Text: J. W. Ostrom, B. R. Pollin, and J. A. Savoye, “Chapter 03,” The Collected Letters of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. I: 1824-1845 (2008), pp. 171-224 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 171, unnumbered:]



From Weissnichtwo to Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine

Letters 77-93: February 1837-June 1840

[page 173:]

Letter 77 — 1837, February 28 [CL-173] Poe (New York, NY) to William Henry Carpenter, John Saurin Norris, and James Burns (Baltimore, MD):

New York

Feb. 28. 1837.


Your letter of Jany 30, has but just reached me — having been forwarded from Richmond to this city.

It would give me the greatest pleasure to aid you in your design of a “Baltimore Book”, and I would be quite willing to forward an article by the 1rst April, if so late a period would answer. I am afraid my other engagements would not admit of my sending any thing at an earlier date.

I would like to be informed (by return of mail if possible) what number of pages will be open for me — also what will be the form, &c of the book, and should like some hint of the nature of the article or articles desired, with any other particulars. In the meantime I will prepare something in case the theme should be left to my own choice.

Very respy

Yr ob. St

Edgar A. Poe.

Mess: Gentlemen,

W. H. Carpenter

J. S. Norris

James Burns

Note: William Henry Carpenter (1814-1899) [[(1813-1899]], along with Timothy Shay Arthur (1809-1885), edited The Baltimore Book of 1838, published by Bayly & Burns (of which James Burns was presumably the latter partner). John Saurin Norris (1813-1882) contributed the poem “The Cherub Watcher,” but his connection with the book is otherwise undocumented. Norris seems to have been a businessman with very prominent Baltimore connections, including Johns Hopkins and Benjamin Banneker. In this volume appeared Poe’s greatly admired tale “Siope — A Fable” (later renamed as “Silence — A Fable”). In addition to the submissions of various authors, the editors used their own works to fill out the book, Carpenter including two poems and a tale of his own, and Arthur doing [page 174:] the same. (One can only wonder if they are also authors of any of the several unsigned items.) Of related interest also are contributions by N. C. Brooks, John McJilton, and John Hill Hewitt. The Baltimore Book was an unsuccessful attempt to capitalize on the market for annuals and gift books, and it has a somewhat curious history. It is recorded by TOM [T&S, 2:194] as issued late in 1837 for the Christmas trade, but he does not address a confusion which Heartman & Rede explain in their Census of First Editions, 2:77-85 (repeated in Heartman & Canny, 1943, pp. 40-41). Poe’s contribution received a reissue in 1838-1839 when the remainders of the annual were bound in a different cover with new dates on the back-strip, half title, and printed title page. Poe never alluded to the second issue. He may have been unaware of it, in spite of his Baltimore connections, having recently established himself in Philadelphia. (The story appeared in the same year with a new subtitle in Poe’s own Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, dated 1840, but published late in 1839.) Mary Phillips (1:570) noted this widely overlooked oddity when she cited Harrison’s mention of seeing “a faded and time-stained copy of the ‘Baltimore Book’ for 1839 ... [in which] we find: Siope — A Fable” (H [Works], 1:134). Clearly, Harrison saw the second issue, of 1839. For facsimiles of the title page and initial text page of the book and tale, see Robertson, Bibliography, 1:224-225, without any mention of the second issue. Jacob Blanck, in his extensive and far-reaching BAL (7:116, item 16129), does give a brief summary of the essential facts, generally not noted elsewhere.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the University of Iowa libraries, Mabbott Collection. The letter is addressed on a separate leaf: “For. / Messrs / W. Henry Carpenter / J. S. Norris / James Burns / Care of Messrs Bayly & Burns / Booksellers 132 Market St / Baltimore Md.” The letter was first printed in an undated newspaper clipping, supplied by TOM to Heartman & Rede for their Poe Census. The same unidentified newspaper clipping mistakenly gave the name of the third gentleman as Brown, an error which has been repeated in subsequent printings. The current text is the most accurate and complete to date, including the correction of this name, and the introductory sentence missing in the 1948 and 1966 editions of The Letters. Poe seems to be replying to a letter from Carpenter, Norris, and Burns, datable before February 28, 1837 (CL-172). Since Poe did contribute to the volume, it seems reasonable to suppose that Carpenter or his co-editor answered the present letter, though no reply is known. [page 175:]

Letter 77a — 1838, July 19 [CL-176b] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to James K. Paulding (Washington, DC):


pardon me for urging this truth upon your attention, in the present instance, as a slight palliation of my errors.

But in one portion of your note you did me wrong, and here I felt that you had indeed mistaken my nature. Intemperance, with me, has never amounted to a habit; and had it been ten times a habit it would have required scarcely an effort on my part to shake it from me at once and forever. I have been fully awakened to the impolicy and degradation of the course hitherto pursued, and have abandoned the vice altogether, and without a struggle. It was necessary that I should assure you of this before mentioning the request which is the object of this letter — that you would procure me some clerkship or other office in your Department.

[page 2] [.... ]

Could I obtain the most unimportant Clerkship in your gift — any thing, by sea or land — to relieve me from the miserable life of literary drudgery to which I now, with a breaking heart, submit, and for which neither my temper nor my abilities have fitted me, I would never again repine at any dispensation of God. I feel that I could then, (having something beyond mere literature as a profession) quickly elevate myself to the station in society which is my due. It is needless to say how fervent, how unbounded would be my gratitude to the one who should thus rescue me from ruin, and put me in possession of happiness.

I leave my fate in your hands.

Most respy & gratefully

Philadelphia Edgar A. Poe

July 19. 1838.

Note: James Kirke Paulding (1778-1860) was a prominent and voluminous writer of the early decades of the nineteenth century. He [page 176:] belonged to the New York group of which Washington Irving was the leader. In 1815 President Madison appointed him to the Board of Navy Commissioners. After eight years in Washington, he returned to New York as navy agent for that city, and on July 1, 1838 he was appointed Secretary of the Navy by President Van Buren. Paulding’s great importance as writer and political force assured him a place, as no. 223, in Such Friends (pp. 32-33). The braggadocio with which Poe dismisses the “habit” of drinking falters in the face of what would remain a lifelong struggle for him. (In this regard, see LTR-156 and LTR-259.) Poe’s need of a clerkship was apparent; he had been in New York from February 1837, after leaving the SLM, until about July of 1838. During this time Poe is not known to have written any new poems or short fiction for publication, and only one critical article (on John L. Stephens’ Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia, and the Holy Land for the New York Review, October 1837). Part of this apparently small output may reflect Poe’s focus on the major portion of his only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1838). Poe’s desperation is clear when one contrasts his phrase “mere literature as a profession” with his later and more typical sentiment that “literature is the most noble of professions” (LTR-304).

Poe’s use of italics in the phrase “any thing, by sea or land “ seems to imply some sort of quotation, perhaps dimly remembered. The dual reference to “sea or land” certainly seems to be a commonplace one, but it scarcely enters quotation indices for most readers until Longfellow’s prominent usage in “Paul Revere’s Ride” of 1863 (with composition not many years earlier), ll. 7 and 10: “One, if by land, and two, if by sea.” Longfellow, of course, was more likely than Poe to have borrowed the phrase from the minor work of Ovid, Heroides, “Epistle,” 7:88: “Per mare, per terras,” but Poe certainly might have seen it in Latin tags of frequent usage. Although the word “impolicy” is given a meaning of “inexpediency” by the OED, a half dozen citations for eighteenth and nineteenth centuries confine it to aspects of government rather than to “bad conduct” or “inutility” in general. The first quarter-century edition of the Merriam-Webster New International Dictionary gives the meaning of “unsuitableness for the end proposed,” suggesting the implication of Poe’s phrasing in this appeal.

Source: original MS (fragment) in the Free Library of Philadelphia, Gimbel Collection. The original letter was one leaf written on both sides. [page 177:] The top section of the present MS has been cut off, and several lines are missing from the top of pages 1 and 2. The inside address and date at the head of the original were cut out and pasted to the lower left corner of page 2, opposite Poe’s signature. On the verso of this cutting appear the words: “to this / my luck favor [...] / that I do expect it. [... ].” The cutting bears the same ink as the letter. There is no outside address. The present letter is the only extant one by Poe between May 27, 1837 (CL-174) and September 4, 1838 (CL-178), and is important as evidence of the earliest known date that Poe was living in Philadelphia. Poe appears to be including a response to Paulding’s letter of after June 7, 1836 (CL-148a), which seems to have been a reply to a letter from Poe, June 7, 1836 (CL-147a). Poe printed part of Paulding’s letter in the SLM (July 1836), 2:517. (An intervening letter, of course, is also possible.) This is the only surviving Poe MS-letter in the Poe-Paulding correspondence. No reply by Paulding is known.

Letter 78 — 1838, September 4 [CL-178] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Nathan C. Brooks (Baltimore, MD):

Philadelphia, September 4, 1838.

My Dear Sir:

I duly received your favor with the $10. Touching the review, I am forced to decline it just now. I should be most unwilling not to execute such a task well, and this I would not do at so short notice, at least now. I have two other engagements which it would be ruinous to defer. Besides this, I am just leaving Arch street for a small house, and, of course, somewhat in confusion.

My main reason, however, for declining is what I first alleged, viz.: I could not do the review well at short notice. The truth is, I can hardly say that I am conversant with Irving’s writings, having read nothing of his since I was a boy, save his “Granada.” It would be necessary to give his entire works a reperusal. You see, therefore, the difficulty at once. It is a theme upon which I would like very much to write, for there is a vast deal to be said upon it. Irving is much overrated, and a nice distinction might be drawn between his just and his surreptitious [page 178:] and adventitious reputation — between what is due to the pioneer solely, and what to the writer.

The merit, too, of his tame propriety and faultlessness of style should be candidly weighed. He should be compared with Addison, something being hinted about imitation, and Sir Roger de Coverly [sic] should be brought up in judgment. A bold and a priori investigation of Irving’s claims would strike home, take my word for it. The American literary world never saw anything of the kind yet. Seeing, therefore, the opportunity of making a fine hit, I am unwilling to hazard your fame by a failure, and a failure would assuredly be the event were I to undertake the task at present.

The difficulty with you is nothing — for I fancy you are conversant with Irving’s works, old and new, and would not have to read for the task. Had you spoken decidedly when I first saw you, I would have adventured. If you can delay the “Review” until the second number I would be most happy to do my best. But this, I presume, is impossible.

I have gotten nearly out of my late embarrassments. Neilson would not aid me, being much pushed himself. He would, no doubt, have aided me, if possible. Present my respects if you see him.

Very truly yours,

Edgar A. Poe.

Suppose you send me proofs of my articles; it might be as well — that is, if you have time. I look anxiously for the first number, from which I date the dawn of a fine literary day in Baltimore.

After the 15th I shall be more at leisure and will be happy to do you any literary service in my power. You have but to hint.


Note: Nathan Covington Brooks (1809-1898) started the American Museum of Literature and the Arts in Baltimore in September 1838 (American Magazines, 1:345). Poe contributed “Ligeia” to the first number; “The Psyche Zenobia” and “The Scythe of Time” to the November number; “Literary Small Talk” to the January and February 1839 numbers; and “The Haunted Palace” to the April 1839 number — all first printings of these works. The magazine died abruptly with the June 1839 issue (see the note to LTR-81). The $10 was undoubtedly payment for “Ligeia,” at about eighty cents a page. Like Poe’s Tales of the Folio Club, the Spectator was presented as the work of several fictitious gentlemen, of whom the baronet Roger de Coverley was offered as the chief contributor. Poe’s awareness of Joseph Addison, author with Richard Steele and a few others of the Spectator papers, was frequently exhibited; see eleven separate allusions and comments noted in Pollin, Dictionary of Names and Titles (p. 1), and several relevant annotations in TOM [Poems and T&S]. Poe was always deferential when dealing directly with Irving (see LTR-67a, LTR-83a, and LTR-113), but his tone in this letter seems to reveal his genuine feelings about America’s most prominent author. Despite Poe’s statement about not having read Irving recently, he had written a long and detailed review of Astoria (SLM, January 1837, 3:59-68; Writings, 5:345-354) and before that a short notice of The Crayon Miscellany (SLM, December 1835, 2:64-65; Writings, 5:70). He also used Astoria extensively in Pym for incidents, characters, and names as well as Irving’s Bonneville, Knickerbocker’s History, and possibly Salmagundi (see Writings, 1:21, and the index, for over a hundred specific instances in the three long works included). Since Poe was clearly more acquainted with Irving’s works than he seems willing to admit, it may be that he was reluctant to attack Irving publically and in print, at least under his present circumstances. Brooks wrote the review of Irving’s works for the first number of the Museum.

