Text: James A. Harrison, “Chapter 06,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. XVII: Letters (1902), 17:108-164


[page 108:]


MAY, 1842 - APRIL, 1844.




[Griswold Collection.]

WASHINGTON, May 22, 1842.

MY DEAR POE, — I fear you have been reproaching me with neglect in not answering yours of March 13th before. If you have you have done me an injustice.

I knew it would be of no avail to submit your proposition to Robert Tyler, with regard to any pecuniary aid which he might extend to your undertaking, as he has nothing but his salary of $1500 and his situation requires more than its expenditure. In a literary point of view he would gladly aid you, but his time is so taken up with political and other matters that his contributions would be few and far between.

I therefore thought I could aid you better by interesting him in you personally without your appearing, as it were, personally in the matter. In consequence I took occasion to speak of you to him frequently in a way that [page 109:] friendship and a profound respect for your genius and acquirements dictated. He thinks of you as highly as I do.

Last night I was speaking of you, and took occasion to suggest that a situation in the Custom House, Philadelphia, might be acceptable to you, as Lamb (Charles) had held a somewhat similar appointment, etc., and as it would leave you leisure to pursue your literary pursuits. Robert replied that he felt confident that such a situation could be obtained for you in the course of two or three months at farthest, as certain vacancies would then occur.

What say you to such a place? Official life is not laborious, and a situation that would suit you and place you beyond the necessity of employing your pen, he says, he can obtain for you there. Let me hear from you as soon as convenient upon this subject. — I assure you, Poe, that not an occasion has offered when in the remotest way I thought I could serve you that I did not avail myself of it — but I would not write upon mere conjectures that something available was about to occur. So my motives must be my apology, my friend, for my long silence.

Besides I could not obtain for you, and I have tried repeatedly, Clay's report on the copyright question. I may be yet successful. If I had obtained it I might have written sooner — having that to write about. Yes, I saw Dickens, but only at the dinner which a few of us gave him here — I liked him very much though.

You certainly exhibited great sagacity in your criticism on “Barnaby Rudge.” I have not yet read it but I mean to do so, and then read your criticism, which I have put by for that purpose.

Somebody told me, for I have not seen it in print, that you and Graham had parted company. Is it so? —

Poe, though I am as steady as clock work somehow or other my hand is so nervous this morning that I can scarcely hold the pen. How is the health of your lady? [page 110:] I have often, often thought of her and sympathised with you. Make my warmest respects to her and your mother, and write me the moment you receive this.

Your friend,  



PHILADELPHIA, May 25, 1842.

MY DEAR THOMAS, — Through an accident I have only just now received yours of the 21st. Believe me, I never dreamed of doubting your friendship, or of reproaching you for your silence. I knew you had good reasons for it; and, in this matter, I feel that you have acted for me more judiciously, by far, than I should have done for myself. You have shown yourself, from the first hour of our acquaintance, that rara avis in terris — “a true friend.” Nor am I the man to be unmindful of your kindness.

What you say respecting a situation in the Custom House here gives me new life. Nothing could more precisely meet my views. Could I obtain such an appointment, I would be enabled thoroughly to carry out all my ambitious projects. It would relieve me of all care as regards a mere subsistence, and thus allow me time for thought, which, in fact, is action. I repeat that I would ask for nothing farther or better than a situation such as you mention. If the salary will barely enable me to live I shall be content. Will you say as much for me to Mr. Tyler, and express to him my sincere gratitude for the interest he takes in my welfare?

The report of my having parted company with [page 111:] Graham is correct; although in the forthcoming June number there is no announcement to that effect; nor had the papers any authority for the statement made. My duties ceased with the May number. I shall continue to contribute occasionally. Griswold succeeds me. My reason for resigning was disgust with the namby-pamby character of the Magazine — a character which it was impossible to eradicate. I allude to the contemptible pictures, fashion-plates, music, and love-tales. The salary, moreover, did not pay me for the labour which I was forced to bestow. With Graham, who is really a very gentlemanly, although an exceedingly weak, man, I had no misunderstanding. I am rejoiced to say that my dear little wife is much better, and I have strong hope of her ultimate recovery. She desires her kindest regards — as also Mrs. Clemm.

I have moved from the old place — but should you pay an unexpected visit to Philadelphia, you will find my address at Graham's. I would give the world to shake you by the hand; and have a thousand things to talk about which would not come within the compass of a letter. Write immediately upon receipt of this, if possible, and do let me know something of yourself, your own doings and prospects: see how excellent an example of egotism I set you. Here is a letter nearly every word of which is about myself or my individual affairs. You saw White — little Tom. I am anxious to know what he said about things in general. He is a character if ever one was. God bless you —


[page 112:]


[From the Collection of Mr. F. R. Halsey.]

PHILADELPHIA, June 4, 1842.

MY DEAR SIR, — It is just possible that you may have seen a tale of mine entitled “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” and published originally, in “Graham's Magazine” for April, 1841. Its theme was the exercise of ingenuity in the detection of a murderer. I have just completed a similar article, which I shall entitle “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt — a Sequel to the Murders in the Rue Morgue.” The story is based upon the assassination of Mary Cecilia Rogers, which created so vast an excitement, some months ago, in New York. I have, however, handled my design in a manner altogether novel in literature. I have imagined a series of nearly exact coincidences occurring in Paris. A young grisette, one Marie Rogêt, has been murdered under precisely similar circumstances with Mary Rogers. Thus, under pretence of showing how Dupin (the hero of “The Rue Morgue”) unravelled the mystery of Marie's assassination, I, in reality, enter into a very long and rigorous analysis of the New York tragedy. No point is omitted. I examine, each by each, the opinions and arguments of the press upon the subject, and show that this subject has been, hitherto, unapproached. In fact I believe not only that I have demonstrated the fallacy of the general idea — that the girl was the victim of a gang of ruffians — but have indicated the assassin in a manner which will give renewed impetus to investigation. My main object, nevertheless, as you will readily understand, is an analysis of the true [page 113:] principles which should direct inquiry in similar cases. From the nature of the subject, I feel convinced that the article will excite attention, and it has occurred to me that you would be willing to purchase it for the forthcoming Mammoth Notion. It will make 25 pages of Graham's Magazine, and, at the usual price, would be worth to me $100. For reasons, however, which I need not specify, I am desirous of having this tale printed in Boston, and, if you like it, I will say $50. Will you please write me upon this point? — by return mail, if possible.

Yours very truly,  



[New York Independent.]

PHILADELPHIA, June 6, 1842.

MY DEAR SIR, — I fear you will have accused me of disrespect in not replying to either of your three last letters; but, if so, you will have wronged me. Among all my correspondents there is not one whose good opinion I am more anxious to retain than your own. A world of perplexing business has led me to postpone from day to day a duty which it is always a pleasure to perform.

Your two last letters I have now before me. In the first you spoke of my notice of yourself in the autograph article. The paper had scarcely gone to press before I saw and acknowledged to myself the injustice I had done you — an injustice which it is my full purpose to repair at the first opportunity. What [page 114:] I said of your grammatical errors(1) arose from some imperfect recollections of one or two poems sent to the first volume of the Southern Literary Messenger. But in more important respects I now deeply feel that I have wronged you by a hasty opinion. You will not suppose me insincere in saying that I look upon some of your late pieces as the finest I have ever read. I allude especially to your poem about Shelley, and the one of which the refrain is, “She came from Heaven to tell me she was blest.” Upon reading these compositions I felt the necessity of our being friends. Will you accept my proffer of friendship?

Your last favor is dated June 11, and, in writing it, you were doubtless unaware of my having resigned the editorial charge of Graham's Magazine. What disposition shall I make of the “Invocation to Spring?” The other pieces are in the hands of my successor, Mr. Griswold.(2) [page 115:]

It is my intention now to resume the project of the Penn Magazine. I had made every preparation for the issue of the first number in January, 1841, but relinquished the design at Mr. Graham's representation of joining me in July, provided I would edit his magazine in the meantime. In July he put me off until January, and in January until July again. He now finally declines, and I am resolved to push forward for myself. I believe I have many warm friends, especially in the South and West, and were the journal fairly before the public I have no doubt of ultimate success. Is it possible that you could afford me any aid, in the way of subscribers, among your friends in Middletown?

As I have no money myself, it will be absolutely necessary that I procure a partner who has some pecuniary means. I mention this to you, for it is not im possible that you yourself may have both the will and the ability to join me. The first number will not appear until January, so that I shall have time to look about me.

With sincere respect and esteem, yours,



[Griswold Collection.]

NEW YORK, July 12th, 1842.

MY DEAR SIR, — It gives me infinite pleasure, at any time, to receive a letter from you. I am now on my [page 116:] way to the South, and had not time to answer your letter from Middletown, as I received it only a few moments before I started. My brother has written me a letter informing me that the division of my father's estate will take place on the first of August, and I must hasten to my plantation to receive my portion. I should have answered yours sooner than this, but I have been so much engaged I could not.

