840, and November 26, 1841, letters to Thomas, and Thomas’ December 7, 1840, and July 6, 1841, letters to Poe. A reminiscence which places Poe and Dow at Harmer's Cornucopia is reproduced in the directory entry for Thompson Westcott.

MAY 9: John Beauchamp Jones becomes “joint proprietor and editor” of the Baltimore Saturday Visiter.

NOTE: The Visiter of May 9 was quoted by the Baltimore Sun, May 11, p. 2, col. 3.

MAY 11: The trial of Commodore Elliott commences with a reading of the charges against him.

NOTE: The charges were printed in the United States Gazette, May 12, p. 2, col. 2.

MAY 19: In the Daily Chronicle, p. 2, col. 3, Poe notices Frederick William Thomas:

MR. THOMAS. — This gentleman, so well and so favorably known as the author of “East and West,” “The Adventures of a Lawyer,” “Clinton Bradshaw,” and other minor productions of high merit, has now in the hands of Messieurs Lea and Blanchard a new novel called “Howard Pinckney,” of which, from some loose pages [page 128:] which we had the pleasure of glancing at in MS, we entertain a high opinion. “Howard Pinckney,” if we are not much mistaken, will place Mr. Thomas in a position which he should have occupied long ago — a position in the van of our literature. He has only to do himself justice (as he has here done) in his subject, and there is no better writer in America. Let him eschew “Pelham,” and throw all mannerism to the dogs, and he will do honor to his country and to himself. He has the true soul of genius. We here wish to record a prophecy that in ten years from this date his works will be more extensively popular than those of any of our native writers. We would say even more than this — but we have a horror of being suspected of puffery.

NOTE: This notice, mixing praise with intelligent criticism, is unlike most newspaper “puffs” of the time. In both style and substance it is characteristically Poe's work:

Let him [Thomas] eschew “Pelham,” and throw all mannerism to the dogs, and he will do honor to his country and to himself.

When Poe reviewed Thomas’ first novel Clinton Bradshaw, or the Adventures of a Lawyer in the December, 1835, number of the Southern Literary Messenger (Works, VIII, 109-10), he correctly predicted that the book would be “a favorite with many readers”; but he criticized it as an imitation —”a pendant in America” — of Edward Bulwer-Lytton's Pelham, or the Adventures of a Gentleman (1828). Additional illustrations of Poe's disdain for Bulwer-Lytton may be found in the chronology for April, May, 1841, and October 11, 1843. In his introduction to “The Literati” (Works, XV, 4), Poe remarked that Nathaniel Hawthorne was “fairly to be charged with mannerism”; evidence that he believed Thomas to be guilty of the same offense is provided by his November 23, 1840, letter, in which he warned his friend to avoid “the dainty by-paths of authorism.” It is not unusual for Poe, a former West Pointer, to speak of “honor” and “country.” His hand is [page 129:] evident in the diction and syntax of the Daily Chronicle's notice of Thomas. In his October 19, 1843, letter to James Russell Lowell, Poe expressed his belief that “Poetry must eschew narrative . ... . I mean to say that the true poetry — the highest poetry — must eschew it.” In concluding his November, 1847, review of Hawthorne's Mosses from an Old Manse (Works, XIII, 155), Poe offered a prescription for its author: “Let him mend his pen, get a bottle of visible ink, come out from the Old Manse, . ... and throw out of the window to the pigs all his odd numbers of ‘The North American Review.’” Poe established his “horror of being suspected of puffery” at the outset of his career with his blistering review of Theodore 5. Fay's Norman Leslie (see the Works, VIII, 51-62); he was certainly not guilty of “puffery” in his May 19, 1840, notice of Thomas, because he characterized his friend's writings with the oxymoronic phrase “minor productions of high merit.” He qualified his prediction that Howard Pinckney would place Thomas “in the van of our literature” by adding “a prophecy that in ten years . ... his works will be more extensively popular than those of any of our native writers.” Poe had foreseen Thomas’ popularity in his largely unfavorable review of Clinton Bradshaw.

MAY 19: In the Daily Chronicle, p. 3, col. 1, Poe notices Jesse E. Dow:

J. E. DOW. — Among the witnesses attendant on the trial of Commodore Elliot[t], we notice Jesse Erskine Dow, Esq., the very clever author of “The Log of Old Ironsides,” and fifty other capital things, in a different vein, which have appeared from time to time at random in our Magazines. “The Log,” it will be remembered, was for many months the “big fish” of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine. Mr. Dow, from a sad habit of being always in a hurry, has acquired a certain free and easy slip-shod sort of a style which [page 130:] ought to be amended; but he has true and peculiar talent, and as a man there is no one whom we more highly respect.

NOTE: Sufficient reason for attributing this notice to Poe is provided by the fact that it appears in the same issue of the Daily Chronicle with the notice of Frederick William Thomas, which clearly reveals his hand. In the Washington Index, November 2, 1841, p. 3, col. 2, Dow commented that Poe could “criticise you into shape without giving offence.” His ability is demonstrated in this friendly notice which criticizes Dow for his “sad habit of being always in a hurry” and “a certain free and easy slip-shod sort of a style.” Poe leveled a similar charge of excessive hurriedness against George Lippard (see his February 18, 1844, letter to this journalist). Evidence of Poe's high regard for Dow “as a man” may be found in many of his letters to Thomas.

MAY 19: A “very large meeting of the friends of Harrison and Tyler” is held in the evening “at the corner of Walnut and Schuylkill Front street.” Among the speakers who address this Whig rally “with considerable effect” are “Mr. Thomas Fitnam, Dr. Thomas Dunn English, and Mr. Thomas, of Cincinnati.” Unfortunately, the proceedings are violently disrupted “by some Van Buren men,” who shout like “bulls of Bashan” and finally “throw brickbats and stones among the people assembled.”

NOTE: Possibly the only newspaper account of this incident may be found in the United States Gazette, May 21, p. 2, col. 1. The Gazette's description of the Van Buren supporters was questioned by The Pennsylvanian, May 22, p. 2, col. 3; but this paper, being Democratic in its sympathies, naturally did not provide additional coverage. [page 131:] In all probability, the “Mr. Thomas, of Cincinnati” mentioned in the Gazette's report was Poe's friend Frederick William Thomas, a frequent public speaker and a personal friend of General Harrison. He was in Philadelphia before May 19; and in his September 3, 1841, letter to Poe, he speaks of being “pelted by the people . ... or rather by the Locos.” Admittedly, Ebenezer Smith Thomas, Frederick's father, was also described as “Mr. Thomas, of Cincinnati”; and he too spoke in the Harrison campaign (see the chronology for May 5). But there is no evidence that he was in Philadelphia before May 20; and it is less likely that he would be found sharing the same platform with Thomas Dunn English, a man almost forty years younger. Strong evidence that Poe attended this Whig rally is provided by Thomas’ September 3, 1841, letter to him, which reveals that he would “remember” that Thomas “got pelted,” and by Thomas’ November 10, 1841, letter to him, which alludes to an undesirable audience that Thomas once addressed within Poe's hearing.

MAY 21: The Public Ledger, p. 2, col. 2, reports that “Mr. E. S. Thomas, a veteran of the press, who formerly conducted a paper in Charleston, S. C., and one, more recently, in Cincinnati, (O.,) is now in this city . ... .” He is making arrangements to publish, by subscription, his two-volume Reminiscences of the Last Sixty-five Years. An advertisement carried by the Ledger, p. 3, col. 1, describes the contents of this work and notes that “The price to subscribers will be Five Dollars, payable on delivery.”

NOTE: It is not known whether Ebenezer Smith Thomas and his son Frederick were traveling together. They both attended the Whig convention in Baltimore; and within two weeks, they were both in Philadelphia, the son circulating the [page 132:] manuscript of Howard Pinckney among the city's literati, and the father advertising his forthcoming Reminiscences. E. S. Thomas encouraged the Philadelphia editors to print selections from his book, and he inserted a paid advertisement describing it in several newspapers. His advertisement also appeared in the Daily Chronicle, May 21, p. 3, col. 3, and in the National Gazette, May 23, p. 3, col. 5. The Daily Chronicle, May 22, p. l, col. 6, published a biographical sketch of him which had appeared in the Charleston Courier. His Reminiscences were not published until the latter part of August; the Chronicle, August 31, p. 2, col. 5, briefly noticed the work, adding that “Such of the editorial fraternity as wish to call upon Mr. Thomas, are informed that he can be found at Mrs. Colquohon's, in Chesnut street, adjoining Congress Hall.”

MAY 21: William E. Burton advertises his Gentleman's Magazine for sale in the Daily Chronicle and the United States Gazette. The Chronicle, p. 2, col. 3, informs its readers that “We have an advertisement in to-day's paper, which presents peculiar advantages to gentlemen of a literary disposition; and from our knowledge of the character of the work, we have no hesitancy in saying, that it is the best speculation in the publishing way, that has been offered to the public for many years.” The advertisement appears on the next page:


THE entire purchase of a monthly publication of great popularity and profit, may now be made for cash, on the most advantageous terms. The price asked is but little more in sum than the profits of the past twelve months. The present publisher, who is about embarking in another business, is prepared to prove that he offers an investment of great eligibility, affording, for a small capital, an income of from [page 133:] three to four thousand dollars a year, to any industrious gentleman of literary acquirements. Letters, stating real name, addressed box 306, Post Office, Philadelphia, will meet with instant attention. [p. 3, col. 2]

A similar editorial notice in the United States Gazette, p. 2, col. 2, calls attention to the same advertisement, p. 3, col. 2.

NOTE: In his June l, 1840, letter to William E. Burton, Poe stated that his correspondent had advertised the Gentleman's Magazine for sale sometime after he “enforced’ . ... a deduction of salary” three weeks previously. The two newspapers which carried this advertisement for a “LITERARY ENTERPRISE” were both sympathetic to Burton and his periodical. Charles W. Alexander of the Daily Chronicle had been the original publisher of the Gentleman's Magazine, and he would have been able to speak of his “knowledge of the character of the work.” The other business upon which Burton was “embarking” was his National Theatre, which had been under construction since the beginning of the month (see the chronology for May 30). The advertisement was repeated in the Chronicle, May 25, P. 1, col. 4; May 26, p. 4, col. 2; May 27, p. 4, col. 6; May 28, p. 4, col. 6; May 29, p. 4, col. 2; May 30, p. 4, col. 2; and June 1, p. 4, col. 2. It appeared again in the United States Gazette, May 22, p. 1, col. 4, and May 23, p. 1, col. 4. In its July, 1840, number the Knickerbocker Magazine reported that Burton's had been offered for sale (see the chronology).

POST MAY 21: Believing that William E. Burton intends to sell the Gentleman's Magazine and to devote his energies to his National Theatre, Poe takes the first steps to issue his Penn Magazine. [page 134:]

NOTE: Poe's June 1, 1840, letter to Burton strongly suggests that between. May 21, when the Gentleman's Magazine was first advertised for sale, and May 30, when its proprietor sent him an angry letter of dismissal, he began preparations for a periodical of his own. Probably Poe had his Prospectus of the Penn Magazine printed at this time, because he was circulating copies of this document among the city's newspaper editors prior to June 4, 1840. Burton would have found any preparation that Poe made for his own magazine sufficient cause for dismissing him. In his May 11, 1839, letter Burton had specifically stated that Poe was not to exercise his talents “in behalf of any publication interfering with the prospects of the G. M.”; the proprietor of the Gentleman's Magazine would have realized that the announcement of his assistant editor's plans for a new monthly journal would almost certainly reduce the market value of his own periodical. The Prospectus of the Penn Magazine is reprinted in the chronology for June 6, 1840.

