Text: J. W. Ostrom, B. R. Pollin, and J. A. Savoye, “Chapter 06,” The Collected Letters of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. I: 1824-1845 (2008), pp. 435-482 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 435, unnumbered:]



Early Struggles

Letters 174-191: April 1844-January 1845

[page 437:]

Letter 174 — 1844, April 7 [CL-477] Poe (New York, NY) to Mrs. Maria Clemm (Philadelphia, PA):

New-York, Sunday Morning

April 7. just after breakfast.

My dear Muddy,

We have just this minute done breakfast, and I now sit down to write you about everything. I ca’nt pay for the letter, because the P.O. won’t be open to-day. — In the first place, we arrived safe at Walnut St wharf. The driver wanted to make me pay a dollar, but I wouldn’t. Then I had to pay a boy a levy to put the trunks in the baggage car. In the meantime I took Sis in the Depôt Hotel. It was only a quarter past 6, and we had to wait till 7. We saw the Ledger & Times — nothing in either — a few words of no account in the Chronicle. — We started in good spirits, but did not get here until nearly 3 o’clock. We went in the cars to Amboy about 40 miles from N. York, and then took the steamboat the rest of the way. — Sissy coughed none at all. When we got to the wharf it was raining hard. I left her on board the boat, after putting the trunks in the Ladies’ Cabin, and set off to buy an umbrella and look for a boarding-house. I met a man selling umbrellas and bought [o]ne for <56> 62 cents. Then I went up Greenwich St and soon found a boarding-house. It is just before you get to Cedar St on the west side going up — the left hand side. It has brown stone steps, with a porch with brown pillars. “Morrison” is the name on the door. I made a bargain in a few minutes and then got a hack and went for Sis. I was not gone more than 1/2 an hour, and she was quite astonished to see me back so soon. She did’nt expect me for an hour. There were 2 other ladies waiting on board — so she was’nt very lonely. — When we got to the house we had to wait about 1/2 an hour before the room [was ready]. The house is old & looks buggy, b[ excision t]he landlady is a nice chatty ol[ excision g]ave us the back room on th[ excision e] night & day & attendance, f[or 7 $ — the cheapest board I] ever knew, taking into consideration the central situation and the living. I wish Kate could see it — she would faint. Last night, for supper, we had the nicest tea you ever drank, strong & hot — wheat bread & rye bread — cheese — tea-cakes (elegant) [page 438:] [page 2] a great dish (2 dishes) of elegant ham, and 2 of cold veal, piled up like a mountain and large slices — 3 dishes of the cakes, and every thing in the greatest profusion. No fear of starving here. The landlady seemed as if she could’nt press us enough, and we were at home directly. Her husband is living with her — a fat good-natured old soul. There are 8 or 10 boarders — 2 or 3 of them ladies — 2 servants. — For breakfast we had excellent-flavored coffe [sic], hot & strong — not very clear & no great deal of cream — veal cutlets, elegant ham & eggs & nice bread and butter. I never sat down to a more plentiful or a nicer breakfast. I wish you could have seen the eggs — and the great dishes of meat. I ate the first hearty breakfast I have eaten since I left our little home. Sis is delighted, and we are both in excellent spirits. She has coughed hardly any and had no night sweat. She is now busy mending my pants which I tore against a nail. I went out last night and bought a skein of silk, a skein of thread, & 2 buttons a pair of slippers & a tin pan for the stove. The fire kept in all night. — We have now got 4 $ and a half left. Tomorrow I am going to try & borrow 3 $ — so that I may have a fortnight to go upon. I feel in excellent spirits & have’nt drank a drop — so that I hope so[on] to get out of trouble. The very instant I scrape together enough money I will send it on. You ca’nt imagine how much we both do miss you. Sissy had a hearty cry last night, because you and Catterina weren’t here. We are resolved to get 2 rooms the first moment we can. In the meantime it is impossible we could be more comfortable or more at home than we are. — It looks as if it was going to clear up now. — Be sure and go to the P.O. & have my letters forwarded. As soon as I write Lowell’s article, I will send it to you, & get you to get the money from Graham. Give our best loves to Catter[ina.]

[three line excision for autograph]

Be sure & take home the Messenger, [to Hirst]. We hope to send for you very soon.

Note: Poe’s departure from Philadelphia must have been sudden, for in a letter of March 30, 1844 (LTR-173), he asks Lowell to send “within a day or two” the material needed for a biography. Poe found lodgings at 130 Greenwich Street (according to Quinn & Hart, p. 19; and Quinn, pp. [page 439:] 407-408). “Sis” was Virginia Clemm Poe. Although Ostrom identified “Kate” as Catterina, the family cat, it seems hard to imagine a cat fainting; she may instead have been a Philadelphia neighbor. Unfortunately, Mrs. Clemm did not return to Henry B. Hirst the borrowed volume of the SLM; the owner, William Duane, Jr., later accused Poe of selling it (see LTR-184 and LTR-191; W [1909], 2:365-368; and Quinn, pp. 408-410). Mrs. Clemm’s having rejoined Poe and Virginia is first mentioned in Poe’s letter to F. W. Thomas, September 8, 1844 (LTR-182).

Source: original MS (2 pp.) in the Enoch Pratt Free Library. The year date is not given, but it has been established by LTR-175. The envelope is directed to Mrs. Maria Clemm (street address cut out), Philadelphia; cancelled at New York, April 7. Poe’s autograph is lacking; the excision also carried away completely three half-lines and part of the letters of a fourth; portions of the MS are damaged by holes and tears. The extent of emendations by various biographers is at times misleading, owing to the lining of the printed letter. This informal, rapidly written, familial sort of letter is markedly careless, particularly in its placement of apostrophes. For another occurrence of the intrusive and obsolescent past participle form of “drank,” used in the phrase “have’nt drank a drop,” see LTR-327 and note.

Letter 174a — 1844, May 21 [CL-479b] Poe (New York, NY) to Nathaniel P. Willis (New York, NY):

New-York — May 21.

My Dear Mr. Willis,

Seeing that you, now and then, published Original Papers in the “New Mirror”, I have ventured to send you a Tale and an Essay for consideration. If you could afford me anything for them, or for either of them, I would feel highly honored by their appearance in your paper.

I have been long exceedingly anxious to make the acquaintance of the author of “Melanie”, and, more especially, of a little poem entitled “Unseen Spirits”, and would have called upon you personally but that I am ill in health and wretchedly depressed in spirits. By and bye I will try and find you at the office of the “Mirror.” [page 440:]

Will you please reply, at your leisure, through the P. Office? Should you not be able to accept the articles, I would be obliged if you would retain them until I see you.

Yours with the highest respect,

Edgar A. Poe

N. P. Willis Esqre

Note: No tale or essay by Poe appeared in the New Mirror after 1843. By October 1844, the New Mirror had become the Evening Mirror and Weekly Mirror, and Poe briefly became a sub-editor. Poe’s May 29, 1844 letter to Sarah J. Hale (LTR-176), offering her one of the same items for The Opal for 1845, establishes the date for this letter and identifies the tale as “The Oblong Box,” which subsequently appeared in Godey’s Lady’s Book for September 1844. The essay was later printed, apparently in a revised form (see Poe to S. J. Hale, May 31, 1844, LTR-177), as “A Chapter of Suggestions” in The Opal for 1845. TOM [Iowa] points out that “Unseen Spirits” was first printed in the New Mirror for July 29, 1843 (1:272), where it is signed only as “Down-Town Bard.” Poe had contributed two translations to the same volume of the New Mirror (“Souvenirs of Youth,” May 13, 1843 and “The Head of St. John the Baptist,” June 17, 1843, both confirmed by the copy of the New Mirror Poe gave to Mrs. Whitman). An unauthorized reprint of “The Man that was Used Up” appeared in the September 9, 1843 issue. Since Poe here states that he has not made Willis’ ”acquaintance,” it may be presumed that he had previously dealt only with “General” George P. Morris. (Morris’ American Melodies, copyrighted in 1840, included a reprint of Poe’s poem “To Ianthe in Heaven.”) Poe’s praise written to authors is not always reliable, but he seems to have held genuine admiration for Willis’ poem. He had previously spoken favorably of “Unseen Spirits” in his letter to J. R. Lowell, March 30, 1844 (LTR-173); and Poe quotes the poem in full in his “Doings of Gotham” Letter VII, dated June 25, 1844 (Columbia Spy, July 6, 1844), and again in his first installment of the “Literati” series (Godey’s Lady’s Book, May 1846, 32:198). Poe also recited Willis’ poem in his lecture on American poetry (noted in the Evening Mirror, March 1, 1845).

Source: facsimile of the original MS (1 p.) as given in Stedman and Woodberry, eds, The Works of EAP (New York and Pittsburgh: The Colonial Company, Limited, 1903, a special reprint of the 1894-1895 edition), 4:154 (facing). [page 441:]

Letter 175 — 1844, May 28 [CL-481] Poe (New York, NY) to James R. Lowell (Cambridge, MA):

New-York, May 28, 44.

My Dear Friend,

I received yours last night — forwarded from Philadelphia to this city, where I intend living for the future: Touching the Biography — I would be very proud, indeed, if you would write it — and did, certainly, say to myself, and I believe to Graham — that such was my wish; but as I fancied the job might be disagreeable, I did not venture to suggest it to yourself. Your offer relieves me from great embarrasment, and I thank you sincerely. You will do me justice; and that I could not expect at all hands.

Herewith, I mail you a Life written some time since by Hirst, from materials furnished principally by Thomas and Mr T. W. White. It is correct, I think, in the main, (barring extravagant eulogy,) and you can select from it whatever you deem right. The limit is 6 pp of Graham — as much less as you please. Besides the Tales enumerated in the foot-note, I have written “The Spectacles”; “The Oblong Box”; “A Tale of the Ragged Mountains”; “The Premature Burial”; “The Purloined Letter”; “The System of Doctors Tar [sic] and Fether”; “The Black Cat”; “The Elk”; “Diddling Considered as one of the Exact Sciences”; “Mesmeric Revelation [“]; “The Gold-Bug”; “Thou art the Man [“]; — about 60 altogether, including the “Grotesque & Arabesque.[“] Those Italicized are — as yet unpublished — in the hands of different editors. Of the “Gold-Bug” (my most successful tale) more than 300,000 copies have been circulated.

There is an article on “American Poetry” in a late number of the London Foreign Quarterly, in [page 2] which some allusion is made to me as a poet, and as an imitator of Tennyson. I would like you to say (in my defence) what is the fact; that the passages quoted as imitations were written & published, in Boston, before the issue of even Tennyson’s first volume. Dickens (I know) wrote the article — I have private personal reasons for knowing this. The portrait prepared, does not in the least resemble me. [page 442:]

I wrote you a long letter from Phil: about 7 weeks since — did you get it? — you make no allusion to it.

In great haste.

Your most sincere friend.

