Text: Dwight R. Thomas, “Chapter 05: [Part II: July-Dec] 1841,” Poe in Philadelphia, 1838-1844 (1978), pp. 239-306


­ [page 239, continued:]



July, 1841

JULY: Graham's Magazine issues the first number of its second volume. According to an advertisement in the Saturday Evening Post, July 10, p. 3, col. 7, the magazine now prints an edition of 17,000 copies each month. ­[page 240:]

JULY: Poe publishes “A Few Words on Secret Writing.” in Graham's Magazine.

NOTE: Poe continued the series on “Secret Writing” in the August, October, and December numbers of the magazine. On July 13 Charles W. Alexander published an article in the Daily Chronicle in which he recounted Poe's previous attempt at solving ciphers for the readers of Alexander's Weekly Messenger (see the chronology).

JULY l: Frederick William Thomas replies to Poe's letter of June 26. He hopes that Poe will be able to obtain an appointment; but he adds that he has not seen President Tyler, “except in passing in his carriage.” Thomas suggests that Poe visit Washington and see the President himself: “if you would prefer it I will see him for you — but perhaps your application had better be made through someone who has influence with the executive. I have heard you say that J. P. Kennedy has a regard for you — he is here a Congressman and would serve you — would he not?” Thomas describes his government employment as “merely temporary”: “I had a letter of introduction to the Secretary of the Treasury, from my friend Governor Corwin of Ohio, merely introducing me as a ‘literary character’ — I did not then expect to ask office, but finding that publishing was at a low ebb, I waited on Mr. Ewing and told him frankly how I was situated and that I should like to be making something; he with great kindness installed me here. There are thousands of applicants. My duty is to schedule their claims and present them to the Secretary.” Thomas encloses a cryptograph from a friend, Dr. Frailey, who believes he can puzzle Poe.

NOTE: Works, XVII, 92-93. Significantly, Thomas’ tone is ­[page 241:] far more subdued than in his May 20 letter, in which he first suggested that Poe seek a clerkship. He admits that he has little influence with the Tyler administration, and that there are “thousands of applicants” for government posts; he repeats these statements in his July 7 letter. The Secretary of the Treasury was then Thomas Ewing (1789-1871), who had previously been a member of the Senate from Ohio. In the campaign of 1840, Thomas Corwin (1794-1865), then governor-elect of Ohio, had defended the military reputation of General Harrison against Democratic attacks. John Pendleton Kennedy, the Baltimore novelist who was Poe's early benefactor, had been elected to the House of Representatives in March, 1841, on the Whig ticket. The Washington Directory for 1843 lists Charles S. Frailey as a clerk in the General Land Office.

JULY 2: Poe receives $55 on account from George R. Graham.

NOTE: For documentation, see the chronology for March 25, 1841.

JULY 4: Poe replies to Frederick William Thomas’ July 1 letter: “I wish to God I could visit Washington — but the old story, you know — I have no money — not even enough to take me there, saying nothing of getting back. It is a hard thing to be poor — but as I am kept so by an honest motive I dare not complain.” He enthusiastically endorses Thomas’ proposal that John P. Kennedy's aid be sought:

Call upon Kennedy — you know him, I believe — if not, introduce yourself — he is a perfect gentleman and will give you cordial welcome. Speak to him of my wishes, and urge:him to see the Secretary of War in my behalf — or one of the other Secretaries — or President Tyler. I mention in particular the ­[page 242:] Secretary of War, because I have been to W. Point, and this may stand me in some stead. I would be glad to get almost any appointment — even a $500 one-so that I have something independent of letters for a subsistence. To coin one's brain into silver, at the nod of a master, is to my thinking, the hardest task in the world..

Poe deciphers Charles S. Frailey's cryptograph, pointing out that it exceeds the limits of his challenge “because it cannot be readily decyphered by the person to whom it is addressed, and who possesses the key. In proof of this, I will publish it in the Mag: with a reward to any one who shall read it with the key, and I am pretty sure that no one will be found to do it.” He boasts: “Nothing intelligible can be written which, with time, I cannot decipher. No more difficult cypher can be constructed than the one he has sent.” Poe adds: “As I mean to publish it this month, will you be kind enough to get from his own hand an acknowledgment of my solution, adding your own acknowledgment, in such form that I may append both to the cipher by way of note. I wish to do this because I am seriously accused of humbug in this matter — a thing I despise. People will not believe I really decipher the puzzles.”

NOTE: Letters, I, 171-74. Poe's statement that he did not have sufficient money to take him to Washington may be an exaggeration. He published the Frailey cipher with the desired acknowledgments in the August Graham's; the only reader to solve it was Richard Bolton, of Pontotoc, Mississippi (see the chronology for September 9 and November 4, 18, 1841, and January 10, 1842).

JULY 6: Frederick William Thomas receives Poe's letter of July 4, and he obtains an acknowledgment from Charles S. Frailey. He writes Poe, enclosing Frailey's testimony. ­[page 243:] He explains:

Doctor Frailey had heard me speak of your having deciphered a letter which our mutual friend, Dow, wrote upon a challenge from you last year, at my lodgings in your city, when Aaron Burr's correspondence in cipher was the subject of our conversation. You laughed at what you termed Burr's shallow artifice, and said you could decipher any such cryptography easily. To test you on the spot, Dow withdrew to the corner of the room, and wrote a letter in cipher, which you solved in a much shorter time than it took him to indite it.

As Doctor Frailey seemed to doubt your skill to the extent of my belief in it, when your article on “Secret Writing” appeared in the last number of your Magazine, I showed it to him. After reading it, he remarked that he thought he could puzzle you, and the next day he handed me the cryptograph which I transmitted to you. He did not tell me the key.

Because of the “uncommon nature of this article,” Thomas doubted Poe's ability to solve it: “I confess that your solution, so speedily and correctly made, surprised me. I congratulate myself that I do not live in an age when the black art is believed in, for, innocent as I am of all knowledge of cryptography, I should be arrested as an

to accessory before the fact . ...

NOTE: Thomas’ letter is printed in the Works, XIV, 136-37; Frailey's letter to Thomas appears in the Works, XIV, 137. 139-40.

ANTE JULY 7: “William Landor,” a contributor to Graham's Magazine, sends two “notes” to Poe.

NOTE: “William Landor” was the pseudonym of the wealthy Philadelphian Horace Binney Wallace, whose literary career has been discussed by George Egon Hatvary in his “Horace Binney Wallace: A Critical Biography,” Diss. New York University 1956. There is no evidence that Poe realized ­[page 244:] that “William Landor” was a pseudonym.

JULY 7: Poe replies to “William Landor”:

I duly received both your notes, and, daily, since the reception of the first, have been intending to reply. The cause of my not having done so is my failure to obtain certain definite information from the printer to whom I had allusion, and who still keeps me in momentary expectation of an answer. I merely write these few words now, lest you should think my silence proceeds from discourtesy — than which nothing can be farther from my thoughts. At the first opportunity you shall hear from me in full.

In a postscript Poe states that he wrote all the critical notices in the July Graham's, except the review of The Works of Lord Bolingbroke. He is certain that “passages in that critique . ... are stolen,” although he cannot identify the source. He asks his correspondent, whose “acquaintance with Bolingbroke's commentators is more extensive,” to aid him “in tracing the theft.”

NOTE: Letters, I, 174.

JULY 7: Frederick William Thomas writes Poe that Congress is now in session and that he may not be able to see John P. Kennedy for several days. He will, however, see President Tyler on Friday, having been invited to dine with him by “his son.” Thomas again stresses that he lacks “address” with the administration, and that there are “thousands of applicants”; but he feels certain of Poe's eventual success in obtaining a clerkship. “I know very few of the ‘bigbugs’ here, having kept myself to myself, but I think I have skill enough to commit your merits to those, who, though not women, will be more skilful advocates of your claims.”

NOTE: Works, XVII, 94-95. The President's son mentioned ­[page 245:] may have been Robert ‘Tyler, who was Thomas’ friend.

JULY 10: Joseph Evans Snodgrass writes Poe, praising “A Descent into the Maelström.”

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Poe's July 12 reply.

JULY 12: Poe replies to Joseph Evans Snodgrass: “I have this moment received yours of the 10th, and am really glad to find that you have not quite given me up. A letter from you now is a novelty indeed.” Snodgrass’ poem “Reproof of a Bird” will appear in Graham's Magazine for September. Poe is flattered by his praise of “A Descent into the Maelström”: “It was finished in a hurry, and therefore its conclusion is imperfect.” This story has not been “½ so popular as ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue”’; but Poe has “a paper” in the August Graham's which will please Snodgrass. He adds: “Among the Reviews (for August) I have one which will, at least, surprise you. It is a long notice of a satire by a quondam Baltimorean L. A. Wilmer. You must get this satire &read it — it is really good — good in the old-fashioned Dryden style. It blazes away, too, to the right &left — sparing not. I have made it the text from which to preach a fire-&-fury sermon upon critical independence, and the general literary humbuggery of the day.” A portion of this review of Wilmer's The Quacks of Helicon has previously appeared in the Pittsburgh Literary Examiner; its editor E. Burke Fisher has been guilty of altering one of Poe's articles, inserting “all manner of bad English and ridiculous opinions of his own.” Poe discusses two Baltimore writers whom he knows. He has “never had much opinion” of T. S. Arthur, but John N. McJilton has written “one or two very good things.” Poe ­[page 246:] returns Snodgrass’ review of the poems of Charles Soran: “It was unavoidably crowded from the July no: and we thought it out of date, for the August[.] I have not read the book — but I would have been willing to take his merits upon your word.” He asks Snodgrass to call at the Baltimore Post Office and inquire for the letter he sent to John P. Kennedy on June 21: “By some absence of mind I directed it to that city in place of Washington. If still in the P.O. will you forward it to Washington?”

NOTE: Letters, I, 175-77. Ostrom notes that “Poe's letter to Kennedy . ... was directed to Baltimore, but had been forwarded to Washington on June 22, according to postmark on the MS.” Lambert A. Wilmer's The Quacks of Helicon (Philadelphia: J. W. MacClefield, 1841) was a blistering satire aimed at such popular American poets as William Cullen Bryant, Willis Gaylord Clark, George P. Morris, and Nathaniel P. Willis. A portion of Poe's favorable review of Wilmer's poem had appeared in his article on “American Novel Writing” in the August, 1839, number of the Pittsburgh Literary Examiner. Charles Soran was a Baltimore poet whom Snodgrass admired. In his April l, 1841, letter to Snodgrass, Poe had indicated that he would welcome a review of Soran's The Patapsco and Other Poems (1841) for the June number of Graham's Magazine. Evidence that Snodgrass resented Poe's failure to publish his review may be found in the chronology for April 2, 1842.

JULY 13: In the Daily Chronicle, p. 2, col. 5, Charles W. Alexander discusses Poe's extraordinary ability to solve cryptograms:

SECRET WRITING. — In a notice, some days since, of “Graham's Magazine” for the current month, we spoke particularly of an article, by Mr. Poe, on the subject ­[page 247:] of “Secret Writing,” or Cryptography; promising to say something more at length respecting it hereafter.

The subject is altogether a remarkable one, and we cannot wonder that it has excited interest and surprise. In a previous number of the magazine, Mr. P. put forth what may be termed a challenge, in respect to secret writing; offering to read any cipher of a species designated — this species, in itself, being the most difficult of all. This challenge met with but a single response, and the cypher sent in this case is deciphered in the July number.

Pursuing the subject, Mr. P. speaks of a weekly paper of this city, to which, about two years ago, similar ciphers were sent upon a similar challenge, and promptly deciphered by himself. The paper alluded to is “Alexander's Messenger,” the proprietor of which is also one of the proprietors and editors of the “Daily Chronicle.” Mr. Poe's statements need no endorsement; but the article in question, in its reference to us, would seem to call for some acknowledgment at our hands. We, therefore, take occasion to say that what he has asserted, however difficult of belief, is true to the letter. Ciphers were poured in upon us from all parts of the country, and in every instance promptly unriddled. It was found nearly impossible to convince our readers that we were not humbugging them; and as a great many of them would be satisfied with nothing short of demonstration in their own persons, the consequence was that we were overflooded with communications, and had, at length, to put a stop to the matter.

The cyphers now solved by Mr. Poe, are far more abstruse than even those to which we allude. How it is possible to read them, is a mystery. We refer our readers to the article in the July number, which, altogether, is one of high interest.