MAY 23: The Saturday Courier notices the presence of Frederick William Thomas and Jesse E. Dow in Philadelphia. The Courier, p. 2, col. 7, reports that “F. W. THOMAS . ... has now in process of publication a new work, descriptive of American Manners, called Howard Pinckney. — Mr. Thomas is one of our best writers, and as a delineator of the passions of men, he has scarcely an equal. We welcome the voice from the West with pleasure. Lea &Blanchard are the publishers. Mr. Thomas is a gentleman of unquestioned genius. He is a resident of Cincinnati.” The Courier, p. 2, col. 6, adds: “J. E. Dow, of Washington, is one of the witnesses on the Court Martial of Com. Elliott. He was [page 135:] formerly Private Secretary to that officer. We may expect some good things for our magazines while Mr. D. is with us, and we have secured several for our columns from his fertile pen. His ‘Old Ironsides on a Lee Shore,’ had about as wide a run in the newspapers, as any thing that has been produced in this century.”

MAY 30: The Daily Chronicle, p. 2, col. 4, announces William E. Burton's plans for his own theatre:

Burton's New Theatre. — It has been rumored for some months that various of our most influential citizens, dissatisfied with the style of management peculiar to our Philadelphia Theatres, have resolved to place Mr. W. E. Burton at the head of a new establishment. These rumors have now assumed a definite shape; and we rejoice in the positive certainty of having a first-rate theatre of a larger size than any now in the city. Mr. Burton has taken on a long lease, the large lot of ground on Chesnut, near Ninth, where Cooke erected his Amphitheatre; the contracts are all made; the workmen have been busily employed these three weeks, and in three months, the new theatre will be in operation.

Mr. Haviland, the well-known architect, . ... has exhibited a drawing of the elevation and plan of the interior. ... . The new theatre will hold about two thousand dollars [persons?]; there will be three tiers of boxes, at three different prices, with a separate entrance to each tier. Eight large and beautiful stores front the new erection.

We have heard the names of some of the actors engaged, and anticipate a glorious collection of novelty and talent. ... . A season ticket at the new theatre, will be worth a trifle next year. Burton has no stockholders to curb him in his operations, and crowd his boxes on the best nights, and grumble at his best exertions. A new theatre, new scenery, new actors, new and pretty actresses, new pieces, new dresses, new properties, new music, (of the best description by the way, for the Orchestra numbers many powerful names.) Burton must succeed.

NOTE: This account was reprinted in Alexander's Week Messenger, June 3, p. 2, Col. 3. On June 11 the Chronicle, [page 136:] p. 2, col. 4, provided additional information in a progress report. On August 31 Burton's National Theatre held its opening night, which was favorably reviewed by the Chronicle, September l, p. 2, col. 5.

MAY 30: William E. Burton sends Poe an angry letter, in which he apparently dismisses him as assistant editor. He accuses Poe of being “selfish,” and he complains of his failure to support the Gentleman's Magazine. Burton “can no longer afford to pay $50 per month for 2 or 3 pp. of M.S.,” and he asserts that Poe owes him “a hundred dollars.” He rebukes his employee for attempting to start his own magazine while still connected with the Gentleman's Magazine.

NOTE: The contents and tone of this letter may be surmised from Poe's lengthy reply on June l. The supposition that Burton fired Poe on May 30 (or very shortly thereafter) is supported by the fact that the June wrappers of the Gentleman's Magazine carried a curt notice of his departure.

June, 1840

JUNE: The outside front wrapper of the Gentleman's Magazine lists only William E. Burton as editor. The following notice appears on the inside front wrapper: “Our readers are respectfully informed that in future Edgar A. Poe will not be connected with this Magazine.”

NOTE: One unbound copy of the June number with wrappers intact may be found at the New York Historical Society; another, in the Gimbel Collection, Philadelphia Free Library. The June Burton's seems to have been issued [page 137:] during the second week of the month, as it was favorably noticed by the United States Gazette, June 11, p. 2, col. 2, and by the Daily Chronicle, June 12, p. 2, col. 3.

JUNE: Henry B. First publishes “Stanzas” in The Casket (Vol. 16, p. 260).

NOTE: This short poem may have been First's first contribution to The Casket; he was hereafter a frequent contributor. In reviewing this issue of The Casket for The Spirit of the Times, May 29, p. 2, col. 2, John S. Du Solle commented: “The Stanzas, by Henry B. First, are much better than we had any idea he could compose. They are not excellent, and yet they give proof of future excellence. Care and practice, will one day render our young friend eminent.” Du Solle's critique, with its patronizing recommendation of “Care and practice” for “our young friend,” is typical of the reactions of the Philadelphia editors to First's poetry and his eccentric personality. First's contemporaries found his literary pretensions and his vanity to be a source of amusement.

JUNE 1: Poe replies to William E. Burton's “very singular letter of Saturday,” May 30. He states that “attempts to bully” excite “scarcely any other sentiment than mirth,” and he asks Burton to preserve “the dignity of a gentleman.” Poe deeply resents the fact that three dollars have been retained from his salary each week for “the last 3 weeks.” He does not owe Burton one hundred dollars; he is indebted only “in the amount of about $60”; he will refuse to pay a larger sum. Burton's assertion that Poe contributes only “2 or 3 pp. of M.S.” to each issue of the Gentleman's Magazine is also false: he lists the number of pages he has provided each month since [page 138:] July, 1839, and he claims “an average of 11 pp per month-not 2 or 3.” Fifty dollars monthly is not an excessively large salary, because he has other duties: “proofreading; general superintendence at the printing-office; reading, alteration, &preparation of M.S.S.” Burton is to blame if Poe “did not do 4 times as much” for the Gentleman's Magazine: “At first I wrote long articles which you deemed inadmissable, &never did I suggest any to . ... which you had not some immediate and decided objection. Of course I grew discouraged &could feel no interest in the Journal.” Poe states that his attempt to start his own magazine was prompted by Burton's own actions during the past month: “You first ‘enforced’, as you say, a deduction of salary: giving me to understand thereby that you thought of parting company — You next spoke disrespectfully of me behind my back — this as an habitual thing — to those whom you supposed your friends, and who punctually retailed me, as a matter of course, every ill-natured word which you uttered. Lastly you advertised your magazine for sale without saying a word to me about it. ... . Had I not firmly believed it your design to give up your Journal, with a view of attending to the Theatre, I should [never] have dreamed of attempting one of my own. The opportunity of doing something for myself seemed a good one — (I was about to be thrown out of business) — and I embraced it.”

NOTE: Letters, I, 129-33.

JUNE 2: The United States Gazette, p. 2, col. 1, announces that “HOWARD PINCKNEY, a novel by the author of Clinton Bradshaw, is in the press of Lea &Blanchard and will be published in October next. The pleasure derived [from a perusal of Clinton Bradshaw will give an appetite for its successor.” Frederick William Thomas’ new novel [page 139:] is also reported “in the press” by the Philadelphia Gazette, June 4, p. 2, col. 3, and by The Pennsylvanian, June 6, p. 2, col. 3.

JUNE 2: The United States Gazette, p. 2, col. 1, reports that the defense in the trial of Commodore Elliott “will probably be commenced this morning.”

JUNE 3: Poe's friend Dow testifies in Commodore Elliott's defense: “Jesse E. Dow, sworn. — I am not now attached to the Naval service; I belong to the Post-office Department; I was attached to the frigate Constitution, as Secretary to the Commander [Commodore Elliott]. We went out in August, 1835, and I returned in April, 1836.”

NOTE: Dow's testimony was reported by the Public Ledger, June 4, p. 2, cols. 45. He was recalled to the stand on June 15.

JUNE 3: Poe writes John Neal, enclosing a Prospectus of the Penn Magazine:

As you gave me the first jog in my literary career, you are in a measure bound to protect me &keep me rolling. I therefore now ask you to aid me with your influence, in whatever manner your experience shall suggest.

It strikes me that I never write you except to ask a favor, but my friend Thomas will assure you that I bear you always in mind — holding you in the highest respect and esteem.

NOTE: Letters, I, 137. Neal was a New England author who had been one of the first Americans to recognize Poe's merits. In the September, 1829, number of The Yankee, a Boston journal, he prophesied that Poe “might make a beautiful and perhaps magnificent poem.” Both Neal and Frederick William Thomas had lived in Baltimore during the [page 140:] 1820's; the two men may have been acquainted. In his “Fourth Supplement,” 519, Ostrom corrected the date of Poe's letter from June 4 to June 3, and provided additional information: “Although the letter is not written on a June Prospectus of the Penn . ... Poe seems to be referring to features of his proposed magazine, and Neal's reply, June 8, 1840, actually quotes phrases sent him by Poe, obviously in some form different from the letter itself.” Poe almost certainly sent a printed copy of the Penn Prospectus with his letter; he was circulating the Prospectus in Philadelphia before June 4.

ANTE JUNE 4: Poe begins to send copies of the Prospectus of the Penn Magazine to the Philadelphia newspapers.

NOTE: Virtually all the Philadelphia editors published favorable notices of the forthcoming Penn Magazine, usually quoting a paragraph or two from Poe's Prospectus, which was circulating among the city's press rooms. The complete Prospectus was inserted as an advertisement in the Saturday Evening Post on June 6 and in The Spirit of the Times on June 12. Additional information on the reception of Poe's proposed journal may be found in the chronology between June 4 and 13, 1840.

JUNE 4: The Pennsylvania Inquirer, p. 2, col. l, reports that “Edgar A. Poe, Esq. has just issued proposals for a monthly literary journal, to be called the ‘Penn Magazine’ . ... .” The Inquirer quotes two paragraphs from the Penn Prospectus.

NOTE: The Inquirer was published each morning; it is therefore certain that the paper received Poe's Prospectus on June 3 or before. [page 141:]

JUNE 4: The Philadelphia Gazette, p. 2, col. 2, notices the Penn Magazine:

Mr. EDGAR A. POE will issue in this city on the first of January next, and continue thereafter in monthly numbers, “The Penn Magazine.” Mr. POE is a clear and vigorous writer; a discriminative and fearless critic, — and we shall be pleased to find him reigning in his own sphere, where his classic power and genuine good taste, untrammeled by base or palsying associations, shall have full scope and play. We do not doubt that the Penn Magazine will add to the reputation of its conductor, and do honor to its name.

NOTE: The editor of the Philadelphia Gazette was Willis Gaylord Clark, who was a bitter enemy of William E. Burton, here alluded to as a “base or palsying” association. For additional information, see the chronology for June and July 18, 1840.

JUNE 5: The Daily Chronicle, p. 2, col. 3, copies the notice of the Penn Magazine which had appeared in the Philadelphia Gazette. The Chronicle is “pleased to learn that Mr. Poe will again enter the field of literature, and give display to his sportive fancy and chaste imaginings.