Edgar A Poe

Note: For Poe’s recent arrival in New York, see LTR-174. For “the Biography” (of Poe, in Graham’s) see LTR-181 and the note to LTR-173; for Poe’s earlier “Life” (from the Philadelphia Saturday Museum) see the note to LTR-153. The tales cited by Poe were published as follows: “The Spectacles” (Dollar Newspaper, March 27, 1844); “The Oblong Box” (Godey’s, September 1844); “A Tale of the Ragged Mountains” (Godey’s, April 1844); “The Premature Burial” (Dollar Newspaper, July 31, 1844); “The Purloined Letter” (The Gift for 1845, printed late in 1844); “The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether” (Graham’s, November 1845); “The Black Cat” (United States Saturday Post, August 19, 1843); “The Elk” or “Morning on the Wissahiccon” (The Opal for 1844, printed late in 1843); “Diddling Considered as One of the Exact Sciences” (Saturday Courier, October 14, 1843); “Mesmeric Revelation” (Columbian, August 1844); “The Gold-Bug” (the Dollar Newspaper, June 21 and 28, 1843); “Thou Art the Man” (Godey’s, November 1844). (For all references, see Wyllie, Poe’s Tales and TOM [T&S]). Concerning Poe’s total of “about 60” see LTR-186 and note. For the article in the London Foreign Quarterly, see LTR-173. (This letter is also the one of “about 7 weeks since.”) Given the evident popularity of the tale, the extraordinary number of 300,000 copies of “The Gold-Bug” seems not to be a product of Poe’s frequent exaggeration in such matters. The Poe Log (p. 425) indicates the fourth edition of the reprinting of the tale within a few weeks, by July 14, 1843. Regrettably, only one set of the inconveniently oversized Dollar Newspaper with the original printings of “The Gold-Bug” appears to have survived, and that set (discovered about 1917 in the Maryland Historical Society) is currently unlocated. For the article Poe attributes to Dickens, see the note to LTR-179. For the portrait of Poe, based on a watercolor by A. C. Smith, see Deas, Portraits and Daguerreotypes of EAP, pp. 18-23.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.) in the Houghton Library, Harvard College. The letter was endorsed by Lowell, “E.A.Poe / 28th May-1844.” Poe is replying to Lowell’s letter, ca. May 23, 1844 (CL-480). [page 443:]

Letter 176 — 1844, May 29 [CL-482] Poe (New York, NY) to Mrs. Sarah J. Hale (Philadelphia, PA):


May 29. 44.

Dr Madam,

A day or two ago, I handed an article, “The Oblong Box”, to Mr Willis, under the impression that he occasionally purchased original papers for “The New-Mirror”. This I found, however, not to be the case. Mr W. was pleased to express himself in very warm terms of the article, which he considers the best I have written, and urged me to offer it to Mr Riker, for The [sic] next “Opal”; promising to speak to Mr R. and engage him (if possible) to accept the Tale. I called upon Mr <W> R., who expressed his perfect willingness to do so, but said that his arrangement with yourself, threw the whole business of selection, &c, into your hands, and that he could not, with propriety, interfere. Under these circumstances, I have thought it best to write you this letter, and to ask you if you could accept an article from me — whether you would wish to see the one in question — or whether you could be so kind as to take it, unseen, upon Mr Willis’ testimony in its favor. It cannot be improper to state, that I make the latter request to save time, because I am as usual, exceedingly in need of a little money.

With high respect

Yr. Ob. St.

Edgar A Poe

Mrs Sarah J. Hale

P. S. “The Oblong Box” will make about 4 pp of “Graham”.

Note: For information on Mrs. Hale, see the notes to LTR-75. Mr. W. is N. P. Willis (see LTR-174a). The New Mirror was the newly revived New-York Mirror, edited from April, 1843 by G. P. Morris and N. P. Willis. (In October 1844, the periodical became the Evening Mirror and the Weekly Mirror.) The Opal: a Pure Gift for the Holy Days (a gift book for 1845, but printed in late 1844) was edited by Sarah J. Hale and published in New York by John C. Riker. All six issues of The Opal were [page 444:] published by Riker, but Mrs. Hale edited only three (see Thompson, p. 145). Poe sometimes used the words “article” and “tale” interchangeably. Mrs. Hale’s reply (CL-483) seems to have suggested that Poe submit something more particularly suited to The Opal (see LTR-177).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The postscript appears along the left side of the page. The letter is addressed on the fourth page of a folded leaf: “Mrs Sarah J. Hale, / Philadelphia, / Pa.” The address page is postmarked: “New-York May 29”; and is initialed “EAP” in the lower left corner. It is also marked “paid,” and carries across the end in a strange hand: “1844 / Edgar A Poe.”

Letter 176a — 1844, May 31 [CL-483a] Poe (New York, NY) to Edward L. Carey (Philadelphia, PA):


May 31rst 44.

My Dear Sir,

I would take it as a very great favor if you could let me see the proof of my tale, “The Purloined Letter”, which will be in the next “Gift”. I am not, usually, solicitous about proofs; but, in this instance, the MS. had many interlineations and erasures, which may render my seeing one, necessary. Please send it, per “Harnden’s Express” to care of “Wm H Graham, Tribune Office, N. York.” I will return it promptly.

Yours very resply

Edgar A Poe

E. L. Carey Esqre

P. S.) Perhaps it would be better merely to send the proof to “Office of Graham’s Magazine” here in Phila: with directions to forward it to me, here.

Note: “The Purloined Letter” appeared in The Gift for 1845, published by Carey & Hart in late 1844. The firm of E. L. Carey & A. Hart was founded in 1829, and in addition to various books printed eight Gifts, those for: 1836, 1837, 1839, 1840, 1842, 1843, 1844, and 1845. Miss [page 445:] Eliza Leslie edited the first four, Carey edited the fifth alone, and the remaining three with the aid of William H. Furness (see R. Thompson, American Literary Annuals and Gift Books, 1825-1865, p. 74). Poe contributed to those for 1836, 1840, 1842, 1843, and 1845. Harnden’s was a mail carrier frequently used by Poe (see introduction). William H. Graham, a Philadelphia publisher, had printed The Prose Romances of Edgar A. Poe in 1843, now one of the rarest of Poe’s publications. TOM [T&S, 3:972] observes that the untidy condition of the MS, as Poe describes it in the present letter, parallels that of the MS for “The Murders in The Rue Morgue.”

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Letter 177 — 1844, May 31 [CL-484] Poe (New York, NY) to Mrs. Sarah J. Hale (Philadelphia, PA):

New-York. May 31rst 44.

My Dear Madam,

I hasten to reply to your kind and very satisfactory letter, and to say that, if you will be so good as to keep open for me the ten pages of which you speak, I will forward you, in 2 or 3 days, an article which will about occupy that space, and which I will endeavour to adapt to the character of “The Opal.” The price you mention — 50 cts per page — will be amply sufficient; and I am exceedingly anxious to be ranked in your list of contributors.

Should you see Mr Godey very soon, will you oblige me by saying that I will write him in a few days, and forward him a package?

With sincere respect.

Yr Ob. St

Edgar A Poe

Mrs Sarah J. Hale.

Note: Poe’s “A Chapter of Suggestions” appeared in The Opal for 1845, pp. 164-170. Mrs. Hale was editor of The Opal and the monthly magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book. The “package” to Godey probably contained “The Oblong Box” (Godey’s, September 1844, 29:132-136) and “Thou Art the [page 446:] Man” (Godey’s, November 1844, pp. 219-224). Poe had previously offered “The Oblong Box” to Willis (LTR-174a) and to Mrs. Hale (LTR-176). No other letter, which would likely have accompanied the MSS, is known from Poe to either Mrs. Hale or Louis A. Godey until after 1844.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Huntington Library. Poe is replying to Mrs. Hale’s letter of May 30 (CL-483), which replied to Poe’s of May 29 (LTR-176).

Letter 177a — 1844, June 3 [CL-485] Poe (New York, NY) to Lewis J. Cist (Cincinnati, OH):

New York.

June 3. 44.

My Dear Mr Cist,

Yours, dated April 30th, has only this moment reached me; having been lying, ever since, at Graham’s office. I have removed to New-York, where I intend residing for the next year or two — and this will account, in part, for my not receiving the package sooner.

I was deeply interested in the memoirs you gave me of Mrs Nichols. I have long admired her writings, and the proofs contain some of the finest passages I have ever perused. I am anxious to see the entire volume, and thank you for the promise to send it to me.

I shall write, to-day, to Graham, and ask him to do as you desire, touching “The Beaten Path”.

Truly Your Friend.

Edgar A Poe

L. J. Cist Esqre

P. S. If you forward the “Poems” to Graham, he will send them to me.

Note: For more information on L. J. Cist, see the note to LTR-105. Cist had sent Poe a poem entitled “Bachelor Philosophy” for his first number of the Penn Magazine, scheduled to appear on January 1, 1841. When Poe’s magazine plans failed, the poem was subsequently printed in the Saturday Evening Post (see LTR-125 and notes). The purport of Poe’s [page 447:] last paragraph is uncertain, for Cist’s letter to Poe of April 30, 1844 (CL-479a), and Poe’s letter to Graham of June 3, 1844 (see CL-486) are unlocated. “The Beaten Path” seems never to have been published in Graham’s. Mrs. Rebecca Shepard Nichols (1819-1903), of Cincinnati, contributed poems to Graham’s while Poe was editor. He noticed her in “A Chapter on Autography” (see H [Works], 15:258) and reviewed her New Year’s address in the BJ, March 22, 1845 (see H [Works], 12:110-111), calling her “one of our most imaginative and vigorous poets.” Poe’s postscript could easily refer to a forthcoming volume of poems by Mrs. Nichols, Bernice, or The Curse of Minna, and Other Poems (Cincinnati: Shepard & Company, 1844), or possibly Cist’s Trifles in Verse (published in the same city in 1845). Poe’s comment that he intended to stay in New York for only a year or two is interesting. He maintained his home there, at various addresses, for the rest of his life.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the University of Virginia, Clifton Waller Barrett Collection. The letter is postmarked: “New-York, JUN 5”; it is addressed on page 4 of a folded leaf to “L. J. Cist Esqre / Cincinnati / O.” In the lower left corner appears: “Single / EAP.” The notation “Edgar A. Poe / Philadelphia / June 3d 1844” also occurs. Poe’s present letter to Cist confirms CL-485, refers to a new Cist to Poe letter, April 30, 1844 (CL-479a), and suggests an unlocated Poe to Graham letter for June 3, 1844 (CL-486).

Letter 178 — 1844, June 4 [CL-487] Poe (New York, NY) to Eli Bowen (Columbia, PA):

My Dear Mr. Brown [sic]:

I would take it as a very great favor if you could mail me an X by return of mail, if possible.

