Text: Edgar Allan Poe to Joseph Evans Snodgrass — June 4, 1842 (LTR-137)


Philadelphia — June 4. 1842.

My Dear Snodgrass,

How does it happen that, in these latter days, I never receive an epistle from yourself? Have I offended you by any of my evil deeds? — if so, how? Time was when you could spare a few minutes occas>>s<<ionally for communion with a friend.

I see with pleasure that you have become sole proprietor of the “Visiter”; and this reminds me that I have to thank your partiality for many flattering notices of myself. How is it, nevertheless, that a Magazine of the highest class has never yet succeeded in Baltimore? I have often thought, of late, how much better it would have been had you joined me in a Magazine project in the Monumental City, rather than engage with the “Visiter” — a journal which has never yet been able to recover from the mauvais odeur imparted to it by Hewitt. Notwithstanding the many failures in Baltimore, I still am firmly convinced that >>B<< your city is the best adapted for such a Magazine as I propose, of any in the Union. Have you ever thought seriously upon this subject.

I have a proposition to make. You may remember a tale of mine published about a year ago in “Graham” and entitled the “Murders in the Rue Morgue”. Its theme was the exercise of ingenuity in detecting a murderer. I am just now putting the concluding touch to a similar article, which I shall entitle “The Mystery of Marie Roget — a Sequel to ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’.” The story is based upon that of the real murder of Mary Cecilia Rogers, which created so vast an excitement, some months ago, in New-York. I have handled the design in a very singular and [page 2:] entirely novel manner. I imagine a series of nearly exact coincidences occurring in Paris. A young grisette, one Marie Roget, has been murdered under precisely similar circumstances with Mary Rogers. Thus under presence of showing how Dupin (the hero of the Rue Morgue) unravelled the mystery of Marie’s assassination, I, in fact, enter into a very rigorous analysis of the real tragedy in New-York. No point is omitted. I examine>>d<<, each by each, the opinions and arguments of our press on the subject, and show (I think satisfactorily) that this subject has never yet been approached. The press has been entirely on a wrong scent. In fact, I really believe, not only that I have demonstrated the falsity of the idea that the girl was >>not<< the victim of a gang >>as supposed<<, but have indicate! the assassin. My main object, however, as you will readily understand, is the analysis of the principles of investigation in cases of like character. Dupin reasons the matter throughout.

The article, I feel convinced, will be one of general interest, from the nature of its subject. For reasons which I may mention to you hereafter, I am desirous of publishing it in Baltimore, and there would be no channel so proper as the paper under your control. Now the tale is a long one — it would occupy twenty-five pages of Graham’s Magazine — and is worth to me a hundred dollars at the usual Magazine price. Of course I could not afford to make you an absolute present of it — but if you are willing to take it, I will say $40. Shall I hear from you on this head — if possible by return of mail?

Have you seen Griswold’s Book of Poetry? It is a most outrageous humbug, and I sincerely wish [page 3:] you would “use it up”.

If you have not yet noticed my withdrawal from Graham’s Magazine, I would take it as a great favor if you would do so in something like the following terms. Even if you have noticed it, this might go in.

We have it from undoubted authority that Mr Poe has retired from the editorship of “Graham’s Magazine”, and that his withdrawal took place with the May number, notwithstanding the omission of all announcement to this effect in the number for June. We observe that the “Boston Post”, in finding just fault with an exceedingly ignorant and flippant review of “Zanoni” which appears in the June number, has spoken of it as from the pen of Mr Poe[.] We will take it upon ourselves to say that Mr P. neither did write the article, nor could have written any such absurdity. The slightest glance would suffice to convince us of this. Mr P. would never be guilty of the grammatical blunders, to say nothing of the mere “wattle, which disgrace the criticism. When did >>Mr P.<< he ever spell liaison, liason, for example, or make use of so absurd a phrase as “attained to” in place of attained? We are also fully confident that the criticism in question is not the work of Mr Griswold, who (, whatever may be his abilities as the compiler of a Book of Poetry,) is at all events a decent writer of English. The article appears to be the handiwork of some underling who has become imbued with th[e] fancy of aping >>some of<< Mr Poe’s peculiarities of diction. A pretty mess he has made of it! Not to announce Mr P’s withdrawal in the [page 4:] June number, was an act of the rankest injustice; and as such we denounce it. A man of talent may occasionally submit to the appropriation of his articles by others who insinuate a claim to the authorship, but it is a far different and vastly more disagreeable affair >>matter<< when he finds >>th<< himself called upon to father the conceit, ignorance and flippant impertinence of an ass.

Put this in editorially, >>ny<< my dear S., and oblige me eternally. You will acknowledge that it will be an act of justice.

Write immediately and believe me[,]

Your friend.
Edgar A Poe

If you put in th[e] paragraph send me the no: of the Visiter.





[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Letters - Poe to J. E. Snodgrass (LTR137/RCL369)