Can any one inform us what was the nature of the cipher used by Aaron Burr?

NOTE: In the December 18, 1839, issue of Alexander's Weekly Messenger, Poe challenged the weekly's readers to invent a cipher which he could not solve (see Brigham, Poe's Contributions, pp. 12-17); he issued a similar challenge in the April number of Graham's Magazine (see the chronology for April and April 21, 1841). [page 248:]

JULY 19: Frederick William Thomas writes Poe. He has gone twice to ask John P. Kennedy to aid Poe, but as yet he has not succeeded in seeing him because the House of Representatives is in session. Thomas describes the political climate in Washington: “President Tyler is opposed to removals in office here — Twelve Locofocos were turned out on Saturday late, and it is said the President has reinstated all but 5 — But this is a mere rumor . ... .” He reports his attendance at the dinner mentioned in his July 7 letter: “I enjoyed myself much at the Presidents [sic ], but as it was a formal dinner party I had not an opportunity of speaking to him especially of you — These public men are occupied so much that it is difficult to see them..” Thomas encloses a cryptogram composed by Thomas Ewing, Jr., son of the Secretary of the Treasury; and he suggests that Poe publish the solution in the August Graham's.

NOTE: MS, Boston Public Library. Poe did not discuss the Ewing cipher in the “Secret Writing” articles.

POST JULY 19: Frederick William Thomas writes Poe. He has seen John P. Kennedy, who has expressed a willingness to aid Poe “in any way in his power.”

NOTE: This letter is mentioned in Thomas’ August 30 letter to Poe.

JULY 24: Poe receives from “Geo R Graham / One hundred &five on acct / $105 to November 17th 1841[.]”

NOTE: For documentation, see the chronology for March 25, 1841. This entry in Graham's account book seems to indicate that Poe received an advance in salary. There are several indications that during his association with Graham's [page 249:] Magazine he lived beyond his means. On December 1, 1841, for example, Poe signed a promissory note for $104.00, payable at the end of ninety days. In January, 1842, on the morning after Virginia Poe fell ill, he asked the proprietor of Graham's Magazine for “an advance of two months salary — when he [George R. Graham] not only flatly, but discourteously refused” (see Poe's February 3, 1842, letter to Frederick William Thomas). Graham's refusal becomes comprehensible if one considers the strong possibility that Poe had already received one or more advances in salary.

JULY 28: Frederick William Thomas writes Rufus W. Griswold in Boston: “Yours of the 6th I duly received. It will give me great pleasure to furnish you the biographies you mention upon the terms stated (for my circumstances will not suffer me to pursue my inclination in such matters).” Thomas has completed “a poem . ... of some 1800 lines” which he would be glad to publish in Boston. “Prentice, Poe, Ingraham and others have seen the poem and pronounce it decidedly the best thing I have accomplished.” Thomas; discusses the lowly status of professional authors in the United States: “Have you ever thought of the international copyright Law? I trust in God that after we get a bank and a bankrupt[cy] bill, that this law will not be forgotten. In every other country but ours literary men are at the top of the heap. Look at France: Thiers, Guizot, etc., — see England. Here we are the poorest devils under the eye of ‘God's shadow,’ the sun. Hoping that these things may not always be, I sincerely sympathize with you, in your ardent desire to advance the interest of American Literature.” ­[page 250:]

NOTE: Passages from the Correspondence of Rufus W. Griswold, p. 95. Griswold's July 6 letter was presumably a reply to Thomas’ June 8 letter, in which he offered to furnish biographical sketches of Edward Coote Pinkney and Amelia Welby for The Poets and Poetry of America. The long poem Thomas wished to publish was entitled “The Adventures of a Poet”; he discussed it in his December 7, 1840, and September 3, 1841, letters to Poe (see the Works, XVII,

65, 98). George Dennison Prentice (1802-1870) was a Kentucky journalist and poet; Joseph Holt Ingraham, a novelist, was a close friend of Thomas. The lack of an international copyright law made it more profitable for American publishers to reprint works by British and European authors than to commission original works by American writers. Thomas was a. staunch advocate of the international copyright (see the chronology for May 11, 1841, and April 28, May 21, 1842). Like other members of the Whig party, he favored the establishment of a national bank.

JULY 28: The body of Miss Mary Rogers, a cigar girl who has been missing from her lower Manhattan home for several days, is found in the Hudson River. She has been brutally murdered by persons unknown.

NOTE: This famous unsolved murder case inspired Poe's “The Mystery of Marie Rôget.” For additional information, see John Walsh's Poe the Detective: The Curious Circumstances Behind “The Mystery of Marie Rôget” (New Brunswick, N. J.: Rutgers University Press, 1968). ­[page 251:]

August, 1841

AUGUST: The “embellishments” in the August number of Graham's Magazine cost the proprietor $1,300.

NOTE: This figure is given by the Saturday Evening Post, August 7, p. 2, cols. 7-8. The Post described these ornaments purchased at so great a cost: “The embellishments consist of the ‘Penitent Son,’ one of Sartain's exquisite Mezzotinto's [sic ] on steel. A Lace pattern with a boquett [sic ] of flowers, handsomely colored: — A plate of elegantly colored Fashions for the month, compiled from the late arrivals from London and Paris, consisting of four figures, a Gentleman and three Ladies, and two pages of music.”

AUGUST: Graham's Magazine publishes the second installment of Poe's “Secret Writing,” his tale “The Colloquy of Monos and Una,” and his lengthy critique of Lambert A. Wilmer's The Quacks of Helicon.

NOTE: In his “Secret Writing” Poe published the Frailey cryptograph, offering a free year's subscription to Graham's Magazine and the Saturday Evening Postto the first person who shall read us this riddle.” In his July 12 letter to Joseph Evans Snodgrass, he alluded to “The Colloquy of Monos and Una”: “I have a paper in the August no: which will please you.” In this letter Poe also recommended The Quacks of Helicon for Snodgrass’ perusal; in the review itself, he noted: “Mr. Wilmer is a personal friend of our own, and we are happy and proud to say so . ... .”

AUGUST 10: A letter containing two ciphers from a “Timotheus Whackemwell” in Baltimore is received at the office of Graham's Magazine. ­[page 252:]

NOTE: Poe discussed the “Whackemwell” letter and translated one cipher in the October installment of “Secret Writing” (see the Works, XIV, 138).

AUGUST 11: Poe, believing that the handwriting of “Timotheus Whackemwell” is that of John N. McJilton, addresses a reply to this Baltimore author:

Your letter of yesterday is this moment received. A glance at the cipher which you suppose the more difficult of the two sent, assures me that its translation must; run thus —

“This specimen of secret writing is sent you for explanation. If you succeed in divining its meaning, I will believe that you are some kin to Old Nick.”

As my solution in this case will fully convince you of my ability to decipher the longer but i[n]f[ini]tely more simple cryptograph, you will perhaps exc[use] me from attempting it — as I am exceedingly occupied with business.

NOTE: Letters, I, 177.

AUGUST 13: John N. McJilton returns Poe's August 11 letter with a brief comment written on the bottom: “This is certainly intended for some one else. I know nothing of the matter whatever, nor should I be able to tell how the thing happened, but having seen the piece headed secret-writing pubd in Graham's Mag. noticed somewhere I suppose some wag has addressed you anonymously whom you have mistaken for me.”

NOTE: McJilton's reply is printed in the Works, XVII, 100, and the Letters, I, 177.

AUGUST 13: Poe writes Lea &Blanchard: he wishes to publish a new collection of his prose tales, which will include eight stories he has written since the publication ­[page 253:] of his Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque. This collection would consist of thirty-three tales and “would occupy two thick novel volumes.” Poe is anxious that Lea &Blanchard continue to be his publishers: “I should be glad to accept the terms which you allowed me before — that is — you receive all profits, and allow me twenty copies for distribution to friends.”

NOTE: Letters, I, 178. Ostrom names eight stories which Poe may have wished to include in this proposed edition.

AUGUST 14: Poe writes Horatio Hastings Weld, a New York author and editor: “The proprietor of a weekly paper in this city is about publishing an article (to be written partly by myself) on the subject of American Autography. The design is three-fold: first, to give the Autograph signature — that is, a fac-simile in woodcut — of each of our most distinguished literati; second, to maintain that the character is, to a certain extent, indicated by the chirography; and thirdly, to embody, under each Autograph, some literary gossip about the individual, with a brief comment on his writings.” Poe requests that Weld send a “brief summary” of his literary career and his own autograph “in a reply to this letter.” He adds: “We are still in want of the Autographs of Sprague, Hoffman, Dawes, Bancroft, Emerson, Whittier, R. A. Locke, and Stephens, the traveller.” If Weld has one of these autographs, and will permit an engraving to be taken from it, Poe “will endeavor to reciprocate the obligation.”

NOTE: Letters, I, 179-80. George R. Graham was the principal proprietor of the weekly Saturday Evening Post. Poe's comment that “Autography” is “to be written partly by myself” may indicate that Graham had an active role in ­[page 254:] its preparation. Additional evidence of this publisher's influence on the series may be found in Poe's February 3, 1842, letter to Frederick William Thomas. The first installment of “Autography” appeared in the November number of Graham's Magazine.

AUGUST 16: Lea &Blanchard reply to Poe's August 13 letter, inquiring whether these publishers would be willing to issue a new collection of his tales: “In answer we very much regret to say that the state of affairs is such as to give little encouragement to new undertakings. As yet we have not got through the edition of the other work &up to this time it has not returned to us the expense of its publication. We assure you that we regret this on your account as well as our own, as it would give us great pleasure to promote your views in relation to publication.”

NOTE: Works, XVII, 101-02.

AUGUST 16: President John Tyler vetoes the first bank bill, which would have created a national bank. His action creates dissension in the Whig party.

NOTE: Chitwood, John Tyler, p. 226. For additional information, see the chronology for August 30 and September 9, 11, 13, 1841.

AUGUST 18: Charles J. Peterson, an editor of Graham's Magazine, writes James Russell Lowell in Boston:

Your highly imaginative ballad has been received, and shall appear in the Octr. number of the magazine. Do you think the enclosed ten dollars a sufficient compensation for your article? If so, we shall be pleased to have you for a contributor, paying you at a like rate for future pieces.

Allow me to repeat how much pleasure I derived ­[page 255:] from reading your published poems, and my admiration of the purity and imagination they display.

NOTE: MS, Houghton Library, Harvard University.

AUGUST 18: Rufus W. Griswold, in New York City, writes the Philadelphia publishers Carey &Hart:

Pursuant to our agreement, of May last, I have resigned the conduct of the papers with which I have been connected in Boston, to superintend in person the stereotyping of “The Poets and Poetry of America.” Unless previously advised that a few days earlier or later attention to the subject will be more agreeable to you, I shall be in Philadelphia next week. I have, as you suggested, procured the necessary written licences from all the authors and publishers interested, which I shall surrender to you.

NOTE: MS, Pierpont Morgan Library of New York City. Griswold had been employed on the Boston Notion and the Daily Times since around May 8, 1841.

AUGUST 21: The Index, a new Democratic newspaper, begins publication: it is edited in Washington by Jesse E. Dow, and printed in Alexandria by its proprietor John M. Johnson.

NOTE: A file of The Index may be found at the Library of Congress. Jesse E. Dow resigned the editorship on July 4, 1842, because of ill health; the paper apparently ceased publication shortly thereafter.

CIRCA AUGUST 30: Rufus W. Griswold, who has returned to Philadelphia, visits the office of Graham's Magazine and leaves a note for Poe, requesting him to furnish biographical information on Frederick William Thomas for The Poets and Poetry of America.

NOTE: In his September 1, 1841, letter to Thomas, Poe ­[page 256:] stated that Griswold “left a note . ... the other day.”

