Text: David K. Jackson, “Appendix C,” Poe and The Southern Literary Messenger (1934), pp. 108-117 (This material is protected by copyright)


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[page 108:]

APPENDIX C

LETTERS OF T. W. WHITE TO BEVERLEY TUCKER AND JOHN M. SPEED

The following letters in the collection of Mr. George P. Coleman of Williamsburg, Virginia, a grandson of Beverley Tucker, are here printed by kind permission of Mr. Coleman and Professor James Southall Wilson of the University of Virginia, who had planned to publish them in an article. One letter dated Dec. 27, 1836, has already been published by Professor Wilson in his article, “Unpublished Letters of Edgar Allan Poe,” in The Century Magazine for March, 1924.

These letters (eight from T. W. White to Nathaniel Beverley Tucker and one from T. W. White to John M. Speed) throw new light on Poe’s connection with the Messenger, especially during the last month of his editorship, and emphasize the fact that White did not appreciate Poe’s talents. Furthermore they reveal that the proprietor of the journal, who was not an educated man, leaned heavily on his friends Minor and Tucker for advice after Poe’s leaving the magazine. The letter dated January 19, 1837, indicates that Poe did not immediately leave Richmond for New York after his dismissal. The letters, without editorial apparatus, are here printed exactly from the manuscript copies. [page 109:]

[1]

Richmond, Nov. 5, 1835.

My Dear Friend —

I forgot your Spectacles. I have however now procured them, — Charge 50 Cents, which I shall hand to Mr. Mitchell in the course of to-day or to-morrow morning.

I have this day printed an edition of Eaton Stannard Barrett’s Heroine, — and I send yourself, Mr. Dew and Mr. Saunders a copy of the same, — well assured that it must please each of you.

It will be read, and re-read, and admired so long as man inhabits the face of the earth.

I am your friend,  
T. W. White.

[2]

Richmond, Nov. 5, 1835.

My Dear Sir,

I find myself so much in want of a few copies of No. 5’s of the Messenger, that I must ask the favor of you to send me up five copies by mail. Be so obliging as to pack them up very carefully — and say on the directions “20 sheets So. Lit, Mess.” The postage will only cost 20 cts.

I should like to know whether the bound copy of the Messenger reached you, and if so, how you like my binding.

I really wish the spirit would move your goose-quill just about this time.

My next Messenger will be out next Saturday, — and I am sure it will be served up to your liking — I am sure of that fact.

Your true friend,  
T. W. White.

[3]

(Private.)

Richmond,  
Dec. 27, 1836.

My Dear Friend,

Highly as I really think of Mr. Poe’s talents, I shall be forced to give him notice, in a week or so at farthest, that I can no longer [page 110:] recognize him as editor of my Messenger. Three months ago I felt it my duty to give him a similar notice, — and was afterwards over-persuaded to restore him to his situation on certain conditions — which conditions he has again forfeited.

Added to all this, I am cramped by him in the exercise of my own judgment, as to what articles I shall or shall not admit into my work. It is true that I neither have his sagacity, nor his learning — but I do believe I know a handspike from a saw. Be that as it may, however, — and let me even be a jackass, as I dare say I am in his estimation, I will again throw myself on my own resources — and trust my little bark to the care of those friends who stood by me in my earlier, if not darker days.

You, my friend, are my helmsman. And I again beg you to stand by the rudder. You [sic] review of Bancroft has very recently been spoken of in terms of the very highest praise to me — and that too by a judge, B. W. Leigh.

The first thing I must beg the favor of you to do for me is to review in your happiest style, Bulwer’s Valliere, a copy of which I forward you by this day’s mail.

I should also like to get from you a review of the annotated volumes of Spahr’s [sic] Washington, — making it as lengthy as possible, but without extracts.

If it were worth while, I would again assure you that any thing from your pen will be gratefully received by me.

May I further beg you to urge Professors Dew, Millington and Saunders to come to my aid, — without however saying that I mean to dispense with Mr. Poe as my editor: This fact I wish to rest with yourself, until see my announcement of the fact either in the Messenger or some of the papers.

If he chooses to write as a contributor, I will pay him well.

In my next No., which will again be retarded till the 22d Jan. he will have quite a lengthy review of George Balcomb [sic] — and quite a favorable one too. He guesses you to be its author, — and possibly he guesses right.

I am your friend,  
T. W. White.

B. Tucker, Esq. [page 110:]

[4]

Richmond, Jan. 19, 1837.

My Dear Sir:

I am tonight in receipt of your truly acceptable letter of the 17th inst.

Your Review of Bulwer will follow Judge Upshaw’s [sic] of the Partisan. For myself, individually, I am in rapture with the drubbing you have given Mr. B. — The only fault I find with it, that you have handled him half so severely as he merited. “Save when it loved it” — is unquestionably a typographical error — Bulwer could never have written the last it.