Yours truly,


Note: Eli Bowen (1824-1868) and Jacob L. Gossler were the editors and publishers of the Columbia Spy. Founded in 1830 by John S. Boswell, the Spy had been purchased by the current owners from James Patton and W. S. Ward on November 30, 1843 (see Heartman & Canny, 1943, p. 173). [page 448:] On May 18, 1844, Bowen announced that “Poe ... will ... be a regular contributor to the Spy.” (See Spannuth and Mabbott, Doings of Gotham). “Brown” is an error either by Poe or by the newspaper. Whether Bowen sent Poe the ten dollars is unknown. For other correspondence between Poe and Bowen, see LTR-278a. Of related interest may be Poe’s use of the surname Bowen for the pseudonym applied to his 1849 “Reviewer Reviewed” (TOM [T&S], 3:1377-1388).

Source: clipping from the Philadelphia Ledger, January 12, 1912 (no p.), in Ingram’s unpublished MS revision of his Life of Poe, in the Ingram collection, University of Virginia. The above note was added by Poe (in pencil) to the MS of his June 4, 1844 news-letter from Gotham, which was printed in the Columbia Spy, June 8. The original MS is unlocated. No reply from Bowen is known.

Letter 179 — 1844, July 2 [CL-490] Poe (New York, NY) to James R. Lowell (Cambridge, MA):

New-York, July 2. 44.

My Dear Mr Lowell,

I can feel for the “constitutional indolence” of which you complain — for it is one of my own besetting sins. I am excessively slothful, and wonderfully industrious — by fits. There are epochs when any kind of mental exercise is torture, and when nothing yields me pleasure but solitary communion with the “mountains & the woods” — the “altars” of Byron. I have thus rambled and dreamed away whole months, and awake, at last, to a sort of mania for composition. Then I scribble all day, and read all night, so long as the disease endures. This is also the temperament of P. P. Cooke, of Va the author of “Florence Vane”, “Young Rosalie Lee”, & some other sweet poems — and I should not be surprised if it were your own. Cooke writes and thinks as you — and I have been told that you resemble him personally.

I am not ambitious — unless negatively. I, now and then feel stirred up to excel a fool, merely because I hate to let a fool imagine that he may excel me. Beyond this I feel nothing of ambition. I really perceive [page 449:] that vanity about which most men merely prate — the vanity of the human or temporal life. I live continually in a reverie of the future. I have no faith in human perfectibility. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active — not more happy — nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago. The result will never vary — and to suppose that it will, is to suppose that the foregone man has [page 2] lived in vain — that the foregone time is but the rudiment of the future — that the myriads who have perished have not been upon equal footing with ourselves — nor are we with our posterity. I cannot agree to lose sight of man the individual, in man the mass. — I have no belief in spirituality. I think the word a mere word. No one has really a conception of spirit. We cannot imagine what is not. We deceive ourselves by the idea of infinitely rarefied matter. Matter escapes the senses by degrees — a stone — a metal — a liquid — the atmosphere — a gas — the luminiferous ether. Beyond this there are other modifications more rare. But to all we attach the notion of a constitution of particles — atomic composition. For this reason only, we think spirit different; for spirit, we say is unparticled, and therefore is not matter. But it is clear that if we proceed sufficiently far in our ideas of rarefaction, we shall arrive at a point where the particles coalesce; for, although the particles be infinite, the infinity of littleness in the spaces between them, is an absurdity. — The unparticled matter, permeating & impelling, all things, is God. Its activity is the thought of God — which creates. Man, and other thinking beings, are individualizations of the unparticled matter. Man exists as a “person”, by being clothed with matter (the particled matter) which individualizes him. Thus habited, his life is rudimental. What we call “death” is the painful metamorphosis. The stars are the habitations of rudimental beings. But for the necessity of the rudimental life, there would have been no worlds. At death, the worm is the butterfly — still material, but of a matter unrecognized by our organs — recognized, occasionally, perhaps, by the sleep-waker, directly — without organs — through the mesmeric medium. Thus a sleep-waker may see ghosts. Divested of the rudimental covering, the being inhabits space — what we suppose to be the immaterial universe — passing every where, and acting [page 450:] [page 3] all things, by mere volition — cognizant of all secrets but that of the nature of God’s volition — the motion, or activity, of the unparticled matter.

You speak of “an estimate of my life” — and, from what I have already said, you will see that I have none to give. I have been too deeply conscious of the mutability and evanescence of temporal things, to give any continuous effort to anything — to be consistent in anything. My life has been whim — impulse — passion — a longing for solitude — a scorn of all things present, in an earnest desire for the future.

I am profoundly excited by music, and by some poems — those of Tennyson especially — whom, with Keats, Shelley, Coleridge (occasionally) and a few others of like thought and expression, I regard as the sole poets. Music is the perfection of the soul, or idea, of Poetry. The vagueness <and> of exultation arous[ed by] a sweet air (which should be strictly indefinite & never too strongly suggestive) is precisely what we should aim at in poetry. Affectation, within bounds, is thus no blemish.

I still adhere to Dickens as either author, or dictator, of the review. My reasons would convince you, could I give them to you — but I have left myself no space. I had two long interviews with Mr D. when here. Nearly every thing in the critique, I heard from <D> him or suggested to him, personally. The poem of Emerson I read to him.

I have been so negligent as not to preserve copies of any of my volumes of poems — nor was either worthy preservation. The best passages were culled in Hirst’s article. I think my best poems, “The Sleeper”, “The Conqueror Worm”, “The Haunted Palace”, “<A Paen [sic]” > “Lenore”, “Dreamland” & “The Coliseum” — but all have been hurried & unconsidered. My best tales are “Ligeia”; The “Gold-Bug”; The “Murders in the [page 4] Rue Morgue”, “The Fall of the House of Usher”, The “Tell-Tale Heart”, The “Black Cat”, “William Wilson”, & “The Descent into the Maelström.” “The Purloined Letter,” forthcoming in the “Gift”, is, perhaps, the best of my tales of ratiocination. I have lately written, for Godey, “The Oblong-Box”, and [page 451:] “Thou art the Man” — as yet unpublished. With this, I mail you “The Gold-Bug”, which is the only one of my tales I have on hand.

Graham has had, for 9 months, a review of mine on Longfellow’s “Spanish Student”, which I have “used up”, and in which I have exposed some of the grossest plagiarisms ever perpetrated. I can’t tell why he does not publish it. — I believe G. intends my Life for the September number, which will be made up by the 10th August. Your article shd be on hand as soon as convenient.

Believe me your true friend.

E A Poe.

Note: In connection with Poe’s discussion of “spirit” and “matter,” especially for similarity of the phrasing, see “Mesmeric Revelation” (TOM [T&S], 3:1029-1040). In his letter (CL-489), Lowell attributed the review (see LTR-175) to Dickens’ friend, and future biographer, John Forster. Burton Pollin has argued that the “two long interviews” were really “one” (see Pollin, “Dickens’ Chimes and Its Pathway into Poe’s ‘Bells,’ ” MissQ, 51:217-218, footnote 3). “Hirst’s article” refers to the biographical sketch of Poe in the Philadelphia Saturday Museum, February 25, 1843 (see note to LTR-153). For the publication of the tales Poe cites “as yet unpublished,” see LTR-175 and note. Concerning Longfellow’s Spanish Student, see the notes to LTR-164 and LTR-164a. Lowell sent the biography late in September (see LTR-181 and LTR-185, and notes). See TOM [Poems], 1:76, for Poe’s use of Byron’s lines on the theme as the motto for “Stanzas.” For Poe’s shifting views on fame and ambition, see TOM [T&S], 2:712, n. 4; also, Pollin, “The Living Writers of America,” SAR 1991, p. 187, n. 66. For Poe’s views on posterity in “Angel of the Odd,” TOM [Iowa] cites this letter and aptly refers to no. 28 of “Fifty Suggestions” (Writings, 2:493-494). See the fifth paragraph of LTR-180 for a repetition of the idea. The term “unparticled matter” is a Poe creation — the only instance in the OED — occurring fifteen times in “Mesmeric Revelation” of August 1844; for specific references see Pollin, Word Index to Poe’s Fiction, p. 366. See TOM [T&S], 3:1036 for the definition as: “[This], in motion, is thought”; and see TOM’s discussion of the importance to Poe of the two types of matter [T&S, 3:1025-1028], foreshadowing Eureka. Poe would have enjoyed a New York Times “Science Section” write-up on Stephen W. Hawking’s modern views on “black holes” (January 22, 2002, pp. F 2, 4, by D. Overbye). It [page 452:] discusses the recent “string theory” portraying the “forces and particles of nature ... as tiny vibrating strings” or “quantum mechanics” about “particles that can instantaneously react ... across light years of space” etc. Poe also essentially coined the related term “particled matter,” with uses of 1650 and a separate reference in 1883 as the sole instances in the OED. Poe’s comment that he has failed to keep copies of his books of poetry is validated by circumstances relating to the printing of The Raven and Other Poems in 1845. Seeking to fill out the volume, Poe had to borrow a copy of Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems (1829) from his cousin, Elizabeth Herring. That copy, with Poe’s manuscript changes, is now preserved in the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library. (Poe used the same book at his unfortunate appearance before the Boston Lyceum in 1845, having carefully altered the date on the title page from 1829 to 1820, to support his claims of having published the poems at a much earlier date.) Poe had made more substantial changes to many of the poems in his 1831 Poems, but may have abandoned these for want of a copy of that edition. Poe was careful to keep a copy of The Raven and Other Poems.

The compound “sleep-waker,” often shown as fused and erroneously ascribed to Poe in PCW, comes from C. Townshend, Facts in Mesmerism (London: 1840), with a sharp difference from “somnambulist” as TOM [T&S, 3:1040] relates in note 1 to “Mesmeric Revelation,” and as Poe indicates for “Valdemar” in “Marginalia” M-200 (Writings, 2:331-334).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (4 pp.) in the Harvard College Library. The envelope is addressed to James Russell Lowell, Elmwood, Cambridge, MA, and was postmarked at New York, July 3. The MS shows numerous changes and “careted” additions due to afterthought. In the MS, the word “acting” is broken across pages 2 and 3 as “act-ing.” Poe is replying to Lowell’s letter of June 27, 1844 (CL-489).

Letter 180 — 1844, July 10 [CL-491] Poe (New York, NY) to Thomas H. Chivers (Oaky Grove, GA):

New-York July 10. 44.

My Dear Friend,

Yours of June 15 was forwarded here to me on the 25th [ul]t. Believe me, I am truly pleased to h[ea]r from you again. The two [page 453:] letters of which you speak were received; but, in the hurry of mere business, I chanced to file them away among a package of letters endorsed “answered,” and thus it was that I failed to reply. For many months I have been haunted by the sentiment of some duty unperformed, but was unable to say what it was.