I receive, with grateful pleasure, your polite remarks in regard to the autograph article. I had always spoken so highly of your talents as a poet, and the best critic in this Country, that, when my friends saw it, believing you were what I represented you to be, they came almost to the conclusion that they were not only mistaken, but that I was a bad writer, and a fit subject for the Insane Hospital.

I am very much pleased to find that you are pleased with the pieces which I sent you — although I can assure you I have pieces ten times as good as the best of them. I have had mighty dreams in my life. The embers of enthusiasm are still glowing with a quenchless heat in the centre of my heart. Music and poetry are my chief delights. Poetry, I consider the perfection of literature. Without it, the lips of the soul are dumb. It is the beautiful expression of that which is most true. It is the melodious expression of the unsatisfied desires of the heart panting after perfection. I will tell you more about what I think of it some of these days, as I have a prose article on the genius of Shelley, in which I attempt to describe it. If the Editor of “Graham's Magazine” likes the “Invocation to Spring” you may hand it to him, if you think proper. In regard to the “Penn Magazine,” all I can say at present is, that I will do all I can to aid you in the procurement of subscribers for it. I would take great delight in becoming the associate of a man whom I am proud to recognize as my friend, and whose superior talents I can never cease to admire. [page 117:]

I do not know how long I shall remain at the South; but, long or short, I will do all I can to benefit you. When I return, I will write a more perspicuous letter to you, as my head is now in such great pain from fatigue that I cannot think.

I have a poem entitled “The Mighty Dead,” with one or two Dramas, which I will submit to you for perusal before long. I hope you will excuse the manner in which this letter is written, as the pen is a very bad one. I shall ever take great pride in acknowledging you the noblest of all my friends. May all your days be forever brightened by the sunshine of prosperity; and if there should ever come over you a cloud, may it overshadow you like the wing of an Angel, which, when it has departed, lets down from heaven a tenfold radiance to light you round about.

Yours, very truly,  

E. A. POE, Esqr.


[Griswold Correspondence.]

On Sept. 12th, 1842, Poe wrote to Thomas that Graham had made him an advantageous offer to go back, since he was not delighted with Griswold — nor was any one except the author of “Poets and Poetry” himself. As for Thomas he had so incensed Griswold by apparent inattention to some question of his about some author that he had left him wholly out of the book, although he (Griswold) had at first written a long sketch and chosen his quotations. Continuing Poe said: —

He [Griswold] is a pretty fellow to set himself up for an honest judge or even as a capable one. About two months since (say July) we were talking of the [page 118:] book, when I said I thought of reviewing it in full for the Democratic Review, but found my design anticipated by an article from that ass O Sullivan, and that I knew no other work in which a notice would be readily admissible. Griswold said in reply: “You need not trouble yourself about the publication of the review, should you decide upon writing it, for I will attend to all that. I will get it into some reputable work, and look to it for the usual pay, in the meantime handing you whatever your charge would be.” This, you see, was an ingenious insinuation of a bribe to puff his book. I accepted his offer forthwith, and wrote the review, handed it to him, and received from him the compensation, — he never daring to look over the MS. in my presence, and taking it for granted that all was right. But that review has not yet appeared, and I am doubtful if it ever will. I wrote it precisely as I would have written under ordinary circumstances, and be sure there was no predominance of praise.


[Griswold Collection.]

PHILADELPHIA, Sep (21) 1842.

MY DEAR THOMAS, — I am afraid you will think that I keep my promises but indifferently well, since I failed to make my appearance at Congress Hall on Sunday, and I now, therefore, write to apologize. The will to be with you was not wanting — but, upon reaching home on Saturday night, I was taken with a severe chill and fever — the latter keeping me company all next day. I found myself too ill to venture out, but, nevertheless, would have done so had I been able [page 119:] to obtain the consent of all parties. As it was I was quite in a quandary, for we keep no servant and no messenger could be procured in the neighbourhood. I contented myself with the reflection that you would not think it necessary to wait for me very long after 9 o’clock, and that you were not quite so implacable in your resentments as myself. I was much in hope that you would have made your way out in the afternoon. Virginia & Mrs. C. were much grieved at not being able to bid you farewell.

I perceive by Du Solle's paper that you saw him. He announced your presence in the city on Sunday, in very handsome terms.

I am about going on a pilgrimage, this morning, to hunt up a copy of “Clinton Bradshaw” & will send it to you as soon as procured.

Excuse the brevity of this letter, for I am still very unwell, & believe me most gratefully & sincerely your friend,


F. W. THOMAS, Esq.


[Griswold Collection.]

NEW YORK, Sept. 26th, 1842.

MY DEAR SIR, — Just before I started to the South, I gave Mr. Hunt a poem entitled “The Mighty Dead,” which I directed him to give to Israel Post, to he directed to you. I have just seen Post, and he informs me that the Package was never handed to him. I am very uneasy to know what disposition he made of the poem, as I am fearful that he has caused you to pay the postage on it, when I directed him to send it by Post. I do wish that if [page 120:] you received the poem that you will let me know immediately whether or not you were so imposed upon, as I positively assure you it was without my knowledge. Mr. Hunt is since dead, and I am unable to find out what has become of it. Will you have the goodness to return, by private conveyance, the poem to which I have alluded?

Yours most respectfully,  

E. A. POE, Esqr.


Nov. 16, 1842.

Under date of November 16th, 1842, Poe wrote from Philadelphia to Lowell saying that he had learned of Lowell's purpose to begin the publication of a magazine in Boston in the following January and he took the liberty of asking whether by some agreement he might not be a regular writer for the periodical. — He would be glad to send short articles regularly of such matter and upon such terms as Lowell might indicate. — He would have no doubts of the permanence of the undertaking, and wished Lowell success, for for [[sic]] no one in the country had he so great an admiration and esteem.


[Scribner's Monthly, August, 1894.]

BOSTON, Nov. 19, 1842.
NO. 4 Court St.  

MY DEAR FRIEND, — Your letter has given me great pleasure in two ways; — first, as it assures me of the friendship and approbation of almost the only fearless American critic, and second (to be Irish) since it contains your acquiescence to a request which I had already many [page 121:] times mentally preferred to you. Had you not written you would soon have heard from me. I give you carte blanche for prose or verse as may best please you — with one exception — namely I do not wish an article like that of yours on [Rufus] Dawes, who, although I think with you that he is a bad poet, has yet I doubt not tender feelings as a man which I should be chary of wounding. I think that I shall be hardest pushed for good stories (imaginative ones) & if you are inspired to anything of the kind I should be glad to get it.

I thank you for your kind consideration as to terms of payment, seeing that herein my ability does not come near my exuberant will. But I can offer you $10 for every article at first with the understanding that, as soon as I am able I shall pay you more according to my opinion of your deserts. If the magazine fail, I shall consider myself personally responsible to all my contributors. Let me hear from you at your earliest convenience & believe me always your friend


E. A. POE, Esq.

I am already (I mean my magazine) in the press — but anything sent “right away” will be in season for the first number, in which I should like to have you appear.


[Griswold Collection.]

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 19. 42.

MY DEAR FRIEND, — Your letter of the 14th gave me new hope — only to be dashed to the ground. On the day of its receipt some of the papers announced four removals and appointments. Among the latter I observed the name — Pogue. Upon inquiry among those behind the curtain, I soon found that no such person [page 122:] as — Pogue had any expectation of an appt and that the name was a misprint or rather a misunderstanding of the reporters, who had heard my own name spoken of at the Custom-House. I waited 2 days, without calling on Mr. Smith, as he had twice told me that “he would send for me, when he wished to swear me in.” To-day, however, hearing nothing from him, I called. I asked him if he had no good news for me yet. He replied — “No, I am instructed to make no more removals.” At this, being much astonished, I mentioned that I had heard, through a friend, from Mr. Rob. Tyler, that he was requested to appoint me. At these words he said roughly, — “From whom did you say?” I replied from Mr. Robert Tyler. I wish you could have seen the scoundrel — for scoundrel, my dear Thomas in your private ear, he is — “From Robert Tyler!” says he — “hem! I have received orders from President Tyler to make no more appts and shall make none.” Immediately afterwards, he acknowledged that he had made one appt since these instructions.

Mr. Smith has excited the thorough disgust of every Tyler man here. He is a Whig of the worst stamp and will appoint none but Whigs if he can possibly avoid it. People here laugh at the idea of his being a Tyler man. He is notoriously not such.

As for me, he has treated me most shamefully. In my case, there was no need of any political shuffling or lying. I proffered my willingness to postpone my claims to those of political claimants, but he told me, upon my first interview after the election, that if I would call on the fourth day he would swear me in. I called & he was not at home. On the next day I called again & saw him, when he told me that he [page 123:] would send a Messenger for me when ready: — this without even inquiring my place of residence — showing that he had, from the first, no design of appointing me. Well, I waited nearly a month, when, finding nearly all the appts. made, I again called. He did not even ask me to be seated — scarcely spoke — muttered the words “I will send for you Mr. Poe” — and that was all. My next and last interview was to-day — as I have just described.

The whole manner of the man, from the first, convinced me that he would not appoint me if he could help it. Hence the uneasiness I expressed to you when here.

