Text: J. W. Ostrom, B. R. Pollin, and J. A. Savoye, “Chapter 09,” The Collected Letters of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. II: 1846-1849 (2008), pp. 615-684 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 615, unnumbered:]



Grasping at Straws

Letters 247-275a: January 1847-August 1848

[page 617:]

Letter 247 — 1847, January 17 [CL-667] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Charles A. Bristed (New York, NY):

Fordham — Jan. 17 — 47.

Dear Sir,

Permit me to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the ten dollars which you were so considerate and generous as so [to] send me through Mr. Colton. I shall now cease to regard my difficulties as misfortune, since they have shown me that I possessed such friends.

With the most sincere gratitude and esteem,

Yr Ob. St

Edgar A. Poe.

To Charles A Bristed Esqr

Note: Charles Astor Bristed (1820-1874), grandson of John Jacob Astor and one of the trustees of the Astor library, was a writer of some prominence, though his chief publications came at a date later than the present letter. The gift of ten dollars may have been prompted by the general publicity in the press and among Poe’s friends concerning the poor health of both Poe and Virginia (see LTR-246 and note). George H. Colton was the editor of the American Review. The phrase “such friends,” also occurring in LTR-101, seems ironic in view of Griswold’s famous first paragraph in the Tribune obituary with its “Few will be grieved by [his death]” and “He had few or no friends.” (reprinted in Walker, EAP: The Critical Heritage, pp. 294-302).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.), formerly in the collection of William H. Koester, and now in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The address leaf is lost.

Letter 248 — 1847, January 29 [CL-670] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Mrs. Marie L. Shew (New York, NY):

Kindest — dearest friend — My poor Virginia still lives, although failing fast and now suffering much pain. May God grant her life until she sees you and thanks you once again! Her bosom is full to overflowing — like my own — with a boundless — inexpressible [page 618:] gratitude to you. Lest she may never see you more — she bids me say that she sends you her sweetest kiss of love and will die blessing you[.] But come — oh come to-morrow! Yes, I will be calm — everything you so nobly wish to see me. My mother sends you, also, her “warmest love and thanks”[.] She begs me to ask you, if possible, to make arrangements at home so that you may stay with us tomorrow night. I enclose the order to the Postmaster.

Heaven bless you and farewell

Fordham, Edgar A Poe.

Jan. 29. 47.

Note: Marie Louise Shew (1821-1877) acted as a nurse to the ailing Virginia, and befriended Poe until J. H. Hopkins encouraged her to disassociate herself from the poet over concerns about pantheism in Eureka. Mrs. Shew later became Mrs. Roland Houghton and corresponded extensively with Ingram while he was preparing his biography of Poe. About the present letter, she wrote to Ingram, February 16, 1875 (original MS in the Ingram Collection, University of Virginia, item 197): “I had told him in all candor that nothing would or could save him from a sudden death, but a prudent life, of calm, with a woman fond enough — and strong enough to manage his work ... ” (reprinted in Miller, BPB, p. 102-111). Only the part about being calm, however, would have been written before Virginia’s death (January 30, 1847). This letter is the first known surviving item in the Poe-Shew correspondence.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Huntington Library. Poe is probably replying to a letter from Mrs. Shew, dated before January 29, 1847 (CL-669).

Letter 249 — 1847, February 16 [CL-671] Poe (New York, NY) to George W. Eveleth (Phillips, ME):

New-York: Feb. 16. 47.

My Dear Sir,

Some weeks ago I mailed you two newspapers which, from what you say in your last letter I see you have not received. I now enclose [page 619:] some slips which will save me the necessity of writing on painful topics. By and bye I will write you more at length.

Please re-inclose me the slips, when read.

What you tell me about the accusation of plagiarism made by the “Phil. Sat. Ev. Post” surprises me. It is the first I heard of it — with the exception of a hint made in one of your previous letters — but which I did not then comprehend. Please let me know as many particulars as you can remember — for I must see into the charge — Who edits the paper? — who publishes it? etc etc. etc. — about what time was the accusation made? I assure you that it is totally false. In 1840 I published a book with this title — “The Conchologist’s First-Book — A System of Testaceous Malacology, arranged expressly for the use of Schools, in which the animals, according to Cuvier, are given with the shells, a great number of new species added, and the whole brought up, as accurately as possible, to the present condition of the science. By Edgar A. Poe. With Illustrations of 215 shells, presenting a correct type of each [page 2] genus.” This, I presume, is the work referred to. I wrote it, in conjunction with Professor Thomas Wyatt, and Professor Mc Murtrie [sic] of Pha — my name being put to the work, as best known and most likely to aid its circulation. I wrote the Preface and Introduction, and translated from Cuvier, the accounts of the animals etc. All school-books are necessarily made in a similar way. The very title-page acknowledges that the animals are given “according to Cuvier”.

This charge is infamous and I shall prosecute for it, as soon as I settle my accounts with the “Mirror.”

Truly your friend,

E A Poe

Note: In the present letter, Poe says that he sent two papers to Eveleth, but in a letter of February 21, 1847 (CL-674), Eveleth acknowledges receiving only one, the Home Journal of January 9, 1847. In LTR-252, Poe admits that he is not sure he sent two papers. On July 9, 1848, Eveleth returned certain “slips” — perhaps those requested by Poe in the present letter and in that of January 4, 1848 (LTR-259). The Poe Log [page 620:] suggests that the slips were announcements of Virginia’s death (p. 688), which were printed in various New York newspapers. The Conchologist’s First Book (1839) was published under Poe’s name for the benefit of Thomas Wyatt. The body of the work, as described in the present letter, is largely a paraphrase of Wyatt’s A Manual of Conchology (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1838), and Poe’s own contribution is a close paraphrase of Thomas Brown’s The Conchologist’s Text-Book (Glasgow: Archibald Fullarton, 1833) and, as he says, a translation from Cuvier (see W [1909], 1:194-198; for the title page, see Quinn, p. 276). Poe never carried out his threat to prosecute the Post for charges of plagiarism. (See LTR-252, where Poe says the comments in the Post are not “actionable.”) For a good overview of the dealings between Poe and Wyatt, see D. Thomas, Poe in Philadelphia, pp. 947-956 as well as the ten entries in the index for specific discussions. For “Professor McMurtrie” (properly without a space in the surname) see Poe in Philadelphia, pp. 29-30, 848, and also 950. See also the note to LTR-111 for the Harpers’ grudge against Poe over his aid in the Conchologist’s First Book.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.) in the New York Public Library, Berg Collection. The envelope is addressed to “G. W. Evelett Esqre / Phillips / Me” and postmarked “New York 17 Feb.,” page 4 of the folded leaf being used as the cover. Poe is replying to Eveleth’s letter of January 19, 1847 (CL-668).

Letter 250 — 1847, February 21 [CL-672] Poe (New York, NY) to Horace Greeley (New York, NY):

New-York: Feb. 21 — 47.

My Dear Mr Greeley,

Enclosed is an editorial article which I cut from “The Tribune” of the 19th ult. When I first saw it I did not know you were in Washington and yet I said to myself — “this misrepresentation is not the work of Horace Greeley”.

The facts in my case are these: — In “Godey’s Magazine” I wrote a literary criticism having reference to T. D. English. The only thing in it which resembled a “personality”, was contained in these words — “I have no acquaintance, personally, with Mr English” — meaning, [page 621:] of course, as every body understood, that I wished to decline his acquaintance for the future. This, English retaliates by asserting under his own name, in the Mirror, that he holds my acknowledgment for a sum of money obtained under false pretences, and by creating the impression on the public mind that I have been guilty of forgery. These charges (being false and, if false, easily shown to be so) could have been ventured upon by English only in the hope that on account of my illness and expected death, it would be impossible for me to reply to them at all. Their baseness is thus trebly aggravated by their cowardice. I sue; to redeem my character from these foul accusations. Of the obtaining money under false pretences from E. not a shadow of proof is shown: — the “acknowledgment” is not forthcoming. The “forgery,” by reference to the very man who originated the charge, is shown to be totally, radically baseless. The jury returned a verdict in my favor — and the paragraphs enclosed are the comments of the “Tribune”!

You are a man, Mr Greeley — an honest and a generous man — or I should not venture to tell you so, and to your face; and as a man you must imagine what I feel at finding those paragraphs to my discredit going the rounds of the country, as the opinions of Horace Greeley. Every body supposes that you have said these things. The weight of your character — the general sense of your truth and love of justice — cause those few sentences (which in almost any other paper in America I would treat with contempt) to do me a vital injury — to wound and oppress me beyond measure. I therefore ask you to do me what justice you can find it in your heart to do under the circumstances. (over[)]

[page 2] In the printed matter I have underscored two passages. As regards the first: — it alone would have sufficed to assure me that you did not write the article. I owe you money — I have been ill, unfortunate, no doubt weak, and as yet unable to refund the money — but on this ground you, Mr Greeley, could never have accused me of being habitually “unscrupulous in the fulfillment of my pecuniary engagements.” The charge is horribly false — I have a hundred times left myself destitute of bread for myself and family that I might [page 622:] discharge debts which the very writer of this infamous accusation (Fuller) would have left undischarged to the day of his death.

The 2d passage underscored embodies a falsehood — and therefore you did not write it. I did not “throw away the quill”. I arose from a sick-bed (although scarcely able to stand or see) and wrote a reply which was published in the Phil. “Sp. of the Times”, and a copy of which reply I enclose you. The “columns of the Mirror” were tendered to me — with a proviso that I should forego a suit and omit this passage and that passage, to suit the purposes of Mr Fuller.

I have now placed the matter before you — I should not hope or ask for justice from any other man (except perhaps one) in America — but from you I demand and expect it. You will see, at once, that so gross a wrong, done in your name, dishonors yourself and me. If you do differ then, as I know you do, from these editorial opinions supposed to be yours — I beg of you to do by me as you would have me do by you in a similar case — disavow them.

With high respect


Edgar A. Poe

Note: Poe’s “19th ult.” certainly refers to the Tribune article of February 19, 1847, “ult.” meaning “last issue,” not “last month.” Poe’s case against Fuller and Clason was settled February 17, 1847. On October 24, 1845, Greeley signed a sixty-day promissory note made out to Edgar A. Poe to the value of $50 (see PN-4), which, endorsed by Poe, was turned over to John Bisco on the same day as the down-payment on Poe’s purchase of the BJ (see W [1909], 2:151-152, and Quinn, pp. 489-490). Greeley never collected the loan. The editorial article in the Tribune, reprinted in The Poe Log, p. 690, does not use the word “personality” but says that the sketch of English in the “Literati” in Godey’s “seemed to us impelled by personal spite.” Poe, almost by a play on words, tries to deflect the Tribune’s charge by citing, with a slight change, his sentence in Godey’s, “I do not personally know Mr. English” (see H [Works], 15:66). This version of Poe’s statement does not clearly mean “I wished to decline his acquaintance for the future” nor does it deny the well-known fact that both men had been close friends and were almost co-editors on the Aristidean, published from March through December 1845. For a useful [page 623:] explanation of the Greeley-Poe relationship see Moss, Poe’s Major Crisis, pp. 133-135 and 186-192, including this letter, which he says shows Poe’s distress and attempt to reestablish his fallen reputation by Greeley’s softening his charge. The lack of response, however, reveals Poe’s naiveté‚ or illusions about his alienated fellow New Yorkers.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.) in the Morgan Library. The envelope is directed to “Horace Greeley Esqre / Washington / D.C.” It bears a note of “paid,” but no postal cancellation. The remnants of a wax seal can be seen.

Letter 251 — 1847, March 10 [CL-677] Poe (New York, NY) to Mrs. Jane E. Locke (Lowell, MA):

New-York, March 10. 1847

My Dear Madam,

<Your kind letter of Feb. 21>.

In <replying to> ans[w]eri[n]g your kind letter <of Feb. 21 >. permit me in the very first place to <say> absolve myself from <any> a suspicion <of discourtesy to yourself > — <in not hav> ing sooner <replied to yo>u. which, under the circumstances you could scarcely have failed to entertain — <a suspicion of in regard to> [Interlineated: in regard to m] me — and <suspicio> one <which it gives me the deepest regr>et a suspicion of my <my> very g[r]oss discourtesy towards yourself in not having more promptly replied <to the> to you. I assure you, madam, that your letter dated Feb. 21 — has only this moment reached me <, and through a channel and> A[l]though postmarked <in> Lowell &c in the ordinary manner, it was handed to <me> a friend of mine, for me, by Mr Freeman Hunt of the Merchants’ Magazine, without any explanation of the mode in which it came into his hands or of the cause of its detention. Being <too> still too unwell to leave my room I have been prevented as yet from <making inquiry respecting> satisfyi[ng] myself on these points, and of course cannot now delay replying to your <kind> noble and generous words even until I shall shall have an opportunity of <doing so.> making <the inv the investigation>. inquiry. [page 624:]

Your beautiful lines <were written> appeared at a time when [Interlineated: be[c]] [page 2] I was indeed very ill, and <I> might never have seen them but f[or th]e kindness of Mr Willis who enclosed them to me — and who knew me too well to suppose <that> as some of my friends did that I I would be pained by so sweet an evidence of interest on the part of one of whose <writings spirit> [Interlineated: with] writings — <of> [Interlineated: with esp[illegible]] whose <glowing> fervid and generous spirit which they evince he had so often heard me express sympathy.

At the same time I could not help <seeing and> fearing that should you see my letter to Mr Willis <published> (in “The Home Journal” in which a natural pride which I feel you could not blame impelled me to <disavow my necessities> shrink from public charity even at the cost of <disavowing> [Interlineated: expense of truth at denying] those necessities which were but too real — and an illness which I t[h]en expectede would <a> soon terminate in death — I could not help fearing that <when you saw> should you see this letter you would yourself feel pained at having caused me pain — at having been the means of giving farther publicity to a <poverty> [Interlineated: n unfounded] report <which was unfounded> — at all events to <a> the report <of a poverty and a wretchedness> which <at all even>ts (since the world regards <it [illegible]> wretchedness as a crime) I had thought it prudent so publicly to disavow. In a word <judging> venturing to judge your noble nature by my own, I felt grieved lest my <denial lette> published <letter> denial <of> my cause you to regret what you had <written,> done and my first impulse was to write you and assure [Interlineated: yo[u]] you even at the risk of <speaking too war> doing so too warmly of the sweet <emotion of > emotion made up of respect and gratitude alone with which, <your poem [had]> my heart was filled to overflowing. <But> While I was hesitating, however, in regard [page 3] to the propriety of this step — I w[as o]verwhelmed by a <trial> sorrow so poignant as to deprive me for several weeks of all power of thought or action.

Your letter now lying before me, <assur assures me> tells me that I had not been mistaken in your nature and that I should not have [page 625:] hesitated to address you — but believe me, dear Mrs Locke, that I <shall> am alreading <begin[n]ing to> ceasing to regard those difficulties as misfortune which have led me to even this partial correspondence. with yourself.

[Here follow some scribblings by Poe:]

Ind Inde

Indeed In Indeed



I Inde



[No signature]

Note: Mrs. Jane Ermina Starkweather Locke (1805-1859), a relative of Mrs. Frances Sargent Osgood, lived at Wamesit Cottage, Lowell, MA. If corrected and sent, the present letter is Poe’s first known correspondence to her. At her invitation, Poe delivered his lecture on the “Poets and Poetry of America” in Lowell, July 10, 1848 (see Quinn, pp. 565-566, and The Poe Log, pp. 741-742). It is possible that Hunt gave Mrs. Locke’s letter to Willis, who transmitted it to Poe. Mrs. Locke’s “beautiful lines” seem to have been enclosed in Willis’ letter to Poe, December 23, 1846 (CL-661), which included also, apparently, a letter from her to Willis, and Willis’ editorial on Poe’s health and character printed in the Home Journal, December 26, 1846, available in advance of date (see the note to LTR-246). See John E. Reilly, “Ermina’s Gales: The Poems Jane Locke Devoted to Poe,” in Papers on Poe, pp. 206-220, for “An Invocation for Suffering Genius” as the probable poem, from her 1854 published collection. Poe’s letter to Willis (LTR-246) was printed in the Home Journal, January 9, 1847, and alludes to these matters in its attempt to deny the seeming hopelessness of his situation. His “sorrow so poignant” refers to the death of Virginia, January 30, 1847. For relevant information on Freeman Hunt, see the note to LTR-243. Poe’s ending comment about his misfortunes bringing some compensating benefit is repeated in his letter to Bristed (LTR-247). Only at the beginning of their association, early in 1847, would Poe have entered Mrs. Locke and her attorney husband, John G. Locke, as nos. 159 and 103 respectively, in [page 626:] Such Friends (p. 30). Poe later became embittered toward both, even crossing out the husband’s name from his list. Concerning Mrs. Locke, see the notes for Poe’s other letters to her, and LTR-306 and LTR-309 to Annie Richmond.