. ... We had understood that the Gentleman's Magazine was about to lose the benefit of his services.” The Chronicle objects, however, to the Gazette's allusion to Poe's “base or palsying associations “:

The editor of the Gazette, in his article above, seems to infer that Mr. Poe, during a short residence in this city, has kept bad company — and been connected with men of no talent or taste. So far as our knowledge extends, it has been quite the contrary. Mr. Poe has, while among us, trod the classic fields with those who are eminent for their talent, good taste, and discernment; and a liberal facility, for a full display of his powers, has been extended to him, and due courtesy always tendered by those with whom he has been connected in business.

NOTE: Charles W. Alexander's Daily Chronicle was at this time sympathetic to William E. Burton; in the following year, the irascible comedian sued the paper for libel (see the chronology for February 19, 1841).

JUNE 6: The Saturday Evening Post, p. 2, cols. 3-4, comments on Poe's forthcoming Penn Magazine:

A New Magazine.

By reference to our advertising columns, it will be seen that a new magazine of a large class will be published in this city after the first of January next. The gentleman who issues the prospectus, and proposes to be publisher and editor, is so well known in the literary world, that commendation would be useless. He was for a long time connected with the Southern Literary Messenger,.and won for himself an enviable distinction, as an able, vigorous, impartial, and a somewhat over caustic critic. His pen has been visible for some months past in the review department of the Gentleman's Magazine, of this city, from which he has retired. We wish him success in his new undertaking, and congratulate him; upon the unique title of his magazine. As we circulate widely among the Friends, we wish him no worse luck, than that he may make friends indeed, of many; as he will find none, should he live to have a thousand years’ experience in publishing, who are more prompt, upright, and honest, in the performance of every obligation, and particularly of the one which we consider most imperious — that of paying the Printer.

The Prospectus appears on the third page of the Post, col. 7:

PROSPECTUS OF THE PENN MAGAZINE, A MONTHLY LITERARY JOURNAL, TO BE EDITED AND PUBLISHED IN THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, BY EDGAR A. POE. — To the Public. — Since resigning the conduct of The Southern Literary Messenger, at the commencement of its third year, I have constantly held in view the establishment of a Magazine which should retain some of the chief features of that Journal, abandoning the rest. Delay, however, has been occasioned by a variety of causes, and not [page 143:] until now have I felt fully prepared to execute the intention.

I will be pardoned for speaking more directly of The Messenger. Having in it no proprietary right, my objects too, in many respects, being at variance with those of its very worthy owner, I found difficulty in stamping upon its pages that individuality which I believe essential to the perfect success of all similar publications. In regard to their permanent interest and influence, it has appeared to me that a continuous and definite character, with a marked certainty of purpose, was of the most vital importance; and these desiderata, it is obvious, can never be surely attained where more than one mind has the general direction of the undertaking. This consideration has been an inducement to found a Magazine of my own, as the only chance of carrying out to full completion whatever peculiar designs I may have entertained.

To those who remember the early years of the Messenger, it will be scarcely necessary to say that its main feature was [a] somewhat overdone causticity in its department of Critical Notices. The Penn Magazine will retain this trait of severity in so much only as the calmest and sternest sense of literary justice will permit. One or two years, since elapsed, may have mellowed down the petulance, without interfering with the rigor of the critic. Most surely they have not yet taught him to read through the medium of a publisher's interest, nor convinced him of the impolicy of speaking the truth. It shall be the first and chief purpose of the Magazine now proposed, to become known as one where may be found, at all times, and upon all subjects, an honest and a fearless opinion. This is a purpose of which no man need be ashamed. It is one, moreover, whose novelty at least will give it interest. For assurance that I will fulfil it in its best spirit and to the very letter, I appeal with confidence to the many thousands of my friends, and especially of my Southern friends, who sustained me in The Messenger, where I had but a partial opportunity of completing my own plans.

In respect to the other general features of the Penn Magazine, a few words here will suffice. Upon matters of very grave moment, it will leave the task of instruction in better hands. Its aim, chiefly, shall be to please; and this through means of versatility, originality and pungency. It must not be supposed, however, that the intention is never to be serious. There is a species of grave writing, of which the spirit is novelty and vigor, and the immediate object [page 144:] the enkindling of the imagination. In such productions, belonging to the loftiest regions of literature, the journal shall abound. It may be as well here to observe, that nothing said in this Prospectus should be construed into a design of sullying the Magazine with any tincture of the buffoonery, scurrility, or profanity, which are the blemish of some of the most vigorous of the European prints. In all branches of the literary department, the best aid, from the highest and purest source, is secured.

To the mechanical execution of the work the greatest attention will be given which such a matter can require. In this respect, it is proposed to surpass, by very much, the ordinary Magazine style. The form will nearly resemble that of The Knickerbocker. The paper will be equal to that of The North American Review. The pictorial embellishments will be numerous, and by the leading artists of the country, but will be only introduced in the necessary illustration of the text.

The Penn Magazine will be published in Philadelphia, on the first of each month, and will form, half yearly, a volume of about 500 pages. The price will be $5 per annum, payable in advance, or upon the receipt of the first number, which will be issued on the first of January, 1841. Letters addressed to the Editor and Proprietor,


NOTE: The Prospectus was not repeated in subsequent issues of the Post. Its appearance in the June 6 issue provides the earliest evidence of a possible acquaintance between Poe and George R. Graham, the weekly's principal proprietor. Graham may well have written the Post's laudatory editorial notice of Poe and his proposed magazine.

JUNE 8: John Neal replies to Poe's June 3 letter:

Portland, [Maine] June 8, ‘40

My dear Sir,

Yours of June 4 [3], directed to New York, reached me but yesterday. I am glad to hear of your [page 145:] new enterprise [the Penn Magazine ] and hope it may be all that you desire; but I cannot help you. I have done with the newspapers — have abandoned the journals — and have involved so many of my friends of late by becoming editor, or associate editor of so many different things for a few months at a time — and always against my will — that I haven’t the face to ask any person to subscribe for anything on earth.

But, as I have said before, I wish you success, &to prove it — allow me to caution you against a style which I observe to my great alarm is beginning to prevail at the South. You say “I will be pardoned” for I shall be pardoned. “For assurance that I will fulfil”&c., for shall &c. Are you Irish — or have you associated much with the Irish — the well-educated Irish I mean? They always make this mistake, &the Scotch too sometimes; and you, I am persuaded, are either connected by blood or habits with the Irish of the South. Forgive me this liberty I pray you &take it for granted that I should not complain of these two little errors, if I could find anything else to complain of.

Yours truly,

[Signature cut out]

NOTE: This letter was printed in “Poe and John Neal,” New York Times Book Review, June 17, 1917, p. 233, and in John Neal to Edgar A. Poe (Ysleta, [Tex.]: Edwin B. Hill, 1942). In his second paragraph Neal is quoting phrases found in the Prospectus of the Penn Magazine. Poe's grandfather, General David Poe, had been born in Ireland. Many Irish emigrated to the United States during the 1840's; most were poorly educated.

JUNE 8: The North American, p. 2, col. 1, praises Poe's project: “In the Prospectus of the Penn Magazine, now before us, . ... Edgar A. Poe, Esq. proposes to commence a work, which . ... shall endeavor to unite instruction with amusement. ... . Mr. Poe is himself a gentleman of richly imaginative powers . ...[page 146:]

JUNE 9: The Public Ledger, p. 2, col. 3, notices the Penn Magazine: “This publication will be commenced on the 1st of January next. The gentleman whose name is announced as editor and proprietor, was formerly connected with the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond, Va., where he won laurels by his able and independent criticisms. As a writer of fiction, Mr. Poe possesses extraordinary powers, and with respect to originality of genius, he has few equals.” The Ledger quotes from the Prospectus, praising Poe for his promise to be a rigorous but just critic.

JUNE 11: Joseph R. Chandler's United States Gazette, p. 2, col. 1, notices the Penn Magazine: “There has been handed round a prospectus for a monthly magazine . ... to be published in this city by Edgar A. Poe, Esq., whose contributions to the literature of our country have been abundant and creditable.” The Gazette describes Poe as “a sound, and sometimes a severe critic — one who makes the short-coming or over-reaching author feel that he has offended. Wholesome remembrances of this kind are good for the literary prospects of a country . ... .” This reviewer finds other reasons “for wishing full success” to Poe's project: “his general fitness as an editor, his ability as a writer, and his personal worth.”

JUNE 12: John S. Du Solle's Spirit of the Times, p. 3, col. 3, carries Poe's Prospectus of the Penn Magazine as an advertisement.

NOTE: A copy of the June 12 issue may be found at the Montgomery County Historical Society in Norristown, Pennsylvania; the Prospectus published in this daily is identical to that in the June 6 issue of the Saturday Evening Post. The printer's symbol “je9 — 3t” appears at [page 147:] the bottom of The Spirit's advertisement; this would indicate that the Prospectus was published in the June 9 issue and that it was reprinted in two subsequent issues. Its appearance in The Spirit provides the earliest evidence of an association between Poe and Du Solle.

JUNE 12: Joseph Evans Snodgrass writes Poe, requesting his assistance in securing the return of a manuscript submitted in the Gentleman's Magazine premium contest. Snodgrass has been in communication with William E. Burton, who has written him that the manuscript is “not in his possession.”

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Poe's June 17 reply.

JUNE 13: The Saturday Courier, p. 2, col. 8, comments on the Penn Magazine: “Mr. Poe has been very favorably known as the able editor of the Southern Literary Messenger, and within the last year as an associate editor of Burton's Magazine. Of his abilities for the work he proposes, it is wholly unnecessary to speak . ... .” The Courier quotes two paragraphs from Poe's Prospectus to illustrate “what he declares shall be the basis of the new magazine.”

JUNE 15: Testimony is concluded in the trial of Commodore Elliott. Jesse E. Dow, “recalled by the accused,” testifies that Thomas Wells, another defense witness, is of good character: “I became acquainted with Mr. Wells in 1831, at Boston, and have known him ever since; . ... his character for truth and veracity . ... is good . ... . I left the Constitution at Lisbon, on the 4th of April, 1836, and did not return to the Mediterranean during the cruise of the Constitution. I know nothing of Mr. Wells’ character [page 148:] after I left the ship . .

NOTE: Public Ledger, June 16, p. 1, cols. 4-5. Additional information on Dow's early career and his association with Commodore Elliott may be found in the chronology for September 28, 1841.

JUNE 15: A large Whig rally takes place in Independence Square. Among the officers who are “unanimously appointed” at this meeting is Robert S. English, a Vice-President from the First District.

NOTE: The United States Gazette, June 16, p. 2, cols. 1-2, reported this event at length in an article entitled “Great Gathering of the Friends of Harrison and Tyler! UNPRECEDENTED MEETING!” Robert S. English was the father of Thomas Dunn English.

