Text: J. W. Ostrom, B. R. Pollin, and J. A. Savoye, “Chapter 04,” The Collected Letters of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. I: 1824-1845 (2008), pp. 225-330 (This material is protected by copyright)


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[page 225, unnumbered:]

IV

PHILADELPHIA

The Penn Magazine and Graham’s Lady’s and Gentleman’s Magazine

Letters 94 — 133a: June 1840 — April 1842

[page 227:]

Letter 94 — 1840, June 3 [CL-237] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to John Neal (New York, NY, forwarded to Portland, ME):

Philadelphia. June 4. [3]

My Dear Sir

As you gave me the first jog in my literary career, you are in a measure bound to protect me & keep me rolling. I therefore now ask you to aid me with your influence, in whatever manner your experience shall suggest.

It strikes me that I never write you except to ask a favor, but my friend Thomas will assure you that I bear you always in mind — holding you in the highest respect and esteem.

Most truly yours

Edgar A Poe

John Neal Esqr

Notes: For information on Neal, and the “first jog,” see the notes to LTR-24. (Neal had printed encouraging notices of Poe’s poems in the Yankee and Boston Literary Gazette, September and December 1829.) “Thomas” probably refers to Poe’s friend Frederick W. Thomas, who might have known Neal in Baltimore (see the notes to LTR-51b). Poe wrote several highly respectful letters to Neal (see LTR-21, LTR-24, LTR-49, and APXA-Neal), rendering inevitable his name in Such Friends, no. 238 (p. 18). Although he does not appear to have written the present letter on a Prospectus of the Penn, Poe’s favor is surely in regard to promoting his plans for the projected magazine. More importantly, Neal’s reply (CL-238) features a comment on Poe’s use of “will” in the statements “I will be pardoned” and “For assurance that I will fulfil,” with Neal strongly suggesting “shall” instead. Neither of these quoted phrases appear in Poe’s letter, but both are to be found in the June 1840 prospectus included in LTR-96. (It should be noted that Poe did not adopt Neal’s corrections in subsequent revisions.) Thus Poe must already have had copies of the prospectus on hand early in June. In fact, he may have printed the prospectus through his connections at Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine prior to resigning about June 1, and this action is possibly the means by which Burton became aware of Poe’s efforts to establish his own magazine, something about which Poe felt compelled to comment in his [page 228:] reply (LTR-93) to a May 30, 1840 letter from Burton (CL-234). The same prospectus presumably provided the text for the notices published in the Philadelphia Spirit of the Times (June 12, 1840), the Philadelphia Saturday Courier (June 13, 1840), and the Columbia Spy (June 20, 1840). Assuming that Poe did write the present letter on a leaf of a prospectus, it must have been folded differently than LTR-96, allowing the page announcing the magazine to be removed.

Source: original MS (1 p.) in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The letter is addressed on the verso to “John Neal / New-York” and is postmarked “Philadelphia / Jun 3,” indicating that Poe’s date is incorrect. When the letter was forwarded from New York to Neal in “Portland / Me,” the New York postmark “Jun 4” was added. No year date is given, but 1840 is established by Neal’s reply, June 8, 1840 (CL-238). Neal’s letter, fully dated, begins, “Yours of June 4, directed to New York, reached me but yesterday [in Portland].” On the MS below Poe’s signature appears: “Portland February 3/67 — This autograph the last I have of Poor Poe / [signed] John Neal.”

Letter 94a — 1840, early June (?) - early 1841 [CL-237a] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to —? ( —?):

[...]

I have the honor of sending you, herewith, at your desire, the Prospectus of the “Penn Magazine,” and should be grateful for any interest you would exert in its behalf.

With high respect.

Yr Ob. St.

Edgar A Poe

Notes: Public announcement of Poe’s Prospectus of the Penn Magazine appeared in the Philadelphia Spirit of the Times, June 12, 1840 (see J. Albert Robbins, “Edgar Poe and the Philadelphians,” PS, 5:48) and in the Saturday Courier, June 13 (see Quinn, p. 306). He also had printed a separate Prospectus, which he sometimes used for correspondence. When this form first appeared is not certain (but see LTR-94 note). On June 17, 1840 (LTR-95), Poe wrote Snodgrass: “Herewith you have my [page 229:] Prospectus.” LTR-145 reveals that Poe is out of Prospectuses by September 27, 1842 (and probably long before). During the last half of 1840 he used not only the June Prospectus but also the August revision as correspondence paper (see LTR-96 and note). By January 22, 1841, his letter to Conrad (LTR-108) is the last to use a Prospectus to carry his message and is also the last in which he mentions the [June or August] Prospectus. It seems safe, therefore, to date the present fragment, which alludes to a printed Prospectus, as not before early June of 1840, and not later than early [January (?)] 1841.

Source: facsimile of the original MS (fragment) in the Charles Hamilton Gallery catalog (No. 46), December 10, 1970, item 246, where it was first printed. The MS is described as “four lines on a small sheet (about 2 1/2 inches x 6 1/2 inches oblong) ... contained in a first edition of Edgar Poe and His Critics by Sarah Helen Whitman.” Poe may be answering a request for a Prospectus made by letter, or just a verbal one.

Letter 95 — 1840, June 17 [CL-240] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Joseph E. Snodgrass (Baltimore, MD):

Philadelphia June 17

My dear Snodgrass,

Yours of the 12th was duly received but I have found it impossible to answer it before, owing to an unusual press of business which has positively not left me a moment to myself. Touching your Essay. Burton not only lies, but deliberately and wilfully lies; for the last time but one that I saw him I called his attention to the M.S. which was then at the top of a pile of other M.S.S. sent for premiums, in a drawer of the office desk. The last day I was in the office I saw the Essay in the same position, and I am perfectly sure it is there still. You know it is a peculiar looking M.S. and I could not mistake it. In saying it was not in his possession his sole design was to vex you, and through you myself. Were I in your place I would take some summary method of dealing with the scoundrel, whose infamous line of conduct in regard to this whole premium scheme merits, and shall receive exposure. I am firmly convinced that it was never his intention to pay one dollar of [page 230:] the money offered; and indeed his plain intimations to that effect, made to me personally and directly, were the immediate reasons of my cutting the connexion as abruptly as I did. If you could, in any way, spare the time to come on to Philadelphia, I think I could put you in the way of detecting this villain in his rascality. I would go down with you to the office, open the drawer in his presence, and take the M S. from beneath his very nose. I think this would be a good deed done, and would act as a caution to such literary swindlers in future. What think you of this plan? Will you come on? Write immediately in reply.

Mr. Carey’s book on slavery was received by me not very long ago, and in last month’s number I wrote, at some length, a criticism upon it, in which I endeavored to do justice to the author, whose talents I highly admire. But this critique, as well as some six or seven others, were refused admittance into the Magazine by Mr. Burton, upon his receiving my letter of resignation. [I] allude to the number for June — the one last issued. I fancy, moreover, that he has some private pique against Mr. Carey (as he has against every honest man) for not long ago he refused admission to a poetical address of his which I was anxious to publish.

Herewith you have my Prospectus. You will see that I have given myself sufficient time for preparation. I have every hope of success. As yet I have done nothing more than send a few Prospectuses to the Philadelphia editors, and it is rather early to strike — six months in anticipation. My object, at present, is merely to call attention to the contemplated design. In the meantime be assured that I am not idle — and that if there is any impossibility about the matter, it is the impossibility of not succeeding. The world is fond of novelty, and in being absolutely honest, I shall be utterly novel.

If you would show the Prospectus to Mr. Carey, or any other editorial friend, when you have done with it, I would be obliged to you.

Touching my Tales, you will scarcely believe me when I tell you that I am ignorant of their fate, and have never spoken to the publishers concerning them since the day of their issue. I have cause to think, however, that the edition was exhausted almost immediately. [page 231:] It was only six weeks since that I had the opportunity I wished of sending a copy to Professor Wilson, so as to be sure of its reaching him directly. Of course I must wait some time yet for a notice, — if any there is to be.

Yours most truly

E A Poe

P.S. If you would enclose me Burton’s letter to yourself, I will take it as an especial favor.

Notes: For Snodgrass’ essay, see the note to LTR-109. Burton’s “lie” was apparently given in a letter to Snodgrass, cited in Poe’s postscript. Concerning the premiums, see also LTR-88. There is no evidence that Snodgrass either went to Philadelphia or answered “immediately,” as Poe requested. For John L. Carey’s Domestic Slavery (2d. edition, 1839), see the note with LTR-90. Poe’s “unusual press of business” was in connection with his attempt to establish his Penn Magazine. Its publication was announced in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier, June 13, 1840, to appear on January 1, 1841 (see reprint of prospectus in Quinn, pp. 306-308; also in DP, pp. 212-223). Since Poe’s letter to C. W. Thomson, June 28, 1840 (LTR-96), was written on the second leaf of the June 1840 prospectus, the present letter to Snodgrass was undoubtedly written on one of the blank pages of the advertisement; thus this evidence refutes Woodberry’s statement that the prospectus was sent to press in August (see W [1909], 1:260), unless he referred to the revision of the June prospectus without recognizing the existence of the earlier one (see Quinn, p. 308). No correspondence is known between Lea & Blanchard’s letter of November 20, 1839 (CL-220) and Poe’s, dated August 13, 1841 (CL-318), so that Poe may have had no knowledge concerning the sale of his Tales. Upon publication of the book, Poe was to keep the copyright (see MS letter of Lea & Blanchard to Poe, September 28, 1839, CL-207) and receive about twenty copies for “private distribution” (see their letter to Poe, October 30, 1839, CL-212). Thus upon receipt of the complimentary copies, Poe had no need of further dealing with his publishers until August 15, 1841, when he suggested that they publish for him a new collection. A search of Blackwood’s Magazine, subsequent to the date of the present letter, failed to reveal any review of Poe’s Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque by John Wilson (“Christopher North”), editor of the English magazine, despite the postscript in LTR- 81. [page 232:]

Source: William Hand Browne’s original transcript (Ingram Collection) for J. H. Ingram (see APXA-Snodgrass). The general content of the letter, particularly the reference to Snodgrass’ poem in the February 1840 issue of Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, establishes the year date as 1840. The bracketed emendation is Woodberry’s, not Browne’s. On his transcript at this point, Browne noted that the MS original was mutilated and he supplied “You,” which Woodberry changed to “I” with greater justification, it would seem, considering the sense. Poe is answering Snodgrass’ letter of June 12, 1840 (CL-239).

Letter 96 — 1840, June 28 [CL-242] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Charles W. Thomson (Philadelphia, PA):

June 28

Dr Sir,

On Saturday evening I called twice to see you in relation to your note of the 26th, but had not the pleasure of finding you at home.

You may have heard that I have declined a farther connexion with the Gentleman’s Magazine, and propose to establish one of my own. By the Prospectus you will see that the first number will not be issued until the first of January; th[is] delay being rendered necessary by my want of capital. It is, therefore, at present, altogether out of my power to suggest any employment of the nature you designate.

Desperate as my chances of success may appear, where so many have failed with every advantage of money, and monied interest — still I feel a perfect certainty of accomplishing the task I have deliberately undertaken. I am proposing to myself, however, to form a connexion, as soon as possible, with some gentleman of literary attainments, who could at the same time advance as much ready money as will be requisite for the first steps of the undertaking — to defray, for instance, the expenses of visiting the chief northern cities, of printing and distributing circulars, of advertising &c &c — items which, altogether, would demand scarcely $500. Upon receipt of your note the idea suggested itself that you might feel willing to join me in [page 233:] the enterprise, and, if so, there is nothing would give me greater pleasure. Will you let me hear from you upon this topic — if possible this afternoon?

Very Respy

Yr Ob St

Edgar A Poe

C. W. Thompson [sic] Esqr

Notes: Charles West Thomson (1798-1879) contributed poems to the American Museum, Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, Graham’s Magazine, and the SLM, and to such literary annuals as The Atlantic Souvenir, The Token, and The Gift. With Wm. E. Burton, he issued the Literary Souvenir for 1838 and 1839. The son of Quakers, Thomson became an Episcopal minister in York, PA. At the time of Poe’s letter, Thomson was a clerk in the Bank of the United States in Philadelphia (see Heartman & Canny, 1943, p. 39). Poe’s “A Chapter on Autography” (Graham’s, December 1841, 14:279) included Thomson, noting his poems as “characterised by tenderness and grace” (see H [Works], 15:226). Concerning Poe’s leaving Burton’s, see LTR-93 and notes. Poe misspelled his correspondent’s name as Thompson, which may have been a fairly common error. Three of his contributions to Graham’s in the first half of 1841 all carry his name correctly as “Thomson” in the respective bylines, but are credited in the index to the volume as “Thompson.”

The word “connexion” occurs often in Poe’s works; all told, out of one hundred and twenty instances of both spellings, it is used in ten letters and, over all, there are about twenty instances spelled thus. Etymologically it is the original (from “nexus”; see the OED, which gives both spellings), and is preferred in the 1926 Fowler’s, for example, but the 1996 edition concedes priority to “connection.” Poe had his dual option, however, and we must note simply his shifting irregularly from one to another, as he does in these letters — final comment being offered here, not for individual instances.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.), formerly in the collection of William H. Koester, and now in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The letter is written on the second blank page of the June 1840 prospectus of the Penn. The MS is somewhat worn in the folds. The letter is addressed on the verso of a separate leaf to “C. W. Thompson [sic] Esqr / Bank of the U. S. / Phila” and is postmarked June 29. In the MS, Poe first wrote “expences” in the middle of the third [page 234:] paragraph, then corrected the “c” to an “s” with the stroke of a pen. Poe is answering Thomson’s note of June 26, 1840 (CL-241), which is unlocated. No reply to the present letter is known.

Letter 96a — 1840, July 4 [CL-242a] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to A. S. Cummings (Gettysburg, PA):

Philadelphia

July 4, 1840

Sir,

Your letter of June the ninth, postmarked June the twenty-second, reached me only this morning, on account of my temporary absence from Philadelphia. I now hasten to acknowledge my high sense of the honor conferred upon me by the Philomathaean [sic] Society of which you are Secretary.

Your personal influence with the institution in behalf of the “Penn Magazine” (of which I forward a Prospectus) I would esteem a very great favor — as the patronage of such bodies is always of the highest importance in all enterprises of the kind.

Very respy

Yr Ob. St

Edgar A. Poe

A. S. Cummings Esqr

Corr. Sec. Philom. Soc.

Notes: As noted, A. S. Cummings was the Corresponding Secretary of the Philomathean Society, which appears on Poe’s address list as: “Philomathaean [sic] Soc. Pennsylvania Col. Gettysburg, Pa. (See let.[)]” (Such Friends, no. 211, p. 17). See also a possible Poe review, quoted in the note to LTR-120, where the writer mocks the reading of “poems to order before Philomathoean [sic] societies.” Several other letters from the archives of the society survive, including ones from Washington Irving (April 21, 1839), Horace Greeley (undated), and George R. Perkins (January 25, 1850). All of these letters thank the society for making the correspondents honorary members, almost certainly the same honor to which Poe refers. The prospectus itself no longer accompanies the letter, [page 235:] but just visible on the reverse side of the letter, at the top of the page, one can see a faint transfer image of “PROSPECTUS OF THE PENN MAGAZINE.” This bold heading distinguishes the particular version of the prospectus, making it identical to the one that Poe sent to Charles West Thomson on June 28, 1840 (LTR-96), reproduced by Moldenhauer (Descriptive Catalog, p. 46) and Blanck (BAL, 7:116-117, entry 16134A). Poe also sent a copy of the same prospectus to J. E. Snodgrass (June 17, 1840, LTR-95) and a variety of newspapers. A slightly revised version of the prospectus, with a noticeably different heading, was mailed to William Poe (August 14, 1840, LTR-97), Washington Poe (August 15, 1840, LTR-98), Joseph B. Boyd (August 20, 1840, LTR-100), and Thomas Holley Chivers (ca. August 20, 1840, CL-249). Poe’s comment about having been away from Philadelphia, very similar to the opening line of LTR-97, is probably just a convenient excuse for his delay in replying.

Philomathean is the proper spelling of both the Gettysburg and New York City societies of that name, although derived incorrectly from the Greek word “philomatheia,”meaning the love of learning or knowledge. Beginning early and continuing throughout the nineteenth century, both nominal and adjectival forms were used (“philomathy,” “philomatic,” and “philomath”).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the collection of Susan Jaffe Tane. Although it is pasted to another piece of paper, it is clear that there is no address or postmark on the reverse side of the page. Instead, it appears that the letter was folded inside the prospectus noted in the text, and that the address was written on the back of the prospectus.

Letter 97 — 1840, August 14 [CL-245] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to William Poe (Augusta, GA):

Philadelphia, Aug. 15 [14] — 40.

Dear William,

Owing to a temporary absence from town I did not receive your welcome letter of the 28th July until this morning. [I n]ow hasten to reply; and in the first place let me assur[e y]ou that, if I have not lately written, it is rather because I have been overwhelmed by worldly cares, which left me scarce a moment for thought, than that I do not [page 236:] feel for you the kindest affection, as well as deep gratitude for the services yourself and brothers have so often rendered me.

Herewith I send you a Prospectus of my contemplated Magazine. I believe you know that my connexion with the Southern Messenger was merely that of editor. I had no proprietary interest in it, and my movements were therefore much impeded[.] The situation was disagree[a]ble to me in every respect. The drudgery was excessive; the salary was contemptible. In fact I soon found that whatever reputation I might personally gain, this reputation would be all. I stood no chance of bettering my pecuniary condition, while my best energies were wasted in the service of an illiterate and vulgar, although well-meaning man, who had neither the capacity to appreciate my labors, nor the will to reward them. For these reasons I left him, and entered, first, into an engagement with The New-York Review, and afterwards with The Gentleman’s Mag[a]zine, writing occasionally for [different] journals; my object be[in]g merely to keep my head a[bove] water, as regards money, until a good opportunity sh[ould appear] of establishing a Magazine of my own, in which I sho[uld be] able to carry out my plans to full completion, and c[ould in] time have the satisfaction of feeling that my exertions [be used] to my own advantage.

I believe that the plans I here speak of, and some of [which you] will find detailed in the Prospectus, are well devised [and sug]gested, and will meet with the hearty support of the m[ost hono]rable and intelligent portion of the community. Should [I be] able to bring them fairly be[f]ore the public I feel assured [that my] fortune is made. The ambition which actuates me [is] now to be no ordinary nor unworthy sentiment, and, knowing this, I take pride in earnestly soliciting your support, and that of your brothers and friends. If I fully succeed in my purposes I will not fail to produce some lasting effect upon the growing literature of the country, while I establish for myself individually a name which that country “will not willingly let die.”

It is upon the South that I chiefly rely for aid in the undertaking, and I have every hope that it will not fail me [page 2] in my need. Yet the difficulties which I have to overcome are great, and I acknowledge to you that my prospects depend very much upon getting together a [page 237:] subscription list previously to the 1rst of December. If, by this day, I can obtain 500 names, the w[or]k cannot fail to proceed, and I have no fear for the [resu]lt.

The friendship you have always evinced, the near relationship which exists between us, and the kind offer in your last letter, all warrant me in hoping that you will exert your whole influence for me in Augusta. Will you oblige me by acting as my agent for the Penn Magazine in your city, this letter being your authority? If I am not mistaken you already act in that capacity for the Messenger.

I will write a few lines also by this mail to your brother Robert, with a Prospectus as you suggest — and also to Washington at Macon.

Mrs Clemm, my aunt, is still living with me, but for the last six weeks has been on a visit to a friend in the State of N. Jersey. She is quite well, having entirely recovered her health. Respecting the letter from Mr Bayard I am quite at a loss to understand it. It is, however, possible that the letter was written by Mr B. at a period when we were all in much difficulty in New-York & that Mrs C. concealed the circumstance from me through delicacy.

Yours truly

E A P.

Notes: See LTR-96a for a similar excuse for Poe’s delay in replying. Contrast his comments about salary and drudgery in the present letter with LTR-54. For White’s incapacity to appreciate Poe’s labors, see White to Tucker, April 26, 1837: “If he [Paulding] would have been proud of praise from Poe, it would have been because he really admired the fellow’s talents. — Like myself he was completely gulled” (Jackson, Poe and the SLM, pp. 114-115, excerpted in The Poe Log, p. 244). By describing his association with the New York Review as an “engagement,” Poe is intentionally inflating the nature and significance of his connection to that scholarly journal, undoubtedly hoping to impress his wealthy relative. Caleb S. Henry, editor of the New York Review from March 1837 (the year it was founded) to some time in 1838, wrote to the Reverend John H. Hopkins, who sent the letter to J. H. Ingram: “Poe was never engaged as a writer on the New York Review. He contributed of his own accord ... a review of Stephen’s Incidents of Travel in Egypt, etc ... in [page 238:] the 2d number ... Oct. 1837.” (Hopkins’ letter is now in the Ingram Collection, University of Virginia, under the date of March 13, 1875.) The reason Poe gives in this letter for leaving the SLM controverts the statement in the biographical account of the Philadelphia Saturday Museum (February 25 and March 4, 1843) that Rev. Francis L. Hawks “induced” him to leave Richmond to deal critical mayhem to the current “miserable literary trash” of the magazine writers (see Writings, 1:21 and 24). D. Thomas’ brief survey of the Hawks-Poe relationship in Poe in Philadelphia, p. 799, indicates Poe’s adverse view of Hawks in 1844. Poe’s letter to Robert Poe (CL-244) was probably written and sent, though its location is not known. The identity of Mr. Bayard and the significance of the reference to him are unknown. William Poe’s letter of June 16, 1843 (CL-439) is the only other item in this correspondence known to be extant. It indicates, however, that Poe wrote to William before May 15, 1843 (CL-434). William answered it on May 15 (CL-435), and again on June 16 (CL-439). There is sometimes cited a letter from William, dated December 15, 1843; but as the script of the June letter could be read “Decem,” the letters are probably the same. William Poe entered Such Friends as no. 56 (p. 34), with brothers, Washington Poe, as no. 57 (pp. 33-34), and Robert, as no. 55 (p. 33). For more on these Poe relatives see LTR-98 and LTR-69, and notes. For other instances of Milton’s phrase “will not willingly let die,” from The Reason of Church Government of 1641, see “Marginalia” M-197 (Writings, 2:325-327); and his entry on Mrs. Osgood from “Literati” (H [Works], 15:96).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.) in the Huntington Library. The envelope is addressed to Mr. William Poe, Augusta, GA. Though the letter is dated August 15, the postal cancellation is August 14; the address occupies the center portion of page 2 of the letter. (The letter was possibly written on page 3 of a June prospectus of the Penn, or, more likely, the revision, and the address on page 4. The prospectus no longer accompanies the letter.) The MS is worn at the folds and torn at the right edge so that one last word or two for eleven lines are wanting; in several places ink has faded. A notarized copy of this letter, made July 16, 1903 and authenticated by William T. Poe, grandson of William Poe, is now in the Virginia State Library. This copy, like the others by the same notary public, is not wholly accurate, but it does permit restoration of certain portions missing in the MS, given in brackets. The location of William Poe’s original letter (CL-243) is unknown. [page 239:]

Letter 98 — 1840, August 15 [CL-246] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Washington Poe (Macon, GA):

Philadelphia August 15th

My Dear Sir,

On the other leaf of this sheet you will find the Prospectus of a Magazine which I am about attempting to establish, and of which the first number will be issued on the first of January next[.] When I was editor of the Southern Messenger you were so kind as to use your influence in behalf of that Journal, although I had myself no proprietary right in it and derived only a collateral benefit from your exertions. May I ask you to assist me in the present instance? Your brothers in Augusta have kindly offered me every aid in their power, and I have reason to hope that you will also feel inclined to do so for the sake of the relationship which exists between us, and for the honor of our family name. Upon looking over my Prospectus I trust you will find my purposes, as expressed in it, of a character worthy your support. I am actuated by an ambition which I believe to be an honourable one — the ambition of serving the great cause of truth, while endeavouring to forward the literature of the country. You are aware that hitherto my circumstances, as regards pecuniary matters, have been bad. In fact, my path in life has been beset with difficulties from which I hope to emerge by this effort. So far, my exertions have served only to enhance my literary reputation in some degree and to benefit others so far as money was concerned. If I succeed in the present attempt, however, fortune & fame must go hand in hand — and for these reasons I now most earnestly solicit your support. My chances of establishing the Magazine depend upon my getting a certain number of subscribers previously to the first of December. This is rendered necessary by my having no other capital to begin with than whatever reputation I may have acquired as a literary man. Had I money, I might issue the first numbers without this list; but as it is, at least 500 names will be required to enable me to commence. I have no doubt in the world that this number can be obtained among those friends who aided me in the Messenger; but still it behooves me to use [page 240:] every exertion to ensure success. I think it very probable that your influence in Macon will procure for me several subscribers, and, if so, you will render me a service for which I shall always be grateful. Remember me kindly to your family, and believe me

Yours most truly

Edgar A Poe

Notes: Washington Poe (1800-1876), of Macon, GA, was the son of William Poe (1755-1804) and the brother of William and Robert Poe. Without William’s letter of July 28, 1840 (CL-243), it is difficult to evaluate whether or not Poe is exaggerating when claiming that Washington’s “brothers in Augusta have kindly offered me every aid in their power,” although the contents of Poe’s letter in reply (LTR-97) suggest some encouragement, and William was still offering “great sincerity of feeling for you & yours” and inquiring about “your prospects in getting out the ‘Stylus’ “ as late as June 16, 1843 (CL-439). All three gentlemen are listed in Such Friends, as nos. 55-57 (pp. 33-34).

