Text: J. W. Ostrom, B. R. Pollin, and J. A. Savoye, “Chapter 05,” The Collected Letters of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. I: 1824-1845 (2008), pp. 331-434 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 331, unnumbered:]



The Post-Graham’s Period

Letters 134-173: May 1842-March 1844

[page 333:]

Letter 134 — 1842, May 25 [CL-365] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Frederick W. Thomas (Washington, DC):

Philadelphia May 25. 1842.

My Dear Thomas,

Through an accident I have only just now received yours of the 21rst. Believe me, I never dreamed of doubting your friendship, or of reproaching you for your silence. I knew you had good reasons for it; and, in this matter, I feel that you have acted for me more judiciously, by far, than I should have done for myself. You have shown yourself, from the first hour of our acquaintance, that rara avis in terris — a true friend. Nor am I the man to be unmindful of your kindness.

What you say respecting a situation in the Custom House here <,> gives me new life. Nothing could more precisely meet my views. Could I obtain such an appointment, I would be enabled thoroughly to carry out all my ambitious projects. It would relieve me of all care as regards a mere subsistence, and thus allow me time for thought, which, in fact, is action. I repeat that I would ask, for nothing farther or better than a situation such as you mention. If the salary will barely enable me to live I shall be content. Will you say as much for me to Mr Tyler, and express to him my sincere gratitude for the interest he takes in my welfare?

The report of my having parted company with Graham, is correct; although, in the forthcoming June number, there is no announcement to that effect; nor had the papers any authority for the statement made. My duties ceased with the May number. I shall continue to contribute occasionally. Griswold succeeds me. My reason for resigning was disgust [page 2] with the namby-pamby character of the Magazine — a character which it was impossible to eradicate — I allude to the contemptible pictures, fashion-plates, music and love tales. The salary, moreover, did not pay me for the labor which I was forced to bestow. With Graham who is really a very gentlemanly, although an exceedingly weak man, I had no misunderstanding.

I am rejoiced to say that my dear little wife is much better, and I [page 334:] have strong hope of her ultimate recovery. She desires her kindest regards — as also Mrs Clemm.

I have moved from the old place — but should you pay an unexpected visit to Philadelphia you will find my address at Graham’s. I would give the world to shake you by the hand; and have a thousand things to talk about which would not come within the compass of a letter.

Write immediately upon receipt of this, if possible, and do let me know something of yourself, your own doings and prospects: — see how excellent an example of egotism I set you. Here is a letter nearly every word of which is about myself or my individual affairs.

You saw White — little Tom. I am anxious to know what he said about things in general. He is a character if ever one was.

God bless you —

Edgar A Poe

F. W. Thomas.

Note: Thomas’ long correspondence with Poe reveals him indeed to have been a true friend (see APXA-Thomas). His silence was directly due to his efforts to interest Robert Tyler in Poe’s welfare. Writing to Poe on May 21, 1842 (CL-364), Thomas described a position in the Custom House in Philadelphia as “a situation that would suit you and place you beyond the necessity of employing your pen,” assuring Poe that “official life is not laborious.” More importantly, Thomas told Poe that Tyler “felt confident that such a situation could be obtained for you in the course of two or three months at farthest, as certain vacancies would then occur.” It is little wonder, then, that Poe’s letters of this period often deal with his unsuccessful attempts to secure a government clerkship (see LTR-148 and others noted in the index). In paragraph 2 on page 1, Thomas made an “x” after “here,” following the words “Custom House,” and in the left margin wrote: “I had been promised a place in the Philadelphia Custom House by the powers that were for Poe, but some small beer politician or the other got the place and genius was left to its fate. T.” (Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable explains “small beer” as of slight alcoholic content, hence of slight consequence.) Poe’s salary with Graham was $800 a year for his editorial duties; he probably received extra pay for his contributions, varying, according to references in his correspondence, [page 335:] from $4-5 “a Graham page”; Graham was forced to be more liberal with men like Lowell, Longfellow, Cooper, and Willis (see American Magazines 1:506-507). Poe uses the term “namby-pamby” in “A Chapter on Autography” (Graham’s, December 1841, in the entry for Mrs. E. Clementine Stedman). For “namby-pambyism,” see LTR-304 and LTR-329, and Poe’s review of Lowell’s Fable for Critics (SLM, March 1849, 15:189-191; reprinted in Writings, 5:375-377). Poe was not the first or only person to use the term. In his prospectus for the Pioneer (January 1843), Lowell derides the “enormous quantity of thrice-diluted trash, in the shape of namby-pamby love tales and sketches, which is monthly poured out to them by many of our popular magazines.” For Poe’s change of residence, see Quinn, pp. 273-274. Thomas W. White was the editor and publisher of the SLM.

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 letter is addressed on a separate leaf to “F. W. Thomas Esqre / Washington / D. C,” and is postmarked from Philadelphia, May 25, and docketed by Thomas “Received May 26. 1842.” In the MS, the word “disgust” is broken across pages 1 and 2 as “dis-gust.” Prior to Poe’s present letter, Thomas had written February 26, 1842 (CL-358); Poe replied March 13 (CL-362), according to Thomas’ next letter, May 21, 1842 (CL-364).

Letter 135 — 1842, ca. early June [CL-367] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to James Herron (Washington, DC):

[...] anticipated my design, and a notice had already been inserted, but only as a communication — not editorially.

Believe me that I sincerely rejoice in your good fortune; or rather in the success which you so well earned and deserved; but my means of serving you through the papers have been less than my desire to do so. You have learned, perhaps, that I have retired from “Graham’s Magazine”. The state of my mind has, in fact, forced me to abandon for the present, all mental exertion. The renewed and hopeless illness of my wife, ill health on my own part, and pecuniary embarrassments, have nearly driven me to distraction. My only hope of relief is the [page 336:] “Bankrupt Act”, of which I shall avail myself as soon as possible. Had I resolved upon this at an earlier day, I might now have been doing well — but the struggle to keep up has, at length, entirely ruined me. I have left myself without even the means of availing myself of the act, [page 2] [...]

You will be pleased to hear that I have the promise of a situation in our Custom-House. The offer was entirely unexpected & gratuitous. I am to receive the appointment upon removal of several incumbents — the removal to be certainly made in a month. I am indebted to the personal friendship of Robert Tyler. If I really receive the appointment all may yet go well. The labors of the office are by no means onerous and I shall have time enough to spare for other pursuits. Please mention nothing of this — for, after all, I may be disappointed.

Mrs Poe is again dangerously ill with hemorrhage from the lungs. It is folly to hope.

With sincere esteem & friendship


Edgar A Poe

Jas. Herron Esqre

Note: James Herron, an engineer, invented a trellis railway structure. His book, A Practical Description of Herron’s Patent Trellis Railway Structure (Philadelphia: Carey & Hart, 1841), was reviewed in Graham’s (October 1841, 19:192). Poe left Graham’s “with the May number,” published about April 15. For more information on Poe’s relations with James Herron, see D. Thomas, Poe in Philadelphia, pp. 387-388, 403-404, 429, and 804; also, see Quinn, pp. 360-361, and Phillips, 1:754-756. Poe filed for bankruptcy in the District Court of the United States in Philadelphia on December 19, 1842, and it was granted on January 13, 1843. The document, only recently discovered by curators in the Philadelphia branch of the National Archives, provides a long list of creditors, with debts totalling just over $2,000. Poe failed to receive the appointment to an office in the Philadelphia Custom House. According to Poe, Virginia ruptured a blood vessel, while she was singing, about the middle of January 1842, and for some time doctors despaired of her recovery (see LTR-132). Unfortunately, Poe’s varied descriptions and explanations for Virginia’s illness are not to be relied upon. He was, perhaps, denying even to himself that she was already suffering from the effects of tuberculosis, the disease which was to end her life in 1847. [page 337:]

Source: photocopy of the original MS (a fragment), formerly in the collection of William H. Koester, and now in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The fragment is undated, but seems to belong to the first part of June 1842. It certainly follows F. W. Thomas’ letter to Poe, May 21, 1842 (CL-364), in which Thomas speaks of a possible opening in the custom house for Poe, and it seems to precede Poe’s letter to Herron, June 30, 1842 (LTR-138). Most of the present fragment was combined with the last paragraph of that letter, and printed as one item under that date in the World [N.Y.?], May 1, 1921 (see clipping in the Ingram Collection, University of Virginia); but the present fragment is certainly a separate item. When David K. Jackson (“Brief Mention,” American Literature, 13:283) suggested the existence of a draft of Poe’s letter to Herron, June 30, 1842, he was undoubtedly thinking of the present fragment. The MS is a fragment, apparently of one leaf, written on both sides; the top portion has been cut off, carrying with it probably only a half dozen lines from each side of the sheet. The address leaf is lost. Poe seems to be answering an unlocated letter from Herron, datable ca. late May 1842 (CL-366).

Letter 136 — 1842, June 4 [CL-368] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to George Roberts (Boston, MA):

Philadelphia — June 4 1842.

My Dear Sir.

It is just possible that you may have seen a tale of mine entitled “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” and published, originally, in “Graham’s Magazine” for April 1841. Its theme was the exercise of ingenuity in the detection of a murderer. I have just completed a similar article, which I shall entitle “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt — a Sequel to the Murders in the Rue Morgue”. The story is based upon the assassination of Mary Cecilia Rogers, which created so vast an excitement, some months ago, in New-York. I have, however, handled my design in a manner altogether novel in literature. I have imagined a series of nearly exact coincidences occurring in Paris. A young grisette, one Marie Rogêt, has been murdered under precisely similar circumstances with Mary Rogers. Thus, under pretence of showing [page 338:] how Dupin (the hero of “The Rue Morgue[“] unravelled the mystery of Marie’s assassination, I, in reality, enter into a very long and rigorous analysis of the New-York tragedy. No point is omitted. I examine, each by each, the opinions and arguments of the press upon the subject, and show that this subject has been, hitherto, unapproached. In fact, I believe not only that I have demonstrated the fallacy of the general idea — that the girl was the victim of a gang of ruffians — but have indicated the assassin in a manner which will give renewed impetus to investigation. My main object, nevertheless, as you will readily understand, is an analysis of the true principles which should direct inquiry in similar cases. From the nature of the subject, I feel convinced that the article will excite attention, and it has occurred to me that you would be willing to purchase it for the forthcoming Mammoth Notion. It will make 25 pages of Graham’s Magazine; and, at the usual price, would be worth to me $100. For reasons, however, which I need not specify, I am desirous [page 2] of having this tale printed in Boston, and, if you like it, I will say $50. Will you please write me upon this point? — by return of mail, if possible.

Yours very truly,

Edgar A Poe

George Roberts Esqr

Note: George Roberts (1807-1860) was the editor of the Boston Notion, described by a contemporary publication as “104 square feet of reading matter” (American Magazines, 1:361). It was one of several mammoth papers of the day, which included the Brother Jonathan, the New-Yorker, the New World, and the Dollar Newspaper, edited by such men as Park Benjamin, Horace Greeley, and L. Fitzgerald Tasistro. Rufus W. Griswold worked for Roberts as an editor, April 23, 1841 to about August 1841 (Bayless, pp. 36 and 41). According to Heartman & Canny (p. 159), the Notion was “suspended” from June 1842 until April 22, 1843, although it appears to have continued in a smaller format. Only two works by Poe appeared in the pages of the Boston Notion, both reprints: “The Fall of the House of Usher” (September 5, 1840) and “Eleonora — A Fable” (September 4, 1841). On December 14, 1839, the Notion had denounced Poe’s Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque in the harshest of terms: “We have read a goodly number of these tales, and verily must say that they [page 339:] fall below the average of newspaper trash” (see Pollin, “Poe and the Boston Notion,” English Language Notes, 8:24). Compare the present arrangement with that in LTR-137, in which the tale is simultaneously offered to J. E. Snodgrass for $40. In that letter, Poe virtually transcribes most of the paragraph, with subtle changes (cancelling quotation marks and replacing several words), furnishing an instance of his sense of rhetorical nuance for effecting comprehension. Poe also seems to have written a similar letter (CL-370) to the editor of the SLM, then edited by T. W. White and Matthew F. Maury (see Wimsatt, “Poe and the Mystery of Mary Rogers,” PMLA, 56:233, n.). For publication of the new tale, see the note to LTR-137, and TOM [T&S], 3:715-722.

Source: original MS (2 pp.), formerly in the collection of J. K. Lilly, Jr., and now in the Lilly Library, Indiana University. The letter is post-marked Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 4, and is addressed to “George Roberts Esqre / Boston “Times”/ Boston,” with “EAP” in the lower left corner. The letter is also endorsed: “Edgar A Poe/ Phil. June 4. 1842.” No reply by Roberts is known.

Letter 137 — 1842, June 4 [CL-369] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Joseph E. Snodgrass (Baltimore, MD):

Philadelphia — June 4. 1842.

My Dear Snodgrass,

How does it happen that, in these latter days, I never receive an epistle from yourself? Have I offended you by any of my evil deeds? — if so, how? Time was when you could spare a few minutes occas<s>ionally for communion with a friend.

I see with pleasure that you have become sole proprietor of the “Visiter”; and this reminds me that I have to thank your partiality for many flattering notices of myself. How is it, nevertheless, that a Magazine of the highest class has never yet succeeded in Baltimore? I have often thought, of late, how much better it would have been had you joined me in a Magazine project in the Monumental City, rather than engage with the “Visiter” — a journal which has never yet been able to recover from the mauvais odeur [sic] imparted to it by Hewitt. [page 340:] Notwithstanding the many failures in Baltimore, I still am firmly convinced that <B> your city is the best adapted for such a Magazine as I propose, of any in the Union. Have you ever thought seriously upon this subject.

I have a proposition to make. You may remember a tale of mine published about a year ago in “Graham” and entitled the “Murders in the Rue Morgue”. Its theme was the exercise of ingenuity in detecting a murderer. I am just now putting the concluding touch to a similar article, which I shall entitle “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt — a Sequel to ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’.” The story is based upon that of the real murder of Mary Cecilia Rogers, which created so vast an excitement, some months ago, in New-York. I have handled the design in a very singular and [page 2] entirely novel manner. I imagine a series of nearly exact coincidences occurring in Paris. A young grisette, one Marie Rogêt, has been murdered under precisely similar circumstances with Mary Rogers. Thus under pretence of showing how Dupin (the hero of the Rue Morgue) unravelled the mystery of Marie’s assassination, I, in fact, enter into a very rigorous analysis of the real tragedy in New-York. No point is omitted. I examine<d>, each by each, the opinions and arguments of our press on the subject, and show (I think satisfactorily) that this subject has never yet been approached. The press has been entirely on a wrong scent. In fact, I really believe, not only that I have demonstrated the falsity of the idea that the girl was <not> the victim of a gang <as supposed>, but have indicated the assassin. My main object, however, as you will readily understand, is the analysis of the principles of investigation in cases of like character. Dupin reasons the matter throughout.

The article, I feel convinced, will be one of general interest, from the nature of its subject. For reasons which I may mention to you hereafter, I am desirous of publishing it in Baltimore, and there would be no channel so proper as the paper under your control. Now the tale is a long one — it would occupy twenty-five pages of Graham’s Magazine — and is worth to me a hundred dollars at the usual Magazine price. Of course I could not afford to make you an absolute present of it — but if you are willing to take it, I will say $40. Shall I hear from you on this head — if possible by return of mail? [page 341:]

Have you seen Griswold’s Book of Poetry? It is a most outrageous humbug, and I sincerely wish [page 3] you would “use it up”.

If you have not yet noticed my withdrawal from Graham’s Magazine, I would take it as a great favor if you would do so in something like the following terms. Even if you have noticed it, this might go in.

We have it from undoubted authority that Mr Poe has retired from the editorship of “Graham’s Magazine”, and that his withdrawal took place with the May number, notwithstanding the omission of all announcement to this effect in the number for June. We observe that the “Boston Post”, in finding just fault with an exceedingly ignorant and flippant review of “Zanoni” which appears in the June number, has spoken of it as from the pen of Mr Poe[.] We will take it upon ourselves to say that Mr P. neither did write the article, nor could have written any such absurdity. The slightest glance would suffice to convince us of this. Mr P. would never be guilty of the grammatical blunders, to say nothing of the mere twattle, which disgrace the criticism. When did <Mr P.> he ever spell liaison, liason, for example, or make use of so absurd a phrase as “attained to” in place of attained? We are also fully confident that the criticism in question is not the work of Mr Griswold, who (, whatever may be his abilities as the compiler of a Book of Poetry,) is at all events a decent writer of English. The article appears to be the handiwork of some underling who has become imbued with th[e] fancy of aping <some of> Mr Poe’s peculiarities of diction. A pretty mess he has made of it! Not to announce Mr P’s withdrawal in the [page 4] June number, was an act of the rankest injustice; and as such we denounce it. A man of talent may occasionally submit to the appropriation of his articles by others who insinuate a claim to the authorship, but it is a far different and vastly more disagreeable affair <matter> when he finds <th> himself called upon to father the conceit, ignorance and flippant impertinence of an ass.

Put this in editorially, <ny> my dear S., and oblige me eternally. You will acknowledge that it will be an act of justice. [space reserved for mailing address] [page 342:]

Write immediately and believe me[,]

Your friend.

Edgar A Poe

If you put in th[e] paragraph send me the no: of the Visiter.

Note: Poe’s hint that Snodgrass join him in publishing the dream magazine fell on barren ground. John H. Hewitt had won the poetry prize offered by the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, in 1833, at the same time Poe won the prose premium; Wilmer, then editor, was subsequently replaced by Hewitt, who gained the favor of Cloud, the owner (see Wilmer, Our Press Gang, pp. 22-29). Prior to all of this, Hewitt had unfavorably reviewed Poe’s Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems (1829) in the Baltimore Emerald. Poe never forgave Hewitt for this combination of offenses. (Hewitt claimed that he and Poe exchanged blows in a short-lived fist fight resulting from the Saturday Visiter prize. See The Poe Log, p. 134.) “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” appeared in Graham’s, April 1841 (18:166-179). Poe also offered “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” to George Roberts, editor of the Boston Notion, in a letter of the same date (LTR-136); neither editor took the story, and it was ultimately published in Snowden’s Ladies’ Companion, November and December 1842, and February 1843 (Wyllie, Poe’s Tales, p. 332 and TOM [T&S], 3:722). See Whalen, Poe and the Masses, pp. 228-232, for an analysis of Poe’s varying motives for the development of this particular detective tale, aptly citing the present letter. Poe often uses, as here, the word “unravel” for tracing, developing, and solving a plot of mystery and detection. On April 18, 1842, Carey & Hart announced the publication of Griswold’s Poets and Poetry of America. (See LTR-139 and the note to LTR-143 for more on Poe’s attitude toward this influential anthology.) Apparently Poe withdrew from Graham’s during the first part of April, since the magazine appeared in advance of date. Graham wrote to Griswold, April 20, asking if he intended to give up professional editorial work, and if not to state whether he would consider coming to Philadelphia. On May 3 Graham wrote Griswold, confirming his appointment as editor of Graham’s, at $1000 a year. Griswold must have accepted and gone to Philadelphia within a few days, for on May 16 Greeley wrote him to return to New York and work four days for him (see Passages in the Correspondence of R. W. Griswold, ed. Wm. M. Griswold, pp. 106-107). Poe’s rejection of the review of Bulwer’s Zanoni in the present letter led W. D. Hull [page 343:] (pp. 376-377) to dismiss the Poe attribution, calling it a conscious imitation. TOM, for the same reason, lists it among items erroneously included by Harrison (H [Works], 11:115-123) (see Dameron, “TOM on the Cannon of Poe’s Reviews,” PS, 5:56-57). Some scholars, however, have advised against taking Poe at his word, noting that Poe was not always honest in such dealings (see LTR-206). As recently as 2000, Pollin includes the item as “a probable Poe rev.” in a list of reviews of Bulwer’s works (“Bulwer-Lytton’s Influence on Poe’s Works,” EAP Review, 1:7).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (4 pp.) in the Morgan Library. The address is written on page 4; directed to “Dr. J. Evans Snodgrass / Ed. of “Visiter” / Baltimore / Md .” The MS, postmarked at Philadelphia, June 5, has several ink blots. The French word for odor, being feminine, requires an “e” ending or mauvaise. In his spelling of “Rogêt” Poe apparently thought that the “s” of “Rogers” is represented by the accent before the “t,” as would be true of “forêt” for “forest.” For this reason, he may have felt that the accent was needed for pronunciation, but he has essentially put it in the wrong place. It is also possible that he merely wished to convey a more overt impression of a “French” name, without concern for grammatical correctness. This is the last known letter in the Poe-Snodgrass correspondence, although he asked for Snodgrass to attend to him during his fateful visit to Baltimore in October 1849.

Letter 137a — 1842, June 24 [CL-372b] Poe (New York, NY) to Frederick W. Thomas (Washington, DC):

New York June 24

My dear Thomas,

If there [i]s anything in the world to be done for my friend W. Wallace with Rob. Tyler do it, and charge it to my account. Use your influence to its ultimate extent. No better man ever lived. Write me by return of mail. Why have I not heard from you lately?

Truly yours

Edgar A Poe.

Wallace has informed me that he has made application for a Consulship. [page 344:]

Note: William Ross Wallace (1819-1881) was a moderately successful poet, born in Kentucky but living in New York by the time of his acquaintance with Poe. The earliest mention of Wallace by Poe seems to be in a brief notice of Selections from the Poetical Literature of the West (Graham’s Magazine, June 1841, 18:296), where his “To the Star Lyra” is mentioned as one of several “poems of a high order of excellence” which have been omitted from the collection. In one of his letters to the Columbia Spy (Letter III, published June 1, 1844, but dated May 27, 1844), Poe comments that Wallace was “a frequent visitor at the office of Graham’s Magazine” about the time of the present letter, further commenting “I myself know the young poet well — and a poet he truly is,” and describing him sympathetically as having been a “poor man and friendless” (Spannuth and TOM, Doings of Gotham, p. 42). Robert Tyler was the son of President John Tyler and was much involved in the prolonged but ultimately unsuccessful attempts at obtaining a clerkship for Poe. His name appears with some frequency in Poe’s letters of this period (see LTR-134, LTR-138, LTR-142, etc.). Wallace’s hopes for a government position were also to result in nothing. Poe refers to this letter in his subsequent one of August 27, 1842 to F. W. Thomas (LTR-142).

Source: color photograph of the original MS (1 p.) in the Philadelphia Free Library, Gimbel Collection (purchased in 1976). The MS, postmarked “June 25,” is badly faded.

Letter 138 — 1842, June 30 [CL-376] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to James Herron (Washington, DC):

Philadelphia, June 30. 1842.

My Dear Mr Herron.

Upon return from a brief visit to New-York, last night, I found here your kind letter from Washington, enclosing a check for $20, and giving me new life in every way. I am more deeply indebted to you than I can express, and in this I really mean what I say. Without your prompt and unexpected interposition with Mr Tyler, it is by no means improbable that I should have failed in obtaining the appointment which has <now> become so vitally necessary to me; but now I feel assured of success. The $20, also, will enable me to overcome other [page 345:] difficulties — and, I repeat, that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have shown yourself a true friend.

My wife’s health has slightly improved and my spirits have risen in proportion; but I am still very unwell — so much so that I shall be forced to give up and go to bed.

Your own brilliant prospects must be realized; for it is not Fate which makes such men as yourself. You make your own Fate. There is such a thing as compelling Fortune, however reluctant or averse. As regards myself — I will probably succeed too. So let us both keep a good heart.

Wishing you the high success which you deserve, I am your sincere friend,

Edgar A Poe

Jas. Herron Esqre

Note: Poe’s comment in the final full paragraph seems an echo in its language, idea, and rhetoric of Julius Caesar, IV, 3, 217-223: “There is a tide in the affairs of men / Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; ... / And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.” The situations of crisis and desperation for both Poe and Brutus seem parallel. Herron is entered into Such Friends as no. 48 (pp. 12 and 26). LTR-135 and the present one, with the two from Herron (CL-366 and CL-375), are the only known items in the Poe-Herron correspondence.