“Ventured” is an aphetic form of the earlier “adventured” (and “aventured”); as a substitute for “ventured” in contemporary usage, among over a hundred citations, the OED gives none like Poe’s obsolete usage.

Source: transcript as given in an unidentified newspaper clipping from an issue of the Baltimore Gazette, undated but probably its first full printing. The location of the MS is unknown; the clipping from the newspaper is in University of Virginia, Ingram Collection (item 490). Ingram (1880, 1:154-155) apparently printed his text from this same source, but omitted the allusion to Neilson Poe, who was still alive in 1880 and who Ingram thought might yet be a valuable source of information and therefore did not wish to alienate. Poe is replying to a letter from Brooks datable as before September 4, 1838 (CL-177). Poe seems to have written at least one other letter to Brooks, ca. January 1, 1841 (CL-265), which was not answered (see LTR-107). [page 180:]

Letter 78a — 1838, September 11 [CL-178a] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to John C. Cox (Philadelphia, PA):

Sept. 11. / 38

My Dear Sir,

I find that I was wrong in not accepting, as frankly as you offered it, the whole $50. I have underrated my difficulties, or rather my powers of endurance, and am now afraid that we shall have to suffer many serious privations, unless you can aid me with the loan of the remaining $20. If you can do this I know that you will do it cheerfully. I would be grieved, however, if you should put yourself to much embarrassment.

I would have been in to thank you personally for your attention, but the truth is I have scarcely yet recovered from the poignant mortification of being refused a favor by that old Dutch hog, Huffnagle.

I am busily and profitably employed, and the future looks well. For this I have to thank only your kindness. Without it I really can not tell what I should have done. I may live to reciprocate the favor you have conferred, for which, at present, I can only thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Yours truly

Edgar A Poe

J. C. Cox Esqr

Note: Early in 1838, Poe, Virginia, and Maria Clemm rented rooms from Mrs. C. Jones, at 202 Arch Street. Based on the address, it is likely, then, that John C. Cox was a fellow renter at that boardinghouse (see The Poe Log, p. 248). In Poe in Philadelphia, D. Thomas identifies Cox as a merchant, although he lists Cox’s address as 64 North Eleventh Street (p. 33), at least as of 1840 (p. 94). This debt of $50 is listed on the bankruptcy papers Poe filed in 1842 (see the notes to LTR-135). At the time of this letter, Poe’s only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838), had just been published, but he was clearly in deep financial difficulties, ultimately resulting in his involvement with Thomas Wyatt and The Conchologist’s First Book, a small volume which was somewhat [page 181:] successful and ran through three editions. In later years, and long after his death, this book would haunt Poe’s reputation with charges of plagiarism (see LTR-249). The Sotheby’s (NY) auction catalog (June 1, 1995) identifies John Huffnagle as a merchant located at 177 ½ High Street. His connection to Poe is otherwise unknown, but he may well have been another boarder. One can only speculate if the man Poe describes as “the old Dutch hog” might have some secret role in “The Devil in the Belfry,” set in the quaint Dutch village of Vondervotteimittiss and written early in 1839. See also Poe’s only other known letter to John Cox, December 6, 1839 (LTR-85).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the collection of the “California Collector.” The letter is addressed to: “John C. Cox Esqr / 202 Arch St.” It bears no postmark, suggesting that it was delivered by hand. The remains of a wax seal are still evident.

Letter 78b — 1839, June 24 [CL-186a] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Jesse E. Dow (Washington, DC):

Phil. June 24th/39

My Dear Sir,

Will you be kind enough to send us some more of Old Ironsides as soon as you can — immediately if possible — as the compositors are waiting for it. What they have (“The Levanter”) will not make enough for an article.

Very truly your friend

E A Poe

J. E. Dow Esqr

Note: “Old Ironsides” is the nickname of the USS Constitution, a 44-gun frigate built in 1797. It became famous for surviving numerous encounters unscathed and for winning more battles than any of her sister ships. (By 1830, it was no longer considered seaworthy, but was saved by a public campaign which rallied around a poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes.) The article to which Poe refers was part of an extended series published in Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine as “Sketches from the Log of Old Ironsides,” beginning in July 1839 (5:13-17) Most of the series is unsigned, with the only acknowledgment being: “By the author of ‘Old Ironsides off a Lee Shore’ ” (the earlier article having been printed in the [page 182:] Democratic Review of April 1839). The installment containing a section called “The Levanter” appears in the August 1839 issue (5:101-104), with subsequent installments in the issues for September (5:138-144), October (5:179-181), November (5:272-276), and December (5:300-303). The series continued through the end of the year, and resumed for three final articles in 1840. At the time of the present letter, Jesse Erskine Dow (1809-1850) held a clerkship in Washington. (For Dow’s time serving aboard the USS Constitution, and a connection to Commodore J. D. Elliott, see the notes to LTR-156.) Dow was a friend to Poe and F. W. Thomas, and is often mentioned in their correspondence.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Massachusetts Historical Society. The letter is addressed to: “J. E. Dow Esqr / P. Office, / Washington / D. C.” It bears a postmark of “PHILA / JUNE 25.” The remains of a wax seal are still evident.

Letter 79 — 1839, July 14 [CL-192] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to George W. Poe (Houston, TX, via New Orleans, LA):

Philadelphia — July 14. / 39

My Dear Sir,

Owing to my absence from Richmond for some time, I did not receive your letter until a few days ago, it having followed me from place to place, and at last caught me here.

I am truly glad that you have written, and hope that the correspondence thus commenced may lead to more intimate acquaintance hereafter. It affords me great pleasure, moreover, to recognize, in one of my own name & family, those very principles of stern independence which I trust, have always activated my own conduct through life, and which, at all events, have reduced me from high affluence to comparative poverty — or at least to a reliance upon my own resources.

Our relationship is that of second cousins. My father, David Poe Jr, was the sone of David Poe Sr, who was the brother of your paternal grandfather, George Poe Sr. Your father & mine were own cousins, and playmates. My wife, who is my own cousin, is also your second [page 183:] cousin, being the daughter of Maria Poe, my father’s sister. She is connected with you, moreover, as being the daughter of the gentleman who married your aunt Harriet. She, you will remember was the first Mrs William Clemm — my wife’s mother is the second. Neilson Poe, of the Balt. Chronicle, is my second cousin. He is the son of your father’s brother, Jacob Poe.

There can be no doubt, I think, that our family is originally German — as the name indicates. It is frequently met with in German works on Natural History, and a M. Poe is now living in Vienna who has much reputation as a naturalist. The name there is spelt with an accent thus, Poé, and is pronounced in two syllables, Po-a. As far back, however, as we can trace our immediate progenitors they are Irish. John Poe, about a century ago, was a name of much note in the financial history of Ireland. He was of an ancient & noble family, and married a daughter of the British Admiral McBride — himself of very illustrious descent. From this John Poe we date. I give you a kind of table, showing how we spring from him. He came to America in the fourth year of his marriage, with two children, David & George, (your grandfather & mine) and settled in Nottingham Co. Pa. [page 2]

Here he had eight children — making ten in all. In the table I give all the names in the order of age.

[See table on page 184]

By this table you will perceive that, according to the rules of British descent, I am the oldest, or head, of all the Poes in America, descendants of John. There are a great many of the name living, I understand, in S. Carolina — but these must be of another family altogether — as the original John Poe had no brothers or sisters. My own age is 26; which, I presume, is very nearly your own. [page 3]

With your father, my aunt & mother-in-law Mrs. Clemm, is of course well acquainted — at least was — for an access to fortune like that of your father’s is apt to generate a strange forgetfulness of old friends. He was in Philadelphia a few months ago, when I saw him once for a short time. The circumstances of his first & second marriage, as also many of the circumstances of your own, are familiar to me. [page 185:]

In regard to myself. My father, with his wife, were on a visit to friends in Richmond Va, when a violent illness carried both off, within a few weeks of each other. I was then about a year old, and my sister, Rosalie, was an infant. A wealthy gentleman of Virga (of Scottish descent) a Mr John Allan, had taken a fancy to me, and, having no children of his own, adopted me — at the same time persuading a friend of his, Mr William Mackenzie, to adopt my sister. My grandfather, David Poe, was living at this time, in good circumstances, and his consent to the double adoption was obtained with some difficulty. I lived with Mr Allan, who remained childless, until my seventeenth year, when he inherited from an uncle a fortune of some 30,000$ per annum. This vast income of wealth nearly turned his brain, and, worse, confirmed him in habits of habitual drunkenness. In his frequent paroxysms of this he treated me with what I considered indignity. I accordingly left his house, was recalled with apologies, left it a second time, and refused all offers of reconciliation until hearing of the extreme illness of his wife, whom I had always regarded as a mother. I then returned — but too late to find her alive. Upon her death, I again left the protection of Mr Allan, who now gave loose to all the baseness of his nature. In a short time after this he married a second wife, had two or three children, and died, of course without leaving me any thing. His second marriage was in his 62d year. I was at W. Point at the time, where, by my own influence alone, I had obtained a Cadets appointment. For the last ten years I have supported myself altogether by literary exertions. This is all of my private history which would interest you — and I fear that I have already occupied you too much with my personal concerns.

I am indebted to you for your letter to Gen. Houston. I will carefully preserve it and, should I meet him at any time, will present it. Will you present my best regards and those of my wife, to your lady. I hope you will write again — it will give me great pleasure to hear from you at any time. I shall remain in Philadelphia perhaps for a year — but Richmond is my home, and a letter directed to that city will always reach me, in whatever part of the world I may be. [page 186:]

Very truly your friend

Edgar A Poe

Geo. W. Poe

P.S. Should you again see any of my W. P. acquaintances, will you remember me kindly to them?

Note: George Washington Poe (ca. 1800-1844) was one of the six children of George Poe, Jr. (see LTR-53). John Poe, Edgar’s great-grandfather, was the son of a tenant-farmer in Dring, Ireland (see Quinn, p. 13); he came to America about 1750, and settled first in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and later in Baltimore, where he died in 1756 (Quinn, p. 14). The full resources of the New York Public Library fail to verify Poe’s statements about the origins of the family name. “Poe” is not German, nor does this posit a French accent on a terminal “e.” Moreover, no bibliography or index of Germanic scientists indicates a “naturalist” or scientist of that name. As for the “name of much note in the financial history,” there is no evidence that this applies to Poe’s Irish great-great-grandfather David or to his son John Poe, both being uneducated and living in merely comfortable circumstances (see Bewley, The Origin and Early History of the Family of Poe or Poë, pp. 51-68). Edgar’s great-grandmother, Jane McBride, married to John in Cavan County, Ulster province, January 19, 1741, was the sister rather than the daughter of the man who became an admiral in the Royal Navy forty-eight years later. Her actual father was a clergyman (for details, see Brannan, The Poe Family Line, p. 16). Poe is obviously trying to “gentrify” himself through somewhat peripheral and inflated forbears and relationships. The rest of the many ensuing alterations of the facts in Poe’s biography need not be specified to any students of Poe. For the importance of “status” or “caste” to Poe, with its many ramifications in the letters, see the note to LTR-108. “W. P.,” of course, is “West Point.” By giving his age as 26, Poe, for the first time, is incorrectly implying a birth date of 1813. The “letter to Gen. Houston” was probably a letter of introduction to General Sam Houston (1793-1863). G. W. Poe served in Houston’s army in 1835 as a captain, and was nominated by Houston in 1838 as Stock Commissioner of the Republic of Texas. Houston was on a trip East in May 1839. Although there is little documentation for this trip, Houston’s passport, dated February 1839 survives, a curious document required since Texas was not part of the U. S. at this point. Houston may have intended to visit New York and Philadelphia, in which case Poe might have had an opportunity to meet the iconoclastic general. [page 187:] Poe is answering a letter from George Poe, before July 14, 1839 (CL-191), presumably forwarded to Philadelphia from Richmond.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Free Library of Philadelphia, Gimbel Collection. The address reads: “George W. Poe / Houston, / Texas / via N. Orleans.” It bears a circular postal mark for Philadelphia, partly overlaying the “Geor” of the address, and a larger oval postal mark for New Orleans. There are also two “FWD” marks indicating that it was forwarded. The letter was, for some time, kept in a more modern envelope, bearing the note: “Edgar Allen [sic] Poe’s letter to my <great, great> grandfather. / E. P. Marrill / This letter has been in the family for a long time. Please do not lose.” The Letters [1966] relied on a photocopy of a transcript of the letter, with various minor errors, which is in the Library of Virginia. Page 2 of the copy carries the following notation: “This letter and family tree, is a copy of an original one from Edgar A. Poe to my father Geo. W. Poe which is now in my possession, and was copied by me for J. T. Poe. (Signed) Geo. M. Poe, Mobile, Ala.”