AUGUST 30: Frederick William Thomas writes Poe, stating that he has not corresponded “for some time” because of illness. Previously, he wrote that he contacted John P. Kennedy, who offered to assist Poe in obtaining a government position. Thomas now reports his recent activities in Poe's behalf: “Sure I have conversed with the President's sons about you — they think the president will be able and willing to give you a situation, but they say, and I felt the truth of the remark before it was made, that at the present crisis when everything is ‘hurlyburly’ it would be of no avail to apply to him. He is much perplexed, as you may suppose amidst the conflicting parties, the anticipated cabinet break up, etc.” Thomas promises to see President Tyler when the crisis has passed and to write Poe describing the interview. The articles on cryptography have caused “quite a talk” in Washington; Thomas R. Hampton, the bookseller, states that he had a heavy demand for the August number of Graham's Magazine. Thomas encloses a cryptogram “in figures” from McClintock Young, the chief clerk of the Treasury, and a letter from Charles S. Frailey “on the matter of his [prior] communication.” Young's “secret writing” has “not the remotest analogy” with Poe's discussion of cryptography; Thomas does not expect his correspondent to solve. it, but wonders whether he can “surmise anything about it — that's the point.” Thomas asks a favor: “Poe, I have a song that has been set to a very pretty tune, by a gentleman here. I would like to have it published, and will give it to any music publisher who would undertake it. Can you manage it for me? . ... Will you make some inquiry with regard to the publishing it . ... .” ­[page 257:]

NOTE: Works, XVII, 102-03. President Tyler soon antagonized all but a handful of the Whigs in Congress by his vetoes of legislation which would have established a national bank. John P. Kennedy, a Whig representative, placed himself in open opposition to the Tyler administration, presumably losing his ability to assist Poe in gaining a federal appointment (see the chronology for September 13 and November 23, 1841). McClintock Young appears in the Washington Directory for 1843. Frailey's letter discussing his cipher Poe solved may have been addressed to Thomas; it has not been found.

AUGUST 30: Lewis J. Cist, of Cincinnati, writes Poe, complaining that his poem “Bachelor Philosophy,” which had been accepted for publication in the Penn Magazine, has

been published in the Saturday Evening Post under the caption “written for The Post.”

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Poe's reply on September 18, and from his letter of December 30, 1840, in which he accepted Cist's poem for the Penn Magazine.

September, 1841

SEPTEMBER: According to the Saturday Evening Post, August 28, p. 2, col. 8, the “leading embellishment” of Graham's Magazine for September is a steel engraving entitled “Cottage Fireside,” which “cost the proprietor . ... over four hundred dollars.”

NOTE: George R. Graham's lavish expenditures were not universally acclaimed. In noticing the September number [page 258:] of his magazine, theBaltimore Saturday Visiter, September 11, p. 2, col. 4, commented: “If one half the dollars laid out for engravings were only expended on authors of genius, these flashy things would live longer, be more profitable to the publishers, and do more credit to the country.”

SEPTEMBER: Graham's Magazine publishes Poe's revision of an earlier poem “To Helen,” which contains for the first time the two lines “To the glory that was Greece / To the grandeur that was Rome.” This number also features his satire “Never Bet Your Head, A Moral Tale.”

NOTE: Poe's story satirizes the idea that every fiction must inculcate a moral; he discusses it in his September 19, 1841, letter to Joseph Evans Snodgrass.

SEPTEMBER 1: Poe writes Frederick William Thomas: “Griswold left a note for me at the office, the other day, requesting me to furnish him with some memoranda of your life [for The Poets and Poetry of America ]; and it will, of course, give me great pleasure to do so; but . ... I find that neither myself, nor Mrs Clemm, upon whom I mainly depend for information, can give all the necessary points with sufficient precision . ... .” Poe asks Thomas to send more detailed biographical information as soon as possible, because Rufus W. Griswold's anthology is already in press:

What is your father's Christian name? Had your parents more children than yourself, Lewis, Frances, Susan, Martha, Isabella &Jackson? — if so, what were their names? When &where were you born? With whom did you study law? What was (exactly) the cause of your lameness? How did you first become known to the literary world? Who were your most intimate associates in Baltimore? When did you ­[page 259:] remove to Cincinnati? With what papers have you been occasionally connected — if with any? Besides answering these queries — give me a list of your writings published &unpublished — and some memoranda respecting your late lectures at Washington.

Poe asks Thomas for news of Jesse E. Dow and his newspaper. He himself will probably remain with George R. Graham, even if he starts the Penn Magazine in January; he has had “some excellent offers respecting the ‘Penn’ and it is more than probable that it will go on.” The success of Graham's Magazine is astonishing: “we shall print 20,000 copies shortly.”

NOTE: Letters, I, 180-81. For information on Dow's paper, see the chronology for August 21, 1841.

SEPTEMBER 3: Frederick William Thomas replies to Poe's September 1 letter, sending extensive biographical data.

NOTE: This lengthy letter is printed, with minor omissions, in the Works, XVII, 95-100. The MS, now in the Boston Public Library, bears no postmark, and is dated August 3. The September 3 dating; was established by Ostrom (see the Letters, I, 181; II, 588-89). Thomas frequently misdated his letters.

SEPTEMBER 4: Poe's “Eleonora” is published in the Boston Notion from The Gift for 1842.

NOTE: This entry is provided by Heartman and Canny, p. 100, and by Quinn, p. 328. Carey &Hart's popular annual The Gift seems to have been published each September (see the chronology for September 21, 1839, and September 24, 1842).

SEPTEMBER 4: The Saturday Evening Post, p. 2, col. 8, ­[page 260:] publishes an advance notice of Griswold's The Poets and Poetry of America: “We have been favored with a sight at some of the proof sheets of this work, now in press and to be published by Messrs. Carey &Hart. The editor, R. W. Griswold, Esq., is admirably fitted for his task, for, to a singularly fine taste, and a graceful pen, he unites a knowledge of the poets and poetry of America second to that of no other literary man in the country. The work is to be printed in the same style with Reed's Wordsworth, though on a smaller page. Altogether it will form one of the finest publications ever issued from the American press.”

SEPTEMBER 6: Joseph Evans Snodgrass writes Poe. Snodgrass’ poem “Reproof of a Bird” has appeared simultaneously in the September numbers of both Graham's Magazine and Godey's Lady's Book: he explains how this dual publication occurred. Snodgrass discusses “Never Bet Your Head”; from an allusion to The Dial contained in the story, he assumes that Poe is hostile to this New England journal. Snodgrass apparently asks Poe who publishes the Knickerbocker Magazine. In compliance with Poe's request in his July 12 letter; Snodgrass has inquired at the Baltimore Post Office for the letter he sent to John P. Kennedy on June 21.

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Poe's September 19 reply. Snodgrass’ “Reproof of a Bird” seems to have been accepted by Godey's Lady's Book, which delayed its publication; in the meantime he apparently submitted a revised version of the poem to Graham's Magazine (see Ostrom's explanation in the Letters, I, 18384). The Dial, a Boston quarterly which circulated only several hundred copies, was the principal organ of ­[page 261:] New England Transcendentalism. The Baltimore Post Office had forwarded Poe's June 21 letter to Kennedy in Washington on June 22 (see the Letters, I, 177).

SEPTEMBER 6: Rufus W. Griswold, who has returned to New York City, writes Edwin P. Whipple:

I have been confined to my room by severe illness five or six days, and am now too ill to write you more than a few lines. By the inclosed uncorrected proof sheet you will see that I have begon [begun] my “big book,” and I wish you would as soon as possible give me a sketch of Mrs Brooks — about twice as long as that of Freneau — and you shall be rewarded in the right way. I am not well enough to write you a long letter now. Fields will send whatever you prepare for me. Let me hear from you straight[a]way. If you come to New York, seek me at 196 Clinton Street[.]

NOTE: MS, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Whipple (1819-1886) was a Boston author. Mrs. Maria Brooks (17(?4?-1845) and Philip Freneau (17521832) were American Poets. James T. Fields, a Boston publisher, was Griswold's friend and correspondent.

SEPTEMBER 8: Rufus W. Griswold in New York writes James T. Fields: “my health remains too poor, and I can say but a few words to yourself even.” He discusses the status of

The Poets and Poetry of America: “My book is going on — well, and as rapidly as I furnish the copy. It will probably be all stereotyped in December. I shall be in Boston at that time to see you.”

NOTE: MS, Huntington Library. In his September 14, 1841, letter to Fields (MS, Huntington Library), Griswold commented: “My health has been mending apace since last I wrote to you, but I am still lacking an essential remedy, a dose of your exquisite cal[l]igraphy.” In spite of the hopeful prognosis Griswold gave in, his second letter to ­[page 262:] Fields, his health further deteriorated before the end of the year (see the chronology for November 23 and December 27, 1841).

SEPTEMBER 9: Richard Bolton, of Pontotoc, Mississippi, sends a postage paid letter to the editor of Graham's Magazine, enclosing the solution to the Frailey cipher published in the August number. Accompanying this letter are certificates of two subscribers in Pontotoc affirming that Bolton “had effected the solution unaided by the key and that the September number in which the key was exposed had not arrived.”

NOTE: The contents of this letter are described in Bolton's November 4 letter to Poe.

SEPTEMBER 9: President John Tyler vetoes the second bank bill, which would have established a national bank.

NOTE: Chitwood, John Tyler, p. 244. Tyler's second veto of Whig-supported bank legislation alienated him from the party responsible for his assumption of the nation's highest office.

SEPTEMBER 11: With the exception of Daniel Webster, the Secretary of State, President Tyler's Cabinet resigns to protest his veto of the bank bills.

SEPTEMBER 13: Over fifty Whig members of Congress hold a caucus on Capitol Square; they issue a pronouncement expelling John Tyler from their party. He is henceforth “a President without a party,” whose leadership is repudiated by the Whigs, but not accepted by the Democrats. The author of the “Whig Manifesto” reading Tyler out of the ­[page 263:] party is John P. Kennedy, Poe's early patron.

NOTE: Chitwood, John Tyler, pp. 249-50. Additional information may be found in Charles H. Bohner's John Pendleton Kennedy: Gentleman from Baltimore (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1961), pp. 148-49.

SEPTEMBER 18: Poe replies to Lewis J. Cist's August 30 letter, which he has “only this moment received . ... having been absent from the city for some time.” He regrets that Cist's poem “Bachelor’ Philosophy,” submitted for the Penn Magazine, has been published in the Saturday Evening Post under the caption “written for The Post.” Although Poe admits he has been “guilty of a sad neglect” in this matter, he is innocent of “any intentional disrespect or discourtesy.” When he joined the staff of Graham's Magazine, he delivered Cist's poem and other manuscripts submitted for the Penn into the custody of Charles J. Peterson, “the then editor of that journal” whose duties included “revising MSS for press and attending to the general arrangement of the matter.” Poe intended to obtain permission from the contributors to the Penn to publish their articles in Graham's Magazine, and his impression was that he had secured Cist's consent. “Mr. Peterson, however, (who has a third interest in the'saturday Evening Post’ and superintends the ‘getting up’ of that paper also) has taken the unwarrantable liberty, it seems, of using the poem to suit his own views — leaving out of question my positive understanding and intention on the subject. I seldom look at the paper, . ... and the publication of your verses did not meet my eye . ... .” If Cist comprehends “the nature of the confusion attendant upon the joint issue of a paper and magazine,” he will not be surprised by this oversight. In further extenuation Poe mentions that he has nothing to ­[page 264:] do with “the disposition of the MSS — the drudgery of the business . ... . I merely write the Reviews, with a tale monthly, and read the last proofs.” Charles J. Peterson, in using Cist's poem for the Post, is guilty of “a falsehood wilfully perpetrated — of a kind which he is in the habit of perpetrating, and which have before involved me most disagreeably.” Recently Poe gave a copy of his poem “A Ballad” to Peterson for “re-publication” in the Saturday Evening Post, with the understanding that it was to appear under the caption “From the Southern Literary Messenger.” Peterson published it; under the same caption as Cist's “Bachelor Philosophy.”

NOTE: Letters, I, 181-82. The present letter reveals Poe's attitude toward Peterson, and it establishes the different editorial functions the two men performed on Graham's Magazine. For additional information on their functions, see the chronology for October, 1841. Poe's poem was originally published in the January, 1837, number of the Southern Literary Messenger; it was reprinted in the July 31, 1841, issue of the Saturday Evening Post, p. l, col. 1, with the title “Ballad” and under the caption “Written for the Saturday Evening Post. “

SEPTEMBER 19: Poe replies to Joseph Evans Snodgrass’ letter of September 6: “Touching the ‘Reproof of a Bird,’ I hope you will give;yourself no uneasiness about it. We don’t mind the contre-temps; and as for Godey, it serves him right, as you say. The moment I saw the article in The ‘Lady's Book’, I saw at once how it all happened.” Poe clarifies his reference to The Dial in “Never Bet Your Head,” which had appeared in Graham's Magazine for September: “You are mistaken about ‘The Dial’. I have no quarrel in the world with that illustrious journal, nor it with me. I am not aware that it ever mentioned my ­[page 265:] name, or alluded to me either directly or indirectly. My slaps at it were only in ‘a general way.’ The tale in question is a mere Extravaganza levelled at no one in particular, but hitting right &left at things in general.” Although the Knickerbocker Magazine has been purchased by Otis Broaders &Co., the Boston publishers, it is still edited by Lewis Gaylord Clark. Poe thanks Snodgrass for “attending to the Kennedy matter,” and he discusses the status of the Penn Magazine: “It is not impossible that Graham will join me in The ‘Penn.’ He has money. By the way, is it impossible to start a first-class Mag: in Baltimore? Is there no publisher or gentleman of moderate capital who would join me in the scheme?”