Touching the “Penn Magazine” or rather the “Stylus”, (for this is the title I should finally adopt) — I have by no means given up the intention of issuing it; my views respecting it are only confirmed by time, and more intimate acquaintance with our literature, as well as with the business of Magazine publication. I am only “biding my time” — awaiting m[e]ans and opportunity. Should you conclude to join me, we will not fail to make fame and fortune. When you feel ready to attempt the enterpriz[e], you will find me here — at New-York — where I live, [at] present, in strict seclusion, busied with books and [ambiti]ous thoughts, until the hour shall arrive when I may come forth with a [page 2] certainty of success. A Magazine like Graham’s will never do. We must do something far better — but we will talk of these matters personally. When you come to New-York, put a letter to my address in the P. Office, and we will thus find each other.

I have been lately lecturing on “American Poetry” and have drawn profuse tears from large and intellectual audiences by the recital of your “Heavenly Vision” — which I can never weary of repeating.

You mistake me in supposing I dislike the transcendentalists — it is only the pretenders and sophists among them. My own faith is indeed my own. You will find it, somewhat detailed, in a forthcoming number of the “Columbian Magazine”, published here. I have written for it an article headed “Mesmeric Revelation,” which see. It may be out in the August or September number.

I disagree with you in what you say of man’s advance towards perfection. Man is now only more active, not wiser, nor more happy, than he was 6000 years ago. To say that we are better than ou[r] progenitors, is to make the foregone age[s] only the rudiment of the pre[se]nt & future; whereas each individual man is the rudiment of a future material (not spiritual) being. It were to suppose God unjust to [page 454:] suppose those who have died before us possessed of less advantage than ourselves.

[page 3] There is no such thing as spirituality. God is material. All things are material; yet the matter of God has all the qualities which we attribute to spirit: thus the difference is scarcely more than of words. There is a matter without particles — of no atomic composition: this is God. It permeates and impels all things, and thus is all things in itself. Its agitation is the thought of God, and creates. Man and other beings (inhabitants of stars) are portions of this unparticled matter, individualized by being incorporated in the ordinary or particled matter. Thus they exist rudimentally. Death is the painful metamorphosis. The worm becomes the butterfly — but the butterfly is still material — of a matter, however, which cannot be recognized by our rudimental organs. But for the necessity of the rudimental life, there would have been no stars — no worlds — nothing which we term material. These spots are the residences of the rudimental things. At death, these, taking a n[e]w form, of a n[o]vel matter, pass every where, and act all things, by mere volition, and are cognizant of all secrets but the one — the nature of the volition of God — of the agitation of the unparticled matter.

Write upon receipt of this — and do not affront me by paying postage or speaking of these trivialities at all. There is nothing which gives me more sincere pleasure than the receipt of your letters.

Your friend most sincere[1]y.

E A Poe.

Note: As a title for Poe’s dream magazine, the old Penn gave way to the new Stylus, as early as January 1843, if not earlier (see Quinn, p. 369). Chivers’ ”Heavenly Vision” may have been “To Allegra Florence in Heaven,” a poem on the death of his daughter, written in December 1842 (for a newspaper printing, see Miller-Townsend Scrapbook, pp. 58-59). Poe’s “Mesmeric Revelation” appeared in the Columbian (August 1844, 2:67-70; see Wyllie, Poe’s Tales, p. 331; and TOM [T&S], 3:1028-1029). For Poe, “pretenders and sophists” are types which included Emerson, W. E. Channing (the nephew of the Unitarian clergyman), and Margaret Fuller. For the written evidence plus commentary, see Pollin, “The Living [page 455:] Writers of America,” SAR 1991, p. 172 and 196, n. 120, and Writings (vol. 2, The Brevities) — Transcendentalists, as a group: “Marginalia” M-249 (2:389), M-274 (2:405), “Fifty Suggestions” FS-26 (p. 492) — Emerson: “Marginalia” M-65 (2:274) and M-188 (2:314) — Channing: “Marginalia” M-198 note B, second paragraph (2:329) — Margaret Fuller, see Pollin, “Poe on Margaret Fuller in 1845,” in Women and Literature, 5:47-50; and Writings, 3:34 (text and parodic picture), and 4:34. The fifth and sixth paragraphs of this letter embody the gist of the ideas in “Mesmeric Revelation,” developed and published widely at this time (see TOM [T&S], 2:1024-1042, especially 1037). For its incorporation of classical philosophical elements into Poe’s system, see TOM’s useful headnote. See LTR-179 and note for Poe’s long explicatory statement on “the unparticled matter.”

Source: photocopy of the original MS (3 pp.) in the Huntington Library. The MS is badly ink-stained, and the bracketed emendations indicate illegible letters or words. Although addressed only as to “My Dear Friend,” the letter is definitely to Chivers, who wrote Poe on August 6, 1844 (CL-492): “Your beautiful, friendly, abstruse, and transcendental letter of July the 10th in answer to mine of June the 15th ...

Letter 181 — 1844, August 18 [CL-493] Poe (New York, NY) to James R. Lowell (Cambridge, MA):

New-York: August 18. 1844

My Dear Friend,

With this letter I take the liberty to mail you a number of the “Columbian Magazine,” in which you will find a paper on “Mesmeric Revelation”. In it I have endeavoured to amplify some ideas which I suggested in my last letter.

You will observe many corrections & alterations. In fact the article was wofully misprinted; and my principal object in boring you with it now, is to beg of you the favor to get it copied (with corrections) in the Brother Jonathan — I mean the Boston Notion — or any other paper where you have interest. If you can do this without trouble, I would be very deeply indebted to you. I am living so entirely out of the world, just now, that I can do nothing of the kind myself. [page 456:]

In what are you occupied? — or is it still the far niente? For myself I am very industrious — collecting and arranging materials for a Critical History of Am. Literature. Do you ever see Mr Hawthorne? He is a man of rare genius. A day or two since I met with a sketch by him called “Drowne’s Wooden Image” — delicious. The leading idea, however, is suggested [page 2] by Michäel Angelo’s couplet:

Non ha l’ottimo artista alcun concetto

Chè un marmo solo in se non circunscriva

To be sure Angelo half-stole the thought from Socrates.

How fares it with the Biography? I fear we shall be late.

Most truly your friend.

Edgar A Poe

Note: For the publication of “Mesmeric Revelation,” see the note to LTR-175. Though Lowell failed to have the tale republished in the Boston Notion, it did appear in the New World, August 3, and in the Philadelphia Saturday Museum, August 31, 1844 (see Wyllie, Poe’s Tales, p. 331; and TOM [T&S], 3:1028-1029). For Poe’s “Critical History” see LTR-240 and note. The Italian phrase “far niente” — meaning sweet (for the normally included dolce) doing of nothing — was probably suggested to Poe by his intended discussion of the couplet mentioned. The quotation from Michelangelo, of course, is not a couplet, and may be freely translated: “The best artist has no concept which a single marble does not contain within itself.” The entire passage shows Poe’s pretensions about demonstrating knowledge that he really did not possess in regard to art history and foreign languages, in this case Italian. For the erroneous name “Michäel,” the two misspelled words in the quotation, and for Socrates, replacing the original’s “Aristotle,” see the treatment of Poe’s probable source in Pope and incorrect application to a Hawthorne tale; it is discussed in note c, of “Marginalia” M-79 in Writings, 2:183-184, but without his including a dieresis; likewise in “Assignation,” TOM [T&S], 2:160-161. Poe may have borrowed this English form of the name Michelangelo from David Brewster’s Natural Magic (Harper, 1832, pirated, reprinted 1839, p. 85) — a book which he knew and exploited well, as in “Maelzel’s Chess-Player” (SLM, April 1836, 2:318-326; see Writings, 5:178). See also Poe’s reference to and probable use of Isaac Disraeli’s Literary Character (1795; enlarged 1818), for this material. [page 457:] Lowell’s biography of Poe was delayed another month, although Lowell wrote to G. R. Graham on August 6, 1844, “I am now under way with an article to accompany Poe’s portrait, which I hope to finish in time for the September Number” (excerpt quoted in American Art Association sale catalog, November 13-14, 1935, item 261). In his letter to Poe of September 27, 1844 (CL-498), Lowell explains his delay by saying, “I kept back the biography a short time in order to send it on by a private hand. It is not half so good as it ought to be, but it was written under many disadvantages, not the least of which was depression of spirits which unfits a man for anything.” (The “private hand” was Lowell’s friend, C. F. Briggs.)

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.) in the Harvard College Library. Lowell’s endorsement: “E.A.Poe / 18th Aug. 1844” and the content of Lowell to Poe, September 27, 1844 (CL-498), identify Poe’s correspondent.

Letter 182 — 1844, September 8 [CL-496] Poe (New York, NY) to Frederick W. Thomas (Washington, DC):

New-York — Sep. 8. 44

My Dear Thomas,

I received yours with sincere pleasure, and nearly as sincere surprise; for while you were wondering that I did not write to you, I was making up my mind that you had forgotten me altogether.

I have left Philadelphia, and am living, at present, about five miles out of New-York. For the last seven or eight months I have been playing hermit in earnest — nor have I seen a living soul out of my family — who are well, and desire to be kindly remembered. When I say “well”, I only mean, (as regards Virginia,) as well as usual. Her health remains excessively precarious.

Touching the “Beechen Tree”, I remember it well and pleasantly. I have not yet seen a published copy — but will get one forthwith, and notice it as it deserves — and it deserves much of high praise — at the very first opportunity I get. At present, I am so much out of the world that I may not be able to do anything immediately. [page 458:]

Thank God! Richard (whom you know) is himself again. Tell Dow so: — but he won’t believe it. I am working at a variety of things [page 2] (all of which you shall behold in the end) — and with an ardor of which I did not believe myself capable.

You said to me, hurriedly, when we last met on the wharf in Philadelphia, that you believed Robert Tyler really wished to give me the post in the Custom-House. This I also really think; and I am confirmed in the opinion that he could not, at all times, do as he wished in such matters, by seeing Dunn English at the head of the “Aurora” — a bullet-headed and malicious villain who has brought more odium upon the Administration than any fellow (of equal littleness) in its ranks — and who has been more indefatigably busy in both open and secret villification [sic] of Robert Tyler, than any individual, little or big, in America.