Letter 80 — 1839, August 8 [CL-195] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to John B. Jones (Baltimore, MD):

Philadelphia August 8th 1839

My Dear Sir,

I have just received your favor of the 6th, and thank you sincerely for the friendly interest you manifest in my behalf. At some future time I hope to have the pleasure of making your acquaintance.

In the Sun of the 6th I saw the paragraph to which you allude — the other attacks have not met my notice. I would be much obliged to you if you could make it convenient to procure me the paper or papers, and forward them to me by mail — or, if this cannot be done, would it be too much to ask you to transcribe the passages referred to, and send them in a letter?

I presume it is the “Athenæum” which has honoured me with its ill-nature. I notice nothing in the Republican, Chronicle, American, or Patriot. [page 188:]

It is always desirable to know who are our enemies, and what are [sic] the nature of their attacks.

I intend to put up with nothing that I can put down (excuse the pun) and I am not aware that there is any one in Baltimore whom I have particular reason to fear in a regular set-to.

I would take it as a great favor if you would let me know who edits the “Sun” — also who are the editors of the other papers attacking me — and should be thankful for any other similar information.

You speak of “enemies” — could you give me their names? All the literary people in Baltimore, as far as I know them, have at least professed a friendship.

Very truly Yr Ob. St

E A Poe (over

[page 2] I presume the “Sun” has expressed the opinion that the August No: of the Mag: is not well edited, because it has been more than usually praised in this respect. No number ever issued from this office has recd 1/4 of the approbation which this has elicited. We are run down with puffs especially from the North — the South has not yet been so entirely heard from. Here lies the true secret of the spleen of the little fish.

Note: John Beauchamp Jones (1810-1866) was a Baltimore journalist, and an occasional contributor to the Gentleman’s Magazine. His essay “Thoughts on the Literary Prospects of America” (Burton’s, November 1839, 5:267-271) reveals deeply nationalistic interests. During the Civil War he was a government employee in Richmond, and published his experiences: A Rebel War Clerk’s Diary of the Confederate States Capital (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1866). Poe and Jones apparently never met. In June, Poe had become associated with Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, and the August number contained several of Poe’s writings. The Baltimore Sun for August 6, 1839 printed a notice of William Burton’s lengthy theatrical engagement in New York: “It is evident that the senior editor [Burton] has been busied elsewhere, and consequently, although this number contains many excellent articles, there is a palpable want of tact in the manner in which it has been gotten up.” This apparent [page 189:] insinuation about his severity in reviewing seems to have rankled in Poe even a month later as expressed in the first paragraph of LTR-81 (written to Snodgrass). For an earlier reference to the Athenaenum, see LTR-58.

Source: original MS (2 p.) in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The letter is written on a double letter-size sheet, the contents of the postscript being on the verso of page 1. On the verso of the second leaf is the address: “J. Beauchamp Jones Esqr / Baltimore / Md”. The postal cancellation reads: “Philadelphia / Pa / Aug 9.” Jones, presumably, wrote across the top of the letter: “Edgar Allen [sic] Poe Privately Squelches His Critics In Baltimore”; and at the foot of the page added: “over.” Poe is replying to Jones’ letter of August 6, 1839 (CL-194). No reply to Poe’s letter is known.

Letter 81 — 1839, September 11 [CL-198] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Joseph E. Snodgrass (Baltimore, MD):

Philadel: Sep. 11, [1839]

My Dear Sir,

I have to thank you for your friendly attention in forwarding the St Louis “Bulletin”. I was the more gratified, as the reception of the paper convinced me that you, of whom I have long thought highly, had no share in the feelings of ill will towards me, which are somewhat prevalent (God only knows why) in Balt:

I should be very much pleased if you would write, and let me know the Balt. news — especially about yourself and Mr Brooks, and the fate of the “Museum”.

I have now a great favor to ask — and [th]ink that I may depend upon you[r] friendship. It is to write a [not]ice (such as you think rigidly jus[t] — no more) of the Sep: no of the [Gen]t’s Mag: embodying in your art[icl]e the passage concerning myse[lf], from the St Louis Bulletin — in an[y] manner which your good tas[te] may suggest. The critique when written might be handed to Neilson Poe. If you ask him to insert it editorially, it is possible he may do it — but, in fact, I have no great faith in him. If he refuses — then upon your [page 190:] stating the fact to Mr Harker of the “Republican” — you will secure its insertion there. If you will do me this great favor, depend upon any similar good office from me, “upon demand”.

I am about to publish my tales collectively — [an]d shall be happy to send you an early [copy. I append the extract from] the Bulletin.

“The general tone [& character of this work (The S. L. Messenger)] impart lustre to our perio[dical literature; and we really congratulate] its publisher upon the so[und and steadfast popularity which it] has acquired. Let it [never be forgotten, however, that the first] impetus to the favor [of literary men which it received was] [page 2] given by the glowing pen of Edgar A Poe now assistant editor of Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine; and, although, since he has left it, has well maintained its claims to respectability, yet there are few writers in this country — take Neal, Irving, & Willis away and we would say none — who can compete successfully, in many respects, with Poe. With an acuteness of observation, a vigorous and effective style, and an independence that defies control, he unites a [fervid] fancy and a most beautiful enthusiasm. His is a high destiny.”

Will you be kind enough to drop me a line in reply [?]

Yours sincerely

Edgar A Poe.

J. E. Snodgrass, Esqr

Did you see the “Weekly Mess[en]ger” (Alexander’s) or Noah’s Evening Star? They spoke highl[y] of my tale — “The House of Usher”. — as also the Pennsylvanian & The U.S. Gazette of this city.

P.S. I have made a profitable engagement with Blackwoods’ Mag: and my forthcoming Tales are promised a very commendatory Review in that journal from the pen of Prof. Wilson. Keep this a secret, if you please, for the present.

[Can you not send us some]thing for the Gents’ Mag? [Do you know anything of the Pittsbur]g [sic] Literary Examiner? [I wrote for it a review of Tortesa in its] 3d no — but have [not yet recd. No 4.]

[All the criticisms in the Mag: are mine] with the exception of the 3 first. [page 191:]

Note: Dr. Joseph Evans Snodgrass (1813-1880), a Baltimore physician and minor literary figure, had known Poe probably since Poe’s association with the “City of Monuments” in 1831-1835. With Nathan C. Brooks, Snodgrass edited the American Museum of Science, Literature and the Arts in 1839. He succeeded John B. Jones as editor of the Baltimore Saturday Visiter on November 13, 1841, and became the proprietor on January 15, 1842 (see The Poe Log, pp. xlii and 349). He also contributed essays and poems to Burton’s, Graham’s, Godey’s, and the SLM. Snodgrass saw Poe during his last illness in Baltimore and was present at his burial. Eighteen years later he wrote “The Facts of Poe’s Death and Burial” for Beadle’s Monthly (March 1867, 3:283-287). The Museum died in May 1839, after only ten issues. Brooks’ editorial farewell, dated May 16, 1839 and printed at the end of the June issue, announced the passing of the editorship to Snodgrass, but Snodgrass printed just below the announcement that financial inducements more interesting called him elsewhere. L. A. Wilmer, in Our Press Gang (p. 29), says that Snodgrass succeeded T. S. Arthur as publisher of the Visiter, but “judiciously permitted it to expire” because “it would not pay him for his trouble.” Wilmer’s comment implies the demise of the Visiter shortly after Snodgrass became the proprietor, but the paper was still active at least as late as 1846. (Heartman & Canny [1943], p. 151, give a speculative termination date of 1847; and Mott, American Magazines, 1:801, suggests 1850.) As requested, Snodgrass wrote the “puff” for Poe (see LTR-84). Samuel Harker was editor of the Baltimore Republican (see Jackson, “Four Poe Critiques,” MLN, 50:252). The advertisements for Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1840) include a long set of excerpts with an attribution only to the St. Louis Commercial Bulletin. These excerpts, presumable from the same extract sent to Thomas, were highly favorable, including the comment: “There are few writers in this country — take Neal, Irving, and Willis away, and we would say none — who can compete successfully in many respects with Poe.” (See LTR-104 for an inquiry as to who edited the Bulletin.) Charles Alexander’s Weekly Messenger (January 1836?-1848; see American Magazines, 1:803) was published in Philadelphia, and to its December 18, 1839 number Poe contributed “Enigmatical and Conundrum-ical,” which included his offer to solve any letter substitution type cryptograms submitted by the readers (see Quinn, p. 326). For Poe’s “profitable engagement” with Blackwood’s Magazine, see LTR-95. The Literary Examiner (Pittsburgh), edited by E. Burke Fisher and William Henry Burleigh, was first issued in May 1839. It seems not to have died with the July issue, as Poe suggests, but later [page 192:] became the Examiner and Hesperian, though this lasted only until February 1840 (see American Magazines, 1:390). Poe wrote two articles for the Examiner: the review of N. P. Willis’ Tortesa (July 1839), 1:209-213; and an article on “American Novel-Writing” (August 1839), 1:316-320 — both were unsigned, with the latter one appearing under the “Editor’s Table.” TOM first identified Poe’s authorship of the second contribution, the material of which was extensively reused in Poe’s review of The Quacks of Helicon, in Graham’s (August 1841, 19:90-93; reprinted in H [Works], 10:182-195). Poe’s discussion of the novel was to serve as an introduction to a series of papers; beginning with one on Charles Brockden Brown. The first volume of the Examiner, in the New York Historical Society, includes the numbers May-December 1839. In connection with other requests for puffs, to be inserted in the Baltimore papers, see LTR-43.

Source: facsimile of the original MS (2 pp.) in Bixby, pp. 6-7. The MS of this letter is in poor condition, with text missing from the lower right portion of page 1, from the lower left of page 2, and other damage. All restorations have been applied from a collation with William Hand Browne’s transcript made for Ingram. Poe’s reference to his forthcoming Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (December 1839) and to his review of Willis’ Tortesa in the Literary Examiner and Western Monthly Review (July 1839), identifies the year as 1839. (The Literary Examiner began in May 1839, the third number being that for July; see American Magazines, 1:390.) The present letter, Poe’s first known correspondence with Dr. J. E. Snodgrass, probably was not a reply to a letter from the Baltimore friend; it is highly likely, however, that Snodgrass sent Poe a note in connection with his forwarding the St. Louis Bulletin (CL-197a), but that note is unlocated.

Letter 82 — 1839, September 21 [CL-203] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Phillip P. Cooke (Charlestown, VA):


Sep. 21rst. 1839.