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 postmarked Philadelphia, June 30, and directed to “James Herron Esqre / Civil Engineer / Washington / D.C.” Herron’s letter, which Poe is answering, can be conjecturally dated before June 30 (CL-375); for Poe wrote Thomas, August 27, 1842 (LTR-142), “I wrote a few words to you, about two months since, from New York ... ”; and Poe wrote Mrs. Elizabeth Tutt, July 7 (LTR-141), “About ten days ago, however, I was obliged to go on to New York on business ... ”; Herron’s letter, therefore, seems to have reached Philadelphia after Poe’s departure for New York, which may have been about June 25-26. [page 346:]

Letter 139 — 1842, July 6 [CL-377] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Daniel Bryan (Alexandria, VA):

Philadelphia, July 6. 1842.

My Dear Sir,

Upon my return from a brief visit to New-York, a day or two since, I found your kind and welcome letter of June 27.

What you say in respect to “verses” enclosed to myself has occasioned me some surprise. I have certainly received none. My connexion with “Graham’s Magazine” ceased with the May number, which was completed by the 1rst of April — since which period the editorial conduct of the journal has rested with Mr Griswold. You observe that the poem was sent about three weeks since. Can it be possible that the present editors have thought it proper to open letters addressed to myself, because addressed to myself as “Editor of Graham’s Magazine”? I know not how to escape from this conclusion; and now distinctly remember that, although in the habit of receiving many letters daily, before quitting the office, I have not received more than a half dozen during the whole period since elapsed; and none of those received were addressed to me as “Editor of G’s Magazine”. What to say or do in a case like this I really do not know. I have no quarrel with either Mr Graham or Mr Griswold — although I hold neither in especial respect. I have much aversion to communicate with them in any way, and, perhaps, it would be best that you should address them yourself, demanding the MS.

Many thanks for your kind wishes. I hope the time is not far distant when they may be realized. I am making earnest although secret exertions to resume my project of the “Penn Magazine”, and have every confidence that I shall succeed in issuing the first number on the first of January. [page 2] You may remember that it was my original design to issue it on the first of January 1841. I was induced to abandon the project at that period by the representations of Mr Graham. He said that if I would join him as a salaried editor, giving up, for the time, my own scheme, he himself would unite with me at [page 347:] the expiration of 6 months, or certainly at the end of a year. As Mr G. was a man of capital and I had no money, I thought it most prudent to fall in with his views. The result has proved his want of faith and my own folly. In fact, I was continually laboring against myself. Every exertion made by myself for the benefit of “Graham”, by rendering that Mag: a greater source of profit, rendered its owner, at the same time, less willing to keep his word with me. At the time of our bargain (a verbal one) he had 6000 subscribers — when I left him he had more than 40,000. It is no wonder that he has been tempted to leave me in the lurch.

I had nearly 1000 subscribers with which to have started the “Penn”, and, with these as a beginning, it would have been my own fault had I failed. There may be still 3 or 4 hundred who will stand by me, of the old list, and, in the interval between this period and the first of January, I will use every endeavor to procure others. You are aware that, in my circumstances, a single name, in advance, is worth ten after the issue of the book; for it is upon my list of subscribers that I must depend for the bargain to be made with a partner possessing capital, or with a publisher. If, therefore, you can aid me in Alexandria, with even a single name, I shall feel deeply indebted to your friendship.

I feel that now is the time to strike. The delay, after all, will do me no injury. My conduct of “Graham” has rendered me better and (I hope) more favorably known than [page 3] before. I am anxious, above all things, to render the journal one in which the true, in contradistinction from the merely factitious, genius of the country shall be represented. I shall yield nothing to great names — nor to the circumstances of position. I shall make war to the knife against the New-England assumption of “all the decency and all the talent” which has been so disgustingly manifested in the Rev. Rufus W. Griswold’s “Poets & Poetry of America”. But I am boring you with my egotism.

May I hope to hear from you in reply?

I am with sincere respect & esteem,

Yr Obt Sert

Edgar A Poe.

Danl Bryan Esqre [page 348:]

P.S. I have not seen the “attack” to which you have [re-]ference. Could it have been in a Philadelphia paper[?]

Note: Daniel Bryan (ca. 1790-1866) was postmaster at Alexandria, VA, and an amateur poet. In a brief entry in “A Chapter on Autography,” Poe comments: “Mr. Bryan has written some very excellent poetry, and is appreciated by all admirers of ‘the good old Goldsmith school’ ” (Graham’s, December 1841, 19:276; reprinted in H [Works], 15:218). He wrote at least six letters to Poe (see Check List). In addition to the present letter, Poe apparently wrote to Bryan again between July 27 and August 3 (CL-384), for Bryan’s letter of August 4 (CL-385) speaks of following Poe’s suggestion that Bryan get his critique of Griswold’s Poets and Poetry of America published through the aid of F. W. Thomas or Jesse E. Dow; no known letter by Poe, in MS or print, gives this information. The whole correspondence, containing at least eight letters, seems to have lasted a little less than three months. Bryan on May 13, 1842 (CL-363) sent a poem, “The Crowning of the May Queen,” for Graham’s; he also spoke of not knowing Edgar Poe personally, but of having known Poe’s “lamented Brother [sic],” William Henry Leonard Poe, probably in Baltimore. The “verses” sent to Poe “three weeks since” seem to have been another poem (see reference to Bryan’s letter of June 27, above). Though 40,000 was probably high for Graham’s list, the figure was advertised in the magazine for March 1842 (see American Magazines, 1:552). For an even higher number, see LTR-312. Whalen (Poe and the Masses, p. 74) quotes this section of Poe’s letter and offers an illuminating treatment. Poe’s allusion to the “old list” must be to the start of his record of likely supporters, represented in Such Friends, containing Bryan’s name on pp. 12 and 20. A major rationale in collecting the list is given by Poe in the full paragraph.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (3 pp.) in the Iowa State Department of History and Archives. The communication is written on a single sheet, folded to form two leaves, joined in the center. The address, on page 4, reads: “Danl Bryan Esqre / Alexandria / D.C.” Though the center portion of the MS is torn, the only text missing is that represented by the bracketed emendations on page 3. Poe is replying to Bryan’s letter of June 27 (CL-373), in which Bryan, hearing of Poe’s leaving Graham’s, asks that poems, lately sent, be withheld from publication in that magazine and kept by Poe for his own use later on; Bryan also speaks of “an attack upon you by a writer in one of the Philada journals.” [page 349:]

Letter 140 — 1842, July 6 [CL-378] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Dr. Thomas H. Chivers (Middletown, CT):


July 6. 1842.

My Dear Sir,

I fear you will have accused me of disrespect in not replying to either of your three last letters — but if so, you will have wronged me. Among all my correspondents there is not one whose good opinion I am more anxious to retain than your own. A world of perplexing business has led me to postpone, from day to day, a duty which it is always a pleasure to perform.

Your two last letters I have not now before me. In the first, you spoke of my notice of yourself in the Autograph Article. The paper had scarcely gone to press before I saw and acknowledged to myself the injustice I had done you — an injustice which it is my full purpose to repair at the first opportunity. What I said of your grammatical errors arose from some imperfect recollections of one or two poems sent to the first volume of the S. L. Messenger. But in more important respects I now deeply feel that I have wronged you by a hasty opinion. You will not suppose me insincere in saying that I look upon some of your late pieces as the finest I have ever read. I allude especially to the poem about Shelley, and the one of which the refrain is — “She came from Heaven to tell me she was blest”. Upon reading these compositions I felt the necessity of our being friends. Will you accept my proffer of friendship?

Your last favor is dated June 11, and, in writing it, you were doubtless unaware of my having resigned the editorial charge of “Graham’s Magazine”. What disposition shall I make of the “Invocation to Spring”? The other [page 2] pieces are in the hands of my successor, Mr Griswold.

It is my intention now to resume the project of the “Penn Magazine”. I had made every preparation for the issue of the first number in January 1841, but relinquished the design at Mr Grahams [page 350:] representation of joining me in July, provided I would edit his Mag: in the meantime. In July he put me off until January, and in January until July again. He now finally declines, and I am resolved to push forward for myself. I believe that I have many warm friends, especially in the South and West, and were the journal fairly before the public, I have no doubt of ultimate success. Is it possible that you could afford me any aid, in the way of subscribers, among your friends in Middletown?

As I have no money myself, it will be absolutely necessary that I procure a partner who has some pecuniary means. I mention this to you — for it is not impossible that you yourself may have both the will & the ability to join me. The first number will not appear until January, so that I shall have time to look about me.

With sincere respect & esteem


Edgar A Poe

Dr Thos. H. Chivers

Note: For biographical information on Dr. Thomas Holley Chivers, see APXA-Chivers. On the envelope of the present letter was the following note, according to H [Works], 17:114n: “The ‘grammatical errors’ to which Poe alludes here is the want of s in a verse in the poem entitled ‘Song to Isa Singing,’ as follows: ‘The song which none can know,’ etc. Song ought to have been written songs, evidently a mistake in copying. The poem was published in the Broadway Journal. In the original it’s ‘Sweet songs.’ ” With Poe sitting newly ensconced as the sole editor of the BJ, “To Isa Singing” appears, in corrected form, as the first item of the August 2, 1845 number (2:49). In the same issue is Poe’s very favorable review of Chivers’ Lost Pleiad (BJ, 2:55-56; Writings, 3:187-189). On the second page of the MS Chivers wrote: “In the letter, enclosing these poems [referring to the last sentence in paragraph 3] I made some critical remarks on the ‘wishy-washy’ verses published by Mr. Griswold in Graham’s Magazine which greatly offended him, for which I have reason to believe he [Griswold] never forgave me, altho what was therein written was intend[ed] for the eyes only of Mr. Poe.” For further evidence of the difficult relations between Chivers and Griswold, as well as an interesting comment on Poe, see notes to LTR-145 and Chivers’ letter of March 28, 1851 to Griswold (H [Works], 17:408). Chivers was an early devotee of Shelley; as Woodberry put it, “Chivers was one of the first of Americans [page 351:] to be ‘Shelley-mad’ ”(W [1909], 2:381). Chase and Parks suggest that the poem on Shelley was “The Wife’s Lament for Her Husband Lost at Sea” and the poem from which Poe quotes the refrain was “Heavenly Vision” (see Chase and Parks, p. 13, n. 4-5). Poe left Graham’s in April 1842. Perhaps Chivers’ greatest real aid given to Poe was in the form of several lists of names as potential subscribers to Poe’s proposed magazine. Beyond that, their correspondence is a long array of entreaties by Poe and unfulfilled promises and offers made by Chivers. Poe’s “Autography” item of December 1841 (H [Works], 15:241-242) gives a masterly summary of Chivers’ strange and contradictory mélange of “wild dream ... arabesque monstrosity, ... sweet unsustained song ... [and lack of] meaning [and] grammar.” In discussing the controversy over alleged poetry borrowings from each other, Harrison includes many samples from Chivers’ works (H [Works], 7:266-288). Woodberry gravely and somewhat ironically examines the relations between these poets, without arraigning Chivers for his denial of effective help to Poe (W [1909], 2:376-390). For a terse survey of their relationship, see D. Thomas, Poe in Philadelphia, p. 732, plus index entries. For two memoranda on Chivers, see Such Friends nos. 60 and 176, and note on p. 22.

Source: color photograph of the original MS (2 pp.) in the University of Virginia Library, Clifton Waller Barrett Collection. The letter, addressed to “Dr Thos. Holley Chivers, / Middletown / Conn:,” is initialed “EAP” in the lower left corner, and is postmarked: “Philadelphia, Pa. / Jul 7.” The letter was given by H [Works, 17:113-115] under the date of June; Woodberry merely cites the letter, also giving the month as June. The July dating is supported by Chivers’ letter to Poe, July 12, 1842 (CL-381). Poe is replying to three unanswered letters from Chivers: August 27, 1840 (CL-250), one, late in November 1841-June 10, 1842 (CL-351), remonstrating against Poe’s sketch of him in “Autography” (Graham’s, December 1841), and another, dated by Poe, June 11, 1842 (CL-371).

Letter 141 — 1842, July 7 [CL-379] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Mrs. Elizabeth R. Tutt (Woodville, VA):

July 7, 1842

[...] My dear little wife grew much better from the very first day after taking the Jew’s Beer. It seemed to have the most instantaneous and miraculous effect. [...] About ten days ago, however, I was obliged to [page 352:] go on to New York on business [...] she began to fret [...] because

she did not hear from me twice a day. [...] What it is to be pestered with a wife! [...] I have resigned the editorship of “Graham’s Magazine” [.... ]

Note: Mrs. Elizabeth Rebecca Tutt (1815-1889), at this time the wife of Andrew Turner Tutt, was Poe’s cousin, the former Elizabeth Rebecca Herring, of Baltimore (see Campbell, Poems, p. 297 and The Poe Log, p. xviii). She apparently continued to aid the Poe family until Virginia’s death, for a letter of February 1847 (?) from Mrs. Clemm (in the Ingram Collection, University of Virginia) thanks “you for your timely aid my dear Mrs. T ... Eddie has quite set his heart upon the wine going back to you ... for the sick artist you mentioned.” To Virginia, says Mrs. Clemm, “the wine was a great blessing while she needed it ... We look for you on a train earlier tomorrow ... Mr. C. [H. D. Chapin (?)] will tell you of our condition, as he is going to call for this note in an hours time.” Jew’s Beer was a popular name for Wine of Tar. Dr. Benjamin Ellis lists it in his Medical Formulary, where he gives the ingredients as water, wheat bran, yeast, pine tar, and honey (Philadelphia: Blanchard and Lea, 1854, 10th edition, p. 103). This concoction may actually have had some value as an expectorant, and was still used as a cure for consumption decades later, with advertisements for “Warner’s White Wine of Tar Syrup” appearing as late as 1909. After initially seeming to “cure” Virginia’s tubercular attacks, it too failed. Of particular interest is the sole complaint, in all of Poe’s letters, implicitly about marriage to an invalid, although matrimony does not fare well in “Loss of Breath,” “Ligeia,” and “The Black Cat.” According to a letter from Robert D’Unger to E. R. Reynolds, Oct. 29, 1899, Poe advised D’Unger in 1846: “My young friend — don’t hurry yourself as to marriage. It has its joys, but its sorrows overbalance those” (reprinted by Reilly, “Robert D’Unger and His Reminiscences of Poe in Baltimore” Maryland Historical Magazine, 88:67). Mrs. Tutt seems to have been living in New York at the time of Mrs. Clemm’s letter; but when Poe wrote the present letter, she was apparently living in Woodville, Rappahannock County, VA. For Poe’s visit to New York, see LTR-138. The present letter suggests lost letters from Poe to Virginia Poe (CL-376a). For Virginia’s illness, see LTR-132 and LTR-135, and notes.

Source: excerpts as given in the Anderson Galleries catalog, January 18, 1922, item 229. The present location of the MS (2 1/2 pp.) is unknown. Though the printed letter is unsigned, the sales catalog and the content of the letter identify it as Poe’s. No letter from Mrs. Tutt to Poe is known. [page 353:]

Letter 141a — 1842, July 18 [CL-382] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to J. & H. G. Langley (New York, NY):


Enclosed I have the honor to send you an article which I should be pleased if you would accept for the “Democratic Review.” I am desperately pushed for money; and, in the event of Mr O’Sullivan’s liking the “Landscape-Garden”, I would take it as an especial favor if you could mail me the amount due for it, so as to reach me here by the 21rst, on which day I shall need it. Can you possibly oblige me in this? If you accept the paper I presume you will allow me your usual sum, whatever that is for similar contributions — but I set no price — leaving all to your own liberality. The piece will make 8 of your pages and rather more.

Will you be kind enough to put the best possible interpretation upon my behavior while in N-York? You must have conceived a queer idea of me — but the simple truth is that Wallace would insist upon the juleps, and I knew not what I was either doing or saying, The Review of Dawes which I offered you was deficient in a 1/2 page of commencement, which I had written to supersede the old beginning, and which gave the article the character of a general & retrospective review. No wonder you did not take it — I should have been very much mortified if you ha<n>d. I hope to see you at some future time, under better auspices.

In the meantime I remain.

Yours very truly

E A Poe

Should the M.S. not be accepted, please return it as soon as possible, by mail, enveloped as now.

Note: From July 1841 through 1843 the Democratic Review was published in New York, instead of in Philadelphia, by J. and Henry G. Langley; later H. G. Langley published it alone; John L. O’Sullivan was sole editor from 1841-1846 (American Magazines, 1:677-678 and 680). Poe’s article may not have been accepted because there had been an [page 354:] article, in the December 1841 issue, entitled “Landscape Gardening and Rural Architecture,” a favorable review of A. J. Downing’s book on gardening. Poe actually quotes from the review, though without specifically identifying the source. Poe’s character, Mr. Ellison, rejects the ideas expressed in the review (see TOM [T&S], 2:701). “The Landscape-Garden” must have been returned rather promptly, for it was published in Snowden’s Ladies’ Companion (October 1842, 17:324-327), occupying three and one-quarter pages. (For a comment on the typographical errors in this printing of the tale, see LTR-145a.) For William Ross Wallace, see LTR-137a and LTR-142. The review of Rufus Dawes was originally written for Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, but rejected by Burton (see Burton’s letter to Poe, May 30, 1839, CL-185). Poe may then have withheld the review, intending for it to appear in his own Penn Magazine. With difficulties thwarting his plans, as noted in LTR-140, he seems to have decided to market the review for the sake of a little quick cash, but undermined his efforts by submitting the now-dated review in its original form. After the Langleys declined the review, it appeared finally in Graham’s (October 1842, 21:205-209; H [Works], 11:131-147).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.), formerly in the collection of Roger W. Barrett, but currently unlocated. The verso of the letter is postmarked “Philadelphia, Pa., Jul 18.” The address reads: “Mess.rs J. & H. G. Langley / 57 Chatham St / New-York / N. Y.” In the lower left corner of the address page is Poe’s notation: “Double-paid.” The envelope is also docketed: “Edgar A. Poe / July 18.” The year is established from internal evidence. Poe lived in Philadelphia from probably sometime early in 1838 (see LTR-77a, Quinn, p. 268, and The Poe Log, p. 248) until April, 1844 (see LTR-174). He visited New York briefly in late June, 1842 (LTR-138, LTR-139, LTR-141, and LTR-142); he does not seem to have made such a visit in June or July of 1841 or 1843. The present letter, postmarked July 18, belongs to 1842.

Letter 141b — 1842, July 18 [CL-382a] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Oscar T. Keeler (New York, NY):

Dr Sir,

It gives me pleasure to comply with the very flattering request [page 355:] embodied in your letter of June 18th. My absence from this city will, I hope, serve as sufficient apology for the tardiness of this reply.

With Respect


Edgar A Poe

Oscar T. Keeler Esqre


July 18. 42

Notes: Oscar T. Keeler was an early autograph collector, who began his collection about 1838 and assiduously accumulated items for nearly 30 years. As noted in the Preface to the catalog for the auction of December 7, 1868, “Were it not that the recent war and its results deprived me of my property, and forced me to dispose of this collection, it would never have been offered for sale.” The name of Oscar T. Keeler also appears on Poe’s address list, as no. 168 (Such Friends, p. 16).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the collection of the “Eastern Collector.” The letter has been exhibited as “The Shroud of Philadelphia” due to the fact that it has long been kept in close contact with a copy of the 1845 engraving of Poe from Graham’s, gaining a faint ghost-like transfer of the image over the years. The address appears on the reverse as “Oscar T. Keeler Esqre / 33 William St / New-York / N.Y.” At the lower left edge appear Poe’s initials “EAP.” The postmark reads “Philadelphia, PA, JUL 18.” The wax seal was broken without damaging the paper and the letter has been stored flat and unfolded for most of its existence, in part accounting for its excellent condition.

Letter 142 — 1842, August 27 [CL-386] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Frederick W. Thomas (Washington, DC):


Aug. 27. 42.

My Dear Thomas,

How happens it that I have received not a line from you for these four months? What in the world is the matter? I write to see if you are [page 356:] still in the land of the living, or have gone your way to the “land o’ the leal.”

I wrote a few words to you, about two months since, from New-York, at the importunate demand of W. Wallace, in which you were requested to use your influence, &c. He overlooked me while I wrote, & therefore I could not speak of private matters. I presume you gave the point as much consideration as it demanded & no more.

What have you been doing for so long a time? I am anxious to learn how you succeed in Washington.

I suppose Congress will have adjourned by the time you get this. Since I heard from you I have had a re-iteration of the promise, about the Custom-House appointment, from Rob. Tyler. A friend of mine, Mr Jas. Herron, having heard from me, casually, that I had some hope of an appointment, called upon R. T. who assured him that I should certainly have it, & desired him so to inform me. I have, also, paid my respects to [page 2] Gen. J. W. Tyson, the leader of the T. party in the city, who seems especially well disposed — but, notwithstanding all this, I have my doubts. A few days will end them. If I do not get the office, I am just where I started. Nothing more can be done to secure it than has been already done.

Literature is at a sad discount. There is really nothing to be done in this way. Without an international copy-right law, American authors may as well cut their throats. A good Magazine, of the true stamp, would do wonders in the way of a general revivification of letters — but this, or the law, we must have — both if possible.

What has become of Dow? Do you ever see him?

Write immediately & tell me the Washington news.

My poor little wife still continues ill. I have scarcely a faint hope of her recovery.

Remember us all to your friends & believe me your, true friend

Edgar A Poe

F. W. Thomas, Esqr [page 357:]

Note: For another reference to William Ross Wallace, blaming him for an episode of inebriety, see LTR-141a. See also D. Thomas, Poe in Philadelphia, pp. 929-930, showing the long duration of Poe’s friendship with him, up to 1849. Wallace is listed as an early entry in Such Friends as no. 88 (p. 37). For information on Wallace, see the note to LTR-137a. For Poe’s “casual” remark to Herron, see LTR-135; and for Herron’s interview with Robert Tyler, see LTR-138. Jesse E. Dow is frequently mentioned in the Poe-Thomas correspondence. For the beginning of Virginia’s illness, in January 1842, see LTR-132. “I’m wearing aw’ to the land o’ the leal” is the full title of a Scotch “ballad” by Baroness Carolina Nairne (1766-1845), née Oliphant, never actually acknowledged by name during her lifetime. Her songs rank with those of Hogg, and approach in popularity those of Burns. Her works were collected in 1846. “Caller Herrin’,” the poem quoted in the present letter, and “Charlie Is My Darling” are her best known ones. Joseph Washington Tyson (1812-1860), of Philadelphia, was a staunch anti-abolitionist. He was Wm. H. Harrison’s candidate for Congress in 1840, but lost. On October 11, 1841, Tyler appointed Tyson as Commissary General of the U. S. Army, an appointment Congress refused to confirm (see D. Thomas, Poe in Philadelphia, pp. 374 and 430). The “T. Party,” therefore, was the Tyler Party. Although Tyler was elected as the vice-president on the Whig ticket, he became president when Harrison died unexpectedly. The Whigs immediately found Tyler uncooperative, and formally dissolved connections to the new president on September 13, 1841, chiefly over the issue of a Bank of the United States. A year later, the Whigs would play a prominent role in efforts to impeach Tyler.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.) at University of Virginia. The envelope, a separate leaf, is addressed to “F. W. Thomas Esqre / Washington / D. C.” It bears a faint postmark of August 29. Thomas has endorsed the letter: “Received Aug 31 / 1842 / answered 2d.” Following Thomas’ last letter, May 21, 1842 (CL-364), Poe wrote to Thomas, from New York, ca. June 27 (CL-374); the following data establish the approximate time of the letter. Having initially written to James Herron in early June 1842 (LTR-135), Poe replied on June 30, 1842 (LTR-138) to a note from Herron. Poe’s letter begins: “Upon return from a brief visit to New-York, last night ... ” Poe also wrote to Elizabeth R. Tutt, July 7, 1842 (LTR-141), “About ten days ago, however, I was obliged to go on to New York on business ... ” No letter from Thomas is known between that of May 21 and September 2, 1842 (CL-387). [page 358:]

Letter 143 — 1842, September 12 [CL-388] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Frederick W. Thomas (Washington, DC):

Philadelphia, Sep. 12 1842

My Dear Thomas,

I did not receive yours of the 2d until yesterday — why God only knows, as I either went or sent every-day to the P, Office. Neither have I seen Mr Beard, who, I presume, had some difficulty in finding my residence: since you were here I have moved out in the neighborhood of Fairmount. I have often heard of Beard, from friends who knew him personally, and should have been glad to make his acquaintance.