Now, my dear Thomas, this insult is not to me, so much as to your friend Mr. Robert Tyler, who was so kind as to promise, and who requested my appointment.

It seems to me that the only way to serve me now, is to lay the matter once again before Mr. T. and, if possible through him, to procure a few lines from the President, directing Mr. Smith to give me the place. With these credentials he would scarcely again refuse. But I leave all to your better judgment.

You can have no idea of the low ruffians and boobies — men, too, without a shadow of political influence or caste — who have received office over my head. If Smith had the feelings of a gentleman, he would have perceived that from the very character of my claim — by which I mean my want of claim — he should have made my appt. an early one. It was a gratuitous favor intended me by Mr. Rob Tyler — and he (Smith) has done his best to deprive this favor of all its grace, by delay. I could have forgiven all but the innumerable and altogether unnecessary falsehoods [page 124:] with which he insulted my common sense day after day.

I would write more, my dear Thomas, but my heart is too heavy. You have felt the misery of hope deferred & will feel for me.

Believe me ever your true friend  

Write soon & if possible relieve my suspense. You cannot imagine the trouble I am in, & have been in for the past 2 months — unable to enter into any literary arrangements — or in fact to do anything — being in hourly expectation of getting the place.

[The above copied from the original in the possession of “Fred” for Geo. H. Moore, Esq., Lenox Library. May 30, ’78.

W. C. F.]


[Century Magazine, September, 1894.]

LONDON, 1 Devonshire Terrace,
York Gate, Regent's Park,  
November 27, 1842.  

DEAR SIR, — By some strange accident (I presume it must have been through some mistake on the part of Mr. Putnam in the great quantity of business he had to arrange for me), I have never been able to find among my papers, since I came to England, the letter you wrote to me at New York. But I read it there, and think I am correct in believing that it charged me with no other mission than that which you had already entrusted to me by word of mouth. Believe me that it never, for a moment, escaped my recollection; and that I have done all in my power to bring it to a successful issue — I regret to say, in vain.

I should have forwarded you the accompanying letter [page 125:] from Mr. Moxon before now, but that I have delayed doing so in the hope that some other channel for the publication of our book on this side of the water would present itself to me. I am, however, unable to report any success. I have mentioned it to publishers with whom I have influence, but they have, one and all, declined the venture. And the only consolation I can give you is that I do not believe any collection of detached pieces by an unknown writer, even though he were an Englishman, would be at all likely to find a publisher in this metropolis just now.

Do not for a moment suppose that I have ever thought of you but with a pleasant recollection; and that I am not at all times prepared to forward your views in this country, if I can.

Faithfully yours,  


[Scribner's Monthly, August, 1894.]

BOSTON, Decr 17, 1842.
No. 4 Court St.  

MY DEAR FRIEND, — I ought to have written to you before, but I have had so much to distract me, & so much to make me sick of pen & ink I could not. Your story of “The Tell-Tale Heart” will appear in my first number. Mr. Tuckerman (perhaps your chapter on Autographs is to blame) would not print it in the Miscellany,(1) & I was very glad to get it for myself. It may argue presumptuousness in me to dissent from his verdict. I should be glad to hear from you soon. You must send me another article, as my second number will soon go to press.

Wishing you all happiness I remain your true friend — torn to pieces with little businesses —”

[Signature cut out.]

[page 126:]


DEC. 25, 1842.

In a letter posted December 25, 1842, Poe wrote to Lowell that he sent his second contribution, and thanked the editor of the new periodical for reversing the judgment of Mr. Tuckerman. — If he had known the author of the misnamed “Spirit of Poesy” had come to be editor of the Miscellany he should not have sent the article, and if Mr. T. should accept any writing of his he would at once query what fustian he had been guilty of that it should gain that editor's endorsement; in fact Mr. Tuckerman had written through his publishers saying that if Mr. Poe would send “more quiet” contributions, his work would be esteemed, etc., and that doubtless Mr. Tuckerman would put a “quietus” upon the periodical the publishers had so unadvisedly put in his hands.



Felix O. C. Darley and Thomas C. Clarke with Edgar A. Poe.

This Agreement, entered into on this Thirty-first day of January, A. D. One Thousand, Eight Hundred and Forty-Three (1843) between Felix O. C. Darley, on the one hand and Thomas C. Clarke with Edgar A. Poe on the other, shows: first:

That the said F. O. C. Darley agrees to furnish original designs, or drawings (on wood or paper as required) of his own composition, in his best manner, and from subjects supplied him by Mess: Clarke and [page 127:] Poe; the said designs to be employed in illustration of the Magazine entitled “The Stylus,” or for other purposes. And the said F. O. C. Darley agrees to furnish not less than three of the said designs per month, when required to furnish so many.

Secondly: That Mess: Clarke and Poe agree to demand of Mr. Darley not more than five of these designs in any one month, nor these of greater elaboration than the wood-engraving on the first page of the cover of the French edition of “Gil-Bias,” as illustrated by Gigoux. And, for each design so furnished, Mess: Clarke and Poe agree to pay the said Darley the sum of Seven Dollars ($7); the amounts to be paid quarterly, beginning from the date of this Agreement.

Thirdly: That this Agreement is to be valid until the First day of July 1844; and that the said Felix O. C. Darley is hereby required not to furnish, to any Magazine-publisher, any designs of the character described in this Agreement, to be used in any Magazine, within the period during which this Agreement is valid.

In witness whereof, we, the Undersigned hereunto affix our signatures, this Thirty-First day of January, A. D. One Thousand, Eight Hundred and Forty Three (1843)




Witness, Present.



[page 128:]


[Griswold Collection.]

WASHINGTON, February 1, 1843.

MY DEAR POE, — You judged rightly I did not write to you waiting “for some definite action of Congress on Smith's case.” I feel most anxious in the matter for you, my friend.

About the biography. I duly received your notes, and determined at the earliest hour to take it in hand. Congress is now, you know, in session, and my labors at the department are treble while it continues. Thrice I have set myself about writing out the notes and thrice I have been taken off. It would be a labor of love with me, Poe, as you know, and let who will do it now some of these days I will do it better unless they do it damned well. I could not do it until Congress adjourns, and not speedily then — I am so much occupied. Therefore think it best to send you the MS. as you request, but I do it with regret. I should be most glad to greet you in the Capital. Come on if possible.

Yes, I saw the “Saturday's Museum” in Mr. Robert Tyler's room, and happened to light upon the article in which we are mentioned. I read that portion of it to him and shall take care that he is not misinformed on the subject. I remember Mr. Hirst.

Why the devil did you not give me an inkling of what your good luck is. I was at a party last night, and came to the department rather dull, but when I opened your letter and read,

“In high spirits,  
Yours truly,  
E. A. Poe,”

I rose to “high spirits” myself. I assure you, Poe, that nothing gives me greater pleasure than to know that you are well and doing well. Remember me most affectionately [page 129:] to your mother and Lady and believe me truly your friend,


When you come to Washington stop at “Fuller's Hotel” where you will find your friend


After all, perhaps, at the present writing, the notes for your biography will be better in the hands of some other person, for if I should take them in hand, and speak but a just appreciation of you, it would pass not for justice but the partiality of friendship. Write me on the reception of this.

In haste,  
F. W. T.


[Griswold Memoir.]

[Without date, 1843?]

MY DEAR SIR, — I made use of your name with Carey & Hart, for a copy of your book, and am writing a review of it, which I shall send to Lowell for “The Pioneer.” I like it decidedly. It is of immense importance, as a guide to what we have done; but you have permitted your good nature to influence you to a degree. I would have omitted at least a dozen whom you have quoted, and I can think of five or six that should have been in. But with all its faults — you see I am perfectly frank with you — it is a better book than any other man in the United States could have made of the materials. This I will say.

With high respect, I am your obedient servant,


[page 130:]


Feb. 4, 1843.

Poe wrote to Lowell under date of February 4, 1843, congratulating him upon the initial number of the “Pioneer,” saying that so far as it was possible for a three dollar magazine to please him this had done’ so. He had noticed with some gratification a certain likeness of taste and judgment between himself and Lowell in the greater as well as in the lesser matters of the magazine; and some little time before, when he had thought or dreamed of upbuilding a periodical of his own, he had first told himself that if he could come to agreement with Mr. Hawthorne, Mr. Neal, Mr. Lowell, and a couple of others, he could then get out the best magazine in the country — looking to these men for his strength, although thinking highly of Mr. Cooper and Mr. Bryant. — Poe assured Lowell that the reforms the periodical represented would after a time win the conservative estimate of the Philadelphian. — He had already expressed to Lowell “Notes on English Verse,” and if that article should seem too spiritless or too long for the “Pioneer” Lowell should not hesitate to send it back at once. — He had received ten dollars from Mr. Graham on Lowell's account; that he had lately seen a poem whose title he had forgotten, a beautiful poem veiling an allegory, voyagers seeking a far-off and difficult island — Religion. Possibly it was Lowell's. [page 131:]


[Griswold Collection]. [[sic]]

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 25, 1843.