Source: photocopy of the original MS draft (3 pp.) in the Boston Public Library. No clean copy MS is known; the original draft is unsigned and was not delivered through the mail, though there is a strong presumption that Poe sent a corrected version. The printings of the letter by Ingram and Harrison are undoubtedly corrected versions by the respective editors, as collation with the above printing will show. Harrison’s claim to have used the Griswold MS, which as far as the Boston Public Library knows could refer only to the draft, and the uncertainty of the nature of his printing, expressed in his footnote, tend to confirm his use of the draft rather than a final MS. The identity of Poe’s correspondent is to be found in the last paragraph. Her letter, to which Poe is replying, is from February 21, 1847 (CL-675).

Letter 252 — 1847, March 11 [CL-679] Poe (New York, NY) to George W. Eveleth (Phillips, ME):

New-York March 11. 47.

My Dear Sir,

I am still quite sick and overwhelmed with business — but I snatch a few moments to reply to yours of the 21rst ult.

I really forget whether I did mail you one or two papers — but presume that the slips enclosed in my letter, covered all.

The “scholar and gentleman” referred to, is Evert A. Duyckinck, of this city, formerly editor of “Arcturus” now of “The Literary World”.

I fear that according to the law technicalities there is nothing “actionable” in the Post’s paragraphs — but I shall make them retract by some means.

My suit against “The Mirror” has terminated, by a verdict of $225, in my favor. The costs and all will make them a bill of $492. Pretty well — considering that there was no actual “damage” done to me. [page 627:]

I enclose you my reply to English — which will enable you to comprehend his accusations. The vagabond, at the period of the suit’s coming on, ran off to Washington for fear of being criminally prosecuted. The “acknowledgment” referred to was not forthcoming, and “the Mirror” could not get a single witness to testify one word against my character.

[page 2] Thank you for your promise about “The Stylus”. I depend upon you implicitly.

You were perfectly right in what you said to Godey.

I cannot tell why the review of Hawthorne does not appear — but I presume we shall have it by and bye. He paid me for it when I sent it — so I have no business to ask about it. <When>

Most truly your friend

Edgar A Poe

P. S. “The Valdemar Case” was a hoax, of course.

Note: Arcturus, edited by Evert A. Duyckinck and Cornelius Mathews, was founded in New York, December 1840, and merged with the Boston Miscellany, June 1842 (American Magazines, 1:713-714). Duyckinck edited the Literary World for its first three issues, February-April 1847 (see also the note to LTR-320). For Poe’s reference to the Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post, and for the “slips,” see LTR-249. Concerning the suit against the Mirror, see the notes to LTR-253a, the Poe-English controversy in H [Works], 17:233-255, and the very detailed account in Moss, Poe’s Major Crisis. Eveleth’s promise in regard to the Stylus was that on its appearance he would immediately subscribe, and drop three or four other publications. For what Eveleth wrote to Godey, see Eveleth to Poe, February 21, 1847 (CL-674). Poe’s article on Hawthorne appeared in Godey’s, November 1847 (reprinted in H [Works], 17:141-155). For further comment on the Hawthorne review, see LTR-241, and the notes to LTR-158 and LTR-259. For the “Valdemar Case,” see LTR-245.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.), formerly in the collection of William H. Koester, and now in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The envelope, a separate leaf, is addressed to “Geo. W. Evelette [sic] Esqr / Phillips / Me,” and initialed in lower left [page 628:] corner “E A P.”; it is postmarked New York, March 12. Poe is answering Eveleth’s letter of February 21, 1847 (CL-674).

Letter 253 — 1847, March 11 [CL-680] Poe (New York, NY) to J. F. Reinman & J. H. Walker (Springfield, OH):

New-York March 11. 1847


Very serious illness has hitherto prevented me from replying to your most flattering letter of the 24th ult.

May I now beg you to express to your society my grateful acceptance and appreciation of the honor they have conferred on me?

With respect & esteem I am, Gentlemen,

Yr. mo. ob. St

Edgar A Poe

To Mess J. F. Reinman

& J. H. Walker

Note: In various letters Poe speaks of his serious illness before and after Virginia’s death (on January 30, 1847). On the transcript that Wm. H. Browne sent to Ingram (see source note below), he confirmed that Poe had accepted an honorary membership in the society. Poe also entered the name of the “Philosophian Society, Wittenberg Col. Springfield, O,”with a comment of “see letter,” in Such Friends as no. 163 (p. 33). For a full round-up of Poe’s designated eleven institutions (chiefly academic), with associative data, see Savoye, “An Addendum to Ostrom’s Revised Check List,” EAP Review, 2:19-29.

Source: transcript made by William Hand Browne from the original MS for J. H. Ingram (now in the University of Virginia, Ingram Collection, item 36). The present location of the original MS is unknown, and it is probably lost. Poe is replying to a letter from Reinman and Walker, February 24, 1847 (CL-676), concerning which Browne wrote on the verso of the transcript: “Copy of Edgar A. Poe’s letter of acceptance of honorary membership of the Philosophian Society of Wittenberg College, Springfield, Ohio. He was elected (as the Cor. Secy. informs me) Feby. 19, 1847.” [page 629:]

Letter 253a — 1847, March 28 [CL-680a] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Enoch L. Fancher (New York, NY):

Dr Sir,

Mrs. Maria Clemm is hereby authorized to receive the amount of damages lately awarded in my suit, conducted by yourself, against the proprietors of the New-York Evening Mirror, and to give a receipt for the same.

Respy Yours

Edgar A Poe

Fordham, N.Y.

March 28th 1846 [1847]

Note: Enoch L. Fancher was the lawyer Poe retained to try his libel case against Hiram Fuller and Augustus W. Clason, Jr., respectively editor and publisher of the Evening Mirror. The Mirror had printed an article by Thomas Dunn English, June 23, 1846. In this article, English took Poe to task for his “Literati” entry, in which Poe had stated: “I do not personally know Mr. English” (Godey’s, July 1846, 33:17-18). English went further, claiming that Poe had been “guilty of some most ungentlemanly conduct, while in a state of intoxication,” and, more importantly, accusing Poe of forgery. In reply, Poe threatened to sue, and in his next article, July 13, English dared Poe to proceed — Poe did. The case was instituted in the Superior Court of New York, July 23, 1846, and since the defense could not produce witnesses to support English’s charges, Poe was awarded $225 damages on February 17, 1847 (Quinn, p. 505). The Poe-English controversy was of the violent, name-calling type, and Poe was as guilty of ungentlemanly action as was English, but Poe was not guilty of forgery, as charged (see the whole controversy in H [Works], 17:233-258). The most informative and cogent presentation of the legal suit’s details and the contemporary effect upon Poe’s status is Poe’s Major Crisis by Sidney P. Moss. Mrs. Clemm frequently served as a messenger for Poe.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.), formerly in the Marietta College Library, Slack Collection. The MS was sold at auction in 1992, but is currently unlocated. Poe’s year-date is wrong; it should be “1847,” for the case was not settled until February, 1847. [page 630:]

Letter 254 — 1847, May [CL-683] Poe (New York, NY) to Mrs. Marie L. Shew (New York, NY):

Sunday night

My dear Friend Louise

Nothing for months has given me so much real pleasure as your note of last night. I have been engaged all day on some promised work — otherwise I should have replied immediately, as my heart inclined. I sincerely hope you may not drift out of my sight before I can thank you. How kind of you to let me do even this small service for you, in return for the great debt I owe you. Louise — my brightest — most unselfish of all who ever loved me, I should return the money, if I did not know it would grieve you, as I shall have so much pleasure in thinking of you & yours, in that Music Room & Library. Louise — I give you great credit for taste in these things, & I know I can please you in the purchases. During my first call at your house after my Virginia’s death, I noticed with so much pleasure the large painting over the Piano which is a masterpiece indeed deserving a place in a palace or church & I noticed the size of all your paintings[.] The scrolls, instead of set figures — of the drawing room carpet — the soft effect of the window shades also the crimson & gold &c & I was charmed to see the Harp & Piano uncovered. The pictures of Raphael & the Cavalier I shall never forget — their softness & beauty. The Guitar with the blue ribbon, music stand & antique jars. I wondered that a little country maiden like you had developed so classic a taste & atmosphere. Please present my kind regards to your uncle & say that I am at his service any or every day this week & ask him please, to specify time & place.

Yours sincerely

Edgar A Poe

Note: According to Ingram (2:154), Mrs. Shew invited Poe to help her uncle select furnishings for a new house and “gave him carte blanche to furnish the music-room and library as he pleased.” Mrs. Shew (letter to Ingram, February 16, 1875, in the Ingram Collection, item 197) identified her uncle as Hiram Barney, senior member of the New York law firm of [page 631:] Barney, Butler & Parsons. The correspondence of elements described in this letter and in “The Philosophy of Furniture” (1840, revised for the BJ; reprinted in TOM [T&S], 2:494-504) underscores Poe’s role in the redecoration of Shew’s rooms (note the scrolls of the carpet, “shades” of crimson and gold, only large pictures, etc.). The “Cavalier” is the most famous picture by Frans Hals (1624, now in London’s Wallace Collection). There is some ambiguity in the present letter as to whose “classic ... taste” is being praised, also as to Poe’s precise meaning of “classic” applied to such décor. It seems difficult to imagine Mrs. Shew, aptly described by Poe as “a little country maiden,” as possessing the kind of sophistication implied by such carefully selected elements. In her letter to John Ingram of January 23, 1875, Mrs. Shew essentially agrees with this assessment, apologizing to her correspondent by saying, “I am sorry I cannot serve you, as to dates but I never was a business person, and never had any discipline. I came up a country Doctor’s only daughter, with a taste for painting and a heart for loving all the world” (Ingram Collection, item 197). The fact that the harp and the piano were uncovered may have suggested to Poe that the instruments were actually played rather than merely serving as symbols of culture or status.

Source: transcript by Miss Dora Houghton of the original MS (University of Virginia, Ingram Collection). The original MS is probably lost. Ingram initially printed the letter under the date of “May, 1848”; and on Dora Houghton’s copy he wrote “May 1848,” but later changed it to “1847.” However, in his unpublished MS revision of his Life of Poe (in the Ingram Collection), he inclines again toward 1848. “May” is probably Ingram’s dating, but the Houghton-Ingram correspondence does not confirm it. Still, that designation for the month is tentatively accepted since Ingram may have had special justification for it. The rather formal salutation, the reference to “months” (probably a few), the reference to Virginia’s death — all suggest 1847 instead of 1848. Moreover, by May 1848 Mrs. Shew (later Mrs. Roland Houghton) was breaking off her friendship with Poe, at the insistence of John H. Hopkins, Jr., then a theological student and friend of Mrs. Shew (see LTR-273 and note). Ingram’s printings of the letter omit: “I should return the money, if I did not know it would grieve you, as” and “deserving a place in a palace or church.” Interestingly, Harrison, in H [Works, 17:297], says his text is taken from the Griswold Collection, but omits the same passages as Ingram, revealing his true source. The language of the letter suggests that Poe is replying to Mrs. Shew’s note of Saturday night, May (?), 1847 (CL-682a). [page 632:]

Letter 254a — 1847, June [CL-685a] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Cotesworth P. Bronson (New York, NY):

Note: Moved to LTR-256a based on revised dating.

Letter 255 — 1847, August 10 [CL-687] Poe (New York, NY) to Robert T. Conrad (Philadelphia, PA):

New-York August 10. 1847.

Dear Sir,

Permit me to thank you, in the first place, very sincerely, for your considerate kindness to me while in Philadelphia. Without your aid, at the precise moment and in the precise manner in which you rendered it, it is more than probable that I should not now be alive to write you this letter. Finding myself exceedingly ill — so much so that I had no hope except in getting home immediately — I made several attempts to see Mr Graham and at last saw him for a few minutes just as he was about returning to Cape May. He was very friendly — more so than I have ever known him, and requested me to write continuously for the Mag. As you were not present, however, and it was uncertain when I could see you, I obtained an advance of $10 from Mr G. in order that I might return home at once — and thinking it, also, more proper to leave you time in which to look over the articles.

I would be deeply obliged if you could now give me an answer respecting them. Should you take both, it will render me, just now, the most important service. I owe Mr G. about $50. The articles, at the old price ($4 per page) will come to $90 — so [page 2] that, if you write me that they are accepted, I propose to draw on Mr G. for $40 — thus squaring our account.

P.S. I settled my bill with Arbuckle before leaving Phil. but am not sure <whether it included> how much I owe yourself for the previous bill etc. Please let me know. [page 633:]

Very gratefully your friend

Edgar A. Poe

Note: No articles by Poe of such length as indicated appear in Graham’s after the date of this letter. The most likely possibility is “The Rationale of Verse,” which has a rather complicated history, partly detailed in Poe’s letter to Eveleth of January 4, 1848, where he notes that he “sold it to ‘Graham’ at a round advance on Colton’s price” (LTR-259). Ultimately, that very long article was published in two parts in the SLM (October and November, 1848), where it ran just under twenty pages (see notes to LTR-275a). Even if Poe considered “The Rationale of Verse” to be two separate articles, the total falls several pages short, suggesting that at least one other item may be involved. (It is also possible that Poe’s estimate is merely a little off, or that it would run somewhat differently in Graham’s standard type.) At the time of the present letter, Judge Robert T. Conrad (1810-1858) was an editor of the North American and was assisting in the editing of Graham’s (see Quinn, p. 531). The Poe Log (p. 703) records Poe as being in Philadelphia in late July of 1847, further noting that William Arbuckle ran the Western Hotel at 288 High (or Market) Street. Although Poe says that he was “exceedingly ill,” Godey wrote to Eveleth on August 6, commenting that Poe “has been on here — but it were better for his fame to have staid [sic] away.” He further states that Poe “called on me quite sober — but I have heard from him elsewhere when he was not so.” The comment implies that there were at least rumors that Poe’s “illness” was another unfortunate bout of drinking. The precise nature of Conrad’s aid is uncertain, but the postscript suggests that it was at least partially financial. Preceding this letter is a long series of overblown laudations of Conrad’s authorial efforts as poet, prosateur, dramatist, and jurist (see The Poe Log, pp. 263, 317, 359, 416, 442-443, 447, and 462). Among these were Poe’s recitation of Conrad’s sonnets on “The Lord’s Prayer” in public lectures and his sketch of Conrad in the December 1841 “Autography” series in Graham’s. Although Poe wrote to F. W. Thomas, on February 3, 1842 (LTR-132) that Graham “insisted upon praise” for the “Chapter on Autography” entry on Conrad, Poe expanded it into No. XII of “Our Contributors” in the June 1844 issue of Graham’s, retaining a favorable view of its subject. See the reprint, edited by Spannuth and TOM, in Doings of Gotham, pp. 93-101.

Source: original MS (2 pp.) in the Alderman Library, University of Virginia. That the letter is written to R. T. Conrad is proved by LTR-256. [page 634:]

Letter 256 — 1847, August 31 [CL-688] Poe (New York, NY) to Robert T. Conrad (Philadelphia, PA):

New-York Aug. 31 — 1847

My Dear Sir,

It is now a month since I wrote you about the two articles I left with you — but, as I have heard nothing from you, I can only suppose that my letter has not reached you — or, at all events, that, in the press of other business, you have forgotten it and me.

In it, after thanking you (as I do again most sincerely) for your late kindness to me in Phila, I begged an answer in respect to the articles — mentioning $40 as the sum in which the Magazine would be indebted to me in case of their acceptance, and asking permission to draw for that amount. — I owed Mr Graham $50 (as nearly as I can remember) and the papers, at the old price, would come to 90.

May I beg of you to reply, as soon as convenient, and oblige

Yours very cordially

Edgar A. Poe

Hon R. T. Conrad.

Note: In connection with the present item, see LTR-255. No letter is known from Conrad to Poe, though Poe wrote three to him, the earliest being LTR-108.

Source: facsimile of the original MS (1 p.) in the N. A. Kovach catalog (Los Angeles, California), September 22, 1933, p. 1.