I really am delighted to learn that you design reviewing Blackwood. Professor Anthon, when I saw him in N. York last Oct. called my particular attention to the subject of Reviewing Reviews of our country, — which he thought wretchedly conducted — as he also said of the Knickerbocker, and American Monthly. I found Mr. Anthon, as I thought, not only a man of great acquirements — but he really made a most favorable impression on me that he was a gentleman. With Paulding I was still more pleased — he is not a great man, but he is unquestionably a man of the strictest morality. He holds all fops and all libertines, in utter contempt. He will hold no commerce with such people if he can possibly avoid them.

I am very sorry to hear that Reynolds is suspected even of being what he ought not be. I formed an acquaintance with him in this city about io years ago, and absolutely became almost devotedly attached to the fellow. He is a most fascinating dog, — and I think has a great share of good common sense. — To me he owes the favor he has received in the Messenger — but if he is a corrupt man, I have done with him. Tell me privately what you know of him.

Tell my friend Speed that I have heard of his address delivered before the Franklin Society. I hope you will prevail on him to furnish you with a copy of it — and send it to me for the Messenger.

I send you by mail several periodicals — which you can do with as you see best. I shall also send you a bundle of manuscripts which I have lately received — and get the favor of you to pass sentence on them, when you may have leisure to look over them. [page 112:]

I am glad to hear you say that you will stick to me in this my trying hour. I thank God that I have found such a friend in you.

Minor will be here some time in Feb. when I shall hear what he says — But my dear Sir, I am so overwhelmed in debt that I scarcely dare think of such an editor as I know I ought to have. If it is possible for me to wade through this volume by myself, I verily believe I should then be in such a situation as to pay a man of talents such a price as I really think first rate talents are justly entitled to. I do not believe there is another man in the country who could have prosecuted the Messenger, as I have prosecuted it, during the two volumes which I have pulled it thro, but what would have sunk 5000 in the two years instead of $1800. — But, my dear Sir, the $1800 is the least of my concerns — I unfortunately owe a great — great deal more than that — and not a dollar of debt created either unnecessarily, or by extravagance. But I am tiring you out with private griefs and private sufferings.

I am your friend,  
T. W. White.

Poe feels his situation at last — I see but little of him — but I hear a great deal about him and from him. I am tired out with hard work. Last night I was to be up till very late — and now it is 10 o’clock.

Your friend,  
T. W. W.

[5]

Richmond, Jan. 24, 37.

My Dear Friend,

I am in receipt of your no less friendly than frank letter of the 21st, I properly appreciate it — and will endeavor to reply to it in the same spirit of kindness with which I am sure you penned ;t. But I will first say what I intended to say before I broke its seal.

I expect to be able to get one or two copies of the Messenger out of the Binder’s hands in time enough to put up in a bundle and send down to you by tomorrow morning’s stage. In the same parcel, I will enclose you a few pieces of manuscript, which I must get the [page 113:] favor of you to read over and let me know whether you think I ought to admit them or not.

But, to my Jan. No. — The “Visit” was written expressly for me by Mr. Paulding — and I have a promise from him of further help.

Angel Visits & Lines on Wolfe, are by W. Maxwell — who is again at work for me on trifles.

A Literary Man with the Biography, is by the author of “Rom-bert” — who not only assures me that he will finish that, — but who also promises me further assistance.

I am not certain whether it is the father or the son who writes the Letters from Paris — They are both called Ro. Walsh, Jr. — The son presented it to me when I was in Philadelphia, and he is now writing for me at $3 per page — the subject “Elocution.” He is a young gentleman of fair talents.

The “Indian Captive” is no great thing — but it is free — and the writer is a gentleman.

Study of the Law, is by a respectable member of the New York Bar. — I think it good.

Jefferson’s Letters are from the former Secretary of the Treasury. Phil. of Antiquity, by a young lawyer here — a son of Robinson’s, cashier of Bank of Va. — So is Old Provencal.

Verbal Criticisms, &c by W. Duane Jr. of Philadelphia. Rights of Authors, by an Englishman of New York.

“Our Portion” — good — by a lawyer of Parkersburg, — author of a Birth-Day Tribute.

The Lapse of Years — poor — by an Englishman.

Lines — The Portrait — and Withered Leaf by one who will always stick to me, I hope, now Poe is not my editor. — Auld Lang Syne will also be long remembered by you.

The names of the other contributors are all known to you.

Except Walsh, Rights of Authors and Poe’s articles, no one would accept of cash for their articles, — and it was with some delicacy that they even accepted of volumes of my work for their compliments.

To be sure the bare item of postage to and fro all over the Union costs something considerable in the course of a year — I cannot [page 114:] tell how much mine has been, but I feel it has been heavy — But had it been as much. again as it has been I feel that I have been amply compensated for every cent I have paid out, — and as a proof of my sincerity I would that I had it to do over again.