JUNE 17: Poe replies to Joseph Evans Snodgrass’ letter of June 12: “Touching your Essay. Burton not only lies, but deliberately and wilfully lies; for the last time but one that I saw him I called his attention to the M.S. which was then at the top of a pile of other M.S.S. sent for premiums, in a drawer of the office desk. ... . Were I in your place I would take some summary method of dealing with the scoundrel, whose infamous line of conduct in regard to this whole premium scheme merits, and shall receive exposure. I am firmly convinced that it was never his intention to pay one dollar of the money offered; and indeed his plain intimations to that effect, made to me personally and directly, were the immediate reasons of my cutting the connexion as abruptly as I did.” He asks Snodgrass to send him “Burton's letter to yourself . ... as an especial favor.” The Penn Magazine Prospectus accompanies Poe's letter: “I have every hope of success. As yet I have done nothing more [page 149:] than send a few Prospectuses to the Philadelphia editors, and it is rather early to strike — six months in anticipation. My object, at present, is merely to call attention to the contemplated design. In the meantime be assured that I am not idle . ... .” Poe would be obliged if Snodgrass would show the Prospectus to John L. Carey of the Baltimore American, “or any other editorial friend.” He does not know the “fate” of his Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, because he has “never spoken to the publishers concerning them since the day of their issue.” He has “cause to think, however, that the edition was exhausted almost immediately.”

NOTE: Letters, I, 137-39. Poe's comments describing the reason for his departure from the Gentleman's Magazine and the sale of his Tales are misleading; see the chronology for May 30 and June 1, 1840, and August 16, 1841.

JUNE 20: George M. Dallas concludes the defense of Commodore Elliott with a three-hour speech. The Court Martial commences deliberations; the final verdict is to be announced by the Secretary of the Navy.

NOTE: The Pennsylvanian, June 22, p. 1, cols. 1-7, p. 2, cols. 1-7, p. 3, col. l, reprinted Dallas’ address in its entirety.

JUNE 26: Charles West Thomson, a Philadelphia poet, writes Poe.

NOTE: This letter has not been found, and Poe's June 28 reply provides few clues to its contents. McElroy's Philadelphia Directory for 1840 lists Thomson as a clerk in the United States Bank, whose home was located at 70 North Tenth Street. [page 150:]

JUNE 28: Poe replies to Charles West Thomson, writing on stationery which bears the Prospectus of the Penn Magazine. On Saturday evening, June 27, he called twice at Thomson's residence in relation to his “note of the 26th but did not find him at home. Poe discusses his plans for the Penn Magazine:

You may have heard that I have declined a farther connexion with the Gentleman's Magazine, and propose to establish one of my own. By the Prospectus you will see that the first number will not be issued until the first of January; th[is] delay being rendered necessary by my want of capital. It is, therefore, at present, altogether out of my power to suggest any employment of the nature you designate.

Desperate as my chances of success may appear, where so many have failed with every advantage of money, and monied interest — still I feel a perfect certainty of accomplishing the task I have deliberately undertaken. I am proposing to myself, however, to form a connexion, as soon as possible, with some gentleman of literary attainments, who could at the same time advance as much ready money as will be requisite for the first steps of the undertaking — to defray, for instance, the expences of visiting the chief northern cities, of printing and distributing circulars, of advertising &c &c — items which, altogether, would demand scarcely $500. Upon receipt of your note the idea suggested itself that you might feel willing to join me in the enterprise, and, if so, there is nothing [that] would give me greater pleasure. Will you let me hear from you upon this topic — if possible this afternoon?

NOTE: Letters, I, 139-40. With characteristic optimism, Poe had ventured on his magazine project with no certainty of adequate financial backing. There is no evidence that Thomson provided funds for this enterprise. [page 151:]

July, 1840

JULY: The Knickerbocker Magazine (Vol. 16, p. 88) discusses literary matters in Philadelphia:

The “GENTLEMAN's MAGAZINE,” issued monthly at Philadelphia, as we gather from the “Brother Jonathan,” is offered for sale; “the proprietor being about to engage in a more profitable business.” Mr. E. A. POE, a spirited writer, and hitherto the principal editor of the miscellany in question, announces his retirement from its supervision. He has issued proposals for a new monthly magazine, [the Penn Magazine, ] “to be executed in the neatest style, after the manner of the KNICKERBOCKER,” to which he promises to bring great additions to the literary aid he has hitherto diverted into a different channel.

JULY 3: The Daily Chronicle, p. l, col. 3, publishes Henry B. First's poem “Return, Oh! Return.”

NOTE: This sentimental poem was apparently First's first publication in the Chronicle.

JULY 4: Thomas Dunn English addresses a Whig rally in Colestown, New Jersey.

NOTE: United States Gazette, July 7, p. 2, col. 2.

JULY 5: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow writes his friend Willis Gaylord Clark, editor of the Philadelphia Gazette: “Pray who is it that is attacking me so furiously in Philadelphia? I have never seen the attacks, but occasionally I receive a newspaper with a defense of [my] writings, from which I learn there has been an attack.”

NOTE: Andrew Hilen's edition of The Letters of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, II (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1966), 236-38. Longfellow is probably [page 152:] alluding to Poe's reviews of Hyperion and Voices of the Night. Clark's reply is entered in the chronology for July 18.

JULY 8: The United States Gazette, p. 2, cot. 2, and The Pennsylvanian, p. 2, col. 2, report that the naval Court Martial has sentenced Commodore Elliott to a four-year suspension from duty, two of which are to be without pay.

NOTE: The verdict was noticed by many newspapers. The Daily Chronicle, July 17, p. 2, col. 2, reported that “The sentence of the Court Martial upon Commodore Elliott has been approved by the President [Martin Van Buren] with the exception of that part which relates to suspension of pay.

JULY 10: In noticing the July number of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine for The Spirit of the Times, p. 2, col. 2, John S. Du Solle comments on the changes in the monthly since Poe's departure from its staff: “The Review Department is rather of a more good natured, and less spicy character than usual. We have but one serious fault to find with this magazine; it is generally full of typographical errors.”

ANTE JULY 16: Jesse E. Dow returns to Washington.

NOTE: The Casket, 17 (August, 1840), 50-52, published Dow's poem “The Corsican,” dated “Washington, July 16th, 1840.”

JULY 18: Willis Gaylord Clark replies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's July 5 letter: “You ask me who attacks you here? The only ones I have seen against you, have been in Burton's Magazine [sic ] — a vagrant from England, who has left a wife and offspring behind him there, and [page 153:] plays the bigamist in ‘this,’ with another wife, and his whore besides; one who cannot write a paragraph in English to save his life. I have answered thoroughly, any attack upon you — and shall continue to do so, whenever they appear.”

NOTE: The Letters of Willis Gaylord Clark and Lewis Gaylord Clark, ed. Leslie W. Dunlap (New York: New York Public Library, 1940), pp. 57-59. Clark seems to have believed that William E. Burton wrote the reviews of Hyperion and Voices of the Night.

JULY 28: William Poe, of Augusta, Georgia, writes Poe, inquiring about his plans to issue the Penn Magazine.

NOTE: William Poe and his two brothers Robert and Washington were the first cousins of Poe's father David Poe, Jr., and his aunt Maria Clemm. The contents of William's letter are surmised from Poe's August 14 reply.

August, 1840

AUGUST 14: Poe replies to William Poe: “Owing to a temporary absence from town I did not receive your welcome letter of the 28th July until this morning.” He states that he has not written lately because he has been “overwhelmed by worldly cares.” The Prospectus of the Penn Magazine accompanies this letter, and Poe discusses his plans: “The ambition which actuates me [is] now to be no ordinary nor unworthy sentiment, and, knowing this, I take pride in earnestly soliciting your support, and that of your brothers and friends. If I fully succeed in my purposes I will not fail to produce some lasting effect [page 154:] upon the growing literature of the country, while I establish for myself individually a name which-that country ‘will not willingly let die.’” Poe will rely chiefly “upon the South . ... for aid in the undertaking,” and he has “every hope” that this region will not fail him in his need. He admits that he must overcome many difficulties: “I acknowledge to you that my prospects depend very much upon getting together a subscription list previously to the 1rst of December. If, by this day, I can obtain 500 names, the w[or]k cannot fail to proceed, and I have no fear for the [resu]lt.” He asks William Poe to act as agent for the Penn Magazine in Augusta, and he states that he is writing “a few lines also by this mail” to William's brothers, Robert and Washington. He adds that Mrs. Clemm is still living with him, “but for the last six weeks has been on a visit to a friend in the State of N. Jersey.”

NOTE: Letters, I, 140-43. There is no evidence that Poe was absent from Philadelphia. Although he speaks of “visiting the chief northern cities” in his June 28 letter to Charles West Thomson, it is probable that he often pleaded absence to his correspondents to excuse his failure to reply promptly.

AUGUST 14 [?]: Poe writes Robert Poe of Augusta, Georgia, requesting his support for the Penn Magazine.

NOTE: This letter is mentioned in Poe's letter to William Poe.

AUGUST 15: Poe writes Washington Poe of Macon, Georgia, using stationery bearing the Prospectus of the Penn Magazine: “May I ask you to assist me in the present instance? Your brothers in Augusta have kindly offered me every aid in their power . ... . Upon looking over my Prospectus I trust you will find my purposes, as expressed in it, of a [page 155:] character worthy your support. I am actuated by an ambition which I believe to be an honourable one — the ambition of serving the great cause of truth, while endeavouring to forward the literature of the country.” He discusses the difficulties facing the project: “My chances of establishing the Magazine depend upon my getting a certain number of subscribers previously to the first of December. This is rendered necessary by my having no other capital to begin with than whatever reputation I may have acquired as a literary man. Had I money, I might issue the first numbers without this list; but as it is, at least 500 names will be required to enable me to commence. ... . I think it very probable that your influence in Macon will procure for me several subscribers . ...

NOTE: Letters, I, 143-44. Poe's hopes of obtaining aid from his Georgia cousins were not fulfilled; on January 6, 1841, he wrote Nicholas Biddle that his “cousins in Augusta . ... could not even obtain . ... a few subscribers in that place.”

AUGUST 18: Poe writes Lucian Minor in Charlottesville, Virginia, enclosing a Prospectus of the Penn Magazine. He mentions “the many instances of good will” Minor evinced toward him during his editorship of the Southern Literary Messenger, and he requests his assistance for the Penn: “The permanent success of the Magazine depends, chiefly, upon the number of subscribers I may obtain before the first of December. If, through any influence you will be kind enough to exert in my behalf, at Charlottesville, or elsewhere, you can procure me even one or two names, you will render me a service of the greatest importance, and one for which I shall be very grateful.”

NOTE: Letters, I, 144-45. Lucian Minor, a Virginia lawyer, was a frequent contributor to the Southern Literary [page 156:] Messenger and a close friend of its proprietor, Thomas Willis White.

AUGUST 20: Poe writes Joseph B. Boyd, a Cincinnati watch maker, asking his help in obtaining subscribers for the Penn Magazine: “I believe that the purposes set forth in this Prospectus are such as your candor will approve; . ... the disadvantages under which I labor are, in some respects, exceedingly great — and, for these reasons, I have no hesitation in earnestly soliciting your assistance, even at the risk of being considered importunate.”

NOTE: Letters, I, 145-46. On November 15, 1839, Boyd had written Poe to request a manuscript copy of one of his poems. Poe's August 20, 1840, letter to him, now held by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, is written on stationery bearing a revised Prospectus of the Penn Magazine. The text of this Prospectus is reproduced from Poe's letter by Quinn, pp. 306-08. Still another version of the Prospectus appears in the chronology for September 11, 1840 .