MY DEAR THOMAS, — Herewith I forward a “Saturday Museum” containing a Biography and caricature, both of myself. I am ugly enough, God knows, but not quite so bad as that. The biographer is H. B. Hirst, of this city. I put into his hands your package, as returned, and he has taken the liberty of stating his indebtedness for memoranda to yourself — a slight extension of the truth for which I pray you to excuse him. He is a warm friend of yours by the bye — and a warm friend is a matter of moment at all times, but especially in this age of lukewarmness. I have also been guilty of an indiscretion in quoting from a private letter of yours to myself — I could not forego the temptation of letting the world know how well you thought of me.

On the outside of the paper you will see a Prospectus of “The Stylus” — my old “Penn” revived & remodelled under better auspices. I am anxious to hear your opinion of it. I have managed, at last, to secure, I think, the great object — a partner possessing ample capital, and, at the same time, so little self-esteem, as to allow me entire control of the editorial conduct. He gives me, also, a half interest, and is to furnish funds for all the business operations — I agreeing to supply, for the first year, the literary matter. This will puzzle me no little, but I must do my best — write as much as possible myself, under my own name and pseudonyms, and hope for the casual aid of my friends, until the first stage of infancy is surpassed. [page 132:]

The articles of copartnership have been signed & sealed for some weeks, and I should have written you before, informing you of my good luck, but that I was in hope of sending you, at the same time, a specimen-sheet. Some little delay has occurred in getting it out, on account of paper. In the meantime all arrangements are progressing with spirit. We shall make the most magnificent Magazine as regards externals, ever seen. The finest paper, bold type, in single column, and superb wood-engravings (in the manner of the French illustrated edition of “Gil Blas” by Gigoux, or “Robinson Crusoe” by Grandville).

There are 3 objects I would give a great deal to accomplish. Of the first I have some hope — but of the 2 last exceedingly little, unless you aid me. In the first place, I wish an article from yourself for my opening number — in the second, one from Mr. Rob. Tyler — in the 3d one from Judge Upshur. If I could get all this, I should be made — but I despair. Judge Upshur wrote some things for “The Messenger” during my editorship, and if I could get him interested in the scheme he might, by good management, be induced to give me an article, I care not how brief, or on what subject, with his name. It would be worth to me at least $500, and give me caste at once. I think him as a reasoner, as a speaker, and as a writer, absolutely unsurpassed. I have the very highest opinion of his abilities. There is no man in America from whom I so strongly covet an article. Is it procurable?

In a few weeks, at farthest, I hope to take you by the hand. In the meantime write & let me know how you come on. [page 133:]

About a week since I enclosed an introductory letter to yourself in one to a friend of mine (Professor Wyatt) now in Washington. I presume you have seen him. He is much of a gentleman & I think you will be pleased with him. Virginia and Mrs. Clemm beg to be remembered.

Truly your friend  

P. S. Smith not rejected yet! — Ah, if I could only get the Inspectorship, or something similar, now — how completely it would put me out of all difficulty.


[Griswold Collection.]

March 1, 1843.  

MY DEAR SIR, — Since the death of Mr. White of the “Literary Messenger,” I have often thought if you would take charge of it, what a great Journal it would become, under your conduct and supervision. With you at the head of the “Messenger,” and Simms of the “Magnolia” (my two most valued friends), we of the South would then have a pride in talking about our Periodical Literature. Does this suggestion accord with any notion that you have had on the subject? I would really like to see you, untrammeled, at the head of some popular Journal of the South.

Pray, excuse these hasty suggestions, and believe me ever,

Yours sincerely  


[page 134:]


[Gill's Life.]

WASHINGTON, March 11, 1843.

MY DEAR SIR, — I write merely to inform you of my well-doing, for, so far, I have done nothing.

My friend Thomas, upon whom I depended, is sick. I suppose he will be well in a few days. In the mean time I shall have to do the best I can.

I have not seen the President yet.

My expenses were more than I thought they would be, although I have economized in every respect, and this delay (Thomas being sick) puts me out sadly. However, all is going right. I have got the subscriptions of all the departments, President, &c. I believe that I am making a sensation which will tend to the benefit of the magazine.

Day after to-morrow I am to lecture. Rob. Tyler is to give me an article, also Upshur. Send me $10 by mail as soon as you get this. I am grieved to ask you for money in this way, but you will find your account in it twice over.

Very truly yours,  



[Griswold Collection.]

March 16, 1843.

MY DEAR THOMAS, & Dow, — I arrived here, in perfect safety, and sober, about half past four last [page 135:] evening — nothing occurring on the road of any consequence. I shaved and breakfasted in Baltimore and lunched on The Susquehannah, and by the time I got to Phila felt quite decent. Mrs. Clemm was expecting me at the car-office. I went immediately home, took a warm bath & supper & then went to Clarke's. I never saw a man in my life more surprised to see another. He thought by Dow's epistle that I must not only be dead but buried, & would as soon have thought of seeing his Great-great-great grandmother. He received me, therefore, very cordially & made light of the matter. I told him what had been agreed upon — that I was a little sick & that Dow, knowing I had been, in times past given tv spreeing upon an extensive scale, had become unduly alarmed &c &c. — that when I found he had written I thought it best to come home. He said my trip had improved me & that he had never seen me looking so well!!! — and I don‘t believe I ever did.

This morning I took medicine, and, as it is a snowy day, will avail myself of the excuse to stay at home — so that by to-morrow I shall be really as well as ever.

Virginia's health is about the same — but her distress of mind has been even more than I had anticipated. She desires her kindest remembrances to both of you — as also does Mrs. C.

Clarke, it appears, wrote to Dow, who must have received the letter this morning. Please re-inclose the letter to me, here — so that I may know how to guide myself. — and, Thomas, do write immediately as proposed. If possible, enclose a line from Rob. Tyler — but I fear, under the circumstances, it is not so. I blame no one but myself.

The letter which I looked for & which I wished [page 136:] returned, is not on its way — reason, no money forthcoming — Lowell had not yet sent it — he is ill in N. York of ophthalmia. Immediately upon receipt of it, or before, I will forward the money you were both so kind as to lend — which is 8 to Dow-and 33 1/2 to Thomas — What a confounded business I have got myself into, attempting to write a letter to two people at once!

However — this is for Dow. My dear fellow — Thank you a thousand times for your kindness & great forbearance, and don’t say a word about the cloak turned inside out, or other peccadilloes of that nature. Also, express to your wife my deep regret for the vexation I must have occasioned her. Send me, also, if you can the letter to Blythe. Call, also, at the barber's shop just above Fuller's and pay for me a levy which I believe I owe. And now God bless you — for a nobler fellow never lived.

And this is for Thomas. My dear friend; Forgive me my petulance & don‘t believe I think all I said. Believe me I am very grateful to you for your many attentions & forbearances, and the time will never come when I shall forget either them or you. Remember me most kindly to Dr Lacey — also to the Don, whose mustachios I do admire after all, and who has about the finest figure I ever beheld — also to Dr Frailey. Please express my regret to Mr. Fuller for making such a fool of myself in his house, and say to him (if you think it necessary) that I should not have got half so drunk on his excellent Port wine but for the rummy coffee with which I was forced to wash it down. I would be glad, too, if you would take an opportunity of saying to Mr Rob. Tyler that if he can look over matters & get me the Inspectorship, I will [page 137:] join the Washingtonians forthwith. I am as serious as a judge — & much more so than many. I think it would be a feather in Mr. Tyler's cap to save from the perils of mint julap — & — “Port wines” — a young man of whom all the world thinks so well & who thinks so remarkably well of himself.

And now, my dear friends, good bye & believe me

Most truly yours,  


Upon getting here I found numerous letters of subscribers to my Magazine — for which no canvas has yet been made. This was unexpected & cheering. Did you say, Dow, that Commodore Elliot had desired me to put down his name? Is it so or did I dream it? At all events, when you see him, present my respects & thanks. Thomas, you will remember that Dr Lacey wished me to put him down — but I don’t know his first name — please let me have it.

NOTE BY THOMAS. — This letter explains itself. While his friends were trying to get Poe a place he came on to Washington in the way he mentions. He was soon quite sick and while he was so Dow wrote to one of his friends in Philadelphia about him. Poor fellow, a place had been promised his friends for him, and in that state of suspense which is so trying to all men and particularly to men of imagination, he presented himself in Washington certainly not in a way to advance his interests. I have seen a great deal of Poe, and it was his excessive, and at times morbid sensibility which forced him into his “frolics,” rather than any mere morbid appetite for drink, but if he took but one glass of weak wine or beer or cider the Rubicon of the cup was passed with him, and it almost always ended in excess and sickness. [page 138:] But he fought against the propensity as hard as ever Coleridge fought against it, and I am inclined to believe, after his sad experience and suffering, if he could have gotten office with a fixed salary, beyond the need of literary labour, that he would have redeemed himself — at least at this time. The accounts of his derelictions in this respect when I knew him were very much exaggerated. I have seen men who drank bottles of wine to Poe's wine glasses who yet escaped all imputation of intemperance. His was one of those temperaments whose only safety is in total abstinence. He suffered terribly after any indiscretion. And after all what Byron said of Sheridan was true of Poe —

“Ah little do they know

That what to them seemed vice might be but woe.”