My Dear Sir,

I recd. your letter this morning — and read it with more pleasure than I can well express. You wrong me, indeed, in supposing that I meant one word of mere flattery in what I said. I have an inveterate [page 193:] bad habit of speaking the truth — and had I not valued your opinion more highly than that of any man in America I should not have written you as I did.

I say that I read your letter with delight. In fact, I am aware of no delight greater than that of feeling one’s self appreciated (in such wild matters as Ligeia) by those in whose judgment one has faith. You read my most intimate spirit “like a book” — and, with the single exception of D’Israeli, I have had communication with no other person who does. Willis had a glimpse of it — Judge Tucker saw about 1/2 way through — but your ideas are the very echo of my own. I am very far from meaning to flatter — I am flattered, and honored. Beside me is now lying a letter from Washington Irving in which he speaks with enthusiasm of a late Tale of mine “The Fall of the House of Usher” — and in which he promises to make his opinion public upon the first good opportunity — but, from the bottom of my heart I assure you, I regard his best word as but dust in the balance, when weighed with those discriminating opinions of your own which teach me that you feel and perceive.

Touching Ligeia, you are right — all right — throughout. The gradual perception of the fact that Ligeia lives again in the person of Rowena, is a far loftier and more thrilling idea than the one I have embodied. It offers, in my opinion, the widest possible scope to the imagination — it might be rendered even sublime. And this idea was mine — had I never written before I should have adopted it — but then there is Morella. Do you remember, there, the gradual conviction on the part of the parent that the spirit of the first Morella tenants the person of the second? It was necessary, since Morella was written, to modify Ligeia. I was forced to be content with a sudden half-consciousness, on the part of the narrator, that Ligeia stood before him. One point I have not fully carried out — I should have intimated that the will did not perfect its intention — there shd have been a relapse — a final one — and Ligeia (who had only succeeded in so much as to convey an idea of the truth to the narrator) should be at length entombed as Rowena — the bodily alterations having gradually faded away. [page 194:]

But since Morella is upon record, I will suffer Ligeia to remain as it is. Your word that it is “intelligible” suffices — and your commentary sustains your word. As for the mob — let them talk on. I should be grieved if I [page 2] thought they comprehended me here.

The “saith Verulam” shall be put right — your “impertinence” is quite pertinent.

I send the Gent’s Mag: (July, Aug: Sep:) Do not think of subscribing. The criticisms are not worth your notice. Of course, I pay no attention to them — for there are 2 of us. It is not pleasant to be taxed with the twaddle of other people, or to let other people be taxed with ours. Therefore, for the present, I remain upon my oars — merely penning an occasional paragraph, without care. The critiques, such as they are, are all mine in the July No — & all mine in the Aug & Sep. with the exception of the 3 first in each — which are by Burton.

As soon as Fate allows I will have a Magazine of my own — and will endeavor to kick up a dust.

Do you ever see the Pittsburg [sic] Examiner (a New Monthly) ? I wrote a Review of “Tortesa”, at some length, in the July No.

In the Octo. No of the Gents Mag: I will have “William Wilson” from the Gift for 1840. This Tale I think you will like — it is perhaps the best — although not the last — I have done.

During the autumn I will publish all in 2 vols — and now I have done with my egotism.

It makes me laugh to hear you speaking about “romantic young persons” as of a race with whom, for the future, you have nothing to do. You need not attempt to shake off, or to banter off, Romance. It is an evil you will never get rid of to the end of your days. It is a part of your self — a portion of your soul. Age will only mellow it a little, and give it a holier tone.

I will give your contributions a hearty welcome, and the choicest position in Maga.

Sincerely Yours

Edgar A Poe [page 195:]

Note: Philip Pendleton Cooke (1816-1850) was a minor Virginia writer who contributed to the SLM and Burton’s during the respective periods of Poe’s editorship. On several occasions Poe expressed his favorable opinion of Cooke as a poet and critic (see “Autography,” in H [Works], 15:234; also LTR-52). Irving’s letter of November 6, 1840 (CL-214) makes it clear that Poe sent him the issue of Burton’s containing “The Fall of the House of Usher.” In the present letter, Poe is obviously commenting on an earlier correspondence (CL-201), which may survive only as an excerpt in the “advertisements” for Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque: “I am much pleased with a tale called ‘The House of Usher,’ and should think that a collection of tales, equally well written, could not fail of being favorably received ... Its graphic effect is powerful.” LTR-84 reveals that Poe was actively soliciting Irving’s praise for some sort of public purpose. No correspondence between Isaac D’Israeli and Poe is known, though the above reference, if true, implies at least one letter. For Willis, Poe probably means a review, such as the comment on “Ligeia” from the New-York Mirror (December 1, 1838), which states that the tale “has a touch of D’Israeli’s quality” (see The Poe Log, pp. 258-259). For the reference to Beverley Tucker, see Tucker to T. W. White, November 29, 1835 (Wilson, “Unpublished Letters of EAP,” Century Magazine, 107:652-653); see also LTR-52, in which Poe implies having received a letter from Cooke (CL-109) giving an intelligent criticism and appreciation of certain tales published by Poe in the SLM. In addition, there are MS notes in the Manuscript Division of the New York Public Library which suggest that Poe intended to add a long passage of praise, adapted from Cooke to Poe, December 19, 1839 (CL-226), to the “advertisements” for his Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, perhaps for his much anticipated but fruitless revised edition as Phantasy Pieces. Poe’s “To Ianthe in Heaven” appeared in the July number of Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine; his “The Man that was Used Up,” in August; his “The Fall of the House of Usher,” in September; and his “Morella,” in November, reprinted from the SLM, April 1835. “The Pittsburg[h] Examiner” was E. B. Fisher’s Literary Examiner and Monthly Review (see LTR-81 and notes); Poe also reviewed Willis’ Tortesa in Burton’s, August 1839 (5:117). The Gift for 1840, containing Poe’s tale “William Wilson” (pp. 229-253), was copyrighted May 1839. For Poe’s Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (December 1839), see the note to LTR-87. For a follow-up of his comments about “Ligeia,” see LTR-240, where Poe notes that he has improved it. Lord Verulam was Sir Francis Bacon, mentioned in “Ligeia.” Following the advice from the postscript of [page 196:] Cooke’s letter (CL-200), Poe changed “saith Verulam, Lord Bacon” (from the first version) to the more direct “says Bacon, Lord Verulam” (see TOM [T&S], 2:311).

The phrase “dust in the balance” is from Isaiah 40:15 (more accurately “small dust of the balance”), and also quoted in “Marginalia” M-85 (Writings, 2:188-189). The boating term, oddly given by Poe as “remain upon my oars,” is more typically “rest on my oars.” In the letter to Wyatt of 1841 (LTR-109a), he phrases it as “lay on my oars.” The shift from “the magazine” to “Maga” (without the article “the”) is of special interest. The term “Maga” for “magazine,” especially with a capital, was sometimes used as an abbreviated reference to Blackwood’s Magazine, but Poe’s usage is less consistent and perhaps occasionally works intentionally as a kind of double-entendre. (Failing to see the significant undercurrents in this letter, Woodberry editorially rendered “Maga” as “magazine.”) See Poe’s two other epistolary instances (LTR-84 and LTR-205) and his desire to impress young Cooke, of a prominent family, with overtones of Poe’s editorship of a burgeoning “Maga” reminiscent of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine. That influential British journal, edited by Christopher North (the pseudonym of John Wilson) was widely read and known in America (see this extensively discussed by M. Allen, Poe and the British Magazine Tradition, 2:20-42). Poe was then possibly deluding himself about being a contributor from abroad to the British “Maga”; see his letter of September 11, 1839 (LTR-81), and also his “follow up” (LTR-95), especially the end and note. His “awakening” into disillusionment and hostility to “North” was bluntly demonstrated in his utterances in the BJ (see The Poe Log, pp. 574-576; and Writings, 3:239-240 and related notes, 4:190, plus other items given in the index).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.) in the Houghton Library, Harvard University. No envelope or address accompanies the MS. Poe is replying to Cooke’s letter of September 16, 1839 (CL-200), postmarked September 19. Cooke’s letter was an answer to one from Poe which asked Cooke’s opinion of “Ligeia” and encouraged Cooke to contribute to Burton’s, of which Poe was editor from June 1839-June 1840. “Ligeia” had appeared in the American Museum, September 1838. Thus Poe’s first known letter to Cooke may be dated July-August, 1839 (CL-193), since Cooke (September 16) speaks of its having been received “a long time ago.” Cooke’s answer of December 19, 1839 (CL-226) implies an unlocated follow-up letter (CL-205) to Poe’s present one. [page 197:]

Letter 83 — 1839, October 7 [CL-209] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Joseph E. Snodgrass (Baltimore, MD):

Phil: Oct: 7, 39

My dear Sir

I recd your kind letter and now write a few hasty words in reply, merely to thank you for your exertions in my behalf, and to say that I send today, the Octo. No. 2. We have been delayed with it, for various reasons.

I felt that N. Poe, would not insert the article editorially. In your private ear, I believe him to be the bitterest enemy I have in the world. He is the more despicable in this, since he makes loud professions of friendship. Was it “relationship &c.” which prevented him saying any thing at all of the 2 or 3 last Nos. of the Gents’ Mag? I cannot account for his hostility except in being vain enough to imagine him jealous of the little literary reputation I have, of late years, obtained. But enough of the little dog.

I sincerely thank you for the interest you have taken in my well-doing. The friendship of a man of talent, who is at the same time a man of honorable feeling, is especially valuable in these days of double dealing. I hope I shall always deserve your good opinion.

In the Octo. no: all the criticisms are mine — also the gymnastic article.

My book will be out in the begg of Nor

In haste, yours most truly

Edgar A Poe

Dr. J. E. Snodgrass.

Have you any of the Nos: of the S.Lit. Messr from No 7, vol I — to No 6. vol 2? both inclusive. Or do you know anyone who has them?

Note: Poe’s strong charge here against Neilson Poe, dismissed as “the little dog,” is a more outspoken attack than that in LTR-81. It was prompted, perhaps, by Neilson’s objections, on uncertain grounds, to Edgar’s marriage to Virginia Clemm, and bolstered by Poe’s feeling that [page 198:] Neilson, as editor of a Baltimore daily (H [Works], 17:70), could assist in building up Poe’s reputation but would not do so. The “gymnastic article” was part of the unsigned series “A Chapter on Field Sports and Manly Pastimes” that began in February 1839 and ended with the February 1840 issue. Somewhat presumptuously, Heartman & Canny [1943, pp. 189-195] attribute the whole series to Poe, but only this one article is certainly his. Poe’s “book,” Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, was published in December 1839 (see LTR-87 and notes). The issues of the SLM requested by Poe included those from March 1835 (vol. I, no. 7) through May 1836 (vol. II, no. 6), and contained, besides other contributions, thirteen of his tales: “Berenice,” “Morella,” “Lionizing,” “Hans Phaal,” “Bon-Bon,” “Loss of Breath,” “King Pest the First,” “Shadow. A Fable,” “MS. Found in a Bottle,” “Metzengerstein,” “Duc de L’Omelette,” “Epimanes,” and “A Tale of Jerusalem.”

See the compound word “well-doing” (sometimes without the hyphen) also in LTR-84, LTR-155, and LTR-189. Although rare today, the word was then common for “good action [biblical sense] or valor, and for thriving condition, health, prosperity [secular sense]” in the OED; both are probably rooted in and derived from 1 Peter, 3:17: “better ... that ye suffer for well-doing, than for evil-doing”; and 2 Thessalonians, 3:13: “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.”

Source: transcript by William H. Browne for J. H. Ingram, from the original MS. The transcript is in the University of Virginia, Ingram Collection (see APXA-Snodgrass); Poe’s MS letter is probably lost. In the margin of Browne’s transcript Ingram made the notation to omit sentences 3-8; at the end of his transcript, Browne penciled this note: “In the original this P.S. is written lengthwise on right hand margin.” Poe is answering a letter by Snodgrass, dated as before October 7, 1839 (CL-208).