A thousand sincere thanks for your kind offices in the matter of the appointment. So far, nothing has been done here in the way of reform. Thos. S. Smith is to have the Collectorship, but it appears has not yet received his commission — a fact which occasions much surprise among the quid-nuncs.

Should I obtain the office — and of course I can no longer doubt that I shall obtain it — I shall feel that to you alone I am indebted. You have shown yourself a true friend, and I am not likely to forget it, however impotent I may be, now or hereafter, to reciprocate your many kindnesses. I would give the world to clasp you by the hand & assure you, personally, of my gratitude. I hope it will not be long before we meet.

In the event of getting the place, I am undetermined what literary course to pursue. Much will depend upon the salary.

Graham has made me a good offer to return. He is not [page 2] especially pleased with Griswold — nor is any one else, with the exception of the Rev. gentleman himself, who has gotten himself into quite a hornet’s nest, by his “Poets & Poetry”. It appears you gave him personal offence by delay in replying to his demand for information touching Mrs Welby, I believe, or somebody else. Hence his omission of you in the body of the book; for he had prepared quite a long article from my MS. and had selected several pages for quotation. He is a pretty fellow to set himself up as an honest judge, or even as a capable [page 359:] one. — About two months since, we were talking about the book, when I said that I had thought of reviewing it in full for the “Democratic Review”, but found my design anticipated by an article from that ass O’Sullivan, and that I knew no other work in which a notice would be readily admissible. Griswold said, in reply — “You need not trouble yourself about the publication of the review, should you decide upon writing it; for I will attend to all that. I will get it in some reputable work, and look to it for the usual pay; in the meantime handing you whatever your charge would be”. This, you see, was an ingenious insinuation of a bribe to puff his book. I accepted his offer forthwith, wrote the review, handed it to him and received from him the compensation: — he never daring to look over the M.S. in my presence, and taking it for granted that all was right. But that review has not yet appeared, and I am doubtful if it ever will. I wrote it precisely as I would have written under ordinary circumstances; and be sure there was no predominance of praise.

Should I go back to Graham I will endeavor to bring about [page 3] some improvements in the general appearance of the Magazine, & above all, to get rid of the quackery which now infects it.

If I do not get the appt I should not be surprised if I joined Foster in the establishment of a Mag: in New-York. He has made me an offer to join him. I suppose you know that he now edits the “Aurora”.

Touching your poem. Should you publish it, Boston offers the best facilities — but I feel sure that you will get no publisher to print it, except on your own account. Reason — Copy-Right Laws. However, were I in your place, and could contrive it in any way, I would print it at my own expense — of course without reference to emolument, which is not to be hoped. It would make only a small volume, & the cost of publishing it even in such style as Hoffman’s last poems, could not be much, absolutely. It should be handsomely printed or not at all.

When is Rob. Tyler to issue his promised poem?

Have you seen how Benjamin & Tasistro have been playing Kilkenny cats with each other? I have always told Graham that Tasistro stole every thing, worth reading, which he offered for sale. [page 360:]

What is it about Ingraham? He has done for himself, in the opinion of all honest men, by his chicaneries.

I am happy to say that Virginia’s health has slightly improved. My spirits are proportionately good. Perhaps all will yet go well. Write soon & believe me ever your true friend

Edgar A Poe

Note: Mr. Beard is unidentified, but Poe’s reference above suggests a connection with Thomas. A potential candidate, therefore, is Major John Beard, Jr. (1797-1876), who was appointed by President Tyler in 1842 as the Marshall for East Florida. (Having been born in NC, Beard was noted for his strong Southern sympathies.) For more on Thomas Smith, see LTR-148. For Poe’s change of residence, see Quinn, pp. 273-274. F. W. Thomas visited Philadelphia and Poe during the week in which the present letter was written (see Thomas’ endorsement, quoted in the source note to the present letter). Rufus W. Griswold succeeded Poe as an editor of Graham’s. For the Poe MS, based on Thomas’ autobiographical notes, designed for Griswold’s use in Poets and Poetry of America, see LTR-124 and note. Poe’s review of Griswold’s second edition of the Poets and Poetry of America (1842) was printed in the Boston Miscellany (November 1842, 2:218-221; reprinted in H [Works], 11:147-156). On the whole, Poe’s review of the book on this occasion was very favorable, containing the passage: “We know of no one in America who could, or who would, have performed the task here undertaken, at once so well in accordance with the judgment of the critical, and so much to the satisfaction of the public.” Still, Poe included a statement objecting to certain of Griswold’s evaluations and omissions. Griswold, it seems, paid Poe for the review in advance, promised the article to Bradbury and Soden, publishers of the Miscellany, then found himself committed to send it on when Poe completed it. A passage from Griswold’s August 12, 1842 letter to James T. Fields reads: “I have sent today the article by Poe about my book to Bradbury & Soden for the magazine, with a request that if it be not acceptable they will return it to you. I thought it likely the name of Poe — gratuitously furnished — might be of some consequence, though I care not a fig about the publication of the criticism as the author and myself not being on the best terms, it is not decidedly as favorable as it might have been. Will you see to it though” (MS in Harvard College Library). It is possible that Poe’s adverse comments were “edited” in part. [page 361:] Another letter from Griswold to Fields, September 7, 1842, says: “I am rather pleased that it [Poe’s review] is to appear, lest Poe should think I had prevented its publication” (The Poe Log, p. 378). Thus Poe, having accepted Griswold’s money, wrote a rather fair review, but knew that the notice would not please Griswold fully and that the article might not be published. Concerning establishing a magazine in New York, Poe probably refers to George G. Foster, later editor of Yankee Doodle and John-Donkey, but nothing materialized for the proposal. Thomas’ poem was probably The Beechen Tree, finally published in the fall of 1844. The “promised poem” of R. Tyler was almost surely Death; or Medorus’ Dream (see notes to LTR-155). Park Benjamin, at this time, was an editor of the New World — and “Count” Louis Fitzgerald Tasistro was an editor of journals, who wrote a flattering review of the 1839 Tales in the Mirror. (See William Bandy’s incomplete but useful, posthumous article, “Poe and Tasistro,” PS, 23:37-40.) For comments on Joseph H. Ingraham, see LTR-117, and Poe’s “A Chapter on Autography” (Graham’s, November 1841). Hoffman’s poems were collected in The Vigil of Faith (1842). Poe used “Kilkenny cats” in his 1840 tale, “Why the Little Frenchman Wears His Arm in a Sling,” from the Irish legend about the cats that fought each other until only their tails were left (TOM [T&S], 2:468 and 471).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (3 pp.) in the New York Public Library, Manuscript Division. The edges of the MS are ink-smeared, but the text is readable. Thomas endorsed the letter: “Did not get this until my return — Saw Poe in Philadelphia —.” Poe is replying to Thomas’ letter of September 2, 1842 (CL-387). The spelling of “quid-nuncs” with a hyphen has sanction in the OED, including Irving’s use in 1838.

Letter 144 — 1842, September 21 [CL-391] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Frederick W. Thomas (Washington, DC):

Philadelphia, Sep. 1842.

My Dear Thomas,

I am afraid you will think that I keep my promises but indifferently well, since I failed to make my appearance at Congress Hall on Sunday, and I now, therefore, write to apologise. The will to be with you was not wanting — but, upon reaching home on Saturday night, I was taken with a severe chill and fever — the latter keeping me [page 362:] company all next day. I found myself too ill to venture out, but, nevertheless, would have done so had I been able to obtain the consent of all parties. As it was I was quite in a quandary, for we keep no servant and no messenger could be procured in the neighbourhood. I contented myself with the reflection that you would not think it necessary to wait for me very long after 9 o’clock, and that you were not quite as implacable in your resentments as myself. I was much in hope that you would have made your way out in the afternoon. Virginia & Mrs C. were much grieved at not being able to bid you farewell.

I perceive by Du Solle’s paper that you saw him. He announced your presence in the city on Sunday, in very handsome terms.

I am about going on a pilgrimage, this morning [page 2] to hunt up a copy of “Clinton Bradshaw” & will send it to you as soon as procured.

Excuse the brevity of this letter, for I am still very unwell, & believe me most gratefully & sincerely your friend,

Edgar A. Poe

F. W. Thomas. Esqr

Note: Poe’s apology suggests an unlocated letter from Thomas (CL-390a). In this conjectured letter, Thomas may have announced his proposed visit to Philadelphia and arranged an appointment with Poe. Thomas presumably also asked for a copy of Clinton Bradshaw (1835), Thomas’ own first novel; Poe had previously mentioned this book in LTR-104 and LTR-131. The present letter shows that if Poe owned a copy of his friend’s novel in 1841, he did not keep it. Du Solle’s “paper” was the Spirit of the Times (Philadelphia). Poe also uses this archaic British spelling of “apologise” in LTR-62, LTR-76, LTR-85 and LTR-163d.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.) in the Huntington Library. The postmark: Philadelphia, September 21, and Poe’s last line, page 1, establish the date of the letter. The envelope is directed to “F. W. Thomas Esqre / Washington / D.C.” Thomas endorsed the envelope, “Received Sep. 22nd and answered —.” No answer is known, unless it is the letter of November 14 (CL-397), also unlocated. [page 363:]

Letter 145 — 1842, September 27 [CL-394] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Thomas H. Chivers (New York, NY):

Philadelphia Sep. 27. 1842.

My Dear Sir,

Through some accident, I did not receive your letter of the 15th inst: until this morning, and now hasten to reply.

Allow me, in the first place, to thank you sincerely for your kindness in procuring me the subscribers to the Penn Magazine. The four names sent will aid me most materially in this early stage of the proceedings.

As yet I have taken no overt step in the measure, and have not even printed a Prospectus. As soon as I do this I will send you several. I do not wish to announce my positive resumption of the original scheme until about the middle of October. Before that period I have reason to believe that I shall have received an appointment in the Philadelphia Custom House, which will afford me a good salary and leave the greater portion of my time unemployed. With this appointment to fall back upon, as a certain resource, I shall be enabled to start the Magazine without difficulty, provided I can make an arrangement with either a practical printer possessing a small office, or some one not a printer, with about $1000 at command. (over[)]

[page 2] It would, of course, be better for the permanent influence and success of the journal that I unite myself with a gentleman of education & similarity of thought and feeling. It was this consciousness which induced me to suggest the enterprise to yourself. I know no one with whom I would more readily enter into association than yourself.

I am not aware what are your political views. My own have reference to no one of the present parties; but it has been hinted to me that I will receive the most effectual patronage from Government, for a journal which will admit occasional papers in support of the Administration. For Mr Tyler personally, & as an honest statesman, I have the highest respect. Of the government patronage, upon the [page 364:] condition specified, I am assured and this alone will more than sustain the Magazine.

The only real difficulty lies in the beginning — in the pecuniary means for getting out the two (or three) first numbers; after this all is sure, and a great triumph may, and indeed will be achieved. If you can command about $1000 and say that you will join me, I will write you fully as respects the details of the plan, or we can have an immediate interview.

It would be proper to start with an edition of 1000 copies. For this number, the monthly expense, including paper (of the finest quality) composition, press-work & stitching will be about 180$. I calculate all expenses at about $250 — which is $3000 per annum — a very [page 3] liberal estimate. 1000 copies at $5 = 5000$ — leaving a nett profit of 2000$, even supposing we have only 1000 subscribers. But I am sure of beginning with at least 500, and make no doubt of obtaining 5000 before the expiration of the 2d year. A Magazine, such as I propose, with 5000 subscribers will produce us each an income of some $10,000; and this you will acknowledge is a game worth playing. At the same time there is no earthly reason why such a Magazine may not, eventually, reach a circulation as great as that of “Graham’s” at present — viz 50,000.

I repeat that it would give me the most sincere pleasure if you would make up your mind to join me. I am sure of our community of thought & feeling, and that we would accomplish much.

In regard to the poem on Harrison’s death, I regret to [say] that nothing can be done with the Philadelphia publishers. The truth is that the higher order of poetry is, and always will be, in this country, unsaleable; but, even were it otherwise, the present state of the Copy-Right Laws will not warrant any publisher, in purchasing an American book. The only condition, I am afraid, upon which the poem can be printed, is that you print at your own expense.

I will see Griswold and endeavour to get the smaller poems from him. A precious fellow is he!

Write as soon as you receive this & believe me [page 365:]

Yours most truly

Edgar A Poe

Note: Chivers’ autograph notes at the end of the present letter show that the poem on the death of President William Henry Harrison was “The Mighty Dead”; and regarding the poems held by Griswold, Chivers noted: “Alluding to his not having returned the poem, — although requested so often — which he never did.” In Chivers’ letter of July 12, 1842 (CL-381), Chivers said he would try to get subscribers to the Penn, asked Poe to hand Graham the “Invocation to Spring” (the poem that Griswold failed to return), and promised to send on his other poem, along with “one or two Dramas.” Poe did not get the appointment to the Custom House. Nothing ever came of Poe’s suggestion that Chivers join him in publishing a magazine, although Chivers wrote Poe, June 15, 1844 (CL-488), that upon coming into his inheritance he would like to become Poe’s partner. Concerning the number of subscribers to Graham’s, see LTR-139 for Poe’s lower estimate of 40,000.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (3 pp.) in the Huntington Library. The envelope is postmarked Philadelphia, September 28, and is addressed to “Dr. Thos. H. Chivers / New-York.” Chivers’ letter of September 15, 1842 (CL-389), to which Poe is replying, is unlocated.

Letter 145a — 1842, October 3 [CL-395a] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Robert Hamilton (New York, NY):


Oct. 3, 1842.

My Dear Hamilton,

I see that you have my Landscape-Garden in your last number — but, oh Jupiter! The typographical blunders. Have you been sick, or what is the matter?

I wrote you, some time since, saying that if, upon perusal of the “Mystery of Marie Rogêt,” you found anything not precisely suited to your pages, I would gladly re-purchase it, but, should you conclude to retain it, for God’s sake contrive to send me the proofs; or, at all events [page 366:] read them yourself. Such errors as occur in the “Landscape- Garden” would completely ruin a tale such as “Marie Rogêt.”

How about the $5 due? Try and get it for me & send it by return mail and “as in duty bound we shall ever pray” &c &c.

But, if you consent to my re-purchase of the tale, retain the V in part payment, and let me know, when I will forward the balance.

I am as straight as judges — somewhat more straight indeed than some of our Phil: dignitaries — and, what is more, I intend to keep straight.

Do write immediately.

Yours truly

Edgar A Poe

Rob. Hamilton Esqr

Note: Robert Hamilton was one of the associate editors of Snowden’s Ladies’ Companion, in which first appeared “The Landscape-Garden” (October 1842). It was immediately followed by “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt,” which Snowden printed in three installments: November and December 1842, and February 1843. For more on these tales, see TOM [T&S], 2:700-713 and 3:715-722. In 1845, Hamilton edited The May Flower for 1846, which included a revised form of “The Imp of the Perverse.” The quotation “as in duty bound we shall ever pray” is a traditional legal phrase, usually used by petitioners. Poe’s comment about being “as straight as judges” probably refers to the same drinking incident mentioned in his July 18, 1842 letter to J. and H. G. Langley (LTR-141a).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The letter is addressed, on a separate leaf, to: “Robert Hamilton Esqre / Office ‘Ladies Companion,’ / New-York.”

Letter 146 — 1842, October 5 [CL-396] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to John Tomlin (Jackson, TN):

Philadelphia, Oct. 5, 1842.

My Dear Sir, — [page 367:]

I have just received your kind letter of the 21st ult., and hasten to reply.

It is my firm determination to commence the “Penn Magazine” on the first of January next. The difficulties which impeded me last year have vanished, and there will be now nothing to prevent success.

I am to receive an office in the Custom House in this city, which will leave me the greater portion of my time unemployed, while, at the same time, it will afford me a good salary. With this to fall back upon as a certain resource until the Magazine is fairly afloat, all must go well. After the elections here (2d Tuesday in this month,) I will issue my new prospectuses and set to work in good earnest. As soon as printed, I will send you some. In the meantime, may I ask you to do what you can for me? Every new name, in the beginning of the enterprise, is worth five afterwards. My list of subscribers is getting to be quite respectable, although, as yet, I have positively taken no overt steps to procure names.

It is my firm intention to get up such a journal as this country, at least, has never yet seen.

Truly your friend

Edgar A Poe

Note: Poe’s long protracted efforts to secure a government clerkship, well documented in his letters, ended in disappointment, as did his plans for the Penn. In connection with Poe’s expectation of the customs house appointment, see LTR-148. (The public use of the present letter in 1848 serves as a sad testimonial to Poe’s blighted hopes about the Custom House position.) In promoting his plans to start “such a journal ... as never yet seen,” he is clearly conceiving of his Penn as being an American equivalent of Blackwood’s. See Poe’s list in Such Friends, pp. 36-37 with John Tomlin and his nine “new” names; also Savoye, “An Addendum to Ostrom’s Check List, “ EAP Review, 2: 9-32.

Source: transcript of letter as first printed in Holden’s Dollar Magazine (December 1848, 2:718), where it appeared with letters by other people in an article entitled “Autobiography of a Monomaniac,” edited by Joe Bottom, Esqr. The original MS is probably lost. TOM in Notes and [page 368:] Queries, 162:437, identifies John Tomlin, of Jackson, TN, as the author of the article, and therefore the recipient of the letters quoted. Although the article was magazine material, TOM felt that the letters were genuine (see TOM [EP], p. 195). Indeed, as D. Thomas’ brief sketch of Tomlin explains, his position as postmaster enabled him to correspond with various literary personalities of the day (see Poe in Philadelphia, pp. 918-920; and The Poe Log, p. xlv). Poe is replying to Tomlin’s letter of September 21, 1842 (CL-392).

Letter 147 — 1842, November 16 [CL-398] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to James R. Lowell (Boston, MA):

Dr Sir,

Learning your design of commencing a Magazine, in Boston, upon the first of January next, I take the liberty of asking whether some arrangement might not be made, by which I should become a regular contributor.

I should be glad to furnish a short article each month — of such character as might be suggested by yourself — and upon such terms as you could afford “in the beginning”.

That your success will be marked and permanent I will not doubt. At all events, I most sincerely wish you well; for no man in America has excited in me so much of admiration — and, therefore, none so much of respect and esteem — as the author of “Rosaline”.

May I hope to hear from you at your leisure? In the meantime, believe me,

Most Cordially yours

Edgar Allan Poe

James Russell Lowell Esqre

Philadelphia Novem: 16. 1842.

Note: James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) was about to publish the Pioneer, with the assistance of Robert Carter. (For information on Carter, see LTR-152 and LTR-153a.) It was launched with great hopes and commendable standards, but lived for only three numbers. The prospectus [page 369:] read in part: “The object of the Subscribers in establishing the Pioneer, is to furnish the intelligent and reflecting portion of the Reading Public with a rational substitute for the enormous quantity of thrice-diluted trash, in the shape of namby-pamby love tales and sketches, which is monthly poured out to them by many of our popular magazines ... Each number will contain 48 pages, royal octavo, double columns, handsomely printed on fine paper, and will be illustrated with Engravings of the highest character, both on wood and steel. Terms: Three Dollars a year” (see American Magazines, 1:735-736). It is interesting to compare this description to Poe’s own plans detailed in LTR-113. When the Pioneer died, Lowell was left heavily in debt. Poe contributed to each number (see subsequent letters). Poe’s particular and unusual praise in 1842 and 1844 of Lowell’s “Rosaline” is noteworthy. The poem was included in the February 1842 Graham’s Magazine (20:89-90), and its widely unnoticed influence upon Poe’s own poetry justifies a brief rundown of Poe’s encomia. First, in his March 1842 review of Longfellow’s Ballads he extolls Lowell’s poem stating, “No American poem equals it ... [as a] song.” Second, he concludes his review of Lowell’s Poems in March 1844 by adding “Rosaline” to the half dozen “best” lyrical works in Lowell’s volume (H [Works], 11:68, 125-126, 249). (Curiously, in the text in Graham’s of March 1844 and in H [Works] we find this title misspelled as “Rosalie,” reminiscent of Poe’s sister, but most likely a simple typesetting error. It should also be noted that a June 1842 review of the Poets and Poetry of America in Graham’s declares that Griswold could have made better choices for inclusions, save for “Rosaline.” This review, however, sometimes attributed to Poe has been more reliably assigned to C. J. Peterson by The Poe Log, pp. 367-368, based on a letter from Peterson to Lowell, April 25, 1842.) This Gothic tale is narrated by a lonely, tormented widower, who had apparently mentally abused unto death his sweet young wife, who now haunts him. In many ways “The Raven” presents significant echoes (as do “Ulalume” and “Annabel Lee,” though to a lesser degree). A few elements of Lowell’s poem, transferred, perhaps unconsciously, into Poe’s subsequent poems, include: Rosaline’s name being used in the repetend; a black bird, whistling overhead at the time of death, and “mourners” in black garments, with plumes “anodding”; settings such as, “‘T is drear such moonless nights as these”; and many other traces of language, atmosphere, and theme.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Harvard College Library. [page 370:]

Letter 148 — 1842, November 19 [CL-399] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Frederick W. Thomas (Washington, DC):

Philadelphia. Nov: 19. 42.

My Dear Friend,

Your letter of the 14th gave me new hope — only to be dashed to the ground. On the day of its receipt, some of the papers announced four removals and appointments. Among the latter I observed the name — Pogue. Upon inquiry among those behind the curtain, I soon found that no such person as — Pogue had any expectation of an appt and that the name was a misprint or rather a misunderstanding of the reporters, who had heard my own name spoken of at the Custom-House. I waited 2 days without calling upon Mr Smith, as he had twice told me that “he would send for me when he wished to swear me in.” To-day, however, hearing nothing from him, I called. I asked him if he had no good news for me yet. He replied — “No, I am instructed to make no more removals.” At this, being much astonished, I mentioned that I had heard, through a friend, from Mr Rob. Tyler, that he was requested to appoint me. At these words he said, roughly, — “From whom did you say?” I replied from Mr Robert Tyler. I wish you could have seen the scoundrel — for scoundrel, my Dear Thomas in your private ear, he is — “From Robert Tyler!” says he — “hem! I have received orders from President Tyler to make no more appts and shall make none.” Immediately afterwards he acknowledged that he had made one appt since these instructions.

Mr Smith has excited the thorough disgust of every Tyler man here. He is a Whig of the worst stamp and will appoint none but Whigs if he can possibly avoid it. People here laugh at the idea of his being a Tyler man. He is notoriously not such.

As for me, he has treated me most shamefully. In my case, there was no need of any political shuffling or lying. I professed my willingness to postpone my claims to those of political claimants; but he told me, upon my first interview after the election, that if I would call on the fourth day he would swear me in. I called & he was not at home. On the next day I called again & saw him, when he told me that [page 371:] he would send a Messenger for me when ready: — this without even inquiring my place of residence — showing that he had, from the first, no design of appointing me. Well, I waited nearly a month, when, finding nearly all the appts made, I again called. He did not even ask me to be seated — scarcely spoke — muttered the words “I will send for you Mr Poe” — and that was all. My next [page 2] and last interview was to-day — as I have just described.

The whole manner of the man, from the first, convinced me that he would not appoint me if he could help it. Hence the uneasiness I expressed to you when here.

Now, my dear Thomas, this insult is not to me, so much as to your friend Mr Robert Tyler, who was so kind as to promise, and who requested, my appointment.

It seems to me that the only way to serve me now, is to lay the matter once again before Mr T. and, if possible, through him, to procure a few lines from the President directing Mr Smith to give me the place. With these credentials he would scarcely again refuse. But I leave all to your better judgment.