Let me hear from you again very soon, my dear Thomas, and believe me ever your friend,


Note: Thomas’ letter of September 2 (CL-495) asks why Poe has not written (probably since March 16, 1843). Poe was living at the home of Patrick Brennan (see the note to LTR-189). For more about The Beechen Tree, see LTR-189 and note. In 1844, Thomas Dunn English edited the Aurora, and for the same year, he wrote in his autobiography: “I was President of a political club and did a good deal of stumping. I dare say that I was unnecessarily offensive in my remarks at times, and provoked a deal of ill-will” (see the DAB, 6:166). Poe’s comment about “Richard” refers to Colley Cibber’s alteration of Shakespeare’s Richard III, Act 5, scene 3: “Conscience avaunt, Richard’s himself again,” used in the 1836 “Duc de L’Omelette” (see TOM [T&S], 2:40). Poe is obviously referring to the egregious episode of the trip to Washington for a government post, ignominiously spoiled by his drinking (see LTR-156). The answer from Thomas (CL-499) confirms the relevance: “I delivered your message to him [Dow], and he ... has explicit faith in your declaration that ‘Richard is himself again.’ ”

Poe’s revival of the word “bullet-headed,” used as early as 1690 and based on a common “bullet head” for “stubbornness,” is in the OED again [page 459:] only for an 1872 instance, although “bullet-headedness” in Poe’s 1844 “Marginalia” M-52 (Writings, 2:163) is given sole and first-instance status. See also Poe’s “Marginalia” M-171 (Writings, 2:282), June 1846, and “bullet-head” in “Mellonta Tauta” of 1849 (TOM [T&S], 3:296). For a similar misspelling of “villification” see LTR-194 and note.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.), formerly in the collection of Dr. Otto O. Fisher, but currently unlocated. The envelope is addressed: “F. W. Thomas Esqre. / Washington / D. C.”; it is postmarked “New-York, Sep 10.” Thomas noted on the envelope: “Answered Oct 10. 1844”. This is Poe’s first known letter to Thomas since March 16, 1843 (LTR-156), but Thomas, meanwhile, wrote two: March 27, 1843 (CL-428) and September 2, 1844 (CL-495), posted at Washington, September 2, directed to Philadelphia, and forwarded to New York, September 4.

Letter 183 — 1844, October 24 [CL-502] Poe (New York, NY) to Samuel D. Craig (Quogue, NY):


Proceed. There are few things which could afford me more pleasure than an opportunity of holding you up to that public admiration which you have so long courted; and this I think I can do to good purpose — with the aid of some of the poor labourers and other warm friends of yours about Yorkville.

The tissue of written lies which you have addressed to myself individually, I deem it as well to retain. It is a specimen of attorney grammar too rich to be lost. As for the letter designed for Mr Willis (who, beyond doubt, will feel honoured by your correspondence), I take the liberty of re-inclosing it. The fact is, I am neither your footman nor the penny-post.

With all due respect, nevertheless,

I am Yr Ob, St

Edgar A Poe

S. D. Craig Esqr


New-York. Oct. 24, 44. [page 460:]

Note: Little is known about Samuel D. Craig, and just what the present letter refers to is unknown. The mention of Willis suggests that it may have concerned some matter in regard to the New-York Mirror, recently recast as a daily (evening) and weekly paper. The new form, edited by Willis and Morris, began its first number on October 12, 1844, and Poe is known to have been connected with the Mirror about this time. On October 20, 1849, Willis wrote an obituary of Poe, including the comment, “Some four or five years since, when editing a daily paper in this city, Mr Poe was employed by us, for several months, as critic and sub-editor” (reprinted in Walker, EAP, The Critical Heritage, p. 307). Poe’s sarcastic tone indicates that Craig’s letter surely involved some sort of personal or professional criticism. Yorkville is the section of New York City around 86th Street and the East River, and in 1844 was probably a small community. Samuel D. Craig was a lawyer, who practiced in New York City in 1842 but who lived in Quogue (not “Quoque,” as Mrs. Clemm’s transcript seems to give it), on Long Island.

Although the error would appear to be Mrs. Clemm’s, the name of this Long Island village allows for a discussion of one of the few weaknesses in Poe’s handwriting: his frequent failure to distinguish between a “g” and a “q” because the rounded upper parts look much alike and the stem, below the putative base line often becomes simply a straight single line with no loop shown. The placement of this, either to the right for a “q” or to the left for a “g” determines the letter. Poe undoubtedly knew this old town in the township of Southampton, popular for fresh air and available game nearby, often used even then as a summer resort. Its name is traced by one gazetteer to the popular food, “quahog” or hardbacked crab, which is usually pronounced exactly the way the town name is sounded, that is “kwog” (with a short o as in “odd”). It is inconceivable that Poe could have pronounced it and written it with a “k” sound at the end.

Source: photocopy of a transcript of the original MS (unlocated) in the hand of Maria Clemm, now in the Boston Public Library. At the top of the transcript appears: “Copy of a letter sent to Mr. Craig. Oct. 25. mailed by me.” At first Mrs. Clemm wrote “Nov.”; then smudged the entry and wrote over it, “Oct.” The notation is signed, “Maria Clemm.” A problem with mismatched parentheses is presumably an error in copying, and the second opening parenthesis given in the transcript before “will feel honoured,” in the next to last sentence, has been omitted in the text presented here. Poe is replying to a letter from Craig, datable before October 24, 1844 (CL-501). [page 461:]

Letter 184 — 1844, October 28 [CL-503] Poe (New York, NY) to William Duane, Jr. (Philadelphia, PA):

New-York Octo. 28. 44

My Dear Sir,

Owing to my absence from this city, (where I am now residing), I did not receive your letter of the 15th until this morning.

I regret exceedingly that circumstances should have led you to think me negligent, or uncourteous, in not returning the volume of the “Messenger” — for one or the other (perhaps both) you must long since have considered me. The facts are these: Some eight months ago, I believe, I chanced to mention, in Mr Hirst’s hearing, that I wished to look over a particular article in the “Messenger”. He immediately volunteered to procure me the desired volume from you. I would much rather have borrowed it personally — but he seemed to make a point of the matter, and I consented. Soon afterwards he handed me the book, which I retained a very short time. It is now certainly more than seven months since I returned it to Mr Hirst, through my mother in law (Mrs Clemm), who informs me that she left it at his office, with one of his brothers. Most probably it was deposited in a book-case, and thus over-looked and forgotten. May I trouble you to send for it?

Very truly Yours,

Edgar Allan Poe.

William Duane Esqr

Note: In connection with this letter, see Poe’s postscript to LTR-174, and Quinn, pp. 408-410. For more information about William Duane, see the notes to LTR-63. The book borrowed was volume II of the SLM, and is currently in a private collection. The article Poe sought cannot be established with any certainty, but may have been “Maelzel’s Chess-Player” (April 1836). That essay bears one pencilled change which may have been made by Poe himself. (The phrase “Upon beating the game” has been corrected as “Upon winning the game.”) Maelzel having died in 1838, the well-known automaton was being exhibited in Philadelphia about this time. (Concerning the fate of Maelzel’s automaton, see also the notes to LTR-91.) Poe may have been considering a revision of the article for his own magazine, or the Mirror, but this conjecture is merely an [page 462:] intriguing speculation. Unknown to Poe, Mrs. Clemm seems to have sold the volume to Leary’s Book Store in Philadelphia, instead of returning it to Henry B. Hirst, as Poe’s postscript requested. (For another interpretation, see Phillips 2:916-919.) On the verso of the enclosing cover of the letter Duane wrote: “N.B. The Statement contained in this letter that the volume of ‘the Southern Literary Messenger’ in question was returned to Henry B. Hirst Esq. was pronounced by Mr. Hirst to be ‘a damned lie’ and subsequent events showed that Mr. Hirst was right in denying it — Mr. Poe having sold the book — I hope unintentionally — to William A. Leary the book-seller in Second Street. W.D.” (For more on this unfortunate episode, see LTR-191 and note.)

The hyphenated form of the word “over-looked” occurs in the OED from the works of Shakespeare and Smollett, and then only for the meaning of “out topping or rising above.”

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Pennsylvania Historical Society. Poe is answering Duane’s letter of October 15, 1844 (CL-500). For comments on Poe’s choice of signature, in this instance bearing his full name, see the introduction.

Letter 185 — 1844, October 28 [CL-504] Poe (New York, NY) to James R. Lowell (Cambridge, MA):

New-York: Oct. 28. 44.

My Dear Friend,

A host of small troubles growing from the one trouble of poverty, but which I will not trouble you with in detail, have hitherto prevented me from thanking you for the Biography and all the well-intended flatteries which it contains. But, upon the principle of better late than never, let me thank you now, again and again. I sent it to Graham on the day I received it — taking with it only one liberty in the way of modification. This I hope you will pardon. It was merely the substitution of another brief poem for the last you have done me the honor to quote.

I have not seen your marriage announced, but I presume from what you said in your penultimate letter, that I may congratulate you now. [page 463:] Is it so? At all events I can wish you no better wish than that you may derive from your marriage as substantial happiness as I have derived from mine.

A long time ago I wrote you a long letter to which you have never replied. It concerned a scheme for protecting ourselves from the imposition of publishers by a coalition. I will state it again in brief. Suppose a dozen of the most active or influential men of letters in this country, should unite for the purpose of publishing a Magazine of high character. Their names to be kept secret, that their mutual support might be the more effectual. Each member to take a share of the stock at $100 a share. [page 2] Each, if required, to furnish one article each month — the work to be sustained altogether by the contributions of the members, or by unpaid contributions from others. As many of the members as possible to be taken from those connected otherwise with the press: — a black-ball to exclude any one suggested as a member by those already conjoined — this to secure unanimity — These, of course, are mere hints in the rough. But suppose that (the scheme originating with yourself & me) we write to any others or, seeing them personally, engage them in the enterprize. The desired number being made up, a meeting might be held, and a constitution framed. A point in this latter might be that an editor should be elected periodically from among the stockholders.

The advantages of such a coalition seem to me very great. The Magazine could be started with a positive certainty of success. There would be no expense for contributions, while we would have the best. Plates, of course, would be disdained. The aim would be to elevate without stupifying our literature — to further justice — to resist foreign dictation — and to afford (in the circulation & profit of the journal) a remuneration to ourselves for whatever we should write.

The work should be printed in the very best manner, and should address the aristocracy of talent. We might safely give, for $5, a pamphlet of 128 pp. and, with the support of the variety of our personal influence, we might easily extend the circulation to 20,000 — giving $100,000. The expenses would not exceed $40,000 — if indeed they reached 20,000 when the work should be fairly [page 464:] established. Thus there would be $60,000 to be divided among 12 — $5000 per an: apiece.

I have thought of this matter long and cautiously, and am persuaded that there would be little difficulty in doing even far more than I have ventured to suggest.

Do you hear anything more about the Lectures?

Truly Yours.