Letter 83a — 1839, October 12 [CL-209a] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Washington Irving (Newburg, NY):


Octo. 12. 1839.

Dear Sir, [page 199:]

I duly received your kind letter, and entirely acquiesce in what you say — that it would be improper to force an opportunity of speaking of a detached Tale. I should be grieved, however, if you have supposed that I could make such a demand; my request you have fully promised to grant, in saying that you will bear me in mind, and “take the first unforced opportunity” of expressing your opinion” [sic].

I take the liberty of sending you the Octo: No: of the Gents’ Magazine, containing the Tale “William Wilson”. This is the tale of which I spoke in my former letter, and which is based upon a brief article of your own in the first “Gift” — that for 1836. Your article is called “An Unwritten Drama of Lord Byron”. I have hoped that, having thus a right of ownership in my “William Wilson”, you will be induced to read it — and I also hope that, reading it, you will find in it something to approe [sic]. This brings me to another request, which I hardly know how to urge, and for urging which I am greatly afraid you will think me importunate. I trust, however, you will make allowance for the circumstances in which I am placed, for the difficulties I have to overcome, and for the anxiety which I feel.

Mess: Lea & Blanchard are about publishing a collection of my Tales, in 2 vols, to be issued early next month. As these Tales, in their course of original publication from time to time, have received many high praises from gentlemen whose opinions are of weight; and as these encomiums have already [page 2] been published in the papers of the day, (being comprised in notices of the Southern Lit: Messenger and other Magazines) Mess. L & B. think there would be nothing objectionable in their reprinting them, in the ordinary form of an advertisement appended to the various books which they may issue before mine. I do not speak altogether of editorial opinions, but of the personal opinions of some of our principal literary men, which have found their way into the papers. Among others, I may mention Mr Paulding, Mr Kennedy & Mr Willis. Now, if, to the very high encomiums which have been lavished upon some of my tales by these & others, I could be permitted to add even a word or two from yourself, in relation to the tale of “William Wilson” (which I consider my best effort) my fortune would be made. I do not say this [page 200:] unadvisedly — for I am deliberately convinced that your good opinion, thus permitted to be expressed, would ensure me that public attention which would carry me on to fortune hereafter, by ensuring me fame at once.

I feel, however, that I am, in regard to yourself an utter stranger — and that I have no claim whatever upon your good offices. Yet I could not feel that I had done all which could be justly done, towards ensuring success, until I had made this request of you. I have a strong hope that you will be inclined to grant it, for you will reflect that what will be an act of little moment in respect to yourself — will be life itself to me.

My request now, therefore, is that, if you approve of “William Wilson”, you will express so much in your own terms in a letter to myself and permit Mess L & B. to publish it, as I mentioned.

Submitting all to your kindness

I am

With highest respect

Edgar A Poe

Washington Irving Esqr

Note: In connection with the present letter, see LTR-84 and notes. For Washington Irving’s encomiums of Poe’s “Fall of the House of Usher” and “William Wilson” see notes to LTR-82. Poe’s reference to Irving’s “An Unwritten Drama of Lord Byron” as a source for “William Wilson” is significant. In 1825 Irving had been given notes, made by Byron’s friend Captain Thomas Medwin, of a dramatic work he identified as the play El Embozado, but more accurately called El Purgatorio de San Patricio (see TOM [T&S], 2:424), written by Spanish playwright Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600-1681). Long ago TOM discovered that this story was used by Irving for his article in The Gift for 1836 (see TOM’s introduction to An Unwritten Drama of Lord Byron; see, also, S. T. Williams, The Life of Washington Irving, 1:466-467). Poe’s own “MS. Found in a Bottle” appeared in the same issue of The Gift. In the present letter Poe admits his indebtedness. For the publication date of Poe’s Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, see LTR-85 and note as well as the notes to LTR-87. Poe’s admission of Irving’s article as a source of “William Wilson,” which was also available to Hawthorne for “Howe’s [page 201:] Masquerade,” effectively negates Poe’s 1842 claim about plagiarism (H [Works], 11:112-113). The charge is cogently argued on grounds other than this one by Robert Regan in “Hawthorne’s ‘Plagiary’; Poe’s Duplicity,” Nineteenth-Century Literature. The source is also important for reducing the often over-emphasized autobiographical nature of the story. Those who see Poe as describing himself as “self-willed, addicted to the wildest caprices, and a prey to the most ungovernable passions” should consider Irving’s words in describing Alfonso, the “hero” of the “Unwritten Drama,” noting that “His passions, from early and unrestrained indulgence, have become impetuous and ungovernable, and he follows their impulses with a wild and heedless disregard of consequences” (The Gift for 1836, pp. 166-167). Greatly indebted to Irving for a source used in “William Wilson,” acknowledged in the present letter, and for much in “The Journal of Julius Rodman” (see Writings, 1:index, p. 659, under “Irving”); Poe wished more tangible aid in entering him into Such Friends, as no. 222, with an intriguing note of “see him” (p. 27).

Source: color photograph of the original MS (2 pp.), formerly in the collection of H. Bradley Martin, and now in the collection of Mrs. Susan J. Tane. The third page of the letter paper is blank; on the fourth is the address: “Washington Irving Esqr / New-York / N.Y.” and the postmark: “Philadelphia, Oct. 13.” The letter is readdressed: “Tarrytown, Westchester County,” and in the lower left corner, where Poe had written “Paid,” someone has added, below, “to New York”; a second postmark reads: “New-York, Oct. 14.” In the upper left corner of one folded portion of the cover appears Irving’s notation: “Edgar A Poe / Oct 12th 1839 / answd. Nov. 6th.” The present letter verifies CL-196 and CL-201.

Letter 84 — 1839, November 11 [CL-216] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Joseph E. Snodgrass (Baltimore, MD):

Nov: 11th Phil:

My Dear Sir,

I was much pleased this morning by the reception of two letters from you — one of which, I presume, has been lying perdu in the P. Office for some 10 days — but the Post did not come to hand at all, or, [page 202:] possibly, may have been mislaid among our daily cargo of mail-papers. I have, however, just succeeded in seeing your critique on file in a friend’s office — and have to thank you very sincerely for your kindness. The only fault I find is that you say altogether too much in my favor. You have overwhelmed me with praise — much of which I truly feel is undeserved. I regret too that you did not preserve the proper order of your initials — I should have been proud of the authority of your name.

I am sure you will be pleased to hear that Washington Irving has addressed me 2 letters, abounding in high passages of compliment in regard to my Tales — passages which he desires me to make public — if I think benefit may be derived. It is needless to say that I shall do so — it is a duty I owe myself — and which it would be wilful folly to neglect, through a false sense of modesty. L & Blanchard also urge the publication upon me — so the passages referred to, with others of a similar nature from Paulding, Anthon, &c will be printed in an Appendix of Advertisement to the book — such as publishers are in the habit of appending. Irving’s name will afford me a complete triumph over those little critics who would endeavor to put me down by raising the hue & cry of exaggeration in style, of Germanism & such twaddle. You know Irving heads the school of the quietists. I tell you these things in [page 2] all confidence, & because I think you will be pleased to hear of my well-doing — not, I assure you, in any spirit of vain-glory — a feeling which I am above.

It grieves me much that I can say not a word touching compensation for articles in Maga. The intense pressure has obliged Mr B. with nearly every, if not with every, publisher in the country, to discontinue paying for contributions. Mr B. pays for nothing — and we are forced to fill up as we can. You know that I appreciate your talents and did we pay at all your writings would command in my judgment the highest price. Could we get them, for a while, gratis, how gladly would I use them! — but this is requesting too much.

I have never received the nos of the Museum since the one containing my “Small Talk” — if you have the remaining nos to spare, I would be glad to make my set complete. [page 203:]

I regret that you have not received the Gents’ Mag: with regularity — but the fault is my own — as I neglected to have your name put upon the free list; an oversight which I hasten to remedy.

With high respect & sincere esteem

Your friend.

Edgar A Poe

Note: Poe is thanking Snodgrass for an unlocated notice in the Baltimore Post, which Snodgrass apparently signed only with his initials, and out of order (perhaps intentionally, but more likely a typographical error). Poe was to quote from this notice as part of the “advertisements” of his Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, and to give Snodgrass’ full name in acknowledgment. Poe’s comment about “a false sense of modesty” is curious given the fact the he did not generally hesitate to publicize private laudations as though publicly printed, as Quinn admits (p. 674) and Woodberry charges, noting them as “much altered and somewhat garbled” [1909, 1:216-217]. For examples of this practice, see the SLM (especially January and April 1836, quoted in The Poe Log, pp. 185-188 and 200-204) and the comments from “noted literary men” in the long biographical article in the Philadelphia Saturday Museum of February 25, 1843 (see LTR-153). Another example is the very same “advertisements” for Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque mentioned by Poe in the present letter, including comments from Paulding and Anthon, as noted. Adapting a statement from Paulding’s letter to T. W. White (December 7, 1840), these advertisements give: “Mr. Poe is decidedly the best of all our young writers — I don’t know but that I may say, of all our old ones.” The source of Anthon’s simple “facile princeps,” appearing directly after the quote from Paulding, has not been located. Regarding Irving’s two letters, see notes to LTR-82 and LTR-113. For another reference to “quietists,” see LTR-149. “Literary Small Talk” appeared in the January and February 1839 issues of the American Museum, edited by Nathan C. Brooks and Joseph E. Snodgrass (Writings, 2:454-464) and published in Baltimore (also see LTR-90 and note). For Poe’s contributions to the American Museum, see the note to LTR-78. For the linkage of the first paragraph of the present letter to the national “Panic of 1837” see Whalen’s discussion in Poe and the Masses (pp. 198-199).

The hyphenated form of “vain-glory” is given in the OED for several nineteenth century instances but not in most modern dictionaries. For [page 204:] “well-doing” see the notes to LTR-83. For Poe’s use of the term “Maga,” see the note to LTR-82.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.), formerly in the collection of William H. Koester, and now in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The envelope, a separate leaf, is posted at Philadelphia, Pa., Nov. 12, and is addressed to: “Dr J. Evans Snodgrass / Baltimore / Md.” Poe’s reference to two letters from Irving, the second of which was dated November 6, 1839 (CL-214) and addressed to Burton and the Gentleman’s Magazine, places the letter in 1839. The content of the letter, especially in connection with that of LTR-81, identifies the Snodgrass as the person addressed. Poe is answering two unlocated letters from Snodgrass: one, “... perdu in the P. Office for some 10 days,” with the possible dating of November 1-2, 1839 (CL-213), and the second with the possible dating of before November 11, 1839 (CL-215).

Letter 85 — 1839, December 6 [CL-221] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to John C. Cox (Philadelphia, PA):

Philadelphia, Dec: 6. 1839

Mr Jno. C. Cox

My Dear Sir,

I am really afraid you will think me the most ungrateful person in the world; as I have not only failed to return you the money so kindly lent nearly a year ago but have never even seen you since, to apologise for my failure. Still, in the face of all appearances, you would be wrong in supposing that I am not deeply sensible of your kindness, and that I do not always bear it in mind. The simple truth is, that the mortification I feel in not being able to repay you, has been the reason of my not calling upon you. From week to week, and from day to day, I have been living in the hope of getting the means of payment, and of calling upon you with the $50 and the apology at once — but my greatest exertions have been in vain; and it was only with the most painful sacrifices that I managed to pay Mrs Jones — which I did about last Christmas. I trust, however, that this state of things cannot last long, and that I shall now soon have it in my power to discharge the claim. [page 205:]

It would give me the most sincere pleasure if you could make it convenient to come & see us. We are still where we were. I could then speak to you more fully, and convince you that the embarrasments under which I have labored are not exaggerated.

Mess. Lea & Blanchard have just issued two vols of Tales, by myself; and may I beg of you to accept a copy with my kindest regards? It would give me great pleasure to hear from you.