ANTE AUGUST 27: Poe sends the Prospectus of the Penn Magazine to Thomas Holley Chivers in New York City; he asks Chivers’ support for this project.

NOTE: The contents of Poe's letter are surmised from Chivers’ August 27 reply. This Georgia poet and physician had been an early supporter of the Southern Literary Messenger; he is listed as a paid subscriber on the outside back wrapper of the May, 1835, number (unbound copy, University of Pennsylvania Library).

AUGUST 27: Thomas Holley Chivers replies to Poe: “In answer to your solicitation for my support for the [page 157:] forthcoming Journal, I must say, that I am much pleased with your ‘Prospectus’ — the plan which you have in view — and hope, sincerely, that you may realize all your antisipations. As it regards myself, I will support you as long as you may continue the Editor of the above-named work. In the Paradise of Literature, I do not know one better calculated than yourself, to prune the young scions of their exuberent thoughts.” Chivers does not specify what form his support will take, but gives Poe a lengthy specimen of his own it exuberent thoughts”:

I consider the publication of such a work as you have suggested, infinitely above any other undertaking. There can be no equivalent given to a man for the payment of divine thought. It is as far above every other consideration, as the soul is more immortal. He who has never wandered amid the labyrinthine vistas of the flower-gemed solitudes of thought, knows nothing of the capabilities of the soul, in its aspirations after the Beautiful in Natural Truth, which it, thereby, perceives will be fully manifested to it, in all its glory, in the enjoyment of the Hereafter. He knows nothing of that delightful Eden which remains immortal in the soul, whose flowers are the amaranths of celestial thought. The fruit of the ignorant seems sweet to the eye, but “turns to ashes on the lips.” The garden of literature to the wise, is a “Paradise Regained,” wherein his thoughts, like the swan of Socrates, can soar up to the celestial regions, and become the soul's heralds of the divine To-come. ... .

NOTE: This is the first letter extant in the Poe-Chivers correspondence; it is printed in The Complete Works of Thomas Holley Chivers, Volume I: The Correspondence, ed. Emma Lester Chase and Lois Ferry Parks (Providence, R. I.: Brown University Press, 1957) pp. 7-11. [page 158:]

September, 1840

SEPTEMBER: William E. Burton apparently alludes to Poe on the wrappers of the Gentleman's Magazine: “Our friend [subscriber] at Portland may rest assured that we were ignorant of the non-transmission of his numbers. His name was erased from our list by the person whose ‘infirmities’ have caused us much annoyance. The back numbers will be forwarded forthwith.”

NOTE: This notice is found on the inside front wrapper of an unbound copy in the Gimbel Collection of the Philadelphia Free Library. Poe's November 23, 1840, letter to Frederick William Thomas and his January 17, 1841, letter to Joseph Evans Snodgrass establish that he remained at loggerheads with his former employer. His April 1, 1841, letter to Snodgrass provides reasonably conclusive evidence that Burton openly accused him of excessive drinking while on the staff of the Gentleman's Magazine.

SEPTEMBER 11: The editors of the Daily Chronicle, p. 2, col. 5, discuss a forthcoming periodical:

PENN MAGAZINE. — Mr. Edgar A. Poe, a gentleman well known in the literary world, will commence the publication of a new monthly periodical on the first of January next. His ability as a writer will make the work interesting to readers and without doubt, cause it to have a large circulation. We wish him success, for he deserves it. An advertisement appears on the third page of the Chronicle, col. 2:

PROSPECTUS OF THE PENN MAGAZINE, a Monthly Literary Journal, to be Edited and Published in the city of Philadelphia, by Edgar A. Poe.

To the Public. — Since resigning the conduct of The Southern Literary Messenger, at the commencement of its [page 159:] third year, I have had always in view the establishment of a Magazine which should retain some of the chief features of that Journal, abandoning, or greatly modifying the rest. Delay, however, has been occasioned by a variety of causes, and not until now have I found myself at liberty to attempt the execution of the design.

I will be pardoned for speaking more directly of The Messenger. Having in it no proprietary right, my objects too being at variance in many respects with those of its very worthy owner, I found difficulty in stamping upon its pages that individuality which I believe essential to the full success of all similar publications. In regard to their permanent influence, it appears to me that a continuous, definite character, and a marked certainty of purpose, are desiderata of vital importance, and only attainable where one mind alone has the general direction of the undertaking. Experience has rendered obvious, what might indeed have been demonstrated a priori; that in founding a Magazine of my own lies my sole chance of carrying out to completion whatever peculiar intentions I may have entertained.

To those who remember the early days of the Southern periodical in question, it will be scarcely necessary to say that it was remarkable for a somewhat overdone causticity in its department of Critical Notices of new books. The Penn Magazine will retain this trait or [of] severity in so much only as the calmest yet sternest sense of justice will permit. Some years since elapsed may have mellowed down the petulance without interfering with the rigor of the critic. Most surely they have not yet taught him to read through the medium of a publisher's will, nor convinced him that the interests of letters are unallied with the interests of truth. It shall be the firm and chief purpose of the Magazine now proposed to become known as one where may be found at all times, and upon all subjects, an honest and a fearless opinion. It shall be a leading object to assert in precept, and to maintain in practice the rights, while in effect it demonstrates the advantages, of an absolutely independent criticism — a criticism self-sustained; guiding itself only by the purest rules of Art; analyzing and urging these rules as it applies them; holding itself aloof from all personal bias; acknowledging no fear save that of outraging the right; yielding no point either to the vanity of the author, or to the assumptions of antique prejudice, or to the involute and anonymous cant of the Quarterlies, or to [page 160:] the arrogance of those organised cliques, which, hanging like nightmares upon American literature, manufacture, at the nod of our principal booksellers, a pseudo-public-opinion by wholesale. These are objects of which no man need be ashamed. They are purposes, moreover, whose novelty at least will give them interest. For assurance that I will fulfil them in the best spirit and to the very letter, I appeal with confidence to the many thousands of my friends, and especially of my Southern friends, who sustained me in the Messenger, where I had but a very partial opportunity of completing my own plans.

In respect to the other features of the Penn Magazine, a few words here will suffice. It will endeavor to support the general interests of the republic of letters, without reference to particular regions; regarding the world at large as the true audience of the author. Beyond the precincts of literature, properly so called, it will leave in better hands the task of instruction upon all matters of very grave moment. Its aim chiefly shall be to please; and this through means of versatility, originality, and pungency. It may be as well here to observe that nothing said in this Prospectus should be construed into a design of sullying the Magazine with any tincture of the buffoonery, scurrility, or profanity, which are the blemish of some of the most vigorous of the European prints. In all branches of the literary department, the best aid, from the highest and purest sources, is secured.

To the mechanical execution of-the work the greatest attention will be given which such a matter can require. In this respect it is proposed to surpass, by very much, the ordinary Magazine style. The form will nearly resemble that of The Knickerbocker; the paper will be equal to that of The North American Review; the pictorial embellishments will be numerous, and by the leading artists of the country; but will be introduced only in the necessary illustrations of the text.

The Penn Magazine will be published in Philadelphia, on the first of each month, and will form, half yearly, a volume of about 500 pages. The price will be $5 per annum, payable in advance, or upon the receipt of the first number, which will be issued on the 1st of January. Letters addressed to the Editor and Proprietor,


Those friends of the Editor who feel willing to [page 161:] give him their support in this enterprise, will aid his cause most essentially by sending in their names before the 1st of December, 1840.

NOTE: This version of the Prospectus contains several sentences which are not in the original version published in the Saturday Evening Post on June 6, 1840. With the exception of minor variations in wording and punctuation, the text found in the Daily Chronicle is identical to the revised Prospectus which accompanied Poe's August 20, 1840, letter to Joseph B. Boyd; the only addition is the terminal sentence requesting the names of subscribers “before the 1st of December, 1840.” The Prospectus was carried in thirty-six subsequent issues of the Daily Chronicle; its last appearance occurred in the November 30, 1840, issue. It was reprinted eight times in September, five times in October, and twenty-three times in November. The repeated publication of the Prospectus of the Penn Magazine in the Daily Chronicle provides additional evidence of Poe's friendship with the paper's proprietors, Charles W. Alexander and Andrew Scott, and it suggests that he may have obtained some financial backing for his project.

SEPTEMBER 14: The Daily Chronicle, p. 2, col. 2, reports that “the subscription list” of the Penn Magazine “is receiving rapidly a succession of names. A great number are from the Southern States, which is a proof that Mr. Poe's talents are appreciated, and that he gave satisfaction when editor of the Southern Literary Messenger. As a strictly chaste, clear, and vigorous writer, Mr. Poe stands pre-eminent .....

ANTE SEPTEMBER 16: John Tomlin, a poet living in Jackson, Tennessee, writes Poe, sending the names of nine subscribers to the Penn Magazine. He proposes to contribute [page 162:] a tale of “The Devil's Visit — to St Dunstan” to the forthcoming magazine.

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Poe's September 16 reply.

SEPTEMBER 16: Poe replies to John Tomlin's letter, which he has just received, having been “out of town for the last week.” He thanks Tomlin for securing nine subscribers, and he promises to give “The Devil's Visit to St Dunstan” a prominent place “in the opening number of the Magazine.”

NOTE: Letters, I, 146-47. There is no evidence that Poe was absent from Philadelphia.

SEPTEMBER 30: Dr. Socrates Maupin, the headmaster of a boys’ school in Richmond, writes Poe:

Through the kindness of Miss MacKenzie I learn that M[onsieur] C. Auguste Dubouchet, a gentleman of your acquaintance, would accept the situation of Teacher of the French Language at Mr. Persien's and the Academy but wishes to know the terms etc. definitely .....

We are willing to give five hundred dollars for the assistance of an experienced teacher. Three hours daily, say an hour and a half at each school for the session of ten months. Mrs. Drew and Miss MacKenzie have engaged a Lady to assist them. There is no gentleman engaged in teaching French in the city, so that the opening is very good for one qualified .....

Our session commences on the lst day of October. May I ask of you the favour therefore to inform M. Dubouchet of our proposition and request of him the earliest answer that may suit his convenience.

NOTE: This letter was printed by W. T. Bandy, “Who Was Monsieur Dupin?” PMLA, 79 (1964), 509-10. Bandy suggested that Poe obtained the name of C. Auguste Dupin, the detective hero of “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” by combining the names “C. Auguste Dubouchet” and “Maupin.” [page 163:] In its 1840, 1841, 1844, and 1845 editions, McElroy's Philadelphia Directory lists a C. Auguste Du Bouchet; he is uniformly identified as a French teacher. Miss Jane MacKenzie was the sister of William MacKenzie, the Richmond merchant who adopted Poe's sister Rosalie. Miss MacKenzie operated a fashionable girls’ school in Richmond, which Rosalie once attended.

October, 1840

OCTOBER 2: Dr. Pliny Earle, a physician of Frankford, Pennsylvania, writes Poe, enclosing a poem for the Penn Magazine. Earle regrets that he is not able to offer financial support for the magazine.

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Poe's October 10 reply.