Source: facsimile of the original MS (1 p.) in Gill, facing p. 114, where it was first printed. The location of the original MS is unknown. The year date is not given by Gill. W [1909], 1:335 gives “1842.” The correct year, however, must be 1840, for Poe to William Poe, August 14, 1840 (LTR-97), says he will write to Washington Poe and send a prospectus. (Compare also the contents of both letters). No other letters are extant between Poe and Washington Poe, though Edgar wrote William Poe, April 12, 1836 (see LTR-60), that he had replied to a letter from Washington, dated probably about March 29, 1836 (CL-130).

Letter 99 — 1840, August 18 [CL-247] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Lucian Minor (Charlottesville, VA):

Philadelphia, August 18. 1840.

My Dear Sir,

I have the honor of sending you, herewith, a Prospectus of the Penn Magazine. In setting about the difficult and most ungracious task which I have proposed to myself, it is but natural that I should look [page 241:] around me anxiously for friends among the men of integrity and talent — and I now call to mind, with pride, the many instances of good will, towards myself individually, which you evinced while I edited the Southern Messenger.

I believe that the objects set forth in my Prospectus are such as you will approve; I feel that I am actuated by no ordinary nor dishonest ambition; I know that the disadvantages under which I labor are exceedingly great — and for these reasons I have no hesitation in earnestly soliciting your support — even at the risk of being considered importunate.

It is, indeed, in your power to aid me materially, and I have every hope that you will be inclined to do so. The permanent success of the Magazine depends, chiefly, upon the number of subscribers I may obtain before the first of December. If, through any influence you will be kind enough to exert in my behalf, at Charlottesville, or elsewhere, you can procure me even one or two names, you will render me a service of the greatest importance, and one for which I shall be very grateful.

I trust that you will excuse the abruptness of this letter, and attribute it rather to any cause than to a want of courtesy.

With the highest respect.

Yr. Ob. St.

Edgar A Poe

Mr Lucian Minor

<(over)>

Notes: The present letter is the last of the four known Poe letters to Lucian Minor, the other three being: October 31, 1835 (LTR-51a); February 5, 1836 (LTR-55); and March 10, 1836 (LTR-59). It is interesting that the second and third letters were written by Poe for White, publisher of the SLM, and the first one probably was too; only the present letter, therefore, was written by Poe in his own interest. The note “(over),” cancelled by Poe, possibly indicates his original intention to write more, as shown by his apology in the last sentence, although the MS has nothing written on the verso beyond the address and postmark (see Moldenhauer, Descriptive Catalog, p. 49, item 39). The identical “apology” is repeated [page 242:] in LTR-100, written to another correspondent and dated later by two days, with no further explication. It represents one of the numerous solicitations sent out by Poe during the summer (see other letters of this period).

Source: original MS (1 p.) in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The letter was first printed in full in The Letters [1948], although Ostrom presumed incorrectly that Poe must have continued the letter on the back of page 1 and that it was probably written on a revised form of the June Prospectus of the Penn. The MS is a one-page, single foolscap size sheet, and is not written on a Prospectus. On the verso is the address: “Lucian Minor, Esqr/ Charlottesville/ Va.” Minor also noted: “Edgar A. Poe/ recd Aug. 20. 1840.” The letter was addressed to Lucian Minor, Charlottesville, Virginia. No reply from Minor is known.

Letter 100 — 1840, August 20 [CL-248] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Joseph B. Boyd (Cincinnati, OH):

Philadelphia August 20. 1840.

Dear Sir,

On the other leaf of this sheet you will find a Prospectus of the Penn Magazine. In setting about the difficult and most arduous task which I have proposed, it is but natural that I should look with especial anxiety for the support of those whose friendship may do me honor, and whose influence may further the objects I have in view. I believe that the purposes set forth in this Prospectus are such as your candor will approve; I feel that I am actuated by no dishonest, and certainly by no common-place ambition; the disadvantages under which I labor are, in some respects, exceedingly great — and, for these reasons, I have no hesitation in earnestly soliciting your assistance, even at the risk of being considered importunate.

Placed as you are, it is in your power to aid me most essentially, and I have every hope that you will be inclined to do so. My success depends, mainly, upon the number of subscribers I may obtain before the first of December. If, through any influence you will be kind enough to exert in my behalf, you can procure me even one or two [page 243:] names, you will render me a service of vital importance, and one for which I shall be grateful indeed.

I trust you will pardon whatever of abruptness may appear in this letter, and attribute it to any cause rather than to a want of respect.

Yrobst.

Edgar A Poe

Joseph B. Boyd Esqr

Notes: Quinn, p. 308, n. 2, says that the only Joseph B. Boyd of Cincinnati in 1840 “... is a watch maker, an unlikely person for Poe to ask for help.” Poe’s earlier correspondence with Boyd (see LTR-89) seems sufficient evidence for Poe’s solicitation of aid in acquiring subscribers to the Penn from one who had asked a favor of Poe; as being a “watch maker,” perhaps with useful connections to a wealthy clientele, Boyd might secure the “one or two names” Poe desired. He seems also to have been a friend of L. J. Cist (see LTR-105). As one might reasonably anticipate from this highly deferential letter, Boyd’s name appears in Such Friends as no. 49 (pp. 12 and 20).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The postal cancellation is dated September 3 at Philadelphia; the letter directed to Joseph B. Boyd, Esqr., Cincinnati, Ohio. As noted by Quinn, the letter is written on a revised form of the June prospectus of the Penn: page 1 has the prospectus, page 2 is blank, page 3 has the letter, and page 4, the address. There is no known answer to Poe’s letter.

Letter 101 — 1840, September 16 [CL-253] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to John Tomlin (Jackson, TN):

Philadelphia Sep. 16. 1840.

Dear Sir,

Your kind letter, with the names of nine subscribers to the Penn Magazine, has only this moment reached me, as I have been out of town for the last week. I hope you will think me sincere when I say that I am truly grateful for the interest you have taken in my welfare. [page 244:] A few more such friends as yourself and I shall have no reason to doubt of success.

What you say about “The Devil’s Visit to St Dunstan” gives me great pleasure. I was thinking in what manner I should ask of you some such favor as you propose in sending me this “true history[“] — but was afraid of making too many demands at once upon your good nature. Your offer, therefore, is most à propos. I shall look anxiously for the tale, and will assuredly be proud to give it a conspicuous place in the opening number of the Magazine.

With high respect, I am,

YrObSt

Edgar A Poe

Jno Tomlin Esqr

Notes: John Tomlin (1806-1850) was postmaster of Jackson, TN. An occasional contributor to various literary magazines himself, Tomlin was an admirer of Poe. His first known letter to Poe is dated October 16, 1839 (CL-210) — his last, February 23, 1844 (CL-467). When the Penn was postponed, Tomlin wrote (April 30, 1841, CL-279) asking Poe if “The Devil’s Visit” might be published in Graham’s. Although a few contributions from Tomlin do appear in Graham’s in 1841, this tale is not among them. Saint Dunstan was the archbishop of Canterbury 961-980, and is the patron saint of goldsmiths. His encounter with the Devil was a famous English folktale in which Dunstan, engaged in his original trade as a blacksmith, was visited by the Devil. Hoping to tempt him into sin, the Devil was disguised as a beautiful woman, but Dunstan saw the cloven hooves beneath the dress and grabbed the Devil’s nose with red hot pincers. Not so easily discouraged, the Devil returned, this time disguised as a traveller in need of a horseshoe, but again Dunstan saw through the ruse and beat him so thoroughly that the Devil promised never to enter a house with a horseshoe over the door.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Huntington Library. It is written on an August 1840 version of the Prospectus of the Penn (BAL 7:117, item 16134B), with the word “(over)” written at the bottom. The letter is on page 3 of the prospectus, the address on page 4. The address reads: “John Tomlin Esqr / Jackson / Tennessee” and is marked “Single — Paid.” The letter carries a Philadelphia postmark, dated September 17. Poe is replying to Tomlin’s letter, dated before September [page 245:] 16 (CL-252), which was itself possibly an answer to one from Poe, dated ca. August- September (CL-251), soliciting subscriptions for the Penn.

Letter 102 — 1840, October 10 [CL-256] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Pliny Earle (Frankford, PA):

Philadelphia, October 10th 1840.

Dear Sir,

Your kind letter, dated the 2d inst, was postmarked the 8th, and I have only this morning received it. I hasten to thank you for the interest you have taken in my contemplated Magazine, and for the beautiful lines “By an Octogenarian”. They shall certainly appear in the first number. You must allow me to consider such offerings, however, as any thing but “unsubstantial encouragement”. Believe me that good poetry is far rarer, and therefore far more acceptable to the publisher of a journal, than even that rara avis money itself.

Should you be able to aid my cause in Frankford by a good word with your neighbours, I hope that you will be inclined to do so. Much depends upon the list I may have before the first of December. I send you a Prospectus — believing that the objects set forth in it are, upon the whole, such as your candor will approve.

Very truly & respectfully.

Yr Ob. St.

Edgar A Poe

Dr Pliny Earle

Notes: Dr. Pliny Earle (1809-1892), physician and psychiatrist, became superintendent of the Friends’ Hospital for the Insane, Frankford, PA, in 1840. He published a number of works on hospitals for the insane and some poetry (DAB, 5:595-596). Poe’s Penn Magazine, enthusiastically promoted for January 1841, never appeared. Poe published a review of Earle’s Marathon and Other Poems (Philadelphia: H. Perkins, 1841) and seems to have planned a notice on Earle’s A Visit to Thirteen Asylums for the Insane In Europe (Philadelphia: Dobson, 1841). Earle was perhaps only slightly linked to Poe’s tale “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether” of April 1844 (TOM [T&S], 3:1001). See LTR-322 for [page 246:] a brief but favorable comment about Dr. Earle’s poetry; and also D. Thomas, Poe in Philadelphia, pp. 224-225 and 752-754.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.), formerly in the collection of William H. Koester, and now in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The address, written on the back of the page, is directed to “Dr Pliny Earle, / Frankford, / Pa.” and in lower left corner appears “Friends’ Asylum”; it is postmarked Philadelphia, October 12. It is endorsed, probably by Earle, as “Edgar A Poe 10 mo 1840,” along with a list of names, written in pencil. Poe is replying to Earle’s letter of October 2, 1840 (CL-255).

Letter 103 — 1840, November 6 [CL-257] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Richard H. Stoddard (New York, NY):

Philadelphia

November 6. 1840.

Dear Sir,

Having been absent from town for the last few days I have only this moment received your letter of the 10th ult, and now hasten to comply with the very flattering request it contains, by transcribing a Sonnet of my own composition.

To Zante.

Fair isle, that from the fairest of all flowers

Thy gentlest of all gentle names dost take,

How many mem’ries of what radiant hours

At sight of thee and thine at once awake!

How many scenes of what departed bliss!

How many thoughts of what entombéd hopes!

How many visions of a maiden that is

No more — no more upon thy verdant slopes!

No more! alas, that magical sad sound

Transforming all! Thy charms shall please no more —

Thy memory no more! Accursed ground

Henceforth I hold thy flower-enamelled shore, [page 247:]

O, hyacinthine isle! O, purple Zante!

Isola d’oro! Fior di Levante!

EAP.

Notes: Richard Henry Stoddard (1825-1903) was born in Hingham, MA, and became a minor literary figure and editor in New York. His Recollections (1903) are not very flattering to Poe, and his ostensibly objective articles on Poe reveal a lingering sense of bitterness towards his subject and are not always reliable. Of some interest may be Stoddard’s comment to Mrs. Whitman after reading two or three of Poe’s letters to her: “the letters are curious, very curious indeed. The fact is that the more I read about Poe the less I understand him. I am too commonplace a person to understand unusual developments of genius” (quoted in Mrs. Whitman’s letter to J. H. Ingram, February 16, 1874, printed in Miller, Poe’s Helen Remembers, p. 27). For circumstances of the request by Stoddard, and his hostile “relations” with Poe, see Writings, 4:152-153; DP, 200-205; and Pollin, “Stoddard’s Elegiac Sonnet on Poe,” PS, 18:29-32. Poe essentially copied the poem from the SLM, January 1837 (3:32), but the present version differs in punctuation from other printed versions of the poem, fully documented in TOM [Poems], 1:311-312, which took this letter into account. Though Stoddard edited The Works of EAP in 1884, he did not print the above Poe letter, nor the sonnet. For more data on Poe’s life relating to this poem see Pollin, “Poe’s ‘Sonnet to Zante’: Sources and Associations,” Comparative Literature Studies, 5:303-315; and TOM [Poems], 1:310-311.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.), formerly in the collection of H. Bradley Martin, and now in the collection of Mrs. Susan J. Tane. No envelope accompanies the MS. Stoddard’s own statement (Recollections Personal and Literary, p. 213) that Griswold gave him the MS of the sonnet as a souvenir of Poe’s autograph, is discredited by the MS itself. According to Whitty, the MS letter was sold by E. C. Stedman, executor of Mr. Stoddard’s estate. The Anderson catalog of November 11, 1924 says: “A note at foot of the mount states that ‘This letter was addressed to Richard H. Stoddard, and by him given to his nurse Pedro N. Piedro a short time before his death.’.” In his only known letter to Stoddard, Poe is answering a letter of October 10, 1840 (CL-256a), which is unlocated but obviously asked for a sample of his handwriting. Stoddard apparently wrote Poe a second time in 1845 (CL-542). [page 248:]

Letter 104 — 1840, November 23 [CL-260] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Frederick W. Thomas (St. Louis, MO):

Philadelphia, Novem. 23. 1840.

My Dear Thomas,

I only received yours of the 6th about an hour ago, having been out of town for the last ten days. Believe me, I was very glad to hear from you — for in truth I had given you up. I did not get the “Bulletin” you sent, but saw the notice at the Exchange. The “Bulletin” has always been very kind to me, and I am at a loss to know who edits it — will you let me into this secret when you write again? Neither did “Howard Pinkney” [sic] come to hand. Upon receipt of your letter, just now, I called at Congress Hall — but no books. Mr Bateman had been there, and gone, forgetting to leave them. I shall get them upon his return. Meantime, and long ago, I have read the novel, with its predecessors. I like H. P. very well — better than E & W. & not nearly so well as C. B. You give yourself up to your own nature (which is a noble one, upon my soul) in Clinton Bradshaw; but in Howard Pinkney [sic] you abandon the broad rough road for the dainty by-paths of authorism. In the former you are interested in what you write & write to please, pleasantly; in the latter, having gained a name, you write to maintain it, and [the] effort becomes apparent. This consciousness of reputation leads you so freq[uently] into those literary and other disquisitions about which we quarrelld [sic] at Studevant’s [sic]. If you would send the public opinion to the devil, forgetting that a public existed, and writing from the natural promptings of your own spirit, you would do wonders. In a word, abandon is wanting in “Howard Pinkney”[sic] — and when I say this you must know that I mean a high compliment — for they to whom this very abandon may be safely suggested are very few indeed, and belong to the loftier class of writers.

I would say more of “Howard Pinkney” [sic]; but nothing in the shape of criticism can be well said in petto, and I intend to speak fully of the novel in the first number of the Penn Magazine — which I am happy to say will appear in January. I may just observe now, however, that I pitied you when I saw the blunders, typographical, and [page 249:] Frostigraphical — although, to do Frost justice, I do not think he looked at the proofs at all.

Thank you a thousand times for your good wishes & kind offers. I shall wait anxiously for the promised article. I should like to have it, if possible, in the first sheet, which goes to press early in December. But I know that I may depend upon you, and therefore say no more upon this head. For the rest, your own experience and friendship will suggest the modes by which you may serve me in St Louis. Perhaps you may be able to have the accompanying Prospectus (which you will see differs from the first) inserted once or twice in some of the city papers — if you can accomplish this without trouble I shall be greatly obliged to you.

Have you heard that that illustrious graduate of St John’s College, Cambridge, (Billy Barlow,) has sold his Magazine to Graham, of the “Casket”?

Mrs Clemm and Virginia unite with me in the kindest remembrances to yourself and sister — with whom your conversation (always turning upon the “one-loved name”) has already made us all so well acquainted.

How long will it be before I see you again? Write immediately.

Yours most truly — E A P

Notes: Frederick William Thomas (1806-1866) proved a real friend to Poe, whose letters to Thomas ring true, revealing a warmth and sincerity often lacking in those to other correspondents (see APXA-Thomas). According to Thomas (CL-262), the “leading editor” of the St. Louis Bulletin was a man named Churchill. In “A Chapter on Autography,” however, Poe identifies the editor as George G. Foster (Graham’s, December 1841). Thomas’ Clinton Bradshaw (Philadelphia: Carey, Lea, & Blanchard, 1835) was reviewed, not too favorably, by Poe in the SLM (December 1835, 2:68; see Writings, 5:74); East and West (Philadelphia: Carey, Lea, & Blanchard, 1836) and Howard Pinckney (Philadelphia: Lea & Blanchard, 1840) are also referred to in Poe’s “Autography” (Graham’s, December 1841). Replying to Poe’s letter, Thomas writes: “I regret you do not like H. P. [Howard Pinckney] as much as C B [Clinton Bradshaw], but I am not certain that I do myself — our first book like our [page 250:] first love ever has the warmest place in our affections” (Thomas to Poe, December 7, 1840). For John Sturdivant’s Congress Hotel, a well-known meeting place in Philadelphia, see The Poe Log, pp. 295, 303-311, and 380-381. Thomas sent Poe MS-extracts from his long poem, “The Adventures of a Poet,” for use in the Penn (see Thomas’ autobiography, cited above, and his letter of December 7, 1840, noted above, as well as “terms” from an agent in St. Louis, who would handle the Penn.) Silverman (p. 158) notes “Billy Barlow” as the stage name of a low comedian who committed suicide; in the present letter, it is an obvious reference to William E. Burton, who was born and raised in England. (For more information on Burton, see the notes to LTR-93.) Graham bought Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine in November 1840, merged it with the Casket (which he had recently purchased from Samuel Atkinson), and called the combination Graham’s Magazine (see American Magazines, 1:545). The new magazine began the year with a total of some 3,500 subscribers from Burton’s and some 1,500 from the Casket (see Quinn, p. 309). See LTR-88, and the note, for material on John Frost; also The Poe Log, p. xxv. Needless to say, Frost’s name is used for Poe’s playful coinage, a habit discussed in the ninth paragraph of the introduction to PCW. Thomas’ sister was Frances Ann Thomas (see LTR-124 and LTR-131). Poe entered F. W. Thomas into Such Friends, as no. 47 (p. 36).

Poe’s use of “in petto” suggests a mistaken understanding of Italian, of which he had a shaky grasp (see Writings, 2:155-156 note h). The French word “petit” means little or small, whereas the Italian means “in the chest or breast,” therefore, “in secret.” The only remark on this error from American critics seems to be in Silverman’s biography of Poe (p. 120). There are eight or nine instances of this misinterpreted phrase in Poe’s varied works. Curious is Poe’s repeated misspelling of the title of his friend’s novel Howard Pinckney as “Pinkney.”

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.), formerly in the collection of William H. Koester, and now in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The address, on the back of the page, is directed to “F. W. Thomas Esqr / St Louis / Mo” and is postmarked from Philadelphia, November 23. This is Poe’s first certain letter to Thomas, and is an answer to Thomas’ letter of November 6, 1840 (CL-258), which is unlocated. Phillips, 1:438, implies a much earlier set of letters, dating back to 1836. Given Poe’s friendly and familiar tone, it seems highly probable that the present letter represents some continuation of a communication already established. [page 251:]

Letter 105 — 1840, December 30 [CL-263] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Lewis J. Cist (Cincinnati, OH):

Philadelphia, Dec. 30. 1840.

My Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 7th found me labouring under a severe illness, which has confined me to bed for the last month, and from which I am now only slowly recovering.

The worst result of this illness is that I am forced to postpone the issue of the first number of the Mag. until the first of March next, when it will certainly appear, and I trust under the best auspices.

“Bachelor Philosophy”, I am sorry to say, cannot appear until the second number, as at the time of its reception, all the poetry for the first number was already in type.

Would you be kind enough to mention the delay in the issue to your friend Mr Boyd, and if possible to procure me the insertion of this announcement in some one of your city papers.

“THE PENN MAGAZINE” Owing to the severe and continued illness of Mr Poe the issue of the first number of this journal is postponed until the first of March next.

I am very truly & respectfully

Yr. ob. St

Edgar A Poe

L. J. Cist Esqr

Notes: Lewis Jacob Cist (1818-1885) was an editor, publisher, and minor poet. Later, he owned one of the largest autograph collections in the country (see Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1:617). Cist and Joseph B. Boyd, both of Cincinnati, were interested in Poe’s proposed Penn Magazine. Concerning Cist, see LTR-125 and note; concerning Boyd, see LTR-100 and note. Although Poe steadfastly refused to accept repeated defeats and failures along the way, the Penn Magazine was never published. For Poe’s association with Cist, see Pollin, “The Living Writers of America,” SAR 1991, pp. 195, n. 118. See also LTR-169a. Curiously, Poe’s claim of illness, if genuine, is not mentioned in his letter [page 252:] of one day later to J. P. Kennedy (LTR-106), though it is repeated in his letter of January 6, 1841 (LTR-106a) to N. Biddle, and January 17, 1841 (LTR-107) to J. E. Snodgrass. Poe may be merely inventing a convenient excuse for delaying the appearance of the magazine without admitting the more serious troubles which would ultimately mean that the venture never proceeded beyond the planning stage.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.), formerly in the collection of H. Bradley Martin, but currently unlocated. Cist’s letter of December 7, 1840 (CL-261), is also unlocated.

Letter 106 — 1840, December 31 [CL-264] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to John P. Kennedy (Baltimore, MD):

Philadelphia, Dec. 31. 1840

My Dear Sir,

I am about to commence, in this city, a Monthly Magazine somewhat on the plan of the “Southern Messenger”, and of which you may have seen a Prospectus in some of the Baltimore papers. The leading feature proposed is that of an absolutely independent criticism. Since you gave me my first start in the literary world, and since indeed I seriously say that without the timely kindness you once evinced towards me, I should not at this moment be among the living — you will not feel surprise that I look anxiously to you for encouragement in this new enterprise — the first of any importance which I have undertaken on my own account. What I most seriously need, in the commencement, is caste for the journal — I need the countenance of those who stand well in the social not less than in the literary world. I know that you have never yet written for Magazines — and this is a main reason for my now begging you to give me something for my own. I care not what the article be, nor of what length — what I wish is the weight of your name. Any unused scrap lying by you will fully answer my purpose.

The Magazine will be issued on the first of March, and, I believe, under the best auspices. May I ask your influence among your personal friends? [page 253:]

I shall look with great anxiety for your reply to this letter. In the meantime believe me, my dear Sir,

Yours ever gratefully & respectfully.

