Text: Edgar Allan Poe to Annie L. Richmond — February 18, 1849 (LTR-306)


Fordham Feb. 19. [[18]] Sunday 1849

Dear — dearest Annie — my sweet friend & sister —

I fear that in this letter, which I write with a heavy heart, you will find much to disappoint & grieve you — for I must abandon my proposed visit to Lowell & God only knows when I shall see & clasp you by the hand. I have come to this determination to-day, after looking over some of your letters to me & my mother, written since I left you. You have not said it to me, but I have been enabled to glean from what you have said, that Mr Richmond has permitted himself (perhaps without knowing it) to be influenced against me, by the malignant misrepresentations of Mr & Mrs Locke. Now I frankly own to you dear Annie, that I am proud, although I have never shown myself proud to you or yours & never will — You know that I quarrelled with the Lockes solely on your account & Mr R's — It was obviously my interest to keep in with them, & moreover they had rendered me some services which entitled them to my gratitude up to the time when I discovered they had been blazoning their favors to the world — Gratitude then, as well as interest, would have led me not to offend them; and the insults offered to me individually by Mrs Locke were not sufficient to make me break with them. It was only when I heard them declare that through their patronage alone, you were admitted into society — that your husband was everything despicable — that it would ruin my mother even to enter your doors — it was only when such insults were offered to you, whom I sincerely & most purely loved, & to Mr R. whom I had every reason to like & respect, that I arose & left their house & incurred the unrelenting vengeance of that worst of all fiends, “a woman scorned” — Now feeling all this, I cannot help thinking it unkind in Mr R. when I am absent & unable to defend myself, that he will persist in listening to what these people say to my discredit — I cannot help thinking it, moreover, the most unaccountable instance of weakness — of obtuseness — that ever I knew a man to be guilty of: — women are more easily misled in such matters. In the name of God, what else had I to anticipate, in return for the offence which I offered to Mrs Locke's insane vanity & self-esteem, than that she would spend the rest of her days in ransacking the world for scandal against me, (& the falser the better for her purpose,) & in fabricating accusations where she could not find them ready made? I certainly anticipated no other line of conduct on her part — but, on the other hand, I certainly did not anticipate that any man in his senses, would ever listen to accusations, from so suspicious a source. That any man could be really influenced by them surpasses my belief, & the fact is, Annie, to come at once to the point — I cannot & do not believe it — The obvious prejudices of Mr R. cannot be on this ground. I much fear that he has mistaken the nature — the purity of that affection which I feel for you, & have not scrupled to avow — an affection which first entered my heart I believe, through a natural revulsion of feeling, at discovering you — you, the subject of the debased Mrs L's vile calumnies — to be not only purer than Mrs. L. but purer & nobler, at all points, than any woman I had ever known, or could have imaginel to exist upon the earth. God knows dear dear Annie, with what horror I would have shrunk from insulting a nature so divine as yours, with any impure or earthly love — But since it is clear that Mr R. cannot enter into my feelings on this topic, & that he even suspects what is not, it only remains for me beloved Annie to consult your happiness — which under all circumstances, will be & must be mine — Not only must I not visit you [at] Lowell, but I must discontinue my letters & you yours — I cannot & will not have it on my conscience that I have interfered with the domestic happiness of the only being in the whole world, whom I have loved, at the same time with truth & with purity — I do not merely love you Annie — I admire & respect you even more — & Heaven knows there is no particle of selfishness in my devotion — I ask nothing for myself, but your own happiness — with a charitable interpretation of those calumnies which for your sake, I am now enduring from this vile woman — & which, for your dear dear sake, I would most willingly endure if multiplied a hundred fold — The calumnies indeed, Annie, do not materially wound me, except in depriving me of your society — for of your affection & respect, I feel that they never can. As for any injury the falsehoods of these people can do me, make your mind darling, easy about that — It is true, that “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned,” but I have encountered such vengeance before, on far lighter grounds — that is to say, for a far less holy purpose, than I feel the defence of your good name to be. I scorned Mrs Ellet, simply because she revolted me — & to this day, she has never ceased her anonymous persecutions. But in what have they resulted? She has not deprived me of one friend who ever knew me & once trusted me — nor has she lowered me one inch in the public opinion. When she ventured too far, I sued her at once (through her miserable tools) 8< recovered exemplary damages — as I will unquestionably do, forthwith, in the case of Mr L. if ever he shall muster courage to utter a single actionable word — It is true I shrink with a nameless horror from connecting my name in the public prints, with such unmentionable nobodies & blackguards as L. & his lady — but they may provoke me a little too far — You will now have seen dear Annie, how & why it is that my mother & myself cannot visit you as we proposed — In the first place my presence might injure you, in your husband's opinion — & in the second, I could not feel at ease in his house, so long as he permits himself to be prejudiced against me, or so long as he associates with such persons as the Lockes. It had been my design to ask you & Mr R. (or perhaps your parents) to board my mother while I was absent at the South, & I intended to start after remaining with you a week — but my whole plans are now disarranged — I have taken the cottage at Fordham for another year — Time dear dear, Annie, will show all things. Be of good heart, I shall never cease to think of you — & bear in mind the two solemn promises I have made you — The one I am now religiously keeping, — & the other (so help me Heaven!) shall sooner or later be kept —

Always your dear friend & brother
Edgar —





[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Letters - Poe to A. L. Richmond (LTR306/RCL777)