Letter 256a — 1847, October-November [CL-688a] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Cotesworth P. Bronson (New York, NY):

Monday —

My Dear Sir,

I am anxious to see you for many reasons — not the least of which is that I have not seen you for so long a time — but among other things, I wish to ascertain if the poem which, at your suggestion, I [page 635:] have written, is of the lenth [sic], the character &c you desire: — if not, I will write another and dispose of this one to Mrs Kirkland. Cannot Miss Bronson and yourself, pay us a visit at Fordham — say this afternoon or tomorrow?

Truly your friend


Prof. C. P. Bronson

Note: Cotesworth P. Bronson was an elocutionist in New York. Under various titles, he published Abstract of Elocution and Music: in Accordance with the Principles of Physiology and the Laws of Life: For the Development of Body and Mind (Auburn: Henry Oliphant, 1842), which went through five editions by 1845, and was still in print as late as 1873. Poe was apparently on friendly terms with Bronson and his daughter, Mary Elizabeth (see the unsigned reminiscence — presumably by Bronson’s daughter — first printed in the Home Journal, July 21, 1860, and reprinted by C. Laverty in “Poe in 1847,” American Literature, 20:163-168). For the circumstances of this visit by the elocutionist “Professor” Bronson and his daughter (here “Miss Bronson,” and later Mrs. M. E. Le Duc), see Moldenhauer, Descriptive Catalog, pp. 64-65; TOM [Poems], 1:409-415; and The Poe Log, pp. 699-700, 705-707. The author of the reminiscence alludes to the poem as “Ulalume.” When Bronson decided not to use the poem, Poe sent it to Mrs. Caroline Kirkland, editor of the Union Magazine. Poe respected Mrs. Kirkland as writer and editor (see the note to LTR-271), but his expectation was frustrated by her asking the opinion of Richard H. Stoddard. In 1845, Poe had accused Stoddard of plagiarism over his “Ode to a Grecian Flute,” submitted for the BJ (see Writings, 4:152-53; and DP, chapter 11, especially pp. 200-205). Stoddard, perhaps in part due to his long harbored grudge against Poe, advocated returning Poe’s poem. According to J. C. Derby, Stoddard told Kirkland that he “could not understand it” (Fifty Years Among Authors, p. 597). After Poe’s death Stoddard published a quietly elegiac sonnet on Poe in the SLM of July 1850, ironically using imagery and ideas from “Ulalume” and “The Raven” — in a sense proving the validity of Poe’s charges (Pollin, “Stoddard’s Elegiac Sonnet on Poe,” PS, 19:32-34). After the rejection by Mrs. Kirkland (see Phillips, 2:1246), Poe sent it to G. H. Colton, editor of the American Review, where it was published in December 1847. An active campaign, directed by Poe, encouraged a number of reprints (see Savoye, “An Unnoticed Printing of ‘Ulalume,’ ” EAP Review, 1:34-44). [page 636:]

For the misspelling of “lenth” see TOM [Poems], 1:xxv, where he implies that Poe’s slight Southern drawl may have been responsible. At this late date, however, Poe surely knew how to spell “length” and there are no other examples of this particular error in any of his writings, making it most likely that this instance was merely a casual one resulting from haste.

Source: original MS (1 p.) in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The address appears on a separate leaf. An autograph letter of November 1888, written by Bronson’s daughter (later Mrs. M. E. Le Duc), accompanies the MS and dates Poe’s letter as June 1847, but a better dating seems to be October-November. In the 1860 reminiscence cited above the author says: “We [her father and she] left the city and did not return until September ... A few weeks afterward ... the following note [the letter] was received by [her father].” The author then adds that Poe brought the poem, “The Ballad of Ulalume,” to her house the next day. The present dating is based on these references, the receipt and rejection of the poem by Mrs. Kirkland and the subsequent publication of the poem by Colton in December, 1847. Moreover, since Poe often wrote a letter to accompany a MS he submitted to an editor, the text of the above letter and the history of “Ulalume,” suggest two unlocated letters by Poe: one to Mrs. Kirkland, ca. October-November, 1847 (CL-688b); the other to G. H. Colton, ca. October-November, 1847 (CL-688c). No reply to the present letter is known.

Letter 257 — 1847, November 27 [CL-691] Poe (New York, NY) to Mrs. Sarah A. Lewis (New York, NY):

Nov. 27.

Dear Mrs Lewis —

A thousand thanks for your repeated kindness, and, above all, for the comforting and cheering words of your note. Your advice I feel as a command which neither my heart nor my reason would venture to disobey. May Heaven forever bless you and yours!

A day or two ago I sent to one of the Magazines the sonnet enclosed. Its tone is somewhat too light; but it embodies a riddle which I wish to put you to the trouble of expounding. Will you try? [page 637:]

My best regards, with those of Mrs Clemm, <to Mr Lewis,> and believe me, with all the affection of a brother,

Yours always,

Edgar A Poe.

Notes: For information on Mrs. Lewis, see LTR-246a. “The sonnet enclosed” refers to Poe’s “An Enigma,” printed as “Sonnet” in the Union Magazine (March 1848, 2:130; see TOM [Poems], 1:424-426). The “riddle” consists of reading Mrs. Lewis’ name out of the poem by extracting the first letter of the first line, the second letter of the second line, the third of the third line, and so on. Poe often enjoyed the role of guest in the Lewis’ comfortable Brooklyn home. In connection with Mrs. Shew’s report to Ingram in a letter of April 3, 1875 (University of Virginia), that Poe avoided such persons as Mrs. Lewis (quoted by Quinn, p. 563), one must keep in mind the apparent gratitude he felt toward her for the care she frequently provided to Mrs. Clemm while Poe was off travelling. One such example was during his absence from New York in the summer of 1849 (see The Poe Log, p. 823). Poe actively worked to promote Mrs. Lewis’ literary career, including articles he wrote for the Western Quarterly Review (April 1849), Graham’s (April 1849), Democratic Review (August 1848), and a revision of the notice in Female Poets of America. (See also LTR-304 and note.) His interest was perhaps also influenced by financial matters. TOM [Poems, 1:424] notes, “Mrs. Lewis or her husband gave Poe (or more probably Mrs. Clemm) a hundred dollars for Poe’s services as her press agent.”

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Yale University Library. In Ingram’s “Memoir” to The Works of EAP (Edinburgh: A. & C. Black, 1874-1875), 1:lxxxii, it is dated as “1848.” In Ingram, 2:127-128, however, it is dated 1847. The earlier year of 1847 is validated by the sonnet, “An Enigma,” referred to in the letter, and published in the Union Magazine, March 1848 (see Campbell, Poems, p. 276, and TOM [Poems], 1:425). In the unpublished MS revision of his Life of Poe (Ingram Collection, University of Virginia), Ingram says: “M.S. presented to me by Mrs. Lewis together with other letters and autograph writings by Poe” (p. 627c). Who made the deletion in the final paragraph can scarcely be determined. There is no evidence of a postmark on the letter, though it may have been on a lost cover. Poe is replying to Mrs. Lewis’ letter of before November 27, 1847 (CL-690). [page 638:]

Letter 258 — 1847, December 8 [CL-693] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Nathaniel P. Willis (New York, NY):

Fordham — Dec. 8.

My Dear Mr Willis — Many thanks for the kind expressions in your note of three or four weeks ago.

I send you an “American Review” — the number just issued — in which is a ballad by myself, but published anonymously. It is called “Ulalume” — the page is turned down. I do not care to be known as its author just now; but I would take it as a great favor if you could copy it in the H. J. with a word of inquiry as to who wrote it: — provided always that you think the poem worth the room it would occupy in your paper — a matter about which I am by no means sure.

Always yours gratefully,

Edgar A Poe.

N. P. Willis Esqre

Note: Willis, in accordance with Poe’s request, reprinted “Ulalume” in the Home Journal, January 1, 1848, anonymously, with an introductory paragraph in which he spoke of the poem as an “exquisitely piquant and skilful exercise of rarity and niceness of language ... Who is the author?” Subsequently, the poem was reprinted and commented upon by various publications, and finally Poe saw to it that he was identified as its author (for a full discussion, see Campbell, Poems, pp. 267-269, and TOM [Poems], 1:409-415). In first giving it the title “To — — — . Ulalume: A Ballad,” Poe reveals his hope not only for dramatic and elocutionary interest but also for musical settings, for the poem. F. W. Thomas had made him aware of his profitable early songs, “‘Tis Said that Absence Conquers Love” and “War Song of Seventy-Six” (see CL-326, and the article on Thomas by B. F. Fisher in DLB, pp. 259-263). Thomas even involved Poe, in August-September 1841, in arranging to have a new lyric issued as sheet music by Willig, a major music publisher in Philadelphia (CL-323 and the first paragraph of LTR-127). Poe admired the skill of George Pope Morris, lyricist for many popular and lucrative songs, and welcomed the inclusion of his own “To Ianthe in Heaven” (later “To One in Paradise”) in Morris’ anthology of 200 song lyrics. This small book, copyrighted as 1840 and carrying the title American Melodies (see TOM [Poems], 1:214), was reviewed by Poe in Burton’s (December 1839, [page 639:] 45:332-222), under the “wishful” title of National Melodies of America. His effort to become a song writer is examined in Pollin, “Poe as a Writer of Songs,” American Renaissance Literary Report, 6:58-66. See also Pollin, “Poe’s ‘Eldorado’ Viewed as a Song,” Prairie Schooner, 46:228-235. Interestingly, over the years there have been no fewer than ten musical settings of “Ulalume.”

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Houghton Library, Harvard University. The year date is lacking, but is established by the appearance of the poem in the American Review, December 1847. Willis’ ”note” of “three or four weeks ago” is unlocated (CL-689b).

Letter 259 — 1848, January 4 [CL-694] Poe (New York, NY) to George W. Eveleth (Phillips, ME):

New-York — Jan. 4, 1848.

My Dear Sir — Your last, dated July 26, ends with — “Write will you not”? I have been living ever since in a constant state of intention to write, and finally concluded not to write at all until I could say something definite about The Stylus and other matters. You perceive that I now send you a Prospectus — but before I speak farther on this topic, let me succinctly reply to various points in your letter. 1. — “Hawthorne” is out — how do you like it? 2 — “The Rationale of Verse” was found to come down too heavily (as I forewarned you it did) upon some of poor Colton’s personal friends in Frogpondium — the “pundits” you know; so I gave him “a song” for it & took it back. The song was “Ulalume a Ballad” published in the December number of the Am. Rev. I enclose it as copied by the Home Journal (Willis’s paper) with the Editor’s remarks — please let me know how you like “Ulalume”. As for the “Rat. of Verse” I sold it to “Graham” at a round advance on Colton’s price, and in Grahams hands it is still — but not to remain even there; for I mean to get it back, revise or rewrite it (since “Evangeline” has been published) and deliver it as a lecture when I go South & West on my Magazin[e] expedition. 3 — I have been “so still” on account of preparation for the magazine campaign — also have been working at my book — nevertheless I have written some trifles not yet published — some which have been. 4 — My [page 640:] health is better — best. I have never been so well. 5 — I do not well see how I could have otherwise replied to English. You must know him, (English) before you can well estimate my reply. He is so thorough a “blatherskite” that to have replied to him with dignity would have been the extreme of the ludicrous. The only true plan — not to have replied to him at all — was precluded on account of the nature of some of his accusations — forgery for instance. To such charges, even from the Autocrat of all the Asses — a man is compelled to answer. There he had me. Answer him I must. But how? Believe me there exists no such dilemma as that in which a gentleman is placed when he is forced to reply to a blackguard. If he have any genius then is the time for its display. I confess to you that I rather like that reply of mine in a literary sense — and so do a great many of my friends. It fully answered its purpose beyond a doubt — would to Heaven every work of art did as much! You err in supposing me to have been “peevish” when I wrote the reply: — the peevishness was all “put on” as a part of my argument — of my plan: — so was the “indignation” with which I wound up. How could I be either peevish or indignant about a matter so well adapted to further my purposes? Were I able to afford so expensive a luxury as personal and especially as refutable abuse, I would willingly pay any man $2000 per annum, to hammer away at me all the year round. I suppose you know that I sued the Mirror & got a verdict. English eloped. 5 — The “common friend” referred to is Mrs Frances S. Osgood, the poetess. — 6 — I agree with you only in part as regards Miss Fuller. She has some general but no particular critical powers. She belongs to a school of criticism — the Göthean, asthetic [sic], eulogistic. The creed of this school is that, in criticizing [page 2] an author you must imitate him, ape him, out-Herod Herod. She is grossly dishonest. She abuses Lowell, for example, (the best of our poets, perhaps) on account of a personal quarrel with him. She has omitted all mention of me for the same reason — although, a short time before the issue of her book, she praised me highly in the Tribune. I enclose you her criticism that you may judge for yourself. She praised “Witchcraft” because Mathews (who toadies her) wrote it. In a word, she is an ill-tempered and very inconsistent old maid — avoid her. 7 — Nothing was omitted in “Marie Roget” but what I omitted myself: — all that is mystification. [page 641:] The story was originally published in Snowden’s “Lady’s Companion”. The “naval officer” who committed the murder (or rather the accidental death arising from an attempt at abortion) confessed it; and the whole matter is now well understood — but, for the sake of relatives, this is a topic on which I must not speak further. 8 — “The Gold Bug” was originally sent to Graham, but he not liking it, I got him to take some critical papers instead, and sent it to The Dollar Newspaper which had offered $100 for the best story. It obtained the premium and made a great noise. 9 — The “necessities” were pecuniary ones. I referred to a sneer at my poverty on the part of the Mirror. 10 — You say — “Can you hint to me what was the terrible evil” which caused the irregularities so profoundly lamented?” Yes; I can do more than hint. This “evil” was the greatest which can befall a man. Six years ago, a wife, whom I loved as no man ever loved before, ruptured a blood-vessel in singing. Her life was despaired of. I took leave of her forever & underwent all the agonies of her death. She recovered partially and I again hoped. At the end of a year the vessel broke again — I went through precisely the same scene. Again in about a year afterward. Then again — again — again & even once again at varying intervals. Each time I felt all the agonies of her death — and at each accession of the disorder I loved her more dearly & clung to her life with more desperate pertinacity. But I am constitutionally sensitive — nervous in a very unusual degree. I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity. During these fits of absolute unconsciousness I drank, God only knows how often or how much. As a matter of course, my enemies referred the insanity to the drink rather than the drink to the insanity. I had indeed, nearly abandoned all hope of a permanent cure when I found one in the death of my wife. This I can & do endure as becomes a man — it was the horrible never-ending oscillation between hope & despair which I could not longer have endured without the total loss of reason. In the death of what was my life, then, I receive a new but — oh God! how melancholy an existence.

And now, having replied to all your queries let me refer to The Stylus. I am resolved to be my own publisher. To be controlled is to be ruined. My ambition is great. If I succeed, I put myself (within 2 years) [page 642:] in possession of a fortune & infinitely more. My plan is to go through the South & West & endeavor to interest my friends so as to commence with a list of at least 500 subscribers. With this list I can take the matter into my own hands. There are some few of my friends who have sufficient confidence in me to advance their subscriptions — but [a]t all events succeed I will. Can you or will you help me? I have room to say no more.

Truly Yours — E A Poe.

Please re-enclose the printed slips when you have done with them. Have you seen the article on “The American Library” in the November No. of Blackwood, and if so, what do you think of it? E. A. Poe.