And moreover there is a great deal of heartache in the jestings of this letter.



March 24, 1843.

See p. 178 of Biography (Vol. I.).


[Scribner's Monthly, August, 1894.]

BOSTON, March 24, 1843.

MY DEAR FRIEND, — I have neglected writing to you too long already, in the hope of being able to remit the money I owe you. When I shall have stated the facts, I think that you will excuse my want of punctuality. The magazine was started on my own responsibility, & I relied on the payments I should receive from my publishers to keep me even with my creditors until the Magazine should be firmly established. You may conceive my distress when the very first note given me by my publishers [page 139:] has been protested for nonpayment, & the magazine ruined. For I was unable to go on any farther, having already incurred a debt of, $1,800 or more.

I hope soon to make such arrangements as will enable me to borrow this sum — pay all my debts & leave [me] free to go [to] work & apply my earnings to getting the load off my shoulders. The loss of my eyes at this juncture (for I am as yet unable to use them to any extent) adds to my distress. I shall remit to you before long — meanwhile do write me on receipt of this & tell me that you forgive me for what truly is more my misfortune than my fault — & that you still regard me as ever

Your friend in all ways  

P. S. I hear you have become an Editor.(1) Is it true? I hope so; if it were only to keep our criticism in a little better trim.


The first two paragraphs of Poe's generous answer to the foregoing letter of Lowell's are on page 176 of the Biography. Poe goes on to say that he was sending Lowell a copy of the Philadelphia Saturday Museum in which he spoke of the “Pioneer” — not as editor of the Museum but because he had certain rights in the editorial column. He hoped on the first of the following July to issue the initial number of his new monthly magazine “The Stylus;” that he was solicitous to get for that issue a poem from Lowell, but since Lowell was ill — suffering from ophthalmia — he would be wrong to ask it. He sympathized earnestly with Lowell in his trouble; when however Lowell found himself in health to write, Poe would be obliged if he would generously [page 140:] put him in the way of obtaining an article from Hawthorne for the first number of “The Stylus” — since Lowell knew Hawthorne personally; they would pay whatever Lowell paid Hawthorne; an imaginative tale by Mr. Hawthorne would be illustrated. They purposed in “The Stylus” to give critical notices of American men and women of letters, and that he would be obliged for any likeness of Lowell himself, or of Hawthorne, for the medallion portraits which “The Stylus” purposed to print with the notice. The sketch of Lowell Poe would like to arrange for the first of the series, and since he was not wholly familiar with Lowell's writings would Lowell not furnish some matter for the biography and criticism.


[Griswold Collection.]

WASHINGTON, March 27, 1843.

MY DEAR FRIEND, — Yours of the 16th I duly received. I would have answered it immediately, but my desk got so behindhand, during my illness when you were here, that every moment of my time has been engaged in bringing it up.

Dow's epistle, I suppose, astonished your folks. He tells me too that he mentions a consultation with me in it. Our friend Dow, you know, is an imaginative man, and he thought that you, as we say in the West, had “broken for high timber” — I have had a hearty laugh at him for his fears. I am glad to learn that you are well.

I rejoice to know that your wife is better. I cannot leave the office at present to see Robert Tyler, as you suggest, to get a line from him. But this I can tell you that the President, yesterday, asked me many questions about you, and spoke of you kindly. John Tyler, who was [page 141:] by, told the President that he wished he would give you an office in Philadelphia, and before he could reply a servant entered and called him out. John had heard of your frolic from a man who saw you in it, but I made light of the matter when he mentioned it to me; and he seemed to think nothing of it himself. He seems to feel a deep interest in you. Robert was not by. I feel satisfied that I can get you something from his pen for your Magazine. He lately made a speech here on the Patriarch's [sic] day, which has won for him great applause. You will find it in the Intelligencer of this morning. Read it and tell me what you think of it.

I write in the greatest haste, and I have not your letter by me, so reply to it from memory. Write as soon as you get this. Be of good cheer. I trust to see you an official yet.

In the greatest haste,

Yours truly,  


[Griswold Collection.]

WHITE HOUSE, March 31st, 1843.

MY DEAR SIR, — I have received your letter in which you express your belief that Judge Blythe would appoint you to a situation in the Custom House provided you have a reiteration of my former recommendation of you. It gives me pleasure to say to you that it would gratify me very sensibly, to see you appointed by Judge Blythe. I am satisfied that no one is more competent, or would be more satisfactory in the discharge of any duty connected with the office.

Believe me, my dear sir,  
Truly yours  
[Signature missing.] [ROBERT TYLER.]

EDGAR A. POE Esq. [page 142:]


[Scribner's Monthly, August, 1894.]

BOSTON April 17, 1843.

MY DEAR FRIEND, — Hawthorne writes me that he shall be able to send an article(1) in the course of a week or two. His terms are $5 a page, but probably, as your pages will “eat up” Copy with a less anacondalike appetite than the fine print magazines, your best plan would be to pay him so much by the article. His wife will make a drawing of his head or he will have a Daguerreotype taken, so that you can have a likeness of him.

As to my own effigies.(2) Page has painted a head of me which is called very fine, & which is now Exhibiting (I believe) at the National Academy in New York. This might be Daguerreotyped — or I might have one taken from my head as it is now — namely in a more civilized condition — the portrait by Page having very long hair, not to mention a beard and some symptoms of moustache, & looking altogether, perhaps, too antique to be palatable to the gentle public. But you shall use your own judgment about that.

I write now in considerable confusion, being just on the eve of quitting the office which I occupy as “Attorney & Counsellor at Law.” I have given up that interesting profession, & mean to devote myself wholly to letters. I shall live with my father at Cambridge in the house where I was born. I shall write again soon & send you a poem and some data for a biographical sketch. Take my best love in exchange for your ready sympathy & use me always as you may have occasion as your affectionate friend.

J. R. L.

[page 143:]

My address will be “Cambridge, Mass.” in future. I do hope and trust that your magazine will succeed. Be very watchful of your publishers & agents. They must be driven as men drive swine, take your eyes off them for an instant & they bolt between your legs & leave you in the mire.

J. R. L.


[Scribner's Monthly, August, 1894.]

CAMBRIDGE, May 8, 1843.

MY DEAR FRIEND, — I have been delaying to write to you from day to day in the expectation that I should have received an article from Hawthorne to send with my letter. I am now domiciled in the country & have been doing nothing but ramble about, gardening, farming, tending an increasing flock of poultry & in short, being out of doors & in active exercise as much as possible in order to restore my eyes effectually.

I have got the idea of Hawthorne's article so fixed in my mind that I forgot that I did not send you a poem in my last. I have such a reluctance to go into the city that though I have been here nearly three weeks I have not even brought out my MSS. yet. But I mean to do it in a day or two & shall then send you something which I hope will be to your liking. You must forgive my dilatoriness, my dear friend, the natural strength of which is increased by the pressure of my debts — a source of constantly annoying thought which prevents my doing almost anything as yet.

With regard to a sketch of my own life my friend [Robert] Carter thinks that he can give it better than I — and perhaps he will send you one. Meanwhile I give a few dates. I was born Feby 22 1819 in this house at Cambridge — entered Harvard College in 1834 & took my degree as Bachelor of Arts in regular course in 1838 — my master's degree in 1841. While in college I [page 144:] was one of the editors elected to edit the periodical(1) then published by the undergraduates, & also to deliver the Class poem — a yearly performance which requires a poet every year who is created as easily by the class vote as a baronet or peer of the realm is in England. I was in the Law School under Judge Story for two years & upwards took a degree of Bachelor of Laws by force of having my name on the books as a student — & published a volume of rather crude productions (in which there is more of everybody else than of myself) in Jany., 1841. On the Mother's side I am of Scotch descent.

I forgot to thank you for the biographical sketch of your own eventful life which you sent me. Your early poems display a maturity which astonished me & I recollect no individual (& I believe I have all the poetry that was ever written) whose early poems were anything like as good. Shelley is nearest, perhaps.

I have greater hopes of your “Stylus” than I had of my own magazine, for I think you understand editing vastly better than I shall for many years yet — & you have more of that quality — which is the Siamese twin brother of genius — industry — than I.

I shall write again shortly meanwhile,

I am your affectionate & obliged  
friend J. R. L.


[Scribner's Monthly, August, 1894.]

[No date. Postmark, BOSTON, May 16.]

MY DEAR FRIEND, — I send you this little poem with some fears that you will be disappointed therein. But it is on the whole the most likely to please of any that I could lay my hands on — my MSS. being trusted to fortune like the Sybils leaves, & perhaps, like her's, [page 145:] rising in value to my mind as they decrease in number. You must tell me frankly how you like what I sent & what you should like better. Will you give me your address more particularly so that in case I have a package to send you I can forward it by express?

With all truth & love

I remain your friend  
J. R. L.