Edgar A Poe

John P. Kennedy Esqr

Notes: Through the summer and fall of 1840 Poe had been working to launch his Penn Magazine, often writing letters on the printed prospectuses. He wrote Thomas, November 23, 1840 (LTR-104), that the first number would be published January 1, 1841; now to Kennedy, he says March 1. Although Poe constantly nourished his hope of establishing his dream magazine, it was never issued. As one might expect, Poe’s early benefactor became no. 226 in Such Friends (pp. 28-29). No answer to this letter, however, in the form of a contribution or letter, is known.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Peabody Institute Library. This is Poe’s first known letter to Kennedy since that of June 7, 1836 (LTR-68). No letters from Kennedy for the same period are known.

Letter 106a — 1841, January 6 [CL-265b] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Nicholas Biddle (Philadelphia, PA):

Philadelphia, January 6. 1841.

Mr. N. Biddle,

Dear Sir,

On account of a world of difficulties which I have had to encounter, not the least of which has been a severe illness, confining me to bed for the last six weeks, I have been forced to postpone the issue of the first number of my proposed Magazine until the first of March. At this period, however, I hope to bring it out under the best auspices.

As usual in most undertakings like my own, I have met with success in the very quarters where I least expected it, and have failed altogether where I was confident of doing well. My cousins in Augusta, who had led me to hope that they would aid me materially, have been unable to do so, and could not even obtain me a few subscribers in that place. On the other hand I have received a great [page 254:] many names from villages, in the South and West, of whose existence even I was not aware. Upon the whole I have every reason to congratulate myself upon my good fortune.

The kind manner in which you received me when I called upon you at Andalusia — upon so very equivocal an errand — has emboldened me to ask of you a still greater favor than the one you then granted; but I frankly confess that my hope of obtaining it is but faint. I have no earthly claim upon your attention; and am not sure that either the struggles I am making for independence, or the obstacles in my path, or any thing I have yet accomplished in the world of literature, have excited the slightest interest in your bosom. Still, you may possibly be disposed to grant my request; and therefore I cannot feel that I have done all in my power until I make it.

The favor I would ask is that you would lend me the influence of your name in a brief article for my opening number.

I need not suggest to you, as a man of the world, the great benefit I would derive from your obliging me in this matter. Without friends in Philadelphia, except among literary men as uninfluential as myself, I would at once be put in a good position — I mean in respect to that all important point, caste — by having it known that you were not indifferent to my success. You will not accuse me of intending the meanness of flattery to serve as a selfish purpose, when I say that your name has an almost illimitable influence in the city, and a vast influence in all quarters of the country, and that, would you allow me its use as I propose, it would be of more actual value to me in my enterprise than perhaps a thousand dollars in money — this too more especially as the favor thus granted would be one you are not in the habit of granting.

I shall look for your reply to this letter with deep anxiety, yet not altogether without hope — for I have heard and do believe that you are generous.

With high respect and very gratefully

Yr Ob. St.

Edgar A Poe. [page 255:]

Notes: Nicholas Biddle (1786-1844) was a former president of the Second Bank of the United States. In 1812-1814, he had served as editor of the Port Folio (Philadelphia), continuing the pseudonymous identity of “Oliver Oldschool,” but changing the character of the magazine in the direction of becoming a review (American Magazines, 1:223 and 239-240.) Prior to his editorship, he had contributed numerous articles on art and literature. Within a short time, he became interested in pursuing politics, leaving the reins of the Port Folio in other hands. According to his great-grandson, Mr. Charles J. Biddle, the family lived at Seventh and Spruce Streets during the winter and at the rural estate of Andalusia in the summer. Andalusia was located in Bensalem Township, Bucks County, PA, on a bank of the Delaware River, about a mile and a half northeast of the Philadelphia city line. It took its name from the province of Andalusia, Spain. The elegant Greek Revival mansion, designed by Thomas U. Walter, still stands, filled with period furniture and other treasures. It may have been during a visit with Mr. Biddle at Andalusia, probably in the fall of 1840, or before, that Poe gave him a copy of Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, for the fly-leaf carries the inscription: “For Mr. N. Biddle, with the author’s respects.” Concerning Poe’s illness, see LTR-105 and LTR-107; concerning the postponement of the Penn, see the note to LTR-106. Poe corresponded with his Southern cousins in July and August of 1840 (CL-243, CL-244, LTR-97, and LTR-98), but the form and degree of their actual support is not easily determined. Poe’s “equivocal errand” seems to have been to secure a subscription to the Penn. An original Prospectus of the Penn for January 1, 1841, on which is written “N. Biddle subscribed four years in advance” was formerly in the collection of Charles Biddle (and is now owned by a private collector in New York). The fact that Biddle paid his subscription “four years in advance” is of special interest. (See also LTR-316 and LTR-328 in answer to Patterson as well as various similar notes in Such Friends.) Although he may well have intended to use the money more appropriately, the poverty-stricken Poe probably relied in part on the advance payments for his proposed magazine as a means of living. In his bankruptcy papers, filed in 1842, Poe lists a $20 debt to Biddle (see the notes to LTR-135). For Poe’s often manifest effort in regard to “caste,” see LTR-108 and note.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.), formerly in the collection of Charles J. Biddle, but currently unlocated. The envelope is addressed: “N. Biddle, Esqr. / No. [sic] Spruce Street/ Philadelphia” and is postmarked at Philadelphia, Jan. 6. The street number is omitted. No reply to the present letter is known. [page 256:]

Letter 107 — 1841, January 17 [CL-267] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Joseph E. Snodgrass (Baltimore, MD):

Philadelphia. Jan. 17. 1841.

My Dear Sir,

Your letters are always welcome — albeit “few and far between” (what an infamous tautology is that by the bye, for visits that are few must be far between) — and your last letter was especially so. I thought you had forgotten me altogether.

You wish to know my prospects with the “Penn”. They are glorious — notwithstanding the world of difficulties under which I labored and labor. My illness (from which I have now entirely recovered) has been, for various reasons, a benefit to my scheme, rather than a disadvantage; and, upon the whole, if I do not eminently succeed in this enterprise the fault will be altogether mine own. Still, I am using every exertion to ensure success, and, among other manœuvres, I have cut down the bridges behind me. I must now do or die — I mean in a literary sense.

Thank you for your offer of aid. I shall be delighted to receive any prose article from your [p]en. As for poetry I am overs[tock]ed with it. I am particu[l]arly anxious for a paper on the International Copy-Right [l]aw, [or] on the subject of the Laws of Libel in regard to Literary Criticism; but I believe these topics are not “in your line”. Your friend, David Hoffman Esqr, has been so kind as to promise me his aid; and perhaps he would not be unwilling to send me something on one or the other of the heads in question. Will you oblige me by speaking to him upon this subject? Above all things it is necessary that whatever be done “if done, be done quickly”; for I am about to put the first sheet to press immediately, and the others will follow in rapid succession.

In regard to my plans &c the Prospectus will inform you in some measure. I am resolved upon a good outward appearance — clear type, fine paper &c — double columns, I think, & brevier, with the poetry running across the page in a single column. No steel engravings; but [page 257:] now & then a superior wood-cut in illustration of the text. Thick covers. In the literary way, I shall endeavour, gradually, (if I cannot effect the purpose at once) to give the Magazine [page 2] a reputation for the having no articles but from the best pens — a somewhat negative merit, you will say. In criticism I will be bold & sternly, absolutely just, with friend & foe. From this purpose nothing shall turn me. I shall aim at originality in the body of the work, more than at any other especial quality. I have one or two articles of my own in statu pupillari that would make you stare, at least, on account of the utter oddity of their conception. To carry out the conception is a difficulty which — may be overcome.

I have not seen the January Messenger; — but “Quotidiana” is a very good title[.] “Quodlibetica” is also good, and even more inclusive than the other. I am fond of such articles as these; and in good hands they may be made very interesting.

Burton that illustrious “graduate of St John’s College, Cambridge” is going to the devil with the worst grace in the world, but with a velocity truly astounding. The press here, in a body, have given him the cut direct. So be it — suum cuique. We have said q[u]ite enough about this genius.

Mr Graham is a very g[en]tlemanly personage. I will see him tomorrow, and speak to him in regard to your essay: although, to prevent detection, Burton may have destroyed it.

And now, my dear Snodgrass, will you do me a favor? I have heard some mention made of a new Magazine to be established in Baltimore by a Virginian & a practical printer. I am anxious to know all the de[t]ails of the project. Can you procure & send me (by return of mail) a Prospectus? If you cannot get one, will you write me all about it — the gentleman’s name &c &c &c ?

I have underscored the word “anxious” because I really mean what I say, and because, about a fortnight ago, I made to the Hon. N. C. Brooks A. M. a request just such as I now make to yourself. He did not reply; and I, expecting of course the treatment which one gentleman naturally expects from another, have been put to the greatest inconvenience by the daily but fruitless expectation. [page 258:]

Very truly & respectfully yours.

Edgar A Poe.

Dr J. E. Snodgrass.

Notes: The Penn did not appear as scheduled (see LTR-109 and note). David Hoffman was a partner in the Baltimore law firm of Hoffman and Dobbins (see Phillips, 1:645), and an author (see H [Works], 17:76). “Quotidiana” was an article by Snodgrass in the January 1841 SLM. George R. Graham established Graham’s Magazine by merging the Casket and Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, in November 1840 (Quinn, p. 309, see also the note to LTR-104). Regarding the essay by Snodgrass, see LTR-109 and note. The failure to hear from Nathan C. Brooks may have been due to Poe’s rupture with Burton, a friend of the former editor of the Baltimore American Museum, or to Brooks’ new duties as principal of the Baltimore city schools. Poe had been a contributor to Brooks’ Museum (see LTR-78 and the note to LTR-90).

Poe’s favorite tittle of erudition (concerning “few and far between”) is traced to Robert Blair (1699-1746), Thomas Campbell (1777-1844), and John Norris (1657-1711) in “Pinakidia” (of August 1836, see Writings, 2:31, item 38) and in “Marginalia” M-139A, Writings, 2:239 (also mentioned by T. Gibson in “Poe at West Point,” Harper’s, November 1867, 35:754). A very similar tracing by Wm. Maxwell, upon whom T. W. White counted for material, appears in the SLM of January 1837 (3:6). The reference suggests that Poe and Maxwell were relying on a common source open to both (see Jackson, Contributors and Contributions to the SLM, pp. 15 and 20; and Poe and the SLM, p. 113). Poe’s logic is faulty here since a few visits within any period of time may just as easily occur at short intervals as long ones. In appearing to quote the phrase “if done, be done quickly,” Poe is coalescing Macbeth’s “If it were done when ’tis done, then ‘twere well / It were done quickly” (I.vii.1-2).

The USA failure to sign the international copyright agreement was a great problem for American authors, one well understood and frequently publicized by Poe (in fifteen instances in his works). For his signing on October 18, 1843, as one of thirty-eight Associate Members, a published pamphlet titled An Address to the people of the United States in behalf of the American Copy-right Club (NY), see Pollin, “The Living Writers,” SAR 1991, pp. 168, 188-189, n. 78. Poe’s spelling for the word is as a doubly capitalized compound save for the first in the five instances: LTR-92a, LTR-107 (the present letter), LTR-108, LTR-143, and LTR-172. [page 259:]

By referring to “good hands,” Poe might very well have meant his own as he authored several series of articles, small or large, in various magazines. The most prominent of these series was “Marginalia,” 297 items published in four different magazines in seventeen installments over a period of five years, and also the earlier “Pinakidia” (172 items). Smaller articles of a similar purpose are “Literary Small Talk” (7 items), “Chapter of Suggestions” (11 items), and “Fifty Suggestions.” (All five of these series are collected in full, and discussed in volume II of Writings). For a development of Poe’s idea expressed in the present letter, see Poe’s own introduction to the “Marginalia,” first printed in the United States Magazine and Democratic Review (November 1844, 15:484) and repeated when the series began anew in the SLM (April 1849, 15:217; Writings, 2:107-109). Both “titles” may be Poe’s somewhat pretentious adaptation from Renaissance Latin plural nouns ending in “a,” first, for “daily written items,” and second, for “free or casual discourse.” This important coinage is discussed in Pollin, “Who Deserves Credit for Coining and Circulating ‘Marginalia,’ “ EAP Review, 1:90-91, indicating the error in ascribing its publication and use primarily to Coleridge.

Source: facsimile of the original MS (2 pp.) in Bixby, pp. 14-15. The original MS is now in the New York Public Library, Berg Collection. Bracketed portions of the text of the letter are from the transcript made by William Hand Browne for J. H. Ingram, emended from a collation made by Mr. Gordan. Additionally, the bracketed period on page 2 is apparently obscured on the MS by a small square of paper used to reinforce a weak spot. Although W [1909] prints the letter in full, with variations (1:267-271), he was using a copy as source (see his 1885 edition, p. 142, n.) which had undoubtedly been prepared by Spencer from Dr. Browne’s transcripts of the originals (see APXA-Snodgrass). A penciled note at the end of Browne’s transcript reads: “The Prospectus which follows [the one mentioned in the letter] was printed on the 3d page of this sheet. In other words, Poe took one of his prospectuses, folded it the other way, & wrote his letter.” Poe composed several letters in this way. Ingram then added the note that the prospectus was dated January 1, 1841 (University of Virginia, Ingram Collection). Actually, the letter is written on what appears to be the first leaf of the prospectus, but the two other leaves have become entirely separated and are now connected with mending tape. Snodgrass’ address is on the fourth page of the prospectus. Poe is answering a letter from Snodgrass (CL-266) which must have been written sometime before January 17, 1841. [page 260:]

Letter 108 — 1841, January 22 [CL-268] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Robert T. Conrad (Philadelphia, PA):

Philadelphia January 22. 1841.

Dear Sir,

On the other leaf of this sheet you will find a Prospectus of a new monthly journal which I am about to establish in this city, somewhat on the plan of the Richmond “Southern Literary Messenger”. In this latter I had no proprietary right; but “The Penn Magazine” will be my own. I have been led to make the attempt of establishing it through an earnest yet natural desire of rendering myself independent — I mean not so much as regards money, as in respect to my literary opinions and conduct. So far I have not only labored solely for the benefit of others (receiving for myself a miserable pittance) but have been forced to model my thoughts at the will of men whose imbecility was evident to all but themselves.

As a man of the world you will at once understand that what I most need for my work in its commencement (since I am comparatively a stranger in Philadelphia) is caste. I need the countenance of those who stand well not less in the social than in the literary world. I, certainly, have no claim whatever upon your attention, and have scarcely the honor of your personal acquaintance — but if I could obtain the influence of your name in an article (however brief) for my opening number, I feel that it would assist me beyond measure — and, without knowing definitely why, I have been induced to hope that you would not be altogether unwilling to aid me. I am the more anxious that you would do me this great favor, as there are two subjects which strike me as exceedingly proper for discussion, at this moment, in a magazine such as I propose — two subjects which could scarcely be so well treated by any one as by yourself. I mean the topics of the International Copy-Right Law, and The Laws of Libel in their relation to Literary Criticism. I am rash, however, in making any suggestions; and should be only too much delighted if you could afford me an article upon any question whatever.

The first number will be put to press on the first of February. [page 261:]

Looking anxiously for your reply,

I am, with high respect

Yr Ob. St

Edgar A Poe

Judge R. T. Conrad

Notes: Robert Taylor Conrad (1810-1858) was a prominent Philadelphian and semi-professional man of letters, writing plays and contributing regularly to the magazines of the day. He later became a judge and a mayor of Philadelphia (see American Magazines, 1:551). In 1847-1848, he assisted George Graham in editing the North American and Graham’s. Poe included him in “A Chapter on Autography” (Graham’s, December 1841; H [Works], 15:232-233) and in more expanded form in an article on Conrad in the June 1844 Graham’s (included by Spannuth and TOM in their Doings of Gotham, pp. 93-100). During the second half of 1840, Poe frequently used the blank pages of a printed prospectus for the Penn or the Stylus for correspondence. Regarding the articles desired of Conrad, see also LTR-107 in which he suggests that Snodgrass’ friend, David Hoffman, of Baltimore, might contribute articles on the same topics. In spite of Poe’s continued and ardent efforts, the Penn never became a reality. (See F. W. Thomas’ letter to Poe, March 7, 1841, CL-271: “... this past week. Dow ... told me you had given up the idea of the Penn and was [sic] engaged with Graham”; see also the note to LTR-109.)

The word “caste” has special overtones for Poe, as also in LTR-153. In the present letter, it reveals Poe’s awareness of his lack of “class distinction” as might be conferred by any special profession, property, or acknowledged hereditary or social rank. (See notes to LTR-79 for a relevant comment about inaccuracies and emphases in his particularized genealogy.) Poe seems to hope to “borrow” a potential for influence from Conrad’s prominence. See also in other instances, as in his “Literati” sketch of C. M. Kirkland (H [Works], 15:86), or in regard to Longfellow’s play (H [Works], 13:60). See also LTR-106a, LTR-148, and LTR-225 for the same use of “caste.” Customarily, Poe writes it in italics, perhaps showing his misconception that it is basically a French term, derived from Latin “castus” or “pure.” In reality this spelling may have come into English only about 1800 (hitherto commonly spelled “cast”), but it originated, apparently, from the Spanish or Portuguese “casta.” Poe normally spelled French words in italics. The French Academy, it is true, accepted the word as French in the middle of the eighteenth century. [page 262:]

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Morgan Library. The letter appears on the second leaf of the prospectus of the Penn for January 1, 1841. No reply from Conrad is known.

Letter 109 — 1841, April 1 [CL-275] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Joseph E. Snodgrass (Baltimore, MD):

Philadelphia, April 1, 1841.

My Dear Snodgrass —

I fear you have been thinking it was not my design to answer your kind letter at all. It is now April Fool’s Day, and yours is dated March 8th; but believe me, although, for good reason, I may occasionally postpone my reply to your favors, I am never in danger of forgetting them.

I am much obliged to you for permitting me to hand over your essay to Mr. Graham. It will appear in the June number. In order to understand this apparent delay, you must be informed that we go to press at a singularly early period. The May number is now within two days of being ready for delivery to the mails. I should be pleased to receive a brief notice of Soran’s poems for the June number — if you think this will not be too late.

In regard to Burton. I feel indebted to you for the kind interest you express; but scarcely know how to reply. My situation is embarrassing. It is impossible, as you say, to notice a buffoon and a felon, as one gentleman would notice another. The law, then, is my only resource. Now, if the truth of a scandal could be admitted in justification — I mean of what the law terms a scandal — I would have matters all my own way. I would institute a suit, forthwith, for his personal defamation of myself. He would be unable to prove the truth of his allegations. I could prove their falsity and their malicious intent by witnesses who, seeing me at all hours of every day, would have the best right to speak — I mean Burton’s own clerk, Morrell, and the compositors of the printing office. In fact, I could prove the scandal almost by acclamation. I should obtain damages. But, on the other hand, I have never been scrupulous in regard to what I have said of [page 263:] him. I have always told him to his face, and everybody else, that I looked upon him as a blackguard and a villain. This is notorious. He would meet me with a cross action. The truth of the allegation — which I could easily prove as he would find it difficult to prove the truth of his own respecting me — would not avail me. The law will not admit, as justification of my calling Billy Burton a scoundrel, that Billy Burton is really such. What then can I do? If I sue, he sues; you see how it is.

At the same time — as I may, after further reflection, be induced to sue, I would take it as an act of kindness — not to say justice — on your part, if you would see the gentleman of whom you spoke, and ascertain with accuracy all that may legally avail me; that is to say, what and when were the words used, and whether your friend would be willing for your sake, for my sake, and for the sake of truth, to give evidence if called upon. Will you do this for me?

So far for the matter inasmuch as it concerns Burton. I have now to thank you for your defence of myself, as stated. You are a physician, and I presume no physician can have difficulty in detecting the drunkard at a glance. You are, moreover, a literary man, well read in morals. You will never be brought to believe that I could write what I daily write, as I write it, were I as this villain would induce those who know me not, to believe. In fine, I pledge you, before God, the solemn word of a gentleman, that I am temperate even to rigor. From the hour in which I first saw this basest of calumniators to the hour in which I retired from his office in uncontrollable disgust at his chicanery, arrogance, ignorance and brutality, nothing stronger than water ever passed my lips.

It is, however, due to candor that I inform you upon what foundation he has erected his slanders. At no period of my life was I ever what men call intemperate. I never was in the habit of intoxication. I never drunk drams, &c. But, for a brief period, while I resided in Richmond, and edited the Messenger, I certainly did give way, at long intervals, to the temptation held out on all sides by the spirit of Southern conviviality. My sensitive temperament could not stand an excitement which was an everyday matter to my companions. [page 264:] In short, it sometimes happened that I was completely intoxicated. For some days after each excess I was invariably confined to bed. But it is now quite four years since I have abandoned every kind of alcoholic drink — four years, with the exception of a single deviation, which occurred shortly after my leaving Burton, and when I was induced to resort to the occasional use of cider, with the hope of relieving a nervous attack.

You will thus see, frankly stated, the whole amount of my sin. You will also see the blackness of that heart which could revive a slander of this nature. Neither can you fail to perceive how desperate the malignity of the slanderer must be — how resolute he must be to slander, and how slight the grounds upon which he would build up a defamation — since he can find nothing better with which to charge me than an accusation which can be disproved by each and every man with whom I am in the habit of daily intercourse.

I have now only to repeat to you, in general, my solemn assurance that my habits are as far removed from intemperance as the day from the night. My sole drink is water.

Will you do me the kindness to repeat this assurance to such of your friends as happen to speak of me in your hearing?

I feel that nothing more is requisite, and you will agree with me upon reflection.

Hoping soon to hear from you, I am,

Yours most cordially,

Edgar A. Poe.

Dr. J. E. Snodgrass.

P.S. — You will receive the magazine, as a matter of course. I had supposed that you were already on our free list.

P.P.S. — The Penn, I hope, is only “scotched, not killed.” It would have appeared under glorious auspices, and with capital at command, in March, as advertised, but for the unexpected bank suspensions. In the meantime, Mr. Graham has made me a liberal offer, which I had great pleasure in accepting. The Penn project will unquestionably be resumed hereafter. [page 265:]

Notes: The essay “Poetry: the uncertainty of its appreciation,” by Snodgrass, previously submitted to Burton’s for a premium, was printed in Graham’s (June 1841, 13:288-289). Unlike Burton’s, Graham’s regularly appeared almost a month in advance of date. Within the limits given, Poe’s defense of himself against accusations of drunkenness is probably based on truth. After contributing his tale “The Man of the Crowd” to the December number of Graham’s, Poe joined the editorial staff in February, in time for the April issue (see American Magazines, 1:544-546). An editorial in the Saturday Evening Post, February 20, 1841, speaks of Poe’s becoming one of the editors of Graham’s, and in the April issue of the magazine the proprietor himself mentions having made certain arrangements with Poe, “commencing with the present number” (see Quinn, p. 310). (George Rex Graham bought and merged Atkinson’s Casket with Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, see notes to LTR-104. Graham was also part owner of the Saturday Evening Post.) Poe’s salary was $800, not including payments made for contributions to “the literary contents,” namely poetry and tales (see American Magazines, 1:549). Mott also points out (1:512) that Graham paid R. W. Griswold $1,000 as editor in 1842, and he offered Bayard Taylor the editorship in 1848 at the same salary. When Poe was forced to postpone the Penn due to bank suspensions, he joined Graham’s in what he thought was a temporary arrangement, believing that Graham would eventually finance publication of the Penn (see LTR-113, LTR-114, LTR-115, LTR-116, and others). (For more on the economic recession which dimmed Poe’s prospects for launching his own magazine at this time, see Whalen, Poe and the Masses, pp. 199 and 309, n. 10.) For more on Charles Soran’s book of poetry, see LTR-120 and note. The phrase “scotched not killed” (repeated in LTR-109a) is from Macbeth. Poe used it also in “Marginalia” M-287 (see Writings, 2:413). For other Macbeth allusions, see Pollin, “Poe and Shakespeare,” SAR 1985, pp. 157-186. For Poe’s literary use of April Fool’s day see “Hans Pfaall,” in Writings, 1:467, and TOM [T&S], 2:204 and 3:1291.

