Text: Edgar Allan Poe to Fitz-Greene Halleck — June 24, 1841 (LTR-116)


Philadelphia — June 24 — 1841.

Dear Sir,

Mr George R. Graham, of this City, and myself, design to establish a Monthly Magazine, upon certain conditions — one of which is the procuring your assistance in the enterprise. Will you pardon me for saying a few words upon the subject?

I need not call your attention to the signs of the times in respect to Magazine literature. You will admit the tendency of the age in this direction. The brief, the terse, and the easily circulated will take place of the diffuse, the ponderous, and the inaccessible. Even our Reviews are found too massive for the taste of the day — I do not mean for the taste of the merely uneducated, but also for that of the few. In the meantime the finest minds of Europe are beginning to lend their spirit to Magazines. In this country, unhappily, we have no journal of the class, which can either afford to compensate the highest talent, or which is, in all respects, a fitting vehicle for its thoughts. In the supply of this deficiency there would be a point gained; and the project of which I speak has originated in the hope of supplying it.

Mr Graham is a lawyer, but for some time past, has been occupied in publishing. His experience of the periodical business is great. He is a gentleman of high social standing, and possessed of ample pecuniary means. Together, we would enter the field with a full understanding of the difficulties to be encountered, and, I trust, with ability to meet them.

The work will be an octavo of 96 pages. The paper will be excellent — superior to that of the N. A. Review. The type will be new (always new) clear and bold, with distinct face. The matter will be disposed in single column. The printing will be done upon a handpress in the best manner. There will be a broad margin. We shall have no engravings, except occasional wood-cuts (by the best artists) when demanded in obvious illustration of the text; and, when so required, they will be worked in with the type — not upon separate pages as in “Arcturus.” The stitching will be done in the French style, permitting the book to be fully open. Upon the cover, and throughout, the endeavour will be to preserve [page 2:] the greatest purity of taste, consistent with decision and force. The price will be 5$.

The chief feature of the literary department will be that of contributions from the most distinguished pens (of America) exclusively. Or, if this plan cannot be wholly carried out, we propose, at least, to procure the constant aid of some five or six of the most distinguished, and to admit few articles from other sources — none which are not of a high order of excellence. We shall endeavour to procure the services of yourself, Mr Bryant, Mr Longfellow, Mr Irving, Mr Cooper, Mr Paulding, Mr Kennedy, Mr Willis, and perhaps one or two others. In fact, as before said, our success in making these engagements is a condition, without which the Magazine will not go into operation; and my immediate object in addressing you now is to ascertain how far I may depend upon yourself for assistance.

It would be desirable that you agree to furnish one paper each month — either a complete poem, or a portion of one — and of such length as you deem proper. The terms will be left entirely to your own decision. The sums specified will be paid as you may suggest — in advance if necessary. It would be advisable that an agreement be made for one year, during which you should be pledged to write for no other (American) Magazine. The journal will be commenced on the first of January 1842, and (should we be so fortunate as to obtain your consent to our proposal) it would be proper that we should have in hand by the first of December next, at least two papers from each contributor.

With this letter I despatch one of similar tenor to each of the gentlemen above named. If you cannot make it convenient to give an unconditional reply, will you be kind enough to say whether you will write for us upon condition that we are able to engage others — specifying what others?

With high respect — yr ob. st.
Edgar A Poe

Fitz-Greene Halleck Esqr





[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Letters - Poe to F. Halleck (LTR116/RCL296)