You can have no idea of the low ruffians and boobies — men, too, without a shadow of political influence or caste — who have received office over my head. If Smith had the feelings of a gentleman, he would have perceived that from the very character of my claim — by which I mean my want of claim — he should have made my appt an early one. It was a gratuitous favor intended me by Mr Rob. Tyler — and he (Smith) has done his best to deprive this favor of all its grace by delay. I could have forgiven all but the innumerable and altogether unnecessary falsehoods with which he insulted my common-sense day after day.

I would write more, my dear Thomas; — but my heart is too heavy. You have felt the misery of hope deferred & will feel for me.

Believe me ever your true friend.

Edgar A Poe.

Write soon & if possible relieve my suspense. You cannot imagine the trouble I am in, & have been in for the last 2 months — unable to [page 372:] enter into any literary arrangements — or in fact to do anything — being in hourly expectation of getting the place.

Note: Thomas S. Smith (ca. 1789-1873) was appointed the Collector of Customs for the port of Philadelphia on September 10, 1842 (see The Poe Log, p. xlii). He was re-nominated in 1843, but was replaced by C. Blythe (see LTR-156 and notes). There is no certain proof that Thomas acted in Poe’s behalf in response to the present letter, but Thomas’ letter of February 1, 1843 (CL-411) implies that he did. No Thomas letter replying to the present one is known. Given the request in Poe’s postscript, and Thomas’ general attentiveness, however, it is very likely that he did write. For Poe’s special use of the word “caste,” see LTR-108 and notes.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.) in the Princeton University, McCormick Collection. The address leaf, initialed “EAP” by Poe in the lower left corner, is directed to “F. W. Thomas Esqre/ Treasury Departt./ Washington/ D. C.” It is postmarked: “Philadelphia, Nov. 20.” Across the end Thomas wrote: “Received Nov. 21.” A transcript, now in the Boston Public Library, carries the following notation: “The above copied from the original in the possession of ‘Fred’ for Geo H Morse Esq. Lenox Library. May 30/78 C. W. F[rederickson].” The copy seems to be a very careful reproduction, line for line, of the holograph, although it contains a few minor errors (including “trialed me” for “treated me”). Poe is replying to Thomas’ letter of November 14, 1842 (CL-397).

Letter 149 — 1842, December 25 [CL-407] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to James R. Lowell (Boston, MA):

My Dear Friend

I send you a brief poem for No 2, with my very best wishes.

I duly received yours of the 19th and thank you for reversing the judgment of Mr Tuckerman — the author of the “Spirit of Poesy” — which, by the way, is somewhat of a misnomer — since no spirit appears.

Touching the “Miscellany” — had I known of Mr T’s accession, I should not have ventured to send an article. Should he, at any time, [page 373:] accept an effusion of mine, I should ask myself what twattle I had been perpetrating, so flat as to come within the scope of his approbation. He writes, through his publishers, — “if Mr Poe would condescend to furnish more quiet articles he would be a most desirable correspondent.” All I have to say is that if Mr T. persists in his quietude, he will put a quietus to the Magazine of which Mess. Bradbury & Soden have been so stupid as to give him control.

I am all anxiety to see your first number. In the meantime, believe me

[Rest of MS. cut off]

Note: Poe sent the poem “Lenore,” which was printed in the Pioneer for February 1843. Henry Theodore Tuckerman (1813-1871) succeeded Mrs. Sarah J. Hale as editor of the Boston Miscellany with the number for January 1843 (see the last issue for 1842). Lowell’s getting “The Tell-Tale Heart” presented a problem. Lowell’s letter to Poe, December 17, 1842 (CL-406), says the tale came from Tuckerman and “will appear in my first number.” Apparently Poe sent the tale to Bradbury and Soden, publishers of the Boston Miscellany, but Tuckerman, who assumed the editorship with the January number, refused to print it. Poe’s present letter suggests the publishers or Tuckerman wrote to Poe, early in December (CL-404) (the submission of the tale by Poe also suggests a letter to the publishers, CL-402). The MS still in the hands of the publishers, Poe probably wrote them requesting that they give it to Lowell (CL-405); or he wrote to Lowell to get the tale from Bradbury and Soden. Thus the history of the tale, at this time, suggests several lost letters. Tuckerman’s rejection of his tale resulted in the sort of antagonism which invariably found voice in various of Poe’s works (see PD, six instances indicated; TOM [Poems], 1:426, n. to line 10; and Writings, 3:Index to five instances in BJ). Among these was Poe’s derisive “Chapter on Autography” paragraph on Henry T. Tuckerman’s “tedious and dull” writings (Graham’s, December 1841; reprinted in H [Works], 15:217). Another reference to the specific incident of the rejection found its way into the October 1845 review of Poe’s Tales from the Aristidean (1:316-319), where it is recorded that “Poe rejoined, that Tuckerman was the King of the Quietists, and in three months would give a quietus to the ‘Miscellany.’ The author was mistaken in time — it only took two months to finish the work. Lowell afterwards published the ‘Tell-tale [sic] Heart,’ [page 374:] in the ‘Pioneer’ ” (1:318). Poe’s rancor continues as late as a letter of 1849 (see LTR-307b).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Harvard College Library. The envelope is addressed to “James Russell Lowell Esqre / Boston / Mass:”; in the lower left corner appears: “Single — / E A P.” Though the signature is cut off the handwriting is Poe’s. Lowell endorsed the letter: “E. A. Poe, 1843”; a different hand entered “Dec. 23 / 1842.” The content of the letter places it in 1842, and the envelope is postmarked Philadelphia, December 25. Poe’s second sentence refers to Lowell’s letter of November 19, 1842 (CL-400), and of December 17 (CL-406).

Letter 150 — 1842, December 27 [CL-408] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to James R. Lowell (Boston, MA):

My dear Sir,

If not too late, I would be glad to substitute the lines here given, for what I sent you some days since.

Should the long line “To friends above &c” not come conveniently within the breadth of the page, it may be made to commence farther to the left, so as to correspond with “But waft the angel &c”

Most truly yours,

Edgar A Poe

James Russell Lowell Esqre

Dec 27. 42

Note: In his letter of December 25, 1842 (LTR-149), Poe had sent Lowell “a brief poem for No 2” of the Pioneer, the February 1843 issue (2:60-61). That poem was “Lenore,” and the lines referred to in the present letter appear in the fourth stanza as it was published, presumably incorporating Poe’s requested changes. (In his own copy of The Raven and Other Poems, Poe rewrote the stanza.) Lowell printed the poem with short lines, spreading it over two pages (see TOM [Poems], 1:330-339). Ultimately, it was not necessary to shift the line to the left.

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 was addressed on the verso of the page, and postmarked at Philadelphia, December 27. [page 375:]

Letter 150aca. 1842-1843 [CL-408a] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Mrs. Jane Clarke (Richmond, VA):

[...] I am happy to say that our dear Virginia’s cough is much better and we have great hopes of her speedy recovery. [...]

Note: This letter was written to a woman who was living in Richmond, and many years later in Louisville, KY. The most likely candidate seems to be Mrs. Jane Clarke. She apparently had several letters from Poe, of which only this one fragment of text seems to be known. Others are described only as “gracious little notes accompanying the loan of a book or a gift of flowers; letters on family topics ....

Source: fragment as quoted by Elvira Sidnor Miller, “A Chat about Poe” (The Louisville Courier Journal, March 8, 1885). Unfortunately, as Mrs. Miller says, “my friend would not allow me to copy a line.” The one sentence given is all that she could recall, “coming at the close of one epistle.” This fragment is included from an item in the Mabbott Collection at the University of Iowa. In his notes, TOM initially wrote the name as “Clark[e],” but finally concluded that it was “almost surely Mrs. Jane Clarke.” The date of 1842-1843 is speculative, based on similar letters Poe wrote concerning Virginia’s health about that time. In particular, see Poe’s letter to John Mackenzie, after April 22, 1843 (LTR-159).

Letter 150b — 1843, ca. January 30-31 [CL-410] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Frederick W. Thomas (Washington, DC):

[... are you waiting] for some definite action of Congress on Smith’s case [...]

In high spirits,

Yours truly,

E. A. Poe.

Note: Only these few lines are known from this letter. Based on F. W. Thomas’ reply (see below), Poe inquired about Thomas’ silence on the matter of the much anticipated government clerkship appointment (see The Poe Log, p. 396). Thomas S. Smith is first mentioned in LTR-143, [page 376:] and more prominently in LTR-148. In addition, Poe drew Thomas’ attention to an article in the Philadelphia Saturday Museum, a review of Griswold’s Poets and Poetry of America which included some comment about Thomas and his friend, Robert Tyler (H [Works], 11:220-243). Poe apparently mentioned Henry B. Hirst as being the author (see D. Thomas, Poe in Philadelphia, pp. 495-498 and 812). Harrison, following Gill, attributes the article to Poe (see also the discussion at the end of the note for LTR-153). Thomas promptly replied that he would make sure Tyler was not “misinformed,” although the details of what the cause of such misinformation might be are not specified. Poe also asked Thomas to write a biographical notice about Poe for the Saturday Museum, and sent some notes as a basis (see LTR-153). Thomas politely declined, citing a press of other business. Poe’s present letter was apparently far different in tone from his previous one to Thomas (see LTR-148).

Source: fragment as quoted by F. W. Thomas in his letter to Poe, February 1, 1843 (CL-411). The MS of Thomas’ letter is in the Boston Public Library.

Letter 151 — 1843, February 4 [CL-412] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to James R. Lowell (Boston, MA):

Philadelphia February 4 1843.

My Dear Mr Lowell,

For some weeks I have been daily proposing to write and congratulate you upon the triumphant début of the “Pioneer”, but have been prevented by a crowd of more worldly concerns.

Thank you for the compliment in the footnote. Thank you, also, for your attention in forwarding the Magazine.

As far as a $3 Magazine can please me at all, I am delighted with yours. I am especially gratified with what seems to me a certain coincidence of opinion & of taste, between yourself and your humble servant, in the minor arrangements, as well as in the more important details of the journal. For example — the poetry in the same type as the prose — the designs from Flaxman — &c. As regards the contributors our thoughts are one. Do you know that when, some time [page 377:] since, I dreamed of establishing a Magazine of my own, I said to myself — “If I can but succeed in engaging, as permanent contributors, Mr Hawthorne, Mr Neal, and two others, with a certain young poet of Boston, who shall be nameless, I will engage to produce the best journal in America.” [page 2] At the same time, while I thought and still think highly of Mr Bryant, Mr Cooper, and others, I said nothing of them.

You have many warm friends in this city — but the reforms you propose require time in their development, and it may be even a year before “The Pioneer” will make due impression among the Quakers. In the meantime, persevere.

I forwarded you, about a fortnight ago I believe, by Harnden’s Express, an article called “Notes upon English Verse”. A thought has struck me, that it may prove too long, or perhaps too dull, for your Magazine — in either case, use no ceremony, but return it in the same mode (thro’ Harnden) and I will, forthwith, send something in its place.

I duly received, from Mr Graham, $10 on your account, for which I am obliged. I would prefer, however, that you would remit directly to myself through the P. Office.

I saw, not long ago, at Graham’s, a poem without the author’s name — but which for many reasons I take to be yours — the chief being that it was very beautiful. Its title I forget — but it slightly veiled a lovely Allegory in which “Religion” was typified, and the whole painted the voyage of some wanderers & mourners in search of some far-off isle. Is it yours?

Truly your friend

E A Poe

Note: The Pioneer, edited by Lowell and Robert Carter, appeared in January 1843, and received many commendations from the press. Lowell, in his letter of November 19, 1842 (CL-399), had promised Poe $10 at first for each article; thus the money mentioned in the present letter was in payment for “The Tell-Tale Heart,” printed in the January Pioneer. “Notes Upon English Verse” (later revised as “The Rationale of Verse”) [page 378:] was published in the March issue. The footnote to which Poe refers occurs, unexpectedly and inconspicuously, in a long article by Lowell, called “The Plays of Thomas Middleton.” Lowell was analyzing the perverse, self-misdirection of the characters of The Changeling (Pioneer, January 1843, 1:32-39). The initial asterisk (1:37) alludes to a text about the “horror which a murderer feels of the physical fact of murder” leading to the consequent “dread” which may be well called “bodily remorse.” Lowell’s footnote was collected from the new journal and quoted, very slightly modified, as issued by Lowell, but without its publication source — in the biographical article on Poe in the Philadelphia Saturday Museum of March 4, 1843. Lowell’s whole long article appears much later only in the 1902 Bodley Head, one-volume edition of Early Prose Writings of James Russell Lowell, pp. 209-248 ( the compliment being on p. 234). It has been largely ignored by both Poe and Lowell scholars. Lowell’s note is as follows: “This bodily feeling is painted with a terrible truth and distinctness of coloring in Hood’s ‘Dream of Eugene Aram,’ and with no less strength by the powerful imagination of Mr. Poe, in his story of the ‘Tell-tale heart,’ [sic] on page 29 of the present number.” Lowell apparently wishing to please Poe, the author of the “Tell-Tale Heart,” included it in this first number of the Pioneer; he knew of the brusque dismissal of Poe’s first submission of the tale by Tuckerman as the Boston Miscellany’s editor-to-be.

Concerning the inquiry in Poe’s final paragraph, one wonders if any then-recently published Graham’s poem with related material could be by Lowell. It is sufficiently ambiguous to be invented by Poe, sent to gratify Lowell, who as editor of the Pioneer might be of service to him. “At Graham’s” is no guarantee of being “in” the magazine, but it is a reasonable inference. No poem clearly matching Poe’s summary appears in the journal for 1842 and 1843, save one — a Shakespearean sonnet titled “Life Compared to a Traveler,” in the January 1843 issue (22:52). In this anonymous poem, the journey of life departs from a “bleak vale”, traverses a barren waste, to view the “prayed for goal”, the city’s “golden towers” becoming the “placid bourne — the city of the Dead.” Except for the “far-off isle,” it is all concordant; moreover, Lowell enjoyed using the sonnet form for allegory and for mild, generalized religious dogma (see his twenty-seven items in the Riverside Press ed. of Poetical Works). The same issue as the “designate,” however, holds Poe’s “The Conqueror Worm” (22:32); he would certainly know the title and details of this one as well. It is not in Lowell’s Works, nor would Lowell have failed to give [page 379:] his name in this upsurge of his popularity. One certainly must question whether the writer most addicted to “hoaxing the reader” may not be teasing Lowell while flattering him. For information on Harnden’s Express, see the introduction.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.) in the Harvard College Library. In the margin opposite the third paragraph from the end appears: “E.A.Poe / 4th Feby — 1843.” In the MS, the word “America” is broken across pages 1 and 2 as “Ame-rica.” Between the present letter and the one Poe wrote on December 27, 1842 (LTR-150), no letter from Lowell is known.

Letter 152 — 1843, February 16 [CL-415] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Robert Carter (Boston, MA):

My Dear Sir,

I send you the above trifle, in hope that I may be in time for your fourth number.

What you tell me about Mr Lowell’s health, grieves me most sincerely — but we will hope for the best. Diseases of an opthalmic [sic] character, are, by no means, so intractable now, as they were a few years ago. When you write, remember me kindly to him.

When you have leisure, it will give me great pleasure to hear from you at all times. With the warmest wishes for your success, I am, dear Sir,

Yrs truly,

Edgar A Poe.

R. Carter Esqr

Note: Robert Carter (1819-1879) was the co-editor, with J. R. Lowell, of the Pioneer, and later an editor of Appleton’s Journal. This is the first of two known letters from Poe to Carter. However, Carter is known to have written Poe at least three letters: before February 16, 1843 (CL-414), June 19, 1843 (CL-440), and late September, 1843 (CL-452a). The version of “Eulalie” accompanying the present letter antedates by more than two years the first printed form in the American Review, July 1845 (see Campbell, Poems, pp. 114, 259; and TOM [Poems], 1:349; also Quinn, pp. 381-382). [page 380:]

Source: original MS (1 p.), formerly in the collection of J. K. Lilly, Jr., and now in the Lilly Library, Indiana University. The verso of the folded leaf is postmarked Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, February 16; and is addressed to “R. Carter Esqre / Editor of “The Pioneer”/ Boston/ Mass:,” with the initials “EAP” in the lower left corner. The letter is also endorsed “E. A. Poe/ Feb. 16. 1843.” The year date is validated by the reference to the Pioneer (January-March 1843). The letter is the lower third of page 1 of a folded leaf, the upper portion carrying the transcription of “Eulalie,” sent as a contribution to the Pioneer. Assuming that the present letter is genuine, Poe is replying to a letter from Carter of before February 16, 1843 (CL-414). Carter would presumably have informed Poe of Lowell’s condition and asserted his role in the absence of his co-editor.

It should be admitted that this letter was not accepted by TOM, who noted in the margin of his copy of The Letters [1948]: “This I consider a fake.” Beside paragraph 2 he wrote: “Too flowery. Why should Carter write to Lowell? [since he was Lowell’s colleague and resided nearby].” TOM [Iowa] also left another comment declaring the letter: “of doubtful authenticity.” Moreover, in his headnote to “Eulalie,” TOM [Poems, 1:348-350] refers to this letter saying: “If a forgery, it is a very skillful one, but the language ... is horribly inflated (even for Poe!)”. Beneath it all was probably the fact that TOM was troubled by this early date for the poem, over two years before its July 1845 first printing; also by “the extraordinary non-classical form ‘Astart’ for ‘Astarte.’ ”. The date was problematic for TOM in part because he felt that “Eulalie” was inspired by three items in the New Mirror of October 14, 1843 (TOM [Poems], 1:347). The misspelling here of “ophthalmic,” however, and also of “ophthalmia” on page 2 of LTR-156, both omitting the first and required letter “h” after “op,” would seem to connect these letters. Literate people did not then habitually accept such careless spelling. If one of these letters is considered authentic, the other should gain some credibility. More importantly, LTR-156 states that Lowell, being ill, is in New York about this time, which would explain Carter’s need to write to Lowell, and Poe’s need to write to Carter instead of Lowell. The stiffness of language may be explained by Poe’s uncertainty in addressing Carter, whose closeness to Lowell’s views he did not definitely know — both being New Englanders, members of the hostile “other” group, despite the Pioneer’s acceptance of Poe’s works then. Even to Carter’s partner Lowell, Poe always wrote somewhat self-consciously. Everything considered, there seems to be good reason to treat the letter as genuine. [page 381:]

Letter 153 — 1843, February 25 [CL-418] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Frederick W. Thomas (Washington, DC):

Philadelphia, Feb. 25, 1843.

My Dear Thomas,

Herewith I forward a “Saturday Museum” containing a Biography and caricature, both of myself. I am ugly enough God knows, but not quite so bad as that. The biographer is H. W. [sic] Hirst, of this city.

I put into his hands your package, as returned, and he has taken the liberty of stating his indebtedness for memoranda to yourself — a slight extension of the truth for which I pray you to excuse him. He is a warm friend of yours by the bye — and a warm friend is a matter of moment at all times <,> but especially in this age of lukewarmness. I have also been guilty of an indiscretion in quoting from a private letter of yours to myself — I could not forego the temptation of letting the world know how well you thought of me.

On the outside of the paper you will see a Prospectus of “The Stylus” — my old “Penn” revived & remodelled under better auspices. I am anxious to hear your opinion of it. I have managed, at last, to secure, I think, the great object — a partner possessing ample capital, and, at the same time, so little self-esteem, as to allow me entire control of the editorial conduct. He gives me, also, a half interest, and is to furnish funds for all the business operations — I agreeing to supply, for the first year, the literary matter. This will puzzle me no little, but I must do my best — write as much as possible myself, under my own name and pseudonyms, and hope for the casual aid of my friends, until the first stage of infancy is surpassed.

The articles of copartnership have been signed & sealed for some weeks, and I should have written you before, informing you of my good luck, but that I was in hope of sending you, at the same time, a specimen-sheet. Some little delay has occurred in getting it out, on account of paper. In the meantime all arrangements are progressing with spirit. We shall make the most magnificent Magazine as regards externals, ever seen. The finest paper, bold type, in single column, and [page 382:] superb wood-engravings (in the manner of the French illustrated [page 2] edition of “Gil Blas” by Gigoux, or “Robinson Crusoe” by Grandville.

There are 3 objects I would give a great deal to accomplish. Of the first I have some hope — but of the 2 last exceedingly little, unless you aid me. In the first place, I wish an article from yourself for my opening number — in the second, one from Mr Rob. Tyler — in the 3d one from Judge Upshur. If I could get all this, I should be made — but I despair. Judge Upshur wrote some things for “The Messenger” during my editorship, and if I could get him interested in the scheme he might, by good management, be induced to give me an article, I care not how brief, or on what subject, with his name. It would be worth to me at least $500, and give me caste at once. I think him <both> as a reasoner, as a speaker, and as a writer, absolutely unsurpassed. I have the very highest opinion of his abilities. There is no man in America from whom I so strongly covet an article. Is it procurable?

In a few weeks, at farthest, I hope to take you by the hand. In the meantime write & let me know how you come on.

About a week since I enclosed an introductory letter to yourself in one to a friend of mine (Professor Wyatt) now in Washington. I presume you have seen him. He is much of a gentleman & I think you will be pleased with him. Virginia & Mrs Clemm beg to be remembered.

Truly your friend,

Edgar A Poe

F. W. Thomas Esqre

P.S. Smith not rejected yet! — Ah, if I could only get the Inspectorship, or something similar, now — how completely it would put me out of all difficulty.

Note: The prospectus of the Stylus is reprinted in Quinn, pp. 375-376; the partner was Thomas C. Clarke, and the magazine was to appear July 1, 1843. The articles of partnership were signed January 31, 1843 (see Quinn, p. 369). The “superb wood-engravings” were to be supplied by Felix Octavius Carr Darley (1822-1888), with whom Clarke and Poe [page 383:] signed an agreement on January 31, 1843, witnessed by H. B. Hirst and W. D. Reibsam. (A facsimile of the contract is reproduced in Gill, after p. 118, and Robertson, EAP A Study, 1921, p. 225.) It was probably about this time that Darley designed the two illustrations for Poe’s “The Gold-Bug,” evidently intended for the anticipated Stylus, but published along with the prize-winning story in the Dollar Newspaper, in June and July of 1843. In 1845, Darley provided several vignette woodcuts for T. D. English’s short-lived Aristidean, including some which accompanied articles by Poe. Nearly a decade after Poe’s death, Darley was one of several illustrators supplying woodcut designs for elaborately produced editions of “The Bells” and “The Raven.” (For a list of these illustrations, see Pollin, Images of Poe. See also Poe’s mention of Darley in LTR-315, and the notes to LTR-316.) Judge Abel Parker Upshur wrote several articles for the SLM, but only one can be said to have been contributed during Poe’s editorship, a review of The Partisan Leader (January 1837, 3:73-89), unsigned but identified by B. B. Minor (SLM 1834-1864, p. 63). For more information on Professor Thomas Wyatt, see LTR-109a and LTR-249. Concerning T. S. Smith, see LTR-148. The Philadelphia

Saturday Museum of February 25, 1843, carried the sketch of Poe mentioned in the present letter. The same article was reprinted in the issue of March 4, 1843. Although Ostrom (The Letters [1948], p. 223), TOM [Poems, 1:553] and other scholars have accepted at face value Poe’s statement about Hirst having written this article, Poe’s own role may be more extensive. The Poe Log (p. 398) describes it as “apparently prepared by Poe in collaboration with Hirst.” Burton Pollin argued that Poe was the sole author of the full article and merely used Hirst’s name as a convenient cover (see “Poe’s Authorship of Three Long Critical and Autobiographical Articles of 1843,” American Renaissance Literary Report, 7:139-171, especially pp. 147-150). Apparently unnoticed has been Griswold’s reproach for Poe’s “perversion in the reproduction of compliments” in the Saturday Museum’s “sketch of his life” that “he prepared with his own hands.” Griswold was either not aware of Poe’s attribution of the “sketch” to Henry Hirst, or he disbelieved it (“Memoir” in Poe’s Works, 3:xxxiv-xxxv [1850], and 1:l-li [1853]). For an early effort to have F. W. Thomas write the biography, see the notes to LTR-150b. The letter of introduction Poe wrote to Thomas for Wyatt is unlocated.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.) in the Boston Public Library. The envelope is directed to F. W. Thomas, Treasury Department, Washington, DC, and postmarked February 26. [page 384:]

Letter 153a — 1843, March 7 [CL-419a] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Robert Carter (Boston, MA):


March 7. 1843.