I feel proud of the Messenger. I feel proud to believe that I have been the humble instrument of rearing up a publication which shall be a credit to my native State and Country.

I am your friend,  
T. W. White.

[6]

Richmond, April 26, 1837.

My Dear Sir:

You favor post-marked April 24, came to hand last night. I am really glad to learn that you are entirely satisfied about the agency I had in saying that I thought you were the author of the “Partisan Leader.” I have taken care to apprise two prominent individuals (T. Ritchie and I. L. Bull, of Columbia, S. C.) that I now had reason to believe I was in an error. At any rate, that I disclaimed again having any authority for saying that you wrote the P. L. — that, in the first instance, it was, as I told them, only an opinion of my own. There is one other individual with whom I conversed on this subject, and when I have disposed of him, I will have ridded my mind of one trouble and perhaps of one sin. Look before you leap. Think before you speak. Bridle the unruly member. A still tongue, &c.

I do not exactly understand you about the “two visits.” You do not say whether you would or would not insert it. Tell me, if you please, exactly what you would do with it, if you were in my shoes. If you chose to expunge or mend any part of it do so. I think with you that the author is a lady — and I think too that that lady is a most intimate friend of yours. Here again, I am half tempted to advance an opinion of my own — But, lest I might again be in error, I will not write it. This time I go by hand-writing. In the case of the P. L. I went or took the style. My feelings are all in favor of the individual, who I think wrote the article. I therefore feel truly [page 115:] solicitous that you should dress it up for my sake — if not for hers, — and her credit.

You also leave me in the dark about the “Hypochondriac” piece. You tell me that on the whole is [sic] is good, but that it wants point and distinctness. Its merits, it strikes me, would be greater than all its good qualities. Here again I must ask the favor of you to do with it and the other, exactly as you would if you were myself.

Every thing that does not pass muster with you, you will please endorse condemned, in pencil mark.

I am very sure that you will give a just criticism of Paulding. It was with the knowledge of this fact, that I placed the volumes in your hand. He is too much of a gentleman, and has in addition too much good sense, to get angry at just criticism. Indeed, I am sure he will not. I am very sure that he would feel proud to have a good word from the Messenger. If he would have been proud of praise from Poe, it would have been because he really admired the fellow’s talents. — Like myself he was completely gulled. The truth is, Poe seldom or ever done what he knew was just to any book. He read few through — unless it were some trashy novels, — and his only object in reading even these, was to ridicule their authors. Read his eulogistic review of Balcombe — which he penned only because he believed you were its author. He has’ scarcely selected a passage out of the two volumes which warrants the praise he has lavished on it. But enough of this — this mortifying subject.

I will not purchase the additional volumes but will wait their coming. I am glad to hear you say that you will read and review D’Israeli’s novel. I hope you may be able to do so in 14 days from this date for me.

Do not, if you please, send your large parcels to me — except by private hands.

Truly  
Your friend,  
T. W. White.

[page 116:]

[7]

Richmond, June 24, 1837.

My Dear Sir:

I enclose you a proof-sheet of the Notice of Mrs. Butler’s Journal, with Seaton’s letter to me, and Mr. Wild’s to Mr. S.

Do me the favor, if you please, to read the article over, and furnish me again with such introductory remarks as the occasion, in your opinion, calls for. It is all important that I should receive your reply, along with the proof-slip on Tuesday afternoon — either by mail or boat.

You will see in the Alexandria Gazette a 2nd communication. I believe all three (Intelligences included) to come from the same pen.

The Expositor of Vicksburg does your writings justice — and no more than justice.

Tell me what I ought to do with “Nuts”?

Truly  
Your friend,  
T. W. White.

[8]

Richmond, Va.  
March 31, 1838.

My Dear Friend,

Do me the favor, if you please, at your leisure, to examine the enclosed MSS. As the press cuts at pretty much all of my Poetry, let me beg of you to be quite particular also.

I miss your writings very much. But I neither mean to grumble, and less to upraid [sic]. You have done me much service — and I am as grateful for all you have done for me, as it is possible for any man to be.

I hope you will be able to find time in all next week to get your Review of Washington’s Letters ready.

My April No. has been out of press more than a week. The Binder promises me a supply of copies by Tuesday next.

Truly your friend,  
T. W. White.

[page 117:]

[9]

April 9, 1838.

Dear Speed:

Let me get the favor of you to remit me the amount of my bill against Franklin Society. It is desirable that the amount should reach me by Thursday night.

Try and get the Judge to review Mr. Cutler’s Oration for the Messenger. — It deserves a tribute, and the Judge I am sure will do it, if you will but make the application.

Your Friend,  
T. W. White.

 


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Notes:

None.

 

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[S:0 - PSM, 1934] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - Poe and The Southern Literary Messenger (D. K. Jackson) (Appendix C)