OCTOBER 3: The Saturday Evening Post, p. 2, col. 4, notices Frederick William Thomas’ new novel Howard Pinckney, which has just been published in two volumes by Lea &Blanchard: “The author of these volumes has already won some reputation by one or two former works; and we think the present publication cannot fail to greatly increase it. There is a sprightliness — an ease — a truth to nature about ‘Howard Pinckney,’ which is highly pleasing. The action is kept up with interest to the last; and though there is here and there a looseness in the style, which the critic may regret, yet on the whole, it is not every day a novel like the present is submitted to our perusal.” The Saturday Courier, p. 2, col. 7, also has words of praise for Howard Pinckney. [page 164:]

OCTOBER 3: Horace Greeley's New-Yorker (Vol. 10, p. 46) reports:

Literary Intelligence.

Linen &Fennell will publish, near the close of December, one of the most beautiful and interesting books of the season, under the title of The Biographical Annual. It will embrace memoirs of all the eminent statesmen, dignitaries, men of letters[,] artists, remarkable characters, etc. who have died or who may die within the year, and will be elegantly embellished. Works of similar character have been published several years in London and Paris, which have enjoyed great popularity. It will be a fine companion to the Biographical dictionaries.

Lea &Blanchard of Philadelphia have published, in two volumes, a novel entitled Howard Pinckney. It is from the pen of the author of Clinton Bradshaw, East and West, etc. It seems to exhibit improvement, and its predecessors were highly approved.’ We shall notice it particularly hereafter.

NOTE: The October 10 issue of The New-Yorker (Vol. 10, p. 62) carried another brief notice of Frederick William Thomas’ Howard Pinckney; the weekly commented “that very few American novels possess a deeper interest, or more accurate picture of manners.” The author of The Biographical Annual was Rufus Wilmot Griswold, a twenty-five-year old journalist from Vermont who was a protégé of Horace Greeley. Griswold was to achieve national prominence as the compiler of an influential anthology on The Poets and Poetry of America (1842), but he is remembered because he wrote a trenchant and misleading “Memoir” of Poe. The two men first met each other in Philadelphia shortly before May 8, 1841 (see the chronology). Griswold probably wrote The New-Yorker's October 3, 1840, notice of his forthcoming Biographical Annual. In his April 26, 1840, letter to James T. Fields (MS, Huntington Library), Griswold explained: “I now ‘do’ the New Yorker, under a two years engagement, in place of [Charles Fenno] Hoffman. Greeley comes out next [page 165:] week with a ‘Log Cabin’ paper, to which he intends to devcte his entire attention, until the autumn election, at least.” Fields (1817-1881), a Boston publisher, was Griswold's friend and correspondent; Greeley's Log Cabin, a weekly newspaper, was the foremost organ of the Whig campaign for the Presidency in 1840.

OCTOBER 8: The Daily Chronicle, p. 2, col. 3, reports:

THE PENN MAGAZINE. — If Mr. Poe does not meet with the fullest success in the establishment of his contemplated Journal, it at least will not be the fault of his friends, who evince any thing but lukewarmness in his cause. The manner in which his attempt is spoken of by the southern and western papers especially, must be highly gratifying to himself. We copy the following from a late number of the St. Louis Commercial Bulletin:

“From the success of this magazine [the Penn Magazine ] we anticipate the happiest literary results. Mr. Poe is not only a man of genius and a ripe scholar, but he has an upright, a downright, and an outright honesty and fearlessness of purpose, which will guide his pen in the critical department of his work, without fear or favor. This last is a quality of which our critics are wofully in need. They generally plaster with indiscriminate praise every work the least commendable — so much so that the judicious reader has no reliance upon them whatever. Mr. Poe's career in the editorial department of the Messenger, while it made him some enemies among the pretenders to literature, won him the sincere respect of every man of eminence in the country. High testimonials to this effect were crowded upon him. Mr. Poe is, withal, a beautiful poet; and his late work ‘Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque’ shows that his talents are as varied as they are profound.”

NOTE: The Saint Louis Commercial Bulletin was especially sympathetic to Poe; additional information on this paper's early recognition of his merits may be found in the chronology for ante September 11, September 11, 1839, and [page 166:] November 6, 23, December 7, 1840.

OCTOBER 10: Poe replies to Pliny Earle's October 2 letter: “I hasten to thank you for the interest you have taken in my contemplated Magazine, and for the beautiful lines ‘By an Octogenarian’. They shall certainly appear in the first number.” Poe adds “that good poetry is far rarer, and therefore far more acceptable to the publisher of a journal, than even that rara avis money itself.” He encloses a Prospectus, and he asks Earle to aid the Penn Magazine “by a good word” to his neighbors in Frankford.

NOTE: Letters, I, 147.

OCTOBER 10: Richard H. Stoddard writes Poe, requesting a manuscript copy of one of his poems.

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Poe's November 6 reply. Stoddard, who was then a fifteen-year old errand boy in New York City, became a prominent author in later life.

OCTOBER 20: William E. Burton sells his Gentleman's Magazine to George R. Graham, proprietor of The Casket, for $3,500.

NOTE: This date is given in a notice of the transaction appearing on the inside front wrapper of the November Burton's. In its October 24 issue the Daily Chronicle reported that the sale of the magazine occurred on Thursday, October 22; but the November wrappers are probably the more reliable source. William E. Burton's farewell address to the readers of the Gentleman's Magazine is also dated October 20, 1840; it appears on the inside back wrapper of the May, 1841, number of Graham's Magazine (unbound copy, Gimbel Collection, Philadelphia [page 167:] Free Library). Graham told Albert H. Smyth that he purchased the Gentleman's Magazine “outright for thirty-five hundred dollars,” and that its circulation then. “numbered thirty-five hundred subscribers”; see Smyth's Philadelphia Magazines and Their Contributors, 1741-1850 (1892; rpt. Freeport, N. Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1970), p. 217. In his September 1, 1841, letter to Frederick William Thomas, Poe stated that at the time of this transaction the joint circulation of the Gentleman's Magazine and The Casket was “only 5000.”

OCTOBER 24: The Daily Chronicle, p. 2, col. 3, reports: “The Gentleman's Magazine (Burton's) was sold on Thursday to Messrs. Graham and Peterson, publishers of the Casket, and

the two works will, on the first of December, be published as one; the subscribers to the Magazine receiving the Casket.”

NOTE: On October 26 the Daily Chronicle, p. 2, col. 4, corrected itself, stating that Graham was “the sole proprietor” of the Gentleman's Magazine. Its earlier notice of the sale suggests that the close association between Graham and Peterson had become common knowledge in the city's editorial circles.

OCTOBER 26: In the Daily Chronicle, p. 1, cols. 3-4, Henry B. Hirst satirizes the poetry of Thomas Dunn English:

MORNING. — We saw some time back, an article under the above caption, which assuredly deserves some credit, and were it not in our opinion a vile plagiarism we should give it all the credit it deserves. The fact is we wrote an article on the same subject some time back, and circulated some dozen or two of manuscripts, one of which, sans doute, fell in the learned author's way. He admired its beauties, it seems apparent, for he has completely embodied its spirit in his own production. Now [page 168:] “honor to whom honor is due,” we ask the impartial reader to compare the articles in question, and say if there be any comparison between them. H. B. H.

[Two poems entitled “Morning” are printed side by side.]



Morn on the placid landscape. Nature woke,

And from her long night's slumber proudly broke;

Gazed, smiling gazed, on mountain and on dale,

And tossed unto the skies her misty veil.

The sun was there to glad the morning's birth,

And empty living fire upon the earth.

The deer stole slily from his hiding place,

Basked in the beams, nor panted from the chase.

The squirrel leaped from rock to rock in pride;

The rabbit pattered up the mountain's side;

While mingling with the wild bee's hum, was heard

The whirring of the gaudy humming bird —

That painted insect of the feathered tribe,

Whom all can wonder at, but none describe.

The red head wood-pecker with steady stroke,

Commenced his labor on the hollow oak;

The feathered choir, with rapture swelling throats,

Began in concert their melodious notes;

While from the low-growth, where it deep lay hid,

Came the shrill clarion of the Katy-did.

In deep delight creation seemed to swim,

And pour thanksgiving in its matin hymn.

March 13th, 1840. Casket.

[Hirst antedates his parody.]



Morn in the quiet workhouse. Peter woke,

To think with agony on credit broke.

Gazed, gazed in fancy, where the judges set,

And kicked from off his limbs the coverlet.

No fire was there to glad the morning's birth,

But some cold ashes lay upon the hearth.

The mouse retreated to his hiding place,

With thought of pussy in her rapid race:

The pot-boy thro’ the avenue singing hied,

While those who had no money grimly sighed; [page 169:]

Came, mingling with his melody, the tread

Of the stout baker, shouting “pris’ners’ bread,[”]

Sombre and coarse, my muse can ne’er describe

That hated breakfast of the prison tribe.

Loud on the portal, framed of solid oak,

Thro’ the long gall’ry rang the turnkey's stroke,

As bellowing with strongly swelling throat,

He called friend Peter to receive a note;

From the warm bed, ere while in slumber hid,

He jumped as jumps at touch a Katy-did,

Dressed himself quickly, while his heart did swim,

With hopes of home and liberty for him.

January 12, 1840.

NOTE: Poe may have had this satire in mind when writing The Literati: he accused English of taking “most unwarrantable liberties, in the way of downright plagiarism, from . ... Mr. Henry B. Hirst.” See the Works, XV, 65, 267.

November, 1840

NOVEMBER: Two notices appear on the inside front wrapper of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine. In a card dated Philadelphia, October 20, 1840, William E. Burton announces that he has sold his Gentleman's Magazine to George R. Graham. In a second card, dated Philadelphia, October 27, 1840, George R. Graham, “The Proprietor of the Casket having purchased of Mr. Burton the Gentleman's Magazine, purposes, on the lst of December, to connect the two together.”

NOTE: Unbound copy in original wrappers, Berg Collection; New York Public Library. The second card suggests that Graham had become the sole proprietor of The Casket by the time he purchased the Gentleman's Magazine. It seems likely that his friend and associate Charles J. Peterson had formerly owned an interest in The Casket (see the chronology [page 170:] for April 13, 1839, and October 24, 1840).

NOVEMBER: The outside back wrapper of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine carries a lengthy advertisement:




A New Volume, under the above title, of the well established and fashionable Magazine, The Philadelphia Casket in conjunction with the Gentle man's Magazine, which has been every where pronounced the most readable and popular of the day, will be opened on the First of January, 1841, with an array of Contributors secured by the union, of talent and fame, which no periodical in the Country can boast or pretend to rival. The December number will, however, be a specimen of the New Volume. The Volume will be opened with a new and beautiful type, the finest white paper, and with the first of a series of EMBELLISHMENTS UNSURPASSED by any which have yet appeared in any Magazine. The style of elegance, the beauty and finish of these illustrations, and the extensive improvements which will be made in its typographical appearance, and above all the tone of its literary department, by the brilliant array of Contributors, whose articles have enriched the pages of each number, will give it a character, second to no Magazine in the Union. The character of the articles which shall appear in its pages, will be equally removed from a sickly sentimentality, and from an effectation of morality, but while a true delineation of human nature in every variety of passion is aimed at, nothing shall be found in its pages to cause a blush upon the cheek of the most pure.