NOTE: Letters, I, 18:3-84. Snodgrass may have been the Baltimore “gentleman of moderate capital” whom Poe wished to enlist in his magazine scheme.

SEPTEMBER 20: Poe writes Frederick William Thomas. Because of his “Secret Writing” articles, he has been bothered by communications from many students of cryptography. He is now collecting autographs for his forthcoming “Autography” series, and he asks whether Thomas can furnish the signatures of Joseph Rodman Drake and George D. Prentice. Apparently, Poe offers to publish Thomas’ song in Graham's Magazine.

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Thomas’ September 22 reply. In his August 30 letter Thomas had requested that Poe find a publisher for his song. Prentice was a Kentucky journalist and poet whom Thomas knew; Drake (1795-1820), a talented American poet, died of tuberculosis at the age of twenty-six.

SEPTEMBER 22: Frederick William Thomas replies to ­[page 266:] Poe's September 20 letter: “I do not wonder that you have been annoyed by cryptographic connoisseurs. Your astonishing power of decyphering secret writing is to me a puzzle which I can’t solve. Thats [sic ] a curious head-piece of yours, and I should like to know what phrenologists say about it. Did you ever have your head examined? And what said the examiner?” Thomas offers to assist Poe in preparing “Autography”: “I remember well your autographic articles in the Southern Literary Messenger — They were very interesting — No, I have not either Prentice's or Drake's autograph's [sic ] here — but I could get them for you — The President's[,] Mr Webster's and others of the eminent politicians and statesmen here I can easily obtain for you — if you include them in your plan . ... .” Thomas requests that Poe not put himself to any trouble about his song:

I should like to have it published in a sheet, by some publishers [sic ] or other — I don’t ask anything for it — and only want a few copies to give to a fair friend or so, which I am willing to buy-If you cannot get any publisher to publish it as I here propose, will you a[s]certain for me what it will cost to publish it on my own account — It is a song of four verses of four lines each — There is [sic ] no music publishers here or I would not trouble you in the matter — My only objection to publishing it in the magazine is that I could not present copies of it — and if it should. be popular . ... it could not be obtained in a form likely to give it . ... circulation.

Thomas discusses the political climate of Washington; he regrets “the break up in the cabinet,” especially the resignation of his patron Thomas Ewing, the Secretary of the Treasury. On the other hand, he is heartened by his growing intimacy with the Tylers: “I think that the President and family have a kind feeling towards me, and I shall put my trust there . ... . I have just received an invitation to dinner there to day [sic ].” Thomas adds that he and Robert ­[page 267:] Tyler frequently speak of Poe. Thomas likes “Wilmer's poem,” which he received through the mail, and he asks: “Did you send it to me — or did he — Nothing accompanied it that indicated from whom it came.”

NOTE: MS, Boston Public Library. Poe answered Thomas’ query about phrenology in his October 27 letter. In Shadows on the Wall, or Glimpses of the Past (1877; rpt. New York: AMS Press, 1971), p. 103, John H. Hewitt, a poet and musician who resided in Washington during the Tyler administration, recalled that this President was “remarkably fond of poetry and music” but “a good judge of neither.” Hewitt remembered seeing Thomas in President Tyler's company; he described Poe's friend as “the White House poet-laureate.” The poem by Lambert A. Wilmer was almost certainly his satire The Quacks of Helicon, which Poe praised in his July 12 letter to Joseph Evans Snodgrass and in the August number of Graham's Magazine.

SEPTEMBER 24: Poe replies to Frederick William Thomas’ September 22 letter: “I: have succeeded in getting Willig of this city to publish the song. Please send it on as soon as possible. He says he cannot afford to give anything for it beyond a few copies — but will promise to get it up handsomely. I suppose you had better send it through me.” In a postscript Poe asks Thomas to obtain the autographs of Joseph Rodman Drake, George D. Prentice, and Amelia Welby if he can, adding that “Our design includes only literary people.”

NOTE: Letters, II, 696. George Willig appears in every edition of McElroy's Philadelphia Directory between 1837 and 1845; his music store was located at 171 Chestnut Street. In Shadows on the Wall, pp. 71-72, John H. Hewitt ­[page 268:] described Willig as a “well-known music publisher” who issued “many a popular pianoforte composition and ballads that lived beyond the usual span.” Additional information on Thomas’ song may be found in the chronology for September 27, October 14, 27, November 6, 10, 23, 26, and December 14, 1841. He apparently was not able to send Poe the desired signatures: these three writers were not included in “Autography.”

SEPTEMBER 25: In reviewing the October number of Graham's Magazine for The Index, p. 3, col. 3, Jesse E. Dow comments that “its main editor, Edgar A. Poe, Esq., a Richmond boy by adoption, is the severest critic, the best writer, and the most unassuming little fellow in the United States.”

NOTE: Although Poe's childhood and youth were largely spent in Richmond, he had been born in Boston. The Saturday Museum, March 4, 1843, p. 1, col. 9, described him as “somewhat slender, about five feet, eight inches in height, and well proportioned.” Not all his contemporaries found him to be “unassuming.”

SEPTEMBER 25: The Index, p. 4, col. 5, carries an advertisement written by Poe's friend Jesse E. Dow:


THE undersigned, who served four years in the Contract Office, Post Office Department, as Corresponding Clerk, offers his services to mail contractors and others having claims before the Post Office Department and Auditor's Office of the same. No matter how old, or what the claims are, or how often rejected, the undersigned begs that he may be permitted to try his hand upon them, he having discovered a way to correct illegal decisions by an appeal. The undersigned charges 10 per cent. upon all claims allowed. No one ­[page 269:] in Washington does, or can, attend to this business but the undersigned.


SEPTEMBER 25: Poe receives from George R. Graham $33.50 “on acct of editing Magazine.”

NOTE: For documentation, see the chronology for March 25, 1841.

SEPTEMBER 27: Frederick William Thomas replies to Poe's September 24 letter.

NOTE: This letter is cited on the manuscript of Poe's letter (see Ostrom's note, Letters, II, 696). Presumably, Thomas forwarded his song on this date; in his October 14 letter he stated that he had sent it “the other day.”

SEPTEMBER 28: Jesse E. Dow, who has been “taunted by anonymous scribblers at a distance with having been over anxious for the acquittal of Commodore ELLIOTT,” takes occasion to defend this naval officer at length in The Index, p. 3, cols. 2-3:

Commodore ELLIOTT, we believe, was suspended for doing that which others have done with impunity; and, had he have been more relaxing in his discipline, he might have been cosily seated at the present time in the chair of power at a lazy Dock yard, with a swallow tail flying at his mast sheer head, instead of forcing corn to grow in the Valley of Chester, surrounded by broad tailed sheep, and dressed in a straw hat and thunder and lightning inexpressibles.

We were with Commodores MORRIS, BAINBRIDGE, and ELLIOTT, as Confidential Secretary for nine years; and we have defended Commodore ELLIOTT the most, because we considered him the most abused.

We saw him at all times and in all places — when the sea rolled up her thunder pealing waves upon the midnight lee, and when the summer breeze, scented with ­[page 270:] the breath of flowers, sighed through the shrouds of the gallant frigate . ... .

In all situations we found him a frank, impetuous sailor — faulty, as all men of impulses are, and liable to err as the best of his corps. We were not pleased with all his acts, neither did we agree with him in his sense of duty. We believed that a junior at sea had rights which could not be taken from him by the sovereignty of the country, and we believe so still. We should admire to see an appeal taken from a Court Martial to the Supreme Court of the United States. ... .

NOTE: This article on Commodore Jesse D. Elliott contains significant information on Dow's early career.

October, 1841

OCTOBER: A notice appears in Graham's Magazine (Vol. 19, p. 188): “Owing to the temporary absence of Mr. Poe, the reviews in this number are from another hand. That department is exclusively under the control of Mr. Poe. C. J. Peterson, his coadjutor, has the charge of the other departments of the work.”

OCTOBER: Graham's Magazine publishes Poe's revision of his poem “Israfel” and the third installment of his “Secret Writing.”

NOTE: In “Secret Writing” Poe printed the solution to one of the “Timotheus Whackemwell” ciphers, the solution and the key to the Charles S. Frailey cipher, and Frailey's July 6 letter to Frederick William Thomas explaining his cryptograph and acknowledging Poe's solution.

OCTOBER 13: Poe receives from George R. Graham $60.90 on acct of editing Magazine.” ­[page 271:]

NOTE: For documentation, see the chronology for March 25, 1841.

OCTOBER 14: Frederick William Thomas writes Poe: “Did you receive the MS: music I sent you the other day — What says Willig of it — How does [sic ] your lady and mother like the tune?” Thomas would like to write a favorable review of “two addresses of President Tyler,” and he asks whether Poe would be willing to publish it in Graham's Magazine: “Write me frankly on the subject.” Thomas suggests that Poe compose a closet drama like Byron's Manfred or Milton's Comus. Jesse E. Dow is well: “He has gone to housekeeping — does better out of office he says than in — He edits the ‘Index’ published at Alexandria, and flames forth a zealous politician. I think he will make a good editor . ... .” Thomas asks whether Abel Parker Upshur or Nathaniel Beverley Tucker is the author of The Partisan Leader; and he wonders whether Poe knows Upshur, who is the new Secretary of the Navy: “He could be of service to you in your views here — Let me know if you do — I wish you could spare time to come on . ... .”

NOTE: MS, Boston Public Library. Thomas’ review of Tyler's speeches did not appear in Graham's Magazine, which avoided political controversy. Beverley Tucker was the author of The Partisan Leader, a novel published pseudonymously in 1836.

OCTOBER 19: Park Benjamin, editor of the New World, writes George R. Graham:

Will you loan the New World the wood-blocks of the autographs, which appear in your Magazine for November? If you will cause them to be placed in the hands of P.,Ir. G. B. Zieber, agent of the New World, he will safely forward them to us and they shall be as ­[page 272:] safely returned. I should be glad to receive them as early as Monday of next week. If you will have the goodness to comply with this request, it will spare us some expense, and it will afford us much pleasure to reciprocate by printing your table of contents and by noticing the admirable style in which your Magazine is presented to the public.

Benjamin adds: “I rejoice to hear of your great success[.] . ... . I thank Mr Poe heartily for his just notice.

NOTE: MS, Boston Public Library. Benjamin's letter provides strong evidence that the November number of Graham's Magazine, containing the first installment of “Autography,” had been released prior to October 19; in commenting on this editor's autograph, Poe had praised him for his “combined ability, activity, causticity, fearlessness, and independence.” Benjamin's New World, which commenced publication in New York City on October 26, 1839, was originally a weekly newspaper of folio size; on June 6, 1840, it began to appear in a quarto edition as well. Benjamin reviewed the November Graham's in the October 23 issue of the New World (see the chronology), and he reprinted the November installment of “Autography” in the November 6 issue (Vol. 3, pp. 290-93). George B. Zieber was a periodical agent in Philadelphia.

OCTOBER 23: In the New World (Vol. 3, p. 270) Park Benjamin notices a popular periodical:

THE NOVEMBER NUMBER OF GRAHAM's LADY's AND GENTLEMAN's MAGAZINE which we have received, anticipatory of its day of publication, is marked equally by the richness of its embellishments and the excellence of its literature. It seems to us that this periodical is edited with singular ability and vigor; although characteristics like these every reader has a right to expect from so accomplished and forcible a writer and critic as Mr. Edgar A. Poe. ... .

The most interesting article in this number, though, perhaps, we say it that should not, since our ­[page 273:] own vile chirography figures among the rest — is one by Mr. Poe on autography. His remarks display great acumen and some severity; but they are honest and kind, and, for the most part, correct.

