Text: Edgar Allan Poe to Philip P. Cooke — September 21, 1839 (LTR-082)


Philadelphia Sep. 21rst. 1839.

My Dear Sir:

I recd. your letter this morning — and read it with more pleasure than I can well express. You wrong me, indeed, in supposing that I meant one word of mere flattery in what I said. I have an inveterate habit of speaking the truth — and had I not valued your opinion more highly than that of any man in America I should not have written you as I did.

I say that I read your letter with delight. In fact I am aware of no delight greater than that of feeling one's self appreciated (in such wild matters as “Ligeia”) by those in whose judgment one has faith. You read my inmost spirit “like a book,” and with the single exception of D’Israeli, I have had communication with no other person who does. Willis had a glimpse of it — Judge Tucker saw about one half way through — but your ideas are the very echo of my own. I am very far from meaning to flatter — I am flattered and honored. Beside me is now lying a letter from Washington Irving in which he speaks with enthusiasm of a late tale of mine, “The Fall of the House of Usher,” — and in which he promises to make his opinion public, upon the first opportunity, — but from the bottom of my heart I assure you, I regard his best word as but dust in the balance when weighed with those discriminating opinions of your own, which teach me that you feel and perceive.

Touching “Ligeia” you are right — all right — throughout. The gradual perception of the fact that Ligeia lives again in the person of Rowena is a far loftier and more thrilling idea than the one I have embodied. It offers in my opinion, the widest possible scope to the imagination — it might be rendered even sublime. And this idea was mine — had I never written before I should have adopted it — but then there is “Morella.” Do you remember there the gradual conviction on the part of the parent that the spirit of the first Morella tenants the person of the second? It was necessary, since “Morella” was written, to modify “Ligeia.” I was forced to be content with a sudden half-consciousness, on the part of the narrator, that Ligeia stood before him. One point I have not fully carried out — I should have intimated that the will did not perfect its intention — there should have been a relapse — a final one — and Ligeia (who had only succeeded in so much as to convey an idea of the truth to the narrator) should be at length entombed as Rowena — the bodily alterations having gradually faded away.

But since “Morella” is upon record I will suffer “Ligeia” to remain as it is. Your word that it is “intelligible” suffices — and your commentary sustains your word. As for the mob — let them talk on. I should be grieved if I [page 2:] thought they comprehended me here.

The “saith Verulam” shall be put right — your “impertinence” is quite pertinent.

I send the Gent's Mag: (July, Aug:, Sep:) Do not think of subscribing. The criticisms are not worth your notice. Of course I pay no attention to them — for there are two of us. It is not pleasant to be taxed with the twaddle of other people, or to let other people be taxed with ours. Therefore for the present I remain upon my oars — merely penning an occasional paragraph, without care. The critiques, such as they are, are all mine in the July number and all mine in the August and September with the exception of the three first in each — which are by Burton. As soon as Fate allows I will have a Magazine of my own — and will endeavor to kick up a dust.

Do you ever see the “Pittsburg Examiner” (a New Monthly)? I wrote a Review of “Tortesa,” at some length in the July No.

In the Octo. No of the Gent's Mag: I will have “William Wilson” from the Gift for 1840. This Tale I think you will like — it is perhaps the best — although not the last — I have done.

During the autumn I will publish all in 2 vols — and now I have done with my egoism.

It makes me laugh to hear you speaking about “romantic young persons” as of a race with whom, for the future, you have nothing to do. You need not attempt to shake off or to banter off Romance. It is an evil you will never get rid of to the end of your days. It is a part of yourself — a portion of your soul. Age will only mellow it a little, and give it a holier tone. I will give your contributions a hearty welcome, and the choicest position in the magazine.

Sincerely Yours
Edgar A. Poe.





[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Letters - Poe to P. P. Cooke (LTR082/RCL203)