Note: Poe’s long study of Hawthorne (previously mentioned in LTR-252) appeared in Godey’s, November 1847 (reprinted in H [Works], 17:141-155). It is far less favorable than Poe’s early reviews of Twice-Told Tales from Graham’s (April and May 1842). In the second of these reviews, Poe states, “Mr. Hawthorne’s distinctive trait is invention, creation, imagination, and originality,” but in the Godey’s article Poe emphasizes that “He is peculiar and not original.” “Ulalume” was first published in Colton’s American Review, December 1847, and reprinted in the Home Journal in the issue of January 1, 1848 (see LTR-258 and notes). “Frogpondium” refers especially to Boston, center of the Transcendentalists. Poe satirically uses the term “pundits” for a pretentious intellectual, naming the foolish feminine narrator of “Mellonta Tauta” (1848), in part taken from Eureka, “Pundita” — also the companion piece, “A Remarkable Letter” (see TOM [T&S], 3:1299-1304, and 1314). At the end of “Rationale of Verse” (H [Works], 14:265), Poe calls Longfellow and Felton “Frogpondian Professors.” The “Rationale of Verse,” under its earlier title of “Notes Upon English Verse,” appeared in Lowell’s Pioneer, March 1843. The elaborated form was published in the SLM, October-November 1848 (see head-note and reprinting in H [Works], 14:209-265). For Poe’s “book,” see the note to LTR-240. For Longfellow’s popular poem “Evangeline,” praised as exemplar of proper English hexameters, see H [Works], 14:262-265, and the gloss to the “Rationale of Verse” in the edition of J. Arthur Greenwood (1968), p. 148. The Poe-English controversy is reprinted in H [Works], 17:233-255; see also LTR-253a. Margaret Fuller’s criticism of Poe appeared in the New York Tribune, November 26, 1845 (see Quinn, p. 538, n.), prior to [page 643:] her Papers on Literature and Art, 1846 (see Cambridge History of American Literature, 1:343). For Poe’s extreme dislike of Miss Fuller, see the notes to LTR-180 and LTR-195a. Poe based “Marie Rogêt” on the real life murder of Mary Rogers, but his claim of special information may be dismissed (see TOM [T&S], 3:715-722, and the note to LTR-145a). Graham bought “The Gold-Bug” for $52, apparently returning it later, at Poe’s request (see LTR-164a). Poe probably intended to print it in one of the early copies of his proposed Stylus, even having two woodcut engravings prepared of illustrations by F. O. C. Darley. When his magazine plans failed, an unusually fortunate opportunity presented itself in the form of a contest sponsored by the Dollar Newspaper — which Poe won, receiving a much needed $100. The story was published in the issues for June 21 (part I) and 28 (parts I and II), 1843. The popularity of the tale demanded a reprint on July 12, 1843 (see TOM [T&S], 3:803-804). “The American Library,” which praised Poe’s Tales (1845), appeared in Blackwood’s (November 1847, 62:574-592).

One might find Poe’s comment “I loved [Virginia] as no man before” echoed in “Annabel Lee,” lines 6, 9, and 27, in both versions, for which see TOM [Poems], 1:477-479. Poe’s widely disseminated story about Virginia as suffering from a burst throat blood-vessel through singing has penetrated into numberless accounts of his life. Even after her death he was apparently unwilling, or unable, to admit the diagnosis of tuberculosis. (For elaboration on Poe’s denial of the inevitable nature of her illness see Silverman, pp. 179-183, 287-288, 295, and 303.) Poe’s determination to create his own magazine was similarly doomed. He had been compiling a list of willing or potential subscribers in a dilapidated notebook, edited and published by Rose and Savoye as Such Friends. Their names, many with addresses, now number 253, about 25 having been lost through mutilation of some pages. Poe refers to “advance subscriptions” (see LTR-262, and the note to LTR-106a) and on the first page of his notebook, two names are credited with “pd 6 years” and one of “4 years.” Evidence given in two letters to Patterson (LTR-316 and LTR-328) suggest that while the journal was never published, these payments were not returned; instead, they were used to defray expenses of travel or for ordinary subsistence. For Poe’s income from all his writings and lectures, for his last three years, see Ostrom, “EAP: His Income as Literary Entrepreneur,” PS, 15:1-7; also Ostrom, “Poe’s Literary Labors and Rewards,” in Myths and Realities, pp. 37-47. A few additional items might be added to those Ostrom gives, such as $50 out of a promised $100 from Patterson, noted in LTR-316. [page 644:]

Source: original MS (2 pp.) in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The address leaf is lost, and the MS is lacking the postscript, which is printed from the Anderson Galleries catalog, January 21-24, part 2, 1929, item 934. Based on a letter from Eveleth to J. H. Ingram (October 30, 1878, University of Virginia, Ingram Collection), Wilson incorrectly suggested that these lines made up a separate letter, although he did correct Eveleth’s improper dating (PE, pp. 2-3). They were instead written in pencil on the verso of a prospectus of the Stylus, sent with the present letter. Eveleth had given it to a friend who requested a specimen of Poe’s handwriting. Evidence that identifies these lines as the supposed “lost” letter is combined in Eveleth’s replies to Poe, January 11 (CL-695), March 9 (CL-702), and July 9, 1848 (CL-717). In the MS, the word “criticizing” is broken across pages 1 and 2 as “criti-cizing.” Poe is answering Eveleth’s eighth letter, dated July 27, 1847 (CL-686). Although Poe gives the date as July 26, Eveleth’s MS is dated “27 Tues. eve.” and is postmarked July 28.

Letter 260 — 1848, January 17 [CL-696] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Henry D. Chapin (New York, NY):

Fordham — Jan. 17 — 48.

My dear Sir,

Mrs. Shew intimated to me, not long ago, that you would, perhaps, lend me your aid in my endeavour to re-establish myself in the literary world; and I now venture to ask your assistance. When I last spoke with you, I mentioned my design of going to see Mr. Neal at Portland, and there, with his influence, deliver a Lecture — the proceeds of which might enable me to take the first steps towards my proposed Magazine: — that is to say, put, perhaps, $100 in my pocket; which would give me the necessary outfit and start me on my tour. But, since our conversation, I have been thinking that a better course would be to make interest among my friends here — in N. Y. city — and deliver a Lecture, in the first instance, at the Society Library. With this object in view, may I beg of you so far to assist me as to procure for me the use of the Lecture Room? The difficulty with me is that payment for the Room is demanded in advance and I have no money. I believe the [page 645:] price is $15. I think that, without being too sanguine, I may count upon an audience of some 3 or 4 hundreds — and if even 300 are present, I shall be enabled to proceed with my plans.

Should you be so kind as to grant me the aid I request, I should like to engage the Room for the first Thursday in February.

Gratefully yours,

Edgar A. Poe.

I am deeply obliged to you for your note of introduction to Col. Webb. As yet I have not found an opportunity of presenting it — thinking it best to do so when I speak to him about the Lecture.

Note: Henry Dwight Chapin (1794-1862) was a wealthy lawyer, and seems to have been a friend of the Poe family in New York (see Such Friends, with Chapin’s name as no. 2 on the list, p. 21). He is probably the “Mr. C.” spoken of by Mrs. Clemm in her letter to Mrs. Shew, Friday Evening [1847], printed in Miller, BPB, pp. 23-24. “Mr. Neal of Portland” was John Neal, former editor of the Yankee, with whom Poe had some correspondence. Early in 1848, Poe planned a trip through the South in the interest of launching his Stylus. See LTR-262 for Poe’s comment that his lecture was to be delivered at the New York Society Library on February 3. (Although coexistent, the New York Historical Society is a separate institution.) Col. James Watson Webb (1802-1884) was the editor of the Morning Courier and Enquirer (New York). He unfavorably reviewed Poe’s Poems (1831) on July 8, 1831, but collected 50 or 60 dollars for the Poe family about December 1846. A copy of The Raven and Other Poems in paper wrappers, with Poe’s signature, appears as item 81 in an Anderson Galleries auction of March 29, 1928. The provenance printed there seems rather dubious, but identifies the recipient as Edward Dexter Webb, who may have been a relative of Col. Webb.

Source: transcript of the letter as first printed in Ingram, 2:135.

Letter 261 — 1848, January 17 [CL-697] Poe (New York, NY) to Louis A. Godey (Philadelphia, PA):

New-York — Jan: 17. 48

Dr Sir, [page 646:]

What do you say to an article? I have one which I think may please you. Shall I send it and draw as usual ? — deducting, of course, the $5 you were so kind as to loan me when in Philadelphia. Please reply —

Truly yours,

Edgar A Poe

L. A. Godey Esqr

P. S. The article is imaginative — not critical — and will make rather more than 5 pp.

Note: The article was probably “Mellonta Tauta” (a reworking of the satirical depiction of the future used as the introduction to Eureka), which would be Poe’s last contribution to Godey’s, appearing February 1849. According to LTR-227, Poe received $5 for each page his writings occupied in Godey’s, and his estimate of “5 pp.” is reasonably accurate in this instance. The article, or more accurately the tale, is dated April 2848, as if Poe in sending it in January 1848 expected it to be published in the April number for 1848, but being an imaginative article it is dated ahead a thousand years. In his letters to Conrad, August 10 and 31, 1847 (LTR-255 and LTR-256), Poe speaks of having been in Philadelphia during the summer of 1847 and having received the $5 loan at that time.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Free Library of Philadelphia, Gimbel Collection. There is no envelope or postmark. Under Poe’s signature is a notation, presumably by Godey: “Ansd Jany 19 / 48,” which identifies an unlocated letter from Godey to Poe (CL-697a). The present letter is the last known item in the Poe-Godey correspondence, although Godey probably replied to the present letter. The paragraph published over Poe’s signature in Godey’s, December 1849, is a hoax (see SPR-20).

Letter 262 — 1848, January 22 [CL-698] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Nathaniel P. Willis (New York, NY):

Fordham, January 22, 1848.

My dear Mr. Willis: —

I am about to make an effort at re-establishing myself in the literary world, and feel that I may depend upon your aid. [page 647:]

My general aim is to start a Magazine, to be called “The Stylus;” but it would be useless to me, even when established, if not entirely out of the control of a publisher. I mean, therefore, to get up a Journal which shall be my own, at all points. With this end in view, I must get a list of, at least, five hundred subscribers to begin with: — nearly two hundred I have already. I propose, however, to go South and West, among my personal and literary friends — old college and West Point acquaintances — and see what I can do. In order to get the means of taking the first step, I propose to lecture at the Society Library, on Thursday, the 3d of February — and, that there may be no cause of squabbling, my subject shall not be literary at all. I have chosen a broad text — “The Universe.”

Having thus given you the facts of the case, I leave all the rest to the suggestions of your own tact and generosity. Gratefully — most gratefully —

Your friend always,

Edgar A. Poe.

Note: For similar remarks on the Stylus, see the last paragraph of LTR-259. Poe delivered his lecture on “The Universe” on February 3, 1848 at the Society Library in New York, with a small audience (see Quinn, p. 539). The lecture he read was later published as Eureka. Willis wrote a very friendly notice of the forthcoming lecture in the Home Journal, February 5, 1848 (see The Poe Log, pp. 719-720).

Source: transcript of the letter as printed by Willis in “Death of Poe,” Home Journal, October 20, 1849, p. 2.

Letter 263 — 1848, February 29 [CL-700] Poe (New York, NY) to George W. Eveleth (Phillips, ME):

New-York — Feb. 29 — 48.

My Dear Sir,

I mean to start for Richmond on the 10th March. Every thing has gone as I wished it, and my final success is certain, or I abandon all [page 648:] claims to the title of Vates. The only contretemps of any moment, lately, has been Willis’s somewhat premature announcement of my project: — but this will only force me into action a little sooner than I had proposed. Let me now answer the points of your last letter.

Colton acted pretty much as all mere men of the world act. I think very little the worse of him for his endeavor to succeed with you at my expense. I always liked him and I believe he liked me. His intellect was 0. His “I understand the matter perfectly,” amuses me. Certainly, then, it was the only matter he did understand. “The Rationale of Verse” will appear in “Graham” after all: — I will stop in Phil: to see the proofs. As for Godey, he is a good little man and means as well as he knows how. The editor of the “Weekly Universe” speaks kindly and I find no fault with his representing my habits as “shockingly irregular”. He could not have had the “personal acquaintance” with me of which he writes; but has fallen into a very natural error. The fact is thus: — My habits are rigorously abstemious and I omit nothing of the natural regimen requisite for health: — i.e — I rise early, eat moderately, drink nothing but water, and take abundant and regular exercise in the open air. But this is my private life — my studious and literary life — and of course escapes the eye of the world. The desire for society comes upon me only when I have become excited by drink. Then only I go — that is, at these times only I have been in the practice of going among my friends: who seldom, or in fact never, having seen me unless excited, take it for granted that I am always so. Those who really know me, know better. In the meantime I shall turn the general error to account. But enough of this: the causes which maddened me to the drinking point are no more, and I am done drinking, forever. — I do not know the “editors & contributors” of the “Weekly Universe” and was not aware of the existence of such a paper. Who are they? or is it a secret? The “most distinguished of American scholars” is Prof. Chas. Anthon, author of the “Classical Dictionary”.

I presume you have seen some newspaper notices of my late lecture on [page 2] the Universe. You could have gleaned, however, no idea of what the lecture was, from what the papers said it was. All praised it — as far as I have yet seen — and all absurdly misrepresented it. [page 649:] The only report of it which approaches the truth, is the one I enclose — from the “Express” — written by E. A. Hopkins — a gentleman of much scientific acquirement — son of Bishop Hopkins of Vermont — but he conveys only my general idea, and his digest is full of inaccuracies. I enclose also a slip from the “Courier & Enquirer”: — please return them. To eke out a chance of your understanding what I really did say, I add a loose summary of my propositions & results:

The General Proposition is this: — Because Nothing was, therefore All Things are.

1 — An inspection of the universality of Gravitation — i.e. of the fact that each particle tends, not to any one common point, but to every other particle — suggests perfect totality, or absolute unity, as the source of the phaenomenon.

2 — Gravity is but the mode in which is manifested the tendency of all things to return into their original unity; is but the reaction of the first Divine Act.

3 — The law regulating the return — i.e. the law of Gravitation — is but a necessary result of the necessary & sole possible mode of equable irradiation of matter through space: — this equable irradiation is necessary as a basis for the Nebular Theory of Laplace.

4 — The Universe of Stars (contradistinguished from the Universe of Space) is limited.

5 — Mind is cognizant of Matter only through its two properties, attraction and repulsion: therefore Matter is only attraction & repulsion: a finally consolidated globe of globes, being but one particle, would be without attraction, i.e. gravitation; the existence of such a globe presupposes the expulsion of the separative ether which we know to exist between the particles as at present diffused: — thus the final globe would be matter without attraction & repulsion: — but these are matter: — then the final globe would be matter without matter: — i.e. no matter at all: — it must disappear. Thus Unity is Nothingness.

6. Matter, springing from Unity, sprang from Nothingness; — i.e. was created. [page 650:]

7. All will return to Nothingness, in returning to Unity.

Read these items after the Report. As to the Lecture, I am very quiet about it — but, if you have ever dealt with such topics, you will recognize the novelty & moment of my views. What I have propounded will (in good time) revolutionize the world of Physical & Metaphysical Science. I say this calmly — but I say it.

I shall not go till I hear from you.

Truly Yours,

E A Poe

By the bye, lest you infer that my views, in detail, are the same with those advanced in the Nebular Hypothesis, I venture to offer a few addenda, the substance of which was penned, though never printed, several years ago, under the head of — A Prediction.

As soon as the beginning of the next century it will be entered in the books, that the Sun was originally condensed at once (not gradually, according to the supposition of Laplace) into his smallest size; that, thus condensed, he rotated on an axis; that this axis of rotation was not the centre of his figure, so that he not only rotated, but revolved in an elliptical orbit (the rotation and revolution are one; but I separate them for convenience of illustration); that, thus formed, and thus revolving, he was on fire (in the same way that a volcano and an ignited meteoric stone are on fire) and sent into space his substance in the form of vapor, this vapor reaching farthest on the side of the larger hemisphere, partly on account of the largeness, but principally because the force of the fire was greater here; that, in due time, this vapor, not necessarily carried then to the place now occupied by Neptune, condensed into Neptune; that the planet took, as a matter of necessity, the same figure that the Sun had, which figure made his rotation a revolution in an elliptical orbit; that, in consequence of such revolution — in consequence of his being carried backward at each of the daily revolutions — the velocity of his annual revolution is not so great as it would be, if it depended solely upon the Sun’s velocity of rotation (Kepler’s Third Law); that his figure, by influencing his rotation — the heavier half, as it turns downward toward the Sun, gains an impetus [page 651:] sufficient to carry it by the direct line of attraction, and thus to throw outward the centre of gravity — gave him power to save himself from falling to the Sun (and perhaps, to work himself gradually outward to the position he now holds); that he received, through a series of ages, the Sun’s heat, which penetrated to his centre, causing volcanic eruptions eventually, and thus throwing off vapor; and which evaporated substances upon his surface, till finally his moons and his gaseous ring (if it is true that he has a ring) were produced; that these moons took elliptical forms, rotated and revolved, “both under one,” were kept in their monthly orbits by the centrifugal force acquired in their daily orbits, and required a longer time to make their monthly revolutions than they would have required if they had had no daily revolutions.

I have said enough, without referring to the other planets, to give you an inkling of my hypothesis, which is all I intended to do. I did not design to offer any evidence of its reasonableness; since I have not, in fact, any collected, excepting as it is flitting, in the shape of a shadow, to and fro within my brain.

You perceive that I hold to the idea that our Moon must rotate upon her axis oftener than she revolves round her primary, the same being the case with the satellites accompanying Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus.