[Griswold Memoir.]

PHILADELPHIA, June 11, 1843.

DEAR GRISWOLD, — Can you not send me $5? I am sick, and Virginia is almost gone. Come and see me. Peterson says you suspect me of a curious anonymous letter. I did not write it, but bring it along with you when you make the visit you promised to Mrs. Clemm. I will try to fix that matter soon. Could you do any thing with my note?

Yours truly,  
E. A. P.


[Griswold Collection.]

BALTIMORE, 15th June 1843.

DEAR EDGAR, — I wrote you on the 15th ulto since which time I have rec’d nothing from you, mine was in answer to a letter rec‘d giving an a/c of yr many recent reverses, & I fear it was in a style not relished by you, but in great sincerity of feeling for you & yours I wrote it, and the reason why I presumed to be so free in my expressions was, in consequence of the great friendship, I feel for you & interest I take in yr welfare, & therefore hoped to hear again from you, & of yr wife's being better, [page 146:] & yr recovery from the sickness & despondency you were suffering when you last wrote. I still write from the same motives — I observed in the Baltimore Sun newspaper in an editorial, that you have again, lately been successful in having awarded to you a prize of $100, by the Dollar Newspaper for a tale called the “Gold Bug” which gave me much pleasure, & hope it came in time to relieve you from some of yr pecuniary wants — Ought you ever to give up in despair when you have such resources as yr well stored mind to apply to? let me intreat you then to persevere, for I hope the time is not far distant, when a change will take place in yr affairs & place you beyond want in this world. Will you write to me freely & let me know what are your prospects in getting out the “Stylus” & how yr wife is & Mrs Clemm how is she, it would give me pleasure to hear from her. There is one thing I am anxious to caution you against, & which has been a great enemy to our family, I hope, however, in yr case, it may prove unnecessary, “A too free use of the Bottle.” Too many & especially Literary Characters, have sought to drown their sorrows & disappointments by this means, but in vain, and only, when it has been too late, discovered it to be a deeper source of misery — But enough of this say you, & so say I, therefore hoping this may find you in better spirits & better prospects of future happiness, I subscribe myself

Yrs affectionately  


[Scribner's Monthly, August, 1894.]

June 19, 1843.  

MY DEAR SIR, — I send you with this letter a copy of the Boston Notion, April 29, containing an abridgment [page 147:] which I made of the sketch of your life and writings which appeared in the Phila. Sat. Museum. I was absent from the city when it was printed and did not see the proof; consequently it is full of atrocious errors. What has become of the Stylus? I trust that it has not been found prudent to relinquish the enterprise though I fear that such is the case. It would give the friends of pure and elevated literature in this region great pleasure to learn that it is only temporarily delayed.

Mr. Lowell is in excellent health and his eyes have nearly recovered their usual strength. He has entirely abandoned his profession and is living at his father's house in the vicinity of this village. About a fortnight since he began to scribble vigorously and has within that period written about a thousand lines. You will see in the next Democratic Review, or at least in the August no., his longest and(1) ... blank verse and is entitled Prometheus. It contains nearly four hundred lines I think, and was written in seven or eight hours. At least, I left him one day at 11 A. M. and he had concluded to begin it immediately and when I saw him again at about 8 1/2 P. M. the same day he read to me upwards of two hundred and fifty lines and he had written besides before he began some stanzas of a long poem in ottava rima which has occupied him chiefly for the last two weeks. Graham has also a poem from him and there will be one in the next New Mirror.

Within a week I have read for the first time, Pym's Narrative. I lent it to a friend who lives in the house with me, and who is a lawyer, a graduate of Harvard, and a brother of Dr. O. W. Holmes, yet he is so completely deceived by the minute accuracy of some of the details, the remarks about the statements of the press, the names of people at New Bedford, &c. that, though an intelligent and shrewd man he will not be persuaded that it is a fictitious work, by any arguments drawn from the book itself, [page 148:] though(1) ... the latter part of the narrative. I dislike to tell him that I know it to be fictitious, for to test its truthfulness I gave it to him without remark and he has so committed himself by grave criticisms on its details that I dread to undeceive him. He has crossed the Atlantic twice and commented on an inaccuracy in the description of Pym's midnight voyage with his drunken friend. I have not the book in the house and knowing nothing of the sea, did not clearly comprehend the objection, but I think it was upon setting a “jib” or some such thing upon a dismasted sloop — I know that the words “jib,” “sloop” & “only one mast” occurred in his remarks.

To return to a safer subject — I am extremely desirous of knowing the name of your novel in two volumes alluded to in the “Museum”(2) ... and if it be not a secret, or one that can be confided to a stranger would be obliged by its communication. And while I am in an inquisitive mood, let me beg of you to tell me whether the name of the author of Stanley is Walter or Wm Landor and whether he has recently or will soon publish anything. Also who is the author of “Zoe” and the “Aristocrat?”

My address is still “Boston, care of Rev. Dr. Lowell.”

Truly & respectfully  
Your friend  

[page 149:]


[From the Collection of Mrs. Fields.]

PHILADELPHIA, June 20, 1843.

MY DEAR FRIEND, — I owe you fifty apologies for not having written you before — but sickness and domestic affliction will suffice for all.

I received your poem, which you undervalue, and which I think truly beautiful — as, indeed, I do all you have ever written — but, alas! my Magazine scheme has exploded — or, at least, I have been deprived, through the imbecility, or rather through the idiocy of my partner, of all means of prosecuting it for the present. Under better auspices I may resume it next year.

What am I to do with the poem? I have handed it to Griswold, subject to your disposition.

My address is 234 North Seventh St. above Spring Garden, West Side. Should you ever pay a visit to Philadelphia, you will remember that there is no one in America whom I would rather hold by the hand than yourself.

With the sincerest friendship  
I am yours  


[Griswold Collection.]

July 2, 1843.  

MY DEAR SIR, — I had seen, before I received your letter of the 20 ult, Mr. Clark's announcement in the [page 150:] Museum,” of his withdrawal from the Stylus projet [[project]]; — and even before then, from your long and protracted silence, and in the absence of all evidence, save this, had the belief that the devilish machinations of a certain clique in Philadelphia, had completely baulked your laudable designs. But I had not supposed that Morton C. Michael had joined in, with this minnow tribe of littérateurs, in their persecutions against you. I had supposed that between you, there existed an association, that was with him, as unselfish, as it was generous on your part. Your final triumph over this clique, will give me more pleasure than anything I wot of now.

I had solicited Mr. Simms to make in the Magnolia, a notice of your project, which he has done, I see, in the June number. In his private letters to me, he speaks in high praise of your Endowments as an artist.

I had collected the materials, for several Biographical notices of our Southern Writers, and was getting them up in good style, when I learned the fate of your project. I will keep them on hand for you, — and in the event of your ever needing them, I will have a pleasure in furnishing you with them. In a notice of Mrs. Hintz [sic] in the June number of the Magnolia, by my friend, the Honorable Alexander B. Meek, of Tuscaloosa, you will find that he has paid you a fine compliment. The idea of your getting up a Magazine was such a good one, and took so well, that I was greatly hurt on learning its abandonment.

I had caused to be noticed in various newspapers of the South and West, your project; and did see thro’ these sources, the high admiration in which my friends in those places, held your Endowments. Could you have once started, your success would have been complete.

Have you not in your City, some, that thro’ a friendship which they feel not, are doing you much evil? I have had a letter quite lately, from one professing all friendship for you, in which some allusions are made to you in a manner greatly astonishing me. [page 151:]

W. Gilmore Simms writes me, that he will be in your city this summer. While there any attentions shewn him, will be reciprocated by me. Should you at any future time, get up your work, I will be as willing then, as I have always been, to extend to you, in its behalf, the entire weight of my influence.

Affectionately Yours,  



Aug. 28, 1843.

Poe wrote to Tomlin on August 28th, 1843, that he had received Tomlin's letter enclosing the cryptographic writing of Mr. Meek, and he answered at once, for Tomlin's sake, although he had determined to solve no more such devices. He had been led to that determination for the reason that he had been deluged by the curious with various cyphers upon the publication of his first solutions. He was forced to give his time to such riddles, or to refuse absolutely every one — else the public would call him braggart. He had given his time and lost in time more than a thousand dollars, but he then declared his purpose to solve no more. The one Mr. Tomlin enclosed was very easily read. ... — Poe did not take pride in such solutions — nor in little else in fact. — There was ease in reading cryptographs if the same forms were always used for the same letters. But in those sent him this for the most part was not true — for instance, in Dr. Frailey's like forms were not used, neither was there division into words. — And yet observing both these rules Poe would include a cypher which Mr. Meek [page 152:] could not probably read if his life were at stake. ... — Of Tomlin Poe now asked a favor of importance to himself. Some malignant tongue had made him a subject of abuse. Poe had reason to think it was a certain profligate whom every one in Philadelphia thought the vilest. For this man Poe had felt a pity and had tried to befriend him by writing an article upon his “Quacks of Helicon.” For this friendliness the man had reviled him at his back — just as he had reviled nearly every gentleman in Philadelphia. The favor Poe asked was that Tomlin would send to him the letter the man had written. This in fact it was the right thing for him to do, and Poe would wait for his answer with impatience.