OCTOBER 26: Charles J. Peterson writes James Russell Lowell in Boston, suggesting that he contribute a poem to Graham's Magazine for January, 1842: “The number will be a crack one, and my aim is to make its poetry especially good.” Peterson plans to visit Boston at Christmas, and he hopes to have the honor of meeting Lowell. He is forwarding the November number of Graham's Magazine; Lowell will find Poe's “Autography” of interest. Next month's installment will feature “sixty more signatures”; some of the subjects will be very minor writers; “and the public will be not a little like the wonderers at flies in amber, as Pope has it — they’ll ‘wonder how the d — d things got there.’” Lowell's autograph will appear in this December installment: “However you must keep your temper &not scout for the company you are in, as your name will be one among those to follow. I send you the sheet on which it will appear enclosed in your Nov. number. I hope the notice appended to your name will please you. It is by Poe. He lost your Scrip or your name would have figured in Novr.”

NOTE: MS, Houghton Library, Harvard University. Peterson did not visit Boston (see his January 10, 1842, letter to Lowell).

OCTOBER 27: Poe replies to Frederick William Thomas’ October 14 letter: “I received your last some days ago, and have delayed answering it, in hope that I might say your song was out, and that I might give you my opinion and Virginia's about its merits. As soon as I received the MS. I took it forthwith to Willig, who promised me that it ­[page 274:] should be ready in a week. I called three or four times, and still the answer was —’in a day or two’. Yesterday I called again; when he positively assured me that it would be out on Monday.” Willig will forward copies of the song to Washington; Virginia Poe is anxious to see it, as she is fond of Thomas’ previous song “‘Tis Said that Absence Conquers Love.” Although Poe is not sure who wrote The Partisan Leader, he is certain that Judge Abel Parker Upshur is not the author. He is not personally acquainted with Upshur, the new Secretary of the Navy, but respects his talents: “He is not only the most graceful speaker I ever heard, but one of the most graceful &luminous writers.”

To answer Thomas’ query in his September 22 letter, Poe writes: “Speaking of heads — my own has been examined by several phrenologists — all of whom spoke of me in a species of extravaganza which I should be ashamed to repeat.” Thomas’ name was omitted from the “autograph article for November . ... on account of the length of the comment upon it. It heads the list in the December no; which is already finished.” Poe is glad to hear of Jesse E. Dow's success, but wonders why his friend never sends him The Index. Graham's Magazine is enjoying an unprecedented success: “In January we print 25000. Such a thing was never heard of before. Ah, if we could only get up the ‘Penn’! I have made a definite engagement with Graham for 1842 — but nothing to interfere with my own scheme, should I be able by any good luck, to go into it. Graham holds out a hope of his joining me in July. Is there no one among your friends at Washington — no one having both brains &funds who would engage in such an enterprise?”

NOTE: Letters, I, 18485. George Willig was a Philadelphia music publisher (see the chronology for September 24, 1841); [page 275:] Thomas’ “‘Tis Said that Absence Conquers Love” was a popular ballad of the 1830's (see the Works, XVII, 98).

ANTE OCTOBER 29: Rufus W. Griswold returns to Philadelphia and assumes the editorship of the Philadelphia Gazette, a daily newspaper which had been formerly edited by the late Willis Gaylord Clark.

NOTE: Passages from the Correspondence of Rufus W. Griswold, p. 101. Additional information on Griswold's brief editorship of the Gazette may be found in the chronology for November 17, 1841, and January 13, 1842.

OCTOBER 29: The Public Ledger, p. 1, col. 5, publishes an unsigned article entitled “Three Thursdays in One Week.”

NOTE: This article is a probable source for Poe's story “A Succession of Sundays,” which appeared in the Saturday Evening Post on November 27, 1841; see Fannye N. Cherry's “The Source of Poe's ‘Three Sundays in a Week,’” American Literature, 2 (1930), 232-35.

OCTOBER 29: John Tomlin writes Poe:

Jackson, Tennessee,

October 29th 1841.

My dear Mr Poe,

Sergeant N Talfourd Esq of London, says to me in his letter of August the 11th 1841 —”I transcribe my last Effusion — on an occasion very dear to me.” The following Sonnet, composed in view of Eton College after leaving his Eldest Son there for the first time, is the Effusion lie alluded to.

I feel proud of having it in my power, of sending to you for for [sic ] publication in Graham's Magazine “an Original Article[”] from the pen of this high minded and gifted individual. Powerful as his intellect is, it is not more powerful, than his heart is tender, ­[page 276:] and warmed by a parent's feeling! From the buried treasures of his heart gushes [sic ] Sentiments full of tenderness and love — and with a father's feeling he is carried to that distant day when his Son takes his place in the toiling struggles of life. There he leaves him with a prayer to heaven, that he may pass its threshold without a blush — and with a confiding hope in its mercy, (yet — he speaks it not) he looks “thro the vista of long years” to his Son's greatness.

With the Sincere wish that this effusion may prove as acceptable to your numerous readers, as it will be gratifying to you in receiving it, I am dear Sir, with remembrances,

faithfully yours

Jno Tomlin.

[Tomlin transcribes Talfourd's sonnet, dated “London, August 11, 1841. “]

NOTE: MS, Boston Public Library. Tomlin, the postmaster of Jackson, Tennessee, used his franking privilege to correspond with some forty British and American authors. Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd (1795-1854) was a British jurist, playwright, and poet; Tomlin printed his August 11, 1841, letter in “The Autobiography of a Monomaniac,” Holden's Dollar Magazine, 5 (November, 1848), 649. In this letter Talfourd remarked to Tomlin: “Although I cannot recognize in my own writings any merits which would seem to me to be capable of exciting such feelings as you have expressed, I am assured by that expression that there is in them something of good . ... .” The British author transcribed his latest poem — a “production of mine which you may not possess” — but he did not suggest that Tomlin seek to publish it. His “Sonnet” appeared in the January, 1842, number of Graham's Magazine (Vol. 20, p. 5). [page 277:]

November, 1841

NOVEMBER: Graham's Magazine publishes Poe's “A Chapter on Autography.”

NOTE: Poe had furnished two previous articles on “Autography” for the Southern Literary Messenger in 1836; he was to publish two more, one in the December number of Graham's, and another in the January number. In “Autography” Poe commented on virtually every notable American writer of his time, although he did not discuss two young Philadelphia poets of his acquaintance — Thomas Dunn English and Henry Beck Hirst. This series was immediately popular. In reviewing the November Graham's, the Pennsylvania Inquirer, October 29, p. 2, col. 3, noted: “The most singular, and at the same time, the most interesting article in the work, is the chapter on autographs, which present[s] ‘fac similes’ of the signatures of about one half of the best authors of our country, with a brief critical notice of the style of each — the other half to be given in December. We predict, therefore, that the November and December numbers of this Miscellany, will be carefully treasured up by many of its readers.” George R. Graham's Saturday Evening Post, October 30, p. 2, col. 8, boasted that “Autography” will include “the signature of every writer in America, at all known.” The Post, p. 2, col. 8, quoted the New York Evening Mail, which had also found “Autography” to be the most interesting article in the November Graham's: “We wish we had the cuts, so that we might transfer it.” Park Benjamin, the editor of another New York journal, had written the proprietor of Graham's Magazine on October 19 to request “the wood-blocks of the autographs”; he reprinted the November installment of “Autography” in the November 6 issue of his New World (Vol. 3, pp. 290-93). The New York Mirror, 20 ­[page 278:] (January 1, 1842), 3, commented that Poe's “Autography” articles have “excited a great deal of interest.” Several of his friends praised the series in newspapers under their control; for the comments of Jesse E. Dow, Joseph Evans Snodgrass, and John S. Du Solle, see the chronology for November 2, 27, 1841, and January 10, 1842. “Autography” was also discussed in letters entered in the chronology for August 14, September 22, 24, October 19, 26, 27, November 10, 13, 23, 26, 30, December [?], 1841, and January 13, February 3, 26, July 6, 1842.

NOVEMBER 2: Jesse E. Dow praises Poe in The Index, p. 3, col. 2:


The Gentleman's Magazine (Graham's) for November is at hand, and its reading matter as usual demands our commendation. Its embellishments — particularly its embossed view of Boston from the old hill in Chelsea — are worthy of our highest praise and are worth alone the price of the number. Mr. Poe, the talented critic of the Magazine, gives us a new chapter of wonders. He has gathered together a goodly list of autographs of authors, male and female, and served them up with vinegar and sweet sauce to be rolled upon the tongue of memory for no inconsiderable portion of time. Mr. Poe is a wonderful man. He can read the hieroglyphics of the Pharoahs, tell you what you are thinking about while he walks beside you, and criticise you into shape without giving offence.

We trust that he will soon come out with his Penn Magazine, a work which, if carried out as he designs it, will do away with the monopoly of puffing and break the fetters which a corps of pensioned blockheads have bound so long around the brows of young intellects who are too proud -to pay a literary pimp for a favorable notice in a mammoth six penny or a good word with the fathers of the Row, who drink wine out of the skulls of authors and grow fat upon the geese that feed upon the grass that waves over their early tomb stones. ­[page 279:]

NOVEMBER 4: Richard Bolton, of Pontotoc, Mississippi, writes Poe:

Pontotoc, Miss., Nov. 4, 1841.

Dear Sir:

The November number of your valuable magazine has just arrived. To my great surprise no notice is taken of my solution of the cryptograph proposed to your readers in the August number. This I can attribute only to accident or oversight. As you had thrown the gauntlet which I took up, I must call upon you as a true man and no craven to render me according to the terms of the defiance the honours of a field worthily contested and fairly won.

A friend lent me for perusal your magazine for that month. On the ninth of September, within a month after the arrival of the magazine my solution was mailed postage paid, addressed to the editor. Accompanying it were certificates of two subscribers, Messrs. Glokenau and L. C. Draper (the latter assistant postmaster) that I had effected the solution unaided by the key and that the September [October] number in which the key was exposed had not arrived.

My solution fully agrees with your published solution except in two words about which I will soon take occasion to remark. I therefore claim to have fully complied with the terms of the challenge and to be entitled to all the rights, privileges and honours therein expressed.

My solution was as follows:

In one of those peripatetic circumrotations I obviated a rustic whom I subjected to catechetical interrogation respecting the homonomial characteristic of the edifice to which I was approximate. With a volubility uncongealed by the frigorific powers of villatic bashfulness he ejaculated a voluminous replication from the universal tenor of whose contexts I deduce the subsequent amalgamation of heterogeneous facts (or fancy). Without dubiety incipient pretension is apt to terminate in final vulgarity as parturient mountains have been fabulated to produce muscupular abortions, yet the institution, the subject of my remarks, has not been without cause the theme of the ephemeral columns of quotidian ­[page 280:] journals and of enthusiastic encomiations in conversational intercourse.

Notes (1) I, omitted in the cipher. (2) t, omitted in the cipher. (3) homon omial — a Greek derivative compound as in homologue and binomial. Omonomos, according to authority “That have similar laws.” May well be used to designate an architectural proportion and thus fairly apply to the characteristics of an edifice. Nomos is commonly anglicised into nomial whereas nomos, from Nomizo must be changed into comial as you have properly rendered it. But the cipher whbo supposing w erroneously used in place of u spells mial not mical as you give it in yours. The character 5 is used but once in the cipher; it may therefore as well be mo as so. Also by analogy as is to and 5, mo and 6, or again — it states also that he [Charles S. Frailey] used these characters in lieu of various short words to prevent frequent repetitions, but neither so nor os is used except in whose elsewhere in the cipher, while mo and om are used in whom[,] homo normal[,] from[,] mountains[,] encomiation. There was therefore little reason to substitute a character for so, but great cause for substituting one for mo — especially as in the word homonomial it must occur twice[.] I am satisfied my translation agrees best with the cipher even though the word nosocomical was intended by the author. This word caused me more trouble than all the rest of the cryptograph. (4), t omitted in the cipher translated literally 5c in the cipher erroneously used instead of e[.] (6) context. The general series of discourse [according to] Webster. I prefer this to contents as more in character with the bombastic words commonly used. The same idea is conveyed by either word. (7) yet omitted in your solution. (8) spelled ephemeral. (9) a used instead of A in the cipher omitted in your solution. I am your obedient servant,

R. Bolton.

Edgar A. Poe, Esq.,

Editor of Graham's Gentleman's Magazine, Philada.