My Dear Sir,

Could you do me a very great favor? I am obliged to go on to Washington on Saturday morning — this is Tuesday — and am in sad need of means. I believe there is due me from “The Pioneer” $30, and if you could, by any management, send me the amount so as to reach me, here, by that period, I would feel myself under deep obligation. If you cannot spare 30$ I would be exceedingly glad of $20.

Your fourth — or rather your third number, has not yet reached this city — although I see it is out in N. York. I am anxious to get it.

I sincerely hope that Mr Lowell is recovering. When you write remember me kindly.

In great haste.

Yours truly

Edgar A Poe

R. Carter Esqre

Note: In connection with this letter, see LTR-152 and note. Carter apparently did not reply, perhaps because his partner had indeed recovered and returned to assume his former duties. Within a few weeks, Lowell did write, although he was forced to explain his financial difficulties and was unable to send the money due Poe (see Lowell’s letter to Poe, March 24, 1843, CL-426). For some reason Poe changed his plans and arrived in Washington before Saturday (see LTR-154 and note). Poe’s reason for visiting Washington was to try to further his unsuccessful efforts to obtain a government clerkship.

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, addressed to: “R. Carter, Esq., Editor of the Pioneer,’ Boston, Mass.,” is in the Philadelphia Free Library, Gimbel Collection. It is endorsed (not by Poe): “Edgar A. Poe, March 7th 1843.” [page 385:]

Letter 154 — 1843, March 9 [CL-420] Poe (Washington, DC) to John K. Townsend (Washington, DC):

Fuller’s Hotel.

Thursday Morning.

March 9. 43.

Dr. Sir,

I have the honor to inclose two letters, and the bearer will deliver a case containing an air-gun.

In a day or two I will do myself the pleasure of calling.

With High Respect,

Yr Ob Srt

Edgar A Poe

Note: John Kirk Townsend (1809-1851) was a prominent Philadelphia ornithologist, and a featured contributor to the Philadelphia Saturday Museum (see issues of March 4, 18, and later — given by D. Thomas, Poe in Philadelphia, pp. 523-524 and 538). He was in Washington from 1842-1845 “engaged in securing and mounting birds” for the National Museum, with its collections housed in the Patent Office (see the DAB, 18:618). Having been a member of Capt. N. J. Wyeth’s party in 1834, the pioneer explorer wrote Narrative of a Journey across the Rocky Mountains (Philadelphia, H. Perkins; Boston, Perkins & Marvin, 1839), a work with great relevance for Poe’s “Julius Rodman, being an account of the first passage across the Rocky Mountains” (Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, January-June 1840). As a bona fide scientist and associate of Audubon, Townsend might have had some professional need for an air-gun, using compressed air, and may have requested one through T. C. Clarke, editor of the Saturday Museum. Interestingly, Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine included a discussion of the gun in the March 1840 issue (6:149-150), while Poe was still editor. One can only speculate as to the correspondents of the “two letters,” but Thomas Cotrell Clarke (see LTR-155) and Poe’s friend Professor Thomas Wyatt would be among the most reasonable possibilities.

Source: facsimile of the original MS (1 p.) as given in “Three New Poe Letters,” ATQ, Spring 1972, no. 14, pt. 2, pp. 89-92. In 1948, Ostrom was [page 386:] concerned about the validity of the letter, remarking “Superficially, the letter seems genuine, though proof is not possible without an examination of the holograph. Thus the present letter is not admitted unreservedly to the canon” (2:502). TOM [Iowa] in his copy of The Letters [1948] wrote “fake,” but also without being able to examine the MS. D. Thomas (Poe in Philadelphia, pp. 527-528) prints the letter and defends its authenticity. Poe’s friend, F. W. Thomas, lived at Fuller’s Hotel. Sometime, early in March, Poe went to Washington (see LTR-153 and LTR-155, and notes). Poe’s friend, Jesse E. Dow, wrote to Thomas C. Clarke, March 12, that Poe had arrived in Washington “a few days ago”; the text of Dow’s letter seems to indicate that Poe was there before March 9, 1843 (see Quinn, p. 378). Thus the date and place of the letter appear genuine, and the contents are highly plausible, arguing strongly for its authenticity.

Letter 155 — 1843, March 11 [CL-421] Poe (Washington, DC) to Thomas C. Clarke (Philadelphia, PA):

Washington — March 11. 1843.

My Dear Sir,

I write merely to inform you of my well-doing — for, so far, I have done nothing. My friend Thomas, upon whom I depended, is sick. I suppose he will be well in a few days. In the meantime, I shall have to do the best I can. I have not seen the President yet.

My expenses were more than I thought they would be, although I have economised in every respect, and this delay (<Thomas’> being sick) puts me out sadly. However all is going right. I have got the subscriptions of all the Departments — President, [illegible] &c[.] I believe that I am making a sensation which will tend to the benefit of the Magazine.

Day after to-morrow I am to lecture.

Rob. Tyler is to give me an article — also. [sic] Upsher. [sic]

Send me $10 by mail, as soon as you get this. I am grieved to ask you <ask you> for money, in this way. — but you will find your account in it — twice over. [page 387:]

Very truly yours

Edgar A Poe.

Thos. C. Clarke Esqr

Note: Thomas Cotrell Clarke (1801-1874) published the Philadelphia Saturday Museum, beginning on December 10, 1842. He agreed to join Poe in establishing the Stylus, and both men signed a contract to that effect on January 31, 1843 (H [Works], 17:126-127). Poe was in Washington not only to seek a government position, but also to solicit subscriptions for the Stylus, scheduled to appear in July 1843 (see LTR-157), with Poe as editor and Clarke as co-publisher (see the prospectus, reprinted in Quinn, pp. 375-376). On March 8, 1843, finding his friend ill, Poe was in a predicament since Thomas was to have presented Poe to President John Tyler. Under the circumstances, he had to be satisfied with a letter of introduction to the President’s son, Robert, who already knew of Poe through Thomas (see Thomas to Poe, February 26, 1842, CL-358). Curiously, a few months after the present letter, an unfavorable review of Tyler’s Death; or Medorus’ Dream appeared in Graham’s Magazine for December 1843 (23:319-320). The unsigned review has been attributed to Poe (Hull, p. 389 and TOM [Iowa]), in part for the harsh dismissal of Tyler’s use of allegory and epithets, confused metaphors, and for “an unpleasant ‘farfetchedness’ of versification,” with the word “farfetchedness” being a Poe coinage (see PCW). The introductory letter to R. Tyler, misdated by F. W. Thomas as February rather than March, is in the Boston Public Library, printed in The Poe Log, pp. 403-404. Poe, in a letter to F. W. Thomas, February 25 (LTR-153), stated he wanted articles from Thomas, Robert Tyler, and from Judge Abel Parker Upshur (then Secretary of the Navy) for the first issue of the Stylus. According to Quinn (p. 378), the lecture was never delivered. Judge Abel Parker Upshur was at least professionally known to Poe, from the days of Poe’s editorship of the SLM, as he says in LTR-153. Indeed, the first issue of the SLM of August 1834 lists Upshur’s name among its subscribers. (In LTR-127, Poe says that he is “not personally acquainted” with Upshur).

Source: original MS (1 p.) in the New York Public Library, Berg Collection. Poe has never elsewhere misspelled Upshur and the appearance of the MS for this letter bespeaks a distraught state. The MS is carelessly written, with a portion so heavily scratched out as to be illegible; “Thomas” in the second paragraph has a line through it. The “e”s throughout this letter are almost all closed as though they were “i”s without a dot on top, as in “benefit” at the bottom of this paragraph — [page 388:] again perhaps indicative of Poe’s physical and mental distress in Washington. An example of the difficulty in reading the MS is “well-doing,” erroneously given as “will-doing” in The Letters [1948], the correct form being a well-known compound (used also in LTR-83, LTR-84, and LTR-189). It has biblical authority (2 Thessalonians 3:13 and 1 Peter 3:17) and occurs in Byron’s “Heaven and Earth.” Strangely, the facsimile in Stoddard’s edition of The Works of EAP (NY: A. C. Armstrong & Co., 1884, 1:114), shows a closed “e” with a dot over it, but it may have been a careless spotting or someone’s alteration of the plate, making it different from the actual MS.

Letter 156 — 1843, March 16 [CL-424] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Frederick W. Thomas and Jesse E. Dow (Washington, DC):

Philadelphia March 16. 1843.

My Dear Thomas, & Dow

I arrived here, in perfect safety, and sober, about half past four last evening — nothing occurring on the road of any consequence. I shaved and breakfasted in Baltimore and lunched on the Susquehannah, and by the time I got to Phila felt quite decent. Mrs Clemm was expecting me at the car-office. I went immediately home, took a warm bath & supper & then went to Clarke’s. I never saw a man in my life more surprised to see another. He thought by Dow’s epistle that I must not only be dead but buried & would as soon have thought of seeing his great-great-great grandmother. He received me, therefore, very cordially & made light of the matter. I told him what had been agreed upon — that I was a little sick & that Dow, knowing I had been, in times passed, given to spreeing upon an extensive scale, had become unduly alarmed &c&c. — that when I found he had written I thought it best to come home. He said my trip had improved me & that he had never seen me looking so well!!! — and I don’t believe I ever did.

This morning I took medicine, and, as it is a snowy day, will avail myself of the excuse to stay at home — so that by to-morrow I shall be really as well as ever. [page 389:]

Virginia’s health is about the same — but her distress of mind has been even more than I had anticipated. She desires her kindest remembrances to both of you — as also does Mrs C.

[page 2] Clarke, it appears, wrote to Dow, who must have received the letter this morning. Please re-inclose the letter to me, here — so that I may know how to guide myself. — and, Thomas, do write immediately as proposed. If possible, enclose a line from Rob. Tyler — but I fear, under the circumstances, it is not so — I blame no one but myself.

The letter which I looked for & which I wished returned, is not on its way — reason, no money forthcoming — Lowell had not yet sent it — he is ill in N. York of opthalmia. [sic] Immediately upon receipt of it, or before, I will forward the money you were both so kind as to lend — which is 8 to Dow — and 3 1/2 to Thomas — What a confounded business I have got myself into, attempting to write a letter to two people at once!

However — this is for Dow. My dear fellow — Thank you a thousand times for your kindness & great forbearance, and don’t say a word about the cloak turned inside out, or other peccadilloes of that nature. Also, express to your wife my deep regret for the vexation I must have occasioned her. Send me, also, if you can the letter to Blythe. Call, also, at the barber’s shop just above Fuller’s and pay for me a levy which I believe I owe. And now God bless you — for a nobler fellow never lived.

And this is for Thomas. My dear friend. Forgive me my petulance & don’t believe I think all I said. Believe me I am very grateful to you for your many attentions & forbearances — and the time will never come when I shall forget either them or you. Remember me most kindly to Dr Lacey — also to the Don, whose mustachios I do admire after all, and who has about the finest figure I ever beheld — also to Dr Frailey. Please express my regret to Mr Fuller for making such a fool of <him> myself in his house, and say to him (if you think it necessary) that I should not have got half so drunk on his excellent Port wine but for the rummy [page 3] coffee with which I was forced to wash it down. I would be glad, too, if you would take an [page 390:] opportunity of saying to Mr Rob. Tyler that if he can look over matters & get me the Inspectorship, I will join the Washingtonians forthwith. I am as serious as a judge — & much [more] so than many. I think it would be a feather in Mr Tyler’s cap to save [fr]om the perils of mint julap — & “Port wines” — a young man of whom all the world thinks so well & who thinks so remarkably well of himself.

And now, my dear friends, good bye & believe me

Most Truly Yours.

Edgar A Poe

Mess Dow & Thomas.

Upon getting here I found numerous letters of subscribers to my Magazine — for which no canvas has yet been made. This was unexpected & cheering. Did you say Dow that Commodore Elliot had desired me to put down his name? Is it so or did I dream it? At all events, when you see him, present my respects & thanks. Thomas, you will remember that Dr Lacey wished me to put him down — but I don’t know his first name — please let me have it.

Note: In connection with this letter, see LTR-155 and note; see also Jesse E. Dow to Clarke, March 12, 1843 (Quinn, p. 378). Apparently, Clarke’s letter to Dow was not sent to Poe (see Thomas to Poe, March 27, 1843, CL-428). The expected letter from J. R. Lowell was that of March 24, 1843 (CL-426), in which he explained why he could not send Poe money that was due him for contributions. Thomas lived at Fuller’s Hotel in Washington. For Dr. Frailey, see LTR-118 and note. None of the “numerous letters” from prospective subscribers to the Stylus is extant. Poe probably reached Washington on or before Wednesday, March 8 (see LTR-154 and Dow’s letter to Clarke, cited above). Neither Dow nor Thomas seems to have supplied Poe with the desired information about Commodore Elliot and Dr. Lacey. Jesse Duncan Elliott (1782-1845) was Commandant of the Philadelphia Navy Yard at his death. Dow had been his private secretary aboard the frigate Constitution in 1835-1836 (see The Poe Log, p. xxii). Elliot’s name does not appear in Such Friends, but that of Dow does, as no. 45 (p. 23) and also Dr. Lacey, as no. 44 (p. 29). Judge Calvin Blythe (ca. 1792-1849) was the Collector of Customs for the Port of Philadelphia (see The Poe Log, p. xliii). Blythe replaced Thomas S. Smith in this position. Poe hoped the change would remove the chief obstacle to his receiving an appointment of a government [page 391:] clerkship. To rekindle his chances, he requested a new endorsement from Robert Tyler (CL-430), which he received, but to no avail. According to Thomas’ letter to Poe, September 29, 1845 (CL-569), Thomas boarded with Dr. Lacey, whose name he spells as “Lacy.” In spite of Poe’s request, Thomas’ reply of March 27, 1843 (CL-428), which cites Poe’s letter, does not mention Dr. Lacey. For more on Dow see LTR-124, LTR-127, LTR-131, and notes.

Poe’s reference to “the Don” is a condescending pun on Thomas Dunn English, fond of his luxuriant mustaches and fine figure. See the lengthy, detailed article by W. H. Gravely on the visit to Washington, with its wine party frequented by friends and the Temperance man, English, not friendly to Poe nor to his mission for a Philadelphia government post (“Poe and Thomas Dunn English,” Papers on Poe, pp. 165-205). For a parallel to Poe’s outré description of Clarke’s surprise and the triple adjective preceding the word “grandmother,” see the theme and language of “The Spectacles” of March 1844 in TOM [T&S], 3:883-918, especially 3:914-915, with four repetitions of the phrase.

Again, Poe erroneously gives “opthalmia” (for “ophthalmia”), a strangely unGreek spelling for the Greek root for eye (see LTR-152). The curious spelling of julep as “julap” is given in OED as used up to the eighteenth century, but here it is probably a Southern regionalism. In the final full paragraph of the body of the letter, Poe has omitted the needed “more” after “much,” and it has been supplied editorially in square brackets. (Interestingly, Poe also omits the same word in his MS draft of this letter, CL-423). In “as serious as a judge” Poe seems to have altered the common phrase “sober as a judge” which is understandable in this particular context.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (3 pp.) in the Boston Public Library. The envelope is postmarked at Philadelphia, March 17. At the end of page 3 and across the address on the cover, Thomas wrote a long and telling note (see H [Works], 17:137-138), which included: “Poor fellow a place had been promised his friends for him, and in that state of suspense ... he presented himself in Washington certainly not in a way to advance his interests. I have seen a great deal of Poe, and it was his excessive, and at times marked sensibility which forced him into his ‘frolics’, rather than any mere marked appetite for drink, but if he took but one glass of week [sic] wine or beer or cider the Rubicon of the cup was passed with him, and it almost always ended in excess and sickness. [page 392:] But he fought against the propensity as hard as ever Coleridge fought against it.” Thomas added as a last sentence, “And moreover there is a great deal of heartache in the jestings of this letter.”

Letter 157 — 1843, March 24 [CL-425] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Peter D. Bernard (Richmond, VA):

Philadelphia March 24, 1843.

My Dear Sir,

With this letter I mail to your address a number of the “Philadelphia Saturday Museum”, containing a Prospectus of “The Stylus”, a Magazine which I design to commence on the first of July next, in connexion with Mr Thomas C. Clarke, of this city.

My object in addressing you is to ascertain if the list of “The South: Lit: Messenger” is to be disposed of, and, if so, upon what terms. We are anxious to purchase the list and unite it with that of “The Stylus,” provided a suitable arrangement could be made. I should be happy to hear from you upon the subject.

I hear of you occasionally, and most sincerely hope that you are doing well. Mrs Clemm & Virginia desire to be remembered to all our old acquaintances. Believe me,

Yours truly

Edgar A Poe

P. D. Bernard Esqre

Note: Peter Dudley Bernard (1805?-1889) was Thomas W. White’s son-in-law, having married Sarah Ann White in 1833. T. W. White, the publisher of the SLM, died January 19, 1843 (see B. B. Minor, The SLM 1834-1864, p. 98; see also the DAB, 20:120). The back wrapper of the SLM for February 1839 features a prominent advertisement for Bernard’s printing business. The specific issue of the Philadelphia Saturday Museum Poe sent cannot be established with certainty, partly because files of the over-sized periodical are scarce and incomplete. The prospectus for the Stylus appeared in those pages as early as February 25, 1843, and was reprinted in the March 4 and 11 issues. (For nearly the full text of the prospectus, see Quinn, pp. 375-376.) It may well have [page 393:] appeared again in the March 18 issue, unlocated. It seems highly unlikely that Poe forwarded the February 25 or March 4 issues since they contained the biographical article on Poe, with a portrait (see LTR-153 and notes); surely, Poe would have mentioned these to Bernard if they were present in the issue sent. (That same article also contains what Bernard might have considered an offensive claim, namely that the number of subscribers to the SLM declined notably when Poe left as an editor. The prospectus itself is more benign, but might also have irritated the son-in-law of the founder of the SLM by saying that Poe’s “objects” were “... in many respects, at variance with those of their very worthy owners ... ” and that he had, therefore, been unable “... to effect anything, on the score of taste, for the mechanical appearance of the works .... ”) Bernard did not reply, prompting Poe to write to Thomas Mackenzie (see LTR-158a), who seems to have informed Poe of the situation in the first place and thereby initiated the present letter.

Source: original MS (1 p.) in the Library of Virginia. The postal cancellation is dated March 26.

Letter 158 — 1843, March 27 [CL-427] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to James R. Lowell (Boston, MA):

Philadelphia March 27. 43.

My Dear Friend,

I have just received yours of the 24th and am deeply grieved, first that you should have been so unfortunate, and, secondly, that you should have thought it necessary to offer me any apology for your misfortunes. As for the few dollars you owe me — give yourself not one moment’s concern about them. I am poor, but must be very much poorer, indeed, when I even think of demanding them.

But I sincerely hope all is not as bad as you suppose it, and that, when you come to look about you, you will be able to continue “The Pioneer”. Its decease, just now, would be a most severe blow to the good cause — the cause of a Pure Taste. I have looked upon your Magazine, from its outset, as the best in America, and have lost no opportunity of expressing the opinion. Herewith I send a paper, “The Phil: Sat. Museum”, in which I have said a few words on the topic. [page 394:]

I am not editing this paper, although an announcement was prematurely made to that effect; but have the privilege of inserting what I please editorially. On the first of July next I hope to issue the first number of “The Stylus” a new monthly, with some novel features. I send you, also, a paper containing the Prospectus. In a few weeks I hope to forward you a specimen sheet. I [page 2] am anxious to get a poem from yourself for the opening number, but, until you recover your health, I fear that I should be wrong in making the request.

Believe me, my dear friend, that I sympathise with you truly in your affliction. When I heard that you had returned to Boston, I hoped you were entirely well, and your letter disappoints and grieves me.

When you find yourself in condition to write, I would be indebted to you if you could put me in the way of procuring a brief article (also for my opening number) from Mr Hawthorne — whom I believe you know personally. Whatever you gave him, we should be happy to give. A part of my design is to illustrate, whatever is fairly susceptible of illustration, with finely executed wood-engravings — after the fashion of Gigoux’s “Gil Blas” or “Grandville’s Gulliver” — and I wish to get a tale from Mr Hawthorne as early as possible (if I am so fortunate as to get one at all) that I may put the illustration in the hands of the artist.

You will see by the Prospectus that we intend to give a series of portraits of the American literati, with critical sketches. I would be glad if I could so arrange matters as to have you first — provided you yourself have no serious objection. Instead of the “full-length portraits” promised in the Prospectus (which will be modified in the specimen-sheet) we shall have medallions, about 3 inches in diameter. Could you put me in possession of any likeness of yourself? — or could you do me the same favor in regard to Mr Hawthorne? — You perceive [page 3] I proceed upon the ground that you are intimate with Mr H, and that making these inquiries would not subject you to trouble or inconvenience.

I confess that I am by no means so conversant with your own compositions (especially in prose) as I should be. Could you furnish me with some biographical & critical data, and tell me where or how [page 395:] I could be put in possession of your writings generally? — but I fear I am asking altogether too much.

If the 4th number of “The Pioneer” is printed, I would be obliged if you would send me an early copy through the P.O.

Please remember me to Mr Carter & believe me

Most sincerely Your friend,

Edgar A Poe

J. Russell Lowell Esqre

Note: Lowell’s Pioneer ceased with the March issue, owing to its high editorial standards and the rigorous terms of the contract between Lowell, Carter, and the publishers, Leland and Whiting (see American Magazines, 1:735-736). Also contributing to the troubles of the magazine was Lowell’s ophthalmia. Even if Lowell had paid Poe for “Lenore,” in the February number, he still owed $10 for the long essay “Notes Upon English Verse” (see LTR-163 and note and LTR-164). For Poe’s prospectus of the Stylus, see LTR-153 and note. For the promise of likenesses of Hawthorne and Lowell, see Lowell to Poe, April 17, 1843 (W [1909], 2:23-24). For the “biographical & critical data” concerning Lowell, see Lowell to Poe, May 8, 1843 (CL-433). Robert Carter had been co-editor of the Pioneer (See LTR-152 and notes).

TOM (N&Q, June 28, 1940, 178:457-458) discusses his discovery of Poe’s favorable review of the January Pioneer, printed from the inside back-cover of the February issue. This review, originally in a now-vanished early January issue of the highly perishable, elephant-sized Philadelphia Saturday Museum, is abridged in The Poe Log (p. 394), printed more fully in TOM’s article, and reproduced as part of the facsimile of the Pioneer prepared by Sculley Bradley (NY: Scholar’s Facsimiles and Reprints, 1947). Poe notes the “intrinsic merit” of the magazine of Lowell, a “man ... [of] genius and originality”; he praises the two “elegant engravings” and specifically or by implication also all the articles, including his own, save for the review which he calls a “puff” of Mathews’ Puffer Hopkins. He was unaware that Lowell himself had written this short article on a friend’s book, deprecated by Poe as a “most trashy” novel. Carter’s choice to reprint Poe’s review on the cover of the next month’s issue led to a long and vexatious rift between Lowell and Mathews (documented by Martin Duberman in James Russell Lowell, p. 49, and n. 37, pp. 401-402). The announcement that Poe would be an [page 396:] editor of the Saturday Museum appeared in the March 4, 1843 issue (see The Poe Log, p. 402). For another denial by Poe, and more information on the subject, see LTR-164. The engraving style (that of Gigoux’s Gil Blas) proposed by Poe for an illustration worthy of the much hoped for tale to be contributed by Hawthorne is clearly based on the “Agreement” for the Stylus that Clarke and Poe signed with F. O. C. Darley on January 31, 1843. It specified the style of wood-engravings by Gigoux in the “French edition of ‘Gil-Blas’” (see the full agreement in H [Works], 17:126-127). Poe’s use of the more elegant or artistic form of an accompanying portrait may have been intended as an inducement for Hawthorne’s contributing. In any case, he still needed Lowell’s personal association with the author of Twice-Told Tales (1842), which Poe had praised twice in the pages of Graham’s (April and May 1842). The only direct correspondence known between Poe and Hawthorne is Hawthorne’s letter to Poe of June 17, 1846 (CL-639). Poe’s early enthusiasm for Hawthorne’s writings was substantially dimmed in later years, although Poe seems not to have seen the apparent contradictions in his November 1847 review of Hawthorne’s Twice-Told Tales and Mosses from an Old Manse (Godey’s Lady’s Book, November 1847, 35:252-256; reprinted in H [Works, 13:141-155], but with an error in the first sentence of the seventh paragraph, where “popular” should read “unpopular”).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (3 pp.) in the Harvard College Library. The envelope, addressed to “James Russell Lowell Esqre / Editor of “The Pioneer”/ Boston / Mass.,” is postmarked at Philadelphia, March 28. Poe is replying to Lowell’s letter of March 24, 1843 (CL-426).