Yours most truly,

Edgar A Poe

Note: For information on Mr. Cox and Mrs. Jones, see LTR-78a. Poe, with his little family, was apparently living in a small house on Sixteenth Street, to which he went from his Arch Street quarters late in 1838 (see Quinn, p. 273). Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque was published in two slender volumes by Lea & Blanchard in Philadelphia, December 1839, as evidenced by the present letter, but with an 1840 dating on the title page.

Source: facsimile of the original MS (1 p.) in the Anderson Galleries catalog (No. 2029), February 1-3, 1926, item 514. The letter is addressed to Mr. J. C. Cox, Philadelphia. The present item was doubted by TOM [Iowa] on internal grounds and also because of its short “history” (then known only back to 1926, but now traceable to 1908), with no evidence of any known cause for Poe’s gratitude and book gift. It is now validated, however, by Poe’s letter to Cox of September 11, 1838 (LTR-78a), giving details of the two-part “loan” made to Poe. No reply by Cox is known.

Letter 86 — 1839, December 9 [CL-222] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Edward L. Carey or Abraham Hart (Philadelphia, PA):

Dr Sir,

Mr Burton mentioned to me, before going to Charleston, that you were good enough to promise him a Chapter from Marryatt’s forthcoming work, for the Jan: No. of our Mag: The Chapter was, I believe, one on “Migration & Emigration”. Will you please let me have it, if convenient, by the bearer? [page 206:]


Mr Carey or Mr Hart. E A. Poe

Dec 9.

Note: Poe’s correspondent here is Edward L. Carey or Abraham Hart, these gentlemen being the eponymous owners of the firm of Carey & Hart, the publishers of many books, including The Gift for 1836, which contained a reprint of Poe’s “MS. Found in a Bottle” (see LTR-50). (In the 1948 and 1966 editions of The Letters, Mr. Hart’s first name is given incorrectly as John.) No chapter by Captain Marryat, as implied by the present letter, appeared in Burton’s for January, February, or March 1840; there is, however, a review of his Diary in America, First and Second Parts (Philadelphia: Carey & Hart, and T. K. & G. P. Collins) in Burton’s (February 1840, 6:103-105). A notice in Alexander’s Weekly Messenger (January 29, 1840) attributes this review to Burton (see Brigham, “EAP’s Contributions to Alexander’s Weekly Messenger,” pp. 27-28.)

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the New York Public Library, Berg Collection. Poe’s editorial connection with Burton and the Gentleman’s establishes the year date as 1839. The present letter was rejected by TOM [Iowa], possibly because of the request for the new work by Captain Frederick Marryat, whose now long-forgotten novel Joseph Rushbrook Poe later condemned as “mediocre” and “vulgar” (Graham’s, September 1841, 19:142-143; reprinted in H [Works], 10:197-202). No reply from Carey or Hart is known.

Letter 87 — 1839, December 12 [CL-223] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Joseph E. Snodgrass (Baltimore, MD):

My dear Sir,

I have the pleasure of sending you, through Mess. Lea & Blanchard, a copy of my tales. Not knowing what better plan to pursue, I have addressed the package to you “at the office of the Baltimore American.” Will you get it? In the same package is a copy for Mr Carey of the American, which I must beg you to deliver to him with my respects. I have not the pleasure of knowing him personally — but entertain a high opinion of his talents. Please write his full name in his copy — “with the author’s respects” — as I forget his praenomen. [page 207:]

I do not believe that Lea & B. have sent any of the books to Baltimore as yet — will you be kind enough to forward me any Bal. papers which may contain notices.

Very truly your friend

Edgar A Poe

Dr. J. Evans Snodgrass

Phil: 12 [December] 1839

Note: Poe’s Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (2 vols., Philadelphia: Lea & Blanchard) carried an 1840 imprint date, but was out by December 6, 1839 (see LTR-85). On September 28, 1839, Lea & Blanchard wrote Poe (CL-207) that 750 copies were to be printed. Figures quoted by Charvat in Publishers’ Weekly for November 23, 1946, p. 2958, show conclusively that Woodberry gave the number correctly (W [1909], 2:376), but Quinn (p. 287) curiously prints a far greater number of 1750 copies, perhaps a simple typographical mistake or an error in reading a note. John L. Carey of the Baltimore American was the author of Domestic Slavery (see LTR-90, and note). Poe probably inscribed the copy intended for Snodgrass, but if so, that set has not been located.

Source: transcript by William H. Browne for J. H. Ingram, from the original MS (see APXA-Snodgrass). Poe’s MS letter is probably lost; the transcript is in the University of Virginia, Ingram Collection. According to Spencer, the letter was postmarked December 13, a date that fits the content of the letter and the text of the subsequent one, December 19 (LTR-88).

Letter 88 — 1839, December 19 [CL-225] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Joseph E. Snodgrass (Baltimore, MD):

Philadelphia. Dec: 19. 1839

My dear Snodgrass,

I presume that upon the 16th (the date of postmark of your last letter) you received my own dated 2 days before, in which I mentioned having forwarded 2 copies of the “Grotesque & Arab:” one for yourself & one for Mr. Carey. You will therefore, ere this, have acquitted me of forgetfulness or neglect. [page 208:]

Touching the Premiums. The Advertisement respecting them was written by Mr. Burton, and is not, I think as explicit as might [be.] I can give you no information about their desig[nation furth]er than is shown in the advertisement itself. The tru[th is,] I object, in toto, to the whole scheme. — but merely follow[ed in] Mr. B’s wake upon such matters of business.

Either of your projected Essays would be, (as you could do it) a good thing — either that upon American Literature, or upon the Hints of Science as connected with every-day life. The latter would, of course, be entirely re-modelled, so as to look new.

I am sorry to say that I have been unable to get the “Scenes of Childhood”, in the January number, which is now ready — but it shall appear in our next. If you look over our columns you will see that we only put in poetry in the odds and ends of our pages — that is, to fill out a vacancy left at the foot of a prose article — so that the length of a poem often determines its insertion. Yours could not be brôt to fit in and was obliged to be left out.

If you see any of the Bal. papers notice my Tales, will you try and forward them, especially the weeklies which I never see.

The Philadelphians have given me the very highest possible praise — I cd desire nothing further. Have you seen the U.S. Gazette, the Pennsylvanian, or Alexander’s Messenger. In the last is a notice by Professor Frost, which I forward you, today, with this. The books have just reached New York. The Star and the Evening Post have both capital notices. There is also a promise of one in the New-World — Benjamin’s paper — which I am anxious to see — for, praise or blame, I have a high op[inion of] that man’s ability.

Do not forget to forward [me] the notices — if any appear.

Believe me I am truly yours

Edgar A Poe.

Write soon.

P.S. None of my books have been sent to Richmond as yet — for I am happy to say that the edition is already very nearly exhausted. [page 209:]

Note: Regarding Burton’s dubious offer of premiums for contributions to the Gentleman’s Magazine, see LTR-95. Burton’s fraudulent “scheme,” as Poe rightly considered it, was advertised in Alexander’s Weekly Messenger on November 20, 1839 and on the back wrapper of Burton’s for January 1840 (see The Poe Log, pp. 277-278, especially p. 291 for a photograph of the ad from Burton’s). The matter was to cause Poe in part to leave his position at the magazine. For a fine summation of the Poe-Burton relationship, with much evidentiary data, see D. Thomas, Poe in Philadelphia, pp. 724-727. (See also Silverman’s terse appraisal of Poe’s distress about Burton’s manoeuvres as affecting his friend and others, p. 156.) For “Scenes of Childhood,” see LTR-90. John Frost (1800-1859), a professor of belles-lettres in the high school in Philadelphia, is included in Poe’s “Chapter on Autography,” Graham’s, December 1841 (reprinted in H [Works], 15:242-243). The New World, a monster folio fiction weekly, edited by Park Benjamin and R. W. Griswold, did not appear until June 6, 1840 (American Magazines, 1:359-360). Poe’s postscript was either fanciful or based upon a misunderstanding. On August 16, 1841, Lea & Blanchard, the publishers, wrote him that the 1840 edition of his Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque had neither “been got through,” nor even returned the expense of publication (CL-321).

Source: transcript for William H. Browne for J. H. Ingram, from the original MS (see APXA-Snodgrass). Poe’s MS letter is probably lost; the transcript is in the University of Virginia, Ingram Collection. According to Ingram’s note on the transcript, the holograph was worn and mutilated in several places. Bracketed portions reflect Browne’s emendations. Poe is replying to Snodgrass’ letter postmarked December 16, 1839 (CL-224). Poe errs in saying his own was “dated 2 days before [the 16],” for it was actually dated December 12 (LTR-87). The letter was first printed in W [1909], 1:237-239, where Woodberry interpreted “brôt” (for brought) and “cd” (for could) as “bro’t” and “c’d.” Whether he saw the MS or was making his own editorial changes to Browne’s transcript is not certain.

Letter 89 — 1839, December 25 [CL-227] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Joseph B. Boyd (Cincinnati, OH):

Philadelphia, Dec 25th 1839.

Dr Sir, [page 210:]

I have only to urge a world of pressing engagements as an excuse for not sooner attending to your very flattering request of November the fifteenth. It will now give me great pleasure to copy, as you desire, one of my own poems — selecting a Sonnet for brevity’s sake.

Silence — A Sonnet.

There are some qualities — some incorporate things —

That have a double life — life aptly made

The type of that twin entity which springs

From matter and light — evinced in solid and shade.

There is a two-fold Silence — sea and shore —

Body and soul. One dwells in desert places

Newly with grass oergrown. Some solemn graces,

Some human memories (a tearful lore)

Render him terrorless — his name’s “No More”.

He is the corporate Silence — dread him not.

No power hath he of evil in himself.

But should some urgent fate (untimely lot!)

Bring thee to meet his shadow — (nameless elf,

Who haunteth the dim regions where hath trod

No foot of man) — commend thyself to God!

With every sentiment of respect,

I am Yr Obt St

Edgar A Poe.

To Joseph B. Boyd, Esquire,

Cincinnati, Ohio.

Note: Concerning Joseph B. Boyd, see LTR-100 and note. “Silence — A Sonnet” was first published in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier, January 4, 1840. A comparison of the present version of the poem with that printed in Campbell, Poems, pp. 104-105 and TOM [Poems], 1:320-323, shows variations in a few words and in punctuation. See TOM [Poems] also for a discussion of its sources (especially in two sonnets by Thomas Hood), its deliberate experimental 15-line form, all the variants, and its themes, plus Campbell’s verbal revision of his published comment. Note Poe’s graciousness and effort in writing out the entire poem for Boyd’s autograph collection, as he was to do with the sonnet “To Zante” in 1840 (LTR-103) and with the very long “For Annie,” copied out for A. [page 211:] G. Chester on April 1, 1849 (LTR-309a). (Poe also copied “The Raven” for Dr. Whitaker, LTR-278a, and “Ulalume” for Miss Ingram, LTR-331.)

Source: original MS (1 p.) in the New York Public Library, Berg Collection. Poe is replying to Boyd’s letter of November 15, 1839 (CL-217).

Letter 90 — 1840, January 20 [CL-229] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Joseph E. Snodgrass (Baltimore, MD):

Philadelphia Jan: 20. 1840

My dear Sir

I seize the opportunity afforded me by a temporary lull in a storm of business, to write you a few hurried words. Your last letter is not before me — but I refer to it in memory. I received the poem through Godey, and retain it as you desire. The “Friends of Childhood[“] is in type for the Feb. no: Mr. Carey’s book has not yet reached me. My own was forwarded by L & Blanchard to Joseph Robinson’s — so they assure me. I presume you have it before this.

I am obliged to decline saying anything of the “Museum” in the Gent’s Mag: however much I feel anxious to oblige yourself, and to express my own views. You will understand me when I say that I have no proprietary interest in the Mag: and that Mr Burton is a warm friend of Brooks — verb. sap. sat.

I have heard, indirectly, that an attempt is to be made by Some one of capital in Baltimore, to get up a Magazine. Have you heard anything of it? If you have, will you be kind enough to let me know all about it by return of mail — if you can spare the time to oblige me — I am particularly desirous of understanding how the matter stands — who are the parties, &c.