E A Poe

Note: Concerning the biography (which appeared in Graham’s, February 1845), see Lowell to Poe, September 27, 1844 (CL-498). In his letter of June 27 (CL-489), Lowell apparently spoke of his forthcoming marriage to the poetess Maria White; the marriage took place in December 1844. Poe’s wish that Lowell’s marriage provides as much “substantial happiness” as his own should, perhaps, be taken more as a social nicety than a genuine reflection of his own circumstances. Virginia had been ill since 1842 (see LTR-132 and notes), and although his love for her was not diminished, surely the joys of marriage were severely compromised (see LTR-141 and notes). In LTR-173 Poe had already proposed the idea of a magazine coalition. (In connection with the present discussion, see also LTR-186.) Part of his disinterest in Poe’s magazine plans may be explained by a letter Lowell wrote to G. R. Graham, August 6, 1844, where he comments, “Now my purpose is to be married next January, & it is my duty, not my will, to make the most I can out of my wits” (quoted in the American Art Association sale catalog, November 13-14, 1935, item 261). Lowell succeeded in getting Poe an appointment to lecture before the Boston Lyceum, October 16, 1845 (see Quinn, p. 485). Unfortunately, the requirement to present a new poem seems to have silenced the poet’s muse, prompting him to adapt an excerpt from “Al Aaraaf.” The performance and the resulting controversy became a public disaster for Poe. (For more on this misadventure, see the note to LTR-210a.) It seems also — in conjunction with Poe’s attack on Longfellow as a plagiarist, and Poe’s abuse of Lowell’s friend C. F. Briggs — to have earned Lowell’s lasting enmity. The exclusion of “plates” from Poe’s plans, seems to contradict his letter of March 27, 1843 to Lowell advocating “spirited wood designs” (LTR-158). Presumably Poe means “plates” as full page illustrations, confined to fashion designs, matching the “namby-pamby” tone of the popular magazines such as Graham’s (see [page 465:] American Magazines 1:547-548; also LTR-304 and note). Most of the texts of his varying prospectuses admit suitable illustrations, although the topic is reduced to “characteristic portraits” accompanying “biographical sketches” in the March 1843 prospectus and is ignored in his April 1848 prospectus (reprinted in DP, pp. 220 and 227). Surely Poe must have long considered seeking Lowell’s support for a magazine inspired in many ways by the short-lived Pioneer. For obvious reasons he waited to list Lowell as no. 235 among a host of authors in Such Friends (see p. 18).

For the first time in Poe’s letters, the word “enterprize” is spelled with a “z,” inconsistent with the same word spelled with an “s” in LTR-107, LTR-114, LTR-316, and others. (In his printed works, “enterprize” appears in several reviews in the SLM in 1835 and 1836, while other reviews also give “enterprise.”) Both spellings are allowed for the period in the OED, with the “s” preponderant in the citations. In “The Journal of Julius Rodman,” Poe uses both spellings, although this may be an error of the typesetter (Writings, 1:525-526). In Poe’s twenty-one letters containing the word, there are only four instances of “enterprize,” the use of “enterprise” being favored heavily in surviving MSS. It must be admitted, of course, that the distinction between “s” and “z” in Poe’s handwriting is not always certain. The OED declares the spelling “stupifying” to be common until the late nineteenth century. Pollin’s Word Index to Poe’s Fiction (p. 334) shows ten instances of “stupified” and only one of “stupefying.”

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.) in the Harvard College Library. Lowell’s endorsement: “E.A.Poe / 28th Oct. 1844” and the content of the letter identify Poe’s correspondent. Poe is replying to Lowell’s letter of September 27, 1844 (CL-498). This is Poe’s last known letter to Lowell; Lowell, however, wrote one more, December 12, 1844 (CL-511), providing Poe a means of introduction to Lowell’s friend, Charles F. Briggs, then about to start the BJ.

Letter 186 — 1844, before November 2, probably late October [CL-505] Poe (New York, NY) to Charles Anthon (New York, NY):

>>My Dear Sir,

Upon glancing your at this letter you will no doubt be surprised at its length, and [Poe has left this sentence incomplete] [page 466:]

Many years have elapsed since I last wrote you, [Interlineated; and had the honor of re] and you will <no doubt> perhaps be surprized — <if not exactly> both at receiving <this>a letter <at at least and> from me now & receiving one so long. of so great a length. But may I beg your <to> attention for a few moments while I ask of you a favor upon <the> your granting or refusing which I feel that much of my future prosperity will depend.<<

[Interlineated: who whose whose]

Many years have elapsed since my last communication with you, and perhaps you will be surprised at receiving a letter from me now — if not positively <discouraged> vexed at receiving one of so great a length and of such a character. But I trust to your goodness of heart for a patient hearing, at the least.

You will have already seen that, as usual, I have a favor to solicit <at your hands>. You have, indeed, been to me in many respects a good genius & a friend — but the request I have to make now is one of vital interest to myself — so much so that upon your granting it or refusing it, depends, I feel, [Interlineated: much if not all of] the <whole> prosperity and even comfort of my future life.

[Interlineated: I have had few friends,]

I cannot flatter myself, that you have felt sufficient interest in <my humble self > me to have followed <my> in any respect my literary career, since the period at which you first did me the honor to <write me a letter communicate with> address me a note me while Editor of the Southern Messenger. A few words of explanation on this point will therefore be necessary here. [Interlineated: It It]

[page 2] [Interlineated: The] As I am well aware that your course of reading lies ent[i]rely out of the track of our lighter literature, and as I take it for granted therefore that <yone> none of <my> the papers in question have met your eye — I have thought it advisable to send you with this letter — a single tale as a specimen. <You> wil<l think no doubt> This will no doubt put you in mind of the brick of the sholastikos — but I could not thi[n]k of troubli[n]g you with more than [page 467:] one. I do not thi[n]k it my best tale — but it is perhaps the best in <that> its particular vein. Variety has been one of my chief aims.

In lieu of the rest I venture to place in your hands the published opinions of many of my contemporaries. I will not deny that I have been careful to collect & to preserve them. They include, as you will see, the warm commendations of a great number of very eminent men, and of these commendations, I <am> should be at a loss to understand why I have not a right to be proud.

[At the bottom of this page occur some scribblings by Poe which we have attempted to reproduce:]

Alice My Dear My Dear My DThe


Should you b upon

I will

[page 3] >>After a long & desperate struggle with the ills attendant upon orphanage, the total want of relatives, & << <Since quitting the Magazine> <Not long> before quitting the <Mag just mentioned> Mess:, I saw, or fancied that I saw, through a long & dim vista, the <wide and> brilliant field for <a true> ambition which a Magazine of <proper noble & high & > bold & noble aims presented to <any> him who should successfully <accomplish> establish it in America. I perceived that the country from its very constitution, could not fail of affording in a few years, a larger proportionate amount of readers than any <country> upon the Earth. <I perceiv I knew that even then> I perceived that the whole <tendency of the age> [Interlineated: energetic, busy spirit of the age tended wholly] was to the Magazine literature — to the curt, the terse, the well-timed, and the readily diffused, in preference to the old forms of the verbose and ponderous & the inaccessible. I knew from personal experience that lying perdus among the innumerable plantations in our vast Southern & Western Countries were a host of well-educated <& but little prejudiced> men si[n]gularly devoid of p[r]ejudice who would gladly le[n]d their [page 468:] influence to a really vigorous journal provided the right means were taken of bri[n]gi[n]g it fairly within the very limited scope of their observation — per <A> Now, <one of a Magazine Grahams a very true insignifi a journal Full of I> I knew, it is true, that some <dosens> scores of journals had failed (for indeed I looked upon the best success of the best of them as failure) but then I easily traced the causes of this failure in the impotency of their conductors, who made no scruple of basing their rules of action altogether upon what had been customarily done in stead of what was now before them to do, in the

[Interlineated:. bu[t]]

[page 4] greatly <altered> changed & constantly <alering> changing condition of things.

>>But not to trust too implicitly to à priori reasonings, I entered a few steps into the field of experiment. I joined the “Messenger” as you know. It had then about 700 subscribers.<< In short I could see no real reason why a Magazine, if worthy the name, could not be made to <reach a circulation of 50. 20.000>. circulate among 20,000 subscribers, embracing the best intellect & education of the land. This was a thought which stimulated my fancy & my ambition. The influence of such a journal would be vast indeed, and I dreamed of honestly employing that influence in the sacred cause of the beautiful, the just, & the true. Even in a pecuniary view, the object was a <great> magnificent one.

The journal I proposed would be a large octavo of 128 pp. <on the finest> printed with <clear> bold type, in single column, on the finest paper, and disdaining everything of what is termed “embellishment” with the exception of an occassional [sic] portrait of a literary man, or some well-engraved wood design in obvious illustration of the text. Of such a journal I had cautiously estimated the expenses. Could I circulate 20 000 cop. at 5$ the cost wd be about $30.000, estimating all contingencies at the highest rate. There would be a balance of $70.000 per annum. <I thought of these things & reflected that> ex

But not to trust too implicitly to à priori reasonings, and at the same time to make myself thoroughly master of all details <which> which [page 469:] might avail me concerni[n]g the mere business of publication, I entered a few steps into the field of experiment. I joined the “Messenger” as you know which was then in its 2d year with <It had then > 700 subscribers & the general outcry was that because a Magazine had never succeeded South of the Potomac therefore a Magazine ne[ver] cd succeed. Yet in despite of this & in despite of the wretched taste [page 5] of its proprietor which hampered & controlled me at all points I <obtained> in 15 months increased the circulation in 15 months to 5,500. subscribers. <This number the journal had when I left it> paying an annual profit of 10,000 when I left it. This number was never <sur> exceeded by the journal which rapidly went down & <is> may now be said to be extinct. Of “Graham’s Magazine” you have no doubt heard. It had been in existence under the name of the “Casket” for 8 years, when I became its editor with a subscribption [sic] list of about 5000. In about 18 months afterward its circulation amounted to no less than 50.000 — astonishi[n]g as this may appear. <In> At this period I left it. <an> It is now 2 years since, and the number of subscribers is now not more than 25.000. — but possibly very much less. In 3 years it will be extinct. The nature of this journal, however, was such, that even its 50.000 subscribers could not make it <a> very profitable to its proprietor[s]. Its price was $3 — but not only were its expenses immense owing to the employment of absurd <plat> steel plates [Interlineated: & other extravagances which tell not at all] but recourse was had to innumerable agents who recd it at a discount of no less th[a]n 50 per cent & whose [f]reque[n]t dishonesty occasional <great> enormous loss. But, if 50000 can be obtained for a 3$ Maga- among a class of readers who really read little, why may not 50,000. be procured for a $5 journal among the true and permanent readers of the land? [Interlineated: Astor House]

Holding steadily in view my ultimate purpose — to <establish> fou[n]d a Magazine of my own, or in which at least I might have a proprietary right, — it has been my constant endeavour in the meantime not so much to establish a reputation great in itself as <of th> one of that particular character which should best further my special objects, and draw attention to my exertions as Editor of a Magazine Thus I have <thus> written no books and [at this point, [page 470:] running upside down and between and among the words, occur two sums:



and 8 20,000

240000 2,500


have been so far essentially a Magazinist — That That [page 6] <putting up not> bearing not only willi[n]gly but cheerfully <with the thousand> sad poverty & the thousand consequent <ill>s & contumelies [Interlineated: & other ills] which the <the> condition of the mere Magazinist entails upon him in America. — where more than in any other region upon the face of the globe to be poor is to be despised.