Source: transcript of the letter as given in the Baltimore American, April 4, 1881, where it was first printed. The original MS is probably lost (see APXA-Snodgrass). Several papers, including the New York World and the New York Herald, copied the letter under a Baltimore release, but these printings have varied in some degree, either in changes in pointing or in omissions of text. According to editorial comment in the American, the italics are Poe’s own. Poe is replying to Snodgrass’ letter of March 8, 1841 (CL-272), which is unlocated. [page 266:]

Letter 109a — 1841, April 1 [CL-276a] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Thomas Wyatt (New Brunswick, NJ):

Philadelphia, April 1. 1841.

My Dear Mr Wyatt,

I received your letter yesterday morning — and, believe me, I was delighted to hear from you — for we could not imagine what had become of you. Upon making inquiries for you at 8th & Chesnut I was told that you were gone South, and that Mr Ackerman was somewhere in N. Jersey — but both “the South” & “N. Jersey” are terms that include a good deal of space.

I am truly sorry to hear that Mr A. has been so ill — present our best respects to him.

I called yesterday upon Duval. He says that it will be impossible to execute the alterations mentioned in Prof. Millington’s letter, without ruining the drawing — and that the cost of them, even if executed, would exceed that of a new drawing. I am convinced that what he says upon this point is nothing more than fact. In truth the drawing by Mr Pinkerton is shockingly botched and “touched up” — so that it would be useless to attempt doing anything farther with it. Mr D. refuses to put his name to it — so you may imagine how bad it is — for Mr D. has put his name to some of the most execrable things.

As the alterations cannot be made, Mr D. thinks it better not to put the writing at the foot of the stone until he hears from you again — lest you might think it advisable to have the whole done anew. Were I in your place I would refuse to pay Pinkerton for what he has so botched, and get the design executed by some competent artist, who will ask you but little more than he does.

I hope you will not forget to call upon us as you pass through Philadelphia. We are still at the old place.

We have had Rose (my sister) on to spend a week with us, since I saw you. John Mc K. came with her, and left her with us while he went to Boston. [page 267:]

My Magazine project is only deferred — “scotched not killed”. Every thing was prepared for its issue. I had made a most advantageous arrangement with Mr Pollack to enter into partnership, and attend to the business department — when just as I was putting the first sheet to press — there came like a clap of thunder, the bank suspensions. No periodical could be commenced under [page 2] such circumstances — and I therefore made up my mind to accept for the present year an engagement with Mr Graham, of Graham’s Magazine (3d & Chesnut). He gives me an excellent salary, far more than I had with Burton — and I have a good deal less to do — so that I can afford to lay on my oars for a time, as regards the “Penn Magazine” project.

Hoping to see you soon,

I am,

Yours most cordially

Edgar A. Poe

The ladies desire to be kindly remembered.

Notes: Professor Thomas Wyatt became associated with Poe when The Conchologist’s First Book was being prepared late in 1838 or early in 1839 (see The Poe Log, p. 259). James Ackerman (born about 1813) was a lithographer in Philadelphia, and colored the plates for The Conchologist’s First Book and Wyatt’s A Synopsis of Natural History, the latter book being the one discussed in the present letter. He is listed in McElroy’s Philadelphia Directory for 1840 as a “map colourer” (quoted in D. Thomas, Poe in Philadelphia, p. 702). Peter S. Duval was a Philadelphia lithographer, particularly well known for his scientific illustrations, including many for Silliman’s American Journal of Science. John Millington (1779-1868) was a scientist and teacher. D. Thomas says that he “may be tentatively identified as the ‘Professor Millington’ “ in this letter (Poe in Philadelphia, p. 851). E. J. Pinkerton was another lithographer, appearing in McElroy’s Philadelphia Directory for 1843, 1844, and 1845 (Poe in Philadelphia, p. 869). “Mr Pollack” was J. R. Pollack, a Philadelphia publisher of periodicals, who is listed in a Philadelphia directory as being at 205 Chestnut Street. In 1837, and perhaps afterwards as well, he served as a periodical agent, which would seem to make the arrangement mentioned by Poe very reasonable. “Rose” [page 268:] was Edgar’s sister, Rosalie, and “John Mc. K” was John Hamilton Mackenzie, the oldest surviving son of William Mackenzie, Rosalie’s adoptive father. For another use by Poe of “oars,” see LTR-82 and note. For more on “scotched not killed,” see the note to LTR-109.

Source: original MS (2 pp.) in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The envelope, a separate leaf, bears a postmark of the same date as the letter.

Letter 110 — 1841, May 3 [CL-281] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Henry W. Longfellow (Cambridge, MA):

Dear Sir,

Mr Geo: R. Graham, proprietor of “Graham’s Magazine”, a monthly journal published in this city, and edited by myself, desires me to beg of you the honor of your contribution to its pages. Upon the principle that we seldom obtain what we very anxiously covet, I confess that I have but little hope of inducing you to write for us; — and, to say truth, I fear that Mr Graham would have opened the negotiation much better in his own person — for I have no reason to think myself favorably known to you — but the attempt was to be made, and I make it.

I should be overjoyed if we could get from you an article each month — either poetry or prose — length and subject à discretion [sic]. In respect to terms we would gladly offer you carte blanche — and the periods of payment should also be made to suit yourself.

Should you be willing to write for the Magazine, it would be an important object with us to have something, as soon as convenient, for the July number, which commences a new volume, and with part of which we are already going to press. With this letter I forward to your address, by mail, the April and May numbers of the journal — that you may form some judgment of the character of the work. It is our design, however, greatly to improve its mechanical appearance; and, in the new volume, we shall have [page 2] an array of contributors not altogether unworthy an association with yourself. [page 269:]

In conclusion — I cannot refrain from availing myself of this, the only opportunity I may ever have, to assure the author of the “Hymn to the Night”, of the “Beleaguered City” and of the “Skeleton in Armor”, of the fervent admiration with which his genius has inspired me: — and yet I would scarcely hazard a declaration whose import might be so easily misconstrued, and which bears with it, at best, more or less, of niäiserie, were I not convinced that Professor Longfellow, writing and thinking as he does, will be at no loss to feel and to appreciate the honest sincerity of what I say.

With highest respect.

Yr Ob. St

Edgar A. Poe.

Prof. H. W. Longfellow

Philadelphia,

May 3d /41

Notes: The present letter is the first of the two that Poe wrote to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), the other being that of June 22, 1841 (LTR- 115). (See Longfellow’s letter to Griswold, September 28, 1850, in H [Works], 17:406-407, where Longfellow states that he has from Poe “... two letters ... and these are the only ones I ever received from him.”) Longfellow taught languages at Harvard, and is still remembered fondly for such poems as “Hiawatha,” “The Courtship of Miles Standish,” and “Paul Revere’s Ride.” For Poe’s favorable opinion of “Hymn to the Night” and “The Beleaguered City,” see his review of Voices of the Night in Burton’s, February 1840 (5:100). Poe spells the French word “niäiserie” (meaning trifle or silliness) incorrectly, since his inserted dieresis overlooks the need, in French, to pronounce “ai” as a single vowel, as in “paint.” Significantly, he omits the dieresis in the ten instances of use in his critical or journalistic texts (see the notes to LTR-288). The word is a favorite Poe term of scorn, here pretended self-scorn, used now to impress the learned and successful Longfellow, whom he later derided and accused of plagiarism in a series of articles in the New-York Mirror and BJ, later referred to as “The Little Longfellow War” (see Writings, 5:25-33; and Pollin, “Longfellow and Poe,” MissQ, 38:475-482). Although Poe, in his professional capacity, often had to reluctantly seek favors from prominent literary figures, without regard to their actual talents, Graham’s request, with its financial inducements, must have made Poe bristle. Longfellow’s reply to the present letter declined the offer but [page 270:] added that Poe’s name was known to him and that he thought highly of Poe’s power, especially as a “romance-writer.”

Source: original MS (2 pp.) preserved in the Longfellow House, Cambridge, MA. The letter occupies pages 1 and 2 of a folded leaf; the address, which is on page 4, reads: “Professor H. W. Longfellow,/ Cambridge,/ Mass:.” The letter bears a Philadelphia postmark of May [11], the date being indistinct. Longfellow’s reply of May 19 (CL-284) is the only known letter from Longfellow to Poe.

Letter 111 — 1841, before May 8, Spring [CL-282] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Rufus W. Griswold (Philadelphia, PA):

Dr Griswold,

Will you be kind enough to lend me the No. of the Family Magazine of which we spoke — if you have received it?

I wd be much obliged, also, if you cd let me take a peep at Stephens’ “Yucatan”, if you have it, or, if not, at any new book of interest.

Truly yours

Poe

Notes: Rufus Wilmot Griswold (1815-1857) had been a protégé of Horace Greeley. At the time of the present letter, Griswold was about to replace Poe as an editor of Graham’s Magazine, a move which would initiate much ill will between the two literary figures. (For additional information on Griswold, and his correspondence with Poe, see APXA-Griswold.) The Family Magazine (subtitled Weekly Abstract of General Knowledge) was devoted to serving its readers with “useful and entertaining knowledge.” It was a weekly founded in New York by Origen Bacheler in 1833, becoming a monthly in June 1834 and remaining so until it was suspended in May 1841 (American Magazines, 1:363-364). The journal offered a paragraph of high praise for Pym’s “rare and wonderful adventures,” in its three simultaneous or interrelated printed issues: New York, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati. For the tangle of editions plus the text of its very favorable review of Pym (in 1839; 6:152) see Pollin, “Pym and the Contemporary Reviewers” (Studies in American Fiction, 2:45-46). John L. Stephens wrote several well-received scholarly [page 271:] travel books, beginning with the title “Incidents of Travel ...”; Poe reviewed his Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petraea, and the Holy Land (1837) in the New York Review, October 1837, and his Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan (1841) in Graham’s, August 1841. Although Stephens also published Incidents of Travel in Yucatan in 1843 (see DAB, 19:579-580), the evidence so far adduced suggests the 1841 book. Poe’s look at Stephens’ popular new book for an intended review in Graham’s was to be delayed by the failure of the Harpers to send it quickly. Ultimately, he was obligated by necessity to base his comments on a “cursory perusal” of a friend’s copy, and to fill three-fourths of the critique of this “most interesting book of travel” with material from his October 1837 review (see H [Works], 10:1-25 and 10:178-181 for later use in his 1841 text). The Harpers’ apparent refusal to send a copy to an editor suggests a deeply harbored anger with Poe over his participation in the 1839 abridgement (cheaply priced by Haswell & Barrington) of Professor Wyatt’s expensive 1838 Manual of Conchology, which had been published by the Harpers. Clearly, Poe’s letter is a written continuation of a request previously made in person.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Humanities Research Center of the the University of Texas at Austin. The MS is a small piece of paper torn from a larger leaf and folded twice; on the outside appears “Rev. Rufus W. Griswold,” and inside there is neither place identification nor date. Conjectural dating of the letter is based upon the following evidence. In the spring of 1841, Poe was with Graham’s and Griswold with the Daily Standard, both in Philadelphia. The present letter indicates that Poe “spoke” with Griswold, and the MS shows that the letter was not mailed but delivered by hand. If we accept Griswold’s statement, he first met Poe in the spring of 1841 (see “Preface” to Works, 3:xviii [1850] and 1:xxi [1853]). Probably before May 8 Griswold left Philadelphia for Boston to serve on the editorial staff of George Roberts’ Times and Notion. (See the letter from George Roberts to Griswold, April 23, 1841, MS in the Boston Public Library, sent from the office of the Times and Notion, Boston, to Griswold’s office at the Standard, Philadelphia: “... I am glad that you have at length made up your mind to come with me, for I truly believe it will prove to be your own interest as well as mine ... I prefer you would commence on Saturday May 8th ...”; see also Jacob L. Neu, “Rufus Wilmot Griswold,” Studies in English, 5:113 and Bayless, p. 36.) Assuming that the dating is correct, the present letter is the earliest authentic surviving correspondence between Poe and Griswold. [page 272:]

Letter 112 — 1841, May 29 [CL-289] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Rufus W. Griswold (Boston, MA):

R. W. Griswold Esqr,

My Dear Sir,

On the other leaf I send such poems as I think my best, from which you can select any which please your fancy. I should be proud to see one or two of them in your book. The one called “Haunted Palace” is that of which I spoke in reference to Prof. Longfellow’s plagiarism. I first published the H. P. in Brooks’ “Museum”, a monthly journal of Baltimore, now dead. Afterwards, I embodied it in a tale called “The House of Usher” in Burton’s Magazine. Here it was, I suppose, that Prof. Longfellow saw it; for, about 6 weeks afterwards, there appeared in the South. Lit. Mess: a poem by him called “The Beleaguered City”, which may now be found in his volume. The identity in title is striking; for by the Haunted Palace I mean to imply a mind haunted by phantoms — a disordered brain — and by the Beleaguered City Prof. L. means just the same. But the whole tournure of the poem is based upon mine, as you will see at once. Its allegorical conduct, the style of its versification & expression — all are mine.

As I understood you to say that you meant to preface each set of poems by some biographical notice, I have ventured to send you the above memo — the particulars of which (in a case where an author is so little known as myself) might not be easily obtained elsewhere.

“The Coliseum” was the prize poem alluded to above.

With high respect and esteem,

I am yr ob. st

Edgar A Poe

Notes: Poe’s celebrated poem “The Haunted Palace” was first published in Nathan C. Brooks’ American Museum of Science, Literature and the Arts (April 1839, 2:320), and later embodied in “The Fall of the House of Usher” in Burton’s (September 1839, 5:145-152). Longfellow’s poem “The Beleaguered City” appeared in the SLM (November 1839, 5:709). Poe repeated his charge of plagiarism in regard to these two poems in an [page 273:] anonymous review of Longfellow’s poems in the Aristidean (April 1845, 1:130-142); TOM [Poems, 1:314] states only that Poe’s claim “may be dismissed.” (See also Longfellow’s letter to Griswold, September 28, 1850, H [Works], 17:406-407). The “above” refers of course to Poe’s “memo,” no longer attached to the present letter. The “memo” (reprinted in H [Works], 1:344-346) is full of inaccuracies, and serves as an interesting contrast to the information given in his accounts to George and William Poe as well as that supplied for other biographical articles. Griswold’s Poets and Poetry of America (April 18, 1842) included only three of Poe’s poems: “The Haunted Palace,” “The Coliseum,” and “The Sleeper,” all previously published. “The Coliseum” had been submitted by Poe for the prize offered by the Baltimore Saturday Visiter in 1833 at the same time he entered his Tales of the Folio Club. His story, “MS. Found in a Bottle,” won first prize for prose, and apparently the poem would have won first prize in its class except that the judges decided not to award both prizes to the same contestant. In a speech prepared for the 1875 dedication of the Poe Monument in Baltimore, Latrobe states, “I am not prepared to say that the committee may not have been biased in awarding the fifty dollar prize to Mr. Hewitt by the fact that they had already given the one hundred dollar prize to Mr. Poe. I recollect, however, that we agreed that, under the circumstances, the excellence of Mr. Hewitt’s poem deserved a reward, and we gave the smaller prize to him with clear consciences” (see Latrobe, “Reminiscences of Poe,” in S. S. Rice, Edgar Allan Poe, A Memorial Volume, p. 60).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Boston Public Library; also collated with the MS. The extra “leaf” containing Poe’s poems is lost. The letter is undated; but Griswold, presumably, docketed it “March 29 / 1841,” and inked out the month in the postmark. Biographers of Poe have accepted the March date; the correct dating, however, is May 29, 1841. Poe’s MS has been divided into two pieces, one of which is in the Boston Public Library, the other now on indefinite loan from the Griswold Collection to the Poe Foundation, Richmond. The portion in the Boston Public Library bears the Philadelphia postmark with the month and day inked out, and shows part of the address as: “R.W.Grisw[old] / Bo[ston].” The portion in the Poe Foundation, Poe’s famous “Memo” of biographical data, shows: “[R. W. Grisw]old, Esqre / [Bo]ston, / Mass,” with the text of the two fragmentary addresses lining up perfectly. Ultra-violet lamp, microscope, and opinion by a hand-writing expert established the month date as May 29. The joining of the two pieces of [page 274:] MS, which fit each other, gave the address of Griswold as Boston. A letter from George Roberts to Griswold, April 23, 1841 (MS in the Boston Public Library), urging Griswold to join the staff of the Times and Notion by May 8, if possible, confirmed the year date. Thus the two pieces of MS are fragments of the present letter. Poe is undoubtedly replying to a Griswold letter, datable before May 29, 1841 (CL-288). Although the requests for contributions and biographical data could have been made by Griswold prior to his leaving Philadelphia, support for the existence of a letter given in one from F. W. Thomas to Griswold, June 8, 1841 (see Some Passages in the Correspondence of Rufus W. Griswold, ed. W. M. Griswold, p. 66). For a fuller discussion of the present letter, see Ostrom, “Another Griswold Forgery in a Poe Letter,” MLN, pp. 394-396. A facsimile of the “memo” is given by Roberston, Bibliography, 2:284-285.

Letter 113 — 1841, June 21 [CL-293] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Washington Irving (Tarrytown, NY):

Philadelphia — June 21. 1841.

Dear Sir,

Mr George R. Graham of this city, and myself, design to establish a Monthly Magazine, upon certain conditions, one of which is the procuring your assistance in the enterprise. Will you pardon me for saying a few words upon the subject?

I need not call your attention to the signs of the times in respect to Magazine literature. You will admit the tendency of the age in this direction. The brief, the terse, the condensed, and the easily circulated will take place of the diffuse, the ponderous, and the inaccessible. Even our Reviews are found too massive for the taste of the day — I do not mean for the taste of the merely uneducated, but also for that of the few. In the meantime the finest minds of Europe are beginning to lend their spirit to Magazines. In this country, unhappily, we have not any journal of the class, which either can afford to offer pecuniary inducement to the highest talent, or which would be, in all respects, a fitting vehicle for its thoughts. In the supply of this deficiency there would be a point gained; and the project of which I speak has originated in the hope of supplying it. [page 275:]

Mr Graham is a lawyer, but for some years past has been occupied in publishing. His experience of the business of a periodical is great. He is a gentleman of high social standing, and possessed of ample pecuniary means. You will perhaps remember myself as the original editor of the South: Lit. Messenger, of Richmond, Va, and I have otherwise had much to do with the editorial conduct of Magazines. Together, we would enter the field with a full understanding of the difficulties to be encountered, and, we hope, with full ability to meet them.

The work will be an octavo of 96 pages. The paper will be of excellent quality — very far superior to that of the N. A. Review. The type will be new (always new) clear and bold, with distinct face. The matter will be disposed in a single column. The printing will be done upon a hand press, in the best manner. There will be a broad margin. We shall have no engravings, except occasional wood-cuts (by Adams) when demanded in obvious illustration of the text; and, when so required, they will be worked in with the type — not upon separate pages, as in “Arcturus.” The stitching will be done in the French style, permitting the book to be fully open. Upon the cover, and throughout, the endeavour will be to preserve the greatest [page 2] purity of taste, consistent with decision and force. The price will be $5.

The chief feature in the literary department will be that of contributions from the most distinguished pens (of America) exclusively; or, if this plan cannot be wholly carried out, we propose, at least, to procure the aid of some five or six of the most distinguished, and to admit few articles from other sources — none which are not of a very high order of merit. We shall endeavour to engage the permanent services of yourself, Mr Cooper, Mr Paulding, Mr Kennedy, Mr Longfellow, Mr Bryant, Mr Halleck, Mr Willis, and, perhaps, one or two others. In fact, as before said, our ability to make these arrangements is a condition without which the Magazine will not go into operation; and my immediate object in addressing you now, is to ascertain how far we may look to yourself for aid.

It would be desirable that you agree to furnish one paper each month — either absolute or serial — and of such length as you might [page 276:] deem proper. We leave terms entirely to your own decision. The sums specified would be paid as you might suggest. It would be necessary that an agreement should be made for one year, during which period you should be pledged not to write for any other American Magazine. The journal will be commenced on the first of January 1842, and (should we be so fortunate as to obtain your consent to our proposal) it would be best that we should have in hand, by the first of December 1841, at least two of the papers intended for publication, from each contributor.

With this letter I despatch one of similar tenor to each of the gentlemen above named. If you cannot consent to an unconditional reply, will you be kind enough to say whether you will write for us upon condition that we succeed in our engagements with the others — specifying what others?

With high respect

Yr ob St

Edgar A Poe

Washington Irving Esqr

Notes: Adams was probably the same engraver employed by the Harpers for the fifty woodcuts of the pirated edition of Robinson Crusoe, which Poe reviewed in the January 1836 SLM (2:127-128; Writings, 5:98-99, and 102-103). As noted there (and also earlier in Topic: 30, 1976, pp. 3-22, specifically p. 14), Poe’s praise of the artwork was unfounded. According to D. Thomas, “Adams” may have been “Joseph Alexander Adams, a wood engraver living in New York City” (p. 237). J. A. Adams (1803-1880) poorly copied fifty of the second-rate prints of the Englishman, William Harvey, but Poe was courting the favor of the publisher, the Harper Brothers. We might wonder about any ensuing change in the skill of Adams or about Poe’s “airy” reference to an important element in his projected ideal magazine. For Poe’s aims with their shifts in his plans and prospectuses see “Poe’s Iron Pen” in DP, especially pp. 212-229. See LTR-114 (to J. P. Kennedy), LTR-115 (to Longfellow), LTR-116 (to F. Halleck), LTR-117a (to J. F. Cooper) for items similar to the present one. Letters to Wm. C. Bryant (CL-299), J. K. Paulding (CL-301), and N. P. Willis (CL-302), also presumably written, are unlocated. Irving’s memo on the present cover is the only known indication of a reply to Poe’s letters to these correspondents. [page 277:]

Source: color photograph of the original MS (2 pp.) in the University of Virginia Library, Clifton Waller Barrett Collection. The letter is addressed to “Washington Irving Esqr / Tarrytown / N.Y.” and bears the postmark: “Philadelphia / Jun 21.” On the outside cover presumably in Irving’s hand is: “Edgar A Poe / June 21 [... illegible] / answd June 24th.”

Letter 114 — 1841, June 21 [CL-294] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to John P. Kennedy (Baltimore, MD, forwarded to Washington, DC):

Philadelphia — June 1841

My Dear Sir,

Mr George R. Graham, of this city, and myself, design to establish a Monthly Magazine upon certain conditions — one of which is the procuring your assistance in the enterprise. Will you permit me to say a few words on the subject?

I need not call your attention to the signs of the times in respect to Magazine literature. You will admit the tendency of the age in this direction. The brief, the terse, and the readily-circulated will take place of the diffuse, the ponderous, and the inaccessible. Even our Reviews (lucus a non lucendo) are found too massive for the taste of the day — I do not mean merely for the taste of the tasteless, the uneducated, but for that also, of the few. The finest minds of Europe are beginning to deal with Magazines. In this country, unhappily, we have no journal of the class, which can either afford to compensate the highest talent, or which is, in all respects, a fitting vehicle for its thoughts. In the supply of this deficiency there would be a point gained, and the project of which I speak has originated in the hope of supplying it.

Mr Graham is a lawyer, but, for some years past, has been occupied in publishing. His experience of the periodical business is extensive. He is a gentleman of high social standing, and possessed of ample pecuniary means. Together, we would enter the field with a full knowledge of the difficulties to be encountered, and with perfect assurance of being able to overcome them. [page 278:]

The work will be an octavo of 96 pages. The paper will be excellent — far superior to that of the N. A. Review. The type will be new (always new) clear and bold, with distinct face. The matter will be disposed in single column. The printing will be done upon a hand-press, in the best manner. There will be a broad margin. We shall have no engravings except occasional wood-cuts (by Adams) when demanded in obvious illustration of the text; and, when so required, [page 2] they will be worked in with the type. The stitching will be done in the French style, permitting the book to lie fully open. Upon the cover, and throughout, the endeavour will be to preserve the greatest purity of taste, consistent with force and decision. The price will be $5.