Since the penning, a closer analysis of the matter contained has led me to modify somewhat my opinion as to the origin of the satellites — that is, I think now that these came, not from vapor sent off in volcanic burnings and by simple diffusion under the solar rays, but from rings of it which were left in the inter-planetary spaces, after the precipitation of the primaries. There is no insuperable obstacle in the way of the conception that aerolites and “shooting stars” have their source in matter which has gone off from the Earth’s surface and from out her bowels; but it is hardly supposable that a sufficient quantity could be produced thus to make a body so large as, by centrifugal force resulting from rotation, to withstand the absorptive power of its parent’s rotation. The event implied may take place not until the planets have become flaming suns — from an accumulation of their own Sun’s caloric, reaching from centre to circumference, which shall, [page 652:] in the lonesome latter days, melt all the elements, and dissipate the solid foundations out as a scroll! (Please substitute the idea for that in “Conversation of Eiros and Charmion”).


The Sun forms, in rotating, a vortex in the ether surrounding him. The planets have their orbits lying within this vortex at different distances from its centre; so that their liabilities to be absorbed by it are, other things being equal, inversely just according to those distances, since length, not surface, is the measure of the absorptive power along the lines marking the orbits. Each planet overcomes its liability — i. e., keeps in its orbit — through a counter-vortex generated by its own rotation. The force of such counter-vortex is measured by multiplying together the producing planet’s density and rotary velocity; which velocity depends, not upon the length of the planet’s equatorial circumference, but upon the distance through which a given point of the equator is carried during a rotary period. Then if Venus and Mercury, for example, have now the same orbits in which they commenced their revolutions — the orbit of the former 68 million miles, and that of the latter 37 million miles, from the centre of the Sun’s vortex; if the diameter of Venus is 2 2/3 times the diameter, and her density is the same with the density, of Mercury; and if the rotary velocity of the equator of Venus is 1000 miles per hour, that of Mercury’s equator is 1900 miles per hour, making the diameter of his orbit of rotation 1450 miles — nearly 5 times that of himself. But I pass this point without farther examination. Whether there is or is not a difference in the relative conditions of the different planets, sufficient to cause such diversity in the extents of their peripheries of rotation as is indicated, still each planet is to be considered to have, other things being equal, a vorticial resistance bearing the same proportion, inversely, to that of every other planet which its distance from the centre of the solar vortex bears to the distance of every other from the same; so that, if it be removed inward or outward from its position, it will increase or diminish that resistance, accordingly, by adding to or subtracting from its speed of rotation. As the rotary period must be the same in the two cases, the greater or less speed can be produced only by the lengthening or the shortening of the circumference described by the rotation. [page 653:]

Then Mercury, at the distance of Venus, would rotate in an orbit only 37/68 as broad as the one in which he does rotate; so his centrifugal force, in that position, would be only 37/68 as great as it is in his own position; so his capability, while there, of resisting the forward pressure of the Sun’s vortex, which (pressure) prevents him from passing his full (circle) distance behind his centre of rotation and thus adds to his velocity in his annual orbit, would be but 37/68 what it is in his own place. But that forward pressure is only 37/68 as great at the distance of Venus as it is at that of Mercury. Then Mercury, with his own rotary speed in the annual orbit of Venus, would move in this orbit but 37/68 as fast as Venus moves in it; while Venus, with her rotary speed in Mercury’s annual orbit, would move 68/37 as fast as she moves in her own — that is, 68/37 of 68/37 as fast as Mercury would move in the same (annual orbit of Venus); it follows that the square root of 68/37 is the measure of the velocity of Mercury in his own annual orbit with his own rotary speed, compared with that of Venus in her annual orbit with her own rotary speed — in accordance with fact.

Such is my explanation of Kepler’s first and third laws, which laws cannot be explained upon the principle of Newton’s theory.


Two planets, gathered from portions of the Sun’s vapor into one orbit, would rotate through the same ellipse with velocities proportional to their densities — that is, the denser planet would rotate the more swiftly; since, in condensing, it would have descended farther toward the Sun. For example, suppose the Earth and Jupiter to be the two planets in one orbit. The diameter of the former is 8000 miles; period of rotation, 24 hours. The diameter of the latter, 88000 miles; period, 9 1/2 hours. The ring of vapor out of which the Earth was formed was of a certain (perpendicular) width; that out of which Jupiter was formed, was of a certain greater width. In condensing, the springs of ether lying among the particles (these springs having been latent before the condensation began) were let out, the number of them along any given radial line being the number of spaces between all the couples of the particles constituting the line. If the two condensations had gone on in simple diametric proportions, Jupiter would have put [page 654:] forth only 11 times as many springs as the Earth did, and his velocity would have been but 11 times her velocity. But the fact that the falling downward of her particles was completed when they had got so far that 24 hours were required for her equator to make its circuit; while that of his particles continued till but about 2/5 of her period was occupied by his equator in effecting its revolution; shows that his springs were increased above hers in still another ratio of 2 1/2, making, in the case, his velocity and his vortical force (2 1/2 x 11=) 27 times her velocity and force.

Then the planets’ densities are inversely as their rotary periods; and their rotary velocities and degrees of centrifugal force are, other things being equal, directly as their densities.


Two planets, revolving in one orbit, in rotating would approach the Sun, therefore enlarge their rotary ellipsis, therefore accelerate their rotary velocities, therefore increase their powers of withstanding the influence of the solar vortex, inversely according to the products of their diameters into their densities — that is, the smaller and less dense planet, having to resist an amount of influence equal to that resisted by the other, would multiply the number of its resisting springs by the ratios of the other’s diameter and density to the diameter and density of itself. Thus, the Earth, in Jupiter’s orbit, would have to rotate in an ellipse 27 times as broad as herself, in order to make her power correspond with his.

Then the breadths, in a perpendicular direction, of the rotary ellipses of the planets in their several orbits are inversely as the products obtained by multiplying together the bodies’ densities, diameters and distances from the centre of the solar vortex. Thus, the product of Jupiter’s density, diameter and distance being (2 1/2 times 11 times 5 1/4=) 140 times the product of the Earth’s density, diameter, and distance, the breadth of the latter’s ellipse is about 1,120,000 miles; this upon the foundation, of course, that Jupiter’s ellipse coincides, precisely, with his own equatorial diameter.

It will be observed that that process, in its last analysis, presents the point that rotary speed (hence that vorticial force) is in exact inverse [page 655:] proportion to distance. Then, since the movement in orbit is a part of the rotary movement — being the rate at which the centre of the rotary ellipse is carried along the line marking the orbit — and since that centre and the planet’s centre are not identical, the former being the point around which the latter revolves, causing, by the act, a relative loss of time in the inverse ratio of the square root of distance (as I have shown, back); the speed in orbit is inversely according to the square root of distance. Demonstration — The Earth’s orbital period contains 365 1/4 of her rotary periods. During these periods, her equator passes through a distance of (1,120,000 x 22/7 x 365 1/4 =) about 1286 million miles; and the centre of her rotary ellipse, through a distance of (95,000,000 x 2 x 22/7 =) about 597 million miles. Jupiter’s orbital period has (365 1/4 x 2 1/2 x 12 years =) about 10,957 of his rotary periods, during which his equator courses (88,000 x 22/7 x 10,957 =) about 3,050 million miles; and the centre of his rotary ellipse, about the same number of miles (490,000,000 x 2 x 22/7). Dividing this distance by 12 years (3,050,000,000/12=) gives the length of Jupiter’s double journey during one of the Earth’s orbital periods = 254 million miles — Relative velocities in ellipse (1286/254=) 5 to 1, which is inversely as the distances; and relative velocities in orbit (597/254=), 2 to 1, inversely as the square roots of the distances.


The Sun’s period of rotation being 25 days, his density is only 1/25 of that of a planet having a period of 24 hours — that of Mercury, for instance. Hence Mercury has, for the purpose now in view, virtually, a diameter equal to a little more than 1/12 of that of the Sun (888,000/25=35,520; 35,520/3000=11.84: 888,000/11.84=) — say, 75 thousand miles.

Here, we have a conception of the planet in the mid-stage, so to speak, of its condensation — after the breaking-up of the vaporous ring which was to produce it, and just at the taking-on of the globular form. But before the arrival at this stage, the figure was that of a truck, the vertical diameter of which is identifiable in the periphery of the globe (75,000 x 22/7 =) — 236 thousand miles. Half-way down this diameter, the body settled into its (original) orbit —, would have settled, had it been the only body, besides its parent, in the Solar [page 656:] System — an orbit distant from the Sun’s equator (236,000/2 =) 118 thousand miles; and from the centre of the solar vortex (118,000 + 888,000/2 =), 562 thousand miles. To this last are to be added, successively, the lengths of the semi-diameters of the trucks of Venus, of the Earth — and so on outward.

There, the planets’ original distances — rather, speaking strictly, the widths from the common centre to the outer limits of their rings of vapor — are pointed at. From them, as foundations, the present distances may be deduced. A simple outline of the process to the deduction is this: — Neptune took his orbit first; then Uranus took his. The effect of the coming into closer conjunction of the two bodies was such as would have been produced by bringing each so much nearer the centre of the solar vortex. Each enlarged its rotary ellipse and increased its rotary velocity in the ratio of the decrease of distance. A secondary result — the final consequence — of the enlargement and the increase was the propulsion of each outward, the square root of the relative decrease being the measure of the length through which each was sent. The primary result of course was the drawing of each inward; and it is fairly presumable that there were oscillations inward and outward, outward and inward, during several successive periods of rotation. It is probable — at any rate, not glaringly improbable — that, in the oscillations across the remnants of the rings of vapor (the natural inference is that these were not completely gathered into the composition of the bodies), portions of the vapor were whirled into satellites, which followed in the last passage outward.

Saturn’s ring (I have no allusion to the rings now existing), as well as that of each of the other planets after him, while it was gradually being cast off from the Sun’s equator, was carried along in the track of its next predecessor, the distance, here, being the full quotient (not the square root of the quotient) found in dividing by the breadth to its own periphery that to the periphery of the other. Thus, reckoning for Uranus a breadth of 17 million, and for Saturn one of 14 million miles, the latter (still in his vaporous state) was conducted outward (through a sort of capillary attraction) 14/17 as far as the former (after condensation) was driven by means of the vortical influence of Neptune. The new body and the two older bodies interchanged forces, [page 657:] and another advance outward (of all three) was made. Combining all of the asteroids into one of the Nine Great Powers (assuming that there is no planet inside of Mercury), there were eight stages of the general movement away from the centre; and, granting that we have, exact, the diameters and the rotary periods (i. e., the densities) of all the participants in the movement, the measurement of each stage, by itself, and of all the stages together can be calculated exactly.

How will that do for a postscript?

Note: Apparently Poe did not leave for Richmond until July, probably on the 17th (see LTR-265 and LTR-274). George H. Colton, first editor of the American Review, was sketched by Poe in “Literati,” May 1846 (see H [Works], 15:7-9). Colton died December 1, 1847, at the age of 29. “The Rationale of Verse” did not appear in Graham’s (see the note to LTR-259). Louis Antoine Godey was the owner and publisher of Godey’s Lady’s Book. The comment about this important associate being “a good little man” who “means as well as he knows how” echoes the mixed tone Poe takes in the MS notes for The Living Writers of America. There, Poe describes Godey as “a little round oily man with a fat head,” although he admits “no animosity — treated me, on the whole, better than any” (reprinted by Pollin, SAR 1991, p.163). The editors of the New York Weekly Universe wrote Eveleth, August 17, 1847, praising Poe as a writer, critic, and gentleman, and adding that any magazine conducted by him “could hardly fail of success”; but they also commented that “his habits have been shockingly irregular” (see Phillips, 2:1236-1237). Poe’s identification of E. A. Hopkins is slightly incorrect, since John Henry Hopkins, Jr. was the author (see LTR-265 and note). Poe makes the same error in LTR-264. For almost all the reviews then available, both of the lecture and later of the book, specified and summarized, see Pollin, “The Contemporary Reviews of Eureka,” ATQ, 25:26-30, and PS, “Poe Viewed and Reviewed,” 13:17-28; also The Poe Log, pp. 719-725. Concerning “Eiros and Charmion,” see TOM [T&S], 2:451-455 for the headnote. For additional details concerning the initial portion of the postscript, see TOM [T&S], 3:1320-1323, where it is printed as “A Prediction.”

Poe’s use of the phrase “trucks of Venus” may strike the modern reader as odd. According to the OED, a truck is a wooden wheel or roller, pierced by a central hole, controlling the halliards of the sails and also in gunnery, used for underpinning or moving the ship’s guns. Poe is [page 658:] probably recalling his own military service, where he studied artillery, and also his reading of the many “mariner’s chronicles” which served as source material for his Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. Also in the “Prediction” portion of the present letter, Poe uses the words “vortical” and “vorticial,” the latter representing a Poe coinage. (Poe uses “vorticial” three times toward the end of Eureka, the first time in italics, indicating a consciously created word.) For a reference to “lonesome latter days,” see TOM [T&S], 3:1323. Poe’s use of gender for astronomical bodies (“him” for the Sun, “her” for Venus, and “his” for Mercury) suggests an influence from an article on the Moon in Rees’ Cyclopedia (London, 1802-1819). For more on Poe’s connection to this source, see Writings, volumes 1 and 3, and Levine, Eureka, p. 148 (n178) and p. 167 (n2).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.) in the Morgan Library. The surviving MS does not contain the long postscript, printed here from Eveleth’s transcript of the full letter (in the University of Virginia, Ingram Collection). Eveleth shows himself to have been a fairly careful copyist in the main body of the letter, and it may therefore be presumed that his text for the missing portion is reasonably accurate. Eveleth apparently sent another transcript to Richard H. Stoddard, who printed it as an endnote in his edition of Poe’s Works (New York: Armstrong, 1884, 5:150-156). It is impossible to determine if differences between the two texts are the result of editorial choices or errors in transcription. Poe is replying to Eveleth’s letter of January 11, 1848 (CL-695).

Letter 264 — 1848, February 29 [CL-701] Poe (New York, NY) to George E. Isbell (Binghamton, NY):

New-York: Feb. 29 — 48.

Geo. E. Irbey [sic] Esqr

Dear Sir,

A press of business has hitherto prevented me from replying to your letter of the 10th.

“The Vestiges of Creation” I have not yet seen; and it is always unsafe and unwise to form opinions of books from reviews of them. The extracts of the work which have fallen in my way, abound in [page 659:] inaccuracies of fact: — still these may not materially affect the general argument. One thing is certain; that the objections of merely scientific men — men, I mean, who cultivate the physical sciences to the exclusion, in a greater or less degree, of the mathematics, of metaphysics and of logic — are generally invalid except in respect to scientific details. Of all persons in the world, they are at the same time the most bigoted and the least capable of using, generalizing, or deciding upon the facts which they bring to light in the course of their experiments. And these are the men who chiefly write the criticisms against all efforts at generalization — denouncing these efforts as “speculative” and “theoretical”.

The notice of my Lecture, which appeared in the “New-World”, was written by some one grossly incompetent to the task which he undertook. No idea of what I said can [page 2] be gleaned from either that or any other of the newspaper notices — with the exception, perhaps, of the “Express” — where the critique was written by a gentleman of much scientific acquirement — Mr E. A. Hopkins, of Vermont. I enclose you his Report — which, however, is inaccurate in numerous particulars. He gives my general conception so, at least, as not to caricature it.

I have not yet published the “Lecture[“], but, when I do so, will have the pleasure of mailing you a copy. In the meantime, permit me to state, succinctly, my principal results.

GENERAL PROPOSITION. Because Nothing was, therefore All Things are.

1 — An inspection of the universality of Gravitation — of the fact that each particle tends not to any one common point — but to every other particle — suggests perfect totality, or absolute unity, as the source of the [p]haenomenon.

2. Gravity is but the mode in which is manifested the tendency of all things to return into their original unity.

3. I show that the law of the return — i.e the law of gravity — is but a necessary result of the necessary and sole possible mode of equable irradiation of matter through a limited space. [page 660:]

4. Were the Universe of stars — (contradistinguished from the universe of space) unlimited, no worlds could exist.

5. I show that Unity is Nothingness.

6. All matter, springing from Unity, sprang from Nothingness. i e, was created.

7. All will return to Unity; i e — to Nothingness.

I would be obliged to you if you would let me know how far these ideas are coincident with those of the “Vestiges”.

Very Respy Yr. Ob. St

Edgar A Poe

P.S. Please return the printed slip when you have done with it.