Letter 158a — 1843, April 22 [CL-431a] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Thomas G. Mackenzie (Richmond, VA):


April 22. 1843

My Dear Thomas,

About a fortnight ago, I wrote to Peter D. Bernard, who married one of T. W. White’s daughters, and made inquiry about “The Southern Literary Messenger”, but have received no reply. I am very anxious to ascertain if it is for sale, and if it is, I wish to purchase it (through [page 397:] my friends here). You wrote me, some time ago, that the heirs had not made up their minds respecting it. Would you do me the favor, now, to call upon Bernard, or upon some one of the other heirs, and inquire about it? I can’t imagine why Bernard did not reply to my letter. If the list is for sale I would make arrangements for its immediate purchase upon terms which would be fully satisfactory to the heirs. But do not let them suppose I am too anxious. By the bye, there may be some prejudice, on the part of the heirs, against me individually, on account of my quitting White — suppose, then, you get some one of your friends to negotiate for you and don’t let me be known in the business at all. Merely ascertain if the list is for sale & upon what terms. Please oblige me in this matter as soon as possible, as I am exceedingly anxious about it. Tell Rose that Virginia is [page 2] much better, toe and all, & that she has been out lately, several times, taking long walks. She sends a great deal of love to all. Remember me kindly to the whole family & believe me

Yours most truly,

Edgar A Poe

Note: Thomas Gilliat Mackenzie (1821-1867) was the son of William Mackenzie and brother of John H. Mackenzie (see LTR-159). Poe’s sister, Rose, lived with the Mackenzies until shortly after the Civil War, when the loss of the family fortunes forced her to seek aid in Baltimore. The inquiry of “a fortnight ago” was broached to Bernard in LTR-157. Poe’s “friends” included Thomas C. Clarke, publisher of the Philadelphia Saturday Museum, who had agreed to finance Poe’s Stylus (see LTR-153 and note, LTR-155 note, and LTR-161). Poe hoped to combine the sizable list of subscribers to the SLM with the far smaller one he had been compiling for the Stylus. Absorbing the subscribers from the already established magazine would have given a tremendous start to his own plans. Apparently Poe never received a reply from Bernard, who at the time of the present letter was helping to print the SLM, nor from Thomas Mackenzie or his brother, John (see LTR-159). The SLM was bought by Benjamin B. Minor in July, 1843 (American Magazines, 1:644). For more information on B. B. Minor, see LTR-193a.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pages) in the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, with neither envelope nor address. Thomas [page 398:] Mackenzie’s letter to Poe may be dated before April 22, 1843 (CL-431a), but may actually precede Poe’s letter to Bernard of March 24 (LTR-157). The present letter was probably written and mailed prior to Poe’s letter to Thomas’ brother (see LTR-159), since Thomas Mackenzie had written to Poe “some time ago” about the uncertain future of the SLM, and Poe would be likely to write to him first when Bernard did not reply. TOM [Iowa] dates Poe’s letter as April 23, 1843, despite Poe’s own dating.

Letter 159 — 1843, after April 22 [CL-432] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to John H. Mackenzie (Richmond, VA):


I write to get you to do me a gre[at] favor — that is, to ascertain from the heirs, or successors, of Mr White, whether, the subscription list of “The S. L. Messenger” is for sale or not, and, if for sale, upon what terms? [sic] A capitalist of this place is anxious to purchase, if possible, and, as I am interested, I will take it as a very great favor if you will make the necessary inquiries, and write me as soon as possible.

We are all well. Virginia is nearly recovered — indeed I may say quite so — with the exception of a slight cough, which is only noticeable in the morning.

Tell Rose I hope to see her before long, and that I will write her soon. Give my best love to all.

In great haste

Yours truly

Edgar A Poe

[Joh]n Mackenzie Esqre

Note: John Hamilton Mackenzie (born 1806) was the eldest son of William Mackenzie. The Mackenzies were a prominent family in Richmond, who took in the orphaned Rosalie Poe at the same time that the Allans took Edgar (see LTR-47). Whether Poe visited Rosalie in Richmond, as he here promises, is not known, nor is there any certain correspondence between Poe and his sister, although CL-432a and CL-441 are implied. Rosalie is generally presented as being somewhat [page 399:] backward, but may chiefly have suffered from having been raised as a Southern Belle in a traditional nineteenth century household, where women were often thought of as a kind of elegant ornament. Possessing neither great beauty nor a direct claim to an old-Virginia lineage which might appeal to a suitor, she remained unmarried. Her later years were marked by dreadful poverty, and none of her letters begging for financial assistance mentions possession of any examples of Poe’s handwriting, which would have been easily exchanged for ready cash. (Mrs. Clemm frequently used her own letters from Poe for precisely this purpose.) In connection with the present letter, see Poe’s initial request to Bernard in LTR-157. T. W. White died on January 19, 1843, and B. B. Minor bought his interest in the SLM, July 15, 1843 (see Minor, The SLM, 1834-1864, pp. 98 and 104). Poe’s impatience in the matter is apparent in his writing letters first to Thomas Mackenzie (LTR-158a) and now to John.

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 upper portion of the MS is missing, as well as the date; but a conjectural dating would be April, 1843. Rosalie seems to have written to Edgar sometime after March 26 (see LTR-160), and Poe’s promise to write to her seems further evidence of a letter received from his sister. Poe’s letter to Bernard (March 24, 1843) probably preceded the present letter to Mackenzie, for Bernard was more likely to have the desired information (see LTR-157 and note). Poe’s letter to Thomas, March 16 (LTR-156), speaks of Virginia’s health as “about the same” and adds that her distress of mind is great, evidence that points to a later date for the present letter. Poe’s letter to Lowell, June 20, 1843 (LTR-161), says the plans for the Stylus “exploded” with his partner’s withdrawal, and since the partner was Thomas C. Clarke, the “capitalist” of the present letter, Poe’s letter to Mackenzie was written prior to June 20. April has, therefore, been given as the conjectural dating, though May is not impossible. The MS is a fragment, though only the inside address, date, and salutation seem to be missing; a portion of the lower left corner of the MS is gone and part of “John” is lost. In The Letters [1948], Ostrom improperly reconstructed the name of the correspondent as “Wm,” apparently unaware that both the father and son of that name were dead long before 1843. The most likely substitute is John, who as head of that family would have been a reasonable next choice when T. Mackenzie failed to reply. What Ostrom saw as a final “m” is presumably the edge of the “h” followed closely by the “n.” [page 400:]

Letter 160 — 1843, June 20 [CL-442] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Miss Lucy D. Henry (Red Mill, VA):

Philadelphia June 20, 1843.

Dear Madam,

It gives me pleasure to comply with the very flattering request contained in your letter to my sister of March 26th.

With the Highest Respect I am, Madam,

Yr Mo. Ob. St

Edgar A Poe

Miss Lucy D. Henry.

Note: Lucy Dorothea Henry, daughter of Edward Winston Henry, was the granddaughter of Patrick Henry, of Red Mill, Charlotte County, VA. In Such Friends, as no. 206 (p. 17), Poe furnishes her address from her letter as “Cub Creek, Charlotte Co. Va” with a note “see let.” As a young girl, while living with her grandfather, she developed an ardent desire to possess the autographs of writers of her time. Why she wrote to Rosalie Poe, and not to Poe directly, is not known. In a time of very formal rules of introduction, especially in the South, she may have met Rosalie at a social function or had a friend to serve as intermediary. Later Miss Henry married Octave Laighton and went to Quincy, IL, where they published a paper. After 1857 they moved to Springdale, near Petersburg, VA.

Source: original MS (1 p.) in the Poe Foundation. The letter was kept by Miss Henry in an album, and the envelope portion of the letter is cut off. The letter (CL-441) from Rosalie Poe to Poe conveying Miss Henry’s request is known only by this reference.

Letter 161 — 1843, June 20 [CL-443] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to James R. Lowell (Boston, MA):

Philadelphia June 20. 1843.

My Dear Friend,

I owe you fifty apologies for not having written you before — but sickness and domestic affliction will suffice for all. [page 401:]

I received your poem, which you undervalue, and which I think truly beautiful — as, in fact, I do all you have ever written — but, alas! my Magazine scheme has exploded — or, at least, I have been deprived, through the imbecility, or rather through the idiocy of my partner, of all means of prosecuting it for the present. Under better auspices I may resume it next year.

What am I to do with the poem? I have handed it to Griswold, subject to your disposition.

My address is 234, North Seventh St above Spring Garden, West Side. Should you ever pay a visit to Philadelphia, you will remember that there is no one in America whom I would rather hold by the hand than yourself.

With the sincerest friendship

I am yours.

Edgar A Poe

Note: For the troubles referred to in the first paragraph, see William Poe to Poe, June 16, 1843 (CL-439). As Poe had requested in LTR-158, Lowell’s poem was sent for the new attempt at the Stylus. Poe’s “partner” had been Thomas C. Clarke (see LTR-153 and note). The reference to Clarke’s “idiocy” may be ascribed to various factors — his termination of his agreement to underwrite the Stylus; his distress over Poe’s behavior in Washington, while seeking a post from the Tyler administration through Robert Tyler and F. W. Thomas; and Clarke’s commissioning T. D. English’s temperance novel The Doom of the Drinker with its harsh caricature of Poe himself, published first in the Cold Water but intended for the Philadelphia Saturday Museum. For good summarizing sketches see D. Thomas, Poe in Philadelphia (for Clarke, pp. 734-735; and, for T. D. English, pp. 756-762). Rufus W. Griswold succeeded Poe as an editor of Graham’s, with the June number, 1842, remaining until October 1843 (see American Magazines, 1:544). For Lowell’s poem, see LTR-164a. For more about Poe’s North Seventh Street home, see Quinn, pp. 384-386.

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, appearing on the back of the letter, reads: “James Russell Lowell Esqre / Boston / Mass.,” and is [page 402:] initialed “E A P.” in the lower left corner. It is postmarked from Philadelphia, June 20. Since Poe’s last letter of March 27, 1843 (LTR-158), Lowell wrote on April 17 (CL-431), May 8 (CL-433), and May 16, 1843 (CL-436). No intervening Poe letter is indicated.

Letter 161a — 1843, August 26 [CL-447a] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Ezra Holden (Philadelphia, PA):


Saturday Morning

Aug. 26.

My Dr Holden,

I am obliged to go to Richmond for a few weeks, on pressing business, and all the money I can raise I am forced to take with me. I leave this note, however, with my mother-in-law, Mrs Clemm, who will hand it to you. If you can spare the amount for the article I left with you, please to do so & oblige,

Yours most truly

Edgar A Poe

Patterson, of The “Post,” gave me, some weeks ago, for “The Black Cat”, 20$. I presume the article you have is worth as much — being longer &, I think, better.

Note: Ezra Holden was born in Otisfield (near Portland), ME, in 1803, and died in Philadelphia, March 20, 1846. According to the masthead, the Philadelphia Saturday Courier in August, 1843, was “Edited, Printed & Published by A. McMakin and E. Holden.” Nothing is known of Poe’s proposed “three-week” trip to Richmond; it probably never took place. He may still have been hoping to make arrangements with the heirs of T. W. White to purchase the SLM. Poe’s previous partner, Charles Jacobs Peterson (1819-1887) was an editor and publisher, and later an author of historical novels. He resigned from Graham’s and sold his interest in the Saturday Evening Post late in 1842 to give full attention to Peterson’s Ladies’ National Magazine, which he had launched with Graham’s approval earlier in the same year. Samuel Dewes Patterson (died 1860) [page 403:] joined Graham to run and edit the Saturday Evening Post on March 4, 1843 (The Poe Log, pp. 402-403). “The Black Cat” appeared in the United States Saturday Post, a temporary new title for the periodical, August 19, 1843 (see Quinn, p. 394, and American Magazines, 2:307). The “article” Poe refers to as in Holden’s hands was probably “Raising the Wind; or, Diddling Considered as One of the Exact Sciences,” published in the Saturday Courier, October 14, 1843 (see Quinn, p. 395, and TOM [T&S], 3:867-882). It was one of the two works by Poe to appear in that periodical for the whole year, and the only original one, the other item being “The Gold-Bug” (June 24, July 1 and July 8, 1843), reprinted from the Dollar Newspaper. The story Poe sent was very little longer than “The Black Cat” and scarcely better. It seems unlikely that Poe’s comments reflect his true opinion of the two tales; more likely, he is understandably simply engaging in a bit of overt marketing.

Source: photograph of the original MS (1 p.) in the Charles Hamilton Gallery catalog, July 23, 1970, item 268, where it was first printed. The letter was apparently hand delivered by Mrs. Clemm. It is on page 1 of a folded leaf; inside is a poem in pencil entitled “The Temperance Banner,” definitely not in Poe’s hand. On page 4, the outside address reads: “Ezra Holden Esqre / or Andrew McMakin Esqre / Prest.” The year-date is 1843, for the only Saturday on an August 26 between 1841 and 1845 was in 1843. The imperative “please,” once regularly followed by “to” and an infinitive, was being questioned by 1900, but is still occasionally found in England and the USA (see English Usage, Merriam-Webster, 1989, pp. 782).

Letter 162 — 1843, August 28 [CL-448] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to John Tomlin (Jackson, TN):

Phila., August 28, 1843.

My dear Sir,

I have just recd your letter, enclosing one in hieroglyphical writing from Mr. Meek, and hasten to reply, since you desire it; although, some months ago, I was obliged to make a vow that I would engage in the solution of no more cryptographs. The reason of my making this vow will be readily understood. Much curiosity was excited [page 404:] throughout the country by my solutions of these cyphers, and a great number of persons felt a desire to test my powers individually — so that I was at one time absolutely overwhelmed; and this placed me in a dilemma; for I had either to devote my whole time to the solutions, or the correspondents would suppose me a mere boaster, incapable of fulfilling my promises. I had no alternative but to solve all; but to each correspondent I made known my intentions to solve no more. You will hardly believe me when I tell you that I have lost, in time, which to me is money, more than a thousand dollars, in solving ciphers, with no other object in view than that just mentioned. A really difficult cipher requires vast labor and the most patient thought in its solution. Mr. Meek’s letter is very simple indeed, and merely shows that he misapprehends the whole matter. It runs thus: — [Here follows the solution]

This is the whole of Mr. Meek’s letter — but he is mistaken in supposing that I “pride myself” upon my solutions of ciphers. I feel little pride about anything.

It is very true, as he says, that cypher writing is “no great difficulty if the signs represent invariably the same letters and are divided into separate words.” But the fact is, that most of the criptographs sent to me (Dr. Frailey’s for instance) were not divided into words, and moreover, the signs never represented the same letter twice.

But here is an infallible mode of showing Mr. Meek that he knows nothing about the matter. He says cipher writing “is no great difficulty if the signs represent invariably the same letters and are divided into separate words.” This is true; and yet, little as this difficulty is, he cannot surmount it. Send him, as if from yourself, these few words, in which the conditions stated by him are rigidly preserved. I will answer for it, he cannot decipher them for his life. They are taken at random from a well-known work now lying beside me: — [Here follows Poe’s cryptograph]

And now, my dear friend, have you forgotten that I asked you, some time since, to render me an important favor? You can surely have no scruples in a case of this kind. I have reason to believe that I have been maligned by some envious scoundrel in this city, who has [page 405:] written you a letter respecting myself. I believe I know the villain’s name. It is Wilmer. In Philadelphia no one speaks to him. He is avoided by all as a reprobate of the lowest class. Feeling a deep pity for him, I endeavoured to befriend him, and you remember that I rendered myself liable to some censure by writing a review of his filthy pamphlet called the “Quacks of Helicon.” He has returned my good offices by slander behind my back. All here are anxious to have him convicted — for there is scarcely a gentleman in Phila whom he has not libelled, through the gross malignity of his nature. Now, I ask you, as a friend and as a man of noble feelings, to send me his letter to you. It is your duty to do this — and I am sure, upon reflection, you will so regard it.

I await your answer impatiently.

Your friend,

E. A. Poe.

Note: For information on Tomlin, see the note to LTR-101. Tomlin sent Poe the cipher from Alexander Beaufort Meek (1814-1865) of Tuscaloosa, AL, with the comment that Poe should “make something out of it,” since “many of our learned citizens have endeavored but in vain to solve it.” On the envelope of Tomlin’s letter are symbols representing, apparently, part or all of those found in the Meek cipher, and beside each is Poe’s suggested alphabetical equivalent:

. . . . = p = t ‡ = h = e = o = f > = n + = b

÷ = L = <h>g < = s £ = a § = m = w 3 = r ? = l

= u X = c ÷ = j † = d = y ! = L = v

Poe’s solution to Meek’s cipher is lost, as is his cipher sent to Meek. Poe’s suspicion that Wilmer had written Tomlin was correct (see W [1909], 2:42-42). Tomlin sent Poe the letter on September 10, 1843 (CL-449). For almost a decade, Poe and Wilmer had felt mutual admiration for each other, and expressed it in print. Among other examples, see Wilmer’s published “Ode XXX. To Edgar A. Poe” (Saturday Evening Post, August 11, 1838) and Poe’s favorable review of Wilmer’s The Quacks of Helicon (Graham’s, August 1841, 19:90-93; reprinted in H [Works], 10:182-195). Long after Poe’s death, Wilmer was willing to defend Poe, calling him “my eccentric friend” (Wilmer, Our Press Gang, [page 406:] p. 39; reprinted by TOM [Merlin], pp. 26-28). (In the appendix of his Our Press Gang, Wilmer prints a brief “Vindication of Edgar A. Poe,” p. 385, which he implies as having originally appeared in 1849 or 1850 in what he describes only as “a Philadelphia weekly paper,” but which he did not think “was copied by a single paper”; see TOM [Merlin], pp. 25-26.) For an excellent and detailed sketch of their relationship, see D. Thomas, Poe in Philadelphia, pp. 942-944 (and the solid block of entries in the index, p. 997). Wilmer’s letter said simply this: he “fears” that Poe, not being “a teetotaller,” is going “headlong to destruction, moral, physical, and intellectual.” There are hundreds of discussions of Poe’s troubles with drinking, but relatively few with carefully considered evidence and searching, analytical insights. The Poe Log’s index contains two full columns of entries under the topic of “alcoholism.” Too often the tendency of commentators is to overlook Poe’s weakness entirely, or to unfairly demonize him for succumbing to it. Surely Poe, after the Washington debacle, was still hypersensitive about his binge drinking. Although Wilmer’s concerns were well founded and genuinely felt, Poe never forgave his old friend, perhaps psychologically transferring his anger at his own troubles.

In connection with the present letter and Poe’s skill as a solver of ciphers, see W. K. Wimsatt, Jr., “What Poe Knew about Cryptography,” PMLA, 58:754-779. See also Shawn Rosenheim, “The King of Secret Readers,” The Cryptographic Imagination, pp. 19-41). Most impressive of all is David Kahn’s weighty volume of 1181 pages, The Codebreakers (revised edition, 1996), in which he expertly surveys the extensive career of Poe as cryptanalyst, and his influence upon other writers and the police (see pp. 783-793 and 818). Kahn ably deals with Poe’s popular displays of solving cryptographs in fifteen numbers of Alexander’s Weekly Messenger (1839-1840), in the 1842 Graham’s Magazine series, and in the 1843 “The Gold-Bug” and also deals with his sources, often concealed to increase popular respect for his skill.

For Poe’s creation of the word “cryptographs,” and also for the alternate forms of “cypher” and “cipher,” see LTR-130; also PCW for a full article on the coinage. There is no sanction for “criptographs” as a spelling, which is merely Poe’s error.

Source: transcript of letter as printed in W [1909], 2:39-42. The original MS is unlocated. Poe is answering Tomlin’s letter postmarked August 9, 1843 (CL-447). [page 407:]

Letter 163 — 1843, September 13 [CL-450] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to James R. Lowell (Boston, MA):

Philadelphia September 13. 1843.

My Dear Friend,

Since I last wrote you I have suffered much from domestic and pecuniary troubles, and, at one period, had nearly succumbed. I mention this by way of apology to the request I am forced to make — that you would send me, if possible, $10 — which, I believe, is the amount you owe me for contribution. You cannot imagine how sincerely I grieve that any necessity can urge me to ask this of you — but I ask it in the hope that you are now in much better position than myself, and can spare me the sum without inconvenience.

I hope ere long to have the pleasure of conversing with you personally. There is no man living with whom I have so much desire to become acquainted.

Truly your friend,

Edgar A Poe

J. R. Lowell Esqre

Note: Although Poe and Lowell exchanged numerous letters beginning in 1842, they actually met in person only once, probably in May of 1845 (see W [1909], 2:137). C. E. Norton, the editor of Lowell’s letters, having placed an asterisk after “contribution,” wrote in the right margin of Poe’s letter: “To the Pathfinder [Pioneer]. The cost of supporting this journal was much greater than the receipts from its publication, and the balance came out of Lowell’s [continued in the left margin, over Poe’s writing] pocket. The four [three] numbers left him heavily in debt. By a letter of Poe’s of Oct — [19, 1843] it appears that the $10 was paid to him. C. E. Norton. 1884.” According to Mott, Lowell’s debts amounted to $1,800, a considerable sum in 1843 (see American Magazines, 1:738). Poe may have received the money from Lowell indirectly. (See LTR-164a for the possibility that the debt was satisfied by the sale of a poem Lowell had given to Poe for the Stylus.)

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Harvard College Library. The MS is endorsed by Lowell, “E. A. Poe, 13th Septr. 1843.” [page 408:]

Letter 163a — 1843, September 21 [CL-450b] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Elwood Evans (Philadelphia, PA):

Phil. Sep. 21. 1843.

My Dr Sir,

I have been absent from the city for the last few weeks & your note of the 15th is only this moment received.

I have the pleasure of informing you that Mr Dana’s address is Chestnut Street, Boston.

Yr Ob St

Edgar A Poe

Elwood Evans Esqre

Note: The identity of Elwood Evans is unknown, though his name appears as no. 133 on Poe’s address list (Such Friends, p. 24). “Mr. Dana” is Richard Henry Dana, most likely the father rather than the son of the same name, who also appears on the same list (as no. 228, p. 23).

Source: facsimile of the original MS (1 p.), as given in the sale catalog of Herman Darvick, April 5, 1990. The MS is unlocated. The address on the reverse reads “Elwood Evans Esqre / Philadelphia.” The Postmark reads “Philadelphia, PA, SEP 21.”

Letter 163b — 1843, September 28 [CL-452] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Leonard M. Wilkins (Philadelphia, PA):


Sept. 28, 1843.

Dear Sir: —

At present Mr. Griswold is in Boston. When in Philadelphia, his residence is in Schuylkill, 6th Street, near Spruce. His name is on the door.