I believe I sent you, some time ago, a Prospectus of the “Penn Magazine”, the scheme of which was broken up by the breaking up of the banks. The name will be preserved — and the general intentions, of that journal. A rigorous independence shall be my watchword still — truth, not so much for truth’s sake, as for the sake of the novelty of the thing. But the chief feature will be that of contributions from the most distinguished pens (of America) exclusively; or if this plan cannot be wholly carried out, we propose at least to procure the aid of some five or six of the most distinguished — admitting few articles from other sources — none which are not of a high order of merit. We shall endeavour to engage the permanent services of yourself, Mr Irving, Mr Cooper, Mr Paulding, Mr Longfellow, Mr Bryant, Mr Halleck, Mr Willis, and, perhaps, one or two more. In fact, as before said; our success in making these engagements, is a condition, without which the Magazine will not go into operation; and my immediate object in addressing you now, is to ascertain how far we may look to yourself for aid.

It would be desirable that you agree to furnish one paper each month — either absolute or serial — of such length as you might think proper. The terms are left entirely to your own decision. Whatever sum you may specify will be paid as you suggest. An agreement should be made for one year, during which period you should be pledged not to write for any other (American) Magazine. The journal will be commenced on the first of January 1842, and (should [page 3] [page 279:] we be so fortunate as to obtain your consent to our proposal) it would be necessary that we should have in hand, by the first of December next, at least two articles from each contributor.

I look most anxiously for your answer; for it is of vital importance to me, personally. This you will see at once. Mr Graham is to furnish all supplies, and will give me, merely for editorial service, and my list of subscribers to the old “Penn”, a half interest in the proposed Magazine — but he will only engage in the enterprise on the conditions before stated — on condition that I can obtain as contributors the gentlemen above named — or at least the most of them — giving them carte blanche as to terms. Your name will enable me, I know, to get several of the others. You will not fail me at this crisis! If I get this Magazine fairly afloat, with the money to back me as now, I will have every thing my own way.

With this letter I despatch one of similar tenor to each of the gentlemen named. If you cannot reply unconditionally — will you be so kind as to say whether you will write for us if we succeed with others — specifying what others?

Most truly Yours,

Edgar A Poe.

John P. Kennedy, Esqr

N.B. If you have a novel on the tapis, you could not dispose of it in any way so advantageously as by selling it to us. You would get more for it than L & B. would give. It would be printed in finer style than they could afford to print it — and it would have a far wider circulation in our Magazine than in book form. We will commence with an edition of 3000.

Notes: In his letter to Cooke, September 21, 1839 (LTR-82), Poe said, “As soon as Fate allows I will have a Magazine of my own”; but his dream of the ideal journal was never fulfilled, though on at least three occasions he seemed to be in sight of his goal (see LTR-153 and LTR-211, and notes). With the present letter, compare Poe’s hopes and plans for the Stylus, as the Penn came to be called, in LTR-185 and LTR-186. Whatever promises Graham may have made, he never actively participated with Poe in the establishment of a magazine. Ironically, this [page 280:] string of appeals to America’s major writers (LTR-113, LTR-115, LTR-116, LTR-117a) ill accords with his Prospectus, under both names of Penn and Stylus. In the fifth paragraph (even after changes, up to 1848) Poe deprecates “the mere prestige of celebrated names” although his reliance upon “the true intellect of the land” in 1843 later becomes “the true talent.” For the first Prospectus, see DP, pp. 218-221; for that of 1848 see the facsimile in Robertson, Commentary on the Bibliography of EAP, p. 277 facing page. For his prospectus of the Penn, printed in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier, June 13, 1840, see Quinn, pp. 306-308. For more on Adams, see the note to LTR-113.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (3 pp.) in the Peabody Institute Library. The letter is not fully dated, but the cover carries a Philadelphia postmark of June 21, and a Baltimore mark (it was forwarded to Washington) of June 22; moreover, Poe told F. W. Thomas, July 4, 1841 (LTR-118), that he had written to Kennedy “about ten days ago.” No reply from Kennedy is known.

Letter 115 — 1841, June 22 [CL-295] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Henry W. Longfellow (Cambridge, MA):

Philadelphia — June 22 1841.

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 19th May was received. I regret to find my anticipations confirmed, and that you cannot make it convenient to accept Mr Graham’s proposition. Will you now pardon me for making another?

I need not call your attention to the signs of the times in respect to Magazine literature. You will admit that the tendency of the age lies in this way — so far at least as regards the lighter letters. The brief, the terse, the condensed, and the easily circulated will take place of the diffuse, the ponderous, and the inaccessible. Even our Reviews (lucus a non lucendo) are found too massive for the taste of the day; — I do not mean for the taste of the tasteless, but for that of the few. In the meantime the finest minds of Europe are beginning to lend their spirit to Magazines. In this country, unhappily, we have not any journal of [page 281:] the class, which either can afford to offer pecuniary inducement to the highest talent, or which would be, in all respects, a fitting vehicle for its thoughts. In the supply of this deficiency there would be a point gained; and in the hope of at least partially supplying it, Mr Graham and myself propose to establish a Monthly Magazine.

The amplest funds will be embarked in the undertaking. The work will be an octavo of 96 pages. The paper will be of excellent quality — possibly finer than that upon which your “Hyperion” was printed. The type will be new (always new) clear and bold, with distinct face. The matter will be disposed in a single column. The printing will be done upon a hand-press in the best manner. There will be a broad margin. There will be no engravings, except occasional wood-cuts (by Adams) when demanded in obvious illustration of the text; and, when so required, they will be worked in with the type — not upon separate pages as in “Arcturus.” The stitching will be done in the French style, permitting the book to lie fully open. Upon the cover, and throughout, the endeavour will be to preserve the greatest purity of taste consistent with decision and force. The price will be $5.

The chief feature in the literary department will be that of contributions from the most distinguished pens (of America) exclusively; or, if this plan cannot be wholly carried out, we [page 2] propose, at least, to make arrangements (if possible) with yourself, Mr Irving, Mr Cooper, Mr Paulding, Mr Bryant, Mr Halleck, Mr Paulding, Mr Willis, and one or two others. In fact, our ability to make these arrangements is a condition, without which the Magazine will not go into operation; and my object in writing you this letter is to ascertain how far I may look to yourself for aid.

In your former note you spoke of present engagements. The proposed journal will not be commenced until the 1st January 1842.

It would be desirable that you should agree to furnish one paper each month — prose or poetry — absolute or serial — and of such length as you might deem proper. Should illustrations be desired by you, these will be engraved at our expense, from designs at your own, superintended by yourself. We leave the matter of terms, as before, to your own decision. The sums agreed upon would be paid as you might [page 282:] suggest. It would be necessary that an agreement should be made for one year — during which period you should be pledged not to write for any other (American) Magazine.

With this letter I despatch one of the same tenor to each of the gentlemen before-named. If you cannot consent to an unconditional reply, will you be kind enough to say whether you will write for us upon condition that we succeed in our engagements with the others — specifying what others.

With high respect.

Yr Ob St

Edgar A Poe.

Prof. H. W. Longfellow.

Notes: Compare the present letter with LTR-113 and LTR-114, and subsequent similar items, and the respective notes. In Poe’s list of those with whom arrangements were planned, Kennedy’s name probably should have replaced the repetition of Paulding’s. The basic ideas and even language of most of the second paragraph are used and developed by Poe in 1845 and 1846 in four major journals (see “Marginalia” M-143 and M-182, with detailed notes, in Writings, 2:248 and 2:308-309). The comparison of paper to be used — with Hyperion serving as a substitute for the North American Review in the letter sent to non-New Englanders — is potentially deprecatory of Longfellow, who was always careful in the production of his books, and shows another example of a not uncommon fault in Poe’s sense of propriety. To ask so eminent a figure as Longfellow to help foster a publication produced more attractively and expensively than his own reveals a bit of competitive bragging and unintentionally encourages a negative response. Even more improbable is the suggestion that the most sought-after writer in America should lock himself into a year of publication only in the pages of a brand-new and unproven journal. One wonders what image of self as seen by others was basic to the imaginative Poe or at least prevalent in his periods of intense eagerness and ambition.

Source: original MS (2 pp.) preserved in the Longfellow House, Cambridge, MA. The letter is addressed to “Professor H. W. Longfellow / Cambridge / Mass:.” The letter is postmarked from Philadelphia, June 22. Poe is replying to Longfellow’s letter of May 19, 1841 (see CL-284 and the note to LTR-110). [page 283:]

Letter 116 — 1841, June 24 [CL-296] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Fitz-Greene Halleck (New York, NY):

Philadelphia — June 24 — 1841.

Dear Sir,

Mr George R. Graham, of this City, and myself, design to establish a Monthly Magazine, upon certain conditions — one of which is the procuring your assistance in the enterprise. Will you pardon me for saying a few words upon the subject?

I need not call your attention to the signs of the times in respect to Magazine literature. You will admit the tendency of the age in this direction. The brief, the terse, and the easily circulated will take place of the diffuse, the ponderous, and the inaccessible. Even our Reviews are found too massive for the taste of the day — I do not mean for the taste of the merely uneducated, but also for that of the few. In the meantime the finest minds of Europe are beginning to lend their spirit to Magazines. In this country, unhappily, we have no journal of the class, which can either afford to compensate the highest talent, or which is, in all respects, a fitting vehicle for its thoughts. In the supply of this deficiency there would be a point gained; and the project of which I speak has originated in the hope of supplying it.

Mr Graham is a lawyer, but for some time past, has been occupied in publishing. His experience of the periodical business is great. He is a gentleman of high social standing, and possessed of ample pecuniary means. Together, we would enter the field with a full understanding of the difficulties to be encountered, and, I trust, with ability to meet them.

The work will be an octavo of 96 pages. The paper will be excellent — superior to that of the N. A. Review. The type will be new (always new) clear and bold, with distinct face. The matter will be disposed in single column. The printing will be done upon a hand-press in the best manner. There will be a broad margin. We shall have no engravings, except occasional wood-cuts (by the best artists) when demanded in obvious illustration of the text; and, when so required, they will be [page 284:] worked in with the type — not upon separate pages as in “Arcturus.” The stitching will be done in the French style, permitting the book to be fully open. Upon the cover, and throughout, the endeavour will be to preserve [page 2] the greatest purity of taste, consistent with decision and force. The price will be 5$.

The chief feature of the literary department will be that of contributions from the most distinguished pens (of America) exclusively. Or, if this plan cannot be wholly carried out, we propose, at least, to procure the constant aid of some five or six of the most distinguished, and to admit few articles from other sources — none which are not of a high order of excellence. We shall endeavour to procure the services of yourself, Mr Bryant, Mr Longfellow, Mr Irving, Mr Cooper, Mr Paulding, Mr Kennedy, Mr Willis, and perhaps one or two others. In fact, as before said, our success in making these engagements is a condition, without which the Magazine will not go into operation; and my immediate object in addressing you now is to ascertain how far I may depend upon yourself for assistance.

It would be desirable that you agree to furnish one paper each month — either a complete poem, or a portion of one — and of such length as you deem proper. The terms will be left entirely to your own decision. The sums specified will be paid as you may suggest — in advance if necessary. It would be advisable that an agreement be made for one year, during which you should be pledged to write for no other (American) Magazine. The journal will be commenced on the first of January 1842, and (should we be so fortunate as to obtain your consent to our proposal) it would be proper that we should have in hand by the first of December next, at least two papers from each contributor.

With this letter I despatch one of similar tenor to each of the gentlemen above named. If you cannot make it convenient to give an unconditional reply, will you be kind enough to say whether you will write for us upon condition that we are able to engage others — specifying what others?

With high respect — yr ob. st.

Edgar A Poe

Fitz-Greene Halleck Esqr [page 285:]

Notes: Compare the present item with LTR-113, LTR-114, and subsequent letters written for a similar purpose. In the letters prior to LTR-115, Poe uses the North American Review as the design standard against which his magazine would be measured. Writing to Longfellow, Poe substituted the Arcturus, and in the present letter, and LTR-117a, he uses both. Poe’s bias against the influential and long-lived Boston North American Review is voiced in the 1843 prospectus for the Stylus, and in numerous “Marginalia” entries: M-182, M-206, M-211, M-212, M-290 (see volume II of Writings, with notes).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.) in the Huntington Library. The first page of the MS is badly faded.

Letter 116a - 1841, before June 25 [CL-297b] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to William D. Kelley (Philadelphia, PA):

[...] the inspired man, Christ [...] the incomprehensible doctrine of original sin and the Salvation of man by the Redeemer [...]

Notes: In 1841, William Darrah Kelley (1814-1890) had recently returned to Philadelphia, where he began to practice law. He served one term as the Pennsylvania Attorney General, later sitting as a judge in Philadelphia and eventually being elected to Congress. In 1854, he became an ardent abolitionist. The present letter is the only documented connection between Kelley and Poe, and is itself currently known exclusively from a contemporary entry in the diary of Isaac Mickle (1822-1855). Quoting only these two brief fragments, Mickle describes the letter as “concerning Brownson’s Review, and I find from its contents that Mr. Poe is a transcendentalist of the most ultra stamp.” Orestes Augustus Brownson (1803-1876) established and edited the Boston Quarterly Review in 1838; Brownson was also the chief contributor to his magazine. This journal ran for five years, after which it was absorbed into the US Magazine and Democratic Review. Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, Brownson is mentioned in “A Chapter on Autography,” where Poe tempers his praise for Brownson’s novel Charles Elwood, or the Infidel Converted by stating: “However well a man may reason on the great topics of God and immortality, he will be forced to admit tacitly in the end, that God and immortality are things to be felt, rather than demonstrated” (Graham’s, November 1841). There is a also brief allusion to Brownson in the [page 286:] opening paragraph of “X-ing a Paragrab” (TOM [T&S], 3:1369 and 1375, n. 4), and both the author and his novel are again mentioned in “Mesmeric Revelation” (1844). Given nothing more than Mickle’s few hints as to the content of the letter, one may speculate that Poe was probably responding to something Kelley wrote in regard to Poe’s review of Macaulay. In this unsigned review, Poe gave particular attention to Macaulay’s use of logic on religious matters, stating: “Were the indications we derive from science, of the nature and designs of Deity, and thence, by inference, of man’s destiny — were these indications proof direct, no advance in science would strengthen them — for, as our author truly observes, ‘nothing could be added to the force of the argument which the mind finds in every beast, bird, or flower’ but as these indications are rigidly analogical, every step in human knowledge — every astronomical discovery, for instance — throws additional light upon the august subject, by extending the range of analogy. That we know no more to-day of the nature of Deity — of its purposes — and thus of man himself — than we did even a dozen years ago — is a proposition disgracefully absurd; and of this any astronomer could assure Mr. Macaulay. Indeed, to our own mind, the only irrefutable argument in support of the soul’s immortality — or, rather, the only conclusive proof of man’s alternate dissolution and re-juvenescence ad infinitum — is to be found in analogies deduced from the modern established theory of the nebular cosmogony” (Graham’s, June 1841, 18:295). Taking these comments as a sign of a possible ally, Kelley may have asked the editor of Graham’s if he was familiar with Brownson and his magazine. In speaking of Kelley, Mickle notes: “In religion and politics he is too wild, radical, and theoretical” (1:168). In other diary entries, Mickle clearly establishes Kelley as an enthusiastic Transcendentalist, describing personal pilgrimages made before 1846 to visit Brownson (2:394) and Emerson (2:353). For a more accurate account of Poe’s less than favorable view of the Transcendentalists, see LTR-180 (and notes) and the postscript to LTR-195.

Source: fragments as quoted in A Gentleman of Much Promise: The Diary of Isaac Mickle, ed. Philip English Mackey, 1:185. Poe is probably replying to a letter from Kelley (CL-289a), written to Poe as editor and responding to Poe’s unsigned review of Macaulay in the June 1841 issue of Graham’s Magazine. Since Graham’s was typically issued a few weeks before the designated month, a date of ca. late May 1841 will serve as an estimated date. Mickle implies that Kelley received the letter from Poe on June 25, 1841. [page 287:]

Letter 117 — 1841, June 26 [CL-298] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Frederick W. Thomas (Washington, DC):

My Dear Thomas,

With this I mail you the July No: of the Mag: If you can get us a notice in the Intelligencer, as you said, I will take it as a particular favor — but if it is inconvenient, do not put yourself to any trouble about it.

I have just heard through Graham, who obtained his information from Ingraham, that you have stepped into an office at Washington — salary $1000. From the bottom of my heart I wish you joy. You can now lucubrate more at your ease & will infallibly do something worthy yourself.

For my own part, notwithstanding Graham’s unceasing civility, and real kindness, I feel more & more disgusted with my situation. Would to God, I could do as you have done. Do you seriously think that an application on my part to Tyler would have a good result? My claims, to be sure, are few. I am a Virginian — at least I call myself one, for I have resided all my life, until within the last few years, in Richmond. My political principles have always been as nearly as may be, with the existing administration, and I battled with right good will for Harrison, when opportunity offered. With Mr Tyler I have some slight personal acquaintance — although this is a matter which he has possibly forgotten. For the rest, I am a literary man — and I see a disposition in government to cherish letters. Have I any chance? I would be greatly indebted to you if you [page 2] reply to this as soon as you can, and tell me if it would, in your opinion, be worth my while to make an effort — and if so — put me upon the right track. This could not be better done than by detailing to me your own mode of proceeding.

It appears that Ingraham is in high dudgeon with me because I spoke ill of his “Quadroone.” I am really sorry to hear it — but it is a matter that cannot be helped. As a man I like him much, and wherever I could do so, without dishonor to my own sense of truth, I have praised his writings. His “South-West,” for example, I lauded highly. His “Quadroone” is, in my honest opinion, trash. If I must call it a [page 288:] good book to preserve the friendship of Prof. Ingraham — Prof. Ingraham may go to the devil.

I am really serious about the office. If you can aid me in any way, I am sure you will. Remember me kindly to Dow & believe me

Yours most truly,

Edgar A Poe

F. W. Thomas.

Phil: June 26. 41

It is not impossible that you could effect my object by merely showing this letter yourself personally to the President and speaking of me as the original editor of the Messenger[.]

Notes: The July 1841 number of Graham’s (19:38) carried Thomas’ poem, “The Meeting of the Lovers.” Strictly speaking, Poe’s residence in Richmond ended in March of 1827, though he may have considered himself a kind of displaced resident until John Allan’s death in March 1834. Thomas’ letter to Poe, July 1 (CL-303), advised him to get in touch with J. P. Kennedy, who might provide further aid in getting a government clerkship. For Jesse E. Dow, who at one time edited the Index (Alexandria, VA) and the Daily Madisonian (Washington), see Poe’s “A Chapter on Autography” (Graham’s, December 1841; H [Works], 15:228). See also the note to LTR-197 for Thomas’ remarks on Poe’s letter. Poe treated Joseph Holt Ingraham (1809-1860) in “A Chapter on Autography” (Graham’s, November 1841; H [Works], 15:188), and reviewed Ingraham’s Southwest in the SLM (January 1836, 2:122-123; reprinted in Writings, 5:92-94). In Graham’s for June 1841 (18:296) is a four-sentence review of The Quadroone, unsigned but obviously by Poe. Although the reviewer claims “high personal respect” for Ingraham, he says the author should be “ashamed” of this “very bad book.” It is curious to see Poe naively expressing dismay in the present letter at Ingraham’s response to this bluntness, as though unaware of “the power of words,” even harsh words so forcefully delivered. Poe’s interest in the clerkship reveals his growing awareness of the demands of being an editor, a position which left little time to focus on his own creative writing.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.) in the New York Public Library, Manuscript Division. The postscript is very faded. This is Poe’s first extant letter to Thomas since that of November 23, 1840 (LTR-104), [page 289:] though he wrote at least four in the interim (see APXA-Thomas). The first, April 1, 1841 (CL-276), concerned Thomas’ request that Poe arrange for the periodical publication of a proposed novel, and the failure of such arrangements (see Thomas to Poe, May 11, 1841, CL-283). The second, May 26, 1841 (CL-286), enclosed a draft due Thomas from Graham, requested in Thomas’ letter of May 20 (CL-285), and acknowledged as received in Thomas to Poe, May 29 (CL-287), though Thomas’ letter should be dated May 28, since it was postmarked May 28 and speaks of “Yours of the 26” as received “yesterday.” A third, ca. May 29-June 7 (CL-290), stated that Griswold was desirous of biographical sketches of Pinckney of Baltimore and Amelia of Kentucky (see Thomas to Griswold, June 8, 1841, in Some Passages in the Correspondence of Rufus W. Griswold, ed. W. M. Griswold, p. 66: “My, friend Edgar A. Poe ... wrote me the other day ...”). This third letter must follow the one from Griswold to Poe, before May 29, 1841 (CL-288, see the note to LTR-112), for Thomas’ letter of May 29 [28] makes no allusion to the Griswold request. A fourth letter, June 11-12 (CL-291) was received by Thomas, June 13 (see Thomas to Poe, June 14, 1841, CL-292).

Letter 117a — 1841, June [CL-300] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to James Fenimore Cooper (Cooperstown, NY):

Dear Sir

Mr. George R. Graham, of this city, and myself, design to establish a Monthly Magazine, upon certain conditions — one of which is the procuring your assistance in the enterprise. Will you pardon me for saying a few words on the subject?

I need not call your attention to the signs of the times in respect to Magazine literature. You will admit the tendency of the age in this direction. The brief, the terse, the condensed, and the easily circulated will take the place of the diffuse, the ponderous, and the inaccessible. Even our Reviews are found too massive for the taste of the day — I do not mean for the taste of the merely uneducated, but also for that of the few. In the meantime the finest minds of Europe are beginning to lend their spirit to Magazines. In this country, unhappily, we have no journals of the class, which can either afford to compensate the highest talent, or which is, in all respects, a fitting vehicle for its [page 290:] thoughts. In the supply of this deficiency there would be a point gained; and the project of which I speak has originated in the hope of supplying it.

Mr. Graham is a lawyer, but for some years past has been occupied in publishing. His experience of per[i]odical business is great. He is a gentleman of high social standing, and possessed of ample pecuniary means. For myself — you will perhaps remember me as the original editor of the South. Lit. Messenger of Richmond, Va.; and I have had, otherwise, much to do with the conduct of Magazines. Together, we would enter the field with a full understanding of the difficulties to be encountered, and, I trust, with entire ability to meet them.

The work will be an octavo of 96 pages. The paper will be excellent — very far superior to that of the N. A. Review. The type will be new (always new) clear and bold, with distinct face. The matter will be disposed in a single column. The printing will be done upon a hand press, in the best manner. There will be a broad margin. We shall have no engravings except occasional wood-cuts (by Adams) when demanded in obvious illustration of the text; and, when so required, they will be worked in with the type — not upon separate pages, as in “Arcturus.” The stitching will be done in the French style, permitting the book to lie fully open. Upon the cover, and throughout, the endeavour will be to preserve the greatest purity of taste, consistent with force and decision. The price will be $5.

The chief feature in the literary department will be that of contributions from the most distinguished pens (of America) exclusively; or, if this plan cannot be wholly carried out, we propose, at least, to procure the constant aid of some five or six of the most distinguished; and to admit few articles from other sources — none which are not of a very high order of merit. We shall endeavour to engage the services of yourself, Mr. Irving, Mr. Paulding, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Longfellow, Mr. Bryant, Mr. Halleck, Mr. Willis, and, perhaps, one or two others. In fact, as before said, our success in making these engagements is a condition without which the Magazine will not go into operation; and my immediate object in addressing you now, is to ascertain how far we may look to yourself for aid. [page 291:]

It would be desirable that you agree to furnish one paper each month — either absolute or serial — and of such length as you might deem proper. We leave terms entirely to your own decision. The sums specified will be paid as you may suggest. It would be necessary that an agreement be made for one year, during which period you should be pledged not to write for any other American Magazine. The journal will be commenced on the first of January, 1842, and (should we be so fortunate as to obtain your consent to our proposal) it would be best that we should have in hand, by the first of December next, at least two papers from each contributor.

With this letter I despatch one of similar tenor to each of the gentlemen above named. If you cannot make it convenient to give an unconditional reply, will you be kind enough to say whether you will write for us upon condition that we succeed in our engagements with the others — specifying what others?