Note: Poe has misspelled the name of his correspondent, who was “Isbell” rather than “Irbey.” Isbell had sent him the New World review by “Decius” (February 12, 1848, see The Poe Log, p. 723) of Poe’s lecture of February 3, 1848 on “The Universe.” This eight-paragraph review ascribes some of the ideas expressed by Poe to a book by Robert Chambers (and also to works by Sir William Herschel and the Marquis de Laplace). Chambers’ The Natural History of the Vestiges of Creation was frequently reprinted (Harper, 1847; Wiley & Putnam, 1845, 1846, and 1846-1848). It had been reviewed, in its third American printing, in the American Review, which also published Poe’s “The Raven.” It seems difficult to believe that Poe would not have made even the slight effort needed to locate a copy of this prominent book, especially one which dealt with a subject clearly of considerable interest to him. Although it is possible that he was familiar with the book only from reviews, as he suggests, Poe’s denial has not been entirely convincing to readers and scholars. Chambers’ study is again noted in reviews of Eureka from the Evening Transcript (July 20, 1848) and the Home Journal (August 12, 1848), the second of these noting not only a similarity of ideas but a “correspondence of tone” between the works. It is duly listed as a “source or possible source” by Richard Benton in his facsimile edition of Eureka (Hartford: Transcendental Books, 1973, p. 2), along with two books by John Pringle Nichol: The Phenomena and Order of the Solar System (New York, 1842) and Views of the Architecture of the Heavens (London, 1838). Nichol was lecturing on these subjects the very same week as Poe, [page 661:] who might have been even more protective than usual about the perceived originality of his ideas. The present prospectus was printed prior to January 4, 1848 (see LTR-259). It implies that Poe will have correspondents in “London, Paris, Rome and Vienna,” but does not say when the magazine will be first published. For Poe’s lecture, see LTR-262 and note. For his mistake in identifying John H. Hopkins as “E. A. Hopkins,” see LTR-263 and the note to LTR-265. For the publication of the lecture as Eureka, see the note to LTR-269. Poe recorded Isbell’s name, correctly spelled, in Such Friends as no. 99 (p. 27).

For Poe’s “principal results,” he essentially lists the same items as in LTR-263, but with notably different language and emphasis. A few examples may be relevant. In item 2, Poe omits the final phrase that gravity “is but the reaction of the first Divine Act.” Item 4, made to Eveleth as a simple statement that the universe is limited, is now given greater significance. Poe’s long explanation in item 5 is reduced merely to the final sentence.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (2 pp.), formerly in the collection of J. K. Lilly, Jr., and now in the Lilly Library, Indiana University. For the letter, Poe used a printed prospectus of the Stylus, dated “New York City, April, 1848”; the advertisement appears on page 1, the letter on pages 3 and 4, and the address: “George E. Irbey [sic] Esq / Binghampton, [sic] / Broome Co. / New-York” occupies page 2. The letter is postmarked: “New York /, Mar 3 / 5 cts.” In the salutation of the letter, an unidentified hand has struck out “Irbey” and written above, “Isbell”; the same change was not made on the envelope. Poe is replying to Isbell’s letter of February 10, 1848 (CL-699). No letter from Isbell returning the “printed slip” is known.

Letter 265 — 1848, March 30 [CL-703] Poe (New York, NY) to Mrs. Marie L. Shew (New York, NY):

Thursday, March 30

Dearest Louise — You see that I am not yet off to Richmond as I proposed. I have been detained by some very unexpected and very important matters which I will explain to you when I see you. What is the reason that you have not been out? — I believe the only reason is that you suspect I am really anxious to see you. [page 662:]

When you see Mr Hopkins I wish you would say to him that I would take it as an especial favor if he would pay me a visit at Fordham next Sunday. I have something to communicate to him of the highest importance, and about which I need his advice. Won’t you get him to come — & come with him to show him the way?

Sincerely yours,

Edgar A Poe

Note: For his intended trip to Richmond, see LTR-259 and LTR-269 (also see LTR-274). The “important matters” referred to his preparation of Eureka for publication by George P. Putnam (June 1848). John Henry Hopkins, Jr. (1820-1891), son of Bishop Hopkins and a student at the General Theological Seminary in New York. Hopkins had reviewed for the Express Poe’s lecture on “The Universe” at the Society Library, February 3 (see LTR-263). In general, his comments should have struck Poe as highly favorable, beginning with an assessment of the presentation as “beyond all question the most elaborate and profound effort we ever listened to in the shape of a lecture; one evincing a more extensive investigation, a more original train of thought, a greater complexity of detail, all subjected to the one great unity of fundamental thought, than we ever had thought it possible to compress into one evening’s discourse.” After an admittedly condensed abstract of Poe’s main thesis, the review ends with: “seldom is there an opportunity to hear a production like this; a production which proves not only that its author is a man of uncommon powers, but that those powers are growing stronger and deeper as they are further developed .... ” (Evening Express, February 4, 1848). According to a letter in the Ingram Collection (University of Virginia), dated February 9, 1875 (published in full by Miller, BPB, pp. 100-101), Hopkins wrote to Mrs. Shew (later Mrs.Roland Houghton) that he visited Fordham in 1848 at Poe’s request. Poe was planning to publish Eureka at the time, and that they argued about what Hopkins interpreted as pantheism. A letter from Hopkins to Poe, dated May 15, 1848 (CL-706), speaks of having seen, a few days before, the MS of Eureka in Putnam’s office, and protests against a “new development” (probably concerning the pantheistic aspects against which he had argued at Fordham), which, if left in, he would be forced to attack. Thus Hopkins visited Poe at Fordham, perhaps alone, prior to May 15, and possibly on the Sunday suggested in the present letter. [page 663:]

Source: color photograph of the original MS (1 p.) in the Free Library of Philadelphia, Gimbel Collection. The year date is assigned based on two key pieces of evidence. March 30 fell on Thursday in 1848, but not in 1847 or 1849. Also, Poe wrote Eveleth, February 29, 1848: “I mean to start for Richmond on the 10th March” (LTR-263).

Letter 265a — 1848, April 29 [CL-703b] Poe (New York, NY) to — ? (— ?):


April 29. 48

Dear Sir,

It gives me great pleasure to comply with your very flattering request for an autograph.


Yr Obt St

Edgar A Poe

Note: This minor letter is one of several in which Poe replies to a request for an autograph.

Source: transcript of the letter as printed in Sotheby’s (NY) sale catalog, December 4, 1996, item 167.

Letter 266 — 1848, May 3 [CL-705] Poe (New York, NY) to Henry B. Hirst (Philadelphia, PA):

New-York: May 3, 48.

My Dear Hirst,

Your letter came to hand but not your Prospectus — so that I am still in the dark as to what you mean to do. Send me a Prospectus in a letter-envelope. It is more than possible, however, that I will be in Philadelphia before the week is out: — but at all events send the Prospectus. [page 664:]

I am glad to hear that you are getting out “Endymion”, of which you must know that I think highly — very highly — if I did fall asleep while hearing it read.

I live at Fordham, Westchester Co: — 14 miles from the city by rail-road. The cars leave from the City Hall. Should you have any trouble about finding me, inquire at the office of the “Home Journal” — or “Union Magazine.”

Truly your friend

Edgar A Poe.

Note: There is no evidence that Hirst visited Poe at Fordham, and Poe’s correspondence of this period does not indicate that he went to Philadelphia. Endymion, a Tale of Greece, a poem in four cantos, was published in 1848 (DAB, 9:68-69). For Poe’s repeated use of the sarcastic comment about falling asleep while Hirst read “Endymion,” see the Griswold edition of Poe’s Works, 3:211 [1850], for the article on Henry Hirst prepared in 1848 or 1849 for his expanded volume (also in H [Works], 13:211 and Savoye, “A ‘Lost’ Roll of Marginalia,” EAP Review, 3:52-77). Poe entered Hirst’s name into Such Friends, as no. 243 (p. 26). TOM [Poems, 1:317] mentions Poe having been greatly angered by a parody Hirst wrote on “The Haunted Palace.” Previously, Poe had favorably reviewed Hirst’s The Coming of the Mammoth in the BJ, although he calls the title poem “the most preposterous of all the preposterous poems ever deliberately printed by a gentleman arrived at the years of discretion” (July 12, 1845; see Writings, 3:162-167). Whatever difficulties may have existed between these two men, Hirst rose to the defense of his old friend with an obituary beginning: “Edgar A. Poe is no more. We knew him well, perhaps better than any other man living, and love him, despite his infirmities,” and includes the interesting observation that “his philippics against pretenders in literature, which he loved as an art, and for its own sweet sake, have been misunderstood; they were the expression of the artist, not the man” (McMakin’s Model American Courier, October 20, 1849; reprinted in Walker, EAP: The Critical Heritage, pp. 313-317). The Home Journal was edited by N. P. Willis, and the Union Magazine by B. Taylor (see LTR-271). The Poe Log (p. xxix) sadly notes that in his later years, “Hirst became addicted to absinthe” and was confined to the Blockley Almshouse in Philadelphia as insane (see also Sartain, Reminiscences, pp. 224 and 226). [page 665:]

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Huntington Library. Poe is replying to Hirst’s letter to Poe, before May 3, 1848 (CL-704).

Letter 267 — 1848, May 19 [CL-708] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Mrs. Jane E. Locke (Lowell, MA):

Fordham May 19 48

My Dear Friend,

Several times since the day on which your last kind and noble letter reached me I have been on the point of replying to it — but as often have been deterred through a consideration which you would not be likely to surmise, and which, most assuredly, had never influenced me in the slightest degree at any previous period of my life — at the very least since the epoch at which I attained “years of discretion”: — it was simply that I knew not what to say — that, in spite of your generous assurances, I feared to offend you, or at least to grieve you, by saying too much, while I could not reconcile myself to a possibility of saying too little. I felt, and still do feel, an embarrassment in writing to you that surprises me even more than it will surprise yourself. But for duties that, just now, will not be neglected or even postponed — the proof-reading of a [page 2] work of scientific detail, in which a trivial error would involve me in very serious embarrassment — I would, ere this, have been in Lowell — to clasp you by the hand — and to thank you personally for all that I owe you: — and oh, I feel that this is veryvery much.

There are some passages in your letter which fill me with a pleasure inexpressible — but there are others which would wound me to the heart were it possible for me, even for a single moment, to suppose you in earnest — “They attach to the brief page of my own history an importance — an ‘all’ that while it surprises, grieves me”. And again — “But what it can be? again I ask. Is it Glyndon’s ‘great fear’ — a fear of the world? Can it be that because you absolutely know ‘nothing’ of me — because of what seems to you my obscurity there may be something wrong that makes you secretly hesitate to call me [page 666:] friend.” Sweet friend, dear friend, these are your words but are they not very cruel? You have spoken of me, too, as “a poet” and yet you would accuse me — if even only impliedly, — of “a fear of the world”. You cannot mean this in your heart, or you can know nothing of my “personal history”. Alas, my whole existence has been the merest Romance — in the sense of the most utter [page 3] unworldliness. I have never regretted this before, but there is something which whispers to me that an hour has come, or may speedily come, in which I shall most bitterly regret it.

You will not suspect me of affectation, dear friend, or of any unworthy passion for being mysterious, merely because I find it impossible to tell you now — in a letter — what that one question was which I ‘dare not even ask’ of you. It is your own kindness — you [sic] own manifestation of a chivalrous nature — your own generous sentiment about which I am not and cannot be mistaken — it is all this, of good and loveable, existing in yourself, which have insensibly brought about in me this “fear”. Will you not remember that the hermit life which for the last three years I have led, buried in the woods of Fordham, has necessarily prevented me from learning anything of you, and will you still refuse to tell me at least one particular of your personal history? I feel that you cannot misunderstand me. Tell me nothing — I ask nothing — which has any reference to ‘worldliness’ or the ‘fear of the world’. Tell me only of the ties — if any exist — that bind you to the world: — and yet I perceive that I may have done very wrong in asking you this: — now that I have asked it, it seems to me the maddest of questions, involving, possibly, the most visionary of hopes. (over[)]

[page 4] I have seen much that you have written, but “now that I know you” I have a deep curiosity to see all. Can I procure in N. York the volume of poems to which you refer in your second letter? [space for address]

A Critical and Biographical Memoir of myself appeared in “Graham’s Mag:” for Feb. 45 — also one in the “Phil. Saty Museum” the year previous: — one also in the “Boston Notion” I forget exactly when: — and one also in the last January number of the “South. Litery [page 667:] Messenger”. The only portrait, I believe, was in “Graham”. I have no copy & have made several ineffectual efforts to get one. I do not think the portrait would be recognized.

Truly — most truly yours always.

E A P.

Note: For information on Jane E. Locke, see the note to LTR-251. The indiscretion of the present letter contributed to unfortunate circumstances, about which he wrote to Annie (see LTR-306). These circumstances were further encouraged by Poe’s July trip to Lowell to deliver a lecture, at Mrs. Locke’s invitation (see Quinn, p. 565), and his later interest in Annie L. Richmond. The volume of poems may be Mrs. Locke’s Miscellaneous Poems (Boston: Otis, Broaders & Co., 1842). Poe’s book of “scientific detail” was Eureka, published by Putnam, probably in July 1848 (see the note to LTR-269). Poe’s statement that he has been living “for the last three years” in Fordham is incorrect (see the note to LTR-215). The critical article on Poe in Graham’s (reprinted in H [Works], 1:367-383) was by James R. Lowell (see LTR-173). The one in the Philadelphia Saturday Museum appeared with a portrait, February 25, 1843 (see LTR-153; and Quinn, p. 370), and was reprinted on March 4, 1843. Poe’s forgetting that it carried a portrait suggests that he had given away his last copy. The one in the Boston Times and Notion, an abridgement by Robert Carter of the sketch in the Saturday Museum, appeared April 29, 1843 (see Carter to Poe, June 19, 1843, CL-440). Another abridgment, by Joseph E. Snodgrass, appeared in the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, July 29, 1842 (see The Poe Log, p. 433). The article in the SLM for January 1848, was by P. P. Cooke (24:34-38; reprinted in H [Works], 1:383-392). The character Glyndon, from Bulwer’s Zanoni, was prominently mentioned in a long June 1842 review in Graham’s, which Poe specifically, and perhaps falsely, denied writing in his letter of June 4, 1842 (LTR-137). See the portion of the review (reprinted in H [Works], 11:121) where Glyndon is described as being a “weak, vacillating, yet aspiring man.” For the complicated relationship between Poe and the New Englander Carter, including Carter’s friendship with Griswold, see Pollin’s articles on “Poe in the Boston Notion,” in the New England Quarterly, 42:585-589, and “Poe and the Boston Notion,” in English Language Notes, 8:23-28.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (4 pp.), formerly in the collection of William H. Koester, and now in the Humanities Research Center of the [page 668:] University of Texas at Austin. The envelope is directed to “Mrs Jane E. Locke / Wamesit Cottag[e] / Lowell / Mass: /.” The letter was written on two leaves, the verso of leaf 2 carried correspondence at both top and bottom, with the address in the center; the address portion of the leaf is badly ink-stained, some of the ink soaking through on the recto, but not obscuring the words. Poe’s first sentence suggests at least two letters from Mrs. Locke (CL-707). The statement “your last,” however, may refer to a letter of some time past, and Poe’s present letter may be in answer to a follow-up note just received.

Letter 268 — 1848, May [CL-710] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Charles H. Marshall (New York, NY):

Fordham N. Y. May 48

Dr Sir,

Learning from Doctor Freeman that he is an applicant for the post of Surgeon on board the Steam-Packet “United States”, I have great pleasure in mentioning that he has attended my family for the last two years, and that I believe him in all respects qualified for the office which he seeks.

Very Respy

Yr. Ob. St

Edgar A. Poe.

To Chas. H. Marshall Esqr

Note: Poe’s correspondent may have been Charles Henry Marshall (1792-1865), a sea captain and later owner of the Black Ball Line, mentioned in the DAB, 12:305-306. The present letter is interesting for the only reference in Poe’s writings to the name of his family physician during his New York period. A careful search of medical lists in NYC and Westchester County and nearby areas, however, has not produced a Doctor Freeman of this period. The Poe Log (p. 733) seems to base its mention solely on this letter.

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.), formerly in the collection of William H. Koester, and now in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The cover, a separate leaf, is not [page 669:] postmarked but bears the direction: “To / Charles H. Marshall Esqre.” The folds of the MS are considerably frayed. TOM [Iowa] declares this letter to be “of most doubtful authenticity” in his copy of The Letters [1948] and “Surely a forgery!” in his notes, but without further explanation. Perhaps his concerns were based on the fact of hand delivery with no evidence of postal cancellation (see Moldenhauer, Descriptive Catalog, p. 67, for the latter fact); or perhaps because there is no other mention of this doctor in studies of Poe, despite the “two years” span indicated in the letter. It should be noted, however, that there are several other letters that were also sent by messenger, often Mrs. Clemm (see, for example, LTR-269).