Yours very resp’y,

Edgar A. Poe [page 409:]

Note: The name of Leonard M. Wilkins appears on Poe’s address list as no. 129 (Such Friends, p. 15), which furnishes the address as being in Philadelphia. Wilkins is otherwise unknown. Mr. Griswold was Rufus Wilmot Griswold, who by this time was perhaps best known for his anthology of The Poets and Poetry of America (1842). Griswold had just resigned his post as an editor of Graham’s, as announced in the October 1843 issue. The two men were often on less than the best of terms, and ultimately, after Poe’s death, Griswold took the opportunity to launch an unparalleled attack on his old rival (see APXA-Griswold). The detail of the description in the present letter suggests that Poe may have recently visited Griswold’s home.

Source: transcript in the catalog of the American Art Association, November 6, 1923, item 632. The catalog does not quote the last sentence, which is recorded by TOM [Iowa]. He apparently saw the letter first hand, perhaps at the auction. The word “resp’y” is probably “respy,” but since the original MS is unavailable for examination, the version given in the catalog has been allowed to stand.

Letter 163c — 1843, October 10 [CL-453a] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to John B. Morris (Baltimore, MD):


Octo. 10./ 43

Dr Sir,

In a lot of ground, owned by yourself, and lying upon Clemm’s Lot, fronting upon Park Lane, Baltimore, Mrs Maria Clemm, now of this city, retains her right of dower, as the widow of the late William Clemm. The object of this letter is to ascertain if you will be willing to purchase the right.

Mrs Clemm is in excellent health, and may live forty years. At the same time she is in indigent circumstances, and would regard your purchase of the Right as a favor for which she would be grateful. May I ask you, on her behalf, what would be the value of the Right to yourself?

With Respect [page 410:]

Yr Ob St

Edgar A. Poe

John B. Morris Esqre

Note: According to N. Bryllion Fagin, John Morris (born 1785) “was a prominent Baltimore lawyer, president of the Mechanics Bank, and a director of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad” (“An Unknown Poe Letter,” Ex Libris, 14:2). The lot in question, according to Fagin, “was located north of Baltimore Street, between Republican and Greene Streets.” At the time of the letter Maria Clemm, Poe’s aunt, was 53. Mrs. Clemm’s “dower right” must have come to her when her husband, William Clemm, Jr., died in 1826. Whether Morris, who was interested in real estate, purchased the property is not known.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Johns Hopkins University Library. No cover address accompanied the letter when the library received the MS in 1944, from the estate of Charles Morris Howard. The letter was bound in an 1856 edition of Poe’s poems, given by J. B. Morris to Nancy H. Howard on June 2, 1872. A notation in the front of the book mentions two letters, although only one appears to have survived. Whether or not the second letter was from Poe is unknown. What was LTR-163a in The Letters [1966] has been renumbered as LTR-163c to allow for the insertion of new entries LTR-163a and LTR-163b.

Letter 163d — 1843, October 19 [CL-456] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Abijah Metcalf Ide, Jr. (South Attleboro, MA):

Philadelphia, Octo. 19. 1843

My Dear Sir,

Upon returning to town after a short absence I find your letter of the 1rst and regret that you should have considered it necessary to apologise for addressing me. It will give me true pleasure to hear from you at all times, and I hope you will believe me in earnest when I say so. You ask me for my hand in friendship. I give it with the deepest sincerity. Had I met the few lines you send me, in any journal in the country, I should at once have felt myself the friend of their author — as I am unfeignedly of every man of genius. You well know that I am not given to flattery. [page 411:]

I would say to you, without hesitation, aspire. A literary reputation, it is true, is seldom worth much when attained — for by this time the appetite for applause is sated — but in the struggle for its attainment is the true recompense. You are young, enthusiastic, and possess high talents. You will not fail of success. Be bold — read much — write much — publish little — keep aloof from the little wits, and fear nothing.

I hope you will write me frequently and freely, [page 2] and regard me as your friend, and consider me bound to further your literary interests as far as lies in my power. That power, at present, is little. By and bye it may be more. In the meantime I may treat you as frankly as you have treated myself, and call upon you for aid in a good cause — in a very bold and comprehensive enterprise — to aid in which I am already privately marshalling the true talent and chivalry of the land — I mean an enterprise which shall elevate this true talent upon the throne of the great usurper called Humbug. At present, the Bobby Buttons rule the world of American Letters — but we must change all that — and if no one else will stir effectively in the task, I must and will.

I write these few words in extreme haste, and merely to say that I feel honored by your demand. At some future day I will communicate with you more fully.

Believe me

Yours most sincerely

Edgar A Poe

A. M. Ide Jr

Note: Abijah Metcalf Ide, Jr. (1825-1873) was a young man raised on a farm in South Attleborough, MA, but with some distinctly non- agricultural ambitions. As noted in the Skinner, Inc. catalog (see below), “In later life he [Ide] was a postmaster, a state Senator, and the successful publisher of the Daily and Weekly Gazette (Taunton)” (p. 24). Ide contributed four poems to the BJ (see TOM [Poems], 1:509, items 70-73). In 1888, J. H. Ingram mistakenly suggested that Ide was a pseudonym used by Poe, and that the poems were “hasty work.” The poems were reprinted in H [Works], 7:228-235, but correctly attributed (7:226, n. 1). The advice Poe gives to his youthful correspondent reveals the warmer [page 412:] side of this man whom Griswold would dismiss as possessing a “naturally unamiable character” (“Memoir,” Works, 3:xxxix [1850] and 1:lv [1853]). The reference to “Bobby Button,” mentioned in Ide’s October 1, 1843 letter to Poe, is from Poe’s long article on William Ellery Channing (Graham’s, August 1843, 23:113-117; H [Works], 11:174-190). It seems a reasonable speculation that the name of Ide’s town of Attleborough may have inspired the humorous Rattleborough of Poe’s tale “Thou Art the Man,” written within five or six months of the present letter.

Source: photograph of the original MS (2 pp.), from the sales catalog of Skinner, Inc., November 10, 2001, item 76. The letter is addressed to: “A. M. Ide Jr. / South Attleboro / Mass” with the initials “EAP” in the lower left corner. The postmark reads: “Philadelphia, Oct. 19.” Sold along with this letter, and another from Poe to Ide, were several others to Ide of about the same time. There were two letters by Henry W. Longfellow (June 5 and July 4, 1843, items 63 and 64), one by James Russell Lowell (June 13, 1843, item 65), and a somewhat later one from Horace Greeley (December 11, 1844, item 35). A number of letters written long after Poe’s death, from Ralph W. Emerson, Bayard Taylor, and N. P. Willis, show that Ide made some effort to continue his literary connections. (See also LTR-190a and note.)

Letter 164 — 1843, October 19 [CL-457] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to James R. Lowell (Cambridge, MA):

Philadelphia, Oct. 19. 1843.

My Dear Friend,

I was upon the point of fulfilling a long neglected duty and replying to Mr Carter’s letter, enclosing $5, when I received yours of the 13th, remitting 5 more. Believe me I am sincerely grateful to you both for your uniform kindness and consideration.

You say nothing of your health — but Mr C. speaks of its perfect restoration, and I see, by your very M S., that you are well again, body & mind. I need not say that I am rejoiced at this — for you must know and feel that I am. When I thought of the possible loss of your eye-sight, I grieved as if some dreadful misfortune were about happening to myself. [page 413:]

I shall look with much anxiety for your promised volume. Will it include your “Year’s Life” and other poems already published? I hope that it may; for these have not yet been fairly placed before the eye of the world. I am seeking an opportunity to do you justice in a review, and may find it, in “Graham,” when your book appears. No poet in America has done so much. I have maintained this upon all occasions. Mr Longfellow has genius, [page 2] but by no means equals you in the true spirit. He is moreover so prone to imitation that I know not how to understand him at times. I am in doubt whether he should not be termed an arrant plagiarist. You have read his “Spanish Student”? I have written quite a long notice of it for Graham’s December number. The play is a poor composition, with some fine poetical passages. His “Hymn to the Night”, with some strange blemishes, is glorious. — How much I should like to interchange opinions with you upon poems and poets in general! I fancy that we should agree, usually, in results, while differing, frequently, about principles. The day may come when we can discuss everything at leisure, in person.

You say that your long poem has taught you a useful lesson “that you are unfit to write narrative — unless in a dramatic form”. It is not you that are unfit for the task — but the task for you — for any poet. Poetry must eschew narrative — except, as you say, dramatically. I mean to say that the true poetry — the highest poetry — must eschew it. The Iliad is not the highest. The connecting links of a narration — the frequent passages which have to serve the purpose of binding together the parts of the story, are necessarily prose, from their very explanatory nature. To color them — to gloss over their prosaic nature — (for this is the most which can be done) requires great skill. Thus Byron, who was no artist, is always driven, in his narrative, to fragmentary passages, eked out with asterisks. Moore succeeds better than any one. His “Alciphron” is wonderful in the force, grace, and nature of its purely narrative passages: — but pardon me for prosing.

I send you the paper with my life and portrait. The former is true in general — the latter particularly false. [page 3] It does not convey the faintest idea of my person. No one of my family recognised it. But this is a point of little importance. You will see, upon the back of the biography, an announcement that I was to assume the editorship of the [page 414:] “Museum”. This was unauthorized. I never did edit it. The review of “Graham’s Magazine” was written by H. B. Hirst — a young poet of this city.

Who is to write your life for “Graham?” It is a pity that so many of these biographies were entrusted to Mr Griswold. He certainly lacks independence, or judgment, or both.

I have tried in vain to get a copy of your “Years Life” in Philadelphia. If you have one, and could spare it, I would be much obliged.

Do write me again when you have leisure, and believe me,

Your most sincere friend,

Edgar A Poe

J. R. Lowell Esqre

Note: Like Lowell’s, Carter’s letter (CL-452a) apparently enclosed $5 due Poe for his contribution, probably “Notes Upon English Verse,” in the third and last number of the Pioneer, March 1843. Poe had requested the payment in his letter to Lowell, September 13 (LTR-163). Carter had written Poe on June 19 (CL-440), saying that Lowell’s “eyes have nearly recovered their usual strength.” The letter says nothing of the $5 due Poe, and being written in June, before Poe’s request for payment, is almost certainly separate from the one alluded to above. Lowell’s Poems (1844) was reviewed by Poe in Graham’s, March 1844 (reprinted in H [Works], 11:243-249). Poe’s review of Longfellow’s Spanish Student did not appear in Graham’s (but see LTR-179; Poe’s “The American Drama,” in the American Review, August 1845, 2:117-131; reprinted in H [Works], 13:33-73; and Poe’s replies to “Outis,” reprinted in H [Works], 12: 41-106, especially 12:96-104). For a study of the influence on Poe of Thomas Moore, the author of “Alciphron,” see Pollin, “Light on ‘Shadow’,” ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance, 18:166-173. Poe’s biography and portrait appeared in the Philadelphia Saturday Museum, February 25, 1843, and was reprinted in the subsequent issue, March 4 (see LTR-153 and note). A Year’s Life (1841) was Lowell’s first volume of poetry. The review of Graham’s was given in the Saturday Museum for March 4, 1843, on the back of the same page as the reprint of the biographical article on Poe. The “review” is an unusually imaginative, and highly unflattering, piece. Early on, it describes a portrait of Griswold as being “a Turkey Buzzard!” It dismisses one [page 415:] article as “rigmarole,” another as “exquisite twaddle,” and a notice of a book on Tasso by Richard Henry Wilde is called “the trashiest of trashy reviews.” (The full title of Wilde’s book is Conjectures and Researches concerning the love, madness and imprisonment of Torquato Tasso, NY: Alexander V. Blake, 1842.) Poe’s essay on Thomas Ward, on the other hand, is praised as knocking “the little life ‘Flaccus’ ... had, out of him.” Although Poe attributes this screed entirely to Hirst, Pollin has taken the position that Poe himself is the genuine author and was using Hirst as a shield from obvious repercussions. (For his full argument, see “Poe’s Authorship of Three Long Critical and Autobiographical Articles of 1843,” American Renaissance Literary Report, 7:139-171.) Poe denies that he is an editor of the Saturday Museum, but his precise role is uncertain. (For a previous denial, see LTR-158.) A few years after Poe’s death, Thomas C. Clarke began to prepare an article called “Poe: What Those Say Who Knew Him Best.” In this two-page draft of unpublished notes, Clarke states that after leaving Graham’s, Poe “joined me at the Museum” (MS in the Butler Library, Columbia University, New York).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (3 pp.) in the Harvard College Library. The envelope is addressed to “James Russell Lowell Esqre / Cambridge / Mass:”; and postmarked at Philadelphia, October 19. Poe is replying to Lowell’s letter of October 13, 1843 (CL-454).

Letter 164a — 1843, September - October [CL-457a] Poe (New York, NY) to George R. Graham (Philadelphia, PA):

We were square when I sold you the “Versification” article; for which you gave me first 25, and afterward 7 — in all .... . $32 00

Then you bought “The Gold Bug” for .... .... .... .... . 52 00

I got both these back, so that I owed .... .... .... ...  ... $84 00

You lent Mrs. Clemm .... .... .... .... .... .... ...  ... 12 50

Making in all .... .... ...  . .... .... .... .... .... .... $96 50

The review of “Flaccus” was 3¾ pp, which at $4, is 15 00

Lowell’s poem is .... .... .... .... .... .... .... 10 00

The review of Channing, 4 pp is 16, of which I got 6,

leaving .... .... .... .... .... .... .... .... . 10 00

The review of Halleck, 4 pp. is 16, of which I got 10, [page 416:]

leaving .... .... .... .... .... .... .... ...  ... 6 00

The review of Reynolds, 2 pp.... .... .... ...  ... . 8 00

The review of Longfellow, 5 pp. is 20, of which I

got 10, leaving .... .... ...  . .... .... ...  ... . 10 00

So that I have paid in all .... .... .... .... .... .... .... 59 00

Which leaves still due by me .... .... .... .... .... .... $37 50

Note: The “Versification” article was printed as “Notes Upon English Verse” in Lowell’s Pioneer, March 1843 (1:102-113), and later, revised as “The Rationale of Verse” in the SLM, October (15:577-585) and November 1848 (15:673-682). For the complicated history of “The Gold-Bug,” see LTR-259 and note. The review of Thomas Ward’s poems, which were published under the pen name of “Flaccus,” appeared in Graham’s for March 1843 (22:195-198; H [Works], 11:160-174). The review of William Ellery Channing’s poems appeared in Graham’s, August 1843 (23:113-117; H [Works], 11:174-190). The review of Fitz-Greene Halleck’s poems was printed in Graham’s, September 1843 (23:160-163; H [Works], 11:190-204) — these three articles forming parts of two series of papers, entitled “Our Amateur Poets” and “Our Contributors” (reprinted in H [Works], 11:160-204). The review of Reynolds was published as “A Brief Account of the Discoveries and Results of the United States’ Exploring Expedition,” (Graham’s, September, 1843, 23:164-165). The entry for “Lowell’s poem” is almost certainly a poem which had been submitted for Poe’s proposed magazine, the Stylus. After his magazine plans “exploded,” Poe inquired of Lowell, “What am I to do with the poem? I have handed it to Griswold, subject to your disposition” (see LTR-161 of June 20, 1843). At this time, Griswold was still editor of Graham’s. Only two poems by Lowell appear in the magazine in 1843: one called “In Sadness” (August, 23:110) and the other “A Reverie” (October, 23:183). Since Poe’s list seems to give items in the order of publication, a sequence which fits perfectly for all the known entries, the first of these poems is probably the one in question since it falls between the reviews of “Flaccus” and Channing. It is reasonable to surmise that Lowell, suffering under considerable financial problems from his short-lived, and by then failed, Pioneer, granted Poe the right to sell the poem to cover part of his debt to Poe, owed for three literary contributions (“The Tell-Tale Heart,” “Lenore,” and “Notes Upon English Verse”). The review of Longfellow was never printed in Graham’s, and [page 417:] Poe eventually bought it back (see LTR-179 and LTR-194a). It finally appeared as part of “The American Drama,” American Review, August 1845 (2:117-131; reprinted in H [Works], 13:33-73).

Source: fragment as first printed by Graham in an open letter to Willis, entitled “The Late Edgar Allan Poe,” in Graham’s, March 1850 (36:224-226). The original MS is unlocated. According to Graham, Poe wrote the letter, from which the above fragment is taken, long after Poe left Philadelphia and after Graham, at Poe’s request, returned the unpublished MS of “The Gold-Bug.” Since Poe won the Dollar Newspaper prize in June 1843, nearly 10 months prior to his leaving Philadelphia in April 1844, Graham’s comment would lead one to presume — as Ostrom did in The Letters [1948] — that the letter must have been written later than April 1844. Graham could easily have erred in his recollection of when Poe moved to New York, however, and all the internal evidence is consistent with a context of 1843, as was argued by Savoye, “Poe and George R. Graham: The Re-dating of a Letter, with Some Additional Notes,” EAP Review, 3:115-117. In this fragment, Poe has given us a complete accounting, in order, of his contributions to Graham’s for 1843, with the exception of only two signed items: “The Conqueror Worm” (January 1843) and the four-page review of Cooper’s Wyandotté; or the Hutted Knoll (November 1843). The list also does not mention any of Poe’s contributions to Graham’s for 1844, including his signed review of R. H. Horne’s Orion. The poem is presumably not mentioned in the list because in January, as Poe says, he and Graham were “square” financially. The best explanation for why the review of Cooper’s novel is not mentioned is that the letter predates it. TOM [Iowa] gives the letter a date of “[shortly before] 15 August, 1843 / To Graham [My dating is sure],” but without providing a supporting argument.

Letter 165 — 1843, November 16 [CL-460] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Joseph H. Hedges (Philadelphia, PA):

November 16, 1843

My dear Sir,

I presume the request you make, in your note of the 14th, has reference to my grandfather Gen: David Poe, & not to my father David [page 418:] Poe, Jr. I regret to say, however, that, owing to peculiar circumstances, I have in my possession no autograph of either.

Very Respy

Yr. Obt St.

Edgar A Poe.

Note: The identity of Joseph H. Hedges is not known, and no other letters appear to have been exchanged between him and Poe. Hedges’ request may have been initiated by the biographical article printed in the Philadelphia Saturday Museum for February 25, 1843 (and reprinted in the issue for March 4, 1843), which includes a long section about “General Poe.” Poe’s early letter of May 20, 1829 (LTR-11), claims a wider scope for his grandfather’s position as “Quarter Master of the whole U. S. Army,” but on June 3, 1836 (LTR-64) he limits the post to “the Maryland line,” explicated in the note as “Assistant Deputy Quartermaster of the ... Army in Baltimore.” See Silverman, p. 42, where a parallel is indicated in Poe’s humble “ ‘Assistant to the A. C. S.’ (Assistant Commissary of Subsistence).” Poe entered Hedges into his list in Such Friends, as no. 208 (p. 26), with a memo of “see letter.”

Source: transcript of the original MS (1 p.) as given in Christie’s sale catalog, December 15, 1995, item 34. The letter is addressed to “Jos H. Hedges Esq. / Phila,” with a Philadelphia postmark and Poe’s initials. Traces of the red wax seal remain. The original MS is unlocated. Poe is replying to Hedges’ note of November 14, 1843 (CL-459).

Letter 166 — 1844, January 13 [CL-462] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Joel B. Sutherland (Philadelphia, PA):

J. B. Sutherland Esqre

My Dear Sir,

Will you permit me to introduce to you my friend Mr Robert Travers, of this city, who will hand you this note? He is an applicant for a post in the Revenue Service. If you could further his views in any regard, I would consider myself as under the very deepest personal obligation. [page 419:]

Mr Travers is of the Hughes’ family, of Southwark, which has always possessed much political influence. As an experienced seaman, he is, also, well qualified for the appointment he solicits.

Very truly & respectfully Yours,

Edgar A. Poe

Philadelphia. Jan: 13. 1844.

Note: Joel Barlow Sutherland (1792-1861) was a Philadelphia lawyer and United States Congressman from Pennsylvania, winning his first election in 1827 and ultimately serving five consecutive terms. In the War of 1812, he had been an assistant surgeon. Later, as chairman of the committee on commerce he had interested himself in river and harbor development and in the promotion of Philadelphia projects, especially the navy yard and the Delaware breakwater (see DAB, 18:222-223). Nothing further is known of Robert Travers, nor of Poe’s association with him or Mr. Sutherland. Southwark was an area in the southern part of Philadelphia, on the waterfront, a popular residential area for those involved in seafaring trades. One must wonder at how much political influence the Hughes family might have had for their relative to be relying on Poe to make this appeal.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Haverford College Library. The envelope is addressed: “Joel B. Sutherland Esqre. / Present / Per Mr Robert Travers.” TOM [Iowa] declares: “probably original” regarding this letter.

Letter 167 — 1844, before January 31 or early 1846 [CL-463] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Mr. Clark (Philadelphia, PA or Baltimore, MD ?):

My Dear Mr Clark

I am exceedingly anxious to try my fortune in Baltimore with a lecture or two, and wish, if possible, to go immediately. I have some little money — [...]

Very truly yours

E A Poe [page 420:]

Note: The identity of Mr. Clark is not known. The “Thomas Clark” in “Jackson, Tenn.” listed as no. 39 in Such Friends (p. 22) hardly seems relevant for identification as the correspondent here. TOM [Iowa] and The Poe Log (p. 450) suggest the correspondent as possibly being Thomas C. Clarke, the editor of the Philadelphia Saturday Museum. As Clarke’s associate for several months in 1843, at least informally, it seems unlikely that Poe would leave out the “e” even for an “anxious” request. Poe lectured in Baltimore on January 31, 1844 (see LTR-168).

Source: original fragment (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 Robert H. Dodd sales catalog no. 27, March 1918, prints part of the letter and adds: “The page has been cut in half and the signature pasted over it. The part of the letter destroyed revealed Poe’s financial troubles and was removed by one of his admirers who did not wish his favorite’s urgent need of money to become public property.” In the text of the present letter the omitted portion is represented by the ellipsis, and the MS portion containing the signature shows along its top edge, though indistinctly, what appears to have been the last line of the original letter. (Moldenhauer, Descriptive Catalog, p. 57, states that an examination of the MS fails to detect this possible last line fragment.) The MS carries no date, and the address leaf is lost, depriving us of useful addressee and postal information. The dating of the letter is based upon Poe’s Baltimore lecture in 1844, and also upon the presumption that he lectured there early in 1846. There is no direct evidence that the 1846 lectures took place, although Robert D’Unger claimed to have met Poe in Baltimore in that year (see John Reilly, “Robert D’Unger and his Reminiscences of Poe in Baltimore,” Maryland Historical Magazine, 88:60-72); and Mary E. Hewitt, writing to Poe, April 14, 1846 (CL-618), regrets hearing of his illness in Baltimore. The proposed 1846 lectures may never have been delivered, or the letter date may have been earlier or later than the dates suggested here. No reply is known.

TOM [Iowa] gives the word “[very]” as a substitute for “some.” In addition, instead of “money — “ we find “money but I ... ” His hand-written transcription is attributed as “courtesy [Thomas F.] Madigan.” Then, there is a single line: “MS mutilated” to end TOM’s addendum. There is no catalog facsimile of the MS, nor does the 1918 Dodd catalog give any words from the letter after the first sentence. TOM may have seen the MS prior to its entrance into the Koester Collection. TOM’s inference about “very” alters the meaning, as does the addition of “but I.” [page 421:] These variants are not validated by Moldenhauer (Descriptive Catalog, p. 57), who also finds no period after Poe’s signature, where both Ostrom and TOM thought one present. TOM also transcribes a period after “Mr” at the start and a comma after “yours.” Conceivably, the word “some” is obscure in the writing and has been interpreted as “very.”

Letter 168 — 1844, January 31 [CL-464] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Isaac Munroe (Baltimore, MD):

My dear Sir,

I have been endeavouring for the last two days to see you and beg of you to do me the kindness to call attention, in the “Patriot” to a lecture on “American Poetry”, which I propose to deliver this evening (Wednesday) at the Odd Fellows’ Hall in Gay Street. I hope yet to have the honor of seeing you before I leave town.

If not too late, will you say a good word for me in this afternoon’s paper.

Most respectfully yours,

Edgar A. Poe

Wednesday morning

Mr. Isaac Munroe.