With high respect

Yr obt St

Edgar A. Poe

Notes: This is another of Poe’s series of very similar letters written to prominent literary figures, soliciting contributions for his proposed Penn Magazine (see LTR-113, etc.). Curious is Poe’s appeal to Cooper, whose works he typically reviewed less than favorably (see the note to LTR-66). Although Poe had previously written to Cooper while editor of the SLM (LTR-66), that was presumably at the instigation of T. W. White. In the present letter, Poe is pursuing his own interests. Apparently, in his desperation to secure some financial success for his venture, Poe is willing to compromise his own sense of taste and demand for quality. It is also possible that Poe has succumbed to some influence from George R. Graham. As Poe’s partner in the proposed venture, Graham may have insisted on securing at least one well-known name as a contributor.

Source: transcript as given by D. Thomas, Poe In Philadelphia, pp. 234-235. The MS letter is unlocated, but it was first printed in Henkels’ catalog no. 698, March 21-22, 1893 (Joseph Henry Dubbs sale), pp. 152-153, where the text is quoted in full. Based on similar letters, a more precise date might be June 22-24, 1841, but in the absence of the MS the present dating has been left to stand. [page 292:]

Letter 118 — 1841, July 4 [CL-304] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Frederick W. Thomas (Washington, DC):

Phil. July 4 — 41.

My Dear Thomas,

I recd yours of the 1rst this morning, and have again to thank you for the interest you take in my welfare. I wish to God I could visit Washington — but the old story, you know — I have no money — not even enough to take me there, saying nothing of getting back. It is a hard thing to be poor — but as I am kept so by an honest motive I dare not complain.

Your suggestion about Mr Kennedy is well-timed; and here, Thomas, you can do me a true service. Call upon Kennedy — you know him, I believe — if not introduce yourself — he is a perfect gentleman and will give you cordial welcome. Speak to him of my wishes, and urge him to see the Secretary of War in my behalf — or one of the other Secretaries — or President Tyler. I mention in particular the Secretary of War, because I have been to W. Point, and this may stand me in some stead. I would be glad to get almost any appointment — even a $500 one — so that I have something independent of letters for a subsistence. To coin one’s brain into silver, at the nod of a master, is to my thinking the hardest task in the world. Mr Kennedy has been at all times a true friend to me — he was the first true friend I ever had — I am indebted to him for life itself. He will be willing to help me now — but needs urging, for he is always head and ears in business. Thomas, may I depend upon you? By the way, I wrote to Mr K. about ten days ago on the subject of a Magazine — a project of mine in conjunction with Graham — and have not yet heard from him. Ten to one I misdirected the letter, or sent it to Baltimore — for I am very thoughtless about such matters.

So you will set me down “a magician” if I decipher your friend’s cryptograph. No sooner suggested than done. Tell him to read this —

“In one of those peripatetic circumrotations I obviated a rustic whom we subjected to catachetical interrogation respecting the [page 293:] characteristics of the edifice to which he was approximate. With a volubility uncongealed by the frigorific powers of villatin [sic] bashfulness he ejaculated [page 2] a voluminous replication from the universal tenor of whose contents I deduct the subsequent amalgamation of heterogeneous facts without dubiety” — &c &c.

The key-phrase is — “But find out this and I give it up”. Besides using this, however, he has interspersed his cypher with such abbreviations as £ for in, for of, •) for an, ( for by, 9 for tion, 7 for on, ‡ for as, [ for it, 4 for to, 6 for or, ] for if, F for he, † for is, $ for at &c &c. This, you will admit, is altogether beyond the limits of my challenge which extended only to cyphers such as that of Berryer. You will also admit that phrases constructed for purposes of deception (as your friend’s) are infinitely more difficult of perusal than a cipher intended for actual conveyance of one’s natural ideas. The truth is, that Dr Fraley’s [sic] cryptograph is inadmissible as such, because it cannot be readily decyphered by the person to whom it is addressed, and who possesses the key. In proof of this, I will publish it in the Mag: with a reward to any one who shall read it with the key, and I am pretty sure that no one will be found to do it.

I have not meddled with the first cryptograph — for I thought the Drs scepticism would be sufficiently set at rest by my solution of the longer one — and to say truth I am exceedingly busy just now. Let him insist however, and read is the word. Nothing intelligible can be written which, with time, I cannot decipher. No more difficult cypher can be constructed than the one he has sent. It embodies all the essentials of abstruseness. & is very clever.

As I mean to publish it this month, will you be kind enough to get from his own hand an acknowledgment of my solution, adding your own acknowledgment, in such form that I may append both to the cipher by way of note. I wish to do this because I am seriously accused of humbug in this matter — a thing I despise. People will not believe I really decipher the puzzles. Write by return of mail.

Yours truly.

E A Poe [page 294:]

[page 3] State that I deciphered it by return of mail — as I do.

Notes: Thomas’ letter of July 1 (CL-303) suggested that Poe enlist the aid of J. P. Kennedy in getting a government clerkship, but as Poe notes, he had just written Kennedy on June 21, 1841 (LTR-114) in regard to the Penn. On August 30, 1840 (CL-323), Thomas wrote Poe that “I saw Kennedy and ... he expressed his willingness to aid you in any way in his power.” For Kennedy’s friendship with Poe, see LTR-50 and APXA-Kennedy. Thomas’ letter of July 6 (CL-305), with Frailey’s acknow-ledgment of Poe’s solution, was published in Graham’s (August 1841, 19:96; reprinted in H [Works], 14:133-137). In the same issue appears the cipher, along with a challenge to any reader to solve it, the reward being a one-year subscription to Graham’s and the Saturday Evening Post. In Graham’s, October 1841, Poe printed the solution of the cipher, after saying that it had “not yet been read by any of our innumerable readers.” Dr. Charles S. Frailey, identified by Thomas only as “a friend,” was a Freemason, eventually serving as Grand Master of the Lodge of Washington, DC.

Poe’s widely publicized career as a surprisingly accomplished solver of cryptograms began with his issuance of a challenge to all readers, in the December 18, 1839 number of Alexander’s Weekly Messenger, a Philadelphia newspaper. He said, in part, “... we pledge ourselves to read it [a cipher] forthwith — however unusual or arbitrary may be the characters employed.” Between December 18, 1839 and May 6, 1840, thirty-six ciphers were announced as received, most of which he solved. (For a full discussion of the material, with reprints of the original articles, see Clarence S. Brigham, “Edgar Allan Poe’s Contributions to Alexander’s Weekly Messenger,” in Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, 52:45-125, and especially a letter from W. K. Wimsatt quoted by Brigham, 52:48-50). Poe renewed his articles and challenges on secret writing in Graham’s for July, continuing the series in August, October, and December 1841 (reprinted in H [Works], 14:114-149). The subject is also treated in a score of the letters in the Poe correspondence (see, for example, LTR-130, LTR-162, LTR-198, and LTR-222). Poe had reviewed and was to use extensively Robert Walsh’s chapter on Antoine Pierre Berryer, high official and cipher expert, in his Sketches of Conspicuous Living Characters of France, a translation of Loménie’s Galerie Populaire des Contemporains (see DP for seven instances, and especially Writings, 2:251). [page 295:]

Poe erroneously writes the word “villatin,” with an “n,” although it requires a “c” as shown by the first sentence, with reference to “a rustic.” Coming from “villaticus” or referring to a rural place, a farmstead, the word is still current. In the paragraph shown in Dr. Frailey’s “solution” in “Secret Writing,” (Graham’s, October 1841, 19:192), it is printed “villatic,” corrected by the typesetter or by Poe himself later. Note also Poe’s error in Frailey’s name, which is given correctly in the magazine (and in LTR-130). Varied in the magazine extract text are also “we subjected” for “I ...” and “facts without ...” for “facts. Without ....

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.) in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The second leaf, including page 3 and the address, is still unlocated. The letter, excluding the sentence on page 3, was written on both sides of a single sheet; the last sentence and the address were probably on a second sheet. The letter was first printed in Stoddard, “Memoir,” Select Works of EAP, pp. xciv-xcvi. Page 3 of the letter does not appear in the photocopy used for the present text, but the sentence is printed by Stoddard and is given in Thomas’ letter to Poe, July 7, 1841 (CL-309). The envelope is postmarked July 5, and carries Thomas’ note: “Received July 6th / Answered 7th.” Poe is replying to Thomas’ letter of July 1 (CL-303).

Letter 119 — 1841, July 7 [CL-308] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to William Landor [H. B. Wallace] (Philadelphia, PA):

Philad., July 7. 41.

My Dear Sir,

I duly received both your notes, and, daily, since the reception of the first, have been intending to reply. The cause of my not having done so is my failure to obtain certain definite information from the printer to whom I had allusion, and who still keeps me in momentary expectation of an answer. I merely write these few words now, lest you should think my silence proceeds from discourtesy — than which nothing can be farther from my thoughts. At the first opportunity you shall hear from me in full.

With high respect. [page 296:]

Yr Ob. St

Edgar A Poe

Wm Landor Esqr

P.S. You have seen, I believe, the July no: of Mag. Among the critical notices is one on Bolingbroke, the only notice not written by myself. There are passages in that critique which I am sure are stolen, although I cannot put my hand upon the original. Your acquaintance with Bolingbroke’s commentators is more extensive than my own. Can you aid me in tracing the theft? I am anxious to do so. Has not Bulwer written something like it?

Notes: Using the pseudonym William Landor, Horace Binney Wallace (1817-1852) wrote “Sweepings from a Drawer,” published in Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine (November 1839, 5:236). Poe wrote a favorable comment on Landor in “A Chapter on Autography” a few months after the present letter, describing him as “an elaborately careful, stiff, and pedantic writer, with much affectation and great talent,” noting also, “Should he devote himself ultimately to letters, he cannot fail of high success” (Graham’s, November 1841, 19:231). Wallace later wrote a biography of N. P. Willis (see LTR-173; see also the note by Spannuth and TOM in Doings of Gotham, p. 71, and Poe’s reference in Letter VI). Of particular interest in the present letter is Poe’s convenient identification of the authorship of the critical notices in Graham’s, vol. XIX (July 1841).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.), formerly in the collection of William H. Koester, and now in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The separate address leaf is directed to William Landor, Philadelphia, with Poe apparently unaware that the name is a pseudonym. Poe is replying to two notes from Wallace, presumably as Landor (CL-306 and CL-307). No further correspondence between Poe and Wallace is known.

Letter 120 — 1841, July 12 [CL-311] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Joseph E. Snodgrass (Baltimore, MD):

Philadelphia July 12. 1841.

My Dear Snodgrass, [page 297:]

I have this moment received yours of the 10th, and am really glad to find that you have not quite given me up. A letter from you now is a novelty indeed.

The “Reproof of a Bird” shall appear in the September number. The last sheet of the August no: has already gone to press.

I am innocent of the elision in your quoted lines. Most probably the syllables were left out by our proof-reader, who looks over the articles after me, for such things as turned s’s & o’s, or battered type. Occasionally he takes strange liberties. In our forthcoming number he has substituted, (I see), a small for a capital R in Rosinante. Still — the lines read very well as they are, and thus no great harm is done. Every one is not to know that the last one is a finale to a stanza.

You say some of your monumental writers “feel small” — but is not that, for them, a natural feeling? I never had much opinion of Arthur. What little merit he has is negative. McJilton I like much better. He has written one or two very good things. As a man, also, I like him better. Do you know, by the bye, that W. G. Clark reproved me in his Gazette, for speaking too favorably of McJilton?

I re-enclose the notice of Soran. It was unavoidably crowded from the July no: and we thought it out of date, for the August[.] I have not read the book — but I would have been willing to take his merits upon your word.

You flatter me about the Maelström. It was finished in a hurry, and therefore its conclusion is imperfect. Upon the whole it is neither so good, nor has it been 1/2 so popular as “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”. I have a paper in the August no: which will please you.

[page 2] Among the Reviews (for August) I have one which will, at least, surprise you. It is a long notice of a satire by a quondam Baltimorean L. A. Wilmer. You must get this satire & read it — it is really good — good in the old-fashioned Dryden style. It blazes away, too, to the right & left — sparing not. I have made it the text from which to preach a fire-&-fury sermon upon critical independence, and the general literary humbuggery of the day. I have introduced in this sermon some portion of a Review formerly written by me for the [page 298:] “Pittsburg [sic] Examiner”, a monthly journal which died in the first throes of its existence. It was edited by E. Burke Fisher Esqre — th[a]n whom a greater scamp never walked. He wrote to me offering 4$ per page for criticisms, promising to put them in as contributions — not editorially. The first thing I saw was one of my articles under the editorial head, so altered that I hardly recognized it, and interlarded with all manner of bad English and ridiculous opinions of his own. I believe, however, that the number in which it appeared, being <its> th last kick of the maga:, was never circulated.

I presume you get our Mag: regularly. It is mailed to your address.

Very cordially your friend,

Edgar A Poe.

Will you do me the favor to call at the Baltimore P.O. and enquire for a letter addressed to John P. Kennedy at Baltimore. By some absence of mind I directed it to that city in place of Washington. If still in the P.O. will you forward it to Washington?

Notes: Snodgrass’ poem, “Reproof of a Bird,” appeared in Graham’s, September 1841 (19:103). The “elision” for which Poe apologizes undoubtedly occurred in Snodgrass’ article on poetry, in the June issue of Graham’s (18:288-289); and the reference to “a small for a capital R in Rosinante” has to do with Poe’s review of The Quacks of Helicon, by L. A. Wilmer, in the August number (19:90-93). The review returned by Poe could only have been for The Patapsco and Other Poems (Baltimore: F. Lucas, 1841; 103 p., with a 2nd ed. of 1842, differently paged, and three versions more of the 2nd ed. by 1858). The author, Charles Soran (1809-1857), was a minor Baltimore poet. Poe requested a notice of his poems in LTR-109; Snodgrass’ notice of Soran’s poems, however, came too late, Poe having indicated the June number. T. S. Arthur owned and edited the Baltimore Monument, October 1836-October 1839 (American Magazines, 1:381), was in Philadelphia by 1841, and gained his greatest journalistic fame as editor of Leslie’s (February 1844-July 1846) and of his own Arthur’s Home Magazine, from 1853. McJilton, also an editor of the Monument, was one of the literary group during Poe’s stay in Baltimore; other members included Wm. H. Carpenter, N. C. Brooks, John Hewitt, and Rufus Dawes. TOM [Iowa] and Hull attribute to Poe a brief but generally unfavorable notice in Graham’s (May 1841, 18:251) of [page 299:] McJilton’s “The Sovereignty of Mind, A Poem delivered before the Philomathaean [sic] Society of Pennsylvania College.” (This notice states: “Mr. McJilton is a gentleman for whose talents we have much respect — far more than for his performances. Indeed, while there is indication of genius in almost every thing he writes, he has yet written very little worth reading. We remember a short poem from his pen, first published in the ‘Casket’ and entitled ‘Serenade,’ which was truly beautiful — but beyond this we can call to mind none of his compositions which, as a whole, are even tolerable. There are always fine imaginative passages: — but their merit is scarcely discernible through the clouds of verbiage, false imagery, bad grammar, and worse versification in which they are enveloped. [new paragraph] We are grieved to see Mr. McJilton occupied in ‘delivering’ poems to order before Philomathoean [sic] societies. It is a business in which no man of talent should be employed — in which no man of genius could hope to succeed. As for The ‘Sovereignty of Mind’ it is a hackneyed manner. It has some glowing paragraphs — but abounds in all the worst faults of the author. We do not feel justified in speaking of it at greater length.” For the proper spelling of the name of this literary society, see the note to LTR-96a.) Willis Gaylord Clark edited the Philadelphia Gazette; he had just died, and Graham’s (August 1841, 19:85) carried an obituary. “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” had appeared in Graham’s for April, and “A Descent into the Maelström” in the May number. The “paper” in the August issue was “The Colloquy of Monos and Una.” Poe’s review of Wilmer’s The Quacks of Helicon incorporated portions of his earlier article on “American Novel Writing,” written for the Pittsburgh Literary Examiner, August 1839 number (see the notes to LTR-81). Poe’s article on the novel was run editorially by Fisher in the August 1839 issue, which was not quite the last “kick” of the magazine. For Poe’s letter to Kennedy, directed to Baltimore but forwarded to Washington, see LTR-114.

The compound “fire-&-fury” seems to occur in neither the OED nor in phrase lists; it is “cognate” in a sense with his “fire and fury” in the 1838 “Psyche Zenobia” (TOM [T&S], 2:339). The word “humbuggery” is given in a somewhat obscure work of 1831, probably unseen by Poe, and next in 1892; it is a virtual coinage by Poe who used it also in Letter III, in Doings of Gotham (June 1, 1844; Spannuth and TOM, pp. 39-43).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.) in the Morgan Library. The letter was first printed in full in W [1909] 1:283-285 (but “of Soran” is omitted in the first sentence of paragraph five). The letter is postmarked [page 300:] “July 12.” Poe is replying to Snodgrass’ letter of July 10, 1841 (CL-310), which is unlocated, the first since March 8 (CL-272).

Letter 121 — 1841, August 11 [CL-317] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Timotheus Whackemwell [addressed to John N. McJilton] (Baltimore, MD):

Philadelphia, August 11./ 41.

Dr Sir,

Your letter of yesterday is this moment received. A glance at the cipher which you suppose the more difficult of the two sent, assures me that its translation must run thus —

“This specimen of secret writing is sent you for explanation. If you succeed in divining its meaning, I will believe that you are some kin to Old Nick.”

As my solution in this case will fully convince you of my ability to decipher the longer but i[n]f[ini]tely more simple cryptograph, you will perhaps exc[use] me from attempting it — as I am exceedingly occupied with business.

Very truly yours.

Edgar A Poe.

Timotheus Whackemwell Esqr

Notes: On August 10, 1840, someone from Baltimore sent Poe two ciphers for solution (CL-316). The writer used the name “Timotheus Whackemwell,” an obvious pseudonym. Poe, believing he had identified “Whackemwell,” sent the present letter in reply to John N. McJilton, an acquaintance living in Baltimore (see LTR-133). McJilton, on August 13 (CL-319), wrote disclaiming the identity. McJilton’s terse reply has neither heading nor salutation, and is signed only “J. N. M.” It reads: “This is certainly intended for some one else. I know nothing of the matter whatever, nor should I be able to tell how the thing happened, but having seen the piece headed secret-writing pubd in Graham’s Mag. noticed somewhere I suppose some wag has addressed you anonymously whom you have mistaken for me.” In his review of Walsh’s translation, [page 301:] Sketches of Conspicuous Living Characters in France, in Graham’s (April 1841, 18:202-203), Poe had offered to solve any cryptograms submitted; in “A Few Words on Secret Writing,” in Graham’s (July 1841, 19:33-38), Poe stated that only “S. D. L.” had answered his challenge. In the October number of Graham’s (19:192), Poe admitted that McJilton did not write the “Whackemwell” letter; he gives the reading for the cipher, but not the original cipher. The true identity of Whackemwell has still not been determined.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Boston Public Library. Poe’s letter to McJilton must have had an outside leaf with McJilton’s Baltimore address and the postal cancellation, for they are missing; McJilton, in replying on August 13, penned his remarks at the foot of Poe’s letter to him, and wrote Poe’s address on the back of Poe’s original letter; the Baltimore cancellation is also there. The MS is torn at the right; the bracketed emendation of “infinitely” is warranted by “i ... f ... tely” with three dots as if for letter “i” being quite clear; “exc ...” is clear.

Letter 122 — 1841, August 13 [CL-318] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Lea & Blanchard (Philadelphia, PA):

Mess. Lea & Blanchard,

Gentlemen,

I wish to publish a new collection of my prose Tales with some such title as this —

The Prose Tales of Edgar A. Poe, Including “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, The “Descent into The Maelström”, and all his later pieces, with a second edition of the “Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque” “

The “later pieces” will be eight in number, making the entire collection thirty-three — which would occupy two thick novel volumes.

I am anxious that your firm should continue to be my publishers, and, if you would be willing to bring out the book, I should be glad to accept the terms which you allowed me before — that is — you [page 302:] receive all profits, and allow me twenty copies for distribution to friends.

Will you be kind enough to give me an early reply to this letter, and believe me

Yours very resply

Edgar A Poe

Philadelphia,

Office Graham’s Magazine,

August 13./ 41.

Notes: The “later pieces,” those published or at least written by the date of the present letter, were probably: “The Business Man,” in Burton’s (February 1840, 6:87-89); “The Man of the Crowd,” in Graham’s (December 1840, 17:267-270); “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” in Graham’s (April 1841, 18:166-179); “A Descent into the Maelström,” Graham’s (May 1841, 18:235-241); “The Island of the Fay,” Graham’s (June 1841, 18:253-255); “The Colloquy of Monos and Una,” Graham’s (August 1841, 19:52-55); “Never Bet the Devil Your Head,” Graham’s (September 1841, 19:124-127); “Eleonora,” in The Gift for 1842, and in the Boston Notion (September 4, 1841). Lea & Blanchard had published Poe’s Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque in an edition of 750 copies (see notes to LTR-87). On August 16, 1841, the publishers gave Poe an “early reply,” declining his suggestion for a new and larger collection, and adding that they had not yet “got through the edition of the other work” (CL-321). Poe would resume his efforts with Phantasy Pieces, a heavily revised version of Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque. (Since the handwritten table of contents of Phantasy Pieces includes “The Pit and the Pendulum” and “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt,” it must date from 1842.) In 1843, Poe did manage to get “Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Man that was Used Up” printed by William Graham, G. R. Graham’s brother, as The Prose Romances of Edgar A. Poe. In 1867, nearly two decades after Poe’s death, W. J. Widdleton, perhaps encouraged by sales of the separate edition of Poe’s poems, published two volumes of The Prose Tales of EAP, reprinted as late as 1880 (and reissued as three volumes in 1889 and 1893 by A. C. Armstrong).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.), formerly in the Drexel Institute, and now in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. In the upper left corner of the MS, probably in Lea’s hand, is the notation: “Rc’ Aug 14 / And 16.” The address leaf is lost. [page 303:]

Letter 123 — 1841, August 14 [CL-320] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Rev. Horatio H. Weld (NY):

Philadelphia, August 14, 1841

Hastings Weld, Esqr.,

Dear Sir: —

The proprietor of a weekly paper in this city is about publishing an article (to be written partly by myself) on the subject of American Autography. The design is three-fold: first, to give the Autograph signature — that is, a fac-simile in woodcut — of each of our most distinguished literati; second, to maintain that the character is, to a certain extent, indicated by the chirography; and thirdly, to embody, under each Autograph, some literary gossip about the individual, with a brief critical comment on his writings.

My object in addressing you now is to request that you would favor me with your own Autograph, in a reply to this letter. I would be greatly obliged to you, also, could you make it convenient to give me a brief summary of your literary career.

We are still in want of the Autographs of Sprague, Hoffman, Dawes, Bancroft, Emerson, Whittier, R. A. Locke, and Stephens, the traveller. If among your papers you have the Autographs of either of these gentlemen (the signature will suffice), and will permit me to have an engraving taken from it, I will endeavor to reciprocate the obligation in any manner which you may suggest.

Should you grow weary, at any time, of abusing me in the “Jonathan” for speaking what no man knows to be truth better than yourself, it would give me sincere pleasure to cultivate the friendship of the author of “Corrected Proofs.” In the meantime, I am

Very respy. Yours,

Edgar A. Poe.

Notes: The Reverend Horatio Hastings Weld (1811-1888) was a minor New York literary figure. Besides having written Corrected Proofs [page 304:] (Boston, 1837), and being a regular contributor to the “mammoth” publications like Brother Jonathan, he was editor, at the time of the present letter, of the Dollar Magazine, a monthly edition containing the same type of material as that in the Brother Jonathan and published by the same people (see American Magazines, 1:359-360). Poe included Weld in “A Chapter on Autography,” Graham’s, December 1841 (H [Works], 15:229). The article also featured autographs of Sprague, Hoffman, Dawes, Emerson, Whittier, and Locke; but whether Weld provided the signatures is unknown. A few weeks after the present letter, Brother Jonathan prominently reprinted, on its front page, “Never Bet Your Head: A Moral Tale” (September 4, 1841), the only work by Poe to appear in that periodical. It was copied from the September issue of Graham’s, and repeated in the September 7, 1841 issue of Jonathan’s Miscellany, a smaller edition of its mammoth-sized cousin. The “weekly paper” was the Saturday Evening Post, and the “proprietor” was G. R. Graham.