Letter 269 — 1848, June 7 [CL-711] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Charles Astor Bristed (New York, NY):

Fordham — June 7 — 48.

Dr Sir,

I fear that, on reading this note, you will think me (what God knows I am not) most ungrateful for your former kindness — and that I presume upon it more than I should, in asking you to aid me again. My only excuse is, that I am desperately circumstanced — in very bitter distress of mind and body — and that I looked around me in vain to find any friend who both can and will aid me, unless it be yourself. My last hope of extricating myself from the difficulties which are pressing me to death, is in going personally to a distant connexion near Richmond, Va, and endeavoring to interest him in my behalf. With a very little help all would go well with me — but even that little I cannot obtain; the effort to overcome one trouble only serving to plunge me in another. Will you forgive me, then, if I ask you to loan me the means of getting to Richmond? My mother in law, Mrs Clemm, who will hand you this, will explain to you the particulars of my situation.

Truly & gratefully yours

Edgar A. Poe

C. A. Bristed Esqre

Mr Putnam has my book in press, but he could make me no advance, beyond $14 — some weeks ago[.] [page 670:]

Note: In “Marginalia” (Graham’s, January 1848), Poe commented about Bristed’s long article on “The Scotch School of Philosophy and Criticism”(printed in the American Review, October 1845, 2:386-397). “Marginalia” M-191 (see Writings, 2:317-320), contains Poe’s sharp charges of a “singular admixture of error and truth ... after a fashion which is novel”; further stating that “it is a gross mistake to suppose that the Greek dactylic line is ‘the model in this matter ... of the English Alexandrine ... I have no space to show what the reviewer will admit I have shown in [my ‘Rationale of Verse’]”. Moreover, Poe, adopting an authoritative tone, scornfully condescends to “instruct” Bristed, the “reviewer,” on “general and immutable principles” which “govern all verse,” whether English or Greek. Poe’s dictum is obviously and substantively incorrect. An entreaty now, in June, for a donation from Bristed, after the still-recent admonishing of Bristed’s article, is yet another example of Poe’s ill-timed, tactless bravado. Accompanying the present letter in the sale (cited in CL-711), was one of Poe’s calling cards with black mourning border (reproduced in Quinn, p. 567). Below his name on this card, Poe wrote: “Will Mr Bristed honor Mr Poe with a few minutes’ private conversation?” (The facsimile in Quinn fails to show the apostrophe after “minutes’.”) The card was probably left at Bristed’s house by Poe, in person, and may have resulted in a “chat” promoting the forthcoming magazine (The Poe Log, p. 717), but Bristed’s name does not appear in Such Friends. The Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin, which has the original letter, also includes the original MS of a receipt that explains the postscript of the above letter (see PN-9). The “distant connexion near Richmond” is probably John R. Thompson, or possibly John Mackenzie (see LTR-275a). The publication of Eureka, clearly delayed beyond Poe’s expectation, was about July 15, judging from the dates of numerous reviews in New York between July 14 and July 22 (a few in Boston and Philadelphia). These are briefly noted in Pollin’s “Contemporary Reviews of Eureka: A Checklist” in the ATQ, 26:26-30 — New York: Albion, Commercial Advertiser, Express, Mirror, Journal of Commerce, Literary World, Post; Boston: Saturday Rambler, Transcript; and Philadelphia: Dollar Magazine. Jacob Blanck, BAL (vol. 7) also gives July 15, 1848, for publication and July 31, 1848 for deposit date, according to the Literary World.

The 1996 Fowler-Burchfield Modern English Usage “tolerates” but does not recommend the substitution of “loan” for the verb “lend,” as an Americanism, in ordinary or literary usage, save under certain conditions, [page 671:] even in nineteenth century ambiance. See, however, page 3 of LTR-186 for Poe’s “gladly lend their influence.”

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.), formerly in the collection of William H. Koester, and now in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The letter, addressed on a separate leaf, but unpostmarked, was probably sent by messenger — Moldenhauer, Descriptive Catalog, p. 68, suggests Mrs. Clemm, which would be consistent with other examples (see LTR-231a).

Letter 270 — 1848, June 14 [CL-712] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Miss Anna Blackwell (Providence, RI):

Fordham — June 14 — 48

My Dear Miss Blackwell

I fear you have been thinking every thing ill of me, and especially that I lack common courtesy — since your letter of three weeks ago remains unanswered.

The truth is, I have been absent from home rather more than that time. Yours came a day or two after my departure and I have only this moment received it.

And now how am I to answer it? You could not have applied for advice to any one more utterly incompetent to give it. Think, for a moment, how long I have been out of the literary world altogether. I have no influence — none. Your poems are, in my honest opinion, admirable — infinitely superior to many — to most of those which have succeeded in America: — but you will find difficulty in getting them published — for Copyright-Law [page 2] reasons, needless to specify. The Appletons will publish them, leaving you the eventual copyright, but binding you to supply all loss resulting from the publication: — and they will allow you ten per cent on all values effected after all expences are paid — so long as they continue to publish the book. No publisher will make better terms with you than these — and even these will be more advantageous to you than printing on your own account. [page 672:]

If there is any service I can render you, critically or otherwise, after issue of your book or before, command me without scruple[.]

I would be gratified if you would reply to this note. How happens it that you have flown away to Providence? or is this a Providential escape? Do you know Mrs Whitman? I feel deep interest in her poetry and character. I have never seen her — but once. Anne Lynch, however, told me many things about the romance [page 3] of her character which singularly interested me and excited my curiosity. Her poetry is, beyond question, poetry — instinct with genius. Can you not tell me something about her — any thing — every thing you know — and keep my secret — that is to say let no one know that I have asked you to do so? May I trust you? I can — and will.

Believe me truly your friend

Edgar A. Poe

Miss Anna Blackwell

P.S. Perhaps it would be advisable for you to defer your volume until after issue of “The Painters of America” — so as to take advantage of any impressions which may be made by your “Legend of the Waterfall” — but I am talking nonsense — you will do this of course.

I have no doubt whatever of the literary success of your book.

Note: Anna Blackwell (1816-1900) and her sister, Elizabeth (1821-1910), were born in England, but emigrated to the United States with the rest of their family in 1831. Poe met them in New York during their visit in 1847-1848. He had no correspondence with Elizabeth. Curiously, when John Ingram contacted Anna Blackwell for information about her reminiscences of Poe, she responded very unfavorably: “you are entirely mistaken in supposing that I can be of any use to you in the work you have in hand.... I never saw him but twice, and really know nothing about him, except from hearsay.... You say you have a copy of a letter addressed to me by Mr. Poe; I do not think I ever received a line from him; I am convinced that there must be some mistake in the matter, & that the letter must have [been] written to some one else ... during my sojourns in the United States, I never, for one moment contemplated publishing my poems in a collection over there.... So persuaded am I that the letter you refer to was not written to me, that I must particularly request you not to allow my name to appear in connexion with it, or, indeed with the subject of your labours in any way” (Anna Blackwell to [page 673:] Ingram, February 12, 1877, University of Virginia, Ingram Collection, reprinted in Miller, “Poe and Miss Anna Blackwell,” PS, 12:28-29). Clearly, she was indeed Poe’s correspondent, and the tone of her reply suggests something more than mere forgetfulness. (It must be remembered that in 1877, Ingram had only begun to reclaim Poe’s reputation from the widely-circulated calumnies of Griswold.) Of some interest is the first mention in Poe’s letters of Mrs. Sarah Helen Whitman, who was soon to play a prominent role in his life (see LTR-276, LTR-278, and APXA-Whitman). What Poe refers to as “Painters of America” was an annual, or gift book, edited by John Sartain and properly titled American Gallery of Art, from the works of the best artists, with poetical and prose illustrations by distinguished American authors (Philadelphia: Lindsay & Blakiston, 1848). Poe was no doubt well informed about the forthcoming book since he was personally connected with the editor and several of its contributors (including Mrs. Osgood, Mrs. Hale, John Tomlin, and C. Chauncey Burr). Although not strictly speaking an “American author,” Miss Blackwell’s poem “Legend of the Waterfall” was part of the collection, pp. 30-50. Anna Blackwell’s Poems was published in London by John Chapman in 1853.

Source: transcript by John R. Bartlett (3 pp.), formerly in the collection of J. K. Lilly, Jr., and now in the Lilly Library, Indiana University. On the verso of sheet 2 of the Lilly copy appears “To Anna Blackwell,” and below, in an unidentified hand, “J R Bartletts copy.” Bartlett lived in New York, and was a friend of Sarah Helen Whitman (see Phillips, 2:951). On March 30, 1875, Mrs. Whitman wrote to Ingram, “You ask about Anna Blackwell’s letter from Poe. I gave the letter many years ago to Mr. John R. Bartlett for his large & valuable collection of autographs. The copy which he made for me is still in my possession” (Miller, Poe’s Helen Remembers, p. 268). A transcript of the present letter, made by Mrs. Whitman for Ingram, records the address given by Poe: “Miss Anna Blackwell / care of Prof. de Bonneville / Providence / R. I.” (University of Virginia, Ingram Collection). Poe is replying to Miss Blackwell’s letter of ca. May 24, 1848 (CL-709). No reply by Miss Blackwell is known. Why Mrs. Whitman had the original MS of the letter in the first place is established by her letter of February 14, 1875 to Ingram: “Anna B[lackwell] came to Providence in the spring of 1848 to pass the summer, and often spoke of her visit to Fordham. She was at my mother’s house one evening in June, I think, when Miss Maria J. McIntosh happened to be present.... Miss Blackwell then said that she had received a letter [page 674:] from Poe to much the same effect [asking about Mrs. Whitman] two or three weeks before, but had not thought to speak of it to me. She afterwards at my request gave me the letter, which she said she had not answered” (Miller, Poe’s Helen Remembers, pp. 255-256). Poe’s statement that he had been “absent from home” for an extended period of time has suggested that the present letter might belong to 1847. TOM [Iowa], for example, writes: “On the whole I favor 1847.” Poe seems to have been in Fordham during May-June 1848, but his whereabouts during May-June 1847 are less certain. Available evidence, however, though none of it absolutely conclusive, tends to support the 1848 dating. Poe saw but did not meet Mrs. Whitman during his visit to Providence with Mrs. Osgood in 1845 (Quinn, pp. 572-573); and in the first half of 1848, Mrs. Whitman sent Poe, indirectly, some valentine verses, and Poe replied with his two poems entitled “To Helen.” Mrs. Whitman’s recollection of the events seems more plausible than Miss Blackwell’s, and her date of 1848 is therefore accepted.

Letter 271 — 1848, June 15 [CL-713] Poe (New York, NY) to Bayard Taylor (New York, NY):

June 15 — 48

Bayard Taylor Esq.

Dr Sir,

I would feel greatly indebted to you if you could spare time to look over the lines enclosed and let me know whether they will be accepted for “The Union” — if so, what you can afford to pay for them, and when they can appear.

Truly Yours,

Edgar A. Poe.

P.S. I feel that I have been guilty of discourtesy in not sooner thanking you for your picturesque and vigorous “Views A-Foot” — but when they reached me, and long afterwards, I was too ill to write — and latterly I have been every day hoping to have an opportunity of making your acquaintance and thanking you in person. [page 675:]

Note: Bayard Taylor (1825-1878) was a poet, novelist, traveller, and occasional editor. Israel Post sold his Union Magazine of Literature and Art to James L. DeGraw in 1848. It was edited by Mrs. Caroline Kirkland (see American Magazines, 1:769); but Poe’s present letter suggests that Taylor was at least an occasional co-editor. (For Mrs. Kirkland’s jest that her “world has been turned upside down ... — the Union is dissolved for Sartain [certain],” see Derby, Fifty Years Among Authors, p. 582). John S. Hart was the regular co-editor (see Heidi M. Schultz, “EAP Submits ‘The Bells’ to Sartain’s Magazine” in RALS, 22:178, n. 11). According to Quinn (p. 573), the “lines” referred to above were the second version of “To Helen,” in blank verse, appearing as “To — — — “ in the Union, November 1848. Taylor’s Views A-Foot was published in 1846 (see Walter C. Bronson, American Literature, p. 262). For two comments by Poe on Taylor, see “Marginalia” M-212 (SLM, April 1849; Writings, 2:352-353) and M-290 (SLM, September 1849; Writings, 2:417-418). Clearly a promising popular author, particularly one with editorial connections, and potentially serving as a good source of contributions and support for the Stylus, Taylor is listed as “J. B. Taylor” in Such Friends, no. 239 (p. 36), though not identified until later (see Savoye, “An Addendum to Ostrom’s Checklist,” EAP Review, 2:19-32). In a May 3, 1875 letter to Dr. Josiah G. Holland, Taylor explains that the first initial of “J.,” dropped in later years, was invented and adopted informally by Taylor himself as a boy and erroneously expanded to “James” by Rufus W. Griswold, who edited an early volume of Taylor’s poems (see Wermouth, ed., Selected Letters of Bayard Taylor, p. 430).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.), formerly in the collection of William H. Koester, and now in the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The address appears on a separate leaf. Poe’s “P.S.” suggests that he is replying to a possible letter from Taylor (CL-712a), and the acceptance of Poe’s poem implies a letter, perhaps from Taylor, Mrs. Kirkland, or J. S. Hart (CL-729a). About the authenticity of the present letter, TOM [Iowa] says: “Although published by Woodberry in 1909, this letter I regard with grave suspicion” plus (separately): “There is no evidence that Taylor had any editorial connection with the Union Magazine except this letter.” He again condemns the letter in TOM [Poems], 1:444, n. 3, and there denies Ostrom’s footnote statement that Quinn shows “Taylor as editor” through publishing the “lines enclosed” in the Union, namely the second “To Helen [Whitman].” TOM’s further marginal note in his copy of The [page 676:] Letters [1948] says: “Quinn does nothing of the kind.” Neither Phillips nor Quinn offers evidence of Taylor’s role as editor beyond the present letter, but it must be admitted that the apparent acceptance of the poem, published in November, does indeed imply the co-editorship. More importantly, TOM was apparently unaware that Taylor edited the journal during Caroline M. Kirkland’s absence, while she was in Europe (see J. C. Derby, Fifty Years Among Authors, Books and Publishers, pp. 597-599; Hansen-Taylor and Scudder, eds., Life and Letters of Bayard Taylor, pp. 122, 127, and 128; also The Poe Log, p. 738). Taylor’s presence in Such Friends, among prominent literary people, and with the comment “write see let,” provides a direct connection to Poe and establishes Taylor as a correspondent of at least one letter (CL-712a), as does LTR-287a.

Letter 272 — 1848, June 21 [CL-714] Poe (New York, NY) to Mrs. Sarah A. Lewis (New York, NY):

June 21 [48]

I have been spending a couple of hours most pleasantly, my dear Stella <Mrs. Lewis>, in reading and re-reading your “Child of the Sea.” When it appears in print — less enticing to the eye, perhaps, than your own graceful MS. — I shall endeavor to do it critical justice in full; but in the meantime permit me to say, briefly, that I think it well conducted as a whole — abounding in narrative passages of unusual force — but especially remarkable for the boldness and poetic fervor of its sentimental portions, where a very striking originality is manifested. The descriptions, throughout, are warmly imaginative. The versification could scarcely be improved. The conception of Zamen is unique — a creation in the best poetic understanding of the term. I most heartily congratulate you upon having accomplished a work which will live.

Yours most sincerely,

Edgar A. Poe.

Note: Poe reviewed The Child of the Sea and Other Poems, published by Putnam, in the SLM, September 1848 (see the note to LTR-275a), and again in Graham’s, April 1849 (34:270-271) (see also the note to LTR-321). [page 677:] Apparently no second edition appeared, though Poe suggested that Putnam bring it out (see LTR-315). Zamen and Mynera are dewy-eyed lovers in Mrs. Lewis’ poem.

Source: original MS (1 p.) in the British Museum, London. The correct year date is not 1849, as given in the various biographies. In the Democratic Review (August 1848, 23:160), Poe says that the volume “is now in press.” Thus, the present letter, which speaks of the MS of the work, belongs to 1848. Ingram (2:219-220) identifies the letter as to Mrs. Lewis, and the content corroborates the identity. Examination of the MS showed that someone, perhaps Ingram, attempted to obliterate the “48” in the date, although the reason for doing so remains unknown. Relevant to the history of the present letter is a statement by Ingram in a letter to Mrs. H. M. Thomas (the niece of Amelia F. Poe), July 14, 1913: “I offered three very interesting letters from Poe to the British Museum they would only buy one and only gave me £ 2. 2/ — about $10 1/2” (quoted by Quinn & Hart, p. 80). In a PS article (“Poe’s MS. Letter to Stella Lewis,” 2:36-37), Ostrom comments that “A notation on the verso of the manuscript reads: ‘Purchd of J. H. Ingram Esq / 12 Nov. 1881.’ This manuscript letter must be the only one purchased by the British Museum from the three that Ingram offered to sell.”