The one great difficulty resulting from this course, is that <I am judged by individual papers> unless the journalist collects his various articles he is <very> liable to <gross misjudgement from on the part> be grossly misconceived & misjudged by men of whose good opinion he would be proud — <and> <of> but who <have seen> see, perhaps, only a paper here & there, by accident, — often only one of his mere extravaganzas, written <for variety’s sake, or> to supply a particular demand. He loses, too, <the> whatever merit may be his due on the score of versatility — a point which can only be estimated by <comparison> collection of his various articles in volume form and altogether. This is indeed a serious difficulty — to seek a remedy for which is my object in my own case in writi[n]g you this letter. [Here follow some scribblings:] wh whic extinction b by

<It is very true that I h>

Setting aside, for the present, my criticisms poems & miscellanies (sufficiently numerous) my tales a great number of which might be termed Phantasy Pieces, <and> are in number sixty-six. They would make, perhaps, 5 of the ordinary novel volumes. I have them prepared in every respect for the press; but, alas, I have no money, nor that influence which would enable me to get a publisher — although I seek [page 471:] no pecuniary remuneration. My sole immediate object is the furtherance of my ultimate one. I believe that if I could get my Tales fairly before the public, and thus have <the> an opportun[i]ty of eliciti[n]g foreign as well as native opinion respecting them — I should <by> by their means [Here occur more scribblings:] [a]ct volume volu be [page 7] be in a far more advantageous position than at present in regard to the establishment of a Magazine. In a word, I believe that the publication of the work would lead forthwith <to an arrangement which I have long held in view with> either directly through my own exertion or indirectly with the aid of a publisher to the establishment of the journal I hold in view.

It is very true that <you> I have no claims upon your attention — not even that of personal acquaintance. But I have <a> reached a crisis of my life, in which I sadly stand in need of <a friend> aid, and without being able to say why, — <I have been always filled> u[n]less it is that I so <much wish> earnestly desire your friendship — I have always felt a half-hope that <I> if I appealled [sic] to you you would prove my friend. I know that you have unbounde[d] influence with the Harpers — & I know that if you would exert <that> it in my behalf you could procure me the publication I desire.

[Here occur more scribblings:] I [ Jou] scarcely but not onl I b but not


Note: Professor Charles Anthon (1797-1867) taught Greek and Latin at Columbia, and wrote a number of scholarly articles and books. In 1837, Anthon sent material which Poe used in his review of John L. Stephens’ Incidents of Travel in Egypt, published in the New York Review, October 1837. Poe always respected — perhaps even envied — Anthon’s academic status, and he is the unnamed American scholar mentioned in the January 1848 prospectus for the Stylus (see LTR-263). It is worthy of note that Anthon was listed early, as no. 11, in Such Friends (p. 19), with Poe’s note of “pd 6 years.” For Poe’s cherishing of the idea of a specific reissue of his tales in the form of “Phantasy Pieces” see his title page and table of contents as a second edition of Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (Quinn, pp. 336-340; TOM [T&S], 2:474-475). The single tale [page 472:] Poe sent to Anthon cannot be identified with any certainty, but a good candidate is “The Purloined Letter,” recently published, and mentioned in a similar way toward the end of LTR-179. Some might wonder at Poe’s confidence in the idea of starting a successful magazine on “new principles” the year after his highly respected fellow-writer and editor, J. R. Lowell, had failed with similar goals for the widely admired magazine the Pioneer (containing three of Poe’s major works).

Source: photocopy of the original draft MS (7 pp.) in the Huntington Library. The MS is unsigned, though clearly Poe’s, and has no writing on the verso of the leaves. Anthon’s letter to Poe, November 2, 1844 (CL-507), is an answer to the above draft, which indicates that Poe later sent a clean copy; moreover, the contents of Anthon’s reply prove the fact: “I have called upon the Harpers, as you requested ... they have retained ... the letter which you sent me.” If the Harpers kept the letter, it has long since been lost. Anthon’s reply of November 2, having no apology for delay, implies an October dating for Poe’s corrected letter; moreover, Poe to Lowell, March 30, 1844 (LTR-173), speaks of a magazine of 120 pages, and to Lowell, October 28 (LTR-185) of 128 pages, agreeing with the present letter to Anthon. Poe wrote Lowell, May 28, 1844 (LTR-175), that he had written “about 60” tales; he tells Anthon “66.” To the fifty-five titles known to have been written by the time of his letter to Lowell we may add the “Literary Life of Thingum Bob” and “The Angel of the Odd” (see Wyllie, Poe’s Tales, pp. 329 and 322; and TOM [T&S], 3:1124-1149 and 3:1098-1112), published by the end of 1844. Thus, fifty-seven tales, not sixty-six, are all that we may be certain of, though the four published by July 1845, may have been written by October 1844; also, Poe may have had in mind various articles (he called “Mesmeric Revelation” both tale and essay). Thus Poe’s letter to Anthon was written probably late in October 1844.

The draft itself is heavily revised and contains numerous errors and notoriously troublesome readings. A few of these difficulties are worth special mention. The first sentence simply ends, without the thought being completed. The cancelled “dosens” has yielded to “scores”; thirty-one instances of “dozen” in Poe’s tales (see Pollin, Word Index to Poe’s Fiction), give no such variant, nor does the data bank of the letters, and it must be considered a careless error. The odd notation of “50. 20.000” may be intended to indicate a range of 50-20,000. The chiming of the language of “thousand ... ills ... contumelies,” and the sad themes and the gloomy mood of this larger passage, show Poe assuming the persona [page 473:] of Hamlet in Act 3, 1: “To be or not to be.” The second letter of “sholastikos,” in this rough draft, may easily be construed as a “k” for its close resemblance to the cursive letter in the last syllable, in which the two “arms” of the letter are somewhat loosely attached to the stem, at the left, and might easily be similarly interpreted as an “h”. Confirmation of Poe’s intention to use an earlier incorrect “k” lies in his carefully inscribing a trial spelling. The Greek word F6@8”FJ46@l (skolastikos) is a witticism — almost an “earmark” of Poe’s authorship and originally derived from Hierocles’ ”Asteia” or “Jests” — can be seen in H [Works], 11:145 for a review of Rufus Dawes’ Poetry (Graham’s, October 1842); of Brougham (in Greek letters, perhaps a typesetter’s work purely) of March 1842; in Doings of Gotham (Letter IV, June 4, 1844); and in the BJ review of E. B. Barrett’s Drama of Exile (in English letters) of January 11, 1845 (1:17-20; reprinted in Writings, 3:8-15, see the first full paragraph on 3:14). For a short study of Poe’s use of Greek, see Pollin (“Poe’s Greek,” EAP Review, 2:71-77, with a brief correction by the author in EAP Review, 3:125).

Letter 187 — 1845, early [CL-512] Poe (New York, NY) to George R. Graham (Philadelphia, PA):

Note: This letter has been re-dated, and moved to LTR-164a.

Letter 188 — 1845, January 4 [CL-513] Poe (New York, NY) to George Bush (New York, NY):


Jan. 4. 45.

To Professor Bush.

Dear Sir,

With this note I take the liberty of sending you a newspaper — “The Dollar Weekly” — in which there is an article, by myself, entitled “Mesmeric Revelation”. It has been copied into the paper from a Monthly Magazine — “The Columbian” — in which it originally appeared in July last. [page 474:]

I have ventured to send you the article because there are many points in it which bear upon the subject matter of your late admirable work on the Future Condition of Man — and therefore I am induced to hope that you will do me the honor to look over what I have said.

You will, of course, understand that the article is purely a fiction; — but I have embodied in it some thoughts which are original with myself & I am exceedingly anxious to learn if they have claim to absolute originality, and also how far they will strike you as well based. If you would be so kind as to look over the paper and give me, in brief, your opinion, I will consider it a high favor.

Very Respy. Yr. Ob. St.

Edgar A. Poe.

Please reply thro’ the P. Office.

Note: George Bush (1796-1859) was a clergyman, and Professor of Hebrew at New York University. For Poe’s public opinion of this widely respected scholar, see “Literati” in Godey’s, May 1846, where he is described as “a Mesmerist and a Swedenborgian — has lately been engaged in editing Swedenborg’s works, publishing them in numbers. He converses with fervour, and often with eloquence. Very probably he will establish an independent church” (H [Works], 15:6-7). “Mesmeric Revelation” was first published in the Columbian (August 1844, 2:67-70); thus Poe’s “July last” probably refers to the appearance of the magazine. Bush’s Anastasis, or The Doctrine of the Resurrection (with the subtitle: “in which it is shown that the Doctrine of the Resurrection of the Body is not sanctioned by Reason or Revelation”) is mentioned by Poe in “Marginalia,” April 1846, where his treatment of the “Bushites,” or Swedenborgians, is rather scornful (see M-161, Writings, 2:271-272). Poe later prepared a less favorable revision of the “Literati” entry for Bush, incorporating material from his “Marginalia” item, for Literary America (1848). (Although Griswold used much of this later collection of MSS in vol. III of Works [1850], he used the original “Literati” entry on Bush, not the revised one.) Poe mentioned receiving for review Bush’s Anastasis and Swedenborg Library, Part 1 in the BJ (see Writings, 3:44 and 296), but produced no review, save, in a sense, in these two short essays; both declare the book to be logical but based on “imaginary axioms.” Poe included Bush as no. 229 in Such Friends (p. 21). [page 475:]

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The envelope, a separate leaf, is addressed: “For / Professor Bush / Present.” Just below this Poe wrote: “206 Allen St,” but then crossed it out. The letter is postmarked: “City Despatch Post, U. S., Jan 4, 4 o’clock.” No reply from Bush is known.

Letter 189 — 1845, January 4 [CL-514] Poe (New York, NY) to Frederick W. Thomas (Washington, DC):

New-York Jan. 4. 45.

Dear Thomas,

I duly received your two letters and “The Beechen Tree”, for which let me thank you. My reason for not replying instanter was that I was just then making arrangements which, if fully carried out, would have enabled me to do you justice in a manner satisfactory to both of us — but these arrangements finally fell through, after my being kept in suspense for months — and I could find no good opportunity of putting in a word anywhere that would have done you service. You know I do not live in town — very seldom visit it — and, of course, am not in the way of matters and things as I used to be. As for Benjamin’s criticism — although I made all kinds of inquiry about it, I could meet no one who had ever heard of it. At the “New-World” Office no paper containing it was even on file. I am disposed to think you were misinformed, and that no such critique appeared, in that paper at least. At all events, if there did, Benjamin, I am assured, did not write it. At the epoch you speak of, he was unconnected with the “New-World”.

In about three weeks, I shall [page 2] move into the City, and recommence a life of activity under better auspices, I hope, than ever before. Then I may be able to do something.

Virginia & Mrs Clemm are about as usual and beg to be remembered.