The contributors to Graham's Magazine will include “most of the principal writers in America, with a respectable number of English authors.” The advertisement names forty-two authors who have contributed to The Casket or Burton's Gentleman's Magazine “during the last year.” [page 171:] In addition to “this brilliant array of names,” these two magazines have profited from “the distinguished services of a host of anonymous writers of no ordinary abilities”; Graham's Magazine will feature articles by the author of “Cruizing in the Last War” [Charles J. Peterson? and other anonymous contributors. The advertisement describes the proposed embellishments of Graham's Magazine:


In compliance with the almost unanimous wish of our lady subscribers, we shall [in] the ensuing volume furnish them with a beautiful and correct plate of FASHIONS MONTHLY, a feature, it is believed, that will neither be unwelcome nor unpopular. These fashion plates shall be drawn from original designs from Paris and London, and may always be depended upon as the prevailing style in Philadelphia and New York for the month in which they are issued. These, however, shall in no wise interfere with the regular and choice engravings, and music which accompany each number of the work. The splendid Mezzotint engravings from the burin of Sart ain, which have been so justly admired, will be followed during the volume by several from the same hand, while the steel engravings in the best style of art, from interesting scenes shall still enrich the Magazine. The choicest pieces of music for the Piano and Guitar shall accompany each number of the work.

Graham's Magazine “will be published on the first of the month in every quarter of the Union. The most distant subscriber will consequen[t]ly receive it on that day, as well as those who reside in Philadelphia. ... . This is an important arrangement to distant subscribers, who become tired, importunate, and eventually discontinue many works, in consequence of the great delay by publishers.” A subscription to Graham's will cost three dollars per year: “No new subscriber received without the money, on the name of a responsible agent.” Inquiries should be sent, “post paid,” to “GEO. R. GRAHAM, South-west corner of Chesnut and [page 172:] and Third streets, Philadelphia.”

NOTE: This advertisement also appeared in the November 28, 1840, issue of George R. Graham's other journal, the Saturday Evening Post, p. 3, col. 5; it was repeated in subsequent issues. Graham's Magazine was not published “on the first of the month”; it was usually issued around ten days before the first.

NOVEMBER 6: Poe replies to Richard H. Stoddard's letter of October 10, which he has “only this moment received,” having been “absent from town for the last few days.” He complies with Stoddard's “very flattering request” for a manuscript poem by transcribing his sonnet “To Zante.”

NOTE: Letters, II, 692-93.

NOVEMBER 6: Frederick William Thomas, who is now in Saint Louis, writes Poe, promising an article for the Penn Magazine. Thomas is forwarding, under separate cover, a favorable notice of Poe from the Saint Louis Commercial Bulletin; and he is sending a copy of Howard Pinckney by a Mr. Bateman, who is to leave the novel at the Congress Hall Hotel.

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Poe's November 23 reply.

NOVEMBER 21: Horace Greeley's New-Yorker (Vol. 10, p. 157) contains a lengthy notice of Rufus W. Griswold's forthcoming anthology The Biographical Annual, which “will be published in a week or two by Linen &Fennell, American Hotel, Broadway.” This work “will be found to be altogether the most interesting and valuable annuary of the season, and [page 173:] doubtless, notwithstanding the lateness of its appearance, will have a very large sale.” Among the contributors to The Biographical Annual are William Cullen Bryant, Epes Sargent, Colonel William L. Stone, Henry T. Tuckerman, and other distinguished American writers. “Its character may be inferred from its title: it will contain memoirs of the most eminent and notorious personages recently deceased in the United States and abroad.”

NOVEMBER 22: John Tomlin, in Jackson, Tennessee, writes Poe: “As the time will soon be here when the subscribers in this place will have to pay for your Magazine, I must beg of you . ... to inform me, if Tennessee money is current in the ordinary business transactions of your city. ... . If Virginia, N. Carolina or S. Carolina money is more current in Philadelphia, than Tennessee, I shall certainly obtain the one that you may mention, as preferable.” Tomlin is certain that the Penn Magazine will succeed: “For the warm-hearted Southerners, by whom you are known, will not let the Work die for the want of patronage. They are your friends — for they know you well, and will sustain you.” Tomlin asks Poe whether William Gilmore Simms of Charleston, South Carolina, is doing anything for the Penn. He praises Simms, his early friend and literary mentor: “As I grew older, my reverence for the man increased, until in my own mind, I am persuaded, that I shall ‘never look upon his like again.’” Tomlin plans to visit Nashville “some two or three months hence”: while there, he will find other subscribers for the Penn Magazine.

NOTE: Works, XVII, 61-62.

NOVEMBER 23: Poe replies to Frederick William Thomas, whose letter of November 6 he received “about an hour ago, [page 174:] having been out of town for the last ten days.” Poe has not received the Saint Louis Commercial Bulletin, but has seen the paper's favorable notice “at the Exchange.” Poe adds: “The ‘Bulletin’ has always been very kind to me, and I am at a loss to know who edits it — will you let me into this secret when you write again? Neither did ‘Howard Pin[c]kney’ come to hand. Upon receipt of your letter, just now, I called at Congress Hall — but no books. Mr Bateman had been there, and gone, forgetting to leave them. I shall get them upon his return.” Poe likes this novel “very well,” but he prefers Thomas’ earlier novel Clinton Bradshaw:

You give yourself up to your own nature (which is a noble one, upon my soul) in Clinton Bradshaw; but in Howard Pinckney you abandon the broad rough road for the dainty by-paths of authorism. In the former you are interested in what you write &write to please, pleasantly; in the latter, having gained a name, you write to maintain it, and [the] effort becomes apparent. This consciousness of reputation leads you so frequently] into those literary and other disquisitions about which we quarrell[e]d at Studevant's. If you would send the public opinion to the devil, forgetting that a public existed, and writing from the natural promptings of your own spirit you would do wonders. In a word, abandon is wanting in “Howard Pinkney” — and when I say this you must know that I mean a high compliment — for they to whom this very abandon may be safely suggested are very few indeed, and belong to the loftier class of writers.

Poe promises to review Howard Pinckney in the first number of the Penn Magazine; he regrets “the blunders, typographical, and Frost-igraphical” in the novel, and he believes that “Frost” did not bother to correct the proofs. Poe would like to have Thomas’ “promised article” in “the first sheet” of the Penn, “which goes to press early in December.” The revised Prospectus accompanies this letter, and Poe hopes that Thomas will be able to insert it “once or twice [page 175:] in some of the city papers.” He asks: “Have you heard that that illustrious graduate of St John's College, Cambridge, (Billy Barlow,) has sold his Magazine to Graham, of the ‘Casket’?” In closing Poe adds: “Mrs Clemm and Virginia unite with me in the kindest remembrances to yourself and sister . ... . How long will it be before I see you again? Write immediately.”

NOTE: Letters, I, 148-49. The Philadelphia Merchants’ Exchange, where Poe read newspapers from other cities, is still standing at Walnut and Third Streets; see Theo B. White's Philadelphia Architecture in the Nineteenth Century, Rev. ed. (Philadelphia: Art Alliance Press, 1973), p. 26 and Plate 27. Poe's allusion to “Studevant's” refers to the city's well-known Congress Hall Hotel, located at Chestnut and Third Streets, of which John Sturdivant was proprietor. The “Frost” whom Poe mentioned might have been John Frost, editor of Alexander's Weekly Messenger and Professor of Literature in the Philadelphia High School. Although William E. Burton never attended a university, he probably allowed his American acquaintances to think that he was a graduate of Cambridge. Poe's allusion to “Billy Barlow” is not complimentary; this was the stage name of James Wills, an actor who committed suicide at Natchez, Mississippi, earlier in the year. An obituary in the Philadelphia Gazette, March 31, p. 2, col. 4, described Wills as “a very talented low comedian.” Thomas was close to his sister Frances Ann, who had encouraged him to write his first novel Clinton Bradshaw.

CIRCA NOVEMBER 27: Rufus W. Griswold abruptly leaves his position on Horace Greeley's New-Yorker and comes to Philadelphia, where he joins the staff of Francis J. Grund's Daily Standard, a Whig newspaper. [page 176:]

NOTE: This entry is established by Greeley's November 29 and December 3, 1840, letters to Griswold.

NOVEMBER 28: The Saturday Evening Post, p. 2, col. 4, reviews the first number of “GRAHAM's LADIES’ AND GENTLEMAN's MAGAZINE, (the Casket and Gentleman's united) . ... This Magazine for December is already issued in a superior style of elegance, and contains a variety of beautiful embellishments, and articles from the pens of some of the first writers of the country.” The Post adds: “The style of the embellishments for the ensuing volume, commencing with the January number, will be unsurpassed. A series of Sartain's splendid Mezzotints will be opened with the first number with a rich plate of colored fashions.”

NOTE: The December, 1840, number of Graham's Magazine contained the first printing of Poe's tale “The Man of the Crowd.”

NOVEMBER 28: Horace Greeley's New-Yorker (Vol. 10, pp. 161-62) prints a memoir of Theodore Sedgwick by William Cullen Bryant, which is taken from The Biographical Annual. The weekly discusses this anthology: “It is now in press and will, we are told, be ready for the market within a fortnight at farthest. We have read many of the memoirs in manuscript and can cheerfully say that they will fully sustain the reputation of their several authors. It is edited by Mr. Rufus W. Griswold.”

NOVEMBER 29: Horace Greeley writes Rufus W. Griswold, discussing his protégé's hasty departure from the staff of The New-Yorker: “Man, what's your hurry? I got home this morning expecting to find you here these two days, or till Monday evening at least; but behold’ you are off these two [page 177:] days! Well, it will all — do; but I would have liked to see you any how. I calculated to spend this afternoon up at your place, and was rather disappointed in having no pretext for so doing.” Greeley adds: “I wish you would write me each Wednesday evening a junk of ‘Literary Intelligence,’ until I get my affairs a little settled. It will reach me on Thursday at 3 P.M. and save me some trouble. You will know more of it than I shall be likely to. And if you can send me any thing rich and new from the Philadelphians (publishers), do it. It cannot cost you much trouble. But you have a good place where you are — don’t jeopard it to serve any body.”

NOTE: MS, Library of Congress. The letter is addressed to Griswold at the office of the Philadelphia Daily Standard.

December, 1840

EARLY DECEMBER: Poe, bedridden by a severe illness, is forced to postpone the first number of the Penn Magazine until March, 1841.

NOTE: Poe's illness and the postponement of his magazine were reported by the Daily Chronicle on December 29. In his December 30 letter to Lewis J. Cist, Poe stated that he had been “confined . ... to bed for the last month,” and as the “worst result of this illness,” had been forced to delay his magazine. Of course, there is a possibility that Poe had decided to postpone the Penn for other reasons, and simply pleaded-illness as a convenient explanation; but the account given in his letter to Cist and in his January 6, 1841, letter to Nicholas Biddle seems sincere. [page 178:]

DECEMBER 2: Presidential electors meet “in the several states” and cast 234 votes for William Henry Harrison and John Tyler. Martin Van Buren receives only 60 votes.

NOTE: Balloting for electors occurred on different dates in the several states, beginning on October 30 in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and ending on November 23 in South Carolina. According to Gunderson, Log-Cabin Campaign, pp. 253-55, ‘garrison carried nineteen of the twenty-six states, but “received a popular majority of less than 150,000 of the 2,400,000 votes cast.”