[Griswold Collection.]

Sept 10, 1843.  

DEAR SIR, — My friendship for you, and nothing else, has prevailed on me, to enclose you the letter of A. L. Wilmer, Esquire. — But I much fear, that in doing it, I have violated somewhat the rules that govern correspondents in such matters. Believing, however, that your great good sense, will but protect my honor in this transaction, I remain with affectionate regard,

Yours Ever,  

EDGAR A. POE, Esquire.

P. S. Return Wilmer's letter. [page 153:]


[Griswold Collection.]


MY DEAR SIR, — You must give me credit for a proper degree of moral courage, in thus presuming to write to the Peter McPrawler [sic] of Graham's Magazine.

I am no author; that is, in the eyes of the world. Yet I claim a place in the great family of Poets; having “done something in the dark” which will bear comparison with the production of the celebrated Bobby Button. It is rather a bashful piece of business, to introduce one's self to a stranger, and by letter; but I will write frankly and freely, and you must pardon the personal pronoun.

I am eighteen; and

This have I learned, that to my hand,

Is given the labor of the land:

My foot must tread the furrowed ground,

And stand when harvest-time comes round:

To me is given the laborer's care —

In autumn, mine the laborer's share.

I borrow these lines from a Poem, which I have written this summer, for the double purpose of showing you the life I lead, and the verse I write. I have not studied the art of Poetry, and all the education that others have given me, I have received from the “Schoolmasters and School ma’ams” of our District School. I write because I cannot help it. I am poor, but am not foolish enough to expect wealth for my words, or vain enough to be in a hurry to get into print, and get for myself the name and fame of the Poet. I can wait.

I want but one thing: — an acquaintance and fellowship with other Poets. Men are brothers, and man must, if he be a Poet, have some to cherish and love. Now there are not in the regions around about Old Attleboro’ [page 154:] ten men who know Poetry from prose. — Not one who has any sympathy with the hopes and dreams of the poet's heart. This utter loneliness and complete want of some in whom to confide such secrets as a Poet has, has driven me to seek friends among strangers.

You now understand my position, and why I have written to you; and if you will give me your hand in friendship, you will make one heart glad. Upon the next page I copy a few lines from some poems, that I have lately written and, I shall value your opinion of their merit, higher than that of others.

The following lines are from a poem, entitled “One Year” which is unfinished.

As cometh gladness to the heart, when grief

Hath dwelt a season, came the Spring to earth,

To the imprisoned waters with relief,

And to the forests with the songs of mirth:

The south winds breathed upon the drifted snow —

It vanished from the valley & the hill:

The soft rains fell. — Swift was the river's flow

And loud and glad the murmur of the rills

Upon the bosom of the silent gale

Came back the robin to his nature true;

And merry songsters sang in every vale

Unwritten music of the pure and free.

The succeeding twelve lines are the conclusion of “Life, a Poem.”

As the life which hath been given

For a season to us here; —

The breath we draw at morn and even —

What have men, they hold so dear?

They will part with earthly treasure,

Wealth and station, honor, fame,

Every source of pride and pleasure

That the tongue of man can name.

What men cherish, they will offer,

What man loveth he will give:

Labor, strive, endure and suffer,

For the liberty to live! [page 155:]

This last Poem contains eighty-four lines. But after all, this cutting a stanza out of the middle of a poem, is like sending a brick as a specimen of a house, and “I will no more of it.”

Write to me I pray, as you would to a brother, and if you will give me liberty, at some future time I will send you copies of some of my pieces. Meanwhile, I have work to do, that makes the hand hard and the face brown.

Yours very truly  
A. M. IDE JR.(1)



Oct. 19, 1843.

Poe opens his letter to Lowell of the date October 19, 1843, by acknowledging five dollars he had received from Mr. Carter and five more enclosed in Lowell's letter of the 13th. — He rejoiced at Lowell's restoration to health, asked if the latter purposed to include in his projected volume “A Year's Life,” poems already published. He hoped to review the book when it appeared, since no American poet had accomplished so much. Longfellow had an inferior quality of genius, his imitations at times seem almost plagiarisms. His then lately published “Spanish Student” Poe had reviewed for the December “Graham's;” it seemed a poor thing, with now and then fine passages. Longfellow's “Hymn to the Night” he pronounced “glorious.” — Commenting [page 156:] on Lowell's decision that he himself was “unfit for narrative — unless in dramatic form,” Poe asserted that true poetry must keep itself clear of narrative, must avoid it, that the passages which cement the different parts of a tale are from their very nature unpoetic, and that a master's hand was needed to infuse any poetic feeling in such connecting verse. The Iliad, Poe concluded, was not the highest poetry. Byron, who lacked artistic instinct, was forced to a sort of fragmentary composition in his narrative, and to the use of asterisks in lieu of connecting passages; Moore in his “Alciphron,” succeeded in narrative. — Poe sent his life and portrait in a paper — the latter being so false that none of his family recognized it. The review of “Graham's” was by H. B. Hirst, a young Philadelphia poet. Who was to write Lowell's life for “Graham's?” It was unfortunate that so many such sketches were put in Mr. Griswold's hands because of his defects of judgment and reliance on others’ opinions. Poe having vainly tried to get a copy of “A Year's Life,” would be obliged if Lowell would send him one.


[Griswold Collection.]

November 2nd 1843.  

MY DEAR SIR, — I was glad, I assure you, to receive your letter of Octo. 19. I need not tell you that I am grateful for your willing friendship, approval and encouragement. You have given me some confidence in myself which I think may be a very good matter for a Poet.

I do not wish to pass judgment upon others, but no [page 157:] one has a more ardent wish than myself to see somewhat of a Revolution in American Literature. Our country supports too many of these Dish-water Magazines: — & reads too much blank paper! The pen and the press have begun almost every reformation: they must begin another. Ours has become a mighty nation; but if its institutions are to be perpetuated, if it is to live long and peacefully — the minds of the many must be somewhat enlightened; men are to be led to think while they act: and act wisely. The head and the heart of man are wonderful things.

I am glad to learn that you intend to attempt the overthrow of Humbug! If my hand can aid in the deed, it shall labor willingly. And God bless you in the work, when the time come. I wish to learn something more of your plans whenever it pleases you to communicate them.

Since I wrote to you before I have met rather unpleasant fortune: & circumstances are such as a Poet does not love to write, — or a Poet to read. — I will say nothing of them: but I expect that I shall soon have to seek a home for myself, or give up study altogether: I forget whether I told you or not, that I am honestly poor; if I labor therefore for a man “not my kindred,” I shall have no leisure for a book or a Poem: — It is so dark that I cannot see far before me, now; & this is the first time in my life that I have been thrown entirely upon my own powers, and I thank God, that some obstacles are before me to overcome: —

Your confidence and good will are doubly precious for these things: and an occasional sign of regard will be thrice welcome. Direct as before, until I say otherwise, and believe me

Yours sincerely and respectfully,  
[A. M. IDE.]


[Signature missing.] [page 158:]


[Griswold Collection.]

February 23, 1844.

DEAR SIR, — I have had no letter from you, since I sent you the libellous letter of A. L. Wilmer. Did you inflict on him a chastisement equal to the injury he designed, by the publication of such scandals? Previous to the reception of that letter, I had entertained a good opinion of the “Quacks of Helicon” man, and it had been brought about in a great measure by your Review of the Book. In his former letters, he not only spoke kindly of you, but seemed disposed to become your advocate, against the littérateurs of Philadelphia. I hope that you will forgive him, and that he will go, and “Sin no more.”

Your Review of “Orion” in the February, or March No. of “Graham's,” I have read with much pleasure. The article is one of great ability. I know of no writer whose success in life would give me more sincere pleasure than that of yourself.

Hoping soon to hear from you, I remain ever

Your Friend,  

E. A. POE, Esq.


[Scribner's Monthly, August, 1894.]

ELMWOOD, CAMBRIDGE, March 6, 1844.

MY DEAR FRIEND, — When I received your last letter I was very busily employed upon a job article on a subject in which I have no manner of interest. As I had nothing to say, it took me a great while to say it. [page 159:]

I made an expedition to Boston to learn what I could about our lectures there, & found that the lectures for the season are now over. I mean the Society lectures. There are different gentlemen employed diligently in lecturing upon “physical sciences” & “the lungs” &c. &c. admission ninepence, children halfprice, but all the lectures of a more literary class are over. I spoke to the secretary of the Boston Lyceum about the probability of your success if you came experimentally, and he shook his head. It is not a matter in which I feel myself competent to judge — my bump of hope being quite too large. I asked him about engaging you for next year & he seemed very much pleased with the plan & said that the Society would be glad to do it. This course of lectures has (I think) the highest rank here.

To speak for myself I should be delighted both to see & hear you. I like your subject too.