I am truly glad to hear of Dow’s well-doing. If ever man deserved prosperity, he does. Give him my respects — in which one word I mean to include all descriptions of kind feeling. [page 476:]

I remain, Thomas, truly

Your friend,


Note: The “arrangements” mentioned would have been Poe’s enthusiastic but unsuccessful attempts at getting Chivers to join him in publishing the Stylus (see LTR-180 and note). A review of The Beechen Tree appeared in the New York Evening Mirror, November 19, 1844. TOM wrote to Ostrom that “the very brief notice may be Poe’s — it is complimentary, Poe certainly could have inserted it, and if it is his, it suggests that he found rather more faults than he wished, and perhaps had other reasons than those he told Thomas for failing to write the long review. But it is also possible that Willis anticipated him even in the brief notice, which is not stylistically definitive.” TOM [Iowa] is ambivalent in his “notes” concerning the short notice of about 180 words, feeling that Poe might not consider what amounts to little more than an announcement as doing “justice.” It is effectively denied by Poe in the present letter, and does not, stylistically, resemble Poe’s known work. Quinn (pp. 435 and 414) cites this letter as evidence that Poe was still living on the farm of Patrick Brennan, near what is now the neighborhood of 84th Street, between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway. Benjamin left the editorship of the New World in March 1844 (see American Magazines, 1:361), several months prior to the publication of Thomas’ poem. Just when Poe moved into New York is uncertain, but he may have lived at 154 Greenwich Street prior to May, 1845, when he moved to 195 East Broadway. Poe soon became an editor of the new BJ (see LTR-197 and note). Poe’s good feelings for Dow are partly indebted to Dow’s kindly role in the 1843 Washington episode, when Poe was engaged in his futile effort of seeking a government appointment. (For a discussion of Poe’s use of the once common term “well-doing,” derived from biblical sources, see LTR-83 and note.)

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.) in the Huntington Library. Poe is replying to Thomas’ letters of October 10 (CL-499) and December 10, 1844 (CL-510). In the first of these letters, Thomas wrote that he was sending Poe a copy of his book, The Beechen Tree, which had been reviewed favorably, except by Thomas Dunn English and Park Benjamin. He also spoke of Dow’s having become doorkeeper at the House of Representatives in Washington. Again, in the second letter, he asked why Poe had not acknowledged receipt of the poem. [page 477:]

Letter 190 — 1845, January 16 [CL-517] Poe (New York, NY) to Rufus W. Griswold (New York, NY):

New-York : Jan. 16. 45.


Dear Griswold — if you will permit me to call you so — Your letter occasioned me first pain and then pleasure: — pain because it gave me to see that I had lost, through my own folly, an honorable friend: — pleasure, because I saw in it a hope of reconciliation.

I have been aware, for several weeks, that my reasons for speaking of your book as I did (of yourself I have always spoken kindly) were based in the malignant slanders of a mischief-maker by profession. Still, as I supposed you irreparably offended, I could make no advances when we met at the Tribune Office, although I longed to do so. I know of nothing which would give me more sincere pleasure than your accepting these apologies, and meeting me as a friend.

If you can do this and forget the past, let me know where I shall call on you — or come and see me at the Mirror Office, any morning about 10. We can then talk over the other matters, which, to me at least, are far less important than your good will.

Very truly yours

Edgar A Poe.

R. W. Griswold.

Note: When Griswold edited the third volume of Poe’s Works in 1850, he failed to print his own letter of January 14, 1845 (CL-516), to which Poe is replying. By suppressing his request that Poe submit titles of his work and a biographical sketch for inclusion in Griswold’s forthcoming Prose Writers of America, he made it appear that Poe was humbly soliciting favors, whereas the situation was actually the reverse. For more on Poe’s comments about The Poets and Poetry of America, see the note to LTR-196. At the time of the present letter, Poe was a “mechanical paragraphist” at the Mirror (see The Poe Log, p. 473).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Boston Public Library. The notation “confidential,” crossed out by Griswold on the MS, probably indicated that the word was to be omitted, as it was in the memoir. [page 478:]

Letter 190a — 1845, January 25 [CL-518a] Poe (New York, NY) to Abijah Metcalf Ide, Jr. (South Attleboro, MA):

Jan. 25. 45

My Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 12fth reached me, in this city, only a few days ago. I am now living here.

I read the poem with great interest, and think it by much the best I have seen from your pen. Absolutely, also, I think it a remarkably fine poem. Some of the lines are, in all respects, admirable. For example —

Midnight in the silent city, midnight on the throbbing sea —

And the soft and silvery star-light fills the overhanging sky —

From the land beyond the ocean, on the rolling billows borne,

Comes the sunlight of the morning to the weary and the worn —

With the tribute and the treasure of the islands and the seas.

These are fine verses, independently of thought. Some of them are defective — for instance:

With foul shame to the weak-hearted, and the vanity of fear.

Your rhythm is trochaic — that is to say, composed of 2-syllable feet, in which the first is long, the second short. With and the, therefore are rhythmically long syllables, while naturally they are short. This contradiction should never exist. It exists in the line beginning — “With the tribute and the” &c. but not so glaringly. I am glad to see that you have altered “Oe’r the wild loud” into “Over the loud,” for although the is improperly made long, you avoid the contraction of over. Upon the whole, you have a vivid conception of rhythm and you have no idea how much I mean in saying (Over [page 2] that.

I may be in error, but I do not believe you will be able to sell the poem anywhere. Its merits are far higher than those of many poems that are sold for high prices; but what is paid for is the name of the poet. You are yet young as well in letters as in years. By and bye you may be able to make your own terms. [page 479:]

If any one will pay you for it, it will be Graham.

I would counsel you, however, to revise the whole carefully. “To old Bunker” is in bad taste. “E’en to build up,” etc. is feeble — the contraction is bad. What do you mean by “like the river of a well”? — or by “the deepest scene of carnage”? You do not intend the scene to be d[eep] but [above] the carnage. Deep, at best, is not the right epithet. The whole of the last stanza, I think, should be omitted, although its 3d line is excellent.

Very truly your friend,

Edgar A Poe.

A. M. Ide Jr.

P. S. I shall very soon establish a Magazine in this city — “The Stylus”.

N. B. “To their strong heart’s muffled beating” will be immediately condemned as a plagiarism, from Longfellow’s

“Our hearts like muffled drums are beating.”

Note: For more information on Ide, see LTR-163d and note. The poem, as noted in Ide’s February 16, 1845 letter to Poe (CL-523), was called “Bunker’s Hill.” (Ide may have intended to use “To Old Bunker” as the original title.) The final version ran twenty-five stanzas and was published in the Knickerbocker for August 1845 (26:116-118). In printing Ide’s poem, his name is not given, although it was ultimately listed in the index: “Bunker’s Hill. By A. M. Ide, Jr.” (It may have appeared in the table of contents for the issue on the paper wrappers, which were regularly removed in binding up the volumes.) In the “Editor’s Table,” there is a brief mention of “the spirited lines on ‘Bunker-Hill’.” The excerpts quoted by Poe are, respectively, lines 2 (“Midnight in ... ”), 4 (“And the soft ... ”), 29-30 (“From the land ... [and] Comes the sunlight ... ”), 64 (“With the tribute ... ”), and 32 (“With foul shame ... ” which Ide changed to “Courage to the feeble-hearted, and the vanity of fear”). The phrase “Over the loud” appears in line 76. The phrase “like the river of a well” has been changed to “like a fountain’s gushing tide” in line 91, and “the deepest scene of carnage” to “carnage of the day” in line 18. “To their strong heart’s ... “ seems to have been dropped entirely. Ide did take Poe’s criticisms to heart, perhaps enough to consider the poem a collaboration, even if only in a very minor way. Poe’s plans for the [page 480:] Stylus came to naught, but Ide’s name is noted twice on Poe’s address list (Such Friends, p. 27). The line quoted from Longfellow appears in his poem “A Psalm of Life,” first printed in the Knickerbocker for September 1838 (p. 189), where it is signed “L.” (It was reprinted in 1839 in Longfellow’s Voices of the Night, reviewed by Poe in Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine for February 1840.) Poe has modified the line slightly, omitting a clause. The full quotation should read: “And our stout hearts, though stout and brave, / Still, like muffled drums, are beating.” In the first publication of “The Tell-Tale Heart” (Pioneer, January 1843), Poe quoted the complete stanza as a motto, but omitted it from later printings. In the article on Longfellow’s Poems from the Aristidean (April 1845), Poe quotes the stanza again, saying that the poem was “one of the most palpable plagiarisms ever perpetrated by an author of equal character.”

Source: color photograph of the original MS (2 pp.) in the Skinner-Bolton (Boston) catalog for November 10, 2001, item 77. The letter is addressed, on the back: “A. M. Ide, Jr / Attleborough / Mass.” with Poe’s initials “EAP.” in the lower left corner. The postmark reads “New-York, Jan 27.”

Letter 191 — 1845, January 28 [CL-520] Poe (New York, NY) to William Duane, Jr. (Philadelphia, PA):

New-York Jan. 28. 45.


Richmond is the last place in which I should have hoped to find a copy of either the 1rst 2d or 3d volumes of the Messenger. For this reason I did not apply there. I have been putting myself, however, to some trouble in endeavouring to collect among my friends here the separate numbers of the missing volume. I am glad that your last letter relieves me from all such trouble in future. I do not choose to recognize you in this matter at all. To the person of whom I borrowed the book, or rather who insisted upon forcing it on me, I have sufficient reason to believe that it was returned. Settle your difficulties with him, and insult me with no more of your communications.

Edgar A Poe

Mr Duane. [page 481:]

Note: Duane endorsed the present letter: “Bombastes Furioso Poe. Dated January 28, 1845. Received January 31, 1845. Not to be answered.” He then restated his note on the earlier letter (LTR-184), and added that Leary sold the volume to “a bookseller in Richmond, Va., who sold it to the publishers of the ‘Messenger,’ who sold it to a friend of mine who was visiting Richmond, VA., and who I had commissioned to purchase me a copy. My name was on the title-page during all these sales.” Duane continues, “Poe had the grace to be ashamed of himself, when he heard of the manner in which I had had to repurchase my own book. He remarked to H. B. Hirst, Esqr., ‘What must Mr. Duane think of me,’ on hearing of which, I sent him word that I thought he ought to send me the five dollars which the repurchase had cost me. He died without doing so, I suppose from inability.” Duane’s comment “I sent him word ... ” may have been transmitted by letter, but was probably communicated orally. See LTR-63 for the gracious and grateful start to Poe’s earlier letters and published statements regarding William Duane. That Poe really intended the volume to be returned to Duane in the first place is clear from his postscript to LTR-174. Duane’s notation of Poe as Bombastes Furioso is a reference to the title character of the burlesque tragic opera by William Barnes Rhodes (sometimes called Thomas Barnes Rhodes). Written in 1810, it remained very popular well beyond the time of the present letter. The comment may indicate that Duane, in spite of the inconveniences it imposed, saw the whole affair in a less serious light than did Poe.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Pennsylvania Historical Society. Poe is answering Duane’s letter of before January 28, 1845 (CL-519).




Two pages are accounted for in the pagination but not included in the text above because both are blank back pages. These are pages 436 and 482.


[S:0 - CLT08, 2008] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Letters of Edgar Allan Poe (Ostrom, Pollin and Savoye) (Chapter 06)