Excuse the abruptness of this letter, &

believe me very truly yours,

Edgar A Poe [page 212:]

Note: The poem Poe refers to in the present letter as “Friends of Childhood” he called “Scenes of Childhood” in his letter of December 19, 1839 (LTR-88). It appeared in Burton’s as “Childhood Scenes” (February 1840, 6:99). John L. Carey (not Henry C. Carey, as Woodberry misidentified him) wrote Domestic Slavery; it was published anonymously in Baltimore (1838), but carried his name as author in the second edition, 1839. (Henry Carey’s The Slave Trade was not published until 1853.) Concerning Poe’s receipt of the book and his unpublished review of it, see LTR-95. Joseph Robinson was a printer in Baltimore. Among other items, Robinson published Robinson’s Magazine (1818-1819), and E. C. Pinckney’s Rodolph, a Fragment in 1823 and Poems in 1825 (see also the note to LTR-90a). Poe’s reference to the American Museum of Science, Literature and the Arts here is curious, for that magazine died in May, 1839, with the June number (see notes to LTR-81); at the time of the present letter, Snodgrass was editing the Baltimore Saturday Visiter. Perhaps the demise of the American Museum was attended by a misunderstanding between Snodgrass and his former partner Nathan Covington Brooks, and Snodgrass’ bid for Poe’s editorial assistance in revitalizing the Visiter was frustrated by Burton’s friendship with Brooks. (Interestingly, “Childhood Scenes” is credited in Burton’s as “by J. E. Snodgrass, late editor of the Baltimore Museum.”) Poe’s abbreviation for verbum sat sapienti (est) means “A word to the wise (is) sufficient.”

Source: William H. Browne’s transcript for J. H. Ingram, from the original MS (see APXA-Snodgrass). Poe’s MS letter is probably lost; the transcript is in the University of Virginia, Ingram Collection. Though Snodgrass’ name does not appear in the letter, his poem “Childhood Scenes” identifies him as Poe’s correspondent. Poe is answering Snodgrass’ letter (CL-228).

Letter 90a — 1840, February 14 [CL-229b] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to J. C. Passmore (Lancaster, PA):


Feb. 14. 1840.

J. C. Passmore Esqr

Dr Sir, [page 213:]

I owe you an apology for not sooner replying to your favor of the 23d Jan: — in which you propose to furnish a series of papers for the “Gents’ Magazine”. An unusual press of business will, I hope, plead my excuse.

I have no doubt whatever that the articles mentioned would prove of high interest — a perusal of “The Lectures” has convinced us of that — but we are forced, at present, for many reasons, to decline allowing compensation, except in very rare cases, where the name of the writer is well known.

We cannot hope, of course, that you will send us your communications gratis — and just now it is not our policy to pay for them.

Very respy

Edgar A Poe.

Note: Poe’s correspondent in the present letter is presumably Reverend Joseph Clarkson Passmore (1818-1866). He published, under the initials J. C. P., a volume of poetry, Footprints, or, Fugitive Poems (Philadelphia: John Penington, 1843). The contribution that Poe describes only as “The Lectures” was probably religious in nature, and may have been related to Passmore’s An Essay on the Life and Writings of Bishop Butler (Baltimore: Joseph Robinson, 1850), apparently republished as the introduction of William Whewell, ed., Bishop Butler’s Ethical Discourses (Philadelphia: C. Desilver, 1855). At some point, Rev. Passmore moved to Milwaukee, Michigan, where he was associated with Racine College. Although Poe seems to be politely rejecting an unwanted contribution, LTR-92a suggests that he was expressing a genuine policy. Many magazines of the period did not pay for contributions, and the Gentleman’s Magazine had already proven itself more expensive to run than Burton had hoped. By the end of the year, he would sell the magazine to G. R. Graham, for personal or financial reasons.

Source: color photograph of the original MS (1 p.) from Christie’s (NY) catalog, April 8, 2003, item 197. The letter is addressed to “J. C. Passmore Esqr / Lancaster / Pa.” and postmarked “PHILA / FEB 15 / PD.” The letter is in remarkably fine condition, with nearly the full red wax seal still intact. Poe is replying to Passmore’s letter of January 23, 1841 (CL-229a). [page 214:]

Letter 91 — 1840, February 29 [CL-231] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to John K. Mitchell (Philadelphia, PA):

Dr Sir,

It will give me great pleasure to accept your invitation for Feb: 29th — this evening.

Edgar A Poe

Dr J. K. Mitchell

Note: John Kearsley Mitchell (1793-1858), father of the novelist Silas Weir Mitchell, was a prominent physician and lecturer at various Philadelphia medical institutes. Dr. Mitchell’s poem “The Brilliant Nor-West” appeared in Graham’s Magazine (April 1841, 18:149), but his literary ambitions seem to have been quite modest. He was also Poe’s physician. For their common interest in poetry, popular song, the Chess Player “automaton,” and ballooning, see The Poe Log, pp. xxxiv, 313, and 538; with additional information in D. Thomas, Poe in Philadelphia, pp. 852-854. According to Mitchell’s grandson, Poe borrowed money from Dr. Mitchell, money which was never returned (see Phillips, 1:684). Phillips also notes that Mitchell lived at 288 Walnut street. The reason for the invitation cannot be reliably determined, but it is possible that Poe was asked to attend a gathering to examine Maelzel’s Chess-Player, which had been sitting in a warehouse and collecting dust since Maelzel’s death in 1838 and was purchased by Mitchell about the time of the present letter (see Standage, The Turk, p. 188).

Source: facsimile of the original MS (1 p.) in the William D. Morley catalog, May 19, 1941, item 289. The letter carries no inside address or year date, but only 1840 and 1844 are possible, since the letter was written in a leap year and only in those two years were both Poe and Mitchell in Philadelphia, where Dr. Mitchell practiced medicine from 1822 until his death in 1858 (see the DAB, 13:54-55). It seems impossible to determine which year date is correct, and the earlier has been chosen tentatively. TOM [Iowa] first rejects this letter, but later inclines toward accepting it, placing it in 1844. He then cancels his rejection, when it is confirmed “by history,” he wrote, referring to the sale as “papers of family of Dr. S[ilas] Weir Mitchell.” Poe seems to be replying to a note from Dr. Mitchell, before February 29, 1840 (CL-230). [page 215:]

Letter 92 — 1840, April 24 [CL-233] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Hiram Haines (Petersburg, VA):

Philadelphia April 24. 1840.

My Dear Sir,

Having been absent from the city for a fortnight I have only just received your kind letter of March 24th and hasten to thank you for the “Star”, as well as for your offer of the fawn for Mrs P. She desires me to thank you with all her heart — but, unhappily, I can not point out a mode of conveyance. What can be done? Perhaps some opportunity may offer itself hereafter — some friend from Petersburg may be about to pay us a visit. In the meantime accept our best acknowledgments, precisely as if the little fellow were already nibbling the grass before our windows in Philadelphia.

I will immediately attend to what you say respecting exchanges. The “Star” has my very best wishes, and if you really intend to push it with energy, there cannot be a doubt of its full success. If you can mention anything in the world that I can do here to promote its interests and your own, it will give me a true pleasure.

It is not impossible that I may pay you a visit in Petersburg, a month or two hence.

Till then, believe me,

most sincerely Your friend

Edgar A Poe

H. Haines Esqr

Office Gentleman’s Magazine

Note: This letter is the last known to have been written by Poe to Hiram Haines. (For more information on Haines, see notes to LTR-72). Haines’ letter probably thanked Poe for the “puff” of the Virginia Star which he wrote for Alexander’s Weekly Messenger (Philadelphia), March 18, 1840, p. 2, col. 4 (see C. S. Brigham, “EAP’s Contributions to Alexander’s Weekly Messenger,” 52:100-101). TOM informed Ostrom that Poe was [page 216:] “contributing to the [Weekly] Messenger regularly at this time.” There is no evidence that the fawn was sent, or that it reached Philadelphia. Poe’s proposed visit to Petersburg undoubtedly concerned the establishment of the Penn Magazine.

Source: original MS (1 p.) in the Poe Foundation. The envelope is cancelled at Philadelphia, April 27, and addressed to “H. Haines Esqr / Editor of “Virginia Star” / Petersburg / Va.” The MS is worn in the folds and browned with age. The one-leaf letter is folded once, with page 1 serving for the communication, pages 2 and 3 blank, and the address occurring on part of page 4. The chirography is unusually large, clear, and neat. Poe is replying to Haines’ letter of March 24, 1840 (CL-232).

Letter 92a — 1840, April 27 [CL-233b] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Roland Stebbins Houghton (University of Vermont, VT):


April 27. 1840.

Dr Sir,

Your very clever article, “John a’ Combe”, was duly received, but your request, that we should notice its reception in the Magazine, was overlooked. By reference to the last number (for April) you will perceive that the Premium scheme has proved a total failure, and that the M.S.S. sent await the commands of their authors. We should be glad, of course, to publish the piece, but are grieved to say that the absurd condition of our present copy-right laws will not permit us to offer any compensation. We shall be pleased to hear from you in reply.

Yours &c

Edgar A Poe

R. S. Houghton Esqr

University of Vermont

Note: This is the only known letter to Roland S. Houghton (died 1876), who married Marie Louise Shew in November of 1850. Poe and Mrs. Shew corresponded during 1847-1848, and it was she who encouraged Poe to compose “The Bells” (see LTR-248 and LTR-273 notes; also Quinn, p. 563). Contrary to Ostrom’s contention in the 1966 edition of The Letters (2:691), Poe does not seem to be rejecting the article. Indeed, [page 217:] “John A’ Combe, A Character” appeared in Burton’s for September 1840 (7:137-139), where it is credited only as “by an undergraduate,” although it is also signed “H.” (At this time, Houghton was fifteen, and a student at the University of Vermont.) Curious in the present letter is Poe’s reference to one of his favorite topics, the condition of copyright laws in the United States. (For a similar letter, in which Poe does not blame copyright laws, see LTR-90a.) Regarding the “Premiums,” see LTR-88 and LTR-95.

Neither the OED nor the Merriam-Webster International Dictionary sanctions the addition of a hyphen as “copy-right.” Poe varies his spelling, with fifty-nine instances of a fused “copyright,” about six of separated “copy right” and twenty-two with the hyphen.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Free Library of Philadelphia, Gimbel Collection. The letter is addressed to “R. S. Houghton Esqr / University of Vermont, / Burlington, / Vt”, and is postmarked at Philadelphia, April 27. The letter was written on page 1 of a folded sheet, address and postmark are on page 4; pages 2-3 are blank. About the present letter, TOM [Iowa] says: “Of doubtful authenticity.” TOM, however, was aware only of the fragment, and the specifics of the rest of the letter should negate his concerns. Poe appears to be answering a letter from Houghton, before April 27, 1840 (CL-233a). No reply from Houghton is known, although the article was presumably printed with the permission of the unpaid author.