DECEMBER 3: Horace Greeley writes Rufus W. Griswold:

I believe there is a chance to send you a line today without cost; and I’ embrace it for three purposes.

1. You need not send me any Literary Notices, such as I have begged of you. I have engaged Raymond, temporarily, though hardly able to do so, and have now two assistants. ... .

2. I want to thank you for the excellent manner in which the outside; of the New Yorker was done up during the two weeks I was away. ... .

3. I want to curse you for going off so abruptly as you did., without leaving any directions. It has ruined The New Yorker for this week — dead as a

hatchet. ... . You are habitually reckless of whatever is not likely to subserve your future purposes.

NOTE: Griswold's son William M. Griswold printed this letter in his edition of Passages from the Correspondence and Other Papers of Rufus W. Griswold (Cambridge, Mass.: W. M. Griswold, 1898), pp. 48-49. Henry Jarvis Raymond (1820-1869), who succeeded Griswold on The New-Yorker's staff, had graduated from the University of Vermont in 1840. While in college Raymond had contributed to Greeley's weekly; in 1841 he was to become Greeley's chief assistant on the New-York Daily Tribune. [page 179:]

DECEMBER 7: Frederick William Thomas, in Saint Louis, replies to Poe:

Yours of the 23 of last month I received yesterday. I thought if I sat down to weave a tale for you that procrastination or a better apology might keep me from finishing the MS. till it was too late for your first number, for which you seemed to wish the communication. I therefore, as you like my “adventures of a Poet” — you remember I read it to you — thought I would give you extracts from it. Inclosed I send them. The “steamboat story” which I gave you is, you know, an extract from the same MS.

Thomas thanks Poe for his “good opinion” of Howard Pinckney, and he admits that Clinton Bradshaw may be the better novel. Thomas is glad to learn that Poe will issue the Penn Magazine on the first of January: “I went today to have an editorial notice &c taken of it and you, but found my friend out; to-morrow . ... I will see to it and duly send you a paper.” Thomas adds that the city's “most influential paper” may be the Republican, which he will also have notice the Penn. In response to Poe's query, he comments that the “leading editor of the Bulletin is named Churchill.” Mr. Fowzer, a magazine agent of the firm Fowzer and Woodward, will agree to distribute the Penn Magazine in Saint Louis; Thomas transcribes the firm's “Terms of Agency.” He is writing in the room of his sister Frances Ann: “she is indeed gratified at the kind manner in which Mrs. Clemm and your Lady mention her. She sends her regards while I look up from the paper to say that your letter is just as you talk.” Harrison's election may bring “better times” for literary men; Thomas hopes to take Poe “by the hand” in the spring.

NOTE: Works, XVII, 65-67. Thomas’ “Adventures of a Poet” was a long manuscript poem; for additional information on Poe's reaction to it, see the chronology for July 28, 1841. [page 180:] The editorial “friend” whom Thomas did not see may have been George G. Foster, the sensational journalist. In his May 28, 1841, letter to Poe, Thomas described Foster, with whom he became acquainted in Saint Louis. The St. Louis Directory, for the Years 1840-1, p. 67, lists Foster as editor of the Daily Pennant. S. B. Churchill is listed as one of the proprietors of the Commercial Bulletin (see pp. 11, 67); James Fowzer is described as a “general agent for periodicals and newspapers” (see p. 21). The Saint Louis Directory, for the Year 1842 identifies R. Jones Woodward as the proprietor of a “Literary Depot.” Thomas dedicated his first novel Clinton Bradshaw to his sister Frances Ann; Poe mentioned her in his November 23, 1840, and November 26, 1841, letters to him.

DECEMBER 7: Lewis J. Cist, a Cincinnati poet, writes Poe, sending a poem “Bachelor Philosophy” for the Penn Magazine.

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Poe's December 30 reply.

DECEMBER 19: The Saturday Evening Post, p. 2, col. 4, reviews a Philadelphia monthly:

“GRAHAM's LADYS’ AND GENTLEMAN's MAGAZINE for January, 1841.” — This Magazine is already issued and ready for delivery, embellished in a style which has not been equalled in this country before. The opening engraving is an original mezzotint on steel prepared expressly for the work by Mr. Sartain, of Philadelphia, the best engraver of the kind in the United States. He has just reason to be proud of the production. The subject is entitled “The Playmates.” A boy and his dog seated upon a bank, with the fine open sky before them, and the dark back ground of the woods, relieved by an opening through which the setting sun streams. Next follows a plate of fashions of three figures, exquisitely colored, and we stake our reputation [page 181:] on the assertion, that they are unequalled by any. Then follow two pages of music, the popular song of “The Indian Maid.” And lastly we have Angling illustrated, making with the three fashion figures eight embellishments. Truly enough for a three dollar magazine. ...

NOTE: For George R. Graham, as for William E. Burton and other commercial publishers, “embellishments” were the crux of a magazine. Poe expressed his contempt for these adventitious decorations in his May 25, 1842, letter to Frederick William Thomas. In the Penn Magazine he planned to admit tasteful engravings, but only “in the necessary illustration of the text” (see his Prospectus, reproduced in the chronology for June 6, 1840).

DECEMBER 21: Horace Greeley writes Rufus W. Griswold: The Biographical Annual is “nearly all in type,” and Griswold's name is in the center of the title page “as big as glory.” Greeley adds: “I met Grund Sat[urday]. in Mr. Clay's room at the Astor. We spoke but a few minutes[.] I bragged on you and he heartily concurred; but wont you catch it (somebody tells me that thinks he knows) for serving up Dr. Thomas Dunn English the way you have? — Ah, Gris! Gris! pare your horrid claws!”

NOTE: MS, Library of Congress. Francis J. Grund was the publisher of the Philadelphia Daily Standard, a Whig newspaper on which Griswold was then employed; Henry Clay, a senator from Kentucky, was one of the leaders of the Whig party. The manner in which Griswold “served up” English is unknown. Possibly he criticized this young Whig politician in the Daily Standard; no copies of the Standard for November and December, 1840, seem to have been preserved. Greeley, one of the principal architects of the Harrison victory, would have objected to any action which might have spread dissension in the Whig ranks. [page 182:] Additional information on Griswold's association with English may be found in the chronology for December 24, 1840.

DECEMBER 24: Approximately one hundred supporters of President-elect Harrison gather at Thomas Evans’ Hotel in Philadelphia for a splendid dinner celebrating his victory over Martin Van Buren. The guest of honor on this occasion is John C. Montgomery, a leader of the city's Whigs. “Among the agreeable incidents of the evening” is the presentation to Mr. Montgomery “of a small Log Cabin made of butter, beautifully wrought and tastefully decorated by

the fair hand of a lady of Cedar Ward.” This celebration is characterized by speeches, toasts, songs, and cheers. The “Committee” proposes a toast to the “Harrison Democratic Press” as “The Palladium of the liberties of the People.” They are answered by two young journalists: “Dr. English, of the Star, and Rufus W. Griswold, Esq.[,] assistant editor of [the] Standard, replied severally in a few brief and eloquent remarks . ... .” Griswold then proposes another toast to “Horace Greeley and Thurlow Weed, of the Empire State: The most ardent and most efficient labourers in the editorial field, during the late campaign — their efforts will not be forgotten now that we are victorious.”

NOTE: A lengthy account of this dinner appeared in the United States Gazette, January 4, 1841, p. 1, cols. 5-6. The Gazette's report is the earliest evidence of an acquaintance between Griswold and Thomas Dunn English. John Sartain in his Reminiscences, p. 215, leaves the impression that these two men were enemies; but English, in discussing Sartain's account, commented: “Griswold and I were generally on good terms, but as both of us were [page 183:] impulsive and at times irritable, we fell out occasionally. This difference never lasted long . ... . When he was

in editorial control of Graham's Magazine I met him. frequently. These meetings were always pleasant, though they were not official on his part, as I sold my work to Graham himself.” See the second installment of English's “Between the Ebb and Flow,” New York Times Saturday Review, March 25, 1899, p. 200. In 1840 and 1841 English was the editor of the Philadelphia Evening Star (see the chronology for January 2, 1841).

DECEMBER 24: The Daily Chronicle, p. 2, col. 4, reports: “M[r]. Henry B. First, late senior partner of the firm of First &Dreer, is fitting up a horticultural warehouse at No. 27 South Fourth street, which . ... excels any thing of the sort in Philadelphia . ... . The business, we understand, will be conducted under the firm of H. B. &P. M. First. The establishment will be opened in the course of a few days.”

DECEMBER 26: Horace Greeley writes Rufus W. Griswold: “You will be disappointed that your Annual is not out of press. ... . I hear they will have no copies for sale before Wednesday.” Although Greeley notes that The Biographical Annual has been “announced over and over” in his New-Yorker, he adds: “Well, I will try to take the oversight of the puffing machinery this coming week, and see what can be done with it.”

NOTE: MS, Library of Congress.

DECEMBER 29: The Daily Chronicle, p. 2, col. 3, carries a brief announcement: “THE PENN MAGAZINE. — Owing to the severe and continued illness of Mr. Poe, the issue of the [page 184:] first number of this journal is postponed until the first of March next.”

DECEMBER 30: Poe replies to Lewis J. Cist of Cincinnati who had written him on December 7. He has been bedridden “for the last month” because of “a severe illness,” and consequently has been forced to postpone the Penn Magazine until the first of March. Cist's poem “Bachelor Philosophy” will not “appear until the second number, as at the time of its reception, all the poetry for the first number was already in type.” Poe asks Cist to insert a notice of the magazine's postponement in a Cincinnati paper and to mention this delay to Joseph B. Boyd.

NOTE: Letters, I, 150.

DECEMBER 31: Poe writes John P. Kennedy of Baltimore that he is about to start a monthly magazine which will feature “an absolutely independent criticism”:

Since you gave me my first start in the literary world, and since indeed I seriously say that without the timely kindness you once evinced towards me, I should not at this moment be among the living — you will not feel surprise that I look anxiously to you for encouragement in this new enterprise — the first of any importance which I have undertaken on my own account. What I most seriously need, in the commencement, is caste for the journal — I need the countenance of those who stand well in the social not less than in the literary world. I know that you have never yet written for Magazines — and this is a main reason for my now begging you to give me something for my own. I care not what the article be, nor of what length — what I wish is the weight of your name. Any unused scrap lying by you will fully answer my purpose.

NOTE: Letters, I, 150-51. In 1835 Kennedy, a Baltimore novelist, had helped Poe to obtain employment on [page 185:] Thomas Willis White's Southern Literary Messenger. During his illness Poe seems to have concluded that the Penn Magazine stood little chance of success if its contributors were mainly provincial literati like Lewis J. Cist of Cincinnati, Pliny Earle of Frankford, Pennsylvania, and John Tomlin of Jackson, Tennessee. He now made an effort to obtain contributions from several prominent citizens of Philadelphia and Baltimore — Kennedy, Nicholas Biddle, Robert T. Conrad, Joseph Hopkinson, and possibly others. If these men could be induced to write for the Penn, they would no doubt attract many subscribers in the larger cities on the eastern seaboard. For additional information, see the chronology for January 6, 22, and 25, 1841.





[S:0 - PIP, 1978] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - Poe in Philadelphia, 1838-1844 (D. R. Thomas) (Chapter 04)