The Boston people want a little independent criticism vastly. I know that we should not agree exactly, but we should at least sympathize. You occasionally state a critical proposition from which I dissent, but I am always satisfied. I care not a straw what a man says, if I see that he has his grounds for it, & knows thoroughly what he is talking about. You might cut me up as much as you pleased & I should read what you said with respect, & with a great deal more of satisfaction, than most of the praise I get, affords me. It is these halfpenny “critics” — these men who appeal to our democratic sympathies by exhibiting as their only credentials the fact that they are “practical printers” & what not, that are ruining our literature — men who never doubt that they have a full right to pronounce upon the music of Apollo's lute, because they can criticise fitly the filing of a handsaw, & who, making a point of blundering, will commend Hercules (if they commend at all) for his skill at Omphale's distaff.

It will please you to hear that my volume will soon reach a third edition. The editions are of five hundred [page 160:] each, but “run over,” as printers say, a little so that I suppose about eleven hundred have been sold. I shall write to you again soon, giving you a sketch of my life. Outwardly it has been simple enough, but inwardly every man's life must be more or less of a curiosity. Goethe made a good distinction when he divided his own autobiography into poetry & fact.

When will Graham give us your portrait? I hope you will have it done well when it is done, & quickly too. Writing to him a short time ago I congratulated him upon having engaged you as editor again. I recognized your hand in some of the editorial matter (critical) & missed it in the rest. But I thought it would do no harm to assume the fact, as it would at least give him a hint. He tells me I am mistaken & I am sorry for it. Why could not you write an article now and then for the North American Review? I know the editor a little, & should like to get you introduced there. I think he would be glad to get an article. On the modern French School of novels for example. How should you like it? The Review does not pay a great deal ($2 a page, I believe) but the pages do not eat up copy very fast.

I am sorry I did not know of your plan to lecture in Boston earlier. I might have done something about it. The Lyceum pays from fifty to a hundred dollars, as their purse is full or empty. I will put matters in train for next year, however.

Affectionately your friend.  
[Signature cut out.]

P. S. You must not make any autobiographical deductions from my handwriting, as my hand is numb with cold. Winter has come back upon us. [page 161:]


March 30, 1844.

Poe's answer to the letter from Lowell immediately preceding this bears date, Philadelphia, March 30, 1844. Poe says that Mr. Graham has spoken of his writing Lowell's biography, and asks if Lowell will not send the material at once to his disengaged hands. — In re the biography of Willis which had appeared in the April number of the magazine, Willis was a “graceful trifler,” but lacked sincerity and strength. — For the life of Poe which was to appear in the magazine the portrait was done, but the writer of the sketch Poe had not yet found, — and Mr. Graham insisted he should provide the writer. — Poe rejoiced to hear that eleven hundred copies of Lowell”s new book of poems had been sold, and hoped everything for his future. The “London Foreign Quarterly” had lately an article on “American Poetry,” which Poe thought had the strongest internal evidence as from the hand of Dickens; then too it spoke splenetically and in ignorance of our poetry, while telling much that was true. The article accused Poe of an imitation of Tennyson in his metres, and cited to prove its assertion poems published before Tennyson was known. Poe felt himself under obligation to Lowell for his trouble to gain him the lecturing, and would be glad to accept any invitation for the Lyceum for next winter. — How deplorable was the state of literature in this country, and whither was it going! American authors needed two things — an international copyright law, and a well-founded monthly publication of energy, ability, and judgment enough to give voice to the best productions [page 162:] and educate in its readers a taste for belle letters. Externally such a magazine should be fine, and it should be as independent in its business arrangements as editorially independent, sincere and original. Such a magazine might have unmeasured influence in literature, and become a permanent success financially. One hundred thousand copies might be sold after a year or two. — Such a publication might be undertaken by our men of letters uniting, a chosen lot combining silently, each one subscribing say two hundred dollars at the beginning, each one contributing according to a definite line agreed upon, a nominal editor having general directions. Could not the ball be set rolling that would introduce such a change? If writers, added Poe, do not defend themselves by some unity they will be eaten by such publishers as he himself had had experience with.


[Griswold Collection.]


MY DEAR SIR, — Since I wrote you last, (in the month of November, ’43, I believe,) my employment and whereabouts have been such, that I have not been able to write you such a letter as I wish to. I am now at my old home again and, in the coming Spring and Summer, I shall plough the same old fields, and make hay on the greensward, that first gave me lessons in labor. I have had the good fortune, this winter, to make such acquisition of wealth as places me now before the world: and with such advantages, as I have from that source, I promise myself a pleasant life to come.

Among books which I have bought me, are Longfellow's, and Lowell's poems; Whittier's & Lunt's [sic]: [page 163:] The New-Mirror Library, and some odd nos. of Reviews. — I wish you would mention to me, such volumes as you think would do me most profit to read — You can help me much, if you will do so —

Notwithstanding the wearisome tasks I have performed this winter, I have written more, in a few months pass’d, than all before. These poems have been written in the small hours of dark and stormy nights — often when I could hear & feel the wind and rain and snow, against the roof and window of my room. — I have published little. A total lack of acquaintance with gentlemen connected with the literary Magazines & newspapers, has withheld me from offering but few lines for publication. — I sent a brief poem to John Inman, (for the Columbian), which was immediately published; (in the March no.). You will find it on page 139 — “Strife.”

The first lines of mine that ever were printed, I rather think you have never seen; and I will send them you, at the time I send this letter. They were first printed in the “Ploughman” at Boston; & were copied by John Neal, (with whom I have no acquaintance) into the Bro. Jonathan, of No. 10, vol Six, with the name, and whereabouts and occupation of your present correspondent, and advice (public) to “Stick to my farm and reverence [sic] myself.” If I ever get a no. of the paper to spare, I’ll send it you. The lines have since been copied into several papers in Mass. and R. I.

I sent you a magazine in January with a Poem I wrote at a week's notice, for some girls who know more of me now than before; to tell you the curious way in which I was selected to write the poem, would be a long story of itself. —

And now, to thank you for so many friendly expressions, in your former letter to me, I will ask you for some items of advice as to future things. What publication would you advise me to send my poetry to; and ought I to send it anonymously, or not? You know better about those things than I do, and can speak freely. I have [page 164:] thought some of sending a poem to Graham but the uncertainty has as yet led me to wait.

Which of the Philadelphia Magazines would you tell me to subscribe for? Do you now conduct the Reviews for Graham's?

Will you give me any knowledge of the plan and character of a new publication called the “Critic,” which the papers said was to be started about this time, in New York?

I will finish this letter by copying a few lines from a poem, written some weeks since —

“I toil where rude, unlettered men

Are laboring around;

Their voices are not low and sweet

And yet of welcome sound;

For, from their tongues come words of truth,

Their hands are brown and hard, —

Our country's sinew and her strength,

Her glory and her guard!”

I hope you will write me, as soon as you can do so, and not encroach upon your occupations.

Yours very faithfully,  
A. M. IDE, Jr.



[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 114:]

1.  On the above letter, addressed to Dr. Thomas Holley Chivers, Middletown, Conn., with the initials E. A. P., Dr. Chivers makes the accompanying comments: “The ‘grammatical errors’ to which Poe alludes here is the want of s in a verse in the poem entitled ‘Song to Isa Singing,’ as follows: ‘The song which none can know,’ etc. Song ought to have been written songs, evidently a mistake in the copying.’ The poem was published in the Broadway Journal. In the original it's ‘Sweet songs.’ ”

The following is the stanza in which the word appears:

Over thy lips now flow

Out of thy heart for me

Sweet songs, which none can know

But him who hopes to be

Forever more with thee.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 114, running to the bottom of page 115:]

2.  In regard to this Mr. Chivers says: “In the letter enclosing these poems I made some critical remarks on the ‘wishy-washy’ verses published by Mr. Griswold in Graham's Magazine, which greatly offended him, and for which, I have reason to believe, he [page 115:] never forgave me, altho what was therein written was intended for the eyes only of Mr. Poe.”

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 115:]

1.  Here reprinted by king permission of General James Grant Wilson, from “The New York Independent.” [[This footnote was removed in the 1903 printing]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 125:]

1.  Mr. Henry Theodore Tuckerman of the Boston Miscellany. — ED.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 139:]

1.  Of the never realized “Stylus.”

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 142:]

1.  For “The Stylus.”

2.  Published with a sketch of his life in “Graham's.”

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 144:]

1.  “Harvardiana.”

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 146:]

1.  William Poe was the poet's second cousin. — ED.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 147:]

1.  Margin of paper cut off.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 148:]

1.  Margin of paper cut off.

2.  This alleged novel was never reamed by Poe.

3.  Carter was Lowell's friend and with him published “The Pioneer,” in which “Lenore,” “Notes on English Verse,” etc., appeared. — ED.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 155:]

1.  “A. M. Ide” was at one time thought to be a pseudonym of “Poe;” but this letter and the following from the same hand disprove the conjecture. See Vol. VII., Appendix, for specimens of his poetry. — ED.





[S:0 - JAH17, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - Complete Works of E. A. Poe (Vol. 17 - Letters) (J. A. Harrison) (Chapter 06)