Letter 273 — 1848, June [CL-716] Poe (New York, NY) to Mrs. Marie L. Shew (New York, NY):

Can it be true Louise that you have the idea fixed in your mind to desert your unhappy and unfortunate friend and patient. You did not say so, I know, but for months I have known you were deserting me, not willingly but none the less surely — my destiny — Disaster! following fast, following faster &c. I have had premonitions of this for months I repeat, my good spirit, my loyal heart! Must this follow as a sequel to all the benefits and blessings you have so generously bestowed? Are you to vanish like all I love, or desire, from my darkened and “lost soul” — I have read over your letter again, and again, and cannot make it possible with any degree of certainty, that you wrote it in your right mind (I know you did not without tears of anguish and regret). Is it possible your influence is lost to me? Such tender and true natures are ever loyal until death, but you are not dead, [page 678:] you are full of life and beauty! Louise you came in with the Parson, in your floating white robe “good morning Edgar.” There was a touch of conventional coldness in your hurried manner and your attitude as you opened the kitchen door to find Muddie is my last remembrance of you. There was love, hope, and sorrow in your smile instead of love, hope & courage, as ever before. Oh Louise how many sorrows are before you! Your ingenuous and sympathetic nature will be constantly wounded in contact with the hollow heartless world, and for me alas! unless some true and tender and pure womanly love saves me, I shall hardly last a year longer, alone! A few short months will tell how far my strength — (physical, and moral) will carry me in Life here. How can I believe in Providence when you look coldly upon me. Was it not you who renewed my hopes and faith in God? ... & in humanity Louise I heard your voice as you passed out of my sight, leaving me with the Parson, “The man of God, The servant of the most High!” He stood smiling and bowing at the madman Poe! But that I had invited him to my house, I would have rushed out into God’s light and freedom! but I still listened to your voice! I heard you say with a sob, “dear Muddie!’ I heard you greet my Catarina [sic], but it was only as a memory of ——— nothing escaped my ear, and I was convinced it was not your generous self that was repeating words so foreign to your nature, to your tender heart! — I heard you sob out your sense of duty to my mother, and I heard her reply — “yes Loui” “yes,” it was the mother of Alma, that child with the Madonna eyes! She is good and pure, and passably loving, but she is of her father’s type. She has not your nature. Why sacrifice your angelic prerogative for a commonplace nature? Why turn your soul from its true work for the desolate, to the thankless and miserly world! Why I was not a priest is a mystery, for I feel I am now a prophet. And I did then, and towered in mind, and body, over my invited guest in spite of the duties of hospitality and regard for your feelings. Louise when he said grace and you said a low “amen,” I felt my heart stop, and I was sure I was then to die before your eyes. Louise it is well, it is fortunate you looked up, with a tear in your dear eyes, and raised the window and talked of the guava — you “had brought for my sore throat” — your instincts are better than a strong man’s reasonfor me. I trust they may be for [page 679:] yourself! Louise I feel I shall not prevail. A shadow has already fallen upon your soul and is reflected in your eyes. It is too late. You are floating away with the cruel tide. I am a coward to write this to you, but it is not a common trial, it is a fearful one to me. Such rare souls as yours, so beautify this earth! So relieve it of all that is repulsive and sordid, so brighten its toils and cares, it is hard to lose sight of them even for a short time. Again I say I am a coward, to wound your loyal unselfish and womanly heart, but you must know and be assured, of my regret, my sorrow, if aught I have ever written has hurt you! My heart never wronged you. I place you in my esteem in all solemnity beside the friend of my boyhood, the mother of my school fellow, of whom I told you, and as I have repeated in the poem the “Beloved Physician,” as the truest, tenderest, of this world’s most womanly souls, and an angel to my forlorn and darkened nature. I will not say “lost soul” again, for your sake. I will try to overcome my grief for the sake of your unselfish care of me in the past, and in life or death, I am ever yours gratefully & devotedly

June, 1849 [1848] Edgar A. Poe

Note: In the first paragraph, the one-line quotation is from Poe’s own poem “The Raven,” with an especially poignant change of tense (ll. 63-64): “unmerciful Disaster / Followed fast and followed faster.” According to her letter to Ingram (see the source note, below), Mrs. Shew, “a mere country-girl,” became alarmed at Poe’s eccentricities and decided to define her position. Thus, she added, the letter was written “after my visit with Mr. Hopkins, the last time.” The clarification of her position was due not so much, as the biographies imply, to Poe’s “romantic” tendencies, but to the insistence on the part of the Reverend John H. Hopkins, Jr., who objected vigorously to Poe’s ideas expressed in Eureka (see the note to LTR-265) and who felt that Mrs. Shew’s duty to family and church was endangered by a continued association with Poe (see the Shew- Houghton-Ingram correspondence in the University of Virginia; reprinted in Miller, BPB, pp. 88-145). In the same letter to Ingram, Mrs. Shew said, “Mr. Poe always treated me with respect and I was to him a friend in need and a friend indeed ... and after he was dead I deeply regretted my letter to him.” Poe’s “Muddie” was, of course, Mrs. Clemm, and “Catarina” (or “Catterina”) was the family cat. The “Parson” was the Reverend John H. Hopkins, Jr. According to Mrs. Shew’s letter to Ingram, April 3, 1875 [page 680:] (?), Hopkins “went twice to see Poe” (for the first visit, see the note to LTR-265). The “friend of my boyhood” was Mrs. Craig Stith Stanard, the mother of Poe’s “school fellow” Robert Stanard. Poe’s composition that “hurt” Mrs. Shew must refer to Eureka. Poe’s unpublished poem to Mrs. Shew was “Beloved Physician,” also called “The Beautiful Physician.” Unfortunately, the full text is lost, probably destroyed by Mrs. Shew for reasons of privacy. For the fragments of the final, revised poem to Marie Louise, first published by Ingram in 1909 and reprinted by TOM in 1928, see TOM [Poems], 1:401-404.

Source: transcript of the original MS made by Mrs. Roland S. Houghton (formerly Mrs. Marie Louise Shew) for John H. Ingram (see her letter to him, April 3 [1875?] in the Ingram Collection, University of Virginia). The original MS is probably lost. The highly irregular punctuation and spelling of the transcript are almost certainly Mrs. Shew’s rather than Poe’s, as various editors have recognized. (The problem is partly compounded by her careless style of handwriting.) She gives, for example, the locution “you was deserting” instead of “you were deserting,” an error Poe surely would not have made. A few other examples will suffice: perogative / sacrifise / your self / Louse / releave / loose sight. She also omits the apostrophe in all instances of possessive words. Since there seems no reason to faithfully preserve these mistakes, or to attribute them to Poe, they have been silently corrected in the text. One possible misspelling has been retained, the name of Poe’s cat. In a note on one of the pages of her letter, Mrs. Shew is insistent that Poe spelled it “Catarina,” although he twice spelled it as “Catterina” in LTR-174. On her transcript, just preceding her quotation from “The Raven,” Mrs. Shew interpolated the direction that Poe copied, at this point, a “whole stanza” from the poem. Apparently she quoted only enough to identify the stanza for Ingram. The accuracy of her quotation is highly questionable (see Campbell, Poems, p. 112, lines 63-66). Ingram’s printings of the letter (with omissions) in Appleton’s Journal, May 1878, and in his Life (1880), which are followed by most subsequent biographers, assign the letter to 1848; Quinn, pp. 609-611, without authority dates the letter June 19, but gives “1849,” the date on Mrs. Shew’s transcript. In her letter to Ingram cited above, Mrs. Houghton said, “The following [letter] was his last and was written in June / 49.” She was clearly wrong, however, as the contents of the letter point to June 1848 (assuming her month date is correct). Poe is replying to Mrs. Shew’s letter of June (?) 1848 (CL-715). [page 681:]

Letter 274 — 1848, July 14 [CL-718] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Thomas H. Chivers (New York, NY):

Fordham — Westchester Co —

July 13. [14] 48.

My Dear Friend,

I have just returned from an excursion to Lowell: — this is the reason why I have not been to see you. My mother will leave this note at your hotel in the event of your not being in when she calls. I am very anxious to see you — as I propose going on to Richmond on Monday. Can you not come out to Fordham & spend tomorrow & Sunday with me? We can talk over matters, then, at leisure. The cars for Fordham leave the dépôt at the City Hall almost every hour — distance 14 miles[.]

Truly Yours


Note: Poe’s “excursion to Lowell” was the occasion of his lecture on “Poets and Poetry of America,” July 10, 1848 (see Quinn, p. 565, and The Poe Log, pp. 740-742). Poe’s trip to Richmond was for the purpose of furthering his efforts for establishing the Stylus. He hoped this trip through the South and West would add enough names to secure a subscription list of 500 (see LTR-259).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Huntington Library. Though the letter is dated July 13, the reference to “tomorrow and Sunday” points clearly to its having been written on Friday, July 14. The envelope is directed to “Dr Thomas Holley Chivers / New-York City.” Though no letter from Chivers to Poe is known for 1848, the present letter suggests a note of recent date (CL-717a). Between Poe’s letter of July 22, 1846 (LTR-239) and his present one, there must have been another letter, before February 16, 1847 (CL-670b). The missing item is implied in Chivers to Poe, February 21, 1847: “I received the paper, containing your letter and the notice of your writings, some time ago. I was delighted with your letter — that is, with the idea that you had got well again ... from what you say, she [Virginia] is nigh to the angels ... ” (CL-673). The lost letter was undoubtedly a note that accompanied the enclosures. Virginia [page 682:] Poe died January 30, 1847. Two letters from Chivers followed Poe’s lost letter: February 21 (just cited), and April 4, 1847 (CL-681). Surely Poe is not replying to either of these in the present letter. At the top of the MS, Chivers noted: “The following is the last letter that I ever received from him.” Though the present letter is Poe’s last known one to Chivers, Poe wrote Mrs. Clemm, ca. August 28-29, 1849, “I got a sneaking letter today from Chivers” (LTR-330, in reference to CL-820).

Letter 275 — 1848, July 15 [CL-719] Poe (Fordham, NY) to Mrs. Mary Osborne (Fordham, NY):

Fordham — July 15 — 48.

I return, dear Madam, with many thanks, the volumes you were so kind as to lend me, and which have increased even the respect and admiration I have been so long entertaining for the unknown author of “Praise and Principle”. “Charms and Countercharms” — “as it is last so is it best”. May I beg of you to make my acknowledgments as warmly as possible — or as admissible — to Miss McIntosh, for the favor she has done me in sending me the book — rendered doubly valuable by her autograph? Will you request for me, also, her acceptance of a late work of my own — “Eureka” — which accompanies this note? I have ventured to send with it, too, a duplicate copy, in the hope that Mrs Osborne will honor me by receiving it as an expression of my very sincere esteem and friendship.

Most truly and respectfully

Edgar A. Poe.

Mrs Mary Osborne.

Note: Mrs. Mary Osborne lived in Fordham, and at her house Poe met Maria Jane McIntosh (1803-1878), of Providence (see Phillips, 2:1287). Miss McIntosh was a friend of Sarah Helen Whitman. In a letter of February 14, 1875 to Ingram, Mrs. Whitman recalled Miss McIntosh as saying, in June of 1848, “on just such a night as this one month ago I met Mr. Poe for the first time at the house of a gentleman in Fordham — a Mr. Lindsay ... & his whole talk was about you [Mrs. Whitman]” (Miller, Poe’s Helen Remembers, p. 256). Among the flood of didactic fiction pouring from Miss McIntosh’s ever active pen are Praise and Principle: [page 683:] or, For what shall I live? (1845, 1848, 1854); Charms and counter-charms [sic] (1848, 1864); Two lives; or, To seem and to be (1855, 1881), etc., for a rough total of at least fifty separate titles. Her books and name are otherwise unmentioned by Poe, but she did send an adroit note introducing Poe to Helen Whitman, her good friend, on September 15, 1848 (The Poe Log, p. 754). Poe’s Eureka had recently been published (see LTR-269). The copy of Eureka Poe inscribed for Mrs. Osborne is now in the Alderman Library, University of Virginia. The corrections made by Poe in this copy are diligently recorded by Nelson, “Apparatus for a Definitive Edition of Eureka,” SAR 1978, pp. 161-204.

Source: original MS (1 p.), formerly in the collection of J. K. Lilly, Jr., and now in the Lilly Library, Indiana University. The letter carries no postmark and is merely addressed: “Mrs. Osborne.” It is also inscribed, in an unknown hand: “My aunt who was at the country seat of my brother in law Max [?] Lindsay near that of Poe’s cottage at Fordham.”

Letter 275a — 1848, August 5 [CL-719c] Poe (Richmond, VA) to Mrs. Maria Clemm (Fordham, NY):

Richmond — August 5.

My own dearest Muddy — What can be the reason that you have not written to me ? Here I have been a whole fortnight & not one line from you yet. I did not think you would treat your poor Eddy in such a way as that. Be sure & write the moment you get this and, if possible, send the “article”. Mr Thompson has accepted it. I gave him, also, the article about Mrs Lewis & he will publish it. Of course, I could not ask him anything for it — as it was a great favor to get him to insert it at any rate. I am still out at John’s — although I have been to Mrs M’s & am going back in a day or two to stay some time. Mrs M. was very cordial — but Louisa still more so. I think she is the sweetest creature in the world and makes John the best of wives. She is hardly changed in the least. You know how often I have spoken to you of her heavenly smile. — Be sure & enclose any notices of “Eureka”. I write this in the greatest hurry, as John is getting ready to go to town. God bless you, my own dearest mother. Write immediately.

Your own Eddy. [page 684:]

Note: Mr. Thompson was John R. Thompson, editor of the SLM (see LTR-292a and note). The article he accepted was “The Rationale of Verse,” which appeared, in two parts, in the SLM for October-November of 1848. The “article about Mrs. Lewis” was a review of a book of her poems (The Child of the Sea and Other Poems), printed in the SLM for September 1848 (14:569-571; Writings, 5:371-374). Eureka, Poe’s grand “prose poem,” was available to the public about July 15, 1848 (see notes to LTR-269). The person Poe refers to as “John” was John Hamilton Mackenzie, whose wife was Louisa Lanier Mackenzie. “Mrs. M” was presumably John’s mother, Mrs. Jane Scott Mackenzie (1783-1865). Poe had gone to Richmond in yet another attempt to breathe life into the Stylus (see LTR-262, LTR-263, and LTR-269).

Source: photocopy of the original MS (1 p.) in the Fales Library of New York University, Robins Collection. The year date is established by the appearance of “The Rationale of Verse” in the SLM, the review of Mrs. Lewis, and the comment concerning notices about Eureka. On the reverse of this one-page letter is a note, presumably in the hand of Maria Clemm: “Do not return this. Do not let Saturday pass without writing to me.” Also on the obverse is another note, also by Mrs. Clemm: “Eddie did not reply to the article of English. But put it into the hands of a Lawyer, English had to contradict his base falsehoods, and as he had nothing, the Editor of the Mirror had to pay heavy damages. [a horizontal line] I think Annie would have no objection to your copying what you mention provided you do not mention her name —.” Contrary to Mrs. Clemm’s statement, Poe did indeed reply to English (see LTR-237). Mrs. Clemm gave this letter to Sarah Elizabeth Robins (1838-1866), to whom both of the notes just cited were almost certainly addressed. “Sallie” Robins, who seems to have generally signed her name only as “S. E. R.,” was busily planning to publish a defense of Poe about 1860, although she went mad in 1861 and spent her remaining days in an asylum. So ardent was Miss Robins in her task that she invited Mrs. Clemm to stay with her in Ohio, an offer which the opportunistic Mrs. Clemm eagerly accepted (see Miller, BPB, pp. 54, 216, and 220-221; also, Robbins, “Edgar Poe and His Friends,” Indiana U. Bookman, pp. 35-38).




One page is accounted for in the pagination but not included in the text above because it is a blank back page. This is page 616.


[S:0 - CLT08, 2008] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Letters of Edgar Allan Poe (Ostrom, Pollin and Savoye) (Chapter 09)