NOTE: Richard Bolton's November 4, 1841, and January 10, 1842, letters to Poe were published in the Memphis, Tennessee, Commercial Appeal, November 15, 1925, Section IV, ­[page 281:] p. 7; this newspaper obtained Bolton's letters from his son Charles Bolton of Pontotoc, Mississippi. Poe had published Charles S. Frailey's cryptograph in the August, 1841, number of Graham's Magazine, challenging the monthly's readers to attempt its solution; the key to the cipher and his own solution appeared in the October number. Both the Frailey cipher and Poe's solution are reprinted in the Works, XIV, 133-34, 138-40. Bolton was the only reader of Graham's who translated the cipher. Poe acknowledged his solution in his November 18 reply to the present letter and in the December installment of “Secret Writing” (Works, XIV, 149); but in his November 26 letter to Frederick William Thomas, he mistakenly asserted that the Mississippian had seen his own solution and copied “Three blunders “ it contained. The present letter reveals that Bolton had prepared his translation before Poe's solution appeared in the October Graham's, and that he was subsequently able to detect several errors and omissions in the published solution.

NOVEMBER 6: Henry Marie Brackenridge writes Frederick William Thomas: he has written a new biography of his father Hugh Henry Brackenridge, which he wishes to publish in a Philadelphia journal “as a precursor to the publication of a new and improved edition of ‘Modern Chivalry’ now about to be put to press.” Approximately ten days ago Brackenridge gave the manuscript to his friend Walter Colton, editor of the Philadelphia North American, for possible publication in that newspaper. He now believes that it would be more appropriate if this biography, which is “intended to be reprinted in the new edition of Modern Chivalry,” were to appear in “some well known periodical” rather than in a daily newspaper. Brackenridge has heard Thomas mention Graham's Magazine, and he now requests his ­[page 282:] aid in securing the publication of the biography in this journal. Thomas should forward this letter to his friend Poe, who can then obtain the biography for his consideration from the editor of the North American: “Mr. Colton on seeing this letter will hand over the MSS. to Mr. E. A. Poe, the editor of the Magazine, unless the publication shall have been announced in the N. American . ... .”

NOTE: MS, Boston Public Library. Henry Marie Brackenridge (1786-1871) was an author, diplomat, and jurist; his father Hugh Henry Brackenridge (1748-1816) had been a noted American novelist, playwright, and poet. Modern Chivalry, a massive satirical novel, was published in four volumes between 1792 and 1815.

NOVEMBER 6: Frederick William Thomas forwards Henry Marie Brackenridge's letter to Poe, appending to the manuscript a letter of his own:

The above will explain itself — The Judge . ... was speaking to me of his father's biography which he said he had written and which he handed me for perusal- I thought it would be the thing for your work, and advised him to send it to you — He said that he had promised to send it to Mr Colton[,] the editor of the North American — Since he told me he thought I was right and he would like to have the biography published in your Magazine, or the Southern Literary Messenger — I advised that of which you were the editor — I think it an excellent bit of biography — Write me frankly about it — (get it forthwith)[.] If it does not suit your Magazine, let us know quickly and I will send it to the Southern Literary Messenger.

I have not got my song yet — though I got your letter — and had been wondering for a long time why I had not gotten one from you before — I begin to get provoked with you for not writing. My dear fellow[,] I don’t believe that Phrenology can make much of an “extravaganza” (as you say) . ... of your head, or Physiology of your heart either — There, hi, beat that ­[page 283:] by way of a downright phrase to draw a blush from a modest man —”merit is always modest”-

I write this in great haste — Let me hear from you as soon as convenient with regard to the Judge's MS: . ... I wish indeed that you had a friend here who had “both brains and funds,” as you say, to embark in the Penn. It will all come right some day. I believe you can make the best Magazine extant; and your friends, if you were embarked in your own boat, would feel much deeper interest, and give more aid to your exclusive work than to any other . ... .

NOTE: MS, Boston Public Library. Thomas crossed out his own name on the exterior and put Poe's; the letter is postmarked November 6.

ANTE NOVEMBER 8: W. B. Tyler, a reader of Graham's Magazine who has been greatly interested in the series on “Secret Writing,” sends Poe a lengthy letter discussing cryptography. He appends an especially complicated cipher.

NOTE: Poe published Tyler's letter and cipher in the December installment of “Secret Writing” (see the Works, XIV, 140-46). This dating for his letter is suggested by Poe's statement in his November 18 letter to Richard Bolton that the December number of Graham's Magazine had been “quite ready for ten days.”

CIRCA NOVEMBER 8: Poe replies to Frederick William Thomas’ November 6 letter: Henry Marie Brackenridge's biography of his father is not suitable for publication in Graham's Magazine. Thomas’ song has been published by George Willig; Virginia Poe does not like the music which accompanies his verses.

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Thomas’ November 10 reply. ­[page 284:]

NOVEMBER 8: John Beauchamp Jones resigns as editor of the Baltimore Saturday Visiter; this weekly journal will now be conducted by Joseph Evans Snodgrass, who will insure that it continues “its ground of strict neutrality in Politics and Religion — steering clear of every thing like party predilections.”

NOTE: This date is given in a notice published in the Visiter, November 13, p. 2, col. 1. Jones had edited the paper since May 9, 1840 (see the chronology). The January 15, 1842, issue of the Visiter, p. 2, col. 2, contained a notice that Snodgrass had become its sole proprietor.

NOVEMBER 10: Frederick William Thomas writes Poe:

This morning I received yours with regard to Judge Brackenridge's MS: Thanks for your punctuality and promptness — I read the Judge what you said (of course leaving out what Graham said about its “heaviness”) at which he seemed much pleased. —

The Judge wishes it sent to the Messenger. Please therefore, by return of mail, if convenient, to send the MS: to the Judge under cover directed: —


Walter Forward

Secretary of Treasury. Washington.

The Judge will then hand it to me and I will send it to [Thomas W.] White. —

I am sorry that your lady likes not the music to which my song is married . ... . Well — I like “Virginia's” frankness, my dear friend, as I have always like yours . ... .

I have not received the copies from Willig yet — Why don’t he send them? . ... I wrote to [George D.] Prentice when I first heard from you on the subject of autographs, but have, as yet, received no answer . .

You, my dear Poe, have a very high reputation ­[page 285:] here among the literatti [sic ], and more than once in “dining out” I have discussed you and made conversational capital out of you — If I were permanently fixed in office, I could get leave of absence, without stoppage of pay, and then I could slip on to the city of brotherly love &shake you by the hand . ... .

In a postscript Thomas adds: “I made a speech last week to the ‘Female Benevolent Society’ — Think of that Mr Edgar A Poe — The audience though feminine was ‘fitter’ than the one I once addressed in your hearing . ... .”

NOTE: MS, Boston Public Library. In his postscript Thomas seems to be alluding to his speech at a Whig rally in Philadelphia: he was “‘pelted” with stones by Loco-Foco onlookers. His remark constitutes strong evidence that Poe attended this rally. For additional information, see the chronology for May 19, 1840. Henry Marie Brackenridge's “Biographical Notice of H. H. Brackenridge” was published in the January, 1842, number of Thomas Willis White's Southern Literary Messenger.

NOVEMBER 10: Poe writes Nathaniel P. Willis, asking him to contribute to Graham's Magazine.

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Willis’ November 13 reply.

NOVEMBER 10: Poe writes Mrs. Lydia H. Sigourney: “Since my connexion, as editor, with ‘Graham's Magazine’, of this city, I have been sadly disappointed to find that you deem us unworthy your correspondence. ... . Is there no mode of tempting you to send us an occasional contribution? Mr Graham desires me to say that he would be very especially obliged if you could furnish . ... a poem, however brief, for the January number. His compensation . ... will be at ­[page 286:] least as liberal as that of any publisher in America.”

NOTE: Letters, I, 186. Mrs. Sigourney was, in all probability, the nation's most popular authoress.

NOVEMBER 13: Nathaniel P. Willis writes Poe:

Glen Mary [New York Nov 13, 1841.

Dear Sir

Your letter of the 10th finds me under an engagement to your neighbor Mr Godey to write for no other periodical in Philadelphia during the year 1842. In that year I am to write him an article a month. I see however by his literary notices that he is bon ami with Mr Graham, and with Mr Godey's “let-up,” I am very happy to promise you the best I can do for your Magazine. My predilections I may say are very much with you — but my quill must eke out my short crops, &Mr. Godey's very liberal engagement holds me. As he wants only rose however, perhaps he will release me in rhyme.

Would you think it too much trouble to send me the No. of your Mafa. containing my own autograph. I hear of it; but have not seen it.

Yours very truly

N. P. Willis.

Edgar A Poe Esq.

Please make my respects acceptable to Mr. Graham.

NOTE: MS, Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin.

NOVEMBER 13: Mrs. Lydia H. Sigourney replies to Poe's November 10 letter: she agrees to contribute an article to the January number of Graham's Magazine. She asks Poe who the present editor of the Southern Literary Messenger is.

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Poe's November 16 reply. ­[page 287:]

NOVEMBER 16: Poe replies to Mrs. Lydia H. Sigourney's November 13 letter, thanking her for agreeing to contribute an article to the January Graham's. The magazine now issues a monthly edition of twenty-five thousand copies; because it goes to press early, the editors need to have her article in hand by December 1. The January number will be of unusually high quality: “We shall have papers from Longfellow, Benjamin, Willis, Fay, Herbert, Mrs Stephens, Mrs Embury, Dr Reynell Coates, and (what will surprise you) from Sergeant Talfourd, author of ‘Ion’ — besides others of nearly equal celebrity.” Poe invites Mrs. Sigourney to become a regular contributor to Graham's Magazine: “Is it not possible that we can make an arrangement with yourself for an article each month? It would give us the greatest pleasure to do so; and the terms of Mr Graham will be at least as liberal as those of any publisher.” Poe is unable to answer Mrs. Sigourney's query about the editorship of the Southern Literary Messenger: Thomas Willis White has apparently “no regular editor,” although he sometimes receives assistance from James E. Heath and “sometimes (but not of late days) from Judge Beverl[e]y Tucker.” Park Benjamin occasionally has furnished White with “critical matters”; Rufus W. Griswold has “lately written much for the Magazine.”

NOTE: Letters, I, 186-87. Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd's contribution had been provided by John Tomlin's October 29, 1841, letter to Poe. Mrs. Sigourney did not agree to become a regular contributor to Graham's Magazine until after Poe's departure from its staff (see the chronology for December 20, 1842).

NOVEMBER 17: Horace Greeley writes Rufus W. Griswold, asking him to compose “a few racy, spicy letters — not ­[page 288:] personal, far less malignant — depicting Society and Life in Philadelphia. Soon, mind.” Greeley adds a word of warning: “Gris, don’t have it known that you are connected with the Philadelphia Gazette. It will kill you. I never knew such a Thersites.”

NOTE: MS, Library of Congress. Greeley may have wanted to publish several articles depicting Philadelphia “Society and Life” in his New-York Daily Tribune, which had commenced publication on April 10, 1841. His New-Yorker had ceased publication with its September 11, 1841, issue.

NOVEMBER 18: Poe replies to Richard Bolton's letter of November 4: “I hasten to exonerate myself from . ... the suspicion, no doubt long since entertained by yourself, that I wished to deny you the honors of victory — and a participation in its spoils.” Bolton's solution of the Charles S. Frailey cipher is given “an unqualified acknowledgment” in the December number of Graham's Magazine, which has been ready for ten days. His letter of September 9 arrived too late for his solution to be acknowledged in the November issue. Poe explains: “We print 25000 copies. Of course much time is required to prepare them. Our last ‘form’ necessarily goes to press

a full month in advance of the day of issue. It often happens, moreover, that the last form in order is not the last in press. Our first form is usually held back until the last moment on account of the ‘plate article.’ Upon this hint you will easily see the possibility of your letter not having come to hand in season for acknowledgment in the November number.” Poe admits that Bolton's solution “astonished “ him: “I make no question that it even astonished yourself — and well it might — for from among at ­[page 289:] least 100,000 readers — a great number of whom, to my certain knowledge busied themselves in the investigation — you and I are the only persons who have succeeded.” Bolton should not, however, trouble himself with W. B. Tyler's cipher printed in the December number, because “the compositors have made a complete medley. It has not even a remote resemblance to the MS.”

