Text: Edgar Allan Poe to Sarah H. Whitman — November 3, 1848 (?) (LTR-283)


[[. . . . .]] Oh how powerless is the pen to express such feelings as now consume me! May the God of Heaven protect you until I clasp you to my heart —

Your own



In preparing notes for his own proposed edition of Poe's letters, Thomas Ollive Mabbott combined this fragment with text quoted by Mrs. Whitman in her book Edgar Poe and His Critics (New York: Rudd & Carleton, 1860). On pages 74-75, Mrs Whitman misleadingly presents two excerpts as if quoted from a single letter. The first excerpt is clearly a rather free paraphrasing of part of Poe's letter of November 24, 1848, a letter for which the complete manuscript survives. The second excerpt does not appear in any of Poe's known letters, but seems to fit very well with this fragment. That excerpt reads:

I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have perilled life and reputation and reason. It has been in the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories — memories of wrong and injustice and imputed dishonor — from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.

Further confusing the matter, Mrs. Whitman refers to these words as “uttered” by Poe, suggesting that she may have adapted something he said rather than relying solely on his letters to her.


[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Letters - Poe to S. H. Whitman (LTR283/RCL731)