Text: Edgar Allan Poe to John Allan — February 4, 1829 (LTR-009)


Fortress Monroe
February 4th 1829.

Dear Sir,

I wrote you some time ago from this place but have as yet received no reply. Since that time I wrote to John Mc Kenzie [sic] desiring him to see you personally & desire for me, of you, that you would interest yourself in procuring me a cadet's appointment at the Military Academy.

To this likewise I have received no answer, for which I can in no manner account, as he wrote me before I wrote to him & seemed to take an interest in my welfare.

I made the request to obtain a cadets’ appointment partly because I know that — (if <y> my age should prove no obstacle as I have since ascertained it will not) the appointment could easily be obtained >>either<< by your personal acquaintance with Mr Wirt — or by the recommendation of General Scott, or even of the officers residing at Fortress Monroe & partly because in making the request you would at once see to what direction my “future views & expectations” were inclined.

You can have no idea of the immense [page 2:] advantages which my present station in the army would give me in the appointment of a cadet — it would be an unprecedented case in the American army, & having already passed thro the practical part even of the higher partion [[sic]] of the Artillery arm, my cadetship would only be considered as a necessary form which I >>am<< positive I could run thro’ in 6 months.

This is the view of the case which many at this place have taken in regard to myself. If you are willing to assist me it can now be effectually done — if not (as late circumstances have induced me to believe) I must remain contented until chance or other friends shall render me that assistance.

Under the certain expectation of kind news from home I have been led into expences which my present income will not support. I hinted as much in my former letter, and am at present in an uncomfortable situation[.] I have known the time when you would not have suffered me long to remain so. [page 3:]

Whatever fault you may find with me I have not been ungrateful for past services but you blame me for the part which I have taken without considering the powerful impulses which actuated me — You will remember how much I had to suffer upon my return from the University. I never meant to offer a shadow of excuse for the infamous conduct of myself & others at that place.

It was however at the commencement of that year that I got deeply entangled in difficulty which all my after good conduct in the close of the session (to which all there can testify) could not clear away. I had never been from home before for any length of time. I say again I have no excuse to offer for my [con]duct except the common one of youth[fulnes]s — but I repeat that I was unable [if] my life had depended upon it to bear the consequences of that conduct in the taunts & abuse that followed it even from those who had been my warmest friends.

I shall wait with impatience for an [page 4:] answer to this letter for upon it depend a great many of the circumstances of my future life — the assurance of an honourable & highly successful course in my own country — or the prospect — no certainty of an exile forever to another[.]

Give my love to Ma —

I am
Yours affectionately
Edgar A Poe



This letter is printed here with permission from the Valentine Museum in Richmond, Virginia. A photographic facsimile of this letter was published in Mary Newton Stanard, Edgar Allan Poe Letters Till Now Unpublished in the Valentine Museum, Richmond, Virginia, Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1925.


[S:0 - MS, 1829] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Letters - Poe to J. Allan (LTR009/RCL020)