NOTE: Letters, I, 187-89

NOVEMBER 18: Rufus W. Griswold writes his friend Charles Fenno Hoffman, complaining of poor health. He is afflicted by a severe cough.

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

ANTE NOVEMBER 23: Rufus W. Griswold writes Horace Greeley, complaining of poor health.

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

NOVEMBER 23: Charles Fenno Hoffman replies to Rufus W. Griswold's November 18 letter: “I am really concerned to have you speak of your cough as you do. The worst thing in the world for such an ailment I have always found to be the night air. Especially when one is exposed to it just after his mind has been actively engaged. ... . It is from heated rooms — draughts — and the flat damps of city midnights that the nuisance comes — So for God's sake take care of yourself and regard my injunctions more than you would an old womans preachments.”

NOTE: This letter is printed by Homer F. Barnes, Charles Fenno Hoffman (1930; rpt. New York: AMS Press, 1966), ­[page 290:] pp. 221-22. By late November, 1841, Griswold seems to have contracted tuberculosis, or consumption of the lungs, the disease which eventually ended his life in 1857. Evidence of the seriousness of his condition is provided by Epes Sargent's December 27, 1841, letter to him, advising him “to take a sea voyage at once,” and by his February 23, 1842, letter to James T. Fields, in which he mentioned that he suffered from hemorrhaging from the lungs, a characteristic symptom of tuberculosis.

NOVEMBER 23: Horace Greeley replies to a recent letter from Rufus W. Griswold: “Keep up heart and hope. I trust you are not so ill as you think, though you are bent on killing yourself with calomel and carelessness ere long. But you must not go until your great work is out: after that you can afford to die. — If you are taken dangerously ill — I mean in danger of not being able to oversee it — be sure you leave it in good hands.” Greeley adds: “Gris, who can write me two or three good letters descriptive of Philadelphia life and society? — not personal or malicious, but clever? I want them.”

NOTE: MS, Library of Congress. Griswold's “great work” was The Poets and Poetry of America; calomel was used as a purgative.

NOVEMBER 23: Frederick William Thomas writes Poe:

Washington[,] November 23/41.

My Dear Friend —

Mr Willig has not done me the honor of sending me the aforesaid copies of my song — If you should see him will you be so kind as to jog his memory upon the Point —

Judge Brackenridge's MS. came safely to hand and ­[page 291:] has been transmitted to the Messenger, from whose editor I received all kinds of a courteous letter —

I looked in my trunk in hopes of obtaining an autograph of Prentice; but I find I have none by me — I have written to Louisville and wonder I do not hear from there, from him. He [illegible] is a careless personage in answering letters I suspect —

Poe, I have commenced the study of the French language, and wish that you would give me some advice as to [the] best manner of pursuing it — Do you consider its acquirement; very difficult? — No it could not have been difficult to you, as you have such a talent for languages; but it will be I fear very much so to me-I am anxious to have your advice on the subject-

Can I be of any service to the Magazine here? Command me if I can — Have you heard from John P Kennedy since I wrote you — His Whig “Manifesto” I suspect, has “used up” as we say in the West, all the influence he might have had at the White House-Cant you slip on here and see us —

I have not succeeded in being permanently fixed yet in my situation — I receive so much while employed; and if absent from my desk, for instance, for a day, that day brings me nothing — If I had a permanent situation, which I am promised, I could get leave of absence, my salary still continuing, and I could slip on to the City of Brotherly love and shake you by the hand, which I certainly should — I long to have a talk with you, Poe — On my conscience I know no man whom I would rather meet than you — No: I would rather meet you than any “feller” as Sam Weller says that I know — Write to me soon — Make my warmest regards to your wife and mother, and believe me truly and sincerely your friend

F[.] W. Thomas.

Edgar A Poe Esq Philadelphia —

NOTE: MS, Boston Public Library. For information on Kennedy's “Whig Manifesto,” see the chronology for September 13, 1841.

NOVEMBER 26: Poe replies to Frederick William Thomas: he is astonished that his friend has not received the copies ­[page 292:] of his song. Poe obtained the copies from George Willig and delivered them to W. F. Burgess, a Philadelphia magazine agent, who promised to forward them to Franck Taylor, a magazine agent in Washington. Poe suggests that Thomas contact Taylor: “It is the same man upon whom you had the draft.” Thomas need not trouble himself further about the autograph of George D. Prentice, as this matter is “closed.” The December number of Graham's Magazine has been ready for several weeks; the January number is nearly finished. In the December Graham's Thomas will see a notice that Richard Bolton of Pontotoc, Mississippi, independently solved the Charles S. Frailey cipher, but he should put no faith in it: “Mr Bolton sent me a letter dated at a period long after the reception of our Magazines in Pontotoc, and fully a month after the preparation of the number containing the answer by myself. He pretends not to have seen my solution — but his own contains internal evidence of the fact. Three blunders in mine are copied in his own, &two or three corrections of Dr Frailey's original, by myself, are also faithfully repeated.” Poe considers Thomas’ proposed study of French: “To the Latin &Greek proficient, the study of all additional languages is mere play — but to the non-proficient it is anything else.” Thomas should not concern himself with grammar; he should read “side-by-side translations continually . ... . French books in which the literal English is annexed page per page.” Poe adds: “Board, also, at a French boarding-house, and force yourself to speak French — bad or good — whether you can or whether you cannot.” It has been “a long time” since Poe has heard from John P. Kennedy, who, while professing friendship, has acted cavalierly. Poe hopes to visit Washington “some of these days”: “I would give the world to see you once again and have a little chat. Dow you &I — ‘when shall we three ­[page 293:] meet again?’” He asks to be remembered to Thomas’ sister Frances Ann, whom he has never met.

NOTE: Letters, I, 189 — 91. Thomas’ song is printed in the chronology for December 14, 1841. For information on his draft on Franck Taylor, see the chronology for May 26 and 28, 1841. Poe's objections to Richard Bolton's solution of the Frailey cipher are unwarranted; the Mississippian's November 4, 1841, and January 10, 1842, letters to him establish that he achieved an independent solution. In asking “when shall we three meet again?” Poe is apparently alluding to his companionship with Thomas and Jesse E. Dow in the preceding year (see the chronology for post May 7, 1840).

NOVEMBER 26: Charles J. Peterson writes James Russell Lowell in Boston, discussing the December installment of “Autography”:

Your autograph, as printed, is indeed but in its slippers. I gave Poe a better one, but he lost it, and then I had none but this. His remarks on your poetry were well meant; but you know Poe prides himself on severity, and, except in rare instances, his commendation is wrung out like an eye-tooth. He did not, however, know that your occassional [sic ] ruggedness was the result of choice — besides he has a great fancy for numbers “In linked sweetness long drawn out[.]”

He has one creed: you and I another. I must say however, in justice to Poe, that I have read some of your poems where I would have liked less ruggedness. ... .

Lowell's poem “Rosaline” will appear in the February, 1842, number of Graham's Magazine. Peterson thinks that Lowell's verses “To Perdita” are “glorious”: “I first saw them, weeks since, and stole them for our weekly ‘The S. E. Post’, in which I said what I thought of you.” ­[page 294:]

NOTE: MS, Houghton Library, Harvard University. In “Autography” Poe had stated that Lowell was “entitled . ... to at least the second or third place among the poets of America. ... . on account of the vigor of his imagination.” Yet he described Lowell's “ear for rhythm” as “imperfect,” and he added that this young poet was “very far from possessing the artistic ability of either Longfellow, Bryant, Halleck, Sprague, or Pierpont.”

NOVEMBER 27: In The Index, p. 2, cols. 3-4, Jesse E. Dow comments on a poem by Thomas Dunn English:


In the Ladie's [sic] Companion, for November, we overlooked an extract from an original poem, entitled Tecumseh's last battle. Not having perused the poem on Saturday, we could not, of course, speak of it in our hasty notice of the magazine; but, since then, we have read it all, and feeling desirous of doing justice, either in the soft soap or carving knife way, we now lay before our readers a few extracts from the poem with our comments upon the same.

Who is Thomas Dunn English, of Blockley, M. D.? Is he a John Smith? or a real doctor of prose run mad? Let him be either, in the name of all the Gods who watched over Troy, how came he in the select columns of the Ladie's Companion. The poem begins as follows:


“A shout of battle in the air —

A noise of rattling thunder there

The trumpet braying —

The short, sharp sound of rifle shot —

The imprecation fierce and hot —

The eye is firing.”

Well, that will do for Cupid's bower; but we should not suppose that such artillery would do much execution in battle. ­[page 295:]

“The war horse neighing,

As ‘mid half leaf-less limbs he sees

The dusky aborigines.”

This is poetical enough for McDonald Clark. All hands in the air firing cannon, blowing trumpets, cracking rifles, and swearing terribly, like my uncle Toby's army in Flanders, and yet the only creature who sees the foe — the dusky Aborigines-skulking amid the half leaf-less limbs of the forest, is the war horse hitched to an icicle in a thunder cloud neighing for something to eat.

“The short, sharp sound of rifle shot,” is a villainous attempt at alliteration, and puts us in mind of an old marble-head song which commenced as follows: “Around the rugged rocks the ragged rascals ran.”


“The savage cometh nigh and nigher,

The war yell riseth high and higher,

The soul inspiring —

The teeth is set, the breath drawn hard,

Defiance sits on features scarred,

The eye is firing —

They come, and man to man they close,

Death to the weakest of the foes.”

If the savage came nigher than nigh, he must have ran [sic ] over the white man, and the soul inspiring war yell that went up from his red throat higher than high must have gone beyond the bounds of space. Again: “The teeth is set!” Is they Thomas? why that is as bad as our sufferings is intolerable


“The war club ‘gainst the bayonet

In fierce and deadly strife is set,

And sudden clashing

Tecumseh with his might and main

Sends the red hatchet to the brain,

The skull-bone crashing,

Down falls the pale face to the ground

Scattered his blood and brains around.”

While the Indian is beating off the bayonet with his war club, one would think both hands would be full of business, he draws his red hatchet before there is any blood upon it, and sends it to the brain of his antagonist. Now, any one would suppose that ­[page 296:] this was enough, but the Doctor informs us that in its way to the brain the aforesaid hatchet smashed a skull-bone all to pieces and filled the whole afternoon with blood and brains.


This is prose, and very bad prose too, with the exception of the last couplet, as follows:

“Then sweep them off with sudden stroke,

As fells the thunder God the oak.”

The idea, however, of sweeping a man off by knocking him down and leaving him there is somewhat new.



“Quick and hot

Is heard the ringing rifle shot

And bullet rushing.”

The rifle shot alias rushing bullet, accompanied by sound, is heard quick and hot. How a person can hear heat is singular, and why a repetition of the bullet should be deemed necessary, passeth our understanding.


“Another falls half man half boy.”

Comment. — This must have been a strange animal. Again:

“There is a round hole in his breast,

Bored by a ball that gave him rest —

No blood is flowing —

He bleeds within, pain knits his brow —

His young wife is a widow now.”

A half man half boy killed, without bleeding, by a bullet which made a round hole in his breast, [he was a he then] bleeds after all inwardly, and knits his brows, in agony after death; and when he knits his brows after death his young wife becomes a widow. Bah!


“Its steel to bury

Within his skull as in a cell,

And to the white man's hottest hell

His spirit hurry.” ­[page 297:]

This making a grave for a tomahawk in the brain, is a bold figure; but the white man's hottest hell is rather obscure. We will consult Walter Balfour, however, before we deny the existence of two places of punishment — one hot and the other hottest.

The above comments are all that we can afford to make upon the part of the poem published. We trust, however, that they will be sufficient to convince Mr. Snowden that the cheapest poetry is not always the best, and that that which he gets for nothing will generally prove to be worth nothing.

