Text: Edgar Allan Poe to Elizabeth R. Tutt — July 7, 1842 (LTR-141)


∞∞∞∞∞∞∞


Philadelphia, July 7, 1842

My Dear Elizabeth,

It is now fully two months since we received your welcome letter, announcing your safe arrival in Woodville, and poor Muddy has been talking about answering it every day since; but she has been so continually occupied and so full of anxiety on Virginia’s account, that she has found it impossible — and to-day she has deputed me to say a few words in her behalf.

You cannot imagine how much we have all missed you. It seems as if we had lost one of our family — but I believe it is always the way in this world — we never know the true value of our friends until Death or Distance deprives us of their society. As for Mary Esther and Emily, they have quite given us up since reaching Baltimore. Would you believe it, we have not received a line from either of them since they left the city. Mary Ester has written several times, I believe, to Harriet Beatty, but did not think it worth while even to inquire how Virginia was. I suppose she has caught some new Baltimore beaux, and her hand is too full of them to think of old friends.

I suppose you have heard that we have moved. The other house grew so damp, during one or two heavy rains, that we could stand it no longer — so we went off in a hurry — very much to the astonishment, and I believe very much to the grief of the “old maids.” We procured a very pretty and convenient house, just built, in Coates Street, not far from Fairmount — and now if you were here or any of you, how nicely we could accommodate you! It did seem a pity that almost immediately after your quitting Philadelphia, we should move, and that all the time you were here we should have been so much embarrassed for want of room.

My dear little wife grew much better from the very first day after taking the Jew’s Beer. It seemed to have the most instantaneous and miraculous effect. She had been dreadfully weakened, as you know, by continual night-perspirations; but the very night on which she first took the Beer she missed her usual one, and had them no more until an accident occurred by which we got out of Beer, and could not replenish our stock for three days. In this interval the perspirations returned, and her cough, which had almost ceased, came back. Upon procurring the Beer again, however, she grew better at once, and became in a short time quite strong and well. About ten days ago, however, I was obliged to go on to New York on business which absolutely required my personal attendance, and no sooner had I turned my back than she began to fret. It so happened that I could not get back as soon as I had promised, and because she did not hear from me twice a day, she became nearly crazy, and in spite of all Muddy could do, she would neither eat nor sleep, but spent her whole time in watching for me out of the windows, although it rained heavily a great portion of the time. The result was, that upon my return, I found her again ill, with her cough as bad as ever, and so emaciated that I was shocked to see her. By dint of coaxing and petting, however, she is now once more recovering her health and good looks; but she has extorted from me a solemn promise, that I will never leave her again, as long as I live, for more than six hours at a time. What it is to be pestered with a wife!

Muddy is quite well and sends you all imaginable love. She says she will write herself at the very first opportunity. I myself am quite well also, and doing well, although I have resigned the editorship of “Graham’s Magazine.” Mary Tatem and Caroline Reibsam have spent the day with us twice since we moved. They are both well. Mr. R. and old Mr. Lowry have had some disagreement and Mr. R has left the house. Caroline, at present, is in the country. I believe you know that Mr. Tatem is engaged at Wolbert’s auction store.

I suppose you had no very pleasant time with Rose, on your passage from Philadelphia to Baltimore. She was terribly in the sulks on the morning she left us — God only knows about what. She is certainly the queerest of all the queer girls it was ever my good fortune to encounter — but she has done one thing which, in your eyes at least, will compensate for a host of disagreeable qualities — she has professed religion — joined the Methodist Church. She was converted, in Richmond, with a host of others, by Mr. Maffitt’s preaching, and (would you believe it?) John Mackenzie was converted at the same time.

Harriet Beatty called upon us once since we moved. Muddy met Mr. Schnebly in the street a day or two since, and he desired his best love. Mr. Emly also sends his love. Mr. Schnebly was out to see us, some weeks ago, with the Misses Pedder.

Be sure and write as soon as you get this, and be particular in letting us know how you are in health. God bless you my dear cousin. Believe me most sincerely yours

Edgar A. Poe

Mrs. E. R. Tutt


∞∞∞∞∞∞∞


Notes:

In a curious little pamphlet called “Receipts for Family Medicines that will Cure All Ills that Flesh is Heir to,” by Mrs. A. W. Chantry (Philadelphia: Duross Brothers, 1866), appears (on p. 8)  the following recipe for Jews’ Beer: “Take Water, 3 quarts; Wheat Bran, 1 quart; Tar, 1 pint; Honey, half a pint; simmer together three hours, and when cold, add a pint of brewers’ Yeast; let it stand thirty-six hours, and bottle it; a wineglassfull three or four times a day. It has cured many in the first stage of consumption. Try it, no matter how bad you are; it will relieve and help you.”

The text of the letter as published in the American Art Association catalog (Jan. 18, 1922) includes several sentences that were not reproduced by Ostrom, and do not appear even in the 2008 revised edition. They are given here from the original catalog, where the letter is described as:

REMARKABLE LETTER OF EDGAR A. POE, TESTIFYING TO THE EFFICACY OF BEER AS A MEDICINE FOR HIS SICK WIFE

229. POE (EDGAR ALLAN). Original Autograph Letter, Signed “Edgar A. Poe,” 2 1/2 quarto pages, and superscription. Dated Philadelphia, July 7, 1842. To Mrs. Elizabeth R. Tutt, Woodville, Rappahannock Co., Virginia. With 2 engraved portraits of Poe. (3). Last page torn in folds on blank portion.

A lengthy and exceedingly interesting letter from Poe to his cousin, Mrs. Tutt; written in his beautifully clear hand, and relating intimately to his personal affairs, his sick wife, their new home in Coates Street, Philadelphia, and their numerous friends. The letter is in a cheerful conversational vein, but between the lines can be read the dark despair which constantly hovered over the little household.

Previously, only a fragment of the present letter has been available, taken from an auction catalog. A full transcript of the letter was discovered in the J. H. Whitty papers at the Rubenstein Library of Duke University by Jeffrey A. Savoye. In his transcript, Whitty gives two sure misreadings “Your cannot imagine” and “emanciated that I was shocked.” For the present text, it has been presumed that Poe spelled both correctly.

Charles J. Wolbert and Company was an auction store run out of Carpenter’s Hall (on Chestnut Street, between Third and Fourth Streets) in Philadelphia, opened in 1828 and running there until 1857, when it moved to a new location. The Misses Pedder were daughters of James Pedder (1775-1859). His daughters were Anna Pedder (1808–1885) and Bessie A. Pedder (1812–1902). James Pedder moved to Philadelphia in 1832, where he was for several years associated with manufacturing cane sugar. In 1840-1843, he edited an agricultural journal called the Farmer’s Cabinet.

John Newland Maffitt (1794-1850) was a charistmatic Methodist preacher who rose to prominence during the Second Great Awakening.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

[S:1 - TSPT (1922), 1843] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Letters - Poe to E. R. Tutt (LTR141/RCL379)