Source: transcript as first printed in the Dial (January 16, 1908), 44:32-33, from the MS owned by Weld’s daughter, Mrs. A. H. Heulings. The present location of the MS is unknown. According to the Dial the MS was a single sheet. No reply from Weld is known.

Letter 124 — 1841, September 1 [CL-325] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Frederick W. Thomas (Washington, DC):

Philadelphia — Sep. 1. — 41.

My Dear Thomas,

Griswold left a note for me at the office, the other day, requesting me to furnish him with some memoranda of your life; and it will, of course, give me great pleasure to do so; but, upon sitting down to the task, I find that neither myself, nor Mrs Clemm, upon whom I mainly depend for information, can give all the necessary points with sufficient precision for G’s purpose. Just send me a line, therefore, answering the following queries, and I will put your responses into shape. Most of the points we know, but not with full certainty.

What is your father’s Christian name? Had your parents more children than yourself, Lewis, Frances, Susan, Martha, Isabella & [page 305:] Jackson? — if so, what were their names? When & where were you born? With whom did you study law? What was (exactly) the cause of your lameness? How did you first become known to the literary world? Who were your most intimate associates in Baltimore? When did you remove to Cincinnati? With what papers have you been occasionally connected — if with any? Besides answering these queries — give me a list of your writings published & unpublished — and some memoranda respecting your late lectures at Washington. Reply as soon as possible, as the volume is in press.

I understand that Dow has a paper in Alexandria — how does he get on with it?

I am still jogging on in the same old way, and will probably remain with Graham, even if I start the “Penn” in January. Our success (Graham’s I mean) is astonishing — we shall print 20,000 copies shortly. When he bought Burton out, the joint circulation was only 5000. I have had some excellent offers respecting the “Penn” and it is more than probable that it will go on.

How do you get on yourself? I have been expecting a letter from you.

Yours truly & constantly — Edgar A Poe.

Notes: The note from Griswold to Poe (CL-324) is unlocated. Thomas’ autobiographical data, intended for Griswold’s The Poets and Poetry of America, may be reasonably dated September 3, 1841 (CL-326). In a prefatory note (omitted by Harrison), Thomas acknowledges the present letter: “Yours of yesterday came to hand duly — about the time you were writing me, I was writting [sic] you [August 30].” Ultimately, Thomas warranted only one poem and a small footnote in the anthology (p. 447). For what was to be a meager headnote to a book already “in press,” the particulars Poe is requesting seem superfluous as well as unduly prying (unpublished writings, “cause of ... lameness,” “late lectures,” etc.). Thomas’ ample and specific reply shows no resentment and a very gracious personality, a sound basis for his true and enduring friendship with Poe. For Jesse E. Dow see The Poe Log, pp. xxii-xxiii; also, D. Thomas, Poe in Philadelphia, p. 37, and chiefly pp. 745-747. [page 306:]

Source: color photograph of the original MS (1 p.) in the University of Virginia Library, Clifton Waller Barrett Collection. The letter is postmarked “Philadelphia, Pa., Sep 1,” and is addressed to: “F. W. Thomas Esqr / Washington / D. C.” Across the end Thomas wrote: “Received the 2d 1841.” Since Poe’s last extant letter to Thomas, seven letters passed between them: six from Thomas, one from Poe (see APXA-Thomas): Thomas’ letter of July 6 (CL-305), of July 7 (CL-309), Poe’s letter of July 17-18 (CL-313), implied in Thomas’ second of two letters, July 19 (CL-314), Thomas’ letter of late July-early August (CL-315), and Thomas’ letter of August 30 (CL-323).

Letter 125 — 1841, September 18 [CL-329] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Lewis J. Cist (Cincinnati, OH):

Philadelphia — Sep. 18 — 41.

My Dear Sir,

I have only this moment received your letter of the 30th ult: having been absent from the city for some time. I feel that I have been guilty of a sad neglect in the matter of your poem; but my conscience absolves me of any intentional disrespect or discourtesy. The facts stand thus. Upon abandoning the design of “The Penn Magazine”, and joining Mr Graham in his own, I handed over to Mr Peterson (the then editor of that journal and who hereafter was to act as my associate; his especial duty being that of revising MSS for press and attending to the general arrangement of the matter) — I handed over to this gentleman your “Bachelor Philosophy” together with a large bundle of other articles sent me for “The Penn.” I assumed no right of transferring articles in this manner; and my intention was (as soon as I could steal a moment’s leisure from the world of business which just at that period overwhelmed me) to communicate by letter with each of my correspondents, requesting permission for such transfer. In many cases I did write, and succeeded in obtaining the requisite permission. My impression was that I had secured your consent with that of others — your consent, I mean, for publishing the poem in Graham’s Magazine. It remained, therefore, with the rest, in Mr Peterson’s hands — but only for the purpose specified. Mr. Peterson, however, (who has a [page 307:] third interest in the “Saturday Evening Post” and superintends the “getting up” of that paper also) has taken the unwarrantable liberty, it seems, of using the poem to suit his own views — leaving out of question my positive understanding and intention on the subject. I seldom look at the paper, except occasionally at a proof of some of my own articles in it, and the publication of your verses did not meet my eye: otherwise I should have written you at once in explanation and apology. You will not be surprised that I failed to miss your article in the Magazine, or to make inquiry respecting it — if you comprehend the nature of the confusion attendant upon the joint issue of a paper and Magazine — especially when you consider that the disposition of the MSS — the drudgery of the business — does not fall to my share. I merely write the Reviews, with a tale monthly, and read the last proofs. As to the insertion of your poem in the “Saturday Evening Post” with the words — “written [page 2] for The Post” — it is a downright falsehood on the part of Mr P. which nothing can extenuate — a falsehood wilfully perpetrated — of a kind which he is in the habit of perpetrating, and which have before involved me most disagreeably. Not long ago wishing to procure a printed copy of a poem of my own called “A Ballad”, and originally published in the “S. L. Mess.” I handed it to Mr P. for re-publication in the “Post” with the heading “From the South. L. Messenger”; and you may imagine my chagrin at seeing it appear with the same caption as your “Bachelor Philosophy.”

I make no scruple in thus indicating to you plainly the origin of the contre-temps which has so justly annoyed you. I must absolve myself, at all hazards, from suspicion of falsehood — let the charge fall upon whom it may. Of intentional discourtesy you will, of course, acquit me. To the accusation of neglect I plead guilty; offering only in extenuation, the press of business which has lately harassed and confused me.

With the highest respect

I am Yr Ob St.

Edgar A Poe

L. J. Cist Esqr [page 308:]

Notes: Shortly after the present letter, Poe would briefly treat Lewis J. Cist, of Cincinnati, in the second installment of his “A Chapter on Autography” (Graham’s, December 1841; H [Works], 15:240). There, he noted that Cist: “has not written much prose, and is known especially by his poetical compositions, many of which have been very popular,” adding the criticism that “they are at times disfigured by false metaphor, and by a meretricious straining after effect” (19:284). The latter comment may seem odd given Poe’s emphasis on the preeminent importance of effect in poetry and prose in his essay “The Philosophy of Composition” (Graham’s, April 1846, 28:163-167; reprinted in H [Works], 14:193-208). What Poe may be pointing out, however, is not that Cist strives for an effect, but that he does so in a way which is clumsy, too heavy-handed, or obvious. For more on Cist, see the note to LTR-105. For Poe’s temporarily abandoning the Penn project and affiliating himself with Graham, see LTR-109, postscript and note. Charles J. Peterson was an editor of Graham’s. Poe printed his “Ballad” (later “Bridal Ballad”) in the SLM (January 1837, 3:5; see TOM [Poems], 1:307), and it was reprinted in the Saturday Evening Post, July 31, 1841. Following W [1909], 2:415, Campbell felt that the poem was a revision of the “Ballad,” written in a Scottish dialect and printed in the August 1835 issue of SLM (1:705-706), but TOM [Poems, 1:506] rejects this earlier poem, noting: “that Poe composed the dialect piece is wholly unacceptable.”

Poe mistakenly believed that “contre-temps,” a basically French word (although by then Englished), needs italics and also a hyphen, even when not broken across lines. He was unaware that a hyphen shifts the word (according to Robert’s authoritative French-language dictionary) as a normal compound, used for an inopportune event, sometimes a disagreement, into the realm of music, to mean an appoggiatura. In LTR-126, he uses the word “in English” (that is, without italics), but still with the hyphen. See LTR-193b of 1845 for contretemps, and again in LTR-263 of 1848, without italics.

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 address appears on a separate leaf. It bears the endorsement, presumably by Cist: “Edgar A. Poe. Philadelphia, Septr, 18. 1841,” and “R. Sep 26,” the latter date possibly documenting an otherwise unknown response from Cist (CL-332b). Poe is replying to Cist’s letter of August 30, 1841 (CL-322). In the MS letter, the word “written” is broken across pages 1 and 2 as “writ-ten.” [page 309:]

Letter 126 — 1841, September 19 [CL-330] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Joseph E. Snodgrass (Baltimore, MD):

Philadelphia — Sep. 19. 41.

My Dear Snodgrass,

I seize the first moment of leisure to say a few words in reply to yours of Sep. 6.

Touching the “Reproof of a Bird”, I hope you will give yourself no uneasiness about it. We don’t mind the contre-temps; and as for Godey, it serves him right, as you say. The moment I saw the article in The “Lady’s Book”, I saw at once how it all happened.

You are mistaken about “The Dial”. I have no quarrel in the world with that illustrious journal, nor it with me. I am not aware that it ever mentioned my name, or alluded to me either directly or indirectly. My slaps at it were only in “a general way.” The tale in question is a mere Extravaganza levelled at no one in particular, but hitting right & left at things in general.

The “Knickerbocker” has been purchased by Otis Broaders & co of Boston. I believe it is still edited by Clark the brother of W. Gaylord.

Thank you for attending to the Kennedy matter. We have no news here just yet — something may turn up by & bye. It is not impossible that Graham will join me in The “Penn.” He has money. By the way, is it impossible to start a first-class Mag: in Baltimore? Is there no publisher or gentleman of moderate capital who would join me in the scheme? — publishing the work in the City of Monuments.

Do write me soon & tell me the news,

Yours most cordially

Edgar A Poe

Notes: Snodgrass’ poem appeared in Godey’s Lady’s Book (September 1841, 23:137) as “A Bird’s Reproof,” and as “Reproof of a Bird” in Graham’s Magazine (September 1841, 19:103). Although under slightly different titles, the two printings of the poem give essentially the same [page 310:] text, except for small variations in wording and punctuation, and an extra stanza in the Graham’s printing. After receiving the MS, Godey probably delayed printing, and Snodgrass then submitted a revision to Graham’s, both magazines coincidentally printing the poem in the same month. The Dial, a quarterly published between July 1840, and April 1844, was at this time edited by Margaret Fuller (see American Magazines,1:702), against whom Poe later aimed several sharp criticisms. Poe’s “slaps” apparently were contained in his humorous tale “Never Bet Your Head,” in Graham’s, (September 1841, 19:124-127; see TOM [T&S], 2:619-620). Mott (American Magazines, 1:606) gives “L. G. Clark (?)” as the publisher of the Knickerbocker for 1840-1841; but if Poe is here correct, Mott’s question concerning Clark’s publishing of the magazine is answered. Clark became editor of the Knickerbocker in April 1834, and remained in that position until 1859. W. Gaylord Clark, brother of Lewis, had been editor of the Philadelphia Gazette until his death, June 13, 1841; Graham’s carried a eulogy in its August 1841 issue. Snodgrass may have been editor of the Baltimore Saturday Visiter at this time (see LTR-90 and note), and Poe may have meant him as the “publisher or gentleman of moderate capital.”

Although the MS correctly gives the name of the new publisher as “Broaders,” William Hand Browne transcribed “Broadus.” Otis, Broaders & Co. was a Boston bookseller, but also printed a number of books with which Poe was undoubtedly familiar, including Lydia M. Child’s Philothea: A Romance (1836), Poems by Oliver W. Holmes (1836), Jane Ermina Locke’s Miscellaneous Poems (1842), and George Hill’s The Ruins of Athens (1842), the last title being briefly noticed inside the rear cover of the February 1842 issue of Graham’s, possibly by Poe himself (see Hull, p. 363-364). Their most famous printing is probably Alexander Wilson’s nine-volume American Ornithology, a reprint of the 1829 edition. One of the co-founders of the company, James Alleyne Gardner Otis (see Wm. A. Otis, A Memoir of the Otis Family, Winnetka, IL, 1924) was a relative of James F. Otis, whom Poe mentioned in “A Chapter on Autography” (Graham’s, December 1841), and with whom Poe exchanged a set of letters in 1836 (see CL-149a and CL-149b). For another use of “contre-temps,” which should not be hyphenated, see LTR-125 and note.

Source: photograph of the original MS (1 p.) in the Huntington Library. The location of Snodgrass’ letter to Poe, September 6, 1841 (CL-327), is unknown. [page 311:]

Letter 126a — 1841, September 24 [CL-332a] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Frederick W. Thomas (Washington, DC):

Philadelphia — Sep. 24 — 41.

My Dear Thomas,

I have just received your last; and now write in reply merely to say that I have succeeded in getting Willig of this city to publish the song. Please send it on as soon as possible. He says he cannot afford to give anything for it beyond a few copies — but will promise to get it up handsomely. I suppose you had better send it through me.

Best respects to Dow & believe me

Your sincere friend

Edgar A Poe

P. S. If you can get me Drake’s autograph and Prentice’s, or “Amelia” ‘s of Ky pray do so. The signature is what I chiefly want. If you can get them soon I would be greatly obliged. Our design includes only literary people.

Notes: Thomas sent his song on Sept. 27 (CL-332c). Poe took it to Willig (see LTR-127), and procured a copy presumably on November 11, the day after Thomas’ letter of November 10 (CL-343); he then sent copies to Thomas (see LTR-131). Jesse E. Dow was a mutual friend, publisher of the Alexandria Index (see Thomas to Poe, October 14, 1841, CL-333). At the time of the present letter, Poe was working on his “Autography” articles (see Graham’s, November and December, 1841, and January, 1842); both Thomas and Dow were included in the December chapter. Thomas was apparently unsuccessful in obtaining the desired signatures. Mrs. Amelia Welby, chiefly of Louisville, was a favorite “poetess” to Poe and is discussed in the long December 1844 “Marginalia” M-104 (see Writings, 2:203-209). Concerning Poe’s favoring “Amelia,” see Pollin, “The Living Writers,” SAR 1991, p. 195, n. 117. Dr. Daniel Drake (1785-1854) was a medical author; his brother, Benjamin, died on April 1, 1846. George Denison Prentice (1802-1878) was editor of the Louisville Daily Journal and a minor poet. He sharply derided Poe for attacking Thomas Carlyle, in a full statement given by the December 1843 Knickerbocker of New York, and again, for Poe’s attempted “hoax” [page 312:] at the Boston Lyceum reading, as quoted by the Boston Transcript of November 13, 1845 (see The Poe Log, pp. 438, 590). Poe’s request to Thomas for the autograph is cancelled in LTR-131 of November 26, 1841 (see SAR 1991, p. 195, n. 117, paragraphs 1 and 4).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. It is written on a double sheet of ruled paper. The address, on a separate leaf, reads: “F. W. Thomas Esqr / Washington / D. C.” and the postmark: “Philadelphia, Sep. 24.” Thomas’ endorsement reads: “Received 25 Sept / and answered 27th.” Below the endorsement appears the following notation: “Bolingbroke / Nelson / Shafbury [sic] / Peterborough / Wrote to Shreve and / Prentice — 12 October — “. The lower left corner of the cover carries the initials by Poe: “E A P.”

Letter 127 — 1841, October 27 [CL-334] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Frederick W. Thomas (Washington, DC):

Philadelphia — Oct. 27 — 41.

My Dear Thomas,

I received your last some days ago, and have delayed answering it, in hope that I might say your song was out, and that I might give you my opinion and Virginia’s about its merits. As soon as I received the MS. I took it forthwith to Willig, who promised me that it should be ready in a week. I called three or four times, and still the answer was — “in a day or two”. Yesterday I called again; when he positively assured me that it would be out on Monday. As soon as it is done, he will forward some copies (he did not say how many) to your address at Washington. Virginia is very anxious to see it, as your “ ‘Tis said that absence” &c is a great favorite with her.

I have not your last letter at hand, and cannot therefore reply to it point by point. You said something about Judge Upshur’s book — or rather about “The Partisan Leader”; for he did not write it — neither Judge Tucker, I think. It seems to me that it was written by someone in Petersburg — but I am not sure. I am not personally acquainted with Judge Upshur; but I have a profound respect for his talents. He is not [page 313:] only the most graceful speaker I ever heard, but one of the most graceful & luminous writers. His head is a model for statuary — Speaking of heads — my own has been examined by several phrenologists — all of whom spoke of me in a species of extravaganza which I should be ashamed to repeat.

In our autograph article for November your name was crowded out on account of the length of the comment upon it. It heads the list in the December no; which is already finished.

Griswold’s book will be issued in January.

I am glad to hear of Dow’s success. I wonder he never sends me an “Index”.

Our Mag: is progressing at the most astounding rate. When Burton was bought out — you know when that was — the joint list of both Mags. was 5000. In January we print 25000. Such a thing was never heard of before. Ah, if we could only get up the “Penn”! I have made a definite engagement with Graham for 1842 — but nothing to interfere with my own scheme, should I be able by any good luck, to go into it. Graham holds out a hope of his joining me in July. Is there no one among your friends at Washington — no one having both brains & funds who would engage in such an enterprise? Perhaps not. I comfort myself, however, with the assurance that the [time] must come when I shall have a journal under my own control. Till then — patience.

Do write me soon, and say something of your own hopes and views. What are you about in the scribbling way?

Sincerely your friend

Edgar A. Poe

Have you read Simm’s new book?

Notes: The MS Poe took to Willig was for Thomas’ song “Oh! Blame Her Not,” described as a “Ballad,” with music by Henry M. T. Powell, and copyrighted by George Willig of Philadelphia on November 2, 1841. Judge Nathaniel Beverley Tucker was indeed the author of the Partisan Leader (1836), reviewed (unsigned) by Judge Abel Parker Upshur in the [page 314:] SLM (January 1837, 3:73-89), according to B. B. Minor in SLM, 1834-1864, p. 63. (For more information on Tucker, see notes to LTR-52.) Since both author Tucker and reviewer Upshur tried to conceal their link to the Partisan Leader, the first secessionist novel, Poe is either designedly prevaricating, ignoring the evident repetition of basic themes and rhetoric in both Tucker’s Paulding review and novel (see notes to LTR-62), or entirely absenting himself from a heated North-South controversy about which a diplomatic silence would be best. Thomas has clearly quizzed him pointedly about the book in his letter of October 14, 1841 (CL-333). For this issue, including Poe’s knowledge of their authorships, see Whalen, Poe and the Masses, pp. 126-128 and 295, nn. 14-17. D. Thomas, in Poe in Philadelphia, pp. 924-925, regards Poe’s praise of Upshur, just appointed Tyler’s Secretary of the Navy, as patently motivated by his own aim at a government post. For a summarizing view of Poe on the subject of phrenologists, with references, see Writings, 5:148; after 1845 he became derisive about the theory. (See E. Hungerford, “Poe and Phrenology,” American Literature, 2:209-231; and M. Stern, “Poe: ‘The Mental Temperament’ for Phrenologists,” American Literature, 40:155-163.) Surely Poe must have received or at least seen Dow’s review in the Index of the November issue of Graham’s, lauding his “Autography” and decoding skill and encouraging the issuance of the Penn (see the text in The Poe Log, pp. 346-347). Poe’s article on Thomas in “A Chapter on Autography” (Graham’s, December 1841) is reprinted in H [Works], 15:209-210. By “Griswold’s book,” Poe probably refers to Griswold’s Poets and Poetry of America, published in April 1842 and including Thomas’ “ ‘Tis Said that Absence Conquers Love” (p. 447). Poe apparently wrote a sketch of Thomas, but Griswold did not use it (see LTR-124 and LTR-143). William Gilmore Simms was a prolific novelist, several times reviewed by Poe. A brief summary of Poe’s relationship with Simms, see The Poe Log, p. xlii. Poe inscribed him in Such Friends as no. 231, with the task “get sonnet” (pp. 18 and 35). The new book mentioned by Poe in the present letter is probably Simm’s Confession; or the Blind Heart, A Domestic Story (Philadelphia: Lea & Blanchard, 1841), reviewed by Poe in Graham’s (December 1841, 19:306).

Source: transcript as given by Lewis Chase in American Literature (March 1934), 6:66-68, where it was first printed, from a copy of the original MS, then owned by Dr. Thomas R. Boggs. The present location of the MS is unknown, for after Dr. Boggs’ death it was not found among his papers. Poe is replying to Thomas’ letter of October 14, not, as Chase [page 315:] stated incorrectly, the one misdated as August 3 [actually September 3] (CL-326). The Thomas letter of October 14, 1841 (CL-333) asks if Poe has received the manuscript of Thomas’ song, “sent you the other day,” although he does not mention it by name; it also says that Dow is publishing the Index at Alexandria, and inquires if Judge Upshur is author of the Partisan Leader. Poe also posted a letter to Thomas, September 20 (CL-331), which Thomas answered, September 22 (CL-332). Poe replied on September 24 (LTR-126a).

Letter 128 — 1841, November 10 [CL-342] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Mrs. Lydia H. Sigourney (Hartford, CT):

Philadelphia. Nov. 10. 1841.

Dear Madam.

Since my connexion, as editor, with “Graham’s Magazine”, of this city, I have been sadly disappointed to find that you deem us unworthy your correspondence. Month after month elapses, and, although our list numbers “good names,” we still miss that of Mrs Sigourney. Is there no mode of tempting you to send us an occasional contribution? Mr Graham desires me to say that he would be very especially obliged if you could furnish, him with a poem, however brief, for the January number. His compensation — for the days of gratuitous contributions are luckily gone by — will be at least as liberal as that of any publisher in America. May I hope to hear from you in reply? Excuse, dear Madam, this villanous [sic] steel pen, and believe me with high respect

Yr Mo ob St

Edgar A Poe

Mrs L. H. Sigourney.

Notes: Mrs. Sigourney contributed a poem, “To a Land Bird at Sea,” to Graham’s (January 1842, 20:9). According to “The Pay for Periodical Writing,” in the New York Weekly Mirror (October 19, 1844, 1:28, sometimes erroneously attributed to Poe but actually by Willis), Graham paid prose writers from $2 to $12 a page, and poets from $5 to $50 an “article” (Quinn, p. 341). Prices were probably much less in 1841; for Poe offered Snodgrass “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt,” for the Baltimore [page 316:] Saturday Visiter (in his letter of June 4, 1842) at $4 a page, which he described as “the usual Magazine price” (LTR-137).

Source: facsimile of the original MS (1 p.) in G. S. Haight’s Mrs. Sigourney, the Sweet Singer of Hartford, facing p. 118, where it was first printed. For a similar solicitation, see Mrs. Sigourney to Poe, June 11, 1836 (CL-150). In the MS, opening quotation marks precede “him with a poem.” With no ending marks, nor any clear purpose, they have been omitted in the present printing.

Letter 129 — 1841, November 16 [CL-345] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Mrs. Lydia H. Sigourney (Hartford, CT):

Philadelphia Nov. 16. 1842 [1841]

Dear Madam,

I hasten to reply to yours of the 13th, and to thank you for your consent in the matter of contribution to our January number. We are forced to go to press at a very early period — for our edition is, in reality, twenty-five thousand — so that it would be desirable we should have your article in hand by the 1rst December. We shall look for it with much anxiety, as we are using every exertion to prepare a number of more than ordinary attraction. So far, we have been quite successful. We shall have papers from Longfellow, Benjamin, Willis, Fay, Herbert, Mrs Stephens, Mrs Embury, Dr Reynell Coates, and (what will surprise you) from Sergeant Talfourd, author of “Ion” — besides others of nearly equal celebrity.

Is it not possible that we can make an arrangement with yourself for an article each month? It would give us the greatest pleasure to do so; and the terms of Mr Graham will be at least as liberal as those of any publisher. Shall we hear from you upon this point?