NOTE: English's “Tecumseh's Last Battle” had appeared in the November number of Snowden's Ladies’ Companion (vol. 16, p. 38). Blockley was a township on the outskirts of Philadelphia; English usually affixed his medical degree and his place of residence to his publications (see the chronology for October, 1838, and February 11, 1839). Dow's reference to McDonald Clark (1798-1842) is not complimentary; Clark had gained notoriety as the “mad poet” of New York City. Possibly Dow made English's acquaintance during one of his visits to Philadelphia (see the chronology for May, 1839, and May 4, 1840). His blistering critique of this young Philadelphian's poetry was almost certainly motivated to some extent by their political differences: Dow was a Democrat of the Loco-Foco faction, and English was a Whig. Evidence that English saw Dow's attack and deeply resented it is entered in the chronology for September 7, 1842. Poe's friendship with Dow may have been one of the reasons why his friendship with English deteriorated into mutual animosity; for additional information, see the chronology for circa March 12 and March 12, 1843. Before Dow's editorship of The Index ended on July 4, 1842, he published several other attacks on English (see the chronology for January 13, June 3, 1842). ­[page 298:]

NOVEMBER 27: In the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, p. 3, col. 1, Joseph Evans Snodgrass reviews the December Graham's, describing it as “at once, the best and worst number of the volume.” The paper is of poor quality; some of the poems are “trash.” Snodgrass finds that there has also been “a deplorable falling off” in the quality of the engravings: “The mezzotint is the most bedaubed plate we have ever seen from Sartain. We can hardly realize, that it came from the artist who furnished the magnificent engraving of ‘The Pets’ ..... ” Snodgrass expresses, however, his “deep interest in the success” of Graham's Magazine and his “confidence in its future issues.” Poe's “Autography” is the redeeming feature of the December Graham's:

But the reader must not infer that there is nothing worth valuing, in this number. To the contrary — the sixty-eight autographs, and the multiplicity of information given by Mr. Poe, relating to the whereabouts, employments, and qualities of American writers, will insure a large sale of this issue. They are selling rapidly already. The whole article on autographs, has been. interesting, and excels anything of the kind yet attempted. No pen but Mr. P.'s, could probably have afforded so general a sketch of American literary character. We say all this, while having no faith in the notion of character being denoted by the scratchings of an author! The talented collator is carried away with an innocent belief of the science of autography. His own MS. , being exceedingly neat and unvaried, refutes his theory — for a more excentric genius cannot be found in a search of half a dozen months.

NOTE: Unsigned editorial articles in the Visiter are attributed to Snodgrass. This review, which could have been written only by someone familiar with Poe's handwriting and his personality, was the first of a series of notices in which Snodgrass praised the literary abilities of his friend. ­[page 299:]

NOVEMBER 27: The Saturday Evening Post, p. 1, cols. 1-3, publishes Poe's “A Succession of Sundays.”

NOTE: A probable source for this story is given in the chronology for October 29, 1841.

ANTE NOVEMBER 30: Poe writes Nathaniel P. Willis, asking him to contribute to Graham's Magazine.

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Willis’ letters of November 13 and 30.

NOVEMBER 30: Nathaniel P. Willis replies to Poe: “You cannot have received my letter written in answer to yours some time since (say a month ago) in which I stated that I was under contract to Mr. Godey to write for no other periodical in Philadelphia than the Lady's Book, for one year — 1842. I said also that if he were willing, I should be very happy to send you poetry, (he bargaining for prose, ) but that without his consent I could do nothing. From a very handsome notice of Graham's Maga[zine] which I saw in the Lady's Book, I presumed Godey &Graham were the best of friends &would manage it between them.” In a postscript Willis asks: “Did you ever send me the Mafa. containing my autographs? I have never seen it.”

NOTE: Works, XVII, 104. Willis, first letter to Poe is reproduced in the chronology for November 13, 1841.

December, 1841

DECEMBER: An editorial notice in Graham's Magazine (Vol. 19, p. 308) informs the magazine's readers of its ­[page 300:] unparalleled success during its first year of publication: “We began the year almost unknown; certainly far behind our cotemporaries in numbers; we close it with a list of twenty-five thousand subscribers, and the assurance on every hand that our popularity has as yet seen only its dawning. ... . Everything that talent, taste, capital, or energy could do for ‘Graham's Magazine’ has been done, and that too without stint. The best typography, the choicest engravers, the finest writers, the most finished artists, and the utmost punctuality in our business department, have lent their aid to forward our enterprise; and what neither could have done singly, all combined have effected.” Graham's Magazine has secured the “exclusive services” of John Sartain; and “the graceful pens of two lady-editors” — Mrs. Emma C. Embury and. Mrs. Ann S. Stephens — are to be added to its “editorial list,” which already includes George R. Graham, Charles J. Peterson, and Edgar A. Poe. The magazine will not rest upon its laurels: “We shall begin the new year determined to surpass even what we have done. As we have introduced a new era into magazine history[,] we shall not pause until the revolution is complete. We shall not follow the namby-pamby style of periodical literature, but aim at a loftier and more extended flight. For this purpose we shall increase the amount of our reading matter, although, at the same time, our embellishments shall even be superior in beauty to what they are at present.”

NOTE: There is no evidence that Mrs. Embury or Mrs. Stephens took an active role in editing Graham's Magazine during Poe's association with it. For a contemporary reaction to this enlarged editorial staff, see the chronology for February 5, 1842. ­[page 301:]

DECEMBER: Graham's Magazine publishes the second installment of “Autography” and the fourth and final installment of “Secret Writing.”

NOTE: In “Secret Writing” Poe printed W. B. Tyler's letter and cryptograph, and he acknowledged Richard Bolton's solution of the Frailey cipher.

DECEMBER [?]: Thomas Holley Chivers writes Poe, discussing the notice he was given in the December installment of “Autography.”

NOTE: The contents of this letter are surmised from Poe's July 6, 1842, reply. In “Autography” Poe had described this Georgian as “one of the best and one of the worst poets in America. ... . Even his worst nonsense (and some of it is horrible) has an indefinite charm of sentiment and melody.”

DECEMBER 1: Poe signs a promissory note:

Philad[elphia] Decr lst 1841

Dolls 104.00

Ninety days after date I promise to pay John W. Albright on order one hundred and four dollars without defalcation for balance Received.

Edgar A. Poe

NOTE: MS, Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin. Only the signature is in Poe's hand. John W. Albright, a tailor whose place of business was located at 16 South Third Street, appears in every edition of McElroy's Philadelphia Directory between 1837 and 1845. This promissory note is one of several indications that Poe lived beyond his means during his association with Graham's Magazine (see the chronology for July 24, 1841). ­[page 302:]

DECEMBER 1: John Tomlin writes Poe, discussing a letter he has received from Charles Dickens:

Jackson, Tennessee,

Decr lst 1841.

I have Mr. Poe in my possession a communication from “Boz”, in its nature so perfectly unique — and in its construction so full of the most beautiful thoughts, that I can scarcely get my own consent for any other to see a sparkle of the rich gems in which it is embedded. He sent it to me as a token of his remembrance — and gratefully did I receive it — and most sacredly have I preserved it.

As he is about visiting this country, I have concluded to suffer some of his own bright thoughts that have never yet seen the light of a garish day, to meet him on its thresh-hold. In permitting other eyes than my own to see it, I have yielded an unwilling consent to duty, and but justice to the Author, which under ordinary circumstances would not have been done. This original communication will be sent to you in time for publication in the February issue of “Graham's Magazine.” If you see “Boz”, while he is in America, give him my thanks for his notice of his distant countryman.

And receive yourself, for the notice you have taken of me in your last Magazine, the earnest prayer of an honest heart for your happiness.

Ever yours.

J no. Tomlin

Edgar A Poe, Esq.

NOTE: MS, Boston Public Library. Poe had favorably noticed Tomlin in the December installment of “Autography.” Dickens’ letter to Tomlin, dated February 23, 1841, appeared under the heading “Original Letter from Charles Dickens” in Graham's Magazine, 20 (February, 1842), 83-84. This publication of personal correspondence — presumably unauthorized by Dickens — irritated Joseph Evans Snodgrass, who, in the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, February 5, 1842, p. 2, col. 6, expressed a hope “that Mr. Graham will not ­[page 303:] obtrude any more such common-place private letters upon his readers, to gratify the vanity of a contributor, who cannot feel that he is as good as Boz . ... .” Tomlin gave further evidence of his vanity in his December 12, 1841, letter to Poe.

DECEMBER 4: The Saturday Evening Post, p. 2, col. 2, reports that Charles J. Peterson will soon issue his own periodical:

A New Magazine.

Our neighbor of the Times, can do a genteel thing when he is in the mood — witness the following article. Our modesty, of course, would not allow us to add a word thereto.

“A NEW MAGAZINE. — Our friend, Mr. Peterson, will issue in December, for the January number, the first number of a new monthly Magazine, which he has been projecting for a year past, to be entitled,

‘The Lady's World of Fashion.’

His arrangements both in this country and in Europe, have been. fully matured prior to announcement, and he embarks in the enterprise with the most ample resources, and unwavering energy. We have known him long and well, and are certain that in his hands, the enterprise must succeed.

The work will be published at two dollars per annum . ... and will be well filled with the choicest productions of our best female writers. It will be printed on a large semi-quarto page — larger than any now used by the Magazines of the day, and will be embellished with the latest and most correct Fashions in all their varieties, colored in elegant style-fine Line, Line and Stipple, and Mezzotint Engravings, from the first Artists; Lace Work, Embroidery, Music,&c. It will be, in fine, as pretty a work as has ever been issued, if we may judge from proof sheets we have seen, and we have no doubt, that it will be successful. ... .”

NOTE: The Post is quoting John S. Du Solle, editor of The Spirit of the Times. The prospectus for Peterson's Lady's ­[page 304:] World of Fashion appeared as an advertisement in the Post, December 11, 1841, p. 3, col. 6; it was repeated in subsequent issues. On December 25 the Post, p. 2, col. 8, favorably reviewed the first number. The Lady's World, which came to be known simply as Peterson's Magazine (1842-1898), proved one of the most successful ventures of nineteenth-century periodical publishing. Peterson informally discussed his plans for this journal in his November 11, 1842, letter to John Tomlin.

DECEMBER 12: John Tomlin writes Poe:

Jackson, Tennessee, Decr 12th 1841.

Dear Sir,

The lines on the first page were received by me a few days since anonomously [sic ] — with the request that I should have them published.

You will not Mr. Poe for one moment believe that it was my Vanity that caused the producing of the Eulogy — nor will you believe that your warm-hearted friend, with all of his Southern chivalry, can, or will ever act in derogation of the high name of man.

Ever faithfully yours.

Jno Tomlin

Edgar A. Poe Esq.

[Tomlin enclosed a poem of twenty lines; its heading is given below.]

For Graham's Magazine.

To John Tomlin, Esq.


Composed on reading his “Theodoric of the Amali” ­[page 305:] published in the May and June Nos. of the “Gentleman's Magazine” for 1840.

December 1841. T. E ————————.

NOTE: MS, Boston Public Library.

DECEMBER 14: In The Index, p. 3, col. 3, Jesse E. Dow publishes a new song by Frederick William Thomas:

We acknowledge the receipt of a new song from our friend, F. W. Thomas, Esq.; the words by him, and the music by Powell. The words are beautiful, and we presume we shall admire the music also, when we hear it sung. It is entitled, “Oh blame her not,” and is published by Willig, of Philadelphia, at fifty cents. Fischer has it for sale in the District.



Oh blame her not, her love was deep,

And if her heart was lightly won,

Her memory will the vigil keep,

And let her's be the only one.

In vain would we control the heart;

The farthest river seeks the sea —

And thus, though they be far apart,

Her fancy is no longer free.




There is no cure within the crowd;

It but renews the deep regret,

For there, when the false-hearted vow’d,

She promised never to forget.

And though but one that promise heard,

And though that promise be forgot,

The faithful maiden kept her word;

Oh! blame her not! Oh! blame her not!

DECEMBER 27: Epes Sargent in New York City writes Rufus W. Griswold in Philadelphia:

Since you left us I have made many inquiries concerning you of your friends, but have heard nothing ­[page 306:] definite concerning your health. Pray write, and inform me how you are. Dr. Channing tells me that it lies with yourself to adopt a course for your recovery. My advice to you would be to take a sea voyage at once — to the Mediterranean if possible-if not there, to India. Do not delay this too long. There is no doubt but you and your friends can exert sufficient influence at Washington, to obtain a berth for you on board some of our ships of war. ... .

NOTE: MS, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Epes Sargent, a journalist and poet, later edited Sargent's Magazine, a monthly which was issued in New York between January and June, 1843. Dr. William Ellery Channing was an eminent Boston clergyman and essayist. Griswold attempted to follow Sargent's advice, but he failed in his attempt to obtain a chaplainship aboard an American naval vessel. For additional information, see the chronology for January 12, 13, 17, March 9, 1842.





[S:0 - PIP, 1978] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - Poe in Philadelphia, 1838-1844 (D. R. Thomas) (Chapter 05, Part 02)