Letter 93 — 1840, June 1 [CL-235] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to William E. Burton (Philadelphia, PA):


I find myself at leisure this Monday morning, June 1, to notice your very singular letter of Saturday. <I sent George home yesterday without a reply to your letter for I felt somewhat too angry to make one. I have followed the example of Victorine and slept upon the matter>. & you shall now hear what I have to say. In the first place — your attempts to bully me excite in my mind <nothing> scarcely any other sentiment than mirth. When you address me again preserve if you can, the dignity of a gentleman. If by accident you have taken it [page 218:] into your head <by any sad accident> that I am to be insulted with impunity I can only assume that you are an ass. This one point being distinctly understood <we shall be the better able to enter into some arrangement and in regard to myself individually> I shall feel myself more at liberty to be explicit. As for the rest, you do me gross injustice; and you know it. As usual you have wrought yourself into a passion with me on account of some imaginary wrong; for no real injury, or attempt at injury, have you ever received at my hands. As I live, I am utterly unable to say why you are angry, or what true grounds of complaint you have against me. You are a man of <high passions> impulses; have made yourself, in consequence, some enemies; have been in many respects ill treated by those whom you had looked upon as friends — and these things have rendered you suspicious. You once wrote in your magazine [a sharp critique] upon a book of mine — a [very silly book — Pym. Had I written a simi]lar critici[sm] upon a book of yours, you feel that you would [have been] my enemy for life, and you therefore ima[gine in my] bosom a latent hostility towards yourself. This has been a mainspring in your whole conduct towards me since our first acquaintance. It has acted to prevent all cordiality. In a general view of human nature your idea is just — but you will find yourself puzzled in judging me by ordinary motives. Your criticism was essentially correct and therefore, although severe, it did not occasion in me one solitary emotion either of anger or dislike. But even while I write these words, I am sure you will not believe them. Did I not still think you, in spite of the exceeding littleness of some of your hurried actions, a man of many honorable impulses, I should not now take the trouble to send you this letter. I cannot permit myself to suppose that you would say to me in cool blood what you said in your letter of yesterday. You are, of course, only mistaken, in asserting that I owe you a hundred dollars, and you will rectify the mistake at once when you come to look at your accounts. Soon after I joined you, you made me an offer of money, and I accepted $20. Upon another occasion, at my request, you sent me enclosed in a letter $30. Of this 30, I repaid 20 within the next fortnight (drawing no salary for that period.) I was thus still in your debt $30, when not long ago I again asked a loan of $30, which you [page 219:] promptly handed to me at your own house. Within the last 3 weeks, 3$ each week have been retained from my salary, an indignity which I have felt deeply but did not resent. You state the sum retained as $8, but this I believe is through a mistake of Mr Morrell. My postage bill at a guess, might be 9 or 10 $ — and I therefore am indebted to you, upon the whole, in the amount of about $60. More than this sum I shall not pay. You state that you can no longer afford to pay $50 per month for 2 or 3 pp. of M.S. Your error here can be shown by reference to the [Magaz]ine. During my year with you I have writ[ten —]

[in] July — 5 pp

August 9

Sept 16

Octo. 4

Nov. 5

Dec. 12

Jan 9

Feb 12

Mar 11

April 17+

May 14 + 5 copied — Miss McMichael, [sic] M.S.

June 9+ 3 “ Chandlers.



Dividing this sum by 12 we have an average of 11 pp per month — not 2 or 3. And this estimate leaves out of question everything in the way of extract or compilation. Nothing is counted but bonâ fiede composition. 11 pp. at $3 per p. would be $33, at the usual Magazine prices. Deduct this from $50, my monthly salary, and we have left 17$ per month, or $4 25/100 per week, for the services of proofreading; general superintendence at the printing-office; reading, alteration, & preparation of M.S.S., with compilation of various articles, such as Plate articles, Field Sports &c. Neither has anything been said of my name upon your title page, a small item you will say — but still something as you know. Snowden pays his editresses $2 per week each for their names solely. Upon the whole I am not willing to admit that you have greatly overpaid me. That I did not do 4 times as much [page 220:] as I did for the Magazine, was your own fault. At first I wrote long articles which you deemed inadmissable, & never did I suggest any to <you> which you had not some immediate and decided objection. Of course I grew discouraged & could feel no interest in the Journal. I am at a loss to know why you call me selfish. If you mean that I borrowed money of you — you know that you offered it — <If > and you know

that I am poor. In what instance has anyone ever found me selfish? Was there selfishness in the affront I offered Benjamin (whom I respect, and who spoke well of me) because I deemed it a duty not to

receive from any one commendation at your expense? I had no hesitation in making him my enemy (which he now must be) through a sense of my obligations as your coadjutor. <No man can call me selfish & not he> I have said that I could not tell why you were angry. Place yourself in my situation & see whether you would not have acted as I have done. You first “enforced”, as you say, a deduction of salary:

giving me to understand thereby that you thought of parting company — You next spoke disrespectfully of me behind my back — this as an habitual thing — to those whom you supposed your friends, and who punctually retailed me, as a matter of course, every ill-natured word which you uttered. Lastly you advertised your magazine for sale without saying a word to me about it. I felt no anger at what you did — none in the world. Had I not firmly believed it your design to give up your Journal, with a view of attending to the Theatre, I should <never> have dreamed of attempting one of my own. The opportunity of doing something for myself seemed a good one — (I was about to be thrown out of business) — and I embraced it. Now I ask you as a man of honor and as a man of sense — what is there wrong in all this? What have I done at which you have any right to take offense? I can give you no definitive answer (respecting the continuation [of] Rodman’s Journal,) until I hear from you again. The charge of 100 $ I shall not admit for an instant. If you persist in it our intercourse is at an end, and <I shall refer you to an attorney, But I cannot bring myself to believe that you will.> We can each adopt our own measures

In the meantime, I am

Yr Obt St.

Edgar A Poe

Wm E. Burton Esqr. [page 221:]

Note: William Evans Burton (1802-1860) was a popular stage comedian who decided to try his hand at running a magazine, but seems to have found it neither as interesting nor as profitable as his theatrical career. “George” probably refers to Burton’s clerk, George Morrell (see LTR-109). The popular “Victorine; or, I’ll Sleep on it,” described in notices of the time as a “Domestic Burletta,” was written by John Baldwin Buckstone (1802-1879). Beginning in 1831, it was still running in such venues as the Adelphi Theatre as late as 1845. Burton himself had adapted Buckstone’s “Ellen Wareham” in London in 1833, and in Philadelphia in 1837 and 1840 (see DP, 139). Poe joined Burton’s as an assistant editor in May of 1839, announced on the back cover of the June 1839 issue (see Quinn, p. 278). His listing of duties is supported by a letter from Burton to Poe, July 4, 1839 (CL-188), in which Burton, absent in New York, gives Poe orders concerning the August number and exhorts him to see that Morrell and the others get the issue out on time. Park Benjamin’s paper, the New World, mentioned by Poe on December 19, 1839 as if soon to be published (see LTR-88), had just appeared in June 1840 (American Magazines, 1:359). Six installments of “Rodman’s Journal” ran in Burton’s, vol. VI (January-June 1840). The content of Poe’s letter implies that Burton’s “letter of Saturday,” after making certain accusations against Poe, fired him, but asked about his continuing the “Journal of Julius Rodman.” Possibly the letter implies some new arrangement whereby Poe would contribute but not remain as a full-salaried editor. In any event, Poe probably had not resigned when he received Burton’s letter. Burton seems to have answered Poe’s letter, and Poe then wrote his resignation (see LTR-95), or he left Burton’s and let Snodgrass believe the resignation had been voluntary. Burton’s exclusion of reviews (cited in the letter to Snodgrass) may have been due, not to Poe’s resignation, but to matters set forth in Burton’s “Saturday letter.”

The chief importance of the present letter has been the useful but problematic list of pages for which Poe accepts authorship in each issue of Burton’s. Various scholars, including Hull, have attempted to support the numbers — all in vain. Using the passage about “Plate articles, Field Sports, &c.,” and a phrase from “Some Words with a Mummy,” TOM [T&S, 3:1200 n. 34] assigns a plate article on the Washington Capitol to Poe. It is highly unlikely that Poe is the author of all of the installments in the “Sports” articles since that series (February 1839-February 1840) exceeds Poe’s association with Burton’s. Only the one article on Gymnastics can be granted to Poe with confidence (see LTR-83), and [page 222:] Poe may intend to accept only editorial supervision of the others. Of course, Poe could credit his “balance” with various inclusions as he himself saw fit to do, and he apparently counted as full pages those not quite full (see Hull, pp. 151-187). It is also possible that Rouse misread the MS, or that Poe changed the numbers in a final draft. “A Visit to a Mad-House,” by Miss Mary E. MacMichael of Philadelphia appears in Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine for May 1840 (6:230-234). “A Night Among the Dead,” by Joseph R. Chandler, editor of the United States Gazette (Philadelphia), appears in Burton’s for June 1840 (6:253-254). The debt Poe owed Burton was still not resolved more than two years later. In the bankruptcy papers he filed in 1842, Poe lists an entry of $100 to Burton, with the note “disputed claim.”

Poe’s statements in this letter about his only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, are often disregarded or considered as though he was being insincere or was simply jesting about Burton’s disparaging remarks, although the whole letter shows no display of tact, conciliation, or light-heartedness. Burton’s (September 1838, 3:210-211), reviewed Pym (published by Harper & Brothers, July 1838, according to Quinn, p. 263); the criticism was derogatory and said, in part, “We regret to find Mr. Poe’s name in connexion with such a mass of ignorance and effrontery.” Ironically, his novel has become the focus of more pages of criticism than any other single Poe work — accounting for literally thousands of articles, extended passages, and entire critical volumes. Burton’s response must have signified to Poe the blunt nonacceptance by educated readers, who were simply not those he aimed at (teen-agers and mechanics fond of mariners’ chronicles, adventure stories, explorations into unknown lands, tales of violence and strangeness, with characters of obvious and simple emotions and motives). The introductory material for Pym in the Imaginary Voyages volume of the Writings (1:4-45) draws upon almost all commentaries from the novel’s publication up to 1981 and explains why many of the adult readers and reviewers, like Burton, might call the book “silly” and Poe acknowledge that such “criticism was essentially correct.” Poe might have alluded to the “half banter, half satire” element in his earlier tales, as in his letter to Kennedy (LTR-57). Poe failed even later to take pride in the work, according to Duyckinck (Writings, 1:14). The many issues often raised receive a particularly thorough, judicious, and well-organized treatment in Ronald C. Harvey’s Critical History of EAP’s Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.

Poe’s apparent misspelling of the second word in “bonâ fiede” seems highly unlikely, but cannot be verified in the absence of the MS. The [page 223:] intrusive first “e” may easily be the “reading” of a flourished off-stroke of the preceding “i,” misinterpreted as a separate letter. As for the circumflex used for a macron (in Latin), this is an oddity in Poe’s Latin words, which is rarely but occasionally seen in other authors of the period, such as in Bulwer’s 1841 Miscellanies (of earlier published essays; see 2:119), reviewed by Poe. It occurs in the works of the SLM period to that of the BJ: see “bonâ fide” in “Loss of Breath” (TOM [T&S], 2:62); review of Paul Ulric (SLM, February 1836, 2:173-180; reprinted in H [Works], 8:185, and Writings, 5:107-114); “primâ facie” in “Mystification” (TOM [T&S], 2:303), and “Marginalia” M-165, of 1846 (Writings, 2:274). It may derive from the possible lack of a standard type font macron and the substitute use of the French accent mark, becoming a habit for Poe as editor, as well as writer.

The comment fairly early in the present letter, that Poe is not to be “insulted with impunity,” must remind some readers of a similar line in “The Cask of Amontillado,” Poe’s tale of a long-simmering revenge, written six years later.

Source: transcript of the original MS made by William Rouse for Ingram from the original MS. The original MS is unlocated; the transcript is in the University of Virginia, Ingram Collection. Annie Richmond wrote Ingram, May 27, 1877, that the copy was exact in every detail, “... a perfect copy, for he is most reliable and he assured me that every erasure was precisely like the original.” According to Mrs. Richmond’s letter to Ingram, October 8, 1877, she had given the original to her friend, Mr. Rouse, as a souvenir. The Poe MS in Rouse’s possession was undoubtedly a draft; the clean copy, if written and sent to Burton, is unknown. Mrs. Richmond probably got the MS from Mrs. Clemm after Poe’s death. The Rouse copy gives no year date, but 1840 cannot be doubted. Bracketed readings, illegible in the Rouse copy, are from Ingram’s printing (EAP: His Life, Letters, and Opinons, 1:175-179). Poe is replying to Burton’s letter of Saturday, May 30, 1840 (CL-234).




Two pages are accounted for in the pagination but not included in the text above because both are blank back pages. These are pages 172 and 224.


[S:0 - CLT08, 2008] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Letters of Edgar Allan Poe (Ostrom, Pollin and Savoye) (Chapter 03)