Note: Isaac Munroe (1784-1859) was the editor of the Baltimore Patriot. The Baltimore Sun of January 31, 1844 carried the following announcement: “A Lecture on American Poetry by Edgar A. Poe in Odd Fellows Hall, in Gay Street, on this evening 31st, at half-past 7 o’clock” (see Phillips, 1:850). Elsewhere in the same paper appears: “... the lecture by Mr. Poe ... this evening in the Egyptian Saloon of Odd Fellows’ Hall. The name of the lecturer, the subject of the lecture, and the well known adaptation of the talents of the one to the material of the other, form a combination of attractions which will irresistibly result in a crowded audience — and our word for it a delighted one.” The Baltimore American also carried a puff; but no issue of the Patriot of that date has been located, although The Poe Log (p. 451) states that it did print a brief announcement. The Patriot had given several favorable comments on Poe’s writings in 1835 and 1836, particularly in regard to the SLM (see The Poe Log, pp. 148, 164, 200, 216, and 233). [page 422:]

Source: transcript copy made by Dr. John C. French, Librarian, Johns Hopkins University, of his own transcript of the original MS. The holograph, which was at one time in private hands in Baltimore, is currently unlocated. The undated MS was certainly written on January 31, 1844, Wednesday, for several Baltimore papers of that date carry puffs for Poe’s lecture (see note, above).

Letter 168a — 1844, February 1 [CL-464a] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to John P. Kennedy (Baltimore, MD):

My Dear Sir,

Some matters which would not be put off, have taken me to Elkton — so that I shall not have the pleasure of dining with you to-day, as proposed. Before leaving Baltimore, however, I hope to give you another call.

Most truly yours.

Edgar A Poe

John P. Kennedy Esqre

Thursday Morning.

7. A. M.

Note: Poe lectured on “American Poetry” in Baltimore on Wednesday evening, January 31, 1844 (see LTR-168 and note), and probably had made a visit to his friend Kennedy, who invited Poe to dinner before his return to Philadelphia. There is little to clarify the unspecified “matters” that took Poe to Elkton, MD, unless, perhaps, it had something to do with the lectures he was giving at this time (see LTR-170 and LTR-171). With Elkton being in the North-West corner of the state, near the border with Delaware, it would have presented a substantial trip for Poe, and it is interesting that he chose to go back to Baltimore rather than simply returning home to Philadelphia. Poe may have felt that the opportunity to renew his personal association with Kennedy, a man with prominent political and literary contacts, was worth the inconvenience.

Source: color photograph of the original MS (1 p.) in the University of Virginia Library, Clement Dixon Johnston Collection. Although conjectural, the dating and identification of place are based on Poe’s visit [page 423:] to Baltimore for his lecture (see note, above). Kennedy’s continued friendliness toward Poe would encourage him to visit his benefactor whenever he was in Baltimore. About the authenticity of the letter, TOM [Iowa] states: “Uncertain,” presumably because it was only known from a 1924 auction catalog, and had not been with Kennedy’s papers in the Peabody Institute. With the reappearance of the MS, there no longer seems any reason to be concerned.

Letter 169 — 1844, February 18 [CL-466] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to George Lippard (Philadelphia, PA):

Philadelphia, Feb. 18, 1844.

My Dear Lippard —

It will give me pleasure to attend to what you suggest. In a day or two you shall hear from me farther.

Touching the “Ladye Annabel,” I regret that, until lately, I could find no opportunity of giving it a thorough perusal. The opinion I expressed to you, personally, was based, as I told you, upon a very cursory examination. It has been confirmed, however, by a subsequent reading at leisure. You seem to have been in too desperate a hurry to give due attention to details; and thus your style, although generally nervous, is at times somewhat exuberant — but the work, as a whole, will be admitted, by all but your personal enemies, to be richly inventive and imaginative — indicative of genius in its author.

And as for these personal enemies, I cannot see that you need put yourself to any especial trouble about THEM. Let a fool alone — especially if he be both a scoundrel and a fool — and he will kill himself far sooner than you can kill him by any active exertion. Besides — as to the real philosophy of the thing — you should regard small animosities — the animosities of small men — of the literary animalculae (who have their uses, beyond doubt) — as so many tokens of your ascent — or, rather as so many stepping stones to your ambition. I have never yet been able to make up my mind whether I regard as the higher compliment, the approbation of a man of honor [page 424:] and talent, or the abuse of an ass or a blackguard. Both are excellent in their way — for a man who looks steadily up.

If my opinion of “The Ladye Annabel” can be of any service to you whatever, you have my full permission to publish this letter, or any portion of it you may deem proper.

With respect and friendship,


Edgar A. Poe.

To George Lippard, Esq.

Chestnut and Seventh Sts.

Note: George Lippard (1822-1854) became very popular as a writer and a lecturer on “legends” of the Revolution, though his literary works were not generally recognized by American critics. He was on the staff of the Spirit of the Times from late in 1841 until some time in 1842. In his “Bread Crust Papers” he was responsible for renaming Thomas Dunn English as “Thomas Done Brown” (a joke which Poe would repeat in a MS item, apparently a revision of the “Literati” entry on English for his Literary America, first published by Griswold in Works, 3:101-102; reprinted by H [Works], 15:266-270) and Henry Beck Hirst as “Henry Bread Crust.” Herbert Tracy, his second novel, began as a serial in the Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post, October 22, 1842. “The Ladye Annabel” was contributed in 1843 to the Citizen Soldier, a new weekly with which he was associated (see the DAB, 11:285-286). In printing Poe’s letter to him at the end of Herbert Tracy, Lippard wrote a brief introduction under the caption, “A Word to the Reader,” in which he said that an author’s enemies sometimes need a rebuke such as that given “in certain italicized portions of the following letter from the author of ‘Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque’ — Edgar A. Poe, Esq., universally confessed one of the most gifted men in the land.”

In the present letter, Poe sounds uncharacteristically orotund and self-conscious, which may be explained if one considers that it was presumably composed with the expressed intention of publication in Lippard’s novel. The long-continued and unusually close friendship of Lippard and Poe produced many articles and reviews in praise of Poe, despite marked differences in their views about social reform and literary principles. In The Poe Log (p. xxxiii), see the thumbnail sketch of Lippard (and also the fine array of entries detailed in the index). In particular, see [page 425:] Lippard’s praise of “The Gold-Bug” in the June 28, 1843 Citizen Soldier (The Poe Log, p. 420), and LTR-327 for Lippard’s “rescue” of Poe in 1849. Poe’s letter appears to be a return of these favors, a public opportunity to assert his support for Lippard and to rebuke his own critics at the same time. This brilliant, unconventional, and close friend enters Such Friends as no. 234 (p. 29). For an excellent analysis and scarcely known materials about Lippard, see David Reynolds, editor and compiler of George Lippard: Prophet of Protest, intro. and pp. 256-267; also for relations between the two men, see Emilio de Grazia, “Poe’s Devoted Democrat, George Lippard,” PS, 6:6-8; Pollin, “More on Lippard and Poe,” PS, 7:22-33; Silverman, pp. 211, 216-217, and 418-419; and D. Thomas, Poe in Philadelphia, pp. 835-838.

Source: transcript of letter as first printed in Lippard’s novel, Herbert Tracy (Philadelphia: R. G. Berford, 1844), pp. 167-168. The original MS is probably lost. Poe seems to be replying to a letter from Lippard (CL-465). One other letter from Poe to Lippard is known, dated July 19, 1849 (CL-814), asking him to find the lectures Poe lost in Philadelphia (see Quinn, p. 622, where Poe’s request is cited by Lippard in a November 22, 1849 letter to Griswold, RF-20).

Letter 169a — 1844, February 18 [CL-466a] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Lewis J. Cist (Cincinnati, OH):


Feb. 18. 44.

My Dear Sir,

Being upon the point of quitting Philadelphia for some weeks, I think it right to drop you a line, before going, merely to acknowledge the receipt of your [approximately three words, scratched out beyond reading] poem, and to say that I handed it to Mr Graham, as you desired. I feared that it would be too late — but Graham says not.

Truly yours.

Edgar A Poe

Is Mr[s] Nichols, the poetess, a resident of Cincinnati? — and am I indebted to you, or to herself, for a copy of of [sic] some most [page 426:] touching lines To her Mother which appeared in the “Louisville Journal”, and which reached me viâ your city? Can you tell me anything of Mrs Nichols’ personal history? I feel a deep interest in her poems, and consequently in herself. Please write in reply.

L. J. Cist Esqre

Note: For more on Louis J. Cist, see the note to LTR-105. No poem appears in Graham’s Magazine for 1844 with the name of Cist as author. One short poem, “To Flora,” is signed with an obvious pseudonym of “Gnoman” and printed in the issue for March 1844 (24:108), which would, presumably, have been nearing completion about this time. The poem is given no author in the index for the volume. A number of other poems in 1844 are also credited to “Gnoman.” Rebecca Shepard Nichols (1820-1903) contributed several short stories and poems to Graham’s Magazine when Poe was an editor, and afterwards. Poe gave her a brief mention in his “Appendix of Autographs” (Graham’s, January 1842) and she was included by Griswold in his Female Poets of America (1848, p. 316). Her name also appears in Such Friends as no. 247 (p. 32). She was indeed a resident of Cincinnati. Poe’s letter of June 3, 1844 to Cist (LTR-177a) clearly shows that he did send Poe information on Mrs. Nichols.

Source: photocopy of the MS (1 p.) in the collection of the “California Collector.”

Letter 170 — 1844, March 1 [CL-468] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to John C. Myers, Samuel Williams, or William Graeff, Jr. (Reading, PA):

Philadelphia March 1. 44.


Through some accident which I am at a loss to understand, your letter dated and postmarked Decr 29, has only this moment come to hand; having been lying, ever since, in the Phila P. Office. I hope, therefore, you will exonerate me from the charge of discourtesy in not sooner replying to your very flattering request.

I presume that your Lectures are over for the season; but, should this not be the case, it will give me great pleasure to deliver a [page 427:] Discourse before your Society at any period you may appoint, not later than the 9th inst:

With High Respect

Yr Ob St

Edgar A Poe

Mess: Jno: C. Myers

Sam: Williams

Wm Greaff [sic] Jr

Note: In connection with this letter, see LTR-171 and note. There is no hint in Poe’s tone and language that the “flattering request” came from a group of apprentices or “mechanics” whose institute or club was arranging a series of “improving” talks in the hall of the new Reading Academy, the public high school building. The whole event is presented in J. Bennett Nolan’s Israfel in Berkshire (Reading: Bicentennial [committee], 1948 — a brochure of 31 pp.). Nolan presents much on the importance of Reading at the time, and on the interesting trip there, lately reduced from two days to four hours because of the new wood-burning locomotive. The train arrived at 1:00 p.m., leaving enough room in Poe’s schedule to see the few sights of the town before the evening lecture; and homeward for the next day’s trip. Nolan remarks on the humbleness of “The Mechanics Institute” invitation committee, Myers being a printer’s devil; Williams, a slater; and Graeff, a butcher. We are also told that the two Reading newspapers had “carried pretentious announcements” of Poe’s Penn Magazine two years earlier (pp. 10-11). Very chattily the brochure offers the likely observations and sentiments of Poe to this sort of tiring and repetitious experience, so frequently repeated for basic financial needs in those lean years. This lecture must have been especially important to Poe given Lowell’s recent letter in reply to CL-464b. Having inquired about the Society Lectures in Boston, Lowell was informed that the season for lectures “of a more literary class” were over until the following year (see CL-470).

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 postmarked at Philadelphia, March 3, and is addressed to “Mess: Jno: C. Myers / Sam: Williams / or Will: Greaff Jr. / Reading / Pa” and is initialed “E A P” in the lower left corner. Poe is replying to a letter from Myers, Williams, and Greaff [Graeff], dated December 29, 1843 (CL-460a). [page 428:]

Letter 171 — 1844, March 7 [CL-471] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Samuel Williams and William Graeff, Jr. (Reading, PA):

Philadelphia March 7, 1844.


I have just received your favor of the 5th, and will be pleased to deliver a Lecture on “American Poetry” in Reading, on Tuesday the 12th inst., if convenient. Please reply by return of mail and let me know at what place I shall meet the Committee.

Very Resply,

Yr. Ob. Svt.,

Edgar A. Poe

Mess. Sam. Williams

Wm. Graeff Jr.

Note: The lecture was announced in the Spirit of the Times and the Public Ledger, both of Philadelphia, as well as more local publications, such as the Berks and Schuylkill Journal (see The Poe Log, p. 454). It was delivered on March 13, 1844, apparently meeting with considerable success. According to the Baltimore Sun, Thursday, March 21, 1844: “Edgar A. Poe, Esq. — This distinguished writer delivered his much extolled lecture, ‘Poets and Poetry of America’ at Reading, Pa., Wednesday last. He was greeted by a large audience and they testified their appreciation by repeated bursts of applause” (see The Poe Log, p. 455). Nolan (Israfel in Berkshire, p. 30) remarks that Poe’s fee must have helped him with the cost of relocating his family within a few weeks from Philadelphia to New York City (see LTR-174).

Source: a transcript furnished by TOM, with the following authentication: “Copy made from my original copy of transcript of the letter made by a former owner ... Thomas F. Madigan”; the present location of the original MS (1 p.) is unknown. Poe is replying to a letter from Williams and Graeff dated March 5, 1844 (CL-469). The text of Poe’s present letter and the later delivery of the lecture imply another letter from Williams and Graeff after March 7, 1844 (CL-472). In LTR-170, Poe misspelled the name of William Graeff, Jr. as Greaff. His error is repeated on the envelope for that letter, suggesting that he had misread the name on the original correspondence from the committee. In the present letter, he gives the name correctly. [page 429:]

Letter 172 — 1844, March 15 [CL-473] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to Cornelius Mathews (New York, NY):

Philadelphia March 15, 1844.

Dr Sir,

I have a letter and small parcel for Mr Horne, your friend, and the author of “Orion”. Would you be so kind as to furnish me with his address? — and to put me in the best way of forwarding the package securely?

I am reminded that I am your debtor for many little attentions, and embrace this opportunity of tendering you my especial thanks for your able pamphlet on the International Copy-Right Question, and for the admirable Adventures of Puffer Hopkins.

Could I imagine that, at any moment, you regarded a certain impudent and flippant critique as more than a matter to be laughed at, I would proffer you an apology on the spot. Since I scribbled the article in question, you yourself have given me fifty good reasons for being ashamed of it.

With the Highest Respect & Esteem

Yr Ob St

Edgar A Poe

To Cornelius Mathews Esqre

Note: Cornelius Mathews (1817-1889) was associated with Evert A. Duyckinck. Poe’s apology refers to a review of Mathews’ Wakondah, in Graham’s for February 1842 (see Quinn, p. 403). Despite some periods of apparent friendship, Poe grew more hostile to Mathews as a writer of fiction and drama (see Writings, 2:402, plus eight more instances indicated in the index). In LTR-259, Poe speaks of Mathews’ play Witchcraft, and in LTR-304 calls him Margaret Fuller’s “protégé,” a sharply negative assessment given Poe’s clear disdain for Miss Fuller. R. H. Horne, a poet of London, England, became a Poe correspondent; the “letter and small parcel” refer to Poe’s first letter to Horne, late in March 1844 (CL-475), and the MS of “The Spectacles,” which Horne was to try to place in some English magazine (Poe’s letter is not extant, but see Horne’s reply, April 16, 1844, CL-478); Horne’s letter of April 27 [page 430:] (CL-479), not a reply to a Poe letter, but a follow-up of his earlier one, identifies the MS tale. This MS of “The Spectacles” apparently was not the one from which the tale was printed in the Dollar Newspaper, vol. X, no. 2, March 27, 1844 (see TOM [T&S], 3:886). Instead it was the thirty-eight page MS of “The Spectacles” sold in 1920 from the library of Buxton Forman, Horne’s executor, and now in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. TOM states that the MS is “an entirely rewritten version,” although the plot is unchanged. Mathews must have replied to Poe’s letter (CL-473a), for Poe wrote to Horne within the next week or ten days. For details and various associated facts, see TOM [T&S], 3: 886; Moldenhauer, Descriptive Catalog, pp. 7-8 and “Poe’s ‘The Spectacles,’ “ SAR 1977, pp. 179-234; also Pollin, “ ‘The Spectacles’ of Poe — Sources and Significance,” American Literature, 1965, 38:185-190. What Poe calls “The Adventures of Puffer Hopkins” was more correctly “The Career of Puffer Hopkins,” a satirical serial advocating a law of international copy-right. It was originally published by Mathews in the Arcturus in 1841, and later collected and printed as a book by D. Appleton & Co., 1842. Poe favorably mentions the work in his brief entry on Mathews in “An Appendix of Autographs” (Graham’s, January 1842, 20:45; reprinted in H [Works], 15:249).

Source: photograph of the original MS (1 p.) in the Huntington Library.

Letter 173 — 1844, March 30 [CL-476] Poe (Philadelphia, PA) to James R. Lowell (Cambridge, MA):

Philadelphia March 30. 1844.

My Dear Friend,

Graham has been speaking to me, lately, about your Biography, and I am anxious to write it at once — always provided you have no objection. Could you forward me the materials within a day or two? I am just now quite disengaged — in fact positively idle.

I presume you have read the Memoir of Willis, in the April No: of G. It is written by a Mr Landor — but I think it full of hyperbole. Willis is no genius — a graceful trifler — no more. He wants force & sincerity. He is very frequently far-fetched. In me, at least, he never [page 431:] excites an emotion. Perhaps the best poem he has written, is a little piece called “Unseen Spirits”, beginning “The Shadow lay — Along Broadway”.

You inquire about my own portrait. It has been done for some time — but is better as an engraving, than as a portrait. It scarcely resembles me at all. When it will appear I cannot say. Conrad & Mrs Stephens will certainly come before me — perhaps Gen: Morris. My Life is not yet written, and I am at a sad loss for a Biographer — for Graham insists upon leaving the matter to myself.

[page 2] I sincerely rejoice to hear of the success of your volume. To sell eleven hundred copies of a bound book of American poetry, is to do wonders. I hope every thing from your future endeavours. Have you read “Orion”? Have you seen the article on “American Poetry” in the “London Foreign Quarterly”? It has been denied that Dickens wrote it — but, to me, the article affords so strong internal evidence of his hand that I would as soon think of doubting my existence. He tells much truth — although he evinces much ignorance and more spleen. Among other points he accuses myself of “metrical imitation” of Tennyson, citing, by way of instance, passages from poems which were written & published by me long before Tennyson was heard of: — but I have, at no time, made any poetical pretension. I am greatly indebted for the trouble you have taken about the Lectures, and shall be very glad to avail myself, next season, of any invitation from the “Boston Lyceum.” Thank you, also, for the hint about the North A. Review: — I will bear it in mind. I mail you, herewith, a “Dollar Newspaper”, containing a somewhat extravagant tale of my own. I fear it will prove little to your taste.

How dreadful is the present condition of our Literature! To what are things tending? We want two things, certainly: — an International Copy-Right Law, and a well-founded Monthly Journal, of sufficient [page 3] ability, circulation, and character, to control and so give tone to, our Letters. It should be, externally, a specimen of high, but not too refined Taste: — I mean, it should be boldly printed, on excellent paper, in single column, and be illustrated, not merely embellished, by spirited wood designs in the style of Grandville. Its chief aims should [page 432:] be Independence, Truth, Originality. It should be a journal of some 120 pp, and furnished at $5. It should have nothing to do with Agents or Agencies. Such a Magazine might be made to exercise a prodigious influence, and would be a source of vast wealth to its proprietors. There can be no reason why 100,000 copies might not, in one or two years, be circulated: but the means of bringing it into circulation should be radically different from those usually employed.

Such a journal might, perhaps, be set on foot by a coalition, and, thus set on foot, with proper understanding, would be irresistible. Suppose, for example, that the élite of our men of letters should combine secretly. Many of them control papers &c. Let each subscribe, say $200, for the commencement of the undertaking; furnishing other means, as required from time to time, until the work be established. The articles to be supplied by the members solely, and upon a concerted plan of action. A nominal editor to be elected from among the number. How could such a journal fail? I would like very much to hear your opinion upon this matter. Could not the “ball be set in motion”? If we do not defend [page 4] ourselves by some such coalition, we shall be devoured, without mercy, by the Godeys, the Snowdens, et id genus omne.

Most truly your friend

Edgar A Poe

Note: William Landor (H. B. Wallace) wrote the biographical sketch of Willis (for more information, see the note to LTR-119). Poe is referring to Robert T. Conrad, Mrs. Ann S. Stephens, and George P. Morris, minor literary figures of the day (see Poe’s “Autography,” reprinted in H [Works], 15:232-233, 246, and 221). All three authors appeared in the Graham’s series of “Our Contributors,” with Conrad as installment 12 (June 1844, 26:241-243), Mrs. Stephens as installment 15 (November 1844, 25:235-236), and Morris as installment 18 (April 1845, 27:145-150). The article on Mrs. Stephens is signed by C. J. Peterson; the other two installments are unsigned. The article on Conrad is attributed to Poe by TOM (see Doings of Gotham, pp. 93-101). Although Poe never wrote Lowell’s biography, Lowell wrote Poe’s; it was published in Graham’s, February 1845. For Lowell’s Poems (1844), see Lowell to Poe, March 6, 1844 (CL-470), and the note to LTR-164. R. H. Horne’s Orion was [page 433:] reviewed by Poe in Graham’s, March 1844 (reprinted in H [Works], 11:249-275). For more on the “American Poetry” article, see LTR-175. For Poe’s lecture before the Boston Lyceum, October 16, 1845, see the note to LTR-185. Lowell’s letter of March 6 (CL-470) had suggested that Poe write for the North American Review and that Lowell would get him “introduced there.” The Dollar Newspaper published “The Spectacles,” March 27, 1844. Louis A. Godey’s Lady’s Book (Philadelphia) and William W. Snowden’s Ladies’ Companion (New York) were popular magazines of the day; Poe contributed to both. The phrase “the ball be set in motion,” was popularized through Senator Thomas Hart Benton’s oration of January 16, 1837 against Andrew Jackson’s bank policy (see Pollin, “Politics and History in Poe’s ‘Mellonta Tauta,’ “ Studies in Short Fiction, 8:627-631). The themes in the fifth paragraph are repeated from LTR-153 and LTR-158. Also repeated is the reference to Grandville, the assumed name of Jean-Ignace-Isidore Gérard (1803-1847). Grandville was famous as a generally extravagant caricaturist, suggesting that Poe had in mind the kind of whimsical and often satirical illustrations provided for the Aristidean by F. O. C. Darley. Interestingly, the June 1844 issue of Graham’s ends with a humorous illustration by Grandville, with the title “The Higher Circles and the Lower Circles.” (Although not attributed in Graham’s, the illustration is from Grandville’s Un Autre Monde, a series of 118 drawings, printed in thirty-six installments by Henri Fournier in 1844.) The scheme of multiple editors for a single magazine bears some similarities to that employed by L. G. Clark’s Knickerbocker. In his “Literati” entry on Clark (Godey’s, September 1846; reprinted in H [Works], 15:114-116), Poe describes the magazine as the “joint composition of a great variety of gentlemen (most of them possessing shrewdness and talent) connected with diverse journals about the city of New York,” remarking further that, “It is only in some such manner, as might be supposed, that so amusing and so heterogeneous a medley of chit-chat could be put together.” Lowell did not reply (see LTR-185).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (4 pp.) in the Harvard College Library. The envelope is addressed to “James Russell Lowell Esqre / Elmwood / Cambridge / Mass.”; and postmarked at Philadelphia, March 30. Following his letter of October 19, 1843 (LTR-164), Poe wrote to Lowell, probably in December 1843 - January 1844 (CL-461), regarding a lecture before the Boston Society (see Lowell to Poe, March 6, 1844, CL-470); Poe’s present letter is a reply to Lowell’s, just cited.




Two pages are accounted for in the pagination but not included in the text above because both are blank back pages. These are pages 332 and 434.


[S:0 - CLT08, 2008] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Letters of Edgar Allan Poe (Ostrom, Pollin and Savoye) (Chapter 05)