I regret that I am unable to answer your query touching the “Messenger”: — nor do I believe it answerable[.] Since my secession, I think that Mr White has had no regular editor. He depends pretty much upon chance, [page 2] for assistance in the conduct of the Magazine — sometimes procuring aid from Mr James E. Heath, of [page 317:] Richmond — sometimes (but not of late days) from Judge Beverly [sic] Tucker, author of “George Balcombe”. Mr. Benjamin has occasionally furnished him with editorial or, rather, critical matters, and Mr R. W. Griswold has lately written much for the Magazine.

I am, Dear Madam, With the highest respect,

Yr Ob. St

Edgar A Poe

Mrs L. H. Sigourney

Notes: Following Poe’s departure from the editorship of the SLM, Thomas W. White edited the magazine, very much as Poe says, from February 1837-December 1839 (?); then he was assisted by Matthew F. Maury, January 1840 (?)-September 1842, after which Maury edited it alone until July 1843 (American Magazines, 1:629). Mr. White died in January 1843, and Benjamin B. Minor took over the SLM interests in July 1843. Dr. Reynell Coates, H. W. Herbert, Park Benjamin, Mrs. Stephens, and Mrs. Embury were regular contributors to Graham’s, and articles by them appear in many issues, especially from Mrs. Embury. T. S. Fay, submitted a series of essays on “Shakspeare” (beginning in January 1842, 20:58-60). Longfellow sent a poem, “The Goblet of Life” (January 1842, 20:5), and an essay on “German Writers: Heinrich Heine” (March 1842, 20:134-137). Willis did not contribute, noting that Godey paid him liberally for the exclusive use of his name in Philadelphia for 1842 (CL-344a and CL-350). A real “surprise” is Poe’s mention of Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd, Sergeant-at-Law and an M.P., friend of major London literati, author of popular (although generally insipid) blank-verse plays, appearing twice in Poe’s criticism (H [Works], 9:144 and 15:92-93). Talfourd contributed “Sonnet” (January 1842, 20:5). Poe had earlier been forced to propitiate Mrs. Sigourney, an inordinately popular American writer (see LTR-128 and LTR-61), and now to invite her contributions, whatever might be his private views of her merits. Estimates of her prolificity indicate 60 books and over 2,000 articles. Ironically, he stressed her lack of originality but also borrowed two lines for “The City in the Sea” from her poem, “Musing Thoughts” (see TOM [Poems], 1:204; also self-admitted in Poe’s 1849 article “A Reviewer Reviewed,” in TOM [T&S], 3:1385).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.) in the Connecticut Historical Society. The year date should be 1841; for in November 1842, Poe was no longer editor of Graham’s. Poe is replying to Mrs. Sigourney’s letter of November 13, 1841 (CL-344). [page 318:]

Letter 130 — 1841, November 18 [CL-346] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Richard Bolton (Pontotoc, MS):

Philadelphia Nov. 18. 41.

Dear Sir,

Yours of the 4th is this moment received; and I hasten to exonerate myself from a very unpleasant suspicion — the suspicion, no doubt long since entertained by yourself, that I wished to deny you the honors of victory — and a participation in its spoils.

A word in explanation will suffice. You must know, then, that our edition is, in fact, exceedingly large. We print 25000 copies. Of course much time is required to prepare them. Our last “form” necessarily goes to press a full month in advance of the day of issue. It often happens, moreover, that the last form in order is not the last in press. Our first form is usually held back until the last moment on account of the “plate article.” Upon this hint you will easily see the possibility of your letter not having come to hand in season for acknowledgment in the November number. Otherwise, I should have had high gratification in sharing with you then, the reputation of a bottle-conjurer — for thus the matter seems to stand. In our December number, (which has been quite ready for ten days) you will find an unqualified acknowledgment of your claims — without even allusion to the slight discrepancies for which I believe the printer is chargeable. I mean to say that you have (I believe) solved the cypher as printed. My solution follows the MS. — both are correct.

Allow me, Dear Sir, now to say that I was never more astonished in my life than at your solution. Will you honestly tell me? — did you not owe it to the accident of the repetition of the word “itagi?” for “those”? This repetition does not appear in the MS. — at least I [page 2] am pretty sure that it was interpolated by one of our compositors — a “genius” who takes much interest in these matters — and many unauthorized liberties.

In Dr Frailey’s MS. were many errors — the chief of which I corrected for press — but mere blunders do not really much affect the [page 319:] difficulty of cypher solution — as you, no doubt, perceive. I had also to encounter the embarrasment of a miserably cramped & confused penmanship. Here you had the advantage of me — a very important advantage.

Be all this as it may — your solution astonished me. You will accuse me of vanity in so saying — but truth is truth. I make no question that it even astonished yourself — and well it might — for from among at least 100,000 readers — a great number of whom, to my certain knowledge busied themselves in the investigation — you and I are the only persons who have succeeded.

It is unnecessary to trouble yourself with the cipher printed in our Dec. number — it is insoluble for the reason that it is merely type in pi or something near it. Being absent from the office for a short time, I did not see a proof and the compositors have made a complete medley. It has not even a remote resemblance to the MS.

I should be delighted to hear from you at all times — Believe me —

Yours very resply

Edgar A Poe

R. Bolton Esqr

Notes: In Graham’s for December 1841 (19:308), Poe says that of the 100,000 readers of the magazine, “one and only one” solved Dr. Frailey’s cryptograph, which had appeared in the August number. The honor, he says, belongs to “Mr. Richard Bolton, of Pontotoc, Mississippi,” but adds that the solution arrived too late for inclusion in the November issue. Poe shows himself evasive and misleading in this response to Bolton. In LTR-131, Poe privately discredits Bolton’s independent solving of the cryptogram by saying, “He pretends not to have seen my solution — but his own contains internal evidence of the fact.” For an analysis of the problem, see Wm. F. Friedman, “Edgar Allan Poe, Cryptographer,” American Literature, 8:266-280, where he concludes: “I must declare that Poe had utterly no foundation for his suspicion [stated to Thomas]. Internal evidence in Bolton’s solution ... serves to indicate conclusively that his work was accomplished without the key. Nowhere can one find ‘three blunders in mine [Poe’s] which are copied in his own ...’ Poe did not ... deny having received the latter’s solution mailed on September 9 [page 320:] ... Poe must have received it by October 9. The key to the cryptogram did not appear in the September number ... but ... in the October number, which could not possibly have arrived before September 9” (8:276). In the final sentence of the first paragraph, Poe reshapes Senator W. L. Marcy’s 1832 aphorism, defending Martin Van Buren against Henry Clay’s attacks: “to the victor belong the spoils of the enemy.” The term “bottle-conjurer” is an alternate form for “conjuror” (see in LTR-131), referring to a street or raree-show magician, or a juggler of bottles and other objects. The OED shows the word only in one 1755 instance, but Poe’s form implies a widespread use.

Poe’s cryptographic display, intended to dazzle readers with his analytical brilliance and verbal legerdemain, concludes with the December 1841 issue of Graham’s (H [Works], 14:140-148), where he prints a long letter with two “insoluble” cryptographs, submitted by someone whose name is given as “W. B. Tyler.” Both puzzles have now been separately decoded. The first success was that of Terence Whalen (Poe and the Masses, pp. 209-212) — a short passage independently translated by John Hodgson (“Decoding Poe? Poe, W. B. Tyler, and Cryptography,” Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 92:523-534), who correctly identified it as from Addison’s Cato. The second, in 2000, was that of Gil Broza, spurred by a contest from Williams College. Broza decoded the longer, and far more challenging, prose excerpt, which appears to be from an unknown sentimental tale. The mystery of the cryptograms has been broken, but a perhaps even greater mystery remains. In 1985, Louis Renza proposed the tantalizing possibility that W. B. Tyler may have been none other than Poe himself (“Poe’s Secret Autobiography,” The American Renaissance Reconsidered, pp. 86-87, n. 14). The notion has been adopted and enhanced by several other scholars, most notably Terence Whalen (Poe and the Masses, pp. 208-216) and Shawn Rosenheim (The Cryptographic Imagination, pp. 34-41), although the case is entirely conjectural and neither cryptogram reveals Poe as the author, as had been presumed before they were deciphered. (See also Stephen Rachman’s article, “Cipher Solved, But Mystery Remains,” EAP Review, 3:77-79.) Whalen comments on the present letter, and LTR-131, concerning Poe’s conflicting uses of cryptology to captivate and yet insulate himself from the magazine readers (pp. 207-208). Although the cryptograms as printed in Graham’s are plagued with minor errors, Poe is overstating the problem by saying that they are set in “pi,” which suggests that many characters have been misarranged. [page 321:]

The spellings of “cypher” and “cipher” are both correct, although the “i” is closer to the Arabic root of the word. Poe alternates between the two, preferring the “y” form. In thirty-six separate works with the word used at least once, approximately twenty-two offer “cypher,” but in some twelve letters there are about eight with “cipher,” and of these there are two more with this kind of “doublet” usage: to Tomlin, LTR-162 and to Thomas, LTR-198 — proof of the freedom used by Poe in such matters.

Source: photoprint of the original MS (2 pp.) in the Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), November 15, 1925, section 4, p. 7, where the letter was first printed. The location of the original MS is unknown. Poe is replying to Bolton’s letter of November 4, 1841 (CL-338). Edward S. Sears, author of the article in the Commercial Appeal, also prints Bolton’s letter of November 4, 1841, and one dated “June 10,” 1842, which should be January 10, 1842 (CL-354) (according to a letter from William K. Wimsatt, Jr. to John W. Ostrom; see Wimsatt, “What Poe Knew About Cryptography,” PMLA, 58:754-779). No other letter from Poe to Bolton is known.

Letter 131 — 1841, November 26 [CL-348] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Frederick W. Thomas (Washington, DC):

Philadelphia, Nov. 26 — 41.

My Dear Thomas,

I am astonished to hear that you have not yet received the music, as, upon receipt of your last, I procured it of Willig, and put it into the hands of Burgess, our Magazine agent here, who promised to <follow> forward it to Taylor the Magazine agent in Washington. Taylor was to deliver it to you. You had better call upon him. It is the same man upon whom you had the draft.

You need not put yourself to trouble about Prentice’s autograph, as we have now closed that business. I suppose you have not the December number yet — it has been ready for several weeks. The January no: is nearly prepared — we have an autograph article in each. Should Prentice send on his signature, however, I would be glad to get it. [page 322:]

In the Dec. no: you will see a notice to the effect that a Mr Richard Bolton, of Pontotoc Miss.i, has solved Dr Frailey’s cypher. You must put no great faith in this announcement. Mr Bolton sent me a letter dated at a period long after the reception of our Magazines in Pontotoc, and fully a month after the preparation of the number containing the answer by myself. He pretends [page 2] not to have seen my solution — but his own contains internal evidence of the fact. Three blunders in mine are copied in his own, & two or three corrections of Dr Frailey’s original, by myself, are also faithfully repeated. I had the alternative of denying his claim and thus appearing invidious, or of sharing with him an honor which, in the eyes of the mob at least, is not much above that of a bottle-conjuror: so I chose the last and have put a finale to this business.

Touching your study of the French language. You will, I fear, find it difficult — as, (if I rightly understood you,) you have not received what is called a “classical” education. To the Latin & Greek proficient, the study of all additional languages is mere play — but to the non-proficient it is anything else. The best advice I can give you, under the circumstances, is to busy yourself with the theory or grammar of the language as little as possible & to read side-by-side translations continually, of which there are many to be found. I mean French books in which the literal English version is annexed page per page. Board, also, at a French boarding-house, and force yourself to speak French — bad or good — whether you [page 3] can or whether you cannot.

I have not heard from Kennedy for a long time, and I think, upon the whole, he has treated me somewhat cavalierly — professing to be a friend.

I would give the world to see you once again and have a little chat. Dow you & I — “when shall we three meet again?” Soon, I hope — for I must try & slip over to Washington some of these days.

Do you hear often from your friends at St Louis? When you write, remember me kindly to your sister Frances — if I may take the liberty of requesting to be remembered where, never having been known personally, there can be nothing to remember. We have had “Clinton [page 323:] Bradshaw” here (the confounded “devils” will print it Bradshawe) and the “Dedication” has set us all to thinking & talking about the “dedicatee”[.]

God bless you —

Edgar A Poe

Notes: For Thomas’ song, see Thomas to Poe, September 22 (CL-332), November 6 and 23, 1841 (CL-339 and CL-347), and LTR-127. Poe’s “Autography” articles in Graham’s for December 1841 and January 1842, are reprinted in H [Works], 15:209-261. For the reference to Bolton, see LTR-130 and note. Bolton had good reason to complain, as shown by William K. Friedman, Chief Signal Officer of the US War Department, who reprints Bolton’s letter (with an incorrect date of the 14th) in his excellent study, “EAP, Cryptographer” in American Literature, 8:266-80, specifically 8:274-276. Friedman concludes, “Poe had utterly no foundation for his suspicion.” Also see expert Friedman’s treatments, under the same title, in Signal Corps Bulletin, pp. 41-53 and 54-75. Poe’s early training in classical and modern languages (see Quinn, pp. 71, 99-101) may account for the advice given Thomas. Poe had not received a letter from J. P. Kennedy, apparently, since April 26, 1836. Jesse E. Dow, a companion of Poe and of Thomas in 1840, soon went to Washington to hold minor political offices and to edit various newspapers, the Index being the first. Poe’s reference to the three witches of Macbeth (“when shall we three meet again”), and his wish to “slip over to Washington” seems to reveal once again his desire to seek respite from poverty by securing a government position, as displayed in his disastrous trip in March 1843. (For more on Dow, see LTR-124, LTR-127, and LTR-197.) Clinton Bradshaw (1835) was Thomas’ first novel; Poe may have had it in hand for the preparation of notes on Thomas’ biography requested by Griswold (see LTR-124) or, more likely, for the “Chapter on Autography” article, which included Thomas (Graham’s, December 1841; H [Works], 15:209-210). The dedication to the first edition of Clinton Bradshaw reads: “To my sister, Frances Ann / My Dear Sister,/ As a slight acknowledgment of your affection, I / inscribe these volumes with your name. / Your affectionate brother, / The Author. / Philadelphia, Sept. 17, 1835” (provided by TOM, from the first edition copy in the Yale University Library). Despite his boast, there is reason to doubt Poe’s proficiency in Greek, as his difficulty with the spelling of “scholasticos” reveals (see LTR-186 and notes; also the brief “Poe’s Greek” in EAP [page 324:] Review, 2:71-77). Observe the variant spelling used for “bottle-conjuror” in LTR-130. For George Denison Prentice, see LTR-126a, and note.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (3 pp.) in the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library. On the verso of page 3 appears the address: “F. W. Thomas Esqr / Washington / D.C.”; the letter was postmarked Philadelphia, November 26. Thomas noted on the envelope: “Received November 27.” The MS has a hole in the right side of page 3, and in two places in the cover where the seal was applied. Poe is answering Thomas’ letter of November 23, 1841 (CL-347). However, Thomas wrote on November 6 (CL-339); Poe replied on November 8-9 (CL-341), according to Thomas’ letter of November 10 (CL-343).

Letter 132 — 1842, February 3 [CL-356] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Frederick W. Thomas (Washington, DC):

Philadelphia Feb. 3, ‘42.

My dear Friend:

I am sure you will pardon me for my seeming neglect in not replying to your last when you learn what has been the cause of the delay. My dear little wife has been dangerously ill. About a fortnight since, in singing, she ruptured a blood-vessel, and it was only on yesterday that the physicians gave me any hope of her recovery. You might imagine the agony I have suffered, for you know how devotedly I love her. But to-day the prospect brightens, and I trust that this bitter cup of misery will not be my portion. I seize the first moment of hope and relief to reply to your kind words.

You ask me how I come on with Graham? Will you believe it Thomas? On the morning subsequent to the accident I called upon him, and, being entirely out of his debt, asked an advance of two months salary — when he not only flatly but discourteously refused. Now that man knows that I have rendered him the most important services; he cannot help knowing it, for the fact is rung in his ears by every second person who visits the office, and the comments made by the press are too obvious to be misunderstood. [page 325:]

The project of the new Magazine still (you may be sure) occupies my thoughts. If I live, I will accomplish it, and in triumph. By the way, there is one point upon which I wish to consult you. You are personally acquainted with Robert Tyler, author of “Ahasuerus.” In this poem there are many evidences of power, and, what is better, of nobility of thought & feeling. In reading it, an idea struck me — “Might it not,” I thought, “be possible that he would, or rather might be induced to feel some interest in my contemplated scheme, perhaps even to take an interest in something of the kind — an interest either open or secret?” The Magazine might be made to play even an important part in the politics of the day, like Blackwood; and in this view might be worthy his consideration. Could you contrive to suggest the matter to him? Provided I am permitted a proprietary right in the journal, I shall not be very particular about the extent of that right. If, instead of a paltry salary, Graham had given me a tenth of his Magazine, I should feel myself a rich man to-day. When he bought out Burton, the joint circulation was 4,500, and we have printed of the February number last, 40,000. Godey, at the period of the junction, circulated 30,000, and, in spite of the most strenuous efforts, has not been able to prevent his list from falling. I am sure that he does not print more than 30,000 to-day. His absolute circulation is about 20,000. Now Godey, in this interval, has surpassed Graham in all the externals of a good Magazine. His paper is better, his type far better, and his engravings fully as good; but I fear I am getting sadly egotistical. I would not speak so plainly to any other than yourself. How delighted I would be to grasp you by the hand!

As regards the French — get into a French family by all means — read much, write more, & give grammar to the dogs.

You are quizzing me about the autographs. I was afraid to say more than one half of what I really thought of you, lest it should be attributed to personal friendship. Those articles have had a great run — have done wonders for the Journal — but I fear have also done me, personally, much injury. I was weak enough to permit Graham to modify my opinions (or at least their expression) in many of the notices. In the case of Conrad, for example; he insisted upon praise [page 326:] and worried me into speaking well of such ninnies as Holden, Peterson, Spear, &c., &c. I would not have yielded had I thought it made much difference what one said of such puppets as these, but it seems the error has been made to count against my critical impartiality. Know better next time. Let no man accuse me of leniency again.

I do not believe that Ingraham stole “Lafitte.”

No, Benjamin does not write the political papers in the “New World,” but I cannot say who does. I cannot bring myself to like that man, although I wished to do so, and although he made some advances, of late, which you may have seen. He is too thorough-souled a time-server. I would not say again what I said of him in the “Autography.”

Did you read my review of “Barnaby Rudge” in the Feb. No.? You see that I was right throughout in my predictions about the plot. Was it not you who said you believed I would find myself mistaken?

Remember me kindly to Dow. I fear he has given me up; never writes; never sends a paper.

Will you bear in mind what I say about R. Tyler?

God bless you.

Edgar A. Poe.

F. W. Thomas.

Notes: For Poe’s five-year denial of Virginia’s tuberculosis, see Silverman, pp. 179-180 (also LTR-135, LTR-141, and LTR-203 and notes). Poe clearly expected Thomas to communicate his praise of Robert Tyler to the gentleman himself, whose influence he wished to cultivate. Poe still hoped to publish the Penn Magazine and was trying to enlist the aid of Tyler, son of the President of the United States and a friend of Thomas. For Robert Tyler’s high opinion of Poe as a critic, see Thomas to Poe, February 26, 1842 (CL-358). Poe’s “A Chapter on Autography” in Graham’s for December 1841 included articles on Thomas G. Spear, Ezra Holden, Robert T. Conrad, and Charles J. Peterson (see H [Works], 15:210-211, 212, 232-233, and 235). Poe’s self-revealed overpraise of Conrad (see H [Works], 15:232-234) does not suggest that the prominent Judge might eventually aid him professionally, as he did as a member of the committee awarding him the prize for “The Gold-Bug” (see The Poe [page 327:] Log, p. 416). Poe rather harshly reviewed Joseph H. Ingraham’s Lafitte in the SLM (August 1836, 2:593-596; reprinted in H [Works], 9:106-116, and Writings, 5:260-262). This review comments that the novel “is based, in a great degree, upon a sketch by Mr. Flint.” Poe included Park Benjamin, editor of the New World, in his “Chapter on Autography” (Graham’s, November 1841; H [Works], 15:183-184). In a “prospective notice” in the Saturday Evening Post, May 1, 1841, Poe anticipated the plot of Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge; he reviewed the book at length, recalling his earlier analysis, in Graham’s, February 1842 (reprinted in H [Works], 11:38-64). Gerald Grubb, having examined the relations of Dickens and Poe in three exhaustive articles in Nineteenth-Century Fiction (5:1-22, 101-120, and 209-221), declares that of Poe’s five predictions about the plot of the novel, only one proved correct — that the “idiot” is the murderer’s son. Poe’s statement about the profitability of Graham’s is an overestimate, as explained by Whalen in Poe and the Masses, p. 289, n. 30, citing Poe’s letter to C. Anthon, before November 2, 1844 (LTR-186).

Source: text of the letter as printed in The Autograph (January-February 1912), 1:42-43. Poe is replying to Thomas’ letter of January 13, 1842 (CL-355).

Letter 133 — 1842, March 13 [CL-361] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to John N. McJilton (Baltimore, MD):

Philadelphia — March 13. 1842.

My Dear Sir,

I duly received your letter of the 14th ult, accompanying Miss Wetherald’s Translation. My silence, for so long an interval, will have assured you that the article is accepted with pleasure. Mr Graham, however, desires me to say that it will be out of his power to pay more than 2$ per printed page for translations. Should these terms meet the views of Miss Wetherald, we should be glad to receive from her, each month, an article similar to the one sent, and not exceeding three or four pages in length.

It will be inconvenient, just now, to furnish French periodicals, as suggested: — but the task of selection may well be left in the hands of [page 328:] Miss Wetherald, of whose abilities as a French translator I am fully satisfied, and of whose taste I am well assured by the character of the paper now furnished. Similar pieces would suit my own views better than others “more in the story-telling style of the day.”

Why do I not hear from you occasionally as in “the olden time?”

With the Highest Respect. YrObSt

Edgar A Poe

Rev. J. N. McJilton.

Notes: Rev. John Nelson McJilton (1805-1875), of Baltimore, was an Episcopalian clergyman and the first superintendent of public schools. “Russian Revenge,” translated from the French by Esther Wetherald, appeared in Graham’s (June 1842, 20:322-325). By quoting the phrase “the olden time,” Poe is invoking the second stanza of his poem “The Haunted Palace.” More directly, he is referring to McJilton’s two poems submitted to the SLM in September 1835 (signed with the pseudonym Giles McQuiggin) and another in May 1836 (see Jackson, Contributors and Contributions to SLM, pp. 3-4 and 14). Poe’s final cordial sentence scarcely accords with the negativity of the review acknowledged by Poe in LTR-120.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.), 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 addressed to the “Revd J. N. McJilton, / Baltimore / Md ”; and initialed “E A P.” in the lower left corner. It is postmarked at Philadelphia, March 15. Poe is replying to McJilton’s letter of February 14, 1842 (CL-357). For the only other known correspondence between Poe and McJilton, see the note to LTR-121 (in which Poe thought McJilton was Timotheus Whackemwell).

Letter 133a — 1842, April (?) [CL-362a] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Edward L. Carey (Philadelphia, PA):

Thursday Morning

Office Graham’s Magazine

My Dear Sir — [page 329:]

I fear you have forgotten me — or it is not improbable that you have sent a note to the Office which has not come to hand. Lest this may have been the case I thought it best to write.

The MS. will make, as near as may be, 18 pp.

Yours very respy

E A Poe

E[.] L. Carey Esqr

Notes: The identity of the manuscript referred to is “The Pit and the Pendulum,” which was printed in The Gift for 1843, published by Carey & Hart in the fall of 1842. By May of 1842, Poe had left his position at Graham’s Magazine (see LTR-134 and LTR-137).

Source: facsimile of the original MS (1 p.) as given in a catalog from a Paris auction of about May 1990, sold by J. Espagnon. The tentative date is assigned based on the use of “Office Graham’s Magazine” in the return address and the timing of Poe’s somewhat hostile departure from his role as editor at the magazine.

 


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Notes:

Two pages are accounted for in the pagination but not included in the text above because both are blank back pages. These are pages 226 and 330.


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[S:0 - CLT08, 2008] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Letters of Edgar Allan Poe (Ostrom, Pollin